Italian submarine Enrico Toti

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This article is about the Second World War submarine. For the later vessel, see Italian submarine Enrico Toti (S506).
Name: Enrico Toti
Namesake: Enrico Toti
Builder: Odero-Terni-Orlando Naval Yard
Laid down: 26 January 1925
Launched: 14 April 1928
Commissioned: 19 September 1928
Decommissioned: 2 April 1943
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type: Balilla-class submarine
Displacement: 1,368 long tons (1,390 t) surfaced
1,904 long tons (1,935 t) submerged
Length: 86.75 m (284 ft 7 in)
Beam: 7.8 m (25 ft 7 in)
Draught: 4.79 m (15 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric
Speed: 17.5 knots (20.1 mph; 32.4 km/h) surfaced
8.9 knots (10.2 mph; 16.5 km/h) submerged
Complement: 7 officers, 70 seamen
Armament: • 6 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 2 stern)
• 1 × 4.7 in (120 mm) main gun
• 4 × 13.2 mm machine guns

Enrico Toti was a Balilla-class Italian submarine laid down on 26 January 1925 at the Odero-Terni-Orlando Naval Yard, located in Muggiano, La Spezia. She was one of four in her class, launched on 14 April 1928 and commissioned on 19 September. Her name pays homage to Major Enrico Toti, a First World War combatant posthumously awarded the Italian Gold Medal. The submarine is notable as being the only Italian submarine to have sunk a Royal Navy submarine during the Second World War.

Service in the Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War the Enrico Toti was assigned to the Italian 4th Submarine Group’s 40th Squadron.

The sinking of HMS Triad[edit]

HMS Triad was a T-class submarine of the Royal Navy that had set sail from Malta on 9 October 1940 under the command of Lieutenant-Commander G.S. Salt to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla at Alexandria. In the early hours of 15 October at 38°16′N 17°37′E / 38.267°N 17.617°E / 38.267; 17.617, off the Gulf of Taranto, she encountered the Enrico Toti, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Bandino Bandini. [1]

Bandini, the officer on watch at the time, sighted the Triad on the surface at 01:00, and sounded battle stations on board the Italian submarine. Both submarines altered course until they were heading towards each other.

Italian accounts record that the British submarine was the first to open fire with her deck gun, but she overshot.[1] Triad also fired one torpedo, which the Italian ship turned to avoid.[citation needed] Bandini's vessel opened fire on the British deck guns with her four 13.2mm machine guns,[1] preventing the Royal Navy personnel from operating their deck gun and driving them below deck. Accounts show that the two submarines passed within four yards, with Triad cutting across the stern of the Italian vessel.[1] In an account of the engagement published in 1940, Italian writer and then navy war correspondent Dino Buzzati, who interviewed the Toti officers and crew after their return to base, reports that both submarines were so close that an Italian gunner, furious because he couldn't yet train the gun to the British submarine, actually threw his shoes at the head of a British gunner.

Enrico Toti launched a torpedo,[1] however the distance was such that the torpedo failed to arm in time prior to impact[citation needed] and caused no damage to the British submarine.[1] At this stage, Lieutenant-Commander Salt began to dive his ship, however she was sunk during this manoeuvre by two direct shell hits from the 4.7in gun[1] and possibly a further torpedo from the Enrico Toti.

Fist Lieutenant Giovanni Cunsolo writes: "The submarine sinks, then in a desperate attempt to escape she tries to surface, stern-first, but soon after she disappears under the surface of the sea."[1]

The time from first sighting until sinking was 30 to 45 minutes,[1] and there were no survivors picked up by the Italian submarine or any other vessels. For this action, the entire crew and their commander received an award.

The Enrico Toti subsequently[when?] became a training vessel, and was then used to transport supplies to Italian forces in North Africa. She was scrapped in 1943. Her commander, Bandini, retired from active service in 1949.

HMS Rainbow[edit]

It was long believed that HMS Triad had been sunk by a mine, and that the ship sunk by the Enrico Toti was in fact the R-class submarine HMS Rainbow, which was patrolling nearby and had not been in contact. However, research in 1988 by the Royal Navy came to the conclusion that HMS Rainbow had been sunk in a collision with the Italian cargo ship Antonietta Costa[1] on 10 October,[citation needed] five days before the sinking of the Triad.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brian Izzard (November 2009). Gamp VC. Haynes Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-84425-725-6. 

External links[edit]