Italian submarine Archimede

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Name: Archimede
Builder: Tosi, Taranto
Launched: 5 March 1939
Fate: Sunk by USN PBYs, 15 April 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Brin-class submarine
  • 1,000 tonnes (984 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,245 tonnes (1,225 long tons) submerged
Length: 72.47 m (237 ft 9 in)
Beam: 6.68 m (21 ft 11 in)
Draft: 4.54 m (14 ft 11 in)
Installed power:
  • 3,000 bhp (2,200 kW) (diesels)
  • 1,300 hp (970 kW) (electric motors)
  • 17.3 knots (32.0 km/h; 19.9 mph) surfaced
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged
  • 9,000 nmi (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 7.8 knots (14.4 km/h; 9.0 mph) surfaced
  • 90 nmi (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
Complement: 58

Archimede was a Brin-class submarine built for the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina) during the 1930s.

Design and description[edit]

The Brin-class submarines were improved versions of the preceding Archimede class. Two boats were replacements for submarines of that class that were secretly transferred to the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. They displaced 1,000 metric tons (980 long tons) surfaced and 1,254 metric tons (1,234 long tons) submerged. The submarines were 72.47 meters (237 ft 9 in) long, had a beam of 6.68 meters (21 ft 11 in) and a draft of 4.54 meters (14 ft 11 in). The class was partially double hulled.[1]

For surface running, the boats were powered by two 1,500-brake-horsepower (1,119 kW) diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 550-horsepower (410 kW) electric motor. They could reach 17.3 knots (32.0 km/h; 19.9 mph) on the surface and 7.8 knots (14.4 km/h; 9.0 mph) underwater. On the surface, the Brin class had a range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph), submerged, they had a range of 90 nmi (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph).[2]

The boats were armed with eight internal 53.3 cm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes, four each in the bow and stern. They carried a total of 14 torpedoes. They were also armed with one 100 mm (3.9 in) deck gun for combat on the surface. The gun was initially mounted in the rear of the conning tower, but this was re-sited on the forward deck later in the war in the surviving boats and the large conning tower was re-built to a smaller design. The light anti-aircraft armament consisted of one or two pairs of 13.2 millimeters (0.52 in) machine guns.[1]

Construction and career[edit]

She was built in secret by Tosi in Taranto, as the second Archimede to replace the name ship of the Archimede-class submarines that was secretly transferred to the Nationalists in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The boat was launched on 5 March 1939. When Italy declared war in June 1940, Archimede was one of eight submarines assigned to the Red Sea Flotilla at the Italian naval base of Massawa, in Italian East Africa. The first war patrol on 19 June was terminated at Assab on 26 June after problems with the air conditioning system intended to reduce temperatures in the warm water of the Red Sea began. Leakage of chloromethane refrigerants caused central nervous system poisoning in the recirculating air during submerged operations and four crewmen died on 23 June 1940. A replacement commanding officer left Assab on 3 July to return Archimede to Massawa. Repairs kept her in port until September. As British forces captured Italian East Africa, the boat left Massawa on 3 March 1941 to sail 12,700 nautical miles (23,500 km; 14,600 mi) around Africa to France on its seventh war patrol. Archimede arrived in Bordeaux on 7 May 1941 after refueling from the German tanker Nordmark en route. After two unsuccessful BETASOM war patrols, the boat sank its first ship off Brazil on her tenth war patrol. Archimede again sank a single ship on her eleventh war patrol. On the twelfth war patrol, the boat was sunk off Brazil by United States Navy Consolidated PBY Catalinas from VP-83 on 15 April 1943 (date is also given as 16 Mar 1943 & 16 Apr 1943). A single survivor was rescued after spending 29 days in a life raft.[3]

Ships sunk by Archimede[3]
Date Ship Flag Tonnage Notes
15 June 1942 Cardina Panama 5,586 GRT freighter
8 October 1942 Oronsay United Kingdom 20,043 GRT troopship
Total: 25,629 GRT


  1. ^ a b Chesneau, p. 309
  2. ^ Bagnasco, p. 154
  3. ^ a b "Regia Marina Italiana". Cristiano D'Adamo. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 


  • Bagnasco, Erminio (1977). Submarines of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-962-6. 
  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.