Italian Battleships of World War II New vanguard 182 Author: Mark Stille Illustrator: Paul Wright ISBN 978-1-84908-380-5 48 Pages Soft cover
When I opened the covers of this book and saw the first photograph, my first thought was Why is there a photograph of a US Navy North Carolina class battleship included? Quickly I realized it was a Vittorio Veneto class battleship of the Regia Marina, and the modern well-proportioned lines were the first of many surprises to change my misconceptions of Italy’s World War II battle fleet. Overcoming many internal and external challenges the Regia Marina, led by their battleships, actually performed commendably against the Allied fleets in the Mediterranean.
At the end of the war five of Italy’s seven battleships remained in service. Only one was destroyed. Author Mark Stille brings us the story of the Regia Marina capital ships. The RM was not ready when Il Duce, Benito Mussolini declared war on Great Britain and France. To face the French fleet and the Royal Navy, Italy had rebuilt their four pre-war battleships, and commissioned three new ones. These were crewed by generally ill-trained and undisciplined crews, led by a complex bureaucratic command structure loathe to lose the ships of the world’s fourth-largest navy. Hobbled by orders to only engage with superior forces under favorable conditions, lacking radar and effective air support, the RM still sortied time after time to seek out the Allies, or escort their own convoys to their African colonies. RM did not, as legend holds, cower in their harbors. With a doctrine of strategic defense, RM units stayed in the central Mediterranean, venturing to the east only once.
Indeed, the Italian navy was eager to engage the British. They did so many times but were hampered by a doctrine of engaging at maximum range. Though their shooting was as good as anyone's, they were at two severe technical limitations: lacking radar, and sloppy manufacturing that allowed dispersion of shots and excess barrel wear. Despite this, RM could count some engagements as victories. Eventually Italy produced a radar system that was mounted on the three newest battleships. These were inferior radar sets to those of the Allies and Germans. Ultimately, lack of fuel forced the battleships to remain in harbor.
When Italy changed sides in 1943, the Germans attacked Roma with a Fritz-X guided bombs and destroyed her. It was Regia marina’s only loss, though RM Cavour was not returned to action following the British attack on Taranto.
Italy launched three classes of battleships, the Cavour, Duilio, and Vittorio Veneto classes. Cavour and Duilio ships were World War I designs. Mr. Stille details the aspects of the classes: I. Design and Construction II. Armament III. Service Modifications IV. Fates
Mr. Stille writes in a clear and well organized presentation. Italian Battleships of World War II is brought to you through 48 pages in eight chapters, an introduction, a bibliography, and an index: - INTRODUCTION 1. ITALIAN NAVAL STRATEGY AND THE ROLE OF THE BATTLESHIP 2. ITALIAN BATTLESHIP DOCTRINE 3. NAVAL TREATIES AND ITALIAN BATTLESHIP CONSTRUCTION 4. ITALIAN BATTLESHIP WEAPONS 5. ITALIAN BATTLESHIP RADAR 6. THE BATTLESHIP CLASSES - a. CAVOUR CLASS - b. DUILIO CLASS - c. VITTORIO VENETO CLASS 7. ITALIAN BATTLESHIPS AT WAR 8. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION - BIBLIOGRAPHY - INDEX
Photographs, Illustrations, GraphicsDozens of black and white photos support the text. While some are grainy, most are of good quality and a few are very sharp. Sidebars are used to explain specific topics, such as Italy’s battleship camouflage. Several tables present data and information. Artist Paul Wright supplies four color profiles of the three battleship classes, and of the Littorio’s camouflage. He also created three excellent paintings of certain ships, including two dramatic “in-action” scenes, and a partial cut-away of Vittorio Veneto:
a. CAVOUR CLASS BATTLESHIP CESARE DURING THE BATTLE OF PUNTO STILO
b. ROMA UNDER ATTACK
c. VITTORIO VENETO
ConclusionThree of Italy’s battleships were good looking modern vessels. Regia Marina used their ships extensively within the limitations of their overly complex and conservative high command. They were hamstrung by lack of radar and limited air support. Italy’s battlewagons acquitted themselves fairly well considering the handicaps they fought under.
This is a quick and informative read. It presented well and fun. The graphics are wonderful. I greatly enjoyed reading this title and hope a title on Regia Marina cruisers will be forthcoming. Highly recommended!
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Highs: This is a quick and informative read. It presented well and fun. The graphics are wonderful.Lows:Verdict: A very good sketch of Italy's battleships.
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...