The Italian hierarchy might be too stupid to embrace radar but their ships would have the physical capacity to install it. The Fisher class, designed right up to the limits of physics might have issues.

How do you know they are built right on the limits of physics, the DNC were always very strict on keeping some Admiralty margin for growth, also almost all the treaty designed ships were excellent sea boats that didn't suffer for stability issues until later in WW2 when lots of light AA was added.

All the weight is low down in the ship and the turrets weigh less than normal for a ship of its size so I would expect it to take extra top weight pretty well, though I could see some fine bulges being added in the 30s which would help with any extra AA or radar weight being placed higher up in the ship.
Everyone keeps talking about the armor and the welding.
Personally, I'm more curious about the main guns - and why sts-200 is being so quiet about how big they are :)
Are you sure about that?

Regarding such devices, Cavagnari emphasized "not wanting traps in your way". Writing to Admiral Iachino, he wrote "..procedere con estrema cautela nell'accettare brillanti novità tecniche che non siano ancora collaudate da una esperienza pratica sufficientemente lunga..", which can be translated to "... proceed with extreme caution regarding brilliant technical innovations that have not yet been tested or with which there is no practical experience." Thus, the Italian navy entered the Second World War with a marked technical inferiority to the British Navy.

'Unfortunely' there is the fact that the fascist had not come in power and this mean that everything it's know of Italy between 1923 and 1943 need to be put in the dustbin; the kingdom of Italy ITTL will be a totally different nation from all pow:

- cultural: the PFI really tried to reshape culturally the italian people, enphasis on the roman eritage and legacy was just an aspect, but it also tried to change the language, the architecture, there was forced italianization and in geneal the italian fascist internal effort was the prototype for the nazi (Hitler Youth included) (it's in italian but use google translate it will give you an idea). we can forget this

- social: let's say that while the reapprochment with the catholic church will still happen and something very similar to the Lateran pact will be signed, they will be not so favorable to the Vatican and there will not be an epocal effort to chase out the women from the workforce as their role in the regime was to manage the home.

- armed forces: Benny really don't wanted efficient armed forces as he see them (except for the air force) as too loyal to the king, he encouraged interservice rivalry and appointed yes men and had an habit to micromanage a lot of things (he held a lot of ministry at the same time). While Badoglio will probably still rise, Cavagnari it's hardly a given and there will be in general more enphasis in keeping things efficient and not just for propaganda.
The binary division reform was done more to put blackshirts regiment in the army as a failsafe than for the official reason to have more light and quick division and also created the necessity of more officers, making the army officer happy (but in general with declining quality and a spread of the italian little resources). The navy doesn't have his own air force and aircraft carrier as him siding with the air force (l'arma fascistissima) regarding who must control the aircraft and there were no coordination between the two branch (by purpose)

-economic: let's say that the economic management of the industry and the italian economy by the fascist was not great and anything else will be better neither of this idiocy

Not considering that waste of resources like the invasion of Abyssinia and the partecipation to the spanish civil war (at least in the same manner of OTL) will not happen.

Politically in the 20's Italy will be pretty much the wildcard, the event in Greece and Jugoslavia (map needed or at least what as been the trade up, so to at least determinate how it will be felt in Italy the apparent weakness) the new goverment (after this couple of screw ups there will be a new one) will need to look strong and so it will be more aggressive in general, probablythings with Greece (and jugoslavia) relations will go further down, more aggressive in the horn of Africa (not at the level of war with Abyssinia but more attempt to extend the zone of influence of Italy) and trying more inroad in Yemen
If the Captain were able to keep the ship at an angle to the enemy, those minimum ranges could be reduced, but the design objective was the ships could be ‘safely fought’ on any course at ranges around 20,000 yards.

It can be safely sailed but can it fight? Will these BCL actually be able to hit anything at 20,000 yards?
Well that's an interesting scheme. Leaving your turrets vulnerable is brave but the shell handling system does seem to reduce the risk of a magazine explosion, how that will work in practice I'm not sure, it's easy to imagine that a near miss could jar the flash doors and then should a shell set off the charges in the hoist you'd lose the ship.
Flash doors are designed to be tough, but yes that's a possibility given the weakly armoured barbette.
However there would still be another set of flash-proofing scuttles between the magazine itself and the bottom of the lower hoist.

The main calibre is still unclear, the previous post said these ships have three turrets and your image suggests they have 3 gun turrets meaning 9 guns so even with this armour scheme I can't see how they could have the weight to carry 16" Mk.2*'s. If they are rules lawyering I'm guessing they've got an improved 13.5" built to the same standard as the 16" Mk.2* throwing a heavier shell at higher velocities and are getting around the treaty ban on new guns by claiming that this is simply an updated version of the BL 13.5" MkV made with modern manufacturing techniques, to do that they would have to stick with a 45 calibre barrel which is unfortunate but unavoidable. I wonder if they gave any consideration to copying R & R and going for a 6 guns of a larger calibre.
Still with that armament and assuming the armour scheme works this ship will definitely be able to destroy all of the other BCL designs and cause some damage to 1st rate battleships as they run away.
I looked at at least a dozen configurations for this ship, including 6, 8 and 9 gun versions ... more to come in the next update.
The need to fire all the weapons in a turret at once is going to play merry Hell with targeting. Surely that can be modified?
Expendable turrets? Meh. Never really bothered the cruisers in WW2.
I take that more as the need to reload all the guns at once not necessarily fire them all at once. you could fire one then another for ranging purposes but have to wait to reload them all.
MarcH has it - what's fixed is the need to load the guns together, because the lower hoist brings all the shells/charges up simultaneously.
Technically they don't have to load all the guns in the turret (it could bring up just one set if wanted), but there is only one opportunity to bring up shells per cycle.
That sets the fixed tempo of loading. For different reasons, the real Nelson class ships had the same issue.

The guns can be fired independently, and it is likely they'll often fire salvoes in quick succession - so if trying to shoot a ladder, fire several guns, then a second later fire the others.
Was this armoured shell hoist proposed OTL?
Sort of ... it's better-protected, battleship-scale version of the system used on many 6" cruisers, where they had long hoists that ran directly from shellrooms to the guns.
It's complicated by the 'turntable', which rotates the shells and charges so they are lined up with the guns. With the cruisers, the shells could be manhandled to the hoists regardless of the train angle of the turret. For heavy shells, something more mechanical is needed.
Well chaps there you have, a '23k tons' standard displacement battlecruiser reasonably protected by british standards but still fast and well arm, even if we don't know the calibre we could be sure that is not below 13,5" at least, I personally hope that this is the resources-saving ship that can be accepted by the Treasury and by that logic be persuaded to lend the money to build them in good numbers make up for the numbers of the fleet in general as well as to shore up the Empire's defences, but I still have confusion with the armor scheme of the image, in order to not make any wrong guessing, @sts-200 could you explain a bit more please?, and sorry to bother again.
Turrets - lightly armoured 7" faces, 6" roofs (once armour has been added), 3" sides and rear
Barbettes - very lightly armoured, would keep out 8" fire at medium-long ranges.
Magazines and surrounding areas are protected by a 4" deck and 11" 20-degree belt (very shallow belt)
Machinery protected by a 3.5" deck and 9" 20-degree belt.
Light 2" splinter protection extends up the hull where an 'upper belt' would be, and the edges of the foc'sle deck are being given 1.5" armour as part of the 'refit'
1.5" torpedo protection is being added to the innermost bulkhead as part of the refit - it's a typical British 3-layer system, but note that it isn't very wide.

A bit more to come in the next update.
Only 4"? I hope they add more, else these boys will be tasting AP shells bombs quite a lot in WW2. That's less than armored CVs.

Just to note while a hit would be bad, Actually hitting a 30-knot or more LBC that is maneuvering is very difficult to do since as the Japanese constantly showed throughout WW2, a fast maneuverable ship can avoid a lot of bombs. And that also does not take into account the level of AA fire in the air. ( 30 knots seems a reasonable assumption as that is other nations LBC'S top speeds)

Yes, and remember this is designed in 1925, at which point 4" armour will keep out pretty much any bomb. In round figures a 2,000-lb bomb from 7000ft + would be needed, and the chances of that hitting are very low (as shown in reality and in the story by various trials).
In addition, quite a lot of the magazine is covered from above by the thin 1.5" deck edges, or the 6" turret roofs and the machinery of the turrets themselves, so we'd be talking about an incredibly lucky hit.
Aircraft/bombs of the '40s are of course a very different matter.

Edit: I just realized you're probably talking about ship fired AP rather than aerial bombing AP in which case, yeah they will take a lot of damage if they get hit. But even then it is still difficult to hit a maneuvering 30-knot ship, especially at long range and considering these things have been designed to hit enemy ships accuratly at up to 20,000 yards then I think they have a decent to a good chance of avoiding return fire.

Edit 2: Thinking over aerial attacks, can anyone tell me how well did mid to late 1920's British AA suites cope with late 1930's - early 1940's aircraft such as the Stuka or the B5N? Did it do enough to be considered a threat or was it more of a nuisance? Because I was just wondering if AA is limited by the Washington Naval treaty and therefore if aerial attack will be even more of a threat in this timeline.
Everyone's AA guns were next to useless against dive bombers, but the British had the additional issue that some of their guns couldn't elevate to high enough angles to engage the later steep-diving aircraft, as they had been designed at a time when the threat was level bombers and torpedo planes.
The Americans (and others) at least had the consolation that they could fire at such aircraft, perhaps sometimes disrupting them even if they rarely did any damage.
None of the AA fire-control systems could cope with the high-rate changes in range and altitude, until the proximity fuse made the problem much easier.
Do we know that they’re “right up to the limit of physics”, or is that an assumption given the details we have?

They have an 11" belt, 4" deck (which will weigh a lot), big guns and battlecruiser speed on 23/26k tons standard and all the conversation is about squeezing and stretching things as far as possible, they can't have much spare capacity.
The thing is, the RN was the only navy other than the Germans that came out of WWI with any idea of how cruisers fought and took damage. Typically that was everything but a 15km duel where belt armor might be useful. Sure they tried to put belt armor on every cruiser that followed, but when you go back and look at WWII damage, when did cruiser armor actually save them? Torps, bombs, knife fights, don't actually care that much about any level of cruiser scale armor. That makes you rethink a few things.
The problem with using WW1 experience as a guide to cruiser design is that there isn't very much of it - after the demise of the East Asia Squadron, the RN cruisers barely fired a shot for the rest of the war (and TTL I don't think either Coronel or Heligoland Bight happened). The big takeaway was the vulnerability of older cruiser design to submarines.

The problem with using WW2 experience (barring the lack of time machines TTL) is that WW2 at sea was very much a war of asymmetric threats - I think OTL the Counties fired their main armament at enemy ships about 5 times between them in the entire war.

If you were building a cruiser for OTL WW2, you wouldn't go with an armour belt at all - you'd want firstly the best torpedo protection you could fit, secondly a heavy protective deck, angled down to the waterline at the sides as protection against bombs and thirdly blast/splinter protection for the vulnerable topsides - guns, bridges, fire directors. Armament would be on the Atlanta principle - 12-16 DP guns in power mounts. Such a design would be meat on the table for a conventional 8" gunned CA, but it would do what cruisers were asked to do in WW2 - be survivable against bombs/torpedoes, rip up destroyers and throw the maximum AA barrage at enemy aircraft. But in TTL's 1920s, everyone is still thinking of surface combat as both the primary mission and primary threat. So cruisers will be built to fight cruisers.
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Very interesting protection scheme. I was wondering if sts-200 would have his designers re-invent the protected cruiser, and they haven't - quite. But that 4" armoured deck is clearly the main protective feature with everything above it deemed expendable.

Still worth noting just what an achievement these ships would be. We haven't had confirmation of the armament, but it's looking like 3x3 15" and the ships only make sense if they're fast. Of course, these ships are effectively about 25,500 tons standard after the pre-planned "refits" - which makes them bigger than Lion and not far behind Queen Elizabeth. But still - Howe (Hood's better armoured sister) has the same 11" belt, maybe half-an-inch more deck armour, only 8x15", 31.5kt - on 10,000 tons more.

They have done this with an approach that an American all-or-nothing evangelist might find slightly extreme. Compared to Howe, the upper belt is gone, the end belts are gone, the main belt is both short and shallow (and as RelativeGalaxy7 noted, virtually underwater at full load) and this is covered for by carrying the armoured deck lower. The citadel covers the magazines and machinery and nothing else - to the point where I wonder how she'd float with flooded ends. In addition to reducing the turret/barbette armour, nothing has been said so far about a conning tower, and I'm betting the secondary armament is both light and carried in unprotected mountings on the upper deck. It's an incredibly tight design, optimised to the limit to stay (just) within the bounds of the Treaty while combining the heaviest possible armament with (barely) acceptable protection and speed.

And will it work? Well, they'll shock the world when they come out, but I'm not so sure how viable they will be long term (putting a proper 1930s AA armament on them looks like it would need a full rebuild). And of course, being 30,000-ton battlecruisers in all but name, they will come with an appropriate price tag.
That's an excellent analysis - of both the good and the bad points.

I did think about a true 'protected' cruiser, using sloped deck edges instead of any belt at all, but your next point about buoyancy illustrates why I didn't go that way; it could have its unprotected hull riddled just around the waterline, causing loss of stability.
As you and @RelativeGalaxy7 noted, the citadel is very deeply submerged - so there's very little armoured buoyance reserve (I haven't mentioned it yet in the story, but the citadel is 425' long, on a 728' ship). Floating with ends riddled is going to depend on still having buoyancy above the armour deck.

To my mind, a greater concern is stability - i.e. capsize - as ships rarely actually had their ends riddled. That's why I wanted the deck and belt as far out to the side of the ship as possible at and above the waterline, and is also the reason for the high double hull, splinter protection and inboard bulkhead that extends to the upper deck from the TPS.
Of course a nice 12" upper belt would be better, but this isn't a 40000-ton ship.

Secondary armament will indeed be light ... as built, very light, and there is no armoured conning tower (more to come there).

Adding yet more weight, particularly high up is always going to be an issue on such a tight design. I suspect the designers would feint if they could foresee the need for a pair of HACS, heavy DP secondaries, lots of Bofors and heavy antennae ... all mounted as high as possible!

As to price - you've really hit the nail on the head there. It's well and good talking about the low cost in 'Treaty tons', but if a proper battleship costs, say £6.5M in the story, I doubt there'd be any change from £5.5M for one of these. It's a smaller ship, but a highly engineered one and is still full of expensive guns, equipment and machinery.
That's why they must be able to engage battleships, and preferably continue to make at least some sense in a world with a less restrictive treaty ... and more to come on that topic too.
The royal Navy has a long history of rebuilding ships. its part of what they expect to be doing. A royal Navy refit can be very extensive. At times they have "refitted" ships so thoroughly that very little of the original ship remained.
They certainly do ... and many times they'd have been better off building a new one...

If you see Victory today, you see the ship that fought at Trafalgar ... it's just that it's had new masts, ropes, guns and timbers :)
You know, ironic or fullish as it might sound, I always saw the County's as cruising ships with defensive capabilities rather than warships with peace time duties, pretty much as Starfleet see its ships, ie. I perceive the County's like real life versions of the Constitution class starships 🤦‍♂️ :biggrin::coldsweat:.

The Counties were pretty much the best Treaty cruisers until USS Wichita was built (honourable mention to the New Orleans class too).
Ships such as Zara were arguably better, but they were also much heavier.
Very interesting protection scheme. I was wondering if sts-200 would have his designers re-invent the protected cruiser, and they haven't - quite. But that 4" armoured deck is clearly the main protective feature with everything above it deemed expendable

They nearly do it however but now I sort of perceive these new ships as upscale British versions of the Olympia you know.

I now baptized you: Dreadnought Protected Cruiser!
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It can be safely sailed but can it fight? Will these BCL actually be able to hit anything at 20,000 yards?
They're planning for it, yes. Like the Nelsons (real and story) they'll be equipped with a version of the Admiralty Fire-Control Table and its associated DCT (actually two of them).
I see we have a tie in the favourite name poll started by @roachbeef a few days ago.
My casting vote is therefore applied in favour of Indefatigable for the fifth ship.

The five Fisher-class ships will therefore be HMS Fisher, Indomitable, Invincible, Anson and Indefatigable.

... and their half-sister HMAS Australia to come a little later.