Italian submarine Axum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Name: Axum
Namesake: Axum
Builder: CRDA, Monfalcone
Laid down: 8 February 1936
Launched: 27 September 1936
Fate: Ran aground and scuttled, 29 December 1943
General characteristics
Class & type: Adua-class submarine
  • 680 tonnes (669 long tons) surfaced
  • 844 tonnes (831 long tons) submerged
Length: 60.18 m (197 ft 5 in)
Beam: 6.45 m (21 ft 2 in)
Draft: 4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
  • 1,200 bhp (890 kW) (diesels)
  • 800 hp (600 kW) (electric motors)
  • 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced
  • 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h; 8.6 mph) submerged
  • 3,180 nmi (5,890 km; 3,660 mi) at 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph) surfaced
  • 74 nmi (137 km; 85 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
Complement: 45

The Italian submarine Axum was an Adua-class submarine built for the Royal Italian Navy (Regia Marina) during the 1930s. She was one of the more successful Italian submarines, sinking one cruiser and damaging several others ships.

Design and description[edit]

The Adua-class submarines were essentially repeats of the preceding Perla class. They displaced 680 metric tons (670 long tons) surfaced and 844 metric tons (831 long tons) submerged. The submarines were 60.18 meters (197 ft 5 in) long, had a beam of 6.45 meters (21 ft 2 in) and a draft of 4.7 meters (15 ft 5 in).[1]

For surface running, the boats were powered by two 600-brake-horsepower (447 kW) diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 400-horsepower (298 kW) electric motor. They could reach 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) on the surface and 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h; 8.6 mph) underwater. On the surface, the Adua class had a range of 3,180 nautical miles (5,890 km; 3,660 mi) at 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph), submerged, they had a range of 74 nmi (137 km; 85 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph).[2]

The boats were armed with six internal 53.3 cm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes, four in the bow and two in the stern. They were also armed with one 100 mm (3.9 in) deck gun for combat on the surface. 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]

Argo Axum.jpg

Axum was built in the CRDA shipyard in Monfalcone and launched on 13 September 1936.[1] She was named after the recently conquered Ethiopian holy city of Axum.[2] Axum was ordered to intercept and block an Allied convoy to Malta, on 12 August 1942, north of Bizerta, Tunisia. The convoy formed part of the Allied Operation Pedestal. The Axum succeeded in sinking the Royal Navy anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo, and damaging the light cruiser HMS Nigeria and the oil tanker SS Ohio.[3]

Axum was still in operation on 8 September 1943, when the Allies and Italy signed the Armistice of Cassibile. Axum arrived in Malta the day after the armistice, and joined the Allies. On 29 December 1943, during a reconnaissance mission near the Morea, she ran aground, and was scuttled.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Chesneau, pp. 309–10
  2. ^ a b Bagnasco, p. 154
  3. ^ Rohwer, p. 186
  4. ^ Rohwer, p. 295


  • 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.