Continuing the theme of the Italian-French confrontation in the Mediterranean, we will analyze the next series of Italian light cruisers. "Condottieri B".
It is clear that, having burned themselves on series A, the Italians realized that the first pizza came out not just lumpy, but something terrible. And you need to do something. And preferably inexpensively and urgently.
So the project “work on mistakes” with “Condottieri A” appeared. That is, series B.
We worked hard on the project. They increased the strength of the hull, reduced the upper weight of the ship, removing the hangar for seaplanes. This facilitated the ship and lowered the height of the superstructure, which had a positive effect on stability. The catapult from the forecastle was moved to the stern.
Cruisers, in addition, received new 152-mm guns of the main caliber of the 1929 model in more spacious towers.
According to the program 1929-1930. two Kondotieri B-series cruisers were built; pleasure was not very cheap.
The cruisers received names in honor of the Italian marshals of the period of the First World War: “Luigi Cadorna” and “Armando Diaz”.
Let's not go into historical details, as in the previous article, how talented and successful these lords were, but since it was not the bunkers who named them, perhaps they were worth something.
And the ships, as always, were very beautiful.
You must agree that the B-Series cruisers had such a swift silhouette. If it would even slightly improve the combat characteristics ...
The technical characteristics of the ships were as follows.
Displacement: 5 tons standard, 323 tons full.
Length: 169,3 m.
Width: 15,5 m
Draft: 5,2 m.
- belt - mm 24;
- deck and traverse - 20 mm;
- cutting - 70 mm.
Engines: 6 Yarrow-Ansaldo boilers, 2 Parsons turbines, 95 hp
Speed: 37 knots.
Cruising range: 2 nautical miles at 930 knots.
Like the ships of the first series, these cruisers were also a little champions. At the tests of “Kadorn” - 38,1 knots (power is estimated at 112 930 hp), and “Diaz” - as many as 39,7 knots (power 121 407 hp). But in the ordinary service, ships rarely went beyond 30-31 knots.
Crew: 507-544 people.
Main caliber: 4 × 2 -152 mm guns.
Anti-aircraft artillery 3 × 2 - 100 mm universal guns, 4 × 2 - 37 mm anti-aircraft guns, 4 × 2 - 13,2 mm machine guns.
Mine-torpedo armament: 2 x 2 torpedo tubes with a caliber of 533 mm, mines up to 96 pcs.
Aviation Group: 2 x CANT 25 or IMAM Ro.43, 1 catapult.
Since the 37 mm assault rifles were not manufactured, 2 x 40 mm Vickers assault rifles were installed on ships similar to the Kondotieri A. In 1938, the Vickers were replaced with 4 x 2 20 mm submachine guns from Bred.
In 1943, a catapult was dismantled at the Luigi Cadorna, and 13,2 mm machine guns were replaced with a 4 x 1 20 mm machine gun. In 1944, torpedo tubes were removed from the ship.
Despite the strengthening of the hull in the power set, the cruisers' protection was left at the level of series A. That is, it did not exist in fact. The booking weight was only 8% of the displacement and, in fact, consisted only of an armored belt with a thickness of 18 to 24 mm.
There was a shatterproof bulkhead behind the belt, which was located at a distance of 1,8-3,5 m from the belt. The deck was 20 mm thick; on 25 and 173 frames there were armored 20 mm traverse sheets.
The conning tower had frontal armor 70 mm, 25 mm side armor and 20 mm armor of the roof and deck. The main-caliber towers had frontal armor 30 mm, on-board, roofs and barbets - 22 mm.
Italian engineers believed that such armor could withstand the hit of 120-130-mm shells. That is, the leaders and destroyers of the enemy. And from a stronger enemy, the cruiser will be able to escape at the expense of speed. In fact, practice has shown that 127-mm shells pierced the “reservation” easily, but not shells became a nightmare for Italian cruisers.
About the main caliber. In general, to say that the tools were new means a little sin against the truth. On the whole, these were all the same Ansaldo guns, but modernized by OTO. Actually, all the upgrades touched the loading mechanism, which allowed to accelerate recharging. If the Ansaldo guns it was 14 seconds, then the modernized - 9 seconds. Rate of fire was 7 rounds per minute. Practical combat rate of fire was 4-5 shots per minute.
Ammunition of the main caliber in peacetime amounted to 210 high-explosive and armor-piercing shells per gun. During the war, ammunition increased.
In the central artillery post (DAC) was a central automatic gun firing control system. On the "Cadorna" DAC system "Galileo", on the "Diaz" - "San Giorgio." Two DACs supplied the data to the DAC, and on the wings of the bridge there were special posts for controlling fire at night.
There was such an interesting innovation as airmail, which connected the main control posts of the ship, the conning tower with the post of chief power engineer or with the post of the struggle for survivability. Naturally, no one canceled the internal telephone and intercoms.
Even in the rank of new products, three steering wheel drives could be entered: hydraulic, electric and manual. That is, to disable the control of the ship was very difficult.
Universal artillery consisted of six 100-mm guns in the installations of the same Minisini system. Ammunition 560 high-explosive, 560 anti-aircraft and 240 lighting shells. During the war, ammunition was increased to 2000 shells. The fire control system consisted of two KDP along the sides of the superstructure. Data for the firing was developed in a separate artillery post.
With anti-aircraft artillery, everything was very sad. The same problems as the ships of series A: there were no automatic weapons for the average distance. They planned to arm the B-series cruisers with four twin 37 mm machine guns of the Breda company and four twin 13,2 mm machine guns.
And "Breda" very mildly, framed the fleet. I had to get out when it turned out that the production of 37-mm machine guns could not be established. And therefore, 2 single-barrel 40-mm automatic machines of the Vickers-Terni system of the 1915 model were temporarily installed ...
Yes, the Terni company carried out modernization in 1930, but the machine did not really satisfy the fleet in terms of its characteristics: due to the low initial speed - low effective firing range, low practical rate of fire, inconvenience of reloading - changing the box with a belt weighing under 100 kg in battle poured into an intractable problem and required the efforts of 4-5 people.
So two ancient machines instead of eight - the air defense rating is clearly unsatisfactory.
In 1938, the “Pom-Pom” was removed and instead installed 4 installations of paired automatic machines “Breda” with a caliber of 20 mm. It already looked like something. Ammunition 20 mm machine guns consisted of 3000 shells.
In 1943, machine guns that were useless at that time were removed from the Luigi Cadorna. Instead of machine guns, another 2 coaxial 20 mm Breda submachine guns and 4 single-barrel 20 mm submachine guns manufactured by the Isotta Fraccini factory of 1939 model were installed.
With such weapons, you could try to fight off the aircraft that attacked the ship.
Mine-torpedo armament was comparable to type A and consisted of two torpedo tubes located on the deck near the first chimney. The ammunition consisted of 8 torpedoes, spare torpedoes were stored in containers near the vehicles.
It was very decent anti-submarine weapons. 32 depth charges of the 1934 model weighing 128 kg and an explosive mass of 100 kg, which can puzzle any submarine.
The depth of the explosion could be set at 20, 40, 70 and 100 m. Bombs could be dropped from two bomb throwers of type 432/302 of the 1934 model. These were pneumatic bombers operating on high-pressure compressed air. Bomb bombs were placed on the side of the Utah.
During the war, the number of depth charges increased to 72, but these were smaller bombs, model 1936, mark 50T. The weight of this depth bomb was 64 kg, the weight of an explosive was 50 kg.
Naturally, like all Italian light cruisers fleettype B ships were equipped with rails for setting mines. Depending on the type, from 84 to 138 minutes could be loaded on board.
Mine weapons consisted of three paravanes, which provided a safe 100th lane, 9 m deep. In the stowed position, they were on a superstructure near tower No. 2 on the sides and one on the bow wall.
With electronic means it was about the same as with air defense, if not sadder. Despite the fact that Italian scientists are famous for a number of discoveries in the field of radio and sonar, the production of such important devices in Italy could not be established. Therefore, in addition to the radio station, only the passive receiving sonar station was installed on the cruisers.
Battle service cruisers.
Laid down on September 19, 1930, launched on September 30, 1931. On August 11, 1933, work on the ship was completed, tests began. On April 22, 1934, a ceremony of presenting the Battle Banner to a ship was held at a veneer of Venice.
The Luigi Cadorna received the Battle Banner from women in the city of Pallazza, the proud city of General Luigi Cadorna. The following text was embroidered in gold on the banner:
“In memory of the great man, the ship is called the Cadorna.” The flag of this ship will fly over the waves. “The whole world will see him, and all the time his fate will be connected with the Italian fleet.”
In general, it almost worked out.
The service of the cruiser actually began on August 4, 1934 with large naval maneuvers, which B. Mussolini observed. And then the routine began in the Mediterranean. The ship staggered across the water area, it was difficult to find a port where he had not visited.
January 1, 1937 "Luigi Cadorna" arrives in Tangier. The civil war that began in Spain and the subsequent assistance of Italy to General Franco demanded the protection of convoys with weapons and technology going to Spain.
A very funny page began in the history of the cruiser: first, the ship guarded the convoys from Tangier to Geuta, and then the fun began. Throughout the second half of 1937, the cruiser hunted for ships carrying military smuggling to Spain and at the same time ... drove it yourself!
However, this was how many vessels from the countries participating in the Committee on Non-Intervention “worked”. They helped General Franco with all their might and eventually led him to victory, defeating the Soviet Union, which helped the Republicans.
Meanwhile, the Second World War was approaching, but Italy started it a little earlier, in April 1939, by the occupation of Albania. "Luigi Cadorna" takes part in the operation to capture Albania.
In general, the Navy had already realized by then that Type B is not much different from Type A Kondotieri for the better. And on the first occasion, they wrote off the cruiser to the training squad. However, in 1940, the training ship again became a warship.
June 10, Italy entered the Second World War. But for Kadorna, the war began a day earlier. The military trick of the Italians was that as early as June 9 a very secretive small detachment consisting of the cruisers Di Barbiano and Luigi Cadorna and the destroyers Corazstsmeri and Lanzieri entered the Sicilian Gulf and set there more than 400 minutes. Apparently, just in case.
July 7, 1940 "Cadorna" again goes to sea. Then, almost the entire combat-ready Italian fleet participated in the operation to cover the huge African convoy. It all turned into disgrace, which some invoke the battle of Calabria, others the battle of Punto Stilo, but the mess reigning at sea is difficult to call a battle. The only one who was more or less involved in the business at that time was the crew of the battleship Worspite.
The Cadorna checked its guns and air defense. No success was achieved, but they managed to escape from "greetings" from British bombers and torpedo bombers.
In 1941, the cruiser again engaged in the escort of supply vessels going to Africa.
On the whole, the Italian fleet in the Mediterranean operated so successfully that the position of units in Africa became catastrophic in terms of supply.
It’s hard to say who is in the fleet’s command to use the Kondotieri as transports. But such an experiment was delivered. The Luigi Cadorna took on board 330 tons of fuel oil, 210 tons of gasoline and 360 boxes of ammunition. In addition, about 100 people replenish and vacationers.
November 22, 1941, having in custody the only destroyer "Augusto Riboti", the cruiser went to Brindisi. On the way, the cruiser was attacked by a British submarine, firing a torpedo along it, but safely dodged.
On November 23, the ship arrived safely in Brindisi. 103 Italian, 106 German troops and 82 British prisoners of war took aboard the cruiser. On the evening of the same day, the cruiser lay back on course and on November 25 returned without incident to Taranto.
In the first half of December, the cruiser repeated the raid, delivering to Benghazi and Argostoli 10 cans of gasoline, 000 tons of fuel oil, 100 boxes of ammunition.
The ground command praised the cargo delivered by the crew. But while the “Luigi Cadorna” played the role of supply transport, the fate of the fleet was decided at the headquarters of the fleet.
After the death of December 13, 1941, in the battle at Cape Bon, the cruisers "Da Barbiano" and "Di Giussano", it was decided to use the cruiser as a training ship to prepare for the replenishment of sailors.
And from that moment until 1943, “Luigi Cadorna” carried out work on the training of cadets of naval schools, performing campaigns, shooting and other tasks.
While the "Cadorna" performed the tasks of training personnel, the Italian fleet lost a large number of ships. At the end of May 1943, the fleet had only 6 light cruisers. Therefore, it was decided to return the cruiser to the ranks of warships and at least somehow use it.
Happened. Having trained the crew, the cruiser delivered the soldiers to Albania, but mostly put mines. Until the surrender of Italy.
On September 9, the Italian squadron of Admiral Da Zara left the Taranto raid and headed for the British Navy base in La Valletta in Malta. Under the command of Da Zara were the battleships Andrea Doria, Cayo Duilio and the cruiser Luigi Cadorna, Magna Pompeo, and the destroyer Da Recco.
On September 10, ships came to Malta and surrendered to the British. On September 16, the Italian squadron was transferred to Alexandria, where it awaited a decision on its fate.
On September 23, British Admiral Cunningham and Italian Naval Minister Admiral De Courten concluded an agreement on the use of Italian warships and merchant ships by the Allies.
Thus, the “Luigi Cadorna” again became a transport. Unarmed, because just in case the ammunition was quite naturally unloaded from the ship. He only drove British soldiers not as prisoners of war, but vice versa. The ship transported equipment and personnel from North Africa to Taranto and Naples. 7 raids were committed, after which the war for the “Luigi Cadorna” ended.
Further, the cruiser was put into reserve and stood until 1947. Further, "Luigi Cadorna" remained in the Italian fleet as again a training ship. And from 1947 to 1951, cadets for the Italian fleet were again trained on it.
In 1951, the ship was finally decommissioned and disassembled for metal.
The cruiser was laid down on July 28, 1930, launched on July 17, 1932, handed over to the fleet on April 29, 1933. The ship entered the ship before Luigi Cadorna, although the series was named after Cadorna.
On April 22, 1934, at the Naples raid, the ceremony of awarding the Battle Banner was held. A golden inscription was engraved on the box for storing the banner: “Valor. Victory at Veneto. Rome remembers. The enemy is defeated. ” Pompously, but fate was not affected in any way.
Then began the routine training and combat coordination of the crew. An interesting nuance: the first commander of Armando Diaz was Captain 1st Rank Angelo Yakino, famous for the fact that ALL the ships he commanded until he became an admiral subsequently died.
In the first half of 1936, Armando Diaz was engaged in the escort of ships going to Spain with cargo and replenishment for General Franco. And in the second half I was already looking for ships with “military smuggling”.
The second half of 1938 and the first half of 1939 were for the cruiser in the ordinary peacetime service. In December 1939, work was done to replace anti-aircraft artillery.
The first Armando Diaz operation in World War II was the exit on July 7, 1940, which led to the battle of Punt Stilo.
An accident in the mechanisms occurred on the way to the battlefield on board the Armando Diaz. The squadron commander ordered him to go to the base with the Luigi Cadorna. But the ships did not have time to leave, the battle began. At the Armando Diaz, shells hit the Giulio Cesar and even fired two salvos with the main caliber of the enemy destroyers. When returning to the Luigi Cadorna, the steering gear also crashed, but somehow the two cruisers got into Messina.
Having been repaired, Armando Diaz, together with Di Giussano, took part in the Italian invasion of Greece, the planned capture of the island of Corfu. Three times went on patrol of the Albanian coast.
In late 1940 - early 1941 was included in the detachment of ships engaged in the posting of supply convoys for units in North Africa.
On February 23 and 24, 3 convoys with troops were sent to North Africa. The Bande Nere and Armando Diaz plus destroyers Avneri and Carazzieri came out as a cover unit at sea on the morning of February 24. The compound entered the guard of the Marburg convoy on February 25 shortly before midnight.
Security ships followed the convoy: cruisers with anti-submarine zigzag, destroyers carried security and sonar surveillance.
At 3 hours 43 minutes, the Armando Diaz was shocked by explosions: two torpedoes hit the bow of the ship. At 3 hours 49 minutes, the cruiser sank. After the explosion of torpedoes, the cellars of the bow towers of the main caliber and boilers No. 3 and No. 4 detonated. The nasal superstructure and foremast rose into the air and collapsed into the water.
The commander of the ship, Captain 1st Rank Francesco Mazzola, senior assistant, senior artilleryman, almost all the officers in the conning tower were killed. What happened behind the sides, in boiler rooms and other rooms, you can guess, but the fact that there was hell is understandable.
The destroyer Askari saved 144 people, including 14 officers. In total, 464 people went to the bottom together with Armando Diaz, including 13 officers, 62 foremen, 3 air force military personnel, and 7 army officers.
The Armando Diaz was sunk by the British Upright submarine commanded by Lieutenant Norman. The attack was carried out flawlessly, plus the Italian destroyers, who openly missed the submarine, helped.
What can be said in the end?
Beautiful ships. Very beautiful. But not beauty is fighting, but fighting qualities. And here is complete sadness and longing. The combat value of the Condottieri B was minimal. They understood this in the Navy, and therefore they tried at the first opportunity to put them in training or in reserve.
Yes, the improvement work was carried out, but the flaws that the Condottieri of the first A series were so rich were, by and large, failed to be overcome in the work on the bugs.
The cruisers remained “cardboard” and not very fast. The same British and French ships issued the same 30-32 knots, but possessed thicker armor and a large number of trunks.
In general, the cruisers did not find application in the Mediterranean Sea. The convoys they were supposed to attack were guarded by both heavy ships and aircraft, with which the Italian cruisers had nothing to fight.
Plus, the British possessed more advanced means of detecting you as a radar, which the Italians could not oppose.
So the only thing that the cruisers were suitable for was the role of mine-layers, training ships and transports.
Agree, somehow it’s even a shame for the cruiser.