And on this note (it’s hard to say whether it is joyful or mournful), we begin our review of the last pair of Italian light cruisers of the Condottieri type, type E. Yes, after them there were also ships of the F type, but, as they say, they did not smell gunpowder.
But type E ... It's debatable, but let me put it this way: they were very, very good ships. They are in no way inferior to classmates from other countries, moreover, even superior in some way. And how long these ships have served is the best confirmation of this.
But let's order.
Glory. I don't know exactly who, but in Latin, gloria is for those who in the Italian naval command thought of it and convinced the others to abandon the rather delusional idea of a cruiser scout who is able to chase destroyers and be a thunderstorm for them and for the leaders of the destroyers.
Probably the smartest thought after the thought of surrender was precisely about building normal light cruisers, rather than pulling an octopus on a globe in an attempt to do at least something from the Condottieri project as a whole.
An octopus, sorry, not an owl, easily fits on a globe. But this does not make it easier for anyone. And when it dawned on the Italian naval commanders that a light cruiser could be built and needed, then they finally got some very interesting ships.
Giuseppe Garibaldi and Luigi di Savoia by Duca degli Abruzzi.
The idea of a cruiser-scout without armor, but capable of chasing destroyers, drowned, and on its basis the light cruisers "Condottieri" type E were obtained. Very balanced and versatile ships without overshoot.
Naturally, the displacement had to be increased. Again. And not just to increase it, but by another 1 tons if we compare it with the Duca di Aosta. The dimensions of the ship were slightly increased behind the displacement. The cruiser has become wider by 000 meters. This entailed many design changes. Moreover, the changes went only to the benefit of the ship.
The increased body width made it possible to rearrange the boilers by placing them in pairs. This led to a reduction in the length of the energy compartment. Further, reducing the length of the compartment made it possible to move the artillery towers closer to the center of the ship. Unloading the ends (bow and stern of the ship) made it possible to shorten the length of the armor belt on one side and increase its thickness on the other. The armor belt has been increased by 30 mm.
But the main thing that these measures allowed was to increase the number of main battery guns to ten.
It looks like an American heavy cruiser of the Pensacola class, which also had artillery, two three-gun turrets, two two-gun towers.
The speed dropped as expected, to 31 knots. However, it was already a different ship, for slightly different tasks.
The result is a ship with a very interesting profile. The silhouette was very similar to the new battleships of the "Giulio Cesare" class, of course, on a reduced scale.
As a result, the displacement of "Garibaldi" reached 11 tons, "Abruzzi" - 295 tons.
The cruisers' mechanisms consisted of 8 Yarrow boilers, 2 Parsons turbines with a total design power of 100 hp. They provided the requested speed of 000 knots. The fuel reserve was equal to 31 tons, it guaranteed a cruising range of 1 miles with a cruising speed of 680 knots.
During trials, the Abruzzi developed a power of 103 hp. and showed a speed of 990 knots. But I have already mentioned more than once that the Italians used to cheat when measuring, and the Abruzzi was lightened to 34,8 tons. "Garibaldi" with a displacement of 8 500 tons and a power of mechanisms 10 120 hp. - 101 knots.
But the usual speed was 31 knots.
The booking was luxurious compared to the first Condottieri. In general, according to the plan, it was supposed to withstand the impact of 203-mm shells, but this will allow me to question it. But shells of smaller calibers are quite.
An outer belt 30 mm thick joined at an angle of 12 degrees with an inner belt 100 mm thick. The deck was 40 mm thick, the conning tower had a wall thickness of 140 mm, and the roof was 75 mm. The turrets of the main caliber were armored in the frontal part with 145 mm armor, the roof was 60 mm, and the side walls were 35 mm. The turret barbets had 100 mm armor. The shields of the universal caliber guns were 8 mm thick. The total weight of the ship's armor is 2 tons.
New 152-mm guns were installed on E-type cruisers. The same as the anti-mine guns of battleships of the "Littorio" type. The Ansaldo guns of the 1934 model had a length of 55 calibers and the best data. The gun could send a shell weighing 50 kg to a distance of more than 25 km. Considering that the designers moved away from the practice of two guns in one cradle for the "Condottieri" type E project, the accuracy of the fire increased significantly.
The universal caliber was represented by the same 100 mm guns in the Minisini system installations. 4 twin rigs, 8 barrels. But the towers were installed more rationally, so that a wider sector could be covered with fire. The fire control system also remained the same.
Small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery consisted of eight 37-mm anti-aircraft guns and eight 13,2-mm machine guns. Both cannons and machine guns were installed in sparks.
The torpedo armament consisted of 2 three-pipe 533-mm torpedo tubes, placed on board, with an ammunition load of 12 torpedoes, anti-submarine armament consisted of two bombers. The cruisers could take on board 120 min.
Interestingly, the issue was resolved with aviation group. When the main and auxiliary calibers were rescheduled, it became clear that, as on early-type cruisers, it would not be possible to install a catapult that could act on both sides. And a hangar in this design would interfere with the shooting of one of the aft towers.
And a very original decision was made: to install two catapults on both sides of chimney # 2. The hangar had to be abandoned. Theoretically, the cruiser could take four aircraft (all the same RO.43), but in order not to make a mess on the deck with spare aircraft, not to mount them, and so on, they were limited to the pair that was immediately installed on catapults.
In general, this RO.43 was a very so-so airplane, with a short range and lightly armed. And the scouts were really enough and one.
The cruiser's crew consisted of 692 people.
About modifications. There were a lot of modifications, but most of them took place after the war. In general, both cruisers have a good life in terms of longevity.
As for the period of World War II, everything was simple: there is nothing to improve what has already worked out well. So the Italians focused on improving the cruisers of the first types, and bypassed the E type.
In 1943, the useless 13,2 mm machine guns were removed, and instead of them, five twin mounts of 20 mm anti-aircraft machine guns were installed.
"Abruzzi" from the German allies got the radar. The Italians were very bad with their own people.
All other upgrades took place after Italy left the war, so we'll talk about them at the end.
Here, too, it turned out ... in Italian. The lead, that is, the first to be laid, was Giuseppe Garibaldi. But the CRDA shipyard in Trieste was not very fast, so the Abruzzi, which was built at the OTO shipyard in La Spezia, was built earlier. So any ship can be called the lead ship, but it is mostly named after "Garibaldi", although the "Abruzzi" has no less rights.
So, "Luigi di Savoia Duca della Abruzzi".
Laid down on December 28, 1934, launched on April 21, 1936, became a part of fleet December 1 1937 year.
Upon commissioning, the ship underwent a crew training course and became part of the 8th cruiser division. He managed to take part in the Spanish Civil War, supported the troops of General Franco, but without particularly significant events.
Perhaps the main operation in which the "Abruzzi" took part was the occupation of Albania in 1939. In general, the Italians went to seize Albania with a force not only formidable, but capable of frightening anyone. 2 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 12 destroyers, 4 destroyers, 7 auxiliary ships. And fifty more transports with an expeditionary corps.
In general, for a country like Albania, it is over the roof.
"Abruzzi" and 4 destroyers heroically covered the landing, capturing the city of Santi Quaranti. Several volleys in the city, bombing of the Italian Air Force - and the city was captured.
Then the Second World War began. The Abruzzi and her comrades searched for French and British ships in June 1940, but did not find them. He took part in the battle at Punto Stilo, but, like all Italian cruisers, he simply indicated participation.
From December 1940 to March 1941, the cruiser operated in the Adriatic Sea, patrolling the water area and escorting convoys. On 4 March, the Abruzzi, together with the Garibaldi, fired at the Greek positions at Pokerasa. We can say that the cruiser took part in Italy's claims to Greek territory. Further, there were attempts to disrupt the supply of British troops in Greece, but even in the battle at Gavdos, the participation of the cruiser was inexpressive. Shot at British ships.
Then the Abruzzi was ordered to go to the base, which, one might say, became providence, because in the final phase of the battle at Matapan, the Italians lost 3 heavy cruisers and 2 destroyers, and the battleship Vittorio Veneto was seriously damaged.
Covering supply convoys to North Africa took a very long time, until mid-1941. I must say that by making Malta their stronghold, the British actually disrupted the supply of the German-Italian troops in North Africa. And at the end of 1941 the situation became not very pleasant. The headquarters of the Italian fleet decided to conduct several convoys, supplying them with a strong cover formation. "Abruzzi" was included in the covering forces ... Hit the full program.
On November 21, the ships went to sea, and on the 22nd, everything did not start like that. First, a British submarine successfully hit the heavy cruiser Trieste with torpedoes, and then British aircraft flew in from Malta. The first to catch the torpedo from the pilots was the Abruzzi. It happened just after midnight.
It is clear that the convoy went its own way, leaving the cruiser and two destroyers to solve problems on the spot. Naturally, the British decided to finish off the damaged cruiser. I must say that the torpedo hit very well, in the stern, jammed the rudders. Just like Bismarck.
But, unlike the crew of the German battleship, the Italians did not give up. For 4 hours, some repulsed attacks by British aviation, while the latter pumped out water, wedged the shafts and repaired the rudders.
Perseverance is rewarded. At first, the crew was able to move at 4 knots. This is about nothing on the one hand, but on the other - as soon as it began to dawn, the planes would definitely finish off the ship standing still.
The steering wheels hadn't been repaired yet, so the Abruzzi could only go in slow and wide circles. But even this was enough for the first time to fight off the planes. In general, the picture was supposed to be very surreal, as British pilots in the light of illuminating bombs and missiles tried to finish off the damaged ship, but he did not give up.
In general, all were strong and courageous warriors, both Italian sailors and British pilots. The Italians were just a second longer stronger. And a miracle happened: the rudders were repaired, and the cruiser slowly but surely crawled into Messina. And it got there!
The cruiser returned to service only in the summer of 1942, when the Italian fleet was virtually paralyzed by a fuel crisis. And until the capitulation of Italy, "Abruzzi" did not go out to sea.
And then Italy ended the war and the allies decided to plow the cruiser on patrols in the Atlantic to fight the German raiders and blockade breakers. In the Atlantic, the Abruzzi went on patrol five times and was engaged in this business until April 1944, after which it returned to Italy and was used as a transport until the end of the war.
After the end of the war, "Abruzzi" was left in the Italian fleet. Lucky again, they could have given it to someone for reparations.
In 1950-1953, "Abruzzi" underwent a series of upgrades. The number of 100-mm twin mounts was reduced to two, all Italian anti-aircraft guns were replaced with licensed 40-mm Bofors submachine guns. Four quad units and four twin units.
Then the second chimney and two of the eight boilers were removed. The speed dropped, but only slightly, to 29 knots. But the freed space allowed to equip the ship with a complex of American radars.
As an artillery cruiser "Abruzzi" she served until 1961, when she was nevertheless withdrawn from the fleet and dismantled for metal in 1965.
Laid down on December 1, 1933 at the CRDA shipyard in Trieste, launched on April 21, 1936, entered the fleet on December 20, 1937.
After passing tests and a course of combat training, he took part in operations to support the rebels of General Franco and in April 1940 in the invasion of Albania.
"Garibaldi" fell into the group, whose target was the largest Albanian port of Durazzo. This formation also included the battleship Giulio Cesare, 4 heavy cruisers of the Pola class, the light cruiser Luigi Cadorna and 10 destroyers. And they had to work to the full.
When the landing began, the Albanian coastal batteries swept away the first wave of the landing. Of course, the main caliber of the battleship and cruisers went into action, and the batteries died away. A second wave of troops landed and the city fell into the hands of the Italians.
Further, the combat path of "Garibaldi" proceeded along with the sistership "Abruzzi". Patrols, convoy operations ...
During one of such operations, in the summer of 1941, when the mission had already been completed and the cruiser was returning to base, a situation occurred that once again confirms that one cannot relax in war.
Not far from the island of Meretimo, the Garibaldi was torpedoed by the British submarine Upholder. This happened on July 28, 1941. The torpedo hit the bow of the first turret of the main battery. The cruiser received more than 700 tons of water, but the crew coped with it and the ship reached the base.
Already in November 1941, "Garibaldi" was in a similar situation with the cruiser "Abruzzi", which was torpedoed by British aircraft. "Garibaldi" came to the damaged brother and helped repel the attacks of enemy aircraft. And then he accompanied me to Messina.
Until mid-1943, "Garibaldi" was engaged in escorting convoys to North Africa and other routine services.
After Italy's surrender, the cruiser sailed to Malta. The allied command wanted to use the cruiser for patrolling in the Atlantic, but the protracted repairs did not allow these plans to come true.
Until May 1945, "Garibaldi" was used as a transport, and after the war it was left in the Italian fleet. In the first post-war years, anti-aircraft weapons were strengthened on it and new radars were installed.
But the most interesting thing began in 1957, when it was decided to rebuild "Garibaldi" into a missile cruiser. And rebuilt.
The main striking force was four American ballistic missiles "Polaris A1" of the first series, without nuclear warheads, but with the possibility of installing them if necessary.
In addition to the Polaris, the cruiser's armament consisted of a twin installation of the Terrier air defense missile system with a sidearm of 72 missiles. Artillery armament consisted of four 135-mm universal guns and eight 76-mm anti-aircraft guns. An anti-submarine helicopter was placed at the stern.
In this form, "Garibaldi" served for 10 years, after which on February 20, 1971 it was withdrawn to the reserve. The last Italian light cruiser from World War II was dismantled in 1979.
What can be said as a result? A good ship lasts a long time. As soon as the Italians abandoned the obvious overkill in terms of creating cruisers-scouts, they got a really good light cruiser, in no way inferior to analogues from other countries.
The path taken by the cruiser "Condottieri" only confirms that in Italy they knew how to build ships. This family of ships cannot fully serve as an example, but ... "Garibaldi" and "Abruzzi" were indeed very good ships.