Another result of the operation was hit Маiаlе in the hands of technical experts of the British Navy, which appreciated the efficiency of the Italian human-torpedoes.
Another coveted target for Italian submarine was in Gibraltar. It was only necessary to find the method of delivery of combat swimmers and their torpedoes for the waters of the enemy port. The unique geographical position of Gibraltar, located near a neutral country, it has suggested to set up a secret base, where means of assault will be able to go to sea.
At the time Italy entered the war a private merchant vessel Оltегга was at the Gibraltar RAID and was interned in Spain. Part of the crew eked out here sad meager existence, guarding in accordance with international law, property of the shipowner. Prince Borghese, commander of all the assault vehicles, the idea arose to use this ship, which stood very near the entrance in the base of Gibraltar, for their own purposes. Negotiations with the shipowner was successful, and he appealed to the Spanish authorities a statement that he intends to fix Оltегга and sell it to the Spanish society of shipping. The vessel was towed into the port of Algeciras and osvirtual at the outer breakwater. Thus, the Italians were only six miles from the entrance to the waters of the British military base.
The crew Оltегга replaced technicians and sailors from assault vehicles (from the previous crew left only the captain and chief engineer). All commandos are selected for this operation were trained on merchant ships, where they adopt the manner of dress, eating, drinking, Smoking, remembered the terms of the Maritime slang, and then, providing them with passports, groups of two or three people were transported to Algeciras under the guise of a new crew, sent to replace the old one. In fact, it was the specialists who were supposed to equip on Оltегга base for mounting and production of guided torpedoes, sent from Italy dismantled. After a few months on the ship were functioning workshop with all necessary equipment.
Оltегга careened, in-Board torch cut a large hole. When the ship straightened, the hole disappeared under water – controlled torpedoes from the flooded hold could easily go to sea. In the fall of 1942, everything was ready for deployment on ship and sabotage tools.
Soon, from Spices, delivered torpedoes, oxygen devices, equipment, overalls, dismantled and Packed in boxes so that they were taken by customs officials for materials and spare parts for repair of the vessel. For the torpedoes was followed by frogmen: under the guise of merchant seamen they arrived on the ship and watched the Assembly of torpedoes.
By December 1942, after four months of hard work, everything was ready for the release of three human-torpedoes.
Soon to Gibraltar entered squadron consisting of the battleship “Nelson”, battle cruiser “Renown” carriers “Furies” and “Formidable”, and numerous escort ships.
The Italians designated the attack of the ships of the squadron on 7 Dec. That evening all three crew left on torpedoes database Olterra and headed for the entrance to the base. The interval between releases is one hour. The swimmers did not know that the port security these days has been considerably strengthened. In addition to the usual patrol boats plied the RAID was added every two or three minutes made reset depth bombs.
First crew got to the entrance of the port, overcame obstacles and under the water moved to the battleship “Nelson”. When the target was only a few hundred meters, they spotted a hydrophone patrol boats. Immediately he had dropped a depth charge, then another, and both drivers died.
The second human torpedo was seen from the Mall and fired from a machine gun. Her crew tried to go in depth, but was stunned with the boat with depth charges. The torpedo sinking and rising to the surface, saboteurs in a semi-conscious state climbed the ladder on an American ship standing in the Harbor, and was immediately captured.
The third man-the torpedo was caught up in the anxiety that rose at the base when she was still at a great distance from the entrance to the port. The commander decided to dive and go under water, but close to tears of deep bombs that could injure the person for a few hundred meters, forced him to abandon the attack. When man-torpedo surfaced and moved back to the Olterra, the commander found that his partner had disappeared.
So, of the six crew members that came into the attack, he returned alone: three were killed and two were captured. On questioning, the Italians claimed to have been delivered to the base in a submarine.
Failure when using subversive man-torpedo demonstrated that their time has passed, the protection of naval bases has risen to such a level as to penetrate to the “top” on the dashboard has become virtually impossible. But the frogmen were forced to switch from attack warships in a secure bases to attack merchant vessels in foreign raids.
11 November 1942 Anglo-American forces landed in North Africa. The tenth fleet was given orders to stop the supply of the new army. According to the reconnaissance, in an Algerian port and at anchorage for unloading ships were many. It was decided to carry out a combined operation with the simultaneous participation of guided torpedoes and combat swimmers. The crews of the torpedoes must penetrate into the port, and swimmers to attack ships at anchor. Shipping assault vehicles to the scene of operations was assigned to the submarine Ambra.
On 4 December, the submarine left the Spice, taking on Board three of the crew managed ten torpedoes and combat swimmers. Swimming Ambra held safely. On 11 December, she approached the Algeria and, clinging to the bottom, the evening in a submerged position entered the RAID. With an 18-metre depth through the hatch was released dressed in a diving suit senior assistant to the commander of the boat captain-Lieutenant Iacobacci, which monitored the situation and reported it to the commander of the boat on the phone. When it became clear that the port is still far away, submarine, quietly moving at the bottom, went into the RAID and top the observer ran its course. Finally, 21.45 Ambra penetrated directly into the center of the group of six ships.
At 22.30 frogmen started exiting through the hatch of the submarine for half an hour, they all left the submarine. Behind them came the crews managed human-torpedoes. At 23.20 all participants of the attack appeared on the surface. The observer explained the situation to the swimmers and returned to the submarine.
Sailors waiting in Ambra the return of the spies, heard numerous explosions of depth charges. At 3.00 when the time stipulated for the return of drivers torpedoes and frogmen, long expired, Ambra beginning of the maneuver waste. On 15 December, the submarine made the trip, returning to La Spezia.
What happened at the port? The commander of the group guided torpedoes, making sure that access to the port impossible, decided to attack the ships at anchor. The first crew approached the large ship, but the malfunction of a torpedo, most likely damaged when the storm blew off the attack. Taking in tow the two swimmers, the commander tried to return to the submarine, but to find her he could not. The Italians could only go ashore. Destroying a torpedo, the four of us went on land, where it was almost immediately detained by French soldiers.
The second crew successfully mined a large ship, and then, also taking in tow the two stray from the forces frogmen, moved to the shore. In 4.05 they made landfall, but already at 6.00 am, they were detained by Scottish hands.
The third crew decided to attack a large tanker. The tanker was not lateral keels (case is pretty rare), so the charge had to attach to propellers.
The driver control panel SSB Maiale
Since the warhead of the torpedo consisted of two charges of 150 kg, it was decided to select a second victim. It was a big ship — a charge attached in the middle of his body. On the way back the torpedo was illuminated by the searchlight and fired from a machine gun. Not finding the submarine, commandos at 4.30 swam to the shore, where they were immediately detained by the British.
Frogmen-saboteurs whose actions were complicated by the cold and strong currents, was able to mine only one ship. After the assignment, they, too, were all arrested. About this attack of British Admiralty announced: “At 0.30 min 12 Dec numerous means of assault attacked merchant ships in the Bay of Algiers and was attached to some of them mines and explosive charges. The British steamship Ocean Vanquisher (7174 tons) and the Norwegian steamship Berta (1493 tons) was sunk, the British court Empire Centaur (7041 tons) and the Armatan (7587 t) – damaged. Captured 16 of the Italians.”
The operation had some success, however it was too small. While using 16-year-saboteurs could expect a lot more. During this operation the commander of the boat Ambra captain 3rd rank, Arillo was awarded the gold medal “For bravery”, and the members of the assault team were awarded silver medals.
The use of Italian guided torpedoes is almost over. However, at the time of the capitulation of Italy on Board the Olterra again preparations were made for the attack of Gibraltar by using torpedoes new design of the SSB, where the crew were covered by a light metal casing, resulting in several increased its resistance to explosions of depth charges, but to realize their plans, the saboteurs did not have time.
This project was developed by major Mario Maselli and captain Travelingi. Themselves human-torpedo was built in 1943 in the torpedo workshops Officine San Bartolomeo La Spezia. In the fighting did not participate. Currently, two human-torpedoes SSB are in museums Imperial War Museum (London, UK) and Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum (Groton, USA).
These double torpedo Maiale SSB was not published. We only know that they had a greater diameter, batteries of larger capacity, the motor capacity of 7.5 HP, a 300-kg warhead (or two 280-kg warhead) and could speed up to 4 knots.
Specifications SLC Maiale
Underwater speed, knots……………..2,3
Maximum diving depth, m.
Autonomy, miles…..4 miles to 4.5 uz.
15 miles at 2,3 bonds.
Submerged displacement, t………….
Length on the body, m……………………….
Length with screw and rudder, m……………
Case diameter, mm……………………..
Electric motor power, HP……
Warhead mass, kg……………………..