The Francesco Caracciolo-class was a group of 4 battleships designed for the Regia Marina in 1913. All ships, Francesco Caracciolo, Cristoforo Colombo, Marcantonio Colonna and Francesco Morosini, were laid down between 1914 and 1915 but, due to material shortage, were never completed. Only the incomplete Caracciolo was launched in 1920. There were plans to convert her into an aircraft carrier and later into a merchant ship but both options were considered too expensive and as such, the ship was scrapped in 1926.
When it comes to the original design, these ships were meant as an equivalent to the Queen Elizabeth-class of battleships from the Royal Navy. Their main armament would have consisted of 8 381 mm guns in 4 twin turrets, 2 superfiring at the front and 2 superfiring at the rear. This would have been completed with 12 152 mm guns, 8 102 mm guns, 12 40 mm guns and finally 8 torpedo tubes.
They were also designed to be very fast for their time with a maximum speed of 28 knots.
In World of Warships, Francesco Caracciolo appears with a hypothetical refit similar to the one of the Andrea Doria if she would have been completed.
The main features of the Italian battleships are:
- Like the Italian cruisers, instead of HE shells, the new ships are armed with SAP shells. They inflict high damage on weakly and moderately protected targets and ship parts, but do not cause fires.
- The “Exhaust smoke generator” is among the consumables of the Italian battleships starting from tier VIII, which will allow you to hide from the enemy without sacrificing speed.
- A large number of guns with a relatively short firing range and poor accuracy. They will basically be close/mid-range SAP sailing shotguns.
- Their secondaries have the same dispersion formula as those of ships like Massachusetts, Georgia or Ohio. The problem is that most of their secondaries are 90 mm peashooters that can’t penetrate anything with the HE and even on the Cristoforo Colombo, they only have 5 km range so… they are basically useless.
- Decent concealment and average maneuverability, quickly turning turrets and rather good armor.
For the classic reminder, this is a ship in testing, anything can change so don’t look at her like she would already be released.
The Caracciolo presents some fairly nice armor protection, both against HE and AP. It’s especially nice at tier VII to not have a middle section that can be overmatched to oblivion by 15 and 16 inchers.
The bow section
The Caracciolo could frankly be nicknamed Pinocchio at this point. The upper and underwater part of her bow is protected by 26 mm of armor but while you would expect that bow to stop just in front of the first turret, it actually goes all the way to the front of the second one. There is also a large extended belt that reaches the tip of the bow and is 150 mm thick.
Inside the bow, there is a 30 mm armored deck that will protect the citadel athwartship in case AP shells manage to penetrate the upper part of the bow. It is worth noting that if we are talking about Georgia or Musashi, both will be able to overmatch that armored deck.
For the protection of the middle section, the 2 upper casemates are 220 mm thick with the second one, at the front, including the upper part of the citadel athwartship. The lower casemate and citadel athwartships are 32 mm thick.
The middle section
The middle section of the Caracciolo is well protected. When it comes to the external protection, the upper deck where all the 90 mm secondaries are located is 26 mm thick and to protect their barbettes, there is a 150 mm casemate going around the whole section. For the rest of the weather deck, it is 30 mm thick, giving the ship some resistance to light cruisers not using IFHE and also to AP shells of caliber of up to 420 mm.
The upper belt is 220 mm thick while the main belt is 300 mm thick with pretty much no slope except at the extremities where it goes up to 20°.
For the internal protection, the turtleback that covers the major part of the citadel, is 40 mm thick with a slope ranging from 76° to 66°.
The citadel’s side armor is divided into 2 parts. The upper one, in a layered configuration with the main belt, is 70 mm thick while the lower one, behind the turtleback, is 49 mm thick.
For the horizontal protection… yikes… The main armor deck that is also the citadel deck for a part is only 80 mm thick. Combined with the 30 and 26 mm deck armor, it is simply nowhere near enough to stop AP bombs.
The stern section
For the stern, the major part is protected by 26 mm of armor, except for a small 150 mm extended belt.
Inside the stern, there is a 150 mm thick armored deck protecting the citadel athwartship.
For the protection of the middle section, there are the 2 220 mm upper casemates with the second one including a part of the citadel athwartship and then the lower part of the citadel athwartship with only 32 mm of armor.
The Caracciolo’s superstructure has the classic 16 mm thick armor and is very long, almost reaching the 1st and 4th turrets.
For the turrets, they are quite well armored, even more than those on the Roma in fact. The face is 381 mm thick, the sides are 200 mm thick, the back is 280 mm thick and finally, the roof is 254 mm thick.
The barbettes are 300 mm thick except on the 2nd and 3rd turrets where there is a small 120 mm thick section. Finally, the top is 140 mm thick.
On paper, that ship looks pretty scary for her tier in my opinion. From the start, she is quite fast, well armored, as an amazing torpedo damage reduction, has great firing angles and good maneuverability but it’s not the most important.
What matters is the 381 mm SAP shells that she carries because not only does it have 96 mm of penetration, it also has high damage per hit with almost 4 700 damage per penetration. On top of that with it’s caliber, any 26 mm plating or lower gets overmatched, meaning that she will literally laugh at other cruisers and battleships of her tier angling.
At least, the dispersion is going to be derpy so that will compensate for it.