Marconi-class submarine

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Rm-Da-Vinci.jpg
RM Da Vinci, the most successful Italian submarine in World War II
Class overview
Operators:  Regia Marina
 Kriegsmarine
 Imperial Japanese Navy
In commission: 1940–1945
Completed: 6
Lost: 6
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: 1,195 long tons (1,214 t) (surfaced)
1,490 long tons (1,510 t) (submerged)
Length: 76.5 m (251 ft 0 in)
Beam: 6.81 m (22 ft 4 in)
Draught: 4.72 m (15 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; 2 × CRDA diesel engines
2 × Marelli electric motors
Speed: 17.8 kn (33.0 km/h; 20.5 mph) (surfaced)
8.2 kn (15.2 km/h; 9.4 mph) (submerged)
Range:
  • Surfaced: 2,900 nmi (5,400 km; 3,300 mi) at 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph); 10,500 nmi (19,400 km; 12,100 mi) at 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
  • Submerged: 8 nmi (15 km; 9.2 mi) at 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph); 110 nmi (200 km; 130 mi) at 3 kn (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph)
Test depth: 90 m (300 ft)+
Complement: 57
Armament: 8 × 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 4 stern), 1 × 100 mm (3.9 in) gun, 4 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) machine guns

The Marconi-class was a class of six submarines built for the Royal Italian Navy (Italian: Regia Marina). The submarines were all launched between 1939 and 1940, and all but one, Luigi Torelli, were lost in the Atlantic during the Second World War.

Class members[edit]

Guglielmo Marconi[edit]

Guglielmo Marconi (pennant number MN) was launched 27 July 1939[1] and completed on 2 February 1940. On its first wartime patrol in the Mediterranean Sea, Marconi torpedoed the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Escort on 8 July 1940. Marconi sailed on 6 September 1940 and passed the Strait of Gibraltar on 11 September for an Atlantic patrol to Bordeaux on 29 September. En route Marconi sank the neutral Spanish fishing boat Almirante Jose de Carranza. Marconi sank one ship on its first BETASOM patrol from Bordeaux. After an unsuccessful patrol, Marconi sank three ships on its third BETASOM patrol and damaged a Yugoslavian freighter on the following patrol which was later sunk by U-126. Marconi was lost to unknown causes sometime after 28 October 1941 on its fifth BETASOM patrol.[2]

Ships sunk by Marconi[2]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
1st 8 July 1940 HMS Escort  Royal Navy 1,405 tons Destroyer; 2 killed
3rd 9 November 1940 Vingaland  Sweden 2,734 gross register tons (GRT) Freighter from Convoy HX 84
5th 30 May 1941 Cairndale  United Kingdom 8,129 Tanker; 4 killed
5th 6 June 1941 Baron Lovat  United Kingdom 3,395 Freighter from Convoy OG 63
5th 6 June 1941 Taberg  Sweden 1,392 Freighter from Convoy OG 63
6 survivors from a crew of 22
Total: 17,055 GRT

Leonardo da Vinci[edit]

Leonardo da Vinci (pennant number LV)[1] was launched 16 September 1939. da Vinci sailed on 22 September 1940 and passed the Strait of Gibraltar on 27 September for an Atlantic patrol to Bordeaux on 31 October. After unsuccessful patrols from 21 December to 20 January 1941 and from 4 April to 4 May, da Vinci sank one ship on its third BETASOM patrol. After another unsuccessful patrol from 15 August to 24 September, da Vinci sank two ships during Operation Neuland and four ships on the following patrol. After being modified to carry a midget submarine, da Vinci sailed without the midget submarine and sank four ships. Sailing again without the midget submarine, da Vinci sank six ships on its last patrol. While attempting to return to Bordeaux, da Vinci was sunk on 23 May 1943 by the escorts of convoy KMF 15. There were no survivors.[3]

Ships sunk by da Vinci[3]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
4th 28 June 1941 Auris  United Kingdom 8,030 Tanker; 27 survivors from a crew of 59
6th 25 February 1942 Cadebello  Brazil 3,557 Freighter; no survivors
6th 28 February 1942 Everasma  Latvia 3,644 Freighter from Convoy TAW 12 torpedoed at 16°00′N 49°00′W / 16.000°N 49.000°W / 16.000; -49.000; 15 survivors
7th 2 June 1942 Reine Marie Stewart  Panama 1,087 Schooner
7th 7 June 1942 Chile  Denmark 6,956 Freighter; 39 survivors from a crew of 44
7th 10 June 1942 Alioth  Netherlands 5,483 Freighter; 8 survivors from a crew of 36
7th 13 June 1942 Clan Macquarrie  United Kingdom 6,471 Collier; 1 killed from a crew of 90
8th 2 November 1942 Empire Zeal  United Kingdom 7,009 Freighter
8th 5 November 1942 Andreas  Greece 6,566 Freighter
8th 10 November 1942 Marcus Whitman  United States 7,176 Liberty ship; no casualties
8th 11 November 1942 Veerhaven  Netherlands 5,291 Freighter; no casualties
9th 14 March 1943 RMS Empress of Canada  Canada 21,517 Troopship; 392 killed from 1,800 aboard
9th 18 March 1943 SS Lulworth Hill (Lulworth Hill)  United Kingdom 7,628 Freighter
9th 17 April 1943 Sembilan  Netherlands 6,566 Freighter
9th 18 April 1943 Manar  United Kingdom 8,007 Freighter
9th 21 April 1943 John Drayton  United States 7,177 Liberty ship
9th 25 April 1943 Doryessa  United Kingdom 8,078 Tanker; 11 survivors from a crew of 54
Total: 120,243

Michele Bianchi[edit]

Michele Bianchi (pennant number BH) was launched 3 December 1939.[1] Its first war patrol was in the Mediterranean Sea from 15 August to 3 September 1940. Bianchi sailed on 27 October 1940 and reached the Strait of Gibraltar on 3 November. The attempted transit to the Atlantic was detected by Royal Navy forces; and Bianchi took refuge in the neutral port of Tangier. Bianchi sailed from Tangier on 12 November and reached Bordeaux on 18 December 1940. Bianchi sank three ships on its first BETASOM patrol from Bordeaux; but the next patrol from 30 April to 30 May 1941 was unsuccessful. After sailing from Bordeaux on 4 July 1941, Bianchi was sunk with all hands by HMS Tigris on 5 July.[4]

Ships sunk by Bianchi[4]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
4th 14 February 1941 Belcrest  United Kingdom 4,517 Freighter from Convoy SC 21; no survivors
4th 24 February 1941 Huntingdon  United Kingdom 10,946 Credit for sinking shared with U-96; no casualties
4th 27 February 1941 Baltistan  United Kingdom 6,803 Freighter; 18 survivors from a crew of 69
Total: 22,266

Luigi Torelli[edit]

Torelli (pennant number TI) was launched 6 January 1940.[1] After one short war patrol in the Mediterranean, Torelli sailed on 31 August 1940 and passed the Strait of Gibraltar on 8 September for an Atlantic patrol to Bordeaux on 5 October. Torelli sank four ships on its first BETASOM patrol; and, after an unsuccessful second patrol, sank one ship on a third patrol. After another unsuccessful patrol, Torelli assisted the three Calvi-class submarines on a rescue mission of 254 sailors from the sunken German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis in December 1941.

Torelli sank two ships during Operation Neuland. Torelli again sailed from Bordeaux on 2 June 1942, but was twice damaged by aircraft and sought refuge in the neutral Spanish ports of Avilés and Santander, Cantabria before returning to Bordeaux on 15 July. After an extensive refit, Torelli was again damaged at sea by aircraft on 16 March 1943 and returned to Bordeaux on 3 April.[5] Torelli was then selected for conversion to a "transport submarine" in order to exchange rare or irreplaceable trade goods with Japan. Cargo capacity of 160 tons reduced reserve buoyancy from 20–25% to 3.5–6%; and armament was reduced to defensive machine guns. Torelli sailed as a transport submarine on 18 June 1943 and reached Penang on 27 August 1943.[6]

UIT-25[edit]

Torelli was commissioned into the German Kriegsmarine as UIT-25 when Italy capitulated to the Allies in September 1943.

I-504[edit]

UIT-25 was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Navy and became I-504 when Germany surrendered in May, 1945. I-504 shot down a B-25 Mitchell bomber while under Japanese flag near the very end of the war in the Pacific,[7] allegedly the last success of a Japanese naval vessel in that conflict.[8] It was found at Kobe when Japan surrendered and scuttled by the United States Navy in Kii Suido.[9]

Ships sunk by Torelli[5]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
3rd 15 January 1941 Nemea  Greece 5,198 Freighter; 14 survivors from a crew of 31
3rd 15 January 1941 Brask  Norway 4,079 Freighter; 20 survivors from a crew of 32
3rd 16 January 1941 Nicolas Filinis  Greece 3,111 Freighter; 26 survivors from a crew of 29
3rd 28 January 1941 Urla  United Kingdom 5,198 Freighter; no casualties
5th 21 July 1941 Ida Knudsen  Norway 8,913 Tanker; 5 killed
8th 19 February 1942 Scottish Star  United Kingdom 7,224 Freighter; 4 killed from a crew of 73
8th 25 February 1942 Esso Copenhagen  Panama 9,245 Tanker; 1 killed from a crew of 39
Total: 42,968

Alessandro Malaspina[edit]

Alessandro Malaspina (pennant number MP) was launched 18 February 1940[1] and completed on 20 June 1940. Its first patrol was through the Strait of Gibraltar on 3 August for an Atlantic patrol. Malaspina sank one ship before reaching Bordeaux on 4 September. Admiral Karl Dönitz visited Malaspina on 30 September to welcome Regia Marina sailors to the German base. The first BETASOM patrols from 9 October to 9 November 1940, from 5 January to 28 February 1941 were unsuccessful; but during a third patrol Malaspina damaged the British liner Lycaon on 3 May 1941. Malaspina then sank two ships on the next patrol. Malaspina sailed from Bordeaux on 7 September 1941; and is believed to have been sunk on 10 September by No. 10 Squadron RAAF Short Sunderland "U".[10]

Ships sunk by Malaspina[10]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
1st 12 August 1940 British Fame  United Kingdom 8,406 Tanker from Convoy OB 193; 3 killed from crew of 49
3rd 3 May 1941 Lycaon  United Kingdom Passenger Liner. Damaged
4th 14 July 1941 Nikiklis  Greece 3,576 Freighter; 11 killed from crew of 28
4th 17 July 1941 Guelma  United Kingdom 4,402 Freighter; no casualties
Total: 16,384

Maggiore Francesco Baracca[edit]

Maggiore Francesco Baracca (pennant number BC) was launched 21 April 1940[1] and completed on 10 July 1940. Its first patrol was through the Strait of Gibraltar on 7 September for an Atlantic patrol. Baracca sank one ship before reaching Bordeaux on 6 October. Baracca sank one ship on its first BETASOM patrol from Bordeaux, but last four patrols were unsuccessful. On the final patrol, Baracca was sunk by HMS Croome on 7 September 1941. Thirty-two members of the submarine crew survived the sinking.[11]

Ships sunk by Baracca[11]
Patrol Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
1st 1 October 1940 Aghios Nicolaus  Greece 3,687 Freighter
2nd 18 November 1940 Lilian Moller  United Kingdom 4,866 Freighter; no survivors
Total: 8,553

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Kafka & Pepperburg p.791
  2. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  4. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  5. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  6. ^ Brice pp. 129–133
  7. ^ Willmott p.276
  8. ^ Rosselli, Alberto. "Italian submarines and surface vessels in the far east: 1940-1945". 
  9. ^ Taylor pp.118-119, 140, 163
  10. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  11. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 

References[edit]

  • Marconi class at regiamarina.net
  • Bagnasco, Erminio (1977) Submarines of World War Two London, Cassell & Co, ISBN 1-85409-532-3
  • Brice, Martin (1981) Axis Blockade Runners of World War II Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 0-87021-908-1
  • Kafka, Roger & Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946) Warships of the World Cornell Maritime Press
  • Taylor, J.C. (1966) German Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company
  • Willmott, H.P. (2009) The Last Century of Sea Power: From Port Arthur to Chanak, 1894-1922 Indiana University Press, ISBN 0253352142