The largest and most powerful warships ever built in Italy, the battleships of the Littorio class, were the first “35,000 tonners” to come under the provisions of the Washington Treaty. Although the Washington Navel Conference of 1922 gave Italy the authority to build up to 182,800 tons of new capital ships (including 70,000 tons prior to 1932), the Italians waited more than a decade before beginning construction.
Commissioned on 24 June 1940, she joined the 1st Navel Squadron at Taranto under Admiral Bergamini’s flag. She was severely damaged 10-11 November 1940 while anchored at Taranto by British Aircraft launched from the carrier Illustrious. In March of 1941 she was back in service. 17 December 1941 the RN Littorio participated in the First battle of Sirte Gulf. 21 March 1942 during the Second battle of Sirte, a muzzle blast from the aft 381-mm turret set fire to a Ro.43 floatplane on the fantail which led the British to believe they had scored a torpedo hit on the battleship.
Battle of mid-June 12-16 June 1942 the RN Littorio was damaged 15 June 1942 by American B-24 bombers on the return to her base she was hit by a torpedo launched by the Wellington. Repairs were completed by 27 August 1942 but the ship was to carry out no more combat missions. From December 1942 to June 1943 the RN Littorio was used to defend the cities of Taranto, La Spezia and Genoa from Allied air attacks.
25 July 1943 the RN Littorio was renamed the Italia. She was decommissioned 1 June 1948 after a total of 46 missions during her wartime career of which nine were combat missions.
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