CRUISERS OF ITALY, WORLD WAR IIBy long tradition, the Italian cruisers, including heavy, have a sort of “whipping boys” in the field of shipbuilding. It’s hard to find a review or article 30-ies of the last century, dedicated to the naval fleets, in which “Italians” were not released would be another couple of dubious “compliments”. “Too easily built”, “cardboard”, “poorly protected”, “malovodie” finally just “unlucky”… meanwhile the engineers with the Peninsula created and built only two types of heavy cruisers, each of which deserves a few good words and in many ways superior to their rivals, contemporaries, at least, “on paper”.

Immediately after the signing of the Washington naval agreement, the arch-rival Italy, France, started to build new cruisers, and three 8000-ton units like “Duga-Truen” added a pair of limit of allowed displacement “duken” and “Tourville”. Italy received under the terms of the Washington Treaty, an unexpected gift — the resolution parity with its more stately neighbour, could not remain indifferent. Attempt to keep up with the French led to the fact that in 1923 it was decided to build two ships with the highest possible characteristics, i.e., with an eight-inch guns and a displacement of ten thousand tons; in early spring of the following year, the shipbuilding firm “Orlando” and “Stabilimento, Tecnico Triestino” received an order for a fundamentally new cruiser. By a curious coincidence, the firm of Trieste went to the ship under the same name. The Italian fascists came to power in the country, sought in every way to stick out the “great victory” of the country in the First world war. (Though actually later joined the case of the Italians not once saved from a total collapse of the allies.) And as a kind of advertising chose heavy cruisers: they got the names of the cities, departed from the “patchwork monarchy” to Italy.
Before the Italian engineers had a very difficult task. Not only that, and they didn’t have any experience in creating the cruisers of the new type. The situation was aggravated by the fact that traditionally provided a great help to the British departed from Affairs on the Peninsula, and their students had to act independently. In addition, the requirements to the project was very high. The authorities wanted to have the fastest ships, faster than the neighbour and rival, France.
I must say that the designers managed well to cope with the tasks, though, as all the participants of the “cruising race”, not free. To achieve the seemingly incredible turn of speed 36 knots (this course could develop only a few destroyers!) “Trento” and “Trieste” had to do in a proportion of lung vessels, a long and relatively narrow. Their case went up to almost 200 m in length — the national record, only surpassed by the giant battleship of the type “Littorio”. New was the shape of the case: first the Italians did it a flush-deck, with a considerable ascent to the stem. This configuration has led to the large difference in the height of the space in the bow and stern. If cabins and cockpits in the back of cruisers is consistent with the most modest “panel” standards and a ceiling height of 2.3 m, the nose has formed these “Stalinist mansion” with a height of more than 4.5 m But, of course, the main innovations are “hiding” inside an impressive design. A highlight of the project was a power plant with a capacity of 150 thousand HP, which took almost 40% of the length of the ship. To improve the survivability put it in echelon form: from the bow to the stern were two boiler compartments, then the turbine, followed by the third boiler and in the “tail” of this “caravan” — the second turbine.
Contrary to the traditional reproaches, not bad look and protection. Unlike virtually undisguised “French” first generation and a modest armoured “boxes”, “English” and “American” on the Italian cruisers used the traditional ships of the line circuit. Side belt stretched from the front towers to the rear and closed top armored deck. I must say that the thickness of both barriers remained quite solid for “cans” 20 years — 70 and 50 mm, respectively. Unlike a true “cardboard” protect artillery all heavy cruisers of our competitors managed well to cover the turret, and even to hoist a 100-mm the conning tower. Of course, this armor is not protected by eight-inch shells, but at least eased the huge cruiser from the humiliating possibility to be riddled with guns of destroyers.
Firms, to build these fundamentally new ships, faced with so many problems that not even managed to develop a unified approach to their solution. The result is under construction in Trieste cruiser fell on the water without add-ins, and most of the mechanisms. But the “Trento” decided “stuff” until, until you have installed all the boilers and turbines, and on the deck at the same time appeared in almost all major add-ons and even tips front mast. In the end, so carefully tutored pet was heavier than his “colleagues” for two and a half thousand tons. And it almost became fatal for him. When launching in the presence of members of the Royal family and elite of the fascist party “Trento” has barely moved fifty meters and “stuck” on the stocks, completely disrupt the celebration. Rather, he “helped” the anti-fascists, pour the sand into the lubricant. Anyway, but a considerable body was decorated with the stocks within one month, after which it was quietly pulled to the water… passenger ship.
The ships went not only quite strong, but still beautiful. Smooth line deck, the high Board, set wide apart, broad tube, the characteristic mast with far-spaced “legs” attracted the eyes of sailors and idle spectators. But, unlike the second, the first was actively thinking about what they have to fight, hiding behind the thickest armor. Therefore, the next series from the beginning, “sharpened” under the strong defense and moderate speed. Once in the project tried to lay a 200-mm armor belt, and a 32-node speed, but even the biggest optimists quickly became clear that when a legitimate “Washington” displacement is in any tricks just technically impossible. Admirals immediately offered generally ignore contractual restrictions and to increase new cruiser (rightly designated “armored”) to nearly 15 thousand tons, considering that three of these “heroes” calmly deal with six normal “contract workers”. But such audacity decided not to go even the fascist government, knowing that there will be in the role of rogue. Was to save weight on everything. The thickness of the armored belt was reduced from 8 to 6 inches, decided to apply a very lightweight mechanism with light cruisers, the number of shafts was reduced from four to two. Had to abandon a flush-deck hull, returning to the traditional scheme with a not very long forecastle. (Thus, at least, managed to solve the issue with “buildings” facilities.) The case was shortened to 14 meters. The price of all sorts of contrivances, managed to reduce body weight by almost 20%, compared to the “Trento”. At the same time decided to abandon the torpedo tubes, since the installation of their predecessors were highly questionable. In “Trento” and “Trieste” torpedo tubes housed movably in a direction perpendicular to the Board. To aim at the enemy it was possible either by the ship that in combat seemed extremely difficult or advanced installation of the gyro, which was also difficult with the active maneuvering. (However, the sailors have obviously regret the absence of at least such devices in the battle of Cape Matapan.)
However, despite all the tricks, the displacement of the “floor” and her sisterships still remained at 1,500 tons more than the norm. Just imagine for obvious reasons, such excess Italians considered quite acceptable. For several years the specialists of the leading Maritime powers, not without envy watched “armored” the Italians, trying to figure out how their opponents managed to cram everything into ten thousand tons. The secret was revealed during the civil war in Spain. Mussolini actively demonstrated the interest of Italy to colleagues-the Phalangists, sending in the Spanish water, the most modern ships. But one of the heavy cruisers after the accident, it had to be towed into the lair of a future opponent — dock in Gibraltar. There’s something simplest way of counting the number of pumped out water and it turned out that the Italians “cheat”. However, after the fight had only wasted complaining and waving his arms.
In addition to the questionable torpedo tubes on the new cruisers declined from one “innovative solutions”. We are talking about the location of hydroaviation, which in those days were of great importance. In an effort to save space and weight, the Italians put a catapult for the production of seaplanes in the nose, in front of the towers of the main fire, and the planes themselves are below deck. The solution is elegant, but inefficient. It is clear that the start was absolutely impossible in combat conditions: the unit just would have blown overboard by the shock wave of gases from gun barrels. Worse than that, to use the catapult was impossible and in a quite peaceful time on the waves or a big move, when, instead of gas, the plane was washed away or damaged by water. On reflection, the designers decided not to be original and took on a new project, the traditional arrangement of the catapult and seaplane in the middle of the body.
Main than the “floor” stood out among the “Washington” of all countries, was the armor protection. Just like its predecessors, it is consistent with the battleship-term scheme; its Foundation was the citadel, covered with boards high 150-mm plates, atomicalchemist down to 100 mm, and fore and aft — traverse a smaller thickness (120-90 mm). On top of all this “economy” was covered with a 70-mm armor deck, a decent battleship! (Thus, the mechanisms of “Nelson” and “Rodneya” separated from enemy shells and bombs of 76 mm of armor.) In addition, the cruisers were the upper belt, even thin — 30 mm, but is able to protect the lungs from explosive projectiles and 20-mm upper deck. (This additional protection is important for maintaining the combat capability of the parts exceeded that of the mechanisms of the British and French cruisers!) Good cover and artillery, and armored cabin, which had a thickness of 150 mm. Even artillery post managed to book 130-mm plates on the sides and 100 mm from the top. In General, the protection of the Italian “cruisers” (which is how they originally classified) can be considered the best of all “Washington.” Resistant to criticism, trying to find any flaw pointed out that the powerful citadel tip was left completely unprotected, but the same can be said about almost any cruiser of the 1930-ies.
Italian engineers have proven that they can design and build beautiful ships. They even managed to keep a pretty solid speed. The results of production tests are staggering: these are heavy and pretty short cruiser has reached a mind-blowing 35 knots in project 32! But here, as with displacement, not without guile: uses of a mile they were without ammunition and with a minimum of fuel. However, even real 30 knots, quite consistently shown the service was quite decent. “Fast” “Trieste” and “Trento”, in fact, during the war years had about the same move. Partly the speedy achievement was ensured by the presence in the lower part of the stem is quite large Bulba (applied for the first time in Trento). This is almost a must for large modern ships structural member is actively and successfully used by Italian designers became pioneers in this field.
169. Heavy cruiser “Bolzano” (Italy, 1933)
It was built by the firm “Ansaldo” in Genoa. Standard displacement—890 t 10 full—13 665 tons, maximum length — 196, 9 metres, width: 20,6 m, draught — 6.8 m Power chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine— 150 000 HP, speed 36 knots. Reservations: the Board of 70 mm, deck 50 — 20 mm, 100 mm turret, barbettes 70 — 60mm, fighting cabin of 100 mm. Armament: eight 203/50-mm guns, sixteen 100/47 mm anti-aircraft guns, four 40-mm machine gun and four 13.2-mm machine gun, three seaplane. In 1938 the back instead of four 100-mm guns installed four 37-mm gun. In 1942, 13.2-mm machine guns replaced by four 20-mm machine gun. Sunk by underwater saboteurs in June 1944 in La Spezia harbour.
170. Heavy cruiser “Trento” (Italy, 1932)
Firm was built by OTO Livorno. Standard displacement—10 345 t, full—13 335 tons, maximum length — 196,96 m, width — 20,60 m, maximum draught of 6.80 m. the thickness chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine—150 000 HP, speed — 35.5 node. Reservations: the Board is 70 mm, deck 50 — 20mm, turret—100 mm, barbettes — 70 — 60 mm, fighting cabin of 100 mm. Armament: eight 203/50-mm guns, sixteen 100/47 mm anti-aircraft guns, four 40-mm machine gun and four 13.2-mm machine guns, and eight 533-mm torpedo tubes, two seaplane. Just 1928-1929 built two units: “Trento” and “Trieste”.
In 1937-1938 both the rear instead of four 100-mm guns installed eight 37-mm guns, and the same 13.2-mm machine guns. Trento sunk by a British submarine in June 1942, the “Trieste” sunk by American aircraft in Remo in April 1943, after the war raised and sold to Spain. Dismantled in 1956 — 1959
171. Heavy cruiser “Pola” (Italy, 1932)
Firm was built by OTO Livorno. Standard displacement— 11 545 t, full—14 135 tons, the maximum length is kt 182.8 m, width — 20,62 m, draught 7.2 m Power chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine — 95 000 HP, speed 32 knots. Reservations: the Board of 150-100 mm, deck 70 — 20 mm, tower 150-120 mm, barbettes 150-120 mm, combat tower 150 mm. Armament: eight 203/53-mm guns, sixteen 100/47 mm anti-aircraft guns, four 40-mm gun and eight 13.2-mm machine guns, three seaplane. Weapons on ships has changed several times. In 1944 “Gorizia” bore 12 to 100 mm, 10 37-mm 14 20 mm guns and one seaplane. In 1931 -1932 was built four units: “Sex”, “Zara”, “Fiume” and “Gorizia”. “Gorizia” in the course of the war added another four 37-mm gun, and a 13.2 mm machine guns replaced by fourteen 20 mm guns. “Sex”, “Zara” and “Fiume” sunk on 29 March 1941 in the battle Matapan, “Gorizia” — underwater saboteurs in June 1944 in La Spezia harbour.

Still, the emphasis was on survivability mechanical installation. The boilers and turbines located in 12 isolated compartments, and in a kind of “chess” variant (where one Board was boilers, differently mounted turbine). Even the distance to the Mediterranean sea looked quite decent at around 5000 miles when the 16-nodal speed.
Overall, the Italian “armored cruiser”, from the point of view of shipbuilding, was a very good fighting machine. But where in their task, manage engineers, often add a spoonful of tar admirals. This is what happened to the last heavy cruiser Italy. The seventh unit in General is “illegal” because it did not fit nor in the organization of the fleet, nor in his doctrine. The order literally “knocked out” the famous firm “Ansaldo”, who did not want a reduction in employment of their workers and, of course, reduce profits. However, instead of the seemingly natural desire to build a fifth “brontos-nick” the naval command felt that he lacked the fast cruisers. Therefore, we made the extremely controversial decision to repeat the “Trento”, but with some changes in the arrangement and number of boilers. Thus was born the “Bolzano”, which is often partly true and the third is called the “Trento”. The main direction of progress was a thorough separation of the compartments, especially the boiler rooms, which was five. From “Floors” teammates “Bolzano” inherited guns (even the defense towers again relegated to its previous level). Found him, and ideological justification. Because “Sex” was entrusted the honorable and responsible duty of the flagship of the entire fleet, the heavy cruiser formed two identical tricoronline division: the three remaining “armoured” and two “Trento” plus “Bolzano”.
Although designers and builders thoroughly adept in weight savings, to meet the required ten thousand tons again they are unable. A violation, of course, came out much more modest than its predecessors, but still amounted to almost 900 tons. Not helped by the use of “lightweight” version of the hull with a forecastle. Some apology may serve, except that “Bolzano”, and “Sex”, it was planned to use as a flagship vehicle, in connection with which he has got a pretty impressive front superstructure. However, the rest of the third “runner” was quite successful and truly speed: it and the service developed 33 — 34 knots.
The question arises: why such a good, if not more, ships like the Italian heavy cruisers, so negatively manifested itself in the war? The reasons are many; perhaps the main, subjective, is unsuccessful, and the fleet as a whole. However, there is at least one objective factor that undoubtedly contributed to the failure of a significant contribution. We are talking about artillery. Initially, the Italians were just about to hit the world with its success in this area. Their vosmidesyati had the outstanding ballistic performance: 125-pound armor-piercing projectile had an initial velocity of 905 m/s and 111-pound high-explosive was overclocked to 940 m/s. However, heroic features were only on paper. The wear of the barrel to the limit of the forced guns were so large that it had to be taken into account even during the same firing, and the overall persistence of the barrel is not allowed to shoot precisely even all the ammunition, except in the “white light”, like a lot of money.
Had to gradually get rid of such dangerous “perfection”. The initial speed was reduced to 840 m/sec, and then took a lighter and 118-pound shell, bringing the Italian supergun modestly stood in a row with unpretentious British and American. However, there was other troubles that hinder accuracy. So, at high speeds the hull is very long vibrate. But even stronger was shaking tips of the mast with the positions of fire control. The Italians, in despair, added them to the “Trento” and “Trieste” few “feet”, and on the later units they shortened the design as a whole, but problems with vibration to solve and failed. However, perhaps the main trouble was small — less than a meter distance between the trunks. What can you do for the good protection of the towers had to pay, but in this case the price was too high: the first missiles “air plowed furrows on the path”, the “potholes” which “stumbled” later. For the “armored” heavy cruisers (and “Bolzano”) the Italians have developed a new weapon with a larger caliber 53 a barrel, but managed to carefully tread all the same mistake: too high initial speed, great wear, a solid location in the tower.
Complement all this foul-smelling a bouquet of fine appearance, but serious consequences technical faults and ammunition. In their manufacture was allowed too much variation from the nominal mass of the projectile and charge, resulting in a long range volley was scattered over a kilometer or even more. Desperate gunners tried though as-that to struggle with such disgrace, picking up more or less the same ammunition directly in the ship’s cellars.
Therefore it is no surprise that these models of good shipbuilding shot very poorly. During the war the Italian heavy cruisers were able to get reliably with only three shells is less than of panaraga to the ship! And this despite the fact that they released was about two thousand: and “speed”, and “bronenosec” actively participated in most major battles.
Their main opponents, and more serious than, British steel. In the battle of Punta Stilo, Italian heavy cruiser tried to play the role of a high-speed avant-garde, especially that confronted them, the British light units, and even at a ratio of five to six. However, even such favorable circumstances, nothing good to the Italians to no avail. First, “Bolzano” suffered serious damage from just three 152-mm shells, and then shelled by British battleships and planes were attacking the torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier “Eagle”. Ended the fact that “Fiume” and “Bolzano” tried “to serve” their own bombers dropped at least two hundred bombs! Fortunately, enemies and your missed.
In the battle of Cape Teulada Italian heavy cruisers were waiting for their finest hour: they finally hit the enemy! Their British “Washington colleague” “Berwick” got two hits, not causing, however, serious damage.
But the next big battle was a real tragedy. In the battle of Cape Matapan British torpedo bomber from the aircraft carrier “Formidable” treated “the Floor of” their “fish” in the most vulnerable place — the bulkhead between the machinery compartments. Of course, a cruiser lost in the course. To cover the “wounded animal” fleet commander Admiral Aquino left the whole division. All she perished that night when the British battleships, using the radar, closer to the unsuspecting Italians less than two miles and shot them along with almost two thousand sailors 381-mm “bags.” It is clear that good for its class protection, here nothing could not help. By a strange twist of fate, it went to the bottom like the cruiser that bore the names of cities, again, lost by Italy after the Second world war, “Sex”, “Zara” and “Fiume”. “Gorizia” with “Trento”, “Trieste” and “Bolzano” became part of the only remaining division of heavy cruisers, continuing a rather bleak career, in which so few of the squad all the time “utsepilsya” aircraft or submarines to the ship. Torpedoes from the British submarine was lost, “Trento”, and his brother for a long time sent out another boat.
“Bolzano” was able to survive the less fortunate colleagues, ironically, it was thanks to the British submarines. They have twice damaged it with torpedoes; strike two, in August 1942, was finally sent “Beltana” in “sucks” — for a long repair. The Italians initially wanted to transform it into a “paravenous”, but work on the base in La Spezia has not begun. There he was captured by the Germans and found its end almost two years later at the hands of the British underwater saboteurs near the “Gorizia”, previously badly damaged American heavy bombers, which suffered the same fate.
All survived, oddly enough, “Trieste”, sunk by “liberatorami” in April 1943. After the war, the well-preserved thanks to the spilled oil cruiser interested in Spain. Franco could have in its Navy aircraft carrier, but the allies somehow not eager to implement the latest Nazi regime ships are now the main class. And there wasn’t enough money. The idea of “buy something cheap and be converted”. The candidate was the “Trieste”. They picked him up, allegedly sold “for scrap” and towed to the new owner. The Spaniards quite a long walk around the new toys, but in the end, common sense prevailed: the cost of converting almost exceeded the price of a new aircraft carrier. After several years of useless standing the last Italian heavy cruiser was dismantled after the metal.

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