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Everything posted by Historynerd

  1. Ehm... no. That is the coat of arms of the city of Aosta. The coat of arms of the House of Savoia-Aosta is this:
  2. The Dukes of Aosta were a cadet branch of the House of Savoy. Their coat of arms was a mere variant of that of the latter.
  3. Finally! She's here!!! Bliss... And before everything else, no, I don't know what the boots stand for. Not in the slightest. Pretty much what I expected. Ok, not quite the escalator part, I admit, but the rest, yep! About mountains... does anybody know that Italy and France have a still-going territorial dispute among them about the Mont Blanc peak? Although, it's the Frenchs' fault. They drew a map and said it was theirs, while it should really be split. D'Aosta, can you give them a lesson, please? XD I admit you almost got me with this one! But I looked around, and I finally found an Arpitan dictionary. It's interesting, though, that she proclaims both to wish to speak that language, and also not to be very fond of the Fascist government. If nothing else, because during the Fascist regime this and other minority languages and dialects were all but proscribed, and toponymies sounding foreign were Italianized (so, all the upper Aosta Valley had their names replaced, till 1945).
  4. "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!" Sorry, I had to say it. I love that movie as well, as I am interested in space exploration as well...
  5. Radar woes: Ugo Tiberio and the Italian radar effort The history of Italian radar can begin with the figure of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of wireless telegraphy, and who had realized, early on, the very concepts on which the radar is based. In the later part of his life, Marconi (a figure much publicized by the Fascist regime) devoted effort in this area, and to one of his experiments, in the presence of several military authorities and personnel, participated also a young recalled Sottotenente (Sub-Lieutenant) then assigned to the Istituto Militare Superiore delle Trasmissioni (Superior Military Institute of Transmission), Ugo Tiberio (pictured below the title). After further experiments in 1935 (which gave birth to the legend of the "death ray" invented by Marconi, by the way), Tiberio, by then discharged, but still serving the IMST as a consultant, was assigned to oversee further developments in the military area. Based at Leghorn, the experiments were not, however, given a high priority; the importance given to them becomes clear when we mention that the small group of technicians were given a budget of 20'000 lire per year (roughly contemporary $1650, less than $30'000 today). Tiberio himself remembered later that his work was followed with "much sympathy and curiosity". However, despite the Regia Marina's "generosity", by the end of 1936 a first, rudimentary apparatus (called EC.1) was tested, being able to pick the echo of a motorboat 2 km away, with a power output of barely 150 w. As the technology had not yet found out the optimal solution between frequency-modulation and pulsewave radars, Tiberio tested between 1936 and 1940 both concepts. In the end, he settled (for a shipborne radar) on the latter, although his work failed to get attention (and neither did it help that efforts to find information abroad about similar apparati weren't successful). The beginning of the war did not see a change in the Regia Marina's policy. This despite the fact that, in June 1940, Admiral Raeder took steps to inform the RM of the German naval radars and to enquire about similar Italian devices. And this, we might add, debunks what Angelo Iachino claimed in his memoirs, that the Germans whitheld information in this area from the Italians. Only after the disastrous Battle of Cape Matapan did the Regia Marina realize how much a radar ("radiotelemetro" as it was called in Italian) could be of help. In May 1941 an EC.3 bis set was fitted on the old torpedo-boat Giacinto Carini to be tested, and the tests were promising, although they showed that the device had to be perfected still. This was confirmed when, three months later, another set was fitted on the battleship Littorio, but, both because of the position where the antennae were fitted (on the DT) and because of the detection system (echoes were not displayed but had to be picked acoustically), it was not a success. In April 1942 a visual detecting system was fitted, but the set was still not considered to be satisfactory. The EC.3 bis antennae on the battleship Littorio Therefore, the first naval radar used by the Regia Marina was to be a German DeTe or SeeTakt, fitted on the new destroyer Legionario at commissioning, in March 1942. Similar sets were fitted on the cruiser Duca degli Abruzzi, one destroyer and three torpedo-boats. Other sets would be fitted on captured Italian warships after the Armistice. Finally, between September and October 1942, the first satisfactory Italian naval radar, the EC.3 ter "Gufo" ("Owl") was in activity onboard the Littorio. Considered to have a performance roughly similar to the German radars already in use (as an early warning radar it had a range of 80-120 km for aerial targets and of 15 and 30 km for surface targets, depending on the height on sea level), its most glaring defect was to prove an electro-mechanical one, as the training engine would prove underpowered, and therefore the antennae could not be trained in medium to heavy winds. The replacement of the engine with a more powerful one was apparently at the beginning by the time of the Armistice. The EC.3 ter "Gufo" on the battleship Roma Selected to be the standard Italian naval radar, in the end of 1942 fifty sets of the EC.3 ter were ordered, but by the Armistice only twelve plus the prototype had been fitted to the following ships: the three Littorio-class battleships; the cruisers Raimondo Montecuccoli, Eugenio di Savoia, Attilio Regolo, Scipione Africano; the destroyers Carabiniere, Leone Pancaldo, Fuciliere, Ugolino Vivaldi, Velite, Nicoloso da Recco, Dardo. It is reported that a set, meant for the heavy cruiser Trieste, after the latter's sinking in a bombardment was assigned to the Scuola RaRi (Radar Operators School). Another project of Tiberio, the RDT-4 "Folaga" ("Coot") was developed instead as a coastal radar. The only instance where the Italian radar was used in combat was in the night of 17 July 1943. The light cruiser (although more a super-destroyer, actually) Scipione Africano picked up on its radar four British MTBs in ambush; thanks to its warning, it was able to avoid damage, and sink one and damage another of its enemies. After the Armistice, in some instances the Gufo was replaced by British sets (Type 291) before the war's end in 1945, which also meant the end of the Gufo. - Ugo Tiberio (1904-1980) went to Brindisi after the Armistice and continued his research activity. From 1954 to 1979 he was Professor of Radio Technique at the University of Pisa, but always remained in contact with the electronics branch of the Marina Militare. He died at Leghorn, the site of his radar struggles, in 1980. - The work of Prof. Tiberio and his equipe (most notably were Captain Alfeo Brandimarte and Prof. Nello Carrara) was commendable, considered the resources they had and the support they could count on, but in the end it would prove to be too little, too late, and Italy's delay in this area could not be regained on time. However, it should be noted that the lack of radar was not, in fact, the reason why in nighttime the combat record of the Regia Marina was poor. It was merely the tip of the iceberg, the further confirmation of the lack of interest that nighttime combat had for Italian higher-ups. As even early British successes can be ascribed merely to their training and not to radar (we can mention the engagements between Italian destroyers and torpedo-boats against British cruisers, or the fact that, during the Battle of Cape Matapan, while the crippled cruiser Pola was picked up by the radar, its fellow cruisers Zara and Fiume were optically spotted by lookouts), the weakness of the Regia Marina had deeper roots than a lack of interest in radars, and couldn't have been resolved had radar been available at an earlier date than it was actually was.
  6. I found this: http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/articles/feature4.html While it says that the Max Schultz was in no way hit by bombers (and I did miss that), it says that however the He.111's attacks were successful and it did score hits, and those caused all that mayhem, while concluding that it's not possible to determine how much the mines ended up doing. I may be wrong, since I cannot read the actual logs, but from what it says about the end of the Maass, it looks to me that its final fate was sealed by a bomb. A mine detonation should have been noticed as different than a bomb impact, I believe, by the Friedrich Eckoldt. In any case, the point stands that, when still in a friendly area (they were still inside their minefields), German ships were bombed by friendly aircrafts. Had it been a lone minor ship, that had strayed from its course, it could've happened, but it was a named operation that involved six destroyers; the fact that somehow the message had not gotten through to the Luftwaffe was really serious. I'm surprised nobody got the boot for it.
  7. I could also mention another example, although it's more down to interservice lack of communications. I found out we Italians are rather infamous (at least, a lot of people bring that up) for the instance in which, after the Battle off Calabria, our bombers duly bombed the enemy... but also our ships (although with no effect on the latter, although two aircrafts were shot down). Yet, I found out that the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe were involved in something similar, although there were no Allied ships. The Kriegsmarine launched Operation Wikinger, a sortie of a six-strong destroyer flotilla; the Luftwaffe spotted the ships, and each assumed the other was hostile. Bombing runs were initiated, and when they ended, Z1 Leberecht Maass and Z3 Max Schultz were sunk, with the majority of the crews (578 sailors dead). The latter incident seems to be more serious and with deadlier results than the latter, isn't it?
  8. Um, friendly fire accidents happened to everyone, in both wars. For example, on 10 March 1917 the Italian submarine Alberto Guglielmotti met the sloop HMS Cyclamen, which mistook it for an U-Boot and opened fire and ended up ramming it. Then it sent this message: "Have rammed and sunk enemy submarine. Survivors appear to speak Italian." That might seem something to laugh about, but between 14 and 17 Italian sailors had perished. It may seem harsh, but such things are bound to happen. We Italians may also have a record, as twice during WWII a submarine sank a friendly ship (another submarine and a destroyer, respectively).
  9. The snorkel: the invention the Regia Marina let slip Nowadays commonplace on modern submarines, the snorkel has had a long history; its direct lineage can be traced to the Dutch Navy, whose experiments of the 1930s led to the development of the system for the Kiregsmarine's U-Boote. Less known is the fact that the Regia Marina had developed what was by all means a working snorkel a decade before the Royal Netherlands Navy, and had unexplicably let this potentially advantageous equipment be forgotten. This was the brainchild of engineer Pericle Ferretti (1888-1960). A member of the Genio Navale, Ferretti began its work on what he called initially "Apparecchio Ferretti" (Ferretti Device), which he later baptized "Apparecchio ML" (the ML seemingly were the initials of his wife, Maria Luisa). After successful lab tests, a prototype was fitted on the old submarine H.3; this submarine was later visited by Benito Mussolini himself, in April 1926, during one of his visits in Lybia, and he was informed of the peculiar interest that this device held. A (low-quality) picture of his visit survives today, and I put it beneath the title. The Regia Marina's response, however, was rather lukewarm. Despite the H.3's trials, the idea of fitting the device to the new Argonauta-class submarines was discarded to prevent delays in their commissioning, and it was decided to fit them to the twelve-strong Sirena-class. However, it was to be that no Italian submarine would be normally employed with the "apparecchio ML"; while the submarines were still under construction, a change in leadership brought Admiral Antonio Legnani in command of the Regia Marina's submarines, and, for reasons that have not been explained or preserved, ordered all work stopped and all devices ready to be fitted scrapped without further ado. Although it's debatable the extent on which a working snorkel might have influenced the Regia Marina's submarine war, this decision deprived it from a device that would end up becoming a major breakthrough, and whose paternity ultimately would end up being claimed by others. Pericle Ferretti had already left the service in 1926, to take the position of Professor of Applied Engineering at the University of Naples, but remained active as a consultant to the Regia Marina. There are sources that state that after 1943 Ferretti was sought by the Germans, on the order of Admiral Karl Dönitz, to be interviewed about his invention, but he eluded their search, unwilling to collaborate with them. He resumed his academic and research role after the war, until his death in 1960.
  10. Welp, I'll go back to my Italian-serving ways! C2 for me! "Let it cost whatever it may cost, long live the Aosta!"
  11. The Regia Marina's structure and organization While it is common for people interested in the naval history of World War II to be somewhat knowledgeable about the structures of the Royal Navy, the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy (therefore being acquainted to the Home and Mediterranean Fleets, to the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, to the Combined Fleet, etc.), knowledge about the structure of the Regia Marina is more scarce. It is therefore of interest to delve a bit deeper on this matter, to bring to light the organization with which the Italians went to fight in their war. A bit of history During the Great War, the Regia Marina had resuscitated the organization that had laid dormant since the unfortunate Austro-Prussian War (or Italian Third War of Independence), the "Armata Navale" (roughly translated to "Naval Army"), a fleet-level organization that basically comprised all major fighting vessels, and which was centered on the modern dreadnought battleships. This structure, while changing title two or three times, remained substantially intact till 1928. In 1928, however, the decision was taken to suppress this command, and create instead two squadron-sized commands, the Prima Squadra navale (First Naval Squadron) and the Seconda Squadra navale (Second Naval Squadron), of which one was to be based at Taranto, and the other at La Spezia. While theoretically it was presumed that the commander of the former would be in charge, were the two squadrons to operate together, this divided organization could allow (and in fact did) a certain dishomogeneity in training, not to mention that it had no real motivation, if not a desire to put some pressure on France by permanently dislocating a major squadron-sized unit near its waters. However, despite these considerations, and despite a seemingly wavering attitude (on a few instances it was planned to recreate the united fleet-level command), the Regia Marina would keep this organization throughout the war, until March 1943, where the remaining units were consolidated into the "Forze Navali da Battaglia" (Naval Battle Forces) under the command of Admiral Carlo Bergamini; however, by that time this had only administrative significance. - For frontline naval units, we need to talk about an important exception, namely submarines. As in the latter half of the 1930s the Regia Marina undertook a mighty effort in the building of such units (so that, on 10 June 1940, she was numerically the second submarine power in the world, marginally surpassed by the Soviet Navy), it was eventually decided that these vessels needed to be detached from the two squadrons, and answer to an autonomous command. Therefore, in July 1939, the Squadra Sommergibili (Submarine Squadron) was formed, under the command of a Vice Admiral (the same rank required to take command of either Squadra Navale). Known as MARICOSOM, it retained command of all Italian submarines, with the exception of those detached to outlying bases (i.e. those in Italian East Africa and those assigned to the Atlantic Ocean, stationed at Bordeaux - BETASOM) or those employed for special naval operations (i.e. the Decima Flottiglia MAS, that supervised frogmen operations). Wartime command SUPERMARINA (telegraphic adress for the Comando Superiore della Marina - Supreme Navy Command) was the operative command of the Regia marina, and was a major player in all naval engagements and operations undertook throughout the war. Formed on 4 June 1940, it was under the authority of the Comando Supremo (Supreme Command) that exercised command on all Italian armed forces by the Capo di Stato Maggiore Generale (Chief of General Staff), an Army general. Although this, and other aspects of the political and military organization and hierarchy theoretically allowed for a clear and united command action, in practice this did not automatically allowed the interforce cooperation that would have been vital for the Italian wartime effort, and which was only partially achieved during the conflict. Stationed in Rome, Supermarina was composed of the chief and deputy chief of staff of the Navy and the personnel assigned to them, four other admirals, the chief of the Reparto Operazioni e Addestramento (Operations and Training Department), and the entire Ufficio Piani (Planning Office). However, as the Chief of Staff of the Navy was also the Deputy Minister of the Navy, the real chief of Supermarina was the Deputy Chief of Staff; this had the consequence that Supermarina was often in the hands of an admiral not only less senior to the one at sea, but with less seagoing experience. Another major issue of this structure was that, although theoretically it wasn't possible, in practice it was common for Supermarina to issue strict orders, not just for engagements with the enemy but also for cruising routes and disposition, severely curtailing the autonomy of the admiral commanding at sea and his initiative spirit. If it's also included the fact that most Supermarina personnel ended up not being replaced in the rotations common to the rest of the service, that some functions had not been planned and prepared for (for example, only in 1941 a liaision officer from the operative command of the Regia Aeronautica was included), that for any operation Supermarina cautioned officers against incurring losses that couldn't be replaced, it can be surmised that its command action, while theoretically sound, ended up being less than optimal, and shares most of the responsibility for the often cautious behavior of the major naval forces. Bases and dockyards Italian bases in the Mediterranean and the Red Seas were as follows: the two major bases were undoubtedly La Spezia and Taranto, that could service and repair any kind of ships, and where the Squadre Navali were usually stationed; somewhat lesser bases, but capable of supporting up to cruiser-sized ships, and eventually provide shelter to major forces, were Naples, Venice, Pola, Brindisi, Palermo, Messina and Augusta, while La Maddalena (on Northern Sardinia) and Cagliari were mostly used as submarine bases; in Northern Africa, the most developed base was Tobruch, while in the Dodecanese Island (since 1912 under Italian rule) the base of Leros could station only light warships and submarines; in Italian East Africa, Massawa and Assab could sustain the destroyer and submarine forces stationed there, while a 1938-9 plan to develop Chisimaio (Kisimayo) as a base for a cruiser-sized Indian Ocean force wasn't even started. Overall, also thanks to the incorporation of the excellent facilities and dockyards of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire (namely the dockyards of Trieste and the base at Pola, which would end up stationing the Submarine School), the Regia Marina could count on a number of well-equipped bases, that could readily support the bulk of its fleet. A small exception could be made about the new Littorio-class battleships, facilities for which were barely adequate: throughout Italy, there were only three graving docks that could accomodate them (one at Venice, one at Taranto and one at Genoa). More critical was the situation in oversea territories, where only light forces and limited numbers of submarines could be stationed, although Italian naval planning had discounted any concept of stationing major forces there. Construction facilities were also good, with major firms gravitating around Genoa (Ansaldo) and Trieste (CRDA), and others being present at Leghorn (OTO), Ancona, Palermo, Taranto, Naples and Fiume, and the biggest issue in wartime would be revealed as, other than ensuring enough resources and enough manpower for the dockyards to function effectively, finding space between repairs for both damaged warships and merchantmen. This had been understood earlier, as wartime building of ships larger than destroyers was discounted. Order of battle on the declaration of war Prima Squadra Navale (Vice Admiral Inigo Campioni): it included the two active battleships (the two modernized Cavour-class), as the first two new Littorio-class (the Littorio and the Vittorio Veneto), although formally in service and assigned to it, were still fitting out and training their crews, plus one division of heavy cruisers and two of light cruisers, and six destroyer flotillas, plus various auxiliaries. Seconda Squadra Navale (Vice Admiral Riccardo Paladini): it included one heavy cruiser squadron, three light cruiser squadrons, and four destroyer flotillas, plus auxiliaries. Squadra Sommergibili: it included 115 submarines, divided into seven Gruppi Sommergibili (Submarine Groups) stationed respectively at La Spezia, Naples, Messina, Taranto, Leros, Tobruch and Cagliari, plus an autonomous flotilla stationed at Massawa. Afterwards, a new group for submarines assigned to the Submarine School was formed at Pola, and another was formed at Bordeaux (this would become known as BETASOM) for Italian boats operating in the Atlantic Ocean. - Other forces (old cruisers and destroyers, torpedo-boats, minelayers and minesweepers, etc.) were assigned to local naval departments (Dipartimenti Navali): - Dipartimento Alto Tirreno (Upper Thyrrenian) - La Spezia. - Dipartimento Basso Tirreno (Lower Thyrrenian) - Naples. - Dipartimento Ionio e Basso Adriatico (Ionian and Lower Adriatic) - Taranto. - Dipartimento Alto Adriatico (Upper Adriatic) - Venice. - Comando Navale Albania - Durazzo (Durrës). - Comando Navale Egeo (Aegean) - Leros. - Comando Navale Libia (Lybia) - Tobruch. - Comando Navale Africa Orientale (Eastern Africa) - Massawa. - Comando Navale Estremo Oriente (Far East) - Tientsin (based on the Italian concession in China, it comprised a river gunboat and an old minelayer). Then there were a few auxiliaries directly depending from the Stato Maggiore della Marina (Naval Staff).
  12. Thank you all for the interest. If there is something that picqued your curiosity, or something you'd like to know, feel free to post comment or ask, and I'll try to answer you at the best of my ability and knowledge (although I cannot and don't pretend to be all-knowing! ).
  13. Maybe I'm too punctilious to be allowed to live, but... Algérie's role in "Operation Vado" (as the operation was called) was, together with Colbert, to shell targets in the area of Savona and Vado; Dupleix and Foch took care of Genoa. Also, when the Italians worked at Toulon, they didn't care much for big ships, they cared much more for destroyers, torpedo-boats and submarines, not to mention merchantmen to replace losses on convoy routes. Battleships and big cruisers were summarily cut up and their steel was sent to Italy. Anyway, I like her. An interesting personality, and her relationship with the Zara-class ships is well-defined. I am more wary on what Pola might think of her...
  14. Alberto Da Zara: fighting admiral and ladies' man Alberto Da Zara (Padova, 1889 - Foggia, 1951) has been one of the most interesting figures of the wartime Regia Marina. Born in a family of cavalry officers, he instead decided to throw his lot in the Navy, joining the academy in 1907 and graduating in 1911; he spent the Italo-Turkish War on battleships. Promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in 1913, he was assigned to command an expedition to occupy the small island of Pelagosa (today Palagruža) on July 1915, with the intention of making it a strongpoint to counter the Austro-Hungarian strategic edge in the Adriatic; the occupation was difficult because of the aridity of the island, and the A-H efforts to the contrary, so after a month and a half the expedition was evacuated. It gained Da Zara the promotion to Lieutenant. He spent the rest of the Great War on destroyers and scouts ("esploratori"). After the conflict, Da Zara was assigned to command a gunboat in the Dodecanese, and then he requested to be assigned to command the river gunboat Ermanno Carlotto in China, on the Yangtze Kiang river, a period he relished. Unmarried and an undeterred ladies' man, it was in this period that he claimed to have had a relationship with Wallis Simpson (the woman for whom King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom would abdicate). After a stint as XO on several ships, Da Zara commanded the tall ship Cristoforo Colombo in 1932 and the destroyer Zeffiro in 1933 (alongside with its squadron). In the same year, he was selected to be the first captain of the light cruiser Emanuele Filiberto Duca d'Aosta, which was commissioned in August 1935. In the two-year period in which Da Zara remained as captain, it was for a long time a divisional and even a squadron flagship, and participated in the covert Italian activities in the Spanish Civil War. From April 1937 he commanded the light cruiser Raimondo Montecuccoli, which was soon sent to the Far East (after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War) to protect Italian interests; after returning home, in January 1939 he was promoted Contrammiraglio (Commodore or Rear Admiral, Lower Half). Up to May 1940 he was commander of the Naval Command in Albania. On Italy's declaration of war (10 June 1940), Da Zara took command of a group of two light cruisers (Alberto da Giussano and Alberico da Barbiano), with which he took part (in a very minor role) in the Battle of Punta Stilo (off Calabria). After a brief shift to another two-cruiser group, up to March 1942 Da Zara commanded the La Spezia dockyard and the newly-formed ASW Inspectorate (Ispettorato Antisommergibili), formed to oversee the training of ASW personnel. In 1941 he was promoted to Ammiraglio di Divisione (Rear Admiral, Upper Half). Da Zara took command in March 1942 of the 7th Division (Settima Divisione), made of the four light cruisers of the Montecuccoli- and Duca d'Aosta-classes; the first period was spent in escorting and indirectly protecting convoys. Da Zara's finest moment came when he was tasked with the naval opposition to the Operation Harpoon convoy in June 1942, coming from Gibraltar and bound for Malta. With a force of two light cruisers (Raimondo Montecuccoli and Eugenio di Savoia) and five destroyers, he attacked the convoy, defended by the AA cruiser HMS Cairo and nine destroyers. In a confusing situation (he had no clear idea of the number of type of ships he was facing, and the two recon planes his ships launched were either shot down or silent for the whole battle), Da Zara acted aggressively enough, going against orthodox Italian doctrine by focusing fire on single ships, causing a memorable confusion on the surprised enemies (British planning had discounted Italian surface forces interfering). After having to detach his destroyers to protect a crippled one, Da Zara broke contact to circumnavigate an old minefield, counting on re-engaging later, but he was only able to pick out stragglers; his action nonetheless allowed Axis aircraft to decimate the convoy, and its commander compounded the losses by blundering through a minefield on arrival. Although Da Zara's message of a "clean sweep" was exaggerated, he obtained the single undisputed squadron-sized victory for the Regia Marina, had acted with due aggression and had inflicted more damage than he sustained; not a bad day's work, in the words of historian Vincent O'Hara. In August, his division sailed with other forces to intercept the convoy of Operation Pedestal, but the operation was aborted at the last minute. After being transferred to La Spezia, in April 1943 Da Zara was relieved by Admiral Romeo Oliva. From August, Da Zara took command of the 5th Division (Quinta Divisione), made of the old battleships Duilio and Andrea Doria stationed at Taranto, When the Italian Armistice was announced, after some tense hours with his subordinates, Da Zara obeyed the instructions and sailed to Malta, arriving on 11 September; as Admiral Carlo Bergamini had been killed onboard the Roma, as senior officer he took command of the Italian fleet, and as such he negotiated terms with Admiral Cunningham, reiterating that he would not give up his ships or lower the Italian flag, and receiving due reassurances. Remaining as commander-in-chief until December 1943, he remained theoretically commander of the Italian capital ships as "Ispettore delle Force Navali", role taken in the August 1944 and kept until September 1946. He was promoted Ammiraglio di Squadra (Vice Admiral) in 1944. On October 1946 Da Zara retired to private life, settling in Foggia. Before he died he wrote his memoirs, "Pelle d'Ammiraglio" (Admiral's skin). A popular, hands-on officer, Da Zara had none of the scientific or technical know-how that distinguished other admirals such as Angelo Iachino or Carlo Bergamini. His knowledge about guns and battles was all gained by first-hand experience; his admitted admiration for Admiral Nelson resulted in an aggressive behavior that made him stand out between his peers (but that would have caused him serious trouble, had it not been crowned by a success). While determination and gallantry were far from unknown even in the Regia Marina's senior officers, Da Zara's offensive-minded behavior resulted in a battle where the Italians outshined their British opponents and managed to make them show their backs.
  15. Umberto Pugliese: the Jewish engineer who designed the pride of the Italian fleet Isacco Umberto Pugliese (Alessandria, 1880 - Sorrento, 1961) was one of the most important Italian military naval designers of the 20th century. Born into a jewish family, he joined the Accademia Navale at Leghorn when he was thirteen years old, and graduated as a guardiamarina (Ensign) in 1898. In 1901 he received his degree in Naval and Mechanical Engineering, and became part of the Genio Navale (Corps of Naval Engineering). From 1912 to 1923 he was part of the Committee for the Examination of Naval Design, where he collaborated with General Edgardo Ferrati (author, among other things, of the design of the Francesco Caracciolo-class superdreadnoughts). In 1916 he first conceived his concept of "crushing cylinders" for underwater defense, concept first tested in the 1920s on the two tankers Brennero and Tarvisio; he renounced to any patent rights in favour of the Regia Marina. From 1925 to 1930 he directed first the establishment of Castellammare di Stabia and then naval construction at the La Spezia dockyard, where he collaborated with the fitting-out of the heavy cruiser Zara and the light cruiser Armando Diaz. From 1931 to 1935 he became Direttore Generale delle Costruzioni Navali e Meccaniche (General Director of Naval and Mechanical Constructions) for the Minister of the Navy; during this period, he conceived the armoured conning tower that would remain a staple of Italian new builds up to WWII, and that would first appear on the Montecuccoli-class light cruisers. He also oversaw the design of the Littorio-class battleships, and the reconstruction of the Conte di Cavour- and Duilio-classes, all of which would incorporate his underwater defense system; his influence was all across the board for the latest Italian naval designs, up to the Capitani Romani-class light cruisers. On April 1935, after being promoted Generale ispettore (General Inspector, equivalent to Vice Admiral, the highest rank achievable by an officer in the Genio Navale), he became President of the Naval Designs Committee and Commander of the Genio Navale. He was also part of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR, still active today). After the promulgation of the Italian racial laws in 1938, on January 1939, after the relative decree went out, Pugliese was put on absolute leave, as no person "belonging to the Jewish race could perform military service in peacetime or wartime". On the night of 11 November 1940, British Swordfish torpedo-bombers sank a battleship and forced the grounding of other two. The Chief of Staff of the navy, Admiral Domenico Cavagnari, personally asked Pugliese to assist in the salvage operations; he accepted on the condition that he be allowed to wear his uniform, and his help was much welcomed. In the same period, Pugliese took advantage of a clause in the racial laws that allowed persons with "exceptional merits" to be excluded from the restrictive aspects. On April 1941 the Minister of the Interior accepted his request, and in July of the same year he officially resumed service in the Navy, until April 1942, where he was put in reserve, remaining available to the Ministry of the Navy. After the armistice of 8th September 1943, he left Rome and went into hiding. On January 1944 he was arrested by Gestapo agents and interrogated, but he was released shortly after; although he attempted to intervene, his younger sister Gemma was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. On January 1945, when he was sixty-five years old, he was discharged for age limits. After the war, he became President of the INSEAN (Istituto Nazionale per le Esperienze di Architettura Navale, National Institute for the Experiences of Naval Architecture) for fifteen years, until shortly before his death, in 1961.
  16. The Regia Marina was a major navy in both World Wars, but most people and even many who are into warships and military history knew relatively little about it. I thought I'd share, from time to time, some facts and anedoctes about the Italian Navy that might be of interest, and might spark some curiosity about the navy of the Kingdom of Italy! List: Umberto Pugliese: the Jewish engineer who designed the pride of the Italian fleet Alberto Da Zara: fighting admiral and ladies' man The Regia Marina's structure and organization The snorkel: the invention the Regia Marina let slip Radar woes: Ugo Tiberio and the Italian radar
  17. Oooh. Must have missed the memo somewhere. My bad! Thanks for the answer, anyway! Good news!
  18. Wait... how? I thought the starter Belles were all laid up for us to see, and there aren't any Italian BBs in there...
  19. Not reading anything into it. Just expressing my hope that at least by 1940 we see some Italian BB girls, nothing more.
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