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"Italian Naval Vessels in Convoy Escort during CRUSADER" Topic

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World War Two at Sea

393 hits since 19 Dec 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse19 Dec 2018 12:37 p.m. PST

"During CRUSADER a range of Italian naval vessels were engaged in protecting traffic across the Mediterranean. The aim of this post is to give a short overview of some selected types were involved and what their capabilities were. The focus is primarily on the smaller escort vessels, but I give some information on the work of the cruisers and battleships as well. One thing that is not well understood is that the Regia Marina made an all-out effort to support the forces in North Africa, even risking battleships in the close escort role. But all the heroism and dedication of the Italian sailors could not overcome the odds stacked against them by ULTRA interception of their messages, failure to subdue Malta, and a lack of fuel hampering operations throughout.

One area that took me by surprise was how advanced the Regia Marina was compared to the Royal Navy in the area of anti-aircraft (AA) defense of its vessels. All the small units had multiple light AA guns and AA MGs from 1936 onwards, maybe because of the experience made during the Spanish civil war. By comparison, even British destroyers planned in the late 1930s had weak close-in AA armament, consisting of a single 4-barrel Pompom gun and a single high-angle gun, but their main armament was able to fire at high angles for AA defense, even though the 4.7 gun on the L-class was not able to fire at very high elevations above 50 degrees. It appears from this site with information on the Italian 120mm and 100mm destroyer/torpedo boat guns, that these were not able to fire at very high elevations, which made them less useful for AA work. I suspect a difference in design philosophy here, but would welcome comments on this. It is interesting to note that both navies significantly increased close-in AA capabilities after the start of the war…."
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