Italian cruiser Zara

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Crucero pesado Zara 2.JPG
Career (Italy)
Name: Zara
Builder: Odero Terni Orlando, Muggiano
Laid down: 4 July 1929
Launched: 27 April 1930
Commissioned: 20 October 1931
Fate: Sunk, 29 March 1941[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Zara-class cruiser
Displacement: 11,870 t (11,683 long tons) standard
14,530 t (14,301 long tons) full load
Length: 182.8 m (599 ft 9 in)
Beam: 20.6 m (67 ft 7 in)
Draught: 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in)
Installed power: 95,000 shp (71,000 kW)
Propulsion: 8 × 3-drum Thornycroft boilers
2 × Parsons steam turbines
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)
Range: 5,361 nmi (9,929 km; 6,169 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement: 841
Armament: 4 × 2 - 203 mm (8 in)/53 cal. guns
8 × 2 - 100 mm (3.9 in)/47 cal. guns
6 × 1 - 40 mm/49 cal. guns
8 × 13.2 mm machine guns
Armour: Maximum 70 mm (2.8 in) vertical, 150 mm (5.9 in) horizontal
Aircraft carried: 2

Zara was an Italian Zara class heavy cruiser, which served in the Regia Marina during World War II. The cruiser was named after the Adriatic city of Zara (today Zadar).


Main article: Zara-class cruiser

Zara was 182.8 meters (600 ft) long overall, with a beam of 20.62 m (67.7 ft) and a draft of 7.2 m (24 ft). She displaced 13,944 long tons (14,168 t) at full load, though her displacement was nominally within the 10,000-long-ton (10,000 t) restriction set in place by the Washington Naval Treaty. Her power plant consisted of two Parsons steam turbines powered by eight oil-fired Yarrow boilers, which were trunked into two funnels amidships. Her engines were rated at 95,000 shaft horsepower (71,000 kW) and produced a top speed of 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph). She had a crew of 841 officers and enlisted men.[2]

She was protected with a armored belt that was 150 mm (5.9 in) thick amidships. Her armor deck was 70 mm (2.8 in) thick in the central portion of the ship and reduced to 20 mm (0.79 in) at either end. The gun turrets had 150 mm thick plating on the faces and the barbettes they sat in were also 150 mm thick. The main conning tower had 150 mm thick sides.[2]

Zara was armed with a main battery of eight 203 mm (8.0 in) Mod 29 53-caliber guns in four gun turrets. The turrets were arranged in superfiring pairs forward and aft. Anti-aircraft defense was provided by a battery of sixteen 100 mm (3.9 in) 47-cal. guns in twin mounts, four 40 mm (1.6 in) guns in single mounts and eight 12.7 mm (0.50 in) guns in twin mounts. She carried a pair of IMAM Ro.43 seaplanes for aerial reconnaissance; the hangar was located in under the forecastle and a fixed catapult was mounted on the centerline at the bow.[2][3]

Zara‍ '​s secondary battery was revised several times during her career. Two of the 100 mm guns and all of the 40 mm and 12.7 mm guns were removed in the late 1930s and eight 37 mm (1.5 in) 54-cal. guns and eight 13.2 mm (0.52 in) guns were installed in their place. Two 120 mm (4.7 in) 15-cal. starshell guns were added in 1940.[2]


Zara‍ '​s keel was laid down on 4 July 1928 at the Odero-Terni-Orlando (OTO) shipyard at Muggiano, La Spezia; she was launched on 27 April 1930, and her construction was completed on 20 October 1931.[4] During sea trials, Zara reached a speed of 35.23 kn (65.25 km/h; 40.54 mph), but this was with the ship's machinery forced to give 120,690 shp (90,000 kW). This was not representative of in-service performance, however, and normal maximum at-sea speed was about 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph).[5][nb 1]

Service history[edit]

Zara participated in the Spanish Civil War.



On 29 March, in the battle of Cape Matapan, under commander Capitano di Vascello Luigi Corsi, the Zara was escorting the battleship Vittorio Veneto, which had been damaged by an aerial torpedo and slowed down, to Italy. The Zara class cruiser, Pola was damaged by a torpedo from a British aircraft, and was also obliged to slow down and later stop. The remainder of the Italian force headed towards home ports, leaving the ship, but at the coming of night, the Zara together with her sister-ship Fiume and four destroyers (Oriani, Alfieri, Carducci and Gioberti) of the IX Squadriglia were dispatched to the Pola. In a night action the unprepared Italian cruisers were taken by surprise by the radar-equipped British vessels. Three British battleships, HMS Barham, Valiant and Warspite, firing from as short distances as 2,000 m (2,200 yd) comprehensively outgunned the cruisers. Zara and Fiume were struck several times within five minutes. Unable to recover the ship, the commander ordered the crew to scuttle and abandon Zara. The Fiume and the ship they had come back for, the Pola, and two destroyers, Vittorio Alfieri and Carducci, were also sunk. 799 of Zara's 1086 men were lost, among them her commanding officer Capt. Luigi Corsi and Admiral Carlo Cattaneo, commander of the 1st Naval Division of which Zara was the flagship.[7] Some survivors were picked up by British destroyers in the following morning, some more by Greek destroyers on 29 March and the last ones were rescued by the Italian hospital ship Gradisca three days later.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ Constructors trials were carried out with the ship's engines forced to such an extreme amount as the Italian Government paid a bonus to shipbuilders for every knot of speed in excess of contracted speed.[6] This process was stopped after the trials of Gorizia, the third of the Zara class.[5]


  • Brescia, Maurizio (2012). Mussolini’s Navy: A Reference Guide to the Regia Marina 1930–1945. Barnsley: Seaforth. ISBN 1848321155. 
  • Fraccaroli, Aldo (1972). Warship Profile 17: RN Zara/Heavy Cruiser 1929–41. Windsor, UK: Profile Publications. 
  • Gardiner, Robert & Chesneau, Roger, eds. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-913-8. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1999). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 1 86019 8740. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°20′N 20°57′E / 35.333°N 20.950°E / 35.333; 20.950