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Historynerd

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  1. To be nitpicking, I'd say Raeder more than Dönitz, if we talk about 1939!
  2. One of these (namely the CB.2) was involved in a plan to attack the harbour of New York; it would have been carried by the submarine Leonardo da Vinci near it, then it would have been set free, to do all the mischief it could. Or have I mentioned it already, somewhere...?
  3. I'll look for them, but I doubt I can find any that are not... well, a bit old-fashioned, if you get my meaning.
  4. Given that the famous "submarine carriers" of the I-400 class are rather well known, at some place I would like to see one of the Ammiragli-class (also known as Cagni-class) submarines of the Regia Marina. Although they weren't that big (their displacement was of 1703 t on surface and of 2185 t submerged), they were amongst the pinnacles of the "submarine cruiser" concept, a big submarine with heavy armament and huge autonomy to scour the oceans. Surfaced, they could count on two 100 mm (3.9-inch) guns; they had a total of fourteen torpedo tubes (eight on the bow and six aft) of 450 mm caliber (judged sufficient to deal with merchantmen), and this allowed them to carry a total of 38 torpedoes (that could also be used indifferently in both torpedo chambers, thanks to a rail system that connected them). At 12 knots their autonomy was of 10700 nautical miles, that went up to 19500 if the speed dropped to 7.5 knots. Despite their size, they were found to have reasonable maneuverability, they were stable at sea and their abitability was excellent. Their original conning tower design was modified during construction to a size and silhouette similar to the German submarines. Four were completed, named after illustrious Italian admirals: Ammiraglio Cagni, Ammiraglio Caracciolo, Ammiraglio Millo and Ammiraglio di Saint-Bon; more were planned but were never laid down. They were designed to be able to reach the planned base of Chisimaio (Kismayu) in Italian Somaliland from Italy, circumnavigating Africa. However, when they were completed, their size and huge cargo load (some 140 t) led them to be employed in supply runs towards North Africa (apparently on the direct interest of the Chief of General Staff, General Ugo Cavallero), in which three of them were lost. The only submarine that was assigned to the role for which it was designed was the Ammiraglio Cagni, albeit late in the war (arriving at the Atlantic base of Bordeaux in February 1943); therefore it performed only two missions (of which the longest, having lasted 137 days, set a record for permanence at sea of an Italian submarine), the second of which was interrupted by the Armistice. During this experience, however, only two ships were sunk, and another (the auxiliary cruiser Asturias) was damaged. Having reached Durban in South Africa, the Cagni returned afterwards to Italy. As the remaining Italian submarines were scrapped after the war (save for two), the conning tower of the Cagni was preserved and is currently kept at Taranto as a monument to Italian submariners.
  5. Nobody commented on my proposal? I thought it was failry well known... if nothing else, because it gave the Warspite some more glory...
  6. Regia Nave Giulio Cesare vs HMS Warspite. A bit more balanced.
  7. I can emphatize. I've voted for Aosta since I joined the forum, too!
  8. Not my fault I can't spot Axum anywhere...
  9. Not just them. She would like to get some shots at the Italians as well. Well, why not? We couldn't expect that everything would be just peachy and dandy, could we?
  10. As usual, C2. Ca cousta l'on ca cousta, viva l'Aousta! (Meaning: No matter what the cost, long live the Aosta!)
  11. Well, it was a very confused and painful affair. The main fleet (based at La Spezia) was preparing to sail for a last ditch attack towards the Allied forces around Salerno, when the proclamation of the Armistice took everyone by surprise. No operative command had been given specific orders, and so nobody really knew what to do. However, when the news that the fleet would have to sail to Malta broke out, most were opposed, and favoured scuttling the ships; only when it became clear that the ship would not be turned over to the Allies and they would keep flying the Italian ensign the opposition waned (although some who didn't like it disembarked). Anyway, in the end Admiral Carlo Bergamini, in accordance to what Admiral Raffaele De Courten (the Navy Chief of Staff) had told him, decided to take time and sail towards the isle of La Maddalena (near the northern shore of Sardinia), and see what would happen. As they were closing in, they got the news that the base had been overrun by the Germans, so they turned around. It was then that the formation was attacked by German bombers, some of which equipped with the Fritz X guided bombs. Two of these hit the flagship Roma, and the second had the luck of striking the magazines, causing a deflagration that destroyed the battleship, killing a lot of its crew and the same Admiral Bergamini. Another bomb of the same kind hit the sister Italia, that was damaged but kept going. The light cruiser Attilio Regolo, three destroyers and three torpedo boats were detached to look for survivors, and afterwards they sailed to Mahòn in the Balearic Islands, where they were interned for a while (except for two torpedo boats that went out and scuttled themselves after disembarking the wounded). Afterwards, the Italian fleet sailed west, then after receiving further orders made for Bone, where the battleships Warspite and Valiant were waiting for them; they would lead the Italian ships to Malta, where they arrived on 11 September. There, they found the two old battleships Duilio and Andrea Doria (based at Taranto in reserve), together with light cruisers and destroyers, commanded by Admiral Alberto Da Zara who, as senior officer, took command of the whole fleet. They too had dealt with the agitation of the crews, who calmed down, but not without preparing for any attempt by the British to seize the ships (by preparing armed pickets in hidden positions and the such). They would be joined by the other old battleship Giulio Cesare, sailed from Pola, after a while. Admiral Da Zara and Admiral Cunningham met and reached a conclusions about how the situation would evolve: of course, the Italian ships remained under the control of their crews, and the British armed pickets remained onboard only for a little time, however all the gun breeches (save the AA ones), the torpedoes' detonators and the explosive charges would be disembarked. Overall, a classic procedure for internment. To relieve the harbour's cluttering, the two remaining Littorio-class battleships were sent to Alexandria after a few days with some escorting destroyers, and from there they were interned in the Great Bitter Lakes, from where they would return to Italy only in early 1947, when their cession (soon transformed into obligation to scrap them) had been already decided. The rest of the Italian ships returned to the Southern Italian ports (especially Taranto) gradually.
  12. This. It's not that it became clear that soon that aircraft carriers were becoming more and more the most important and capable capital ships of the age. Let us remember that some aircraft carriers, early on during the war, met a rather dismal and inglorious end, such as HMS Courageous (sunk by an U-Boot), and HMS Glorious (surprised and sunk by two German battleships). Vincent O'Hara says that these were reasons that led the Italian high command to deem that the conversion of liners to aircraft carriers would yield products of dubious utility, and perhaps very vulnerable. Also, even after the Taranto night, doubts remained wheter the carrier-borne aircrafts could really take down a battleship, if the same was underway and fully alert. Only the sinking of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse put these doubts to rest once and for all.
  13. Yes, that was a very confused situation. Campioni was unable to make out the situation from the confusing and contradicting reports he received, and so didn't get a clear picture, without realizing that he had a margin to engage successfully. It seems that Italian recon was never very effective during the war (O'Hara does say it rather strongly). It is true, though, that the sortie was decided mainly to show that the Regia Marina hadn't been knocked out by the Taranto night, and was still able to sail to meet its enemy. Campioni was kicked upstairs (as the Romans used to say, "promoveatur ut amoveatur"), and Iachino took his place. Yet, Iachino, despite being intelligent, competent and able to discern that a degree of tactical aggressiveness was a must, would end up in a rather similar way.
  14. Well, that concept has quite a bit of truth, but it's more complicated than that. Some admirals tended to be timid, but they were also generally held back by the orders they had received. Which always contained the same paragraph: "You will engage only in favourable circumstances." Also, the operative command of the Navy ("Supermarina") unfortunately overlapped with the tactical aspect of eventual engagements, going so far as to establish precise routes, to admonish not to go out determined zones (either because of the need of air superiority, or because towards Malta Italian submarines might have attacked Italian ships by mistake, or even because of minefields); this did not help to create a healthy mentality for a commander. Few were those that disregarded such instructions, and did that at their risk (for example, Admiral Alberto Da Zara during Operation Harpoon). At a strategic level, the "fleet-in-being" strategy adopted was sound, because the war largely turned out to be about lines of communication, so the need to defend them or interdict the enemy ones trumped the need to seek battle just for the sake of it. At a tactical level, several flaws carried over from prewar doctrines and training, insufficient or inadequate equipment, and difficulties in coordinating with the air element (a very important factor) led in many cases to cautious or insecure behavior on the part of Italian admirals, who found themselves grasping for the enemy's dislocation or strength, and always mindful that every major loss that they would suffer (anything above a destroyer) would prove impossible to replace. This helps understand (but not justify, in a general sense) the tendency of some Italian admirals to be rather cautious in their approach. However, sometimes timidity may be relative. Admiral Inigo Campioni, commander of the Italian fleet engaged at Punta Stilo, has been judged both reckless (for engaging an opponent with stronger and overall better battleships) and timid (for disengaging after losing his speed advantage). Sometimes, it's hard to give a really objective comment. Very well. Italy pretty much needed to lose, having sided with such a faction. Having established that, however, I hope I can keep offering what knowledge I may possess about the Regia Marina, and also my comments on how its war effort might have been better conducted. I see now that my comment might have looked like I wished for Italy to win. And I admit that at a primordial, irrational level, the dislike for defeat might have tinged my words. But I believe you can empathize with my feelings. I found very often that we humans can be very contradictory creatures.
  15. I see how I could give the wrong impression, but let me clarify it. While I cannot deny that, being an Italian, I do have an interest and a special place for my country in my heart and my thoughts, I try not to let it influence me when I speak about history. I strive to be objective, so my comment on the cryptoanalysts of the Regia Marina was merely a statement about them being objectively few (two hundred at most, which pales compared to the efforts in other countries). There is no way that I can deny what you said (although I would say that "allow" is a strong verb, there were quite a lot of processes going around, and Italy and the Bald Guy did not fathom everything that would happen, either in 1922 or later). In any case, I think we are here to discuss military-related things, not the politics of World War II. I am aware that Italy's efforts were meant to further Germany's plans, and we know what those entiled; however, the fact that the Kriegsmarine struggled to enforce them (and more directly) has never stopped several and respectable people to discuss about the Graf Spee, the Bismarck or the U-Boote, and how their operations and use would have been better formed, without being accused of wishing that Germany had won the war, I think. Therefore I feel I am entitled to give my opinion about the Regia Marina, and to pass a judgement about how its operations were performed, without falling under such suspicions. Also, I'll end with yet another thing little know. After the Armistice, the bigger part of the Regia Marina went south to Malta; while the big battleships were interned in the Great Bitter Lakes (and the older ones remained in port doing only brief training cruises), the Italian cruisers, destroyers and submarines did not sit idly in port, but performed a variety of tasks, while the Regia Marina's logistical support proved precious to Allied ships (the Taranto shipyard serviced 600 Allied warships and more than one thousand auxiliaries and merchantmen, until July 1945). In this case, and in a rather precarious situation, the Regia Marina still did its part to help the cause, the right one this time.
  16. Oh, sorry. I hadn't understood. Very well, if you say so, I have no reason to believe otherwise.
  17. I may have exaggerated- However, on NavWeaps it says that the results were uneven also because of the poor quality of the shells and the propellant. And the Italian example shows that building guns is by itself no guarantee that they'll perform as well as they could.
  18. Sorry, I thought you were referring to the American Mark 7 gun; I had not read carefully. Anyway, the Soviet 406 mm gun gives an idea, but its results were uneven. In some respects, the Soviet industrial base was not up to the task. Also, my point stands, that the Italian gun had excellent range even though its maximum elevation was rather small. It's interesting to note that the idea of equipping the new Italian battleships with 381 mm, instead of going to the 406 mm limit, was followed through because going for the biggest caliber would have meant longer times and bigger costs; also, the Italian industry already had experience with the 15-inch, as it had built the guns for the never completed Francesco Caracciolo-class battleships. Also, the Italian top brass' opinion was that the Model 1934 was good enough to be a match for 406 mm guns; so, it would have been sufficient even against the Lion-class, if they had made an appearance in the Mediterranean. And they also thought that it was superior to the 14-inch Mark 7 of the King George V-class.
  19. a) Are you saying that the dispersion issue was because the low barrel life gradually degraded the performance? It may have been a factor, but I don't think it was the major cause for the phenomenon. The Mark 7 fired an AP shell Mark 8 at a muzzle velocity that at average was around 740 mps, roughly 760 at most. Firing the HC Mark 17, the muzzle velocity went up to 800 mps, 820 at most. And the Italian gun had that range with a maximum elevation of 36°. During trials, a gun at 45° fired an AP shell at 46'280 m, and an HE one at 48'270. Delay coils were not present, true. But I don't see how the barrels were "very close". Model 1934: 264 cm apart Mark 7: 310 cm apart British 14 Inch Mark 7: 244 cm apart Planned British 16 Inch Mark 2: 259 cm apart German 38 cm: 375 cm French 380 mm: 195 mm (between pairs)
  20. Yes; it's relatively little-known, but even though the Enigma machine was broken, the main Italian naval codebook remained relatively secure throughout the war, and instead the codebreakers of the Regia Marina achieved repeated successes against the Royal Navy's codes. Too bad they were too few.
  21. I see, thanks. It would have been strange, otherwise, I think!
  22. That's interesting to know. But is some kind of accuracy value inserted in the combat model? So, are some units more precise than others?
  23. The Italians never achieved anything like the big convoys that crossed the Atlantic, either. For the thirty-nine months of the war (until September 1943), it was a continuous movement of small convoys (even one or two merchantmen, some with escort, some without). As a result, the Royal Navy, the RAF and the other Allied parties that came there had plenty of targets; and they took advantage of it, since some of the best British successes were achieved here (especially if we talk about submarines). However, despite this inefficiency (and other inefficiencies because of logistical issues, such as the low capacity of the Lybian harbours), the Italians managed to do rather well. Statistics show that the Regia Marina managed to get through to their destination (other than North Africa, also Albania and the Dodecanese islands) almost all that was sent, losing only 9.5% of all kinds of material and only 4% of the personnel. Too bad that what was sent was in any way insufficient to ensure a different outcome of the war, and especially of the North African campaign.
  24. Allow me to say that "accuracy" is not the same as "dispersion". The Model 1934 was not an inaccurate weapon, nor were the fire-control systems the cause of inaccuracy (they had issues, true, but they usually worked out good results); however, partly because of its high muzzle velocity (which, however, also caused the flatness of the shells' trajectory, therefore its excellent performance against vertical armor, and contributed to the fact that it retained speed rather well), and especially because of the excessive tolerances allowed in the acceptance of shells and propellant bags, in practice often the fire of the Littorio-class resulted very dispersed. To explain with the most basic terms, while the aim was good, and the enemy ships were straddled often, the shells tended to land in a wide area, which resulted in the number of shells on target being rather low. To put this in context, when the guns were tried in the firing range, the manufacturing companies were allowed to make the best shells they could, very even; the result was an acceptable degree of dispersion (since, let's not forget, patterns that are too tight can be as hurtful as the ones that are too wide, as it makes difficult to "find the range"). This, however, changed during wartime, and as a result the dispersion patterns became distinctly wider; however, such phenomenon tended to vary, as sometimes a better batch of shells and propellant made the patterns tighter. However, in any case you are right. In terms of sheer performance, the 40 cm Type 94 was pretty much in a league of its own, with only the 16-inch Mark 7 approaching it. To achieve similar results, the Italians should have moved on towards higher-caliber weapons. In fact, some do indeed speculate that guns with the caliber of 406 mm (such as the one proposed in some Ansaldo or OTO designs for the Soviet Union), built around the same philosophy as the Model 1934, but with the advantage of the previous experience, might have achieved something like that.
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