120 mm/50 Armstrong model 1909 (120 mm)

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The Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) was actually the first navy to consider the idea of an all-big-gun battleship that would soon take the world by storm when HMS Dreadnought was launched in 1906. The Italians were relatively slow to adopt this new idea and only began building their first dreadnought RN Dante Alighieri in 1909. That same year, the Elswick Pattern "EE" was adopted by the Regia Marina as the 120 mm/50 Armstrong model 1909 (Armstrong referring to the parent company of Elswick Ordnance Works). The first use for these new weapons was as the secondary armament for the Dante Alighieri, but later that same year, the protected cruiser Quatro, intended as a scout for the main fleet, was laid down using these same guns as their primary weapons. The follow-up to the Dante Alighieri, the Conte di Cavour-class dreadnoughts RN Conte di Cavour, RN Guilio Cesare, and RN Leonardo da Vinci retained these Armstrong model 1909s as their secondary battery.

In World War I, only the Armstrong guns on the Quatro saw combat. Italian Admiral Paolo Thaon de Revel believed Austro-Hungarian submarines and minelayers were too dangerous in the narrow Adriatic Sea to risk their dreadnoughts in anything other than a decisive battle. So these mighty ships were kept in reserve while the Quatro got to see action against an Austro-Hungarian naval task force that attempt to intercept transports evacuating the Serbian Army from Albania in December 1915. The Dante Alighieri was ordered to attack enemy ships at Cattaro (now Kotor, Montenegro) if they attempted to intervene in the Second Battle of Durrazo, but the Austro-Hungarians didn't send any ships from Cattaro and the dreadnought never fired her guns in anger. After the war ended, Dante Alighieri was scrapped out of a combination of age and budget constraints from the economic recession in Italy at the time. She was soon joined by the Quatro which after a brief period of supporting the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935-1936, ended up suffering from a boiler explosion at La Spezia in 1938. The Conte di Cavour-class dreadnoughts didn't get to use their guns after the war either as the lead ship suffered a magazine detonation in 1916 at Taranto and the sister ships were refitted after with the more modern 120 mm O.T.O. Mod 1933. The following Andrea Doria-class dreadnoughts were armed with 152 mm/45 Schneider model 1911 guns and by World War II the only 120 mm/45 Armstrong Model 1909 guns in service were serving in the coastal defense role.


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See also

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Italy naval cannons
20 mm  20 mm/65 Breda · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon 3S · 20 mm/70 Scotti-Isotta Fraschini mod.1939
37 mm  37 mm/54 Breda Mod.32 · 37 mm/54 Breda Mod.38 · 37 mm/54 Breda Mod.39
40 mm  40 mm/39 Vickers-Terni mod.1915/1917 · 40 mm/39 Vickers-Terni mod.1915/1917, Modif.1930 · 40 mm/70 Breda-Bofors type 107
65 mm  65 mm/64 Ansaldo-Terni Mod.1939
76 mm  76 mm/40 Armstrong mod.1897/1910 · 76 mm/40 Armstrong mod.1897/1912 · 76 mm/40 Ansaldo mod.1917 · 76 mm/45 Schneider mod.1911 · 76 mm/50 Vickers mod.1909 · 76 mm/62 OTO-Melara Compact · 76-mm/62 SMP 3
90 mm  90 mm/50 Ansaldo model 1939
100 mm  100 mm/47 O.T.O. Mod. 1928 · 100 mm/47 O.T.O. Mod. 1937
120 mm  120 mm/45 Canet-Schneider-Armstrong mod.1918-19 · 120 mm/50 Armstrong model 1909 · 120 mm/45 O.T.O. Mod. 1926 · 120 mm/50 Ansaldo mod.1926 · 120 mm/50 O.T.O. Mod.1936
135 mm  135 mm/45 O.T.O. Mod. 1937
152 mm  152 mm/45 Schneider mod.1911 · 152/53 mm Ansaldo mod.1926 · 152/53 mm O.T.O. Mod.1929
203 mm  203 mm/50 Ansaldo mod.1924 · 203 mm/53 Ansaldo mod.1927
305 mm  305 mm/46 Armstrong model 1909 · 305 mm/46 Vickers model 1909
320 mm  320 mm/44 OTO model 1934 · 320 mm/44 Ansaldo model 1936
20 mm  2 cm/65 Flakvierling 38 (Germany) · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mk.II (USA)
40 mm  Bofors L/60 Mark 1 (USA) · Bofors L/60 Mark 3 (USA)
76 mm  76 mm/50 Mk.33 (USA)
127 mm  127 mm/38 Mk.12 (USA)