The Roma was the last in the line of battleships built by Italy. The country had produced some remarkable and often innovative battleship designs ever since unification of the Italian States in mid 19th century. In the 1880s Italian battleships Italia and Lepanto, equipped with huge guns with high speed for the time but with minimal armor caused concern even with the Royal Navy. At the start of the 20th century Italian designs often introduced new concepts. The Regina Elena class first laid down in 1901 was an early prototype of a fast battleship but she sacrificed armor and gun-power for her high speed of 21-knots. With Dante Alighieri of 1909 Italy was first to create a design featuring the triple gun turret as well as having secondary guns mounted in turrets. She too was designed for higher than normal speed at 23-knots. Although not all designs were physically attractive, Italian battleships were often known for their physical beauty. The RN Roma of World War Two has to stand as one of the most attractive and graceful battleships ever constructed.

Before World War One Italy was allied with Germany and Austro-Hungary and considered France as her most likely opponent. Accordingly her naval construction programs were centered to counter French moves. Her first three dreadnought designs centered around the 12-inch gun, starting with the Dante Alighier. In 1910 three more battleships of a much improved design, the Cavour Class, consisting of Conte di Cavour, Giulio Cesare and Leonardo da Vinci. In 1912 two more ships were ordered to a slightly improved design, the Duilio Class, consisting of Caio Duilio and Andrea Doria. With the last two Italy chose to stay with the 12-inch gun in spite of the fact that Great Britain had moved on to the 13.5-inch as main armament. There were two basic reasons for this: her likely opponent France still built her ships with that armament, as well as did neighbor Austro-Hungary and Italy did not have the necessary infrastructure to prepare a heavier weapon and did not want to delay construction to do so. The next design leaped from the 12-inch to the 15-inch gun in main armament. The four ships of the Francesco Caracciolo Class were laid down in 1914. However, when Italy entered the war on the side of the allies all work on these heavily gunned ships was stopped and ships were cancelled in 1916.


Plan, Profile & Quarter Views
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Italy suffered one loss to her dreadnought fleet during the war. Late in the night of August 2, 1916 a fire developed near the aft magazine of the da Vinci. The captain ordered the magazines flooded but before that happened, the magazine blew up. The ship capsized in shallow water. Thought was given to raising her but it was decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. She was refloated but only for scrapping. After the war Italy did not have the finances to start new construction and saw no problem with her allowance of battleships under the terms of the Washington Treaty. Under the treaty she could start a new 35,000-ton battleship in 1927 with another following in 1929. The Regia Marina still eyed France as the most likely opponent and wanted numbers rather than size. With the allowable tonnage it was thought wiser to build three smaller 23,000 ton battleships armed with the 13.5-inch gun. This was subsequently amended to each ship carrying six 15-inch guns with the appearance of a much larger version of the cruiser Pola. However, the appearance of the French Dunquerque upset the apple cart and Italian designers went back to the drawing board. Now the admirals wanted two 35,000-ton ships rather than the three smaller ships.

Initially the 16-inch gun was chosen for the main armament but again Italy found that she could not produce the desired ordnance. Since she had produced a 15-inch gun for the cancelled Caracciolo Class, that gun was adopted for the new design. The final design far exceeded the 35,000-ton treaty limit. At 40,724-tons, the pair of Vittorio Veneto and Littorio were the heaviest battleships laid down since HMS Hood to be completed. In the late 1920s the Regia Marina had built heavy cruisers over the treaty limit and lied about their true displacement so it was an easy matter for them to do the same with these twins. As with the earlier cruisers the navy did not want to sacrifice any design requirement to come within the treaty limits. Both ships were laid down on October 28, 1934.


Bow to Amidships Hull Detail
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In spite of the excess tonnage, the Italian design did sacrifice one key attribute, range. Operations were really not anticipated outside the Mediterranean and therefore the class was never expected to wander too far from an Italian port. A comparison of the ranges of the last battleships to be built upon resumption of modern battleship construction reveals the following: Vittorio Veneto – October 1934, 128,000shp 30 knots, 4,580nm at 16 knots: Richelieu – October 1935, 150,000shp 30 knots, 5,500nm at 18 knots: Bismarck – July 1936, 163,000shp 30 knots, 8,410nm at 15 knots: King George V – January 1937, 110,000shp 28.5 knots, 15,600nm at 10 knots: Yamato – 150,000shp 27.5 knots, 7,200nm at 16 knots: North Carolina – October 1937, 121,000shp 28 knots, 15,000nm at 15 knots. With less than a third of the range of the USS North Carolina the class was clearly limited in the event of Atlantic operations. The ships had four shafts with both Littorio and Vittorio Veneto exceeding the designed 30 knots on trials. This is hardly surprising as the ships were not fully loaded. Littorio hit 31.29 knots on 137,649shp on 41,122 tons while Vittorio Veneto was slightly faster at 31.43 knots on 132,771shp at 41,471 tons.

The armor scheme for the pair incorporated the uniquely Italian Pugliese cylinder system. This system had been previously used on the rebuilds of the older battleships and used a hollow steel cylinder twelve ½ feet in diameter. The cylinder ran the length of the armored citadel of the ship and served as a shock absorber against torpedo hits. In theory the cylinder would absorb the shock of torpedo damage and crush before the shock reached the inner armored bulkhead. The class carried a respectful scheme of armored protection. The disposition was somewhat odd in that the external belt was only 70mm in thickness with the main belt of 280mm located inboard from the side by 250mm. The external belt was designed to decap AP shells before they reached the main belt. The belt ran from the front of A barbette to the end of X barbette with 210mm transverse bulkheads connecting the side belts, forward and aft. Turret armor was 350mm on their faces and 200mm on the sides. Barbette armor was 350mm above the deck and 280mm below. Even the secondary turrets had an impressive 280mm of armor on their faces. The central conning tower tube was a tapering structure that extended through all of the levels of the forward superstructure. At the lower levels the armor here was only 60mm but from there key levels had up to 250mm of armor.


Amidships Hull Detail
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All of the armament was of new design. The 15-inch guns were not repeats of those built for the Caracciolo but a 1934 Model 15-inch/50 built by Ansado for the Littorio and OTO for the Vittorio Veneto. These nine guns fired a shell weighing 1,951 pounds. The maximum elevation was 35 degrees, which gave the guns a maximum range of 46,216 yards. The 6-inch/55 secondary guns were also apportioned between the two manufacturers. The Ansaldo Model 1934 equipped the Littorio and the OTO Model 1936 equipped the Vittorio Veneto. These were designed for surface combat and not DP work, although they did have special AA barrage rounds. They fired a shell of 110 pounds and had a range of 28,150 yards. Antiaircraft defense was surprisingly extensive for the time and particularly impressive when compared against the USN and RN designs. Heavy AA came in the form of twelve 3.5-inch/50 guns mounted singly in turrets flanking the superstructure. Light AA comprised twenty Breda 37mm/54 guns in eight twin and four single mounts and sixteen 20mm Breda 20mm/65 guns organized in eight twin mounts. In common with other navies, as the war progressed, additional 20mm AA guns were added. Roma completed with twenty-eight 20mm guns placed in twin mountings. There were also variations in the superstructure and the shape of the bow in Roma, that distinguished her from her two sisters. The bow of the Roma had a greater sheer than her two sisters, giving her a greater freeboard and making her the most attractive of the three ships completed in the class. She also was equipped with only one anchor on the starboard, instead of two found in Vittorio Veneto and Littorio.

On unique feature of this class was the break at the extreme aft to the low quarterdeck. For one thing that limited blast damage from the guns of X turret, which was also limited by the high X barbette. As originally proposed there were to be two catapults amidships with hangars but this was declined. Then a truly visionary proposal was made. Why not use the low quarterdeck to operate six La Cierva autogyros, which was an early form of the helicopter. That too was ditched in favor of a conventional single catapult with two, then three Meridianali RO.43 floatplanes. By 1942 one Ro.43 in Littorio was landed in favor of loading a wheeled Re.2000 fighter and Vittorio Veneto landed two of the floatplanes for two of the land fighters. The Re.2000 fighters carried by the battleships were a special long-range variant. They were wheeled and could not be recovered after launch. Given the deteriorating aerial situation it was decided that it would be better to have the limited "fire and forget" protection of the non-recoverable fighters, rather than scout floatplanes.


Amidships to Quarterdeck Hull Detail
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As ambitious projects, the first pair were slow in building. Almost three years passed from them being laid down to being launched in the summer of 1937. Also in 1937 two more of the class, slightly modified, were ordered as the Roma and Impero, both of which were laid down in 1938. The initial pair were just completing when Italy jumped into World War Two with Vittorio Veneto completed on April 28, 1940 and Littorio completed on May 6, 1940 after almost six years in construction. Vittorio Veneto had actually been first used for machinery trials in October 1939. She joined the fleet at Taranto on May 15, 1940. Neither ship was made fully operational until August 2, 1940.

By 1937 the political situation in Europe had grown much worse. Mussolini had ordered the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and withdrawn from the League of Nations. When the Vittorio Veneto was designed, she was aimed to counter the French Dunkerque and Strasbourg. Now the Regia Marina had to worry about the Royal Navy as well. To the Italian admirals the two new battleships and four rebuilt battleships were not sufficient to counter the likely French and British opposition in the Mediterranean. More new battleship construction was needed. The Vittorio Veneto design was slightly modified for two new battleships, Roma and Impero. Both were laid down in 1938, four years after the first pair, and were named to connect Mussolini’s Italy with the ancient Roman Empire, as well as with the fact that the King of Italy had also been given the title of Emperor of Ethiopia.

Roma was laid down on September 18, 1938 and launched on June 9, 1940. Since Italy had entered World War Two on the side of Germany, it was decided to complete the Roma but to suspend completion of Impero, which had actually been launched earlier on November 15, 1939. Although the first pair saw significant action in the Mediterranean Theater, mainly as victim of British air attacks, the Roma was not completed until June 14, 1942. By that time the Regia Marina was far less active due to critical fuel shortages. Roma was made fleet flagship but because of the lack of fuel and the dominance of the Royal Navy by the summer of 1942, she made only 20 sorties but saw no combat against the allies. Her sole action against the allies was to be damaged in an air attack in two attacks in June 1943. On June 5, 1943 two bomb hits caused extensive damage forward and the ship took on 2,350 tons of water. On June 23 Roma was hit by another two bombs. However, damage was minimal on this occasion and there was no flooding experienced. 


Armament
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With the Italian armistice of September 1943, Roma led the Italian Fleet to Malta with Admiral Carlos Bergamini on the bridge. At first the Italian fleet headed towards Salerno in the hopes that the Germans would think that it was going to attack allied forces headed there. Then the Italians changed course towards Malta but the Germans discovered the Italian plans and immediately ordered air attacks on their former partner. The allies had agreed to provide air cover for the Italian fleet’s voyage to Malta. So when aircraft appeared on the horizon, they were thought to be the promised allied fighters. On September 9, 1943, while in the Straits of Bonifacio, Roma was attacked by German bombers armed with a new breakthrough in technology, the guided missile. Eleven Do 217 bombers from KG 100 were armed with the new SD-1400X Fritz X glider bombs. These weapons had been used before and had hit HMS Warspite and USS Savannah but had not sunk a ship. The radio-guided bomb averaged 30% hits within 15 feet of the aiming point. Each missile weighed over 3,000 pounds and had an explosive charge of 660 pounds. The first wave of bombers missed at 15:37 but another wave came in shortly before 16:00. Two of these optically and radio guided missiles struck Roma. The first struck her amidships. It passed through and exploded under her keel. This hit caused significant structural damage to the hull and flooded one engine room and two boiler rooms. This knocked out the two center shafts and Roma fell out of line as she slowed. Because of her lower speed she was an easier target for the next strike. The second hit at 16:02 was near the bridge and B turret. The magazine for B turret detonated, blowing the huge turret off of the ship and into the sea beside her. The tower bridge sagged forward and to starboard because of the massive destruction of the support in the hull underneath. In this, the superstructure of stricken Roma went through the same process that caused the bridge of USS Arizona to sag forward when her forward magazine detonated from a bomb hit. Roma capsized, broke in two and sank soon afterwards, claiming Fleet Admiral Bergamini and 1,254 sailors. Of the crew, 596 were saved. (The bulk of the history of the RN Roma is from;Battleships, Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II 1985, by William Garzke, Jr. and Robert Dulin, Jr.; Battleships of World War Two 1998, by M. J. Whitley; Warship Volume I, The Littorio Class 1977, by Aldo Fraccaroli)

Regia Marina Roma
This kit by Regia Marina addresses the third and last of the class. Regia Marina also produces a 1:700 scale model of the first two of the class, Vittorio Veneto and Littorio. (Click for review of the Regia Marina Vittorio Veneto/Littorio) As with any post London Treaty battleship design, the Roma has a nice large hull. With the Regia Marina Roma a great deal of detail is part of the hull casting. The first thing that I checked was to compare the Regia Marina Roma with the Regia Marina Vittorio Veneto. Do the two kits differ in the details, which differentiated the two original ships? One of the most noticeable differences was the higher freeboard of the bow of Roma because of her greater sheer. In looking at the two bows, the difference is readily apparent. The difference in anchor arrangement between the two is also present with Roma having one anchor on each port and starboard and Vittorio Veneto having one to port and two to starboard. Another difference, found in the photo-etch is the bow ornament. Originally all three ships were launched with the Italian Star, Stella d’Italia, on the upper bow. However, with Roma the coat of arms of Rome replaced the star. The photo-etch in the kit contains lovely relief-etched coats of arms. Another difference was the slant of the windows of the admiral’s bridge. This was the lower set of windows on the forward face of the tower bridge. With the Vittorio Veneto and Littorio the windows slanted backwards as the rose. With the Roma the windows slanted very slightly forward as they rose. A comparison of the parts in both kits reflects this difference as being present in Roma. The lower bridge in the Veneto kit is one piece, whereas the Roma kit lower bridge is mad up of three pieces. A fifth difference was with the upper levels of the superstructure. The shapes of the director and range finders was different in Roma than the other two. Another quick check revealed that indeed the parts in the Roma kit did differ and had platform at the rear of these levels that were not present in he same parts for Veneto. Area by area the Regia Marina Roma kit differed from their Veneto kit in exactly the same manner that the original ships varied from each other. However, the Regia Marina Roma differs from the Regia Marina Vittorio Veneto in other ways. The Regia Marina Vittorio Veneto is an excellent kit, but not only has Regia Marina redesigned their Roma kit in the manner in which it is assembled but also the company has pumped up the detail in Roma.


Forward Superstructure & Stacks
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Many of modern battleship designs had rather smooth, featureless hull sides. This is certainly not true with the Roma. In a reverse of tumblehome the hull narrows slightly as it descends from the deck towards the anti-torpedo bulge. The torpedo bulge then juts dramatically outward as this is the area that contained the pugliese crush tanks. Because of these features in the original the hull sides of the Regia Marina kit are much more dramatic than the models of most other modern battleship kits. However, the bulge in Roma differs slightly from that in Veneto. With both it starts the same way slanting outward from the hull but then both slant back towards the hull. However, the angle is very slightly greater with the Roma forming a more noticeable knuckle. There are to rows of portholes but the top row has far fewer ports. The bow anchor positions are somewhat unusual in that the top edge is raised slightly above the foc’sle. On unusual aspect about this kit comes with the series of three boat booms on each side of the hull. All four booms are finely cast as part of the hull. The Roma hull also has a very narrow lip that was not present on the Veneto hull.

The Regia Marina kit also has a significant amount of the superstructure cast as part of the hull. This includes the barbettes, forward and aft 01 and 02 levels, and director towers. That does a number of things. It reduces the parts count, ensures that the superstructure levels are in alignment and simplifies assembly of the model. The simplification is significant in that even with this, this kit has plenty of parts and will take some time to assemble. Unlike the Veneto kit , which has the two stacks cast as part of the hull, the Roma kit has separate resin stacks. The superstructure sides have more detail than on the hull for obvious reasons. Included in the detail are square window ports, door openings, inclined ladders on the barbettes and ventilator louvers.


Aft Tower, Platforms & Smaller Parts
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Traditionally it is the deck of a model that packs the most detail and this also true with the Roma. With the Veneto kit that detail is very plentiful right from the bow, however it is even more so with the Roma. From the tip of the bow to the forward edge of A barbette, the forecastle is covered with textured plates. You can see individual plate lines and a very faint texturing on the plate surfaces. The Roma hull detail surpasses that of the Veneto kit in this area. There are all sorts of bitts, bollards, windlasses, reels, coamings and other fittings. Most of the winches and windlasses have very nice undercuts. Anchor chain is not cast on the deck as with Veneto and is provided as photo-etch. Also on the foc’sle is an odd feature that looks like an athwartship catapult but apparently is a fitting used for deployment of paravanes. With the Roma these lines slant slightly rearward towards centerline. Another odd feature of this design is the location of the breakwater. The breakwater is a fitting that "breaks" the flow of water coming over the bow onto the deck. It helps keep the deck behind it safer for crewmen. It is almost always found on the foc’sle ahead of the first turret. With the Roma it is located between A and B turrets. On the kit the breakwater is finely done with a series of rear face support gussets. With Roma this breakwater is more of a constant curve than the angular, three-faced breakwater of Veneto.

With Veneto there is less deck detail amidships but with Roma, this is an area that has been enhanced. There is a lot of detail on the 01 level around the superstructure base and the stacks. Some are cable reels, some are lockers and some are ventilator housings but it all adds up to a significant number of cast-on fittings. There are considerable smaller differences in size and shape of many of these fittings between the Roma and Veneto kits. Also amidships is where you’ll find the long ranks of AA gun turrets. There are also quite a few fittings near the aft superstructure. There is a flurry of detail around the Y barbette and then it really proliferates again on the quarterdeck. Amid the gamut of winches, bitts and bollards, there is a centerline track for aircraft trolleys. Another distinctive feature found at the stern is the curving rail for support of the forward edge of the catapult. The quarterdeck is one level below the main deck and at the deck break there is some nice undercut deck, overhanging the transverse bulkhead. The deck break bulkhead has more of an undercut with Roma, lacks the deck edge houses and has a square centerline house, rather than the curved one found on Veneto. The quarterdeck was the only deck in the ship with wood planking. With the Regia Marina Roma this wooden planking is outstanding. It is very finely done, subtle but extraordinarily detailed. The rows of planking include butt end detail. Previously I had only seen this level of detail in 1:700 deck planking in only one other kit, the White Ensign Models HMS Renown. No defects were observed in the hull casting but it will require a moderate amount of clean-up on the bottom. There are a number of resin pour stubs to remove and it needs to be leveled with sanding. There is nothing unusual here but it will take an amount of time in part, because of the hard resin used in the kit.


Photo-Etch - A & B Frets
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Smaller Resin Parts
Since most of the superstructure is cast as part of the hull, the chief subassemblies with center primarily around the forward tower and secondarily on the much shorter aft tower. Assembly of the tower is rather strait forward. The lower conning tower has seven levels with a separate part for each level. The Roma there are more parts to the tower bridge than with the Veneto because the Veneto had a one-piece casting for the three lower levels. Each level of the tower above that goes together layer after layer like a cake. Bridge windows are clearly defined and extremely good underside detail in the form of platform supports. Bridge levels also have vertical ladders cast on many levels. Each part has some pour stubs that will need to be removed and the juncture between the stub and part. The aft tower is simple in that it consists of a one-piece tower upon which various equipment is affixed. Other smaller superstructure parts include light AA galleries and the stacks. The separate stacks of Roma have more detail that the cast on stacks of Veneto. There are also slight structural differences between the stacks of the two ships. The caps on Roma are cast as part of the stack, rather than as separate parts as in Veneto. They are hollowed to a very good depth and are cast with internal flue dividers but the funnel grates are in the form of photo-etch parts.

After the forward superstructure tower, the most noticeable smaller parts are the main, secondary and tertiary gun turrets. Each of the three main gun turrets has its own crown fittings from none for A, other than carley floats, to different AA positions for B and Y turrets, plus the carleys. The AA positions are cast on the turret complete with splinter shielding. Blast bags are also part of the turret castings. The four triple 6-inch secondary turrets resemble miniature main gun turrets, including twin 20mm mounts on the crowns of the forward two turrets. This is another unique feature, as I cannot recall any other battleship design that mounted AA guns on top of secondary turrets. Like the main turrets, the secondary turrets have blast bags cast on the main part. Barrels for both the main guns and secondary guns are machined steel without hollowed muzzles. The long lines of single 90mm AA turrets on their raised pedestals/barbettes dominate the amidships appearance of the model.


Photo-Etch - C & D Frets
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There are many finely cast smaller parts. Regia Marina provides an optional fit of ship’s aircraft. Originally, the ships carried two Meridionali Ro. 43 reconnaissance floatplanes. In 1942 when Roma was commissioned, she carried the two floatplanes. However later in 1942 it was obvious to the Italian navy that the Italian airforce could not adequately protect their ships. To compensate wheeled Re. 2000 fighters were added. Autumn 1942 saw each ship of the class equipped with two Ro. 43 and one Re. 2000. In 1943 Roma kept the same arrangement as of late 1942. Once catapulted off the ship the fighter had limited loiter time over the ships before they had to make for an airfield but since they were basically land fighters, unencumbered with floats, it was thought that their better performance was worth their one shot nature. Two of each of the Ro. 43 and Re. 2000 are included in the kit so Roma can be equipped from as commissioned through her loss in 1943. The parts for both types of aircraft are very nice, so there is no loss of detail, whichever fit that you go with. Other very nicely detailed small parts include the mounts for the twin 37mm AA guns, ship’s boats, carley rafts, gun directors, searchlights, small platforms and other fittings. There is a certain amount of light flash that will need to be removed from the smaller parts, however, this is a minor inconvenience.

There are many finely cast smaller parts. Regia Marina provides an optional fit of ship’s aircraft. Originally, the ships carried two Meridionali Ro. 43 reconnaissance floatplanes. In 1942 when Roma was commissioned, she carried the two floatplanes. However later in 1942 it was obvious to the Italian navy that the Italian airforce could not adequately protect their ships. To compensate wheeled Re. 2000 fighters were added. Autumn 1942 saw each ship of the class equipped with two Ro. 43 and one Re. 2000. In 1943 Roma kept the same arrangement as of late 1942. Once catapulted off the ship the fighter had limited loiter time over the ships before they had to make for an airfield but since they were basically land fighters, unencumbered with floats, it was thought that their better performance was worth their one shot nature. Two of each of the Ro. 43 and Re. 2000 are included in the kit so Roma can be equipped from as commissioned through her loss in 1943. The parts for both types of aircraft are very nice, so there is no loss of detail, whichever fit that you go with. Other very nicely detailed small parts include the mounts for the twin 37mm AA guns, ship’s boats, carley rafts, gun directors, searchlights, small platforms and other fittings. There is a certain amount of light flash that will need to be removed from the smaller parts, however, this is a minor inconvenience.

Four Photo-Etched Frets
The Regia Marina Roma comes with four stainless steel frets. Fret A has the catapult, crane, supports, propellers, aircraft cradles, DF loops, stack grates, foremast platform, boat chocks, Gufo radar, bow crest, windlass tops, block and tackle, twin gun AA, some runs of railing and some runs of inclined ladder. The crests include the Italian star fitted originally and the SPQR Roman coat of arms, which replaced the star. Fret B has quite a few platforms, secondary barrel supports, inclined ladders, anchor chain, two long runs of vertical ladder and seven long runs of two-bar railing. Fret C has twin 20mm guns, twin 37mm barrels, single 37mm guns, two additional stack grates, along with more supports, platforms, anchor chain and railing. Fret D has two types of cable reels, boat chocks, ensign & jack staffs, davits, aircraft wings, aircraft tails, aircraft rudders, more propellers, more platforms and four Roma nameplates. These are actually not plates but individual letters connected together by a metal runner at the bottom. Also connected with the letter is a beautifully relief-etched fascine, which was the symbol of Mussolini’s fascist party. With the fall of Mussolini, this symbol was removed and the instructions mention removing it in the 1943 Roma


Instructions
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Instructions
The Regia Marina Roma comes with five back-printed sheets of instructions. It appears that the instructions for the original issue of the model are included but modified, along with four additional sheets, eight pages, of supplementary instructions. This conclusion is based upon the fact that one sheet is much larger in size than the other four. The front page is history and statistics in Italian along with a plan and profile of Littorio and a separate profile of Roma. Gray shading, especially on the plan, hampers the plan and profile. The gray shading obscures detail in the drawing. The reverse shows an isometric view of the assembly with each part assigned a number. There is also a table listing each part by the number shown in the assembly diagram. Although in Italian, the part is readily identifiable since there is a drawing of it in the main assembly diagram. Two profiles are shown of the camouflage scheme for the Roma in 1943 in light gray with dark gray rays. Insets are included for bow variations for August 1942.

The second sheet is solely devoted to the photo-etched parts of Frets A & B. This is organized in a modular format. On the front side, there are modules for windlass tops, platform supports, bow crests, main turrets, secondary turrets, aft railing & platforms, special ladder and stacks. The reverse is dominated by the drawings for the bridgework photo-etch details. Each difference in the bridge of Vittorio Veneto, Littorio and Roma is shown, along with differences based upon the year of the fit. Other modules deal with the catapult, crane & aircraft handling equipment; aft superstructure rigging; barrel support and other odds and ends.

The third sheet deals with photo-etch frets C. Most of the material on fret C is self-explanatory since most of the parts are antiaircraft guns. However, there are some elevated boat supports for the amidships boat deck. The back of this sheet seems to apply solely to the Veneto kit as the photo-etch fret shown is not one provided with Roma. Most the items shown are on the D fret with Roma but the Roma fret has many more parts than the one shown on the back of this sheet. The instructions for fret D in Roma is on a fourth page and is dominated by four platforms, which are attached to various levels of the bridge. This sheet also includes aircraft and ship’s boats detail. The back has a couple of photos but is chiefly concerned with boat chocks/cradles attachment. The fifth sheet concerns the camouflage scheme. Colors are listed in Italian and English and the Humbrol number is listed. The reverse shows port and starboard camouflage patterns of Roma in 1943. It also covers more photo-etch positioning for more parts, again chiefly boat cradles.


Completed Roma
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These instructions can present a pitfall for the unwary. With a total of ten pages, there are plenty of instructions. However, due to the size of the kit, the fact that there were differences between the Veneto and Littorio, which are shown in the instructions, they can be confusing without a thorough examination. Look before you leap! Study the instructions closely and be certain of parts placement before permanently attaching the part. Simply know which way you are going before you start and then conduct a thorough reconnaissance of the instructions to see what parts you use and when.

Verdict
As I opened the Regia Marina Veneto box to compare that to the newer Regia Marina Roma kit, I expected to find the differences between the two kits that would reflect the difference between the two ships. That was reflected in the Roma but what struck me most of all was that Regia Marina has really added even more detail with their Roma. The Regia Marina 1:700 scale Vittorio Veneto/Littorio is an excellent kit but incredibly, the Regia Marina 1:700 Roma exceeds her two sisters in detail. Not only was the Roma considered the most handsome and graceful of the original three ships but also the Regia Marina Roma now can hear that same acclamation.

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