203 mm/50 Ansaldo mod.1924 (203 mm)
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Vehicles equipped with this weapon
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Usage in battles
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Pros and cons
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Italy was one of the signatories of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. Intended to prevent another arms race like the Anglo-German Arms Race that occurred prior to World War I, the treaty restricted heavy cruisers to 8-inch (203 mm) guns. With Austria-Hungary dismantled at the end of World War I, the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) turned their focus west towards the Marine Nationale (French Navy) which they perceived as a threat to their dominance in the Mediterranean Sea. When the Marine Nationale laid down the Duquesne-class heavy cruisers in 1924, Italy decided to respond by building the Trento-class heavy cruisers RN Trento and RN Trieste. These ships were armed with the 203 mm/50 Ansaldo mod. 1924.
The performance of these guns was hampered by the fact the Trento class mounted the guns in a common cradle and were too close together, leading to wild dispersion. The attempts to fix the problem by moving from 176-pound shells with a muzzle velocity of 2,970 feet per second to 160-pound shells with a reduced muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second did little to improve the performance due to poor quality control in the shell manufacturing. The Trento-class heavy cruisers would see service against the Royal Navy during World War II. They engaged in the 1940 battles of Calabria and Cape Spartivento and the 1941 Battle of Cape Matapan during the Greece Campaign. Notably, the Battle of Cape Spartivento saw one of these ships damage the boiler of HMS Brunswick. Trento would spend her remaining service life during the war acting as a convoy escort engaging in the First and Second Battles of Sirte before being sunk in June 1942 by both an air-dropped and submarine-launched torpedoes in the Ionian Sea while attempting to intercept the Royal Navy convoy supplying Malta as part of Operation Harpoon. Her sister ship Trieste engaged in convoy escort duties also and was damaged by a Royal Navy submarine while escorting a convoy from Sicily to Libya in 1941. She survived however and was sent first to Messina and later to La Maddalena for repairs before being sunk in April 1943 by American B-24 Liberators. A spare turret existed that used these Ansaldo mod. 1924 cannons in a coastal defense role.
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