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Impero Romano

Line drawing of Impero Romano

Photo of Impero Romano under way at sea

Displacement 47,000 tons
Armament 4 x 3 15"
Speed 31 knots
VTS Rating   6   6   6

An elongated successor to the successful Littorio class battleships, the three ships (including Legioni Romani, and Foro Romano) of the "Romani" class were named personally by Mussolini after the glorious aspects of ancient Rome that he was trying to revive. Impero Romano was built in response to the laying down of the French Alsace and was to be the largest, finest warship in the Mediterranean and an equal to the best battleships of the Royal Navy, too. About 80% built when war started, Impero Romano completed slowly as Italy's small industrial base tried to cope with wartime demands, and the smaller, Littorio-class BB Roma, then 95% complete, took precedence. Her sisters were never laid down, but some of the materials earmarked for them were used to quickly repair the Littorio-class ships damaged at Taranto and other sea battles.

While working up off La Spezia in 1943, Impero Romano was torpedoed by the British submarine Solent. Hastily patched, she got underway for the hurried southward migration of the surrendering Italian fleet after the Armistice. German Do-217K bombers attacked her when she was partway down the Coast and put a huge "Fritz-X" guided bomb deep into the vitals of the ship near the patched torpedo damage. The explosion ripped the side of the hull open below the waterline and the Impero Romano rolled over onto her beam ends, rose and fell.

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