Spica-class torpedo boat

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Cassiopea-RM.jpg
Torpedo boat Cassiopea
Class overview
Operators:  Regia Marina
 Swedish Navy
Built: 1934–1937
In service: 1935-1964
Completed: 32
Lost: 23
General characteristics
Displacement: 795 long tons (808 t) standard
1,020 long tons (1,040 t) full load
Length: 83.5 m (273 ft 11 in)
Beam: 8.1 m (26 ft 7 in)
Draught: 2.55 m (8 ft 4 in)
Propulsion: 2 steam turbines, 2 shafts
19,000 hp (14,200 kW)
Speed: 34 knots (39 mph; 63 km/h)
Complement: 116
Armament: • 3 × 100 mm (3.9 in) guns
• 10 × 20 mm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft guns
• 2 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) anti-aircraft machine guns
• 4 × 450 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes
• Up to 20 mines

The Spica-class were a class of torpedo boats of the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) during World War II. These ships were built as a result of a clause in the Washington Naval Treaty, which stated that ships with a tonnage of less than 600 tons could be built in unlimited numbers. Thirty-two ships were built in total, between 1934 and 1937, thirty of which entered service with Italy and two which were transferred to the Swedish Navy in 1940. Although commonly referred to as torpedo boats, the Spica-class were similar in design to destroyer escorts (their design was influenced by the Maestrale destroyer class then in development) and were intended for anti-submarine duties, although they often had to battle aircraft and surface forces as well. The two units in Swedish service were classed as jagare (destroyers) until 1953, when re-classified as fregatter (frigates).

Twenty-three units were lost during World War II.

Design[edit]

The design work started in 1932 and two propotypes, the Spica and Astore, were built. The hull was 80 m long and displacement was around 720 tons standard rather than the 600 tons permitted by the Washington treaty. Propulsion consisted of a two shaft geared turbine layout with two Yarrow type boilers. The armament consisted of three 102 mm guns in single mountings in A, X and Y positions and eight twin 13.2mm Breda Model 35 antiaircraft machine guns, later replaced by four single 20mm cannons. They also carried four 450 mm torpedo tubes, which had a shorter range and a smaller warhead then the 533 mm ones then already in common use.

Ships[edit]

Ship Builder Completed Operational History
Airone Ansaldo Genoa 10 May 1938 Sunk 12 October 1940 in the battle of Cape Passero by British cruiser HMS Ajax. She scored three hits from her main guns on the British cruiser before being disabled
Alcione Ansaldo Genoa 10 May 1938 Sunk 11 December 1941 by submarine HMS Truant
Aldebaran Ansaldo Genoa 6 December 1936 Sunk on 20 October 1941 in the Saronic Gulf, by mines laid by submarine HMS Rorqual
Altair Ansaldo, Genoa 23 December 1936 Sunk on 20 October 1941 in the Saronic Gulf, by mines laid by submarine HMS Rorqual
Andromeda Ansaldo Genoa 6 December 1936 Sunk 17 March 1941 at Valona, Albania, torpedoed by British bombers
Antares Ansaldo Genoa 23 December 1936 Sank Greek submarine Proteus 29 December 1940. Sunk 28 March 1943 at Livorno by US bombers
Aretusa Ansaldo Genoa 1 July 1938 Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1 August 1958
Ariel Ansaldo Genoa 1 July 1938 Sunk 12 October 1940 in the battle of Cape Passero by British cruiser HMS Ajax
Astore BS Napoletani 30 May 1935 Sold to Sweden as Remus in 1940. Decommissioned 1958
Calipso Ansaldo Genoa 16 November 1938 Sunk 5 December 1940, by mines east of Tripoli
Calliope Ansaldo Genoa 28 October 1938 Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1 August 1958
Canopo CT Riva Trigoso 31 March 1937 Sunk 3 May 1941 by British bombers at Tripoli
Cassiopea CT Riva Trigoso 26 April 1937 Sank British destroyer HMS Pakenham in battle southeast of Marettimo island, on 16 April 1943, while escorting a transport ship to Tunis.[1] Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1959
Castore CNR Ancona 16 January 1937 Fought off a number of British motor boats and small vessels attempting to land at Tobruk as part of Operation Agreement. She later rounded up a number of British survivors from the sea. Sunk 2 June 1943 by Allied destroyers HMS Jervis and Vasilissa Olga while escorting a convoy of two small freighters, which reached destination safely.[2]
Centauro CNR Ancona 16 June 1936 Sunk 4 November 1942, bombed in Benghazi harbour
Cigno CNR Ancona 15 March 1937 She was part of the screen of destroyers and torpedo boats escorting a four-freighter convoy to Tripoli on 26 May 1941,[3] when two Blenheim bombers were shot down.[4] Cigno rescued hundreds of Italian survivors after the Battle of Cape Bon, where she dodged four torpedoes launched by the Dutch destroyer HNLMS Isaac Sweers. Sunk in battle 16 April 1943 southeast of Marettimo island, by British destroyers HMS Paladin and HMS Pakenham, while escorting a transport ship to Tunis. The Pakenham was also sunk in the same engagement.[1]
Circe Ansaldo Genoa 4 October 1938 Attempted to ambush a British convoy along with Vega south of Pantelleria on January 1941. Vega was sunk and the British cruiser HMS Bonaventure was damaged in the exchange of fire.[5] Sank submarines HMS Grampus, HMS Union, HMS P38 and HMS Tempest. Sunk by collision 27 November 1942
Climene CNR Ancona 24 April 1936 She took part in the shooting down of three Beaufort bombers and a Beaufighter while escorting a convoy between 20–21 August 1942.[6] Sunk 28 April 1943, by submarine HMS Unshaken
Clio Ansaldo Genoa 2 October 1938 Sank submarine HMS Triton in December 1940. She also participated in the battle of Skerki Bank, on 2 December 1942. Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1959
Libra CNQ Fiume 19 January 1939 Assisted her sister ship Lupo in the attack on the convoy AN.14 on the night of 31 January 1941.[7][8] Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1964
Lince CNQ Fiume 1 April 1938 Along with Lupo, she landed troops during the reconquest of Kastelorizo, on February 1941. Sunk 28 August 1943 by submarine HMS Ultor
Lira CNQ Fiume 1 January 1938 Scuttled 9 September 1943, repaired by the Germans, and served as the TA-49, sunk by bombing 4 November 1944
Lupo CNQ Fiume 28 February 1938 Along with Libra, torpedoed the British tanker Desmoulea (8120 tn) in the Kasos straits on 31 January 1941 at the position 35°33′32″N 25°34′14″E / 35.55889°N 25.57056°E / 35.55889; 25.57056 disabling her for the rest of the war.[9][8][7] The tanker was part of the convoy AN.14, and had departed Alexandria for Piraeus.[10] Captained by Francesco Mimbelli during the reconquest of Kastelorizo and the Battle of Crete, where she survived a battle against three cruisers and five destroyers, saving half of a small ships convoy. Sunk 2 December 1942 by destroyers HMS Jervis, Javelin, Janus and Kelvin while picking up survivors from the Italian cargo ship Veloce en route to Tripoli. Two other steamers, part of the same convoy, eventually reached home.
Pallade BS Napoletani 5 October 1938 Sunk 5 August 1942 by air attack in Naples
Partenope BS Napoletani 26 November 1938 Scuttled 11 September 1943
Perseo CNQ Fiume 1 February 1936 Sunk 4 May 1943 by HMS Nubian, HMS Petard and HMS Paladin
Pleiadi BS Napoletani 4 July 1938 Sunk 14 October 1941 by bombing in Tripoli harbour
Polluce BS Napoletani 8 August 1938 Finished off submarine HMS Grampus in 1940. Sunk by torpedo bombers, 4 September 1942
Sagittario CNQ Fiume 8 October 1936 Successfully protected a German convoy of caïques during the Battle of Crete against a British squadron of three cruisers and four destroyers, slightly damaging destroyer HMS Kingston. Sank British MTB-639 off Tunis, on 28 April 1943 whilst escorting a steamer. Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1964
Sirio CNQ Fiume 1 March 1936 She was the first Italian unit to spot the enemy in the battle of Cape Spartivento,[11] and on 16 February 1943 she detected by hydrophone[12] and fought off three British MTBs (MTB-77, MTB-82 and MTB-62) while escorting a four-ship convoy south of Marettimo.[13] Survived the war and served in the post war Marina Militare. Decommissioned 1959
Spica BS Napoletani 30 May 1935 Sold to Sweden as Romulus in 1940. Decommissioned 1958
Vega CNQ Fiume 12 October 1936 Shot down a Swordfish torpedo bomber off Sfax on December 1940, after two steamers she was escorting were torpedoed and lost.[14] Sunk by HMS Hereward 10 January 1941 in the strait of Sicily while attempting to ambush a British convoy to Malta

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sadkovich, James: The Italian Navy in World War II, Greenwood Press, Westport, 1994, page 326. ISBN 0-313-28797-X
  2. ^ RHS Vasilissa Olga (D 15)
  3. ^ Naval Events, May 1941, Part 2 of 2
  4. ^ Shores, Cull & Malizia, p. 223
  5. ^ Woodman, Richard (2000). Malta Convoys, 1940-1943, Jack Murray Ltd., London, p. 113. ISBN 0-7195-5753-4
  6. ^ Shores, Cull & Malizia (1991). Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942. Grub Street, pp. 522-524. ISBN 0-948817-16-X
  7. ^ a b Biagini, Antonello and Frattolillo, Fernando (1989). Diario storico del Comando supremo: 1.1.1941 - 30.4.1941. Ufficio storico della Marina Militare, p. 233 (Italian)
  8. ^ a b La Marina Italiana costretta a passare all'offensiva - Gennaio-Marzo 1941 (Italian)
  9. ^ Mattesini, Francesco: L'operazione Gaudo e lo scontro notturno di Matapan. Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare, 1998, page 25. (Italian)
  10. ^ Naval-History.net
  11. ^ Green, Jack & Massignani, Alessandro (1998). The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943, Chatam Publishing, London, p. 117. ISBN 1-885119-61-5
  12. ^ Giorgio Giorgerini (2001). La guerra italiana sul mare. La Marina tra vittoria e sconfitta 1940-1943. Mondadori, p. 550. ISBN 8804405813 (Italian)
  13. ^ Sadkovich, page 323
  14. ^ Sadovich p. 108

References[edit]

  • M.J Whitley, Destroyers of World War 2, 1988 Cassell Publishing ISBN 1-85409-521-8
  • Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare: Le Navi d'Italia. V. I cacciatorpediniere italiani, 1900-1971 (Fioravanzo, Pollina, Ricciardi, Gnifetti). Rome, 1971. (Italian)