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Capitani Romani Class Light Cruiser

Scipione Africano
Scipione Africano
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Attilio Regolo OTC, Livorno 28 Sep 39 28 Aug 40 14 May 42 Stricken 24 Jul 48
Ciao Marlo OTO, Livorno 28 Sep 39 17 Aug 41 Scuttled 1944
Claudio Druso CdT, Riva Trigoso 27 Sep 39 BU on slip 1941
Claudio Tiberio OTO, Livorno 16 Sep 40 BU on slip 1941
Comello Silla Ansaldo, Genoa 12 Oct 39 28 Jun 41 Lost Jul 44
Giulio Germanico Castellamare 11 May 40 20 Jul 41 Lost 11 Sep 43
Ottaviano Augusto CNR, Ancona 23 Sep 39 31 May 42 Lost 1 Nov 43
Paolo Emilio Ansaldo, Genoa 12 Oct 39 BU on slip 1941
Pompeo Magno CNR, Ancona 23 Sep 39 28 Aug 41 24 Jun 43 Training ship 1964
Scipione Africano OTO, Livorno 28 Sep 39 12 Jan 41 23 Apr 43 Stricken 9 Aug 48
Ulpio Triano CNR, Palermo 23 Sep 39 30 Nov 42 Lost 3 Jan 43
Vipsanio Agrippa CdT, Riva Trigoso Oct 39 BU on slip 1941

Displacement: 3,686 tons/3,745 tonnes (standard); 5,334 tons/5,419 tonnes (full load).
Length: 468ft 9in/142.9m (oa); 455ft/138.7m (pp).
Beam: 47ft 3in/14.4m; Draught: 16ft/4.87m (mean).
Machinery: 2-shaft Belluzzo SR geared turbines, (Parsons in Ancona ships); 4 Thornycroft boilers.
Performance: 110,00shp=40kts; Bunkerage: 1,400 tons oil fuel.
Range: 3,000nm at 25kts.
Protection: virtually nil.
Guns: eight 5.3in (4x2); eight 37mm (4x2); eight 20mm (4x2).
Torpedoes: eight 21in (2x4).
Aircraft: nil.
Complement: 418.

Design

The construction of the large 2,610-tonne Le Fantasque and 2,930-tonne Mogador classes of contre-torpilleur by France from the beginning of the 1930s led to some concern as Italian large destroyers or scouts (esploratori) the Navigatori class would be inferior to the new French ships. Design work was started in 1937 with the designation 'esploratori oceanici' (Ocean Scouts), to differentiate them from the Navigatori design. The initial concept showed a 3,4O0-ton standard displacement ship armed with eight 135mm (5.3in) guns, six 65mm AA, eight 533mm (21.7in) torpedo tubes and one aircraft (without catapult or hangar). Protection was minimal, limited to some vital parts, and the maximum speed was to be about 41kts. However, by the late 1930s the capabilities of reconnaissance aircraft had improved considerably, rendering the need for pure scouting vessels somewhat superfluous. In consequence, the smaller scouts were reclassified as destroyers and the larger ones as light cruisers. It soon became evident that the protection would have to be dispensed with if the armament and speed were not to be compromised, but even so the displacement exceeded the intended figure by 350 tons, despite the extensive use of light alloy in the superstructure. The aircraft was deleted to save weight, as was the 65mm/64 AA gun, which had encountered development problems. Four twin 37mm/54 were substituted.

The mixed longitudinally and transversely constructed hull was of flush-decked design, the machinery being installed on the unit principle with the forward set driving the starboard shaft. Both units were completely independent of one another, but the boilers could be cross-connected in an emergency. The turbines were of Parsons design in the ships built at Ancona, and of Belluzzo type in the remainder. On trials, all completed units achieved 41kts. Some splinter protection only was provided to the bridge areas.

The main armament was a new gun, the 135mm (5.3in)/45 Ansaldo or OTO 1938 pattern, which fired separate ammunition having a projectile weight of 32.7kg. It had a maximum range of 19,600m (21,430yd) and a maximum elevation of 45� in the twin mounting, and was therefore capable only of barrage fire in the AA role. This gun was not widely used, the only other user at sea being the modernised Andrea Doria class, in which it was carried in triple turrets. In the Capitani Romani class the gunhouses carried 20mm maximum armour to the faces and 6mm on top. The only other notable point about the armament was the torpedo tubes, the quadruple mountings carrying the tubes two over two, rather than using the normal side-by-side arrangement. In service, however, these mountings gave considerable problems. Four reserve torpedoes were carried. The ships were equipped for minelaying, and accommodated up to 130 mines, according to type.

Fire control was by means of two main directors, one forward and one aft, and three 4m rangefinders. 160 rpg were carried for the 135mm guns.

Modifications

EC3 radar sets were fitted in Regolo and Africano; otherwise there were no modifications of any consequence in their short wartime careers.

Service

Only three of the twelve units ordered finally entered service with the Royal Italian Navy before the surrender in September 1943. Barely two months after her entry into service, Regolo left Palermo with six destroyers to lay a mine barrage south of Sicily. On the return the cruiser was torpedoed by Unruffled and lost the bows as far back as A turret. Another attack by United missed, and the ship was brought into Palermo on 9 November. After extensive repairs she joined the 8th Division in mid-1943, but saw little further active service before the surrender. After the sinking of Roma while the fleet was en route to Malta, Regolo made for the Balearic Islands with some destroyers, where they were interned at Port Mahon until they sailed for Algiers on 19 January 1945, after which she joined the 7th Division at Taranto. She carried out three missions before the end of the war, and was then laid up at La Spezia. As a result of the Peace treaty she was allocated to France as R4, and arrived at Toulon on 1 August 1948. Renamed Chateaurenault, she served with the French navy until laid up at Brest on 13 September 1962, but was not scrapped until several years later, having been used as a school hulk in the meantime. During her service under the French flag she underwent considerable modification and modernisation.

Pompeo Magno was in service for only three months before the Armistice, and in that time carried out ten war missions. On 9 September 1943 the ship sailed from Taranto bound for Malta, where she remained with the 8th Squadron until her return to Taranto on 4 October to be assigned to the light cruiser squadron. She spent the remainder of the war on training, transport and repatriation duties, finally being despatched to La Spezia, where she was paid off and stricken on 1 May 1948, receiving the designation FV1. In March 1951 she was renamed San Giorgio, rebuilt for further service with the Italian Navy, and served as a destroyer leader from 1 July 1955.

Scipione Africano was stationed at La Spezia and Genoa after her entry into service, but was ordered to Taranto after the Allied invasion of Sicily in the expectation that the Straits of Messina would soon become impassable, sailing on 15 July 1943. While on passage she encountered four British MTBs in the Straits on the 17th, and in a confused night action sank MTB 316 and damaged another before reaching Taranto safely on 18 July. She was then employed to lay out defensive mine barrages between 4 and 17 August off Calabria and in the Gulf of Taranto. On the surrender, the ship was ordered to Pescara to embark Marshal Badoglio, then escorted the corvette Baionetta, with the King embarked, to Brindisi. Then, on the 29th, she carried Marshal Badoglio to Malta for the surrender ceremony. From 1 February 1944 she was part of the 7th Squadron, being used primarily for transport and training tasks. Stricken at La Spezia on 9 August 1948, Scipione Africano was sailed to Toulon and designated S7 on 15 August 1948, when transferred to France. In French service the ship was renamed Guichen. She was modernised several times during her career under the tricolour, until she was laid up at Landevennec on 1 April 1961. After being condemned on 1 June 1976, she was given the designation Q554, finally being broken up at the end of the 1970s.

Of the other units which were launched but not completed, the hull of Ciao Marlo was turned over to the Navy as a fuel storage depot, and was scuttled by the Germans some time in 1944. Cornelio Silla was captured incomplete at Genoa by the Germans. She was about 84 per cent complete, but her machinery had been removed for installation in the aircraft carrier Aquila, under construction at Genoa. Severely damaged in an Allied bombing raid in July 1944, she subsequently foundered. The wreck was broken up postwar.

Giulio Germanico was 94 per cent complete at the time of the surrender, with part of her crew aboard. They were initially able to repel German attempts to seize her, but finally surrendered on 11 September. No further work was carried out on the ship, and she was scuttled by the retreating German forces on 28 September 1944. After salvage in 1947 she was designated FV2 and then renamed San Marco from 1 March 1951 and refitted for service. Recommissioned on 1 January 1955, San Marco remained active until 1971, having undergone many modifications in the intervening period.

Ottaviano Augusto was also virtually complete at the time of the surrender and was seized by the Germans at Ancona, only to be sunk by Allied bombers on 1 November 1943. She was refloated postwar and broken up.

Ulpio Triano was attacked by British charioteers on 3 January 1943 while fitting out at Palermo, and broke in two and sank.

The four other ships were never launched, having been suspended in July 1940 when Italy entered the war. They were subsequently cancelled and broken up on the slips. The machinery of Paolo Emilio was used for the carrier Aquila.

Attilio Regolo May 1942
Attilio Regolo May 1942
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Giulio Germanico
Giulio Germanico
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Scipione Africano</p>
Scipione Africano

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good detail - Scipione Africano
good detail - Scipione Africano
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