Vittorio Cuniberti

Vittorio Emanuele Cuniberti (1854 – 1913) was an Italian military officer and naval engineer who envisioned the concept of the all big gun battleship, best exemplified by HMS Dreadnought.

Vittorio Cuniberti

Life and career

Born in Turin, he joined the Genio Navale (the corps of the Regia Marina dedicated to shipbuilding) in 1878, and rose through the ranks until he became Major general in 1910. A collaborator of Italian admiral, naval engineer and politician Benedetto Brin, in 1899 he designed the Regina Elena-class battleships. He died in Rome.

Cuniberti's article

Cuniberti ideal battleship-EN
Cuniberti's "ideal battleship"

Cuniberti is best known for an article he wrote for Jane's Fighting Ships in 1903, advocating a concept known as the "all-big-gun" fighting ship.[1]

Up till then, the navies of the world built ships with a mixture of large and medium calibre guns. There was constant experimentation with calibres and layout.

The ship Cuniberti envisaged would be a "colossus" of the seas. His main idea was that this ship would carry only one calibre of gun, the biggest available, at the time 12 inch.

This heavily armoured colossus would be impervious to all but the 12-inch (305 mm) guns of the enemy. Cuniberti saw the enemy's small calibre guns as having no effect on his design. Cuniberti's "ideal ship" had twelve large calibre guns, and would have a significant advantage over the (usual) four of the enemy ship.

His ship would be fast, so that she could choose her point of attack.

Cuniberti saw this ship able to discharge such a heavy broadside, all of one large calibre, that she would engulf first one enemy ship, then move on to the next, and the next, disdainfully destroying an entire enemy fleet. He conjectured that the effect of a squadron of, say, six "colossi" would give a fleet such overwhelming power as to deter all possible opponents.

Naturally, there was a cost for such a ship. Part of Cuniberti's contention was that this colossus was available only to a "navy at the same time most potent and very rich".

Cuniberti proposed a design based on his ideas to the Italian government. The Italian government declined for budgetary reasons, but gave Cuniberti permission to write the article for Jane's Fighting Ships.

Cuniberti's article was published before the Battle of Tsushima, which vindicated his ideas. There, the real damage was inflicted by the large calibre guns of the Japanese fleet.


The political atmosphere in Britain at the time was explosive. For the first time since Trafalgar there was a serious challenge to the Royal Navy. A short distance across the North Sea the German Navy was building a powerful fleet. Behind that fleet lay the overwhelming power of the German Army. Behind Britain's sea shield lay the numerically small British Army.

The challenge to Britain was serious. Admiral Sir John Fisher, Royal Navy, was the driving force behind the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought. The ship was completed in a year and day and was launched in 1906. Dreadnought's speed was ensured by using the revolutionary Parsons' turbines.

Immediately this ship defined the era. It rendered all previous battleships obsolete, because ship to ship Dreadnought would sink them. Thereafter all battleships following its design would be referred to, generically, as "dreadnoughts".


Jacky Fisher never gave any credit to Cuniberti, or to any foreigner. It is possible that all the major sea powers were converging toward the basic Dreadnought design. The Americans were publishing articles about potential designs and the General Board was reviewing several options, but USS South Carolina and USS Michigan were not authorized until March 1905 (and then as repeat Connecticuts), and neither were laid down until December 1906. Neither were the Japanese building the Satsuma class, which wasn't ordered until 1904 and laid down in 1905 and 1906.

Cuniberti, however, was the first man to publish the idea.

Cuniberti's influence on Russian dreadnoughts

After the launch of the Royal Navy's Dreadnought, Russia, along with all other major naval nations, saw its fleet of battleships rendered obsolete overnight. In Russia's case this was exacerbated by the losses suffered in the Russo-Japanese War. The Imperial Russian Navy was short of battleships.

The Gangut-class battleships were ordered. After a convoluted bidding process they were eventually built in Russia, with "technical assistance and supervision" by John Brown and Co., "but the influence of Cuniberti was evident".


  1. ^ Cuniberti, Vittorio, "An Ideal Battleship for the British Fleet", All The World’s Fighting Ships, 1903, pp. 407-409.


  • Fred T Jane, Jane's Fighting Ships
  • Robert K. Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War
  • Richard Woodman, The History of the Ship

External links


A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.

The term battleship came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought into the United Kingdom's Royal Navy heralded a revolution in battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as they became the only type of battleship in common use.

Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. A global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe in the 1890s and culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought. The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race. Three major fleet actions between steel battleships took place: the decisive battles of the Yellow Sea (1904) and Tsushima (1905) during the Russo-Japanese War, and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland (1916) during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war, and it was the last major battle fought primarily by battleships in world history.The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships, though technical innovation in battleship design continued. Both the Allied and Axis powers built battleships during World War II, though the increasing importance of the aircraft carrier meant that the battleship played a less important role than had been expected.

The value of the battleship has been questioned, even during their heyday. There were few of the decisive fleet battles that battleship proponents expected, and used to justify the vast resources spent on building battlefleets. Even in spite of their huge firepower and protection, battleships were increasingly vulnerable to much smaller and relatively inexpensive weapons: initially the torpedo and the naval mine, and later aircraft and the guided missile. The growing range of naval engagements led to the aircraft carrier replacing the battleship as the leading capital ship during World War II, with the last battleship to be launched being HMS Vanguard in 1944. Four battleships were retained by the United States Navy until the end of the Cold War for fire support purposes and were last used in combat during the Gulf War in 1991. The last battleships were stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in the 2000s.


Cuniberti is the name of:

Pirro Cuniberti (1923–2016), prominent figure in post-Worldwar II Italian art

Vittorio Cuniberti (1854–1913), Italian military officer who envisioned the concept of the all big gun battleship, best exemplified by HMS Dreadnought

Angelo Cuniberti (1921–2012), Italian Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church

Gianaurelio Cuniberti


The dreadnought was the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century. The first of its kind, the Royal Navy's Dreadnought made such a strong impression on people's minds when launched in 1906 that similar battleships built subsequently were referred to generically as "dreadnoughts", and earlier battleships became known as "pre-dreadnoughts". Dreadnought's design had two revolutionary features: an "all-big-gun" armament scheme, with more heavy-calibre guns than previous ships, and steam turbine propulsion. As dreadnoughts became a symbol of national power, the arrival of these new warships was a crucial catalyst in the intensifying naval arms race between the United Kingdom and Germany. With the launch of a single ship, Dreadnought, the scales of naval power were reset overnight. As a result, dreadnought races sprang up around the world, including in South America, during the lead up to World War I. Successive designs increased rapidly in size and made use of improvements in armament, armour, and propulsion throughout the dreadnought era. Within five years, new battleships had outclassed Dreadnought. These more powerful vessels were known as "super-dreadnoughts". Most of the original dreadnoughts were scrapped after the end of World War I under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, but many of the newer super-dreadnoughts continued to be used throughout World War II. The only surviving dreadnought is USS Texas, located near the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.Dreadnought-building consumed vast resources in the early 20th century, but there was only one battle between large dreadnought fleets. In the 1916 Battle of Jutland, the British and German navies clashed with no decisive result. The term "dreadnought" gradually dropped from use after World War I, especially after the Washington Naval Treaty, as virtually all remaining battleships shared dreadnought characteristics; the term can also be used to describe battlecruisers, the other type of ship resulting from the dreadnought revolution.

HMS Dreadnought (1906)

HMS Dreadnought was a Royal Navy battleship that revolutionised naval power. Her name and the type of the entire class of warships that was named after her stems from archaic English in which "dreadnought" means "a fearless person". Dreadnought's entry into service in 1906 represented such an advance in naval technology that its name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts", as well as the class of ships named after it. Likewise, the generation of ships she made obsolete became known as "pre-dreadnoughts". Admiral Sir John "Jacky" Fisher, First Sea Lord of the Board of Admiralty, is credited as the father of Dreadnought. Shortly after he assumed office, he ordered design studies for a battleship armed solely with 12-inch (305 mm) guns and a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). He convened a "Committee on Designs" to evaluate the alternative designs and to assist in the detailed design work.

Dreadnought was the first battleship of her era to have a uniform main battery, rather than having a few large guns complemented by a heavy secondary armament of smaller guns. She was also the first capital ship to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion. Her launch helped spark a naval arms race as navies around the world, particularly the German Imperial Navy, rushed to match it in the build-up to World War I.Ironically for a vessel designed to engage enemy battleships, her only significant action was the ramming and sinking of German submarine SM U-29, becoming the only battleship confirmed to have sunk a submarine. Dreadnought did not participate in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 as she was being refitted. Nor did Dreadnought participate in any of the other World War I naval battles. In May 1916 she was relegated to coastal defence duties in the English Channel, not rejoining the Grand Fleet until 1918. The ship was reduced to reserve in 1919 and sold for scrap two years later.

Italian battleship Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri was the first dreadnought battleship built for the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy), and completed in 1913. The ship served as a flagship during World War I, but saw very little action other than the Second Battle of Durazzo in 1918 where she did not engage enemy forces. She never fired her guns in anger during her career. Dante Alighieri was refitted in 1923, stricken from the Navy List in 1928 and subsequently sold for scrap.

List of battleships of Italy

Starting in the 1890s, the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) began building a series of modern battleships. Early designs were marked by their small size, light armor, and high speed compared to contemporary foreign counterparts. The first pre-dreadnought battleship design, the Ammiraglio di Saint Bon class, was constrained by budgetary limits imposed by the legislature. Two ships were ordered by the class's namesake, Admiral Simone de Pacoret Saint Bon, though the design was also influenced by Benedetto Brin, who replaced di Saint Bon as naval minister after his death. Brin designed the next pair of battleships, the Regina Margherita class. These ships were larger than the preceding class, and were intended to challenge the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg-class battleships then under construction. Brin himself died during the construction process. Vittorio Cuniberti designed the next class of small pre-dreadnoughts, the Regina Elena class, which were the fastest battleships in the world at the time of their completion. These ships all served in the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–12, where they were primarily used to provide naval gunfire support for the Italian ground troops, as the Ottoman Navy largely confined itself to port.By the time that the Regina Elenas had been built in the early 1900s, the British battleship HMS Dreadnought had been completed, a revolutionary design that rendered all previous battleships obsolete. Therefore, a new dreadnought-type battleship was needed. The new ship was Dante Alighieri, and was designed by Rear Admiral Edoardo Masdea. The Italian Navy built five further battleships to two similar designs: the Conte di Cavour and Andrea Doria classes. These six dreadnoughts formed the core of the Italian fleet during World War I, as a further four-ship class was cancelled. Both the Italian and Austro-Hungarian navies adopted cautious fleet policies and neither chose to risk their capital ships in a major engagement; as a result, the Italian battle line spent the war in harbor and did not see combat. Nevertheless, the dreadnought Leonardo da Vinci was destroyed by a magazine explosion in August 1916. The pre-dreadnought Benedetto Brin was also destroyed by an internal explosion in September 1915, and her sister Regina Margherita was sunk by a German mine in December 1916. The remaining battleships of the Ammiraglio di Saint Bon and Regina Elena classes were discarded after the end of the war.In the interwar period, the Italian Navy—along with the rest of the major naval powers—was limited by the Washington Naval Treaty, which granted Italy parity with the French Navy. The Italians had 70,000 long tons (71,000 t) worth of battleship tonnage available for new vessels before they would reach their treaty limits, but they avoided new construction in the 1920s due to severe budgetary problems and to avoid a naval arms race with France. These financial limitations also forced the Italians to scrap Dante Alighieri in 1928. Nevertheless, the Regia Marina decided to make use of its excess tonnage by the early 1930s, which resulted in the four Littorio-class battleships. Two were finished early in World War II and were used extensively to escort convoys during the North African Campaign. The third ship, Roma, was finished in 1942, but was sunk in September 1943 by a German radio-controlled bomb when Italy surrendered to the Allies. The fourth ship, Impero, was never finished and was instead sunk by American bombers and scrapped after the end of the war. The two surviving ships, Littorio and Vittorio Veneto, were surrendered to the Allies and were later broken up for scrap. Of the surviving members of the Conte di Cavour class, Conte di Cavour was scrapped after the end of the war and Giulio Cesare was surrendered to the Soviet Union as war reparations. Only the two Andrea Doria-class battleships survived in Italian service for any significant length of time after the conclusion of hostilities; both served as training ships until the mid-1950s, when they too were broken up for scrap.

List of dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy

This is a list of dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

In 1907, before the revolution in design brought about by HMS Dreadnought of 1906, the United Kingdom had 62 battleships in commission or building, a lead of 26 over France and 50 over the German Empire. The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 prompted an arms race with major strategic consequences, as countries built their own dreadnoughts. Possession of modern battleships was not only vital to naval power, but also represented a nation's standing in the world. Germany, France, the Russian Empire, Japan, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and the United States all began dreadnought programmes; and second-rank powers including the Ottoman Empire, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile commissioned dreadnoughts to be built in British and American shipyards.The Royal Navy at the start of the First World War was the largest navy in the world due, in the most part, to The Naval Defence Act 1889 and the two-power standard which called for the navy to maintain a number of battleships at least equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies. The majority of the Royal Navy's strength was deployed at home in the Grand Fleet, with the primary aim of drawing the German High Seas Fleet into an engagement. The Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy did come into contact, notably in the Battle of Jutland, but no decisive naval battle came.

The inter-war period saw the battleship subjected to strict international limitations to prevent a costly arms race breaking out. Faced with the prospect of a naval arms race against Great Britain and Japan, which would in turn have led to a possible Pacific war, the United States was keen to conclude the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This treaty limited the number and size of battleships that each major nation could possess, and required Britain to accept parity with the U.S. and to abandon the British alliance with Japan. The Washington treaty was followed by a series of other naval treaties to limit warship size and numbers, concluding with the Second London Naval Treaty in 1936. These treaties became effectively obsolete on 1 September 1939 at the beginning of Second World War.The treaty limitations meant that fewer new battleships were launched from 1919–1939 than from 1905–1914. The treaties also inhibited development by putting maximum limits on the weights of ships and forced the Royal Navy into compromise designs for the Nelson and King George V classes. Designs like the projected British N3-class battleship continued the trend to larger ships with bigger guns and thicker armour, but never got off the drawing board. Those designs which were commissioned during this period were referred to as treaty battleships. After the Second World War, the Royal Navy's four surviving King George V-class ships were scrapped in 1957 and Vanguard followed in 1960. All other surviving British battleships had been sold or broken up by 1949.

Naval artillery

Naval artillery is artillery mounted on a warship, originally used only for naval warfare, later also for shore bombardment and for anti-aircraft use. The term generally refers to tube-launched projectile-firing weapons and excludes self-propelled projectiles like torpedoes, rockets, and missiles and those simply dropped overboard like depth charges and naval mines.

Regia Marina

The Regia Marina (pronounced [ˈrɛːdʒa maˈriːna]; Italian for "Royal Navy") was the navy of the Kingdom of Italy (Regno d'Italia) from 1861 to 1946. In 1946, with the birth of the Italian Republic (Repubblica Italiana), the Regia Marina changed its name to Marina Militare ("Military Navy").

Regina Elena-class battleship

The Regina Elena class was a group of four pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Italian Regia Marina between 1901 and 1908. The class comprised four ships: Regina Elena, the lead ship, Vittorio Emanuele, Roma, and Napoli. Designed by Vittorio Cuniberti, they were armed with a main battery of two 12-inch (300 mm) guns and twelve 8 in (200 mm) guns, and were capable of a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). They were the fastest battleships in the world at the time of their commissioning, faster even than the British turbine-powered HMS Dreadnought.

The ships saw service during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912 with the Ottoman Empire. They frequently supported Italian ground forces during the campaigns in North Africa and the islands of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They served during World War I, in which Italy participated from 1915 to 1918, but they saw no combat as a result of the cautious policies adopted by the Italian and Austro-Hungarian navies. All four ships were discarded between 1923 and 1926 and broken up for scrap.

South Carolina-class battleship

The South Carolina-class battleships, also known as the Michigan class, were built during the first decade of the twentieth century for the United States Navy. Named South Carolina and Michigan, they were the first American dreadnoughts—powerful warships whose capabilities far outstripped those of the world's older battleships.

In the opening years of the twentieth century, the prevailing theory of naval combat was that battles would continue to be fought at relatively close range using many small, fast-firing guns. As such, each of the ships in the United States' previous battleship class (the Connecticut class) had many medium-sized weapons alongside four large guns. This paradigm, however, was soon to be subverted, as American naval theorists proposed that a ship mounting a homogeneous battery of large guns would be more effective in battle.

As their ideas began to enjoy wider acceptance, the US Congress authorized the country's Navy to construct two small 16,000-long-ton (16,000 t) battleships. This displacement was roughly the same size as the Connecticut class and at least 2,000 long tons (2,000 t) smaller than the foreign standard. A solution was found in an ambitious design drawn up by Rear Admiral Washington L. Capps, the chief of the navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair; it traded heavy armament and relatively thick armor—both favored by naval theorists—for speed.

With their superfiring main armament, press accounts billed South Carolina and Michigan, alongside the British HMS Dreadnought, as heralding a new epoch in warship design. Both, however, were soon surpassed by ever-larger and stronger super-dreadnoughts. The class's low top speed of about 18.5 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h), as compared to the 21-knot (24 mph; 39 km/h) standard of later American battleships, relegated them to serving with older, obsolete battleships during the First World War. After the end of the conflict and the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, both South Carolinas were scrapped.

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