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Luigi Cadorna Class Light Cruiser

Luigi Cadorna prewar
Luigi Cadorna prewar
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Luigi Cadorna CRDA, Trieste 19 Sep 30 30 Sep 31 11-08-1933 Stricken 1 May 51
Armando Diaz OTO, La Spezia 28 Jul 30 10-Jul-32 29-Apr-33 Lost 25 Feb 41

Displacement: 5,323 tons/5,408 tonnes* (standard); 7,113 tons/7,226 tonnes (full load).
Length: 555ft 6in/169.3m (oa); 525ft/160m (pp).
Beam: 50ft 10in/15.5m; Draught: 17ft/5.2m (mean).
Machinery: 2-shaft Parsons geared turbines; 6 Yarrow boilers.
Performance: 95,000shp=36.5kts; Bunkerage: 1,090 tons oil fuel.
Range: 2,930nm at 16kts, Diaz, 3,088nm at 16kts.
Protection: 20mm deck; 24mm main belt; 23mm turrets; 40mm CT.
Guns: eight 6in(4x2); six 3.9in(3x2); two 40mm (2xl); eight 13.2mm MGs (4x2).
Torpedoes: four 21in (2x2).
Aircraft: two, one catapult.
Complement: 507.
*5,406/5,492 std, 7,194/7,309 full load, Diaz.

Design

About one year after the first class of light cruisers had been ordered, the Italian Navy programmed two new ships of similar characteristics but intended to have improved protection and stability. In the event, protection was virtually the same as that of the earlier class, but stability and hull strength were improved. Rearrangement of the aircraft installations permitted lowering of the bridge structure by a considerable amount, as the single fixed catapult was fitted on the after shelter deck, angled about red 30°, with the omission of the hangar under the bridge as in the Da Barbiano class. No hangar was fitted, the aircraft being stowed on trolleys on the deck. Omission of the after control position further assisted stability, as did the omission of the tumblehome so evident in the former class, this also improving habitability. Otherwise they showed no improvement in fighting power over the earlier ships.

The main armament was altered to the newer OTO model 1929 gun in a redesigned, more spacious gunhouse, while the 100mm guns were shipped in echelon and the torpedo tubes were fitted almost abreast of the fore funnel. There was also a slight variation in the position of the 40mm guns between the two ships on their entry into service. They were fitted for minelaying and could accommodate between 84 and 138 mines, according to type.

Orders were placed for the ships on 26 October (Cadorna) and 29 October 1929 (Diaz).

Modifications

The old-pattern 40mm guns were landed and four twin 20mm/65 shipped in their place. In 1943 the surviving ship, Cadorna, had the catapult removed and two twin 20mm/70 added, and in 1944 the torpedo tubes were also landed.

Service

The early service of Cadorna included patrols during the Spanish Civil War, and in April 1939 the ship participated in the occupation of Albania. At the outbreak of war she was part of the 4th Cruiser Division, and on 9/10 June 1940 took part in a minelaying operation off the island of Lampedusa and the Kerkennah banks. The following month saw her at the action off Punto Stilo/Calabria, where she avoided a submarine torpedo attack and engaged enemy aircraft, as well as rendering assistance to her sister ship, which had boiler problems. As a relatively weak design, however, the ship was not the most capable, and went into reserve status from 12 February 1941. However, the supplying of the Axis army in North Africa now assumed major importance, and she returned to service to provide distant cover for the convoys to North Africa, with the occasional sortie with the fleet when attempting to intercept British convoys to Malta. In the period November/December 1941 she was herself used as a transport for petrol and munitions to Libya, making several trips to Benghazi. From January 1942 she was transferred to Pola, where she was employed in a training role. After a short refit in May/June 1943 she joined the 8th Division on 14 June. Between 24 and 30 June she transported troops to Albania, and on 3 July was transferred to Taranto, from whence, in August, she made five minelaying sorties to lay defensive fields in the Gulf of Taranto. The armistice on 8 September found her at Taranto, but she sailed to Malta with the fleet on the 9th, where she remained until transferred to Alexandria on 14 September. After a brief stay she returned to Taranto in October, following its capture by the Allies, and for the remainder of the war was used as a transport for Allied men and materials, as well as for the repatriation of Italian troops. After the Peace Treaty of 10 February 1947, Cadorna was one of the ships left to the Italian navy, but because of her age and condition she was only used as a training ship until stricken in May 1951.

Luigi Cadorna
Luigi Cadorna
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Armando Diaz initially served in Mediterranean waters after completion, but between 1 September 1934 and February 1935 made a cruise to Australia and New Zealand. She served in the western Mediterranean during the Spanish Civil War, based at Palina and Melilla. As a unit of the 4th Division she was present at the action off Punto Stilo/Calabria in June 1940. In October she took part in a mission to Albania, and in December came under the direct orders of Supermarina for special duties in connection with the protection of traffic to Albania from January 1941. However, the following month an important supply convoy to Tripoli required her use for cover, in company with Bande Nere and destroyers. In the course of this operation the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine Upright off the island of Kerkennah in the early hours of 25 February.

Armando Diaz in March 1938
Armando Diaz in March 1938
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Armando Diaz
Armando Diaz
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impressive fleet photo - taken in Naples bay on 11 May 1939. In the foreground is the stern section of Trieste, on the right is Cadorna, on the left are three lines of Destroyers and in the direction of the flag pole two cruisers of the Da Barbiano class. On the far right a Navigatori class destroyer.
impressive fleet photo - taken in Naples bay on 11 May 1939. In the foreground is the stern section of Trieste, on the right is Cadorna, on the left are three lines of Destroyers and in the direction of the flag pole two cruisers of the Da Barbiano class. On the far right a Navigatori class destroyer.
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