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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully produced, superb account- though a 'book in two parts'., 5 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
This is one of the finest 'single class' warship books there is- as perhaps it should be at 350 large, double format pages. It is also beautifully produced, and considering it was originally published in Italian the English translation is excellent, being both gramatical and almost free from errors.

This is, though, largely a book in two parts. The first 153 pages deals with the origins of the ships, both political and constructional, followed by a detailed description of their design and construction. The section between pages 164 and 284 then covers wartime history- really a history of the Regia Mariina as a whole, not just of the Littorio class battleships.

The description of the ships is very detailed- if a little verbose- and on the whole it is easy to read. For example, the electro- mechanical fire control computers are described, but the authors avoid complex debate about the mathematics of this subject. The are many fine photos- though no stunning double page spreads of the type found in Burts' books on British battleships. A highlight is the collection of excellent line drawings, including several three dimensional perspectives that would have been immensely difficult to produce. Most of the drawings are very fully annotated and some fold- out plans are included. A whole section is devoted to this fine cartography between pages 129 and 152, whilst later in the book there is a short but well executed colour section.

Chapter 5, 'Operational history', gives a blow by blow account of the Italian Navy and its wartime operations. It 'pulls no punches' in describing the often timid and ineffectual nature of these activities- or, rather, for a large part of the time inactivity. The navy repeatedly tried to employ the concept of the 'fleet in being' and avoid contact with superior forces- which often were not superior at all- for example, note the very long range at which the second battle of Sirte was fought against a force that only comprised 6inch gunned cruisers. The authors theme for this book is that the poor reputation of the Littorios had much more to do with the way they were employed than with their actual qualities in comparison with competitors from other navies.

The conclusion reached is that this class was actually very well designed and built but that they were lacking in modern radar, communications technology and electronics generally. There is much truth in this, though I cannot completely agree. For example the two torpedoes that stuck Littorio forward at Taronto really sank her and it is no answer to say that the Pugliese side protection system did not work properly because the ship was struck in the wrong place. Although the ships survived other torpedo strikes the adoption of that unique system was certainly a huge risk, given the very limited experimentation that had been carried out on it. Personally I was frustrated by a comparison made between a torpedo attack on Vittorio Veneto and the sinking of the British 'Prince of Wales' which, like nearly all such accounts, fails to appreciate the true circumstances of Prince of wales's loss: you can hardly compare the single torpedo that struck Vitorio Veneto at Matapan with the mass- attack on the British ship.

Impressive statistics can be misleading: for example, although the 380mm guns were very powerful they wore out their tubes after a mere 120 rounds- less than half a really acceptable figure, as the authors freely admit. Despite such limitations it is almost certainly true that in most respects the Littorios were very fine ships, but it is sobering to realize that non- availability in Italy of modern electronicss, gyroscopes and radar systems had greatly reduced their operational value by 1943- even though these battleships were then still only three years old.

All told this is an excellent book. The operational history section is maybe a little long and for an Anglo Saxon reader more maps showing Eastern Mediterranean locations would be useful, but it is an interesting read. Moreover, at less than £30 from Amazon this huge and 'classy' book is almost ridiculously good value.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Littorio Class, 9 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
This is one of the finest, in-depth studies on a single class of battleship published. This is technical history at its best. Seaforth Publishing are to be congratulated on enabling this book to be made avialable to English-speaking readers, particularly as previously only superficial studies have been published on Italian warships.

There is in fact very little missing in this study by two renowned Italian authors. Whilst this reviewer would have liked to have seen more details and photos of accommodation areas and crew at work operating the ships, it could be that such material does not exist or did not survive. But these are minor omissions compared to the extent and thorough research applied by the authors.

The authoritative and comprehensive text is supported by a wide range of photographs - many of which are previously unseen to English-speaking readers - and some excellently draughted line drawings; some of which are three dimensional. There are also a number of colour profiles showing the various camoflage schemes worn by these relatively short-lived ships. Of particular note are the extremely good quality, accurate and detailed profile line drawings, some showing enlarged detail. In addition to the detailed technical description of what are accepted as beautifully proportioned warships (typical - in a very positive way - of much of Italian warship design, even to the present day!), this study includes full operational histories and a very useful chapter on comparisons and conclusions. There are also three informative appendices.

The production of the book - large format, quality of paper and reproduction of text, drawings/illustrations and photographs - is excellent. Whilst expensive this is a book that does justice to the work of the authors; it is highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book, 30 July 2011
By 
jack greene (Paso Robles, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
This lovely book with excellent production values arrived from the UK ahead of Amazon's schedule by 10 days which is probably a reflection on how slow the USPS service is so it arrived in California much much quicker then it would have taken two years ago!

Oversized, incredible photographs, a great book. The authors are pretty even-handed in noting problems with the design (range-finders do indeed have weather related problems) and with Italian strategies in WWII.

Well done and highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the points I liked about this book is that there were foldouts of ..., 3 Jun. 2015
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The first work in English I have seen which dealt with this subject The Littorio Class is about the last class of battleships built by the Italian Navy and the largest warships they have ever built. As such it is a fascinating look into a subject which has been quite neglected by English speaking authors covering this period.

The book starts with a chapter detailing the background to the Italian Navy's post First World War building programme and the events and thinking behind the decisions which led to the eventual order for the first two ships, and then the subsequent order for two more ships. The next two chapters cover the technical aspects of the design then subsequent chapters cover the construction and service histories of the ships themselves. The final chapter is a comparison of the class with contemporary classes and an evaluation of their performance. Various appendices follow, listing the strength of the Italian Navy at various stages during the war; the distance each ship steamed and also the damage they each sustained.

This is an in-depth study on a class which many historians have written off as elegant yet ineffectual. As this book shows this is perhaps overly harsh. Whilst there were weaknesses; (which the authors do not gloss over) yet given the right circumstances they could have had a greater impact on the conduct of the war. One of the points I liked about this book is that there were foldouts of the plans, thus showing greater detail and being easier to read: (As an aside, a quite surprising addition was of slices of the hull taken at points other than on the centreline. Whilst not something I had ever seen before it was quite informative and more books could do well to follow this example). Another point I liked was the various appendices, particularly the one that covered the damage each ship received. These were quite detailed and the hit diagrams were also clear and informative.

Not the kind of book for a casual reader but for those, like myself, who have a deep interest in the subject a very good read and an essential edition to your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fine portrait of Italy's ultimate battleship, 26 Dec. 2014
By 
birchden "birchden" (Eastbourne, East Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
Named for the lictors of ancient Rome, who carried the fasce as their symbol of authority, the Littorio class represented the ultimate Italian development of the battleship and were outstanding warships by any measure.

It was their misfortune (and the allies' good fortune) that, thanks to ineffectual leadership and the weakness of Italy's war economy, they never really had the opportuity to demonstrate what they were capable of. There was also a considerable measure of downright bad luck; most notably the loss of the Roma to two FX 1400 hits, a tragedy made all the more poignant by the fact that she was within hours of safety at the end of Italy's war.

The authors' portrait of the class more than does these ships justice. Combining an interesting and detailed text with well chosen photos and drawings that modellers will find especially useful, he covers the whole story through construction and service (of course Impero missed out this part) to loss or scrapping. There is also due discussion of the Pugliese system of underwater protection, though as to whether it was worth the trouble is another matter.

Many of the photos will be new to most people; particularly welcome are the interior shots and those taken during trials and construction, where he reminds us of the Italians' odd habit of sailing their warships incomplete. The section dealing with the slow scrapping of Italia and Vittorio Veneto makes for interesting if sad reading, but as events had shown all too clearly, the day of ships like these was over and the allies had actually done the Italian navy a favour in insisting that they be broken up.

The book itself is produced to a high standard with decent paper and binding and the photos are clearly reproduced. As it stood originally, the MRP was very good value: one can only hope that there will soon be a reprint for those who missed it first time round.

All in all, this book is likely to become the standard reference on these ships, as it is frankly hard to see how any future author could really better Bagnasco and De Toro's work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive treatment of the Littorio class BBs, 23 Aug. 2011
By 
Mark Hinds (NE Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
This book covers the Italian Littorio class battleships, in detail. It appears to be an English translation of the 2010 book "Le Navi da Battaglia Classe Littorio 1937-1948", second edition, by Bagnaso & DeToro.

It is organized into 6 major chapters entitled "Battleships and Italian Naval Policy between the two World Wars", "Design and General Characteristics", Technical Description", "Construction, Sea Trials and Commissioning", "Operational History", and Comparisons and Conclusions". Appendices include a listing of operational movements and locations, detailed evaluations of each incident of battle damage, and gunnery details. The book is extensively illustrated with occasionally grainy, but frequently unusual photographs, extensive sketches and line drawings, and contains a section of small-scale plans and color/camouflage images.

The book is a gold mine of detail. Some examples of this include cut-away drawings of turret layouts, ammunition stowage and armor placement plans, and detailed discussion of topics such as the Pugliese underwater protection system and the "composite"-construction side armored belt. The book also contains quite a bit of objective-sounding discussion of the pros and cons of these various design elements, and of their performance in comparison with equivalent elements in contemporary battleships of other nations.

Physical quality is quite good. I recommend this book.

(Note that this is a review of the Naval Institute Press printing (ISBN 978 1591144458), which Amazon won't let me review yet for some reason, even though I received it last week. I hope people will forgive me for posting that review in connection with this earlier Seaforth Publishing printing. However, I believe both the USNI and Seaforth printings to be of the same English edition of the book, and the book derserves praise.)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly awesome!, 20 Nov. 2011
By 
M. Riddell (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
If your into battleships, the war in the Mediterranean or the Regia Marina, this is a book you must have in your collection!

Translated from the Italian original, this book is absolutely packed with information and takes several days to read properly in order to digest it's contents. Starting with an overview of Italian naval policy and the effect of the Washington Treaty, Bagnasco and De Toro then move on to describing the development, construction, careers and fates of these ships.

The text is complimented by an excellent set of photographs showing all the ships at various stages of their service, including the uncompleted Impero. This visual feast is further expanded by the large number of plans which are like those one can expect in an "Anatomy of the Ship" volume. As someone who builds model ships, I particularly appreciated the colour plates showing the camouflage worn by the ships at different times.

Highly recommended!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifico, 5 Sept. 2011
By 
Black Baron (Greatest Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
I can confirm that this is indeed a translation of the Erminio Bagnasco / Augusto De Toro book "Le Navi Da Battaglia Classe Littorio 1937-1948", and it is just as magnificent (I have both books). I must admit it's somewhat easier reading in English, although I was getting quite good at reading Italian. Prior to getting the Italian 2010 version I had Bagnasco's earlier paperback book "Ragia Marina - Italian Battleships of World War Two - a Pictorial History", so I knew what to expect. His attention to detail is splendid, the propulsion turbines, frame manufacture, armour system, fire control, history, I could go on and on. The quality of the book itself, paper etc., is exceptional (although the Italian version is even better). If you only ever buy one book on the war in the Med', buy this one. Magnifico !!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding example of how battleship monograph should look., 3 Aug. 2011
By 
Anatolij Cimarkin (Vilnius, LT) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
I highly recommend this book to all enthusiasts of the capital ships from dreadnought and superdreadnought era. Proper size, excellent paper, lots of technical drawings, never-seen-before photographs (most of which are very high quality). Very balanced book, beating all the references I've had on Littorio class to the moment. Some modeling aspects are touched very briefly as well.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars long lost insperation re-kindled by a book!, 15 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 (Hardcover)
as a model ship builder this is just what I have been looking for I started a 1/192 scale vittorio venetto about 10 years ago working the hull lines off a Revell 1/1250 scale kit but you cannot get bridge or gun details like you can from the photographs in this wonderfull book now I've read the book I can't wait to re-start building in much better detail.
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The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948
The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 by Ermino Bagnasco (Hardcover - 16 Jun. 2011)
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