At June, 10th, 1940 (at the very beginning of war) the
Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy) was composed by
- 6 battleships, two of them of modern 35,000 ton.. type (Littorio
- 7 cruisers of 10,000 ton..
- 12 light cruisers between 5.000 and 8.000 ton..
- 12 flotilla leader destroyers
- 28 modern destroyers
- 19 old model destroyers
- 69 torpedo boats
- 117 submarines of varied type and tonnage.
It was therefore a navy numerous and powerful, even if unbalanced
for type of unit and with some technical gap that reduced the real efficiency,
without consider the great difficulty to find a supply of liquid combustible
sufficient to the units for an extended war period.
This last factor was not a fault of the Navy, but a deficiency
of Italy, that, at the moment of the war, has not yet discovered oil in
its underground; moreover it could not count on regular refueling from
the foreign countries, for between its enemy there were some of the stronger
navy of the world that could stop the supply lines. From this point of
view the Navy was even far-sighted: at the beginning of the war there
were sufficient fuel supplies for one year of war (about 2.000.000
ton..) but the lacks of fuel weighed like a negative factor on the course
of the operations for all the duration of the war.
During the war the unit number was increased further on,
but after the armistice the ships of Italian Navy remained unused by the
Allies, and after the War nearly remained nothing, and the Italian Navy
was slowly reconstructed from zero.
On the other side the second World war definitively marked
the sunset of major surface unit armed of guns (even if the USA in recent
years make good use of the battleships) in favor of the submarines, the
aircraft carriers and the missiles.
In this page it is my intention to illustrate the concept
of warship, obviously according to the period, and then to examine those
that were the preparations, in Naval craft and in technical abilities
of the Regia Marina. A short historical description of the events cannot
then lack , even if, for matter of space, based on a grand strategic view.
In last I have attached a directory of the names, divided
for classes, of the main units of the Regia Marina at the beginning of
the war, in activity and in construction, with their technical data.
Why I have decided to make this page?
The two ships in the picture below were my first toy-ships,
or, better, my father gave me a gift, when I was a child: two of those
plastic ships, shaped as warships, of the type propelled by a small
battery engine, and my father said to me that they were the Cavour and
the Zara. I did not have the very idea, at the time, of who was Cavour
and of what was Zara, but the names appealed to to me and the two ships
were the Cavour battleship and the Zara cruiser.
Later on, during the adolescence, I matured the decision
to attend the naval Academy; unfortunately the life carried me for other
roads, as it often happens, and the Academy remained a dream in the
drawer. But two passions remained in me: the war navy, from the origins
to today, and the history of the second World war. History was not my
course of study but I am an hungry reader; on W.W.II I have read very
much (I have not lived it, I was born in '66), also because the Italian
scholastic system easily omits the history of W.W.II; in fact that part
of history is taught at the end of the history course of the last year
(in grammar, medium or high school), and often there is no time to end
the course program...
As I have said I have read a lot, the most were history
books but also some "technical" books (between the other things I am
also a wargamer) and I noticed a great lack: the overwhelming majority
of the authors published in Italy is English-speaking and often they
have the tendency to speak of the ally Armed Forces (obviously) and
to ignore those that were their adversaries.
The Italian Navy of the second War (if not quite all our
Armed Forces) is often ignored, dealt like a qualitatively inferior
force: this is not all exact. The Italian Navy had surely some defects
and some lacks but also some good points.
From this the idea of this page is born: to give a vision
of the Regia Marina at the beginning and during the years of the War,
making the point on its problems and deficiencies in order to exalt
what it was made in spite of these. It does not want to be an history
page, because this space is not sufficient to be exhausting, but a page
that looks on the facts, the ships, the preparation, in order to say
why, in my opinion, the war went that way.
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