"Imagine a floating castle 110 feet long and 75 feet wide rising 10 feet out of the water,’ with two guns in each turret of the most powerful description ‘capable of firing all four together at an enemy ahead or on either beam, and in pairs towards every point on the compass’, a powerful ram bow’, and far thicker armour than on any previous ship. Moreover,’ No pains have been spared to protect her against underwater attack,’ for in addition to the armoured deck, the hull was divided into 127 water-tight compartments,’ and all of these engineering marvels had been accomplished ‘without an increase in cost…" Nathaniel Barnaby addressing the Institute of Naval Architects 1874 (Birth of the Battleship, Chatham Publishing, London, 2001 by John Beeler, at page 122)
Nathaniel Barnaby was the Chief Constructor for the Royal Navy and he was speaking of HMS Inflexible. That ship, which was commanded by Jackie Fisher in the Bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 was arguably the greatest creation during his tenure. It mounted the heaviest muzzle loading guns ever placed on a British warship and to this day holds the record for thickest armor at 24 inches. However, in large measure the Inflexible was in response from activities in an unexpected direction. Decade after decade the Admiralty had eyed the French Navy and their battle fleet development. There really was no other competitor. Then in 1873 a startling design appeared not from France but from Italy. When Barnaby was addressing his colleagues, he apparently was unaware of the exact specifications of this striking new design, as his Inflexible would not live up to his comments.
A unified Italy had only been in existence for a single generation by 1873. Its traditional enemy was the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in 1866 the two powers had gone to war. Italy possessed the superior fleet but at the Battle of Lissa, the Italian Fleet had been defeated. The Italian government had spent enormous sums to develop a powerful fleet of ironclads and now their fleet had not only lost, but also was humiliated by the Imperialists from Vienna. The navy fell out of favor and funding dried to a trickle. In a few more years, Italy was fortunate to have a man of vision as her chief naval architect. Benedetto Brin was that man and he created a new design that not only overawed anything that the Austrian Fleet possessed but also shook the halls of the Admiralty. This design was the Caio Duilio. No less an authority than Oscar Parkes has ranked the Duilio design, along with the initial ironclad, the French Gloire and British Dreadnought of 1905 as one of the most provocative capitol ships ever created. Duilio ushered into the arena of warship construction, the Era of the Monster Gun.
By 1870 Italy was looking not only at the Austrian Fleet in the Adriatic but also the growth of the French Navy in the Mediterranean. Instead of building a lot of mediocre or inferior ships, Brin was convinced that the right approach for the Italian Navy was to build only a few ships of the highest possible quality. On January 6, 1873 the Caio Duilio was laid down at La Spezia Navy Yard. In a curious manner the British Inflexible design and Italian Duilio design played a game of leapfrog. As details of one design became known, the other designer would try to surpass that feature. In an era of uncertainty in capitol ship designs and very slow, almost glacial building times, it was very common to make modifications to a design during building. Prior to the construction of Duilio and Inflexible, no serious harm had been observed by this process but with these two making a series of significant changes because of the other, both designs were affected. "At that time the pernicious results of meddling with design during construction had not been appreciated, and it was the common practice to introduce all sorts of modifications in order to bring a ship suffering from belated building into line with new developments in armament and protection. In the case of the Duilio the latitude allowed was unfortunately exercised to the full, with far-reaching repercussions in our own Construction Department, as it brought about the first monster gun phase and all the expediencies in methods in protection which had to be adopted in battleships of limited displacement during the next decade." (British Battleships, Archon Books, Hamden, Connecticut 1972, by Dr. Oscar Parkes, at page 244)
In 1869 Sir Edward Reed, chief designer of the Royal Navy, had prepared studies on an ironclad with a central armored citadel with unarmored ends. Only the citadel would be armored with the bow and stern portions unarmored. It would not matter if the unarmored ends were flooded above the armored deck, which was below the waterline. As long as the citadel and underwater portions of the ends remained water-tight, the ship would retain buoyancy. In Reed’s designs the citadel ran 200 feet or 2/3rds the length of the hull. After the loss of the turret ship Captain, the Admiralty formed a committee to determine the loss of the ship. The reason for her loss was not known for some time, which reflected a marked uncertainty in the new area of ocean-going turret ship construction. The 1871 Admiralty Committee on Design of Ships of War recommended that low freeboard breastwork monitors be built without masts and for the RN to quit building masted cruising vessels. Both documents were widely circulated. Barnaby certainly saw them, since he was the brother-in-law of Reed but it is entirely likely that Brin saw them as well. In either event both the Duilio and Inflexible adopted the citadel armor concept with unarmored ends and twin turrets en echelon amidships. However, there were certain significant differences between Reed’s concept and the actual layout of Duilio or Inflexible. With the Reed concept, the ship would pump in water to lower the unarmored ends below the waterline before battle and there was no armor for the guns. For Duilio and Inflexible armor had to be provided for the guns in heavy turrets and there was no provision to lower the ship before battle.
However, there was another development in 1871. The arms merchants of Armstrong and Whitworth announced that they were ready to produce artillery far larger than anything built before. The Royal Navy had mounted guns up to 12-inch in size but didn’t want to upset the apple cart, as the status quo in naval armaments worked very well for them. At this period of time naval guns were rated by the weight of the gun. Originally Brin anticipated mounting four 35-ton guns in Duilio, arranged with two guns in each of the turrets. A 35-ton gun was a little bit larger than a 30-ton 10-inch gun. With larger guns available from Armstrongs, the Duilio was redesigned to accommodate 60-ton guns, which were about 13-inch guns. The Inflexible was designed for four 60-ton guns but the fact that Duilio had changed to accommodate the same sized artillery changed these plans. Barnaby had promised guns of the most powerful description. How could the premier sea-power in the world continue with a design for its most powerful battleship when all it would do would be to tie a design of the upstart Italian navy and a ship that came into service earlier to boot? Now this just wouldn’t do. If the Italians were going to jump their guns up from 35-tons to 60-tons to match those of the Inflexible, then the Royal Navy would go further to provide the biggest guns in the world for her new wonder. Barnaby, in light of Brin’s Duilio plan, redrew Inflexible to mount 80-ton (16.6-inch) guns. "Her conception was that of an age obsessed with the might of individual ships as though, as in the age of chivalry, Inflexible the Champion of England would meet Duilio of Italy in a single joust." (The Design of HMS Inflexible, Warship Volume IV, Conway Maritime Press, London 1980, by D.K. Brown, at page 148) If there was going to be engagement of matched pairs, Barnaby was determined that the Royal Navy would come to the fight with the biggest guns. With the change to larger guns, the Inflexible could no longer train both turrets on broadside. The guns in the unengaged side could no longer clear the superstructure to allow cross deck fire.
Just like Barnaby, Brin was also determined that his design would mount the biggest guns in the world. If the British were going to jump their gun size ahead of his Duilio, he would return the favor and leapfrog ahead of them. Time for another trip to Armstrongs. The solution was the "Monster Gun". The Duilio and sistership Dandolo won the armaments race to have the largest guns in the world. Both carried four 102-ton 17.7-inch/20 guns Muzzle Loaded Rifles (MLR). These guns fired a 2,000 pound shell with a 551 pound charge at a muzzle velocity of 1700 feet/second. On March 6, 1880 one of the guns burst inside the turret while firing a 551 pound charge. Barnaby could not follow suit and was out of trump. His Inflexible could not mount heavier guns and Barnaby could not increase Inflexible’s displacement or size. Sir Edward Reed visited the La Spezia yard and examined the Italian design. He wrote that the central citadel was too short to provide for buoyancy of the ship. He believed if the unarmored ends were flooded, the ship would founder. In that regard he stated, "I visited Spezia and found they were in great difficulties. They had made miscalculations; they were obliged to contract the armour, and the proposal at the time was to put in some boilers outside the armoured part of the vessel. Then having got the ships in that state they had to defend them and do the best they could with them. Then they took the next step and said ‘We will build ships with only patches of armour here and there to protect this and to protect that, but as we know their floating power is unprotected, we will give them abundant speed and keep them well out of the way of all armoured ships." (British Battleships, Archon Books, Hamden, Connecticut 1972, by Dr. Oscar Parkes, at page 244) He also criticized the Inflexible on the same grounds. The Italian Navy as well as Barnaby both denied his accusations on their respective ships.
Duilio was built to be powered by steam alone. She had a single mast but no sails. It is odd that Brin followed the recommendations of the 1871 RN committee on warship design when Barnaby ignored them with Inflexible, which carried a full set of sail on two masts. This proved to be a waste and failure, as Inflexible wallowed like a drunken sailor on sails alone. Brin had determined to maximize the speed and armor of the Duilio, as well as her armament. Her maximum speed was 15-knots, which was fast for the period. Her range was 4,330 miles at 10-knots. When it came to the ship’s armor, it was Barnaby’s Inflexible that won the race. Inflexible mounted an armored belt of 24-inches in thickness. This width was never matched again. Still, the Duilio was very well armored with a belt of 21.6-inches. A below water armored deck was designed to provide buoyancy for the unarmored ends and the are above the deck was heavily subdivided with 83 watertight compartments, so you can’t really take Reed’s comments at face value. In addition to the "Monster Guns" of Duilio, she was equipped with three 14-inch (356mm) torpedo tubes. Although no lighter guns were mounted, Duilio did have another, very interesting feature. She carried her own 26.5 ton torpedo boat, the Clio, mounting two 14-inch torpedoes. This alone was not unique as other contemporary capitol ships also carried torpedo boats. What made the Duilio design unique was the location in which the Clio was stored. Other designs carried their torpedo boats on skids on top of the deck and were moved by heavy booms. However, if you look a photographs of Duilio or her profile, you won’t see the Clio on skids over the deck of Duilio. The Clio was carried in a special compartment inside the stern of the Duilio. Clamshell doors at the stern of the Duilio would open and the Clio could leave the ship or be recovered. This feature was amazing in a capitol ship of the 1870s, as the concept is still viable in the 21st century with amphibious warfare ships.
One would think that the Clio would be used just for torpedo attack but that would be incorrect. The Naval Annual 1886 the very first issue of this outstanding annual naval publication, carried a four page article entitled "Evolutions of the Italian Navy 1885" at pages 141 to 145, plus a full page map on page 140. Basically it was a report on the 1885 Italian Navy maneuvers. The fleet was divided into two portions. The Eastern Squadron had two old ironclads, one cruiser, one sloop, and four torpedo oats. The much stronger Western Squadron had Duilo and Dandolo, two old ironclads, one sloop, a steam watering vessel (whatever that is), and nine torpedo boats. The Western Squadron was to catch and destroy the Eastern Squadron. Most of the maneuvers took place between the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, but of course in Sardinian waters. Obviously this was close enough to French owned Corsica to excite the curiosity of the French but not too close. In the course of these maneuvers, Duilio launched the Clio and also used her steam launches as reconnaissance assets to reconnoiter all the coves and inlets along the northeast coast of Sardinia. The torpedo boats were also used as pickets. At night they would patrol the entrances to the squadron anchorage, just as destroyers were used in World War Two for picket duty. Of course in a time before wireless communication, they had to be within signal light distance to be able to flash a warning.
The 17.7-inch guns of Duilio had fixed firing positions. Since the guns were muzzleloaders, the turrets had to swing the guns inboard and depress the guns into armored hoods, which rose from the deck. Hydraulic rammers underneath the deck would move the charge and shells up the muzzle into their firing positions. The process was very slow. The rate of fire of the giant guns was a glacial one round every 15-minutes. The guns were of cast iron with steel tubes. Dr. Parkes thought that the giant guns of Duilio hurt her fighting vale. "But by vastly over-gunning them their actual fighting value was sadly diminished. Their hulls would never had withstood the stress of continuous firing, while the chances of securing a hit with such slow-firing weapons was out of all proportion to their smashing power, compared with the handier and more accurate guns that they replaced. " (British Battleships, Archon Books, Hamden, Connecticut 1972, by Dr. Oscar Parkes, at page 244) Either way the design ignited an era of extremely large, very slow firing monster guns, that were the rage for the next decade. It seems that naval designs also change like fashions. What is hot one season is passé the next.
Duilio was modernized in 1890 and again in 1900. During refits, she was given smaller QF guns. First they were three 4.7-inch (120mm) guns in 1890 and then in 1900 two 75mm, eight 57mm and four 37mm guns. In 1909 the first of the Monster Gun ships was stripped of all armament and converted into a floating fuel barge for oil and coal. Dandolo went a different route. She received a complete rebuild, which landed her giant guns and replaced them with four 10-inch (254mm), seven 6-inch (152mm), 29 small QF guns, and four 17.7-inch (450mm) torpedo tubes. During World War One Dandolo served as a floating battery at Brindisi and then at Valona. She was stricken in 1920. (History from: Armstrongs and the Italian Navy, Warship 2002-2003, by Peter Brook; British Battleships, Archon Books, Hamden, Connecticut 1972, by Dr. Oscar Parkes; The Design of HMS Inflexible, Warship Volume IV, Conway Maritime Press, London 1980, by D.K. Brown;)
The Delphis Ciao Duilio
As the first example of a central citadel turret ship the Caio Duilio is a very good representative of one type of battleship being constructed by the world’s naval powers in the 1870s and 1880s. Because of the very heavy weight of the armor and turrets the ship had a very low freeboard to maintain stability. Another characteristic of the battleships of this period was the limited superstructure present in the design. The Delphis Caio Duilio captured these characteristics in spades. The hull is short, low but absolutely loaded with detail. If anything, the additional parts for the superstructure serve to compliment the tremendous amount of detail that are part of the hull casting. Most model ships are somewhat lacking in hull side detail because usually the hull sides are smooth and featureless on most warships. That is decidedly not true with this design. This ship is loaded with side features as well as deck features that are captured in resin by Delphis. The ship has a straight cutwater above the waterline and right from the prowl of the Delphis Duilio there seems to be fine detail with ever centimeter from bow to stern. From the start you’ll find that the Duilio is festooned with anchors, four at the bow and four at the stern. Delphis has cast six of these as part of the hull. The two forward anchors and all four stern anchors are hull detail. The forward anchors rest on slanting billboards with drooping anchor chain leading forward to deck edge hawse. On each side of the hull there is another anchor hawse, forward and lower than the deck edge hawse. This is for the another anchor, which is cast separately. Instead of resting on a flat billboard, this anchor was catted so a portion was on a pedestal with one fluke overhanging the hull. The two different types of anchor positions certainly add variety. An even longer run of nicely done drooping anchor chain runs these aft anchors. Also at the bow is the first of a number of vertical strakes. Immediately behind the anchor positions starts a series of square window openings. These are typical of the period with a round porthole within a square shutter that could be raised for ventilation. There are six of these on the bow divided into groups of three. They are a little too thick but in this scale look right. There are two larger square doors mounted underneath the row of windows. These are somewhat of a puzzle. Normally I would assume they are for above water torpedo tubes but there are four doors and only three tubes were carried.
Amidships is dominated by the armor belt of the central citadel. Above that are boat booms, stored flat against the hull. Above the aft end of the belt, the row of square windows starts again. The stern detail is even more interesting than that on the bow. The small square windows continue on and there is another of the lower square large ports. Four support brackets run down the side of the hull from the deck edge. The forward two are for davits for the largest of the ship’s boats. The aft two are small anchor cranes for the two aft anchors on each side, which are molded onto the hull sides. On the quarterdeck is a narrow deckhouse with square windows doors and four more support brackets for davits for the smaller ship’s boats. However, the real curiosity is at the stern. As mentioned in the history, the Duilio carried her own torpedo boat, not stored on her deck, as in other designs, but within the ship in a special chamber in the stern. Hinged clamshell doors would open for the torpedo boat to sally forth. Well, sure enough, the detail is there, as there are distinctive hinges on both sides of the stern and the separation line between the two halves can be clearly seen on the overhead plan.
The Delphis Duilio has far more hull side detail than almost all other 1:700 scale ship models but the deck detail is even greater. Deck planking is somewhat unusual in that all of the planks are not of the same uniform width. The forecastle is dominated by the four slanting anchor billboards. There are two large open chocks at the both and a series of access hatches centerline. Running on either side are anchor chains, which run through the open chock/hawse for the forward anchors. Anchor fittings and windlasses are next found, along with two more access hatches. Locator pins for the small forward superstructure/stack are next found, followed by more access hatches. Some of the larger deck hatches must be for the coal bunkers because, although there are some finely detailed deck coal scuttles, there are not that many of them. Amidships of the deck is dominated by the very large turret mountings, arranged diagonally. You can clearly see armored hoods coming up from the deck for loading the guns, which were muzzle loaded. Between the two turret bases are locator pins for more superstructure. The stern plan reflects the presence of the deckhouse. That deck is loaded with detail, including plates for QF guns, triangular skylights, deck hatches and other detail. The main deck has winches at the forward end of the deckhouse, open chocks at either side of the stern and of course the clamshell doors separation line.
The turret parts are fascinating. The turrets are low and feature a cage on their exterior surfaces, which enclose storage bags of some kind. There is a very clear photograph of this in Birth of the Battleship, and the bags appear to be crew sea bags, or maybe coal sacks of about four to five feet in height. The stubby banded barrels have hollow muzzles. The turret crowns not only have sighting hoods but also four large features that maybe skylights or ventilators. The superstructure is primarily a large and long flying bridge. There are three superstructure components, which serve as the foundation for the flying bridge. Fore and aft are the superstructure/funnel trunk supports. These are round and oval with a wider flared base with numerous ventilator cowls emanating from the bases. In the middle is a rectangular canteen-shaped structure, which not only is the center support for the flying bridge, but also serves as the base for the single mast. Both stacks are short. One is round and one is oval but both have stack grills. The largest of the smaller parts is the flying deck. It is asymmetrical as far as the deck openings, which are of different shapes for the stack trunking and center support. The deck has planking detail on the top and rather heavy support beams underneath. Other smaller resin detail includes fighting top, various shaped ventilators, mast parts, anchors, davits, anchor cranes, and ship’s boats.
There are six pages of instructions. When you first look at them, they can be confusing. Text is in Italian but the key to the instructions is found on the page with the resin parts drawings. There are four different runners of resin parts with multiple duplicate runners for four of them. Each runner design is number and each part on the runner is given a letter. Drawings of the smaller parts do not appear in the assembly drawings. Instead the alphanumeric designation of the specific part is listed with a line running to the attachment location. The system should work well but without a drawing of the specific part in the assembly, it is easier to make a mistake and use the wrong part. Bottom line is just double check the alphanumeric number with the resin parts drawing. Of the six pages of instructions, one page is the ship’s history, one page is the parts laydown, one page is a painting chart (although I wouldn’t use gloss white or black as recommended), and three pages of assembly instructions. Two of these are overhead plans and one a profile. The profile page also contains rigging instructions for the single mast.
Delphis has brought a very unusual but highly historic warship to life in 1:700 scale. Neither the Caio Duilio, nor the Dandolo ever saw action. However, their appearance triggered more than a decade of warship designs that carried very slow firing monster guns of increasing size. Further confirming the visionary design of this class are the clamshell doors for internal storage of a torpedo boat. Delphis has done a very good job in bringing this design to the modeler.