Saturday, March 27, 2010

Modern Romans

Capitani Romani was a class of light cruisers of the Italian navy. They were essentially designed to out-run and out-gun the large new French contre-torpilleurs (heavy destroyers / flotilla leaders) of the Fantasque and Mogador classes. Twelve hulls were ordered in late 1939, but only four were completed. The ships were named after prominent Ancient Romans.
The Capitani Romani were originally classed as Esploratori Oceanici ("ocean scouts"), although some authors consider them to have been heavy destroyers.
The design was fundamentally a light, almost unarmoured hull with a large power plant and cruiser style armament. The original design was modified to sustain the prime requirements of speed and firepower. Given their machinery development of 93,210 kW, equivalent to that of the 17,000 ton cruisers of the Des Moines class, the target speed was over 40 knots (74 km/h), but the ships were left virtually unarmoured. As a result, the three completed warships achieved 43 knots (80 km/h) during trials. The Capitani Romani shipped a main battery of 135 mm with a rate of fire of six rounds per minute and a range of 19,500 m. They also carried eight 533 mm torpedo tubes. The wartime load dropped the operational speed to 36 knots (67 km/h).
Only Scipione Africano saw combat. Equipped with the Italian-developed EC.3 Gufo radar, she detected and engaged four British Motor Torpedo Boats lurking five miles ahead during the night of 17 July 1943, while passing the Messina straits at high speed. She sank MTB 316 and heavily damaged MTB 313 on the position 38°9′33.82″N 15°37′23.68″E / 38.1593944°N 15.6232444°E / 38.1593944; 15.6232444. A dozen British seamen lost their lives in this action. Attilio Regolo was torpedoed by HMS Unruffled on 7 November 1942. She was interned in Port Mahon after the Italian capitulation.
Four of the ships were scrapped before launch. Five were captured by the Germans in September 1943, still under construction. All five were sunk in harbour, one was raised and completed. Three were completed before the Italian armistice.
  • Attilio Regolo, named after Marcus Atilius Regulus, built by OTO Livorno, completed May 1942. Commissioned in August and used as a mine-layer until seriously damaged by a torpedo in November. Ceded to France in 1948 renamed Chateaurenault.
  • Giulio Germanico, named after Germanicus, built by Castellamare shipyard, launched 20 July 1941; captured by the Germans in Castellammare di Stabia, almost completed. Scuttled by the Germans on 28 September 1943; raised and completed by the Italians after the war. Renamed San Marco, she served as a destroyer leader until her decommission in 1971.
  • Pompeo Magno, named after Pompey the Great, built by CNR Ancona, launched 24 August 1941, completed. Renamed San Giorgio, served as a destroyer leader until 1963. Became a training ship in 1965 and decommissioned and scrapped in 1980.
  • Scipione Africano, named after Scipio Africanus, built by OTO Livorno, launched January 12, 1941 and completed on April 23, 1943. Ceded to France in 1948 and first renamed S7, then renamed Guichen. Scrapped 1979.

Source: Wiki (EN)

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