Condottieri-class cruiser

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Raimondo Montecuccoli at Venice
Condottieri class cruiser Raimondo Montecuccoli at Venice
Class overview
Operators:  Regia Marina
Subclasses: Giussano class
Cadorna class
Montecuccoli class
Duca d'Aosta class
Duca degli Abruzzi class
Built: 1928–1937
In commission: 1931–1972
Completed: 12
Lost: 6
Retired: 6
General characteristics
Type: Light cruiser
Displacement: 5,323–11,350 tonnes (5,239–11,171 long tons) standard
7,113–11,735 tonnes (7,001–11,550 long tons) full load
Length: 169.3–187 m (555–614 ft)
Beam: 15.5–18.9 m (51–62 ft)
Draught: 5.2–6.9 m (17–23 ft)
Propulsion: 2 geared turbines
6 boilers
95,000–110,000 hp (71–82 MW)
Speed: 34–37 knots (63–69 km/h; 39–43 mph)
Complement: 507–640
Armament: 8 or 10 × 152 mm (6 in)/53 cal. guns
Aircraft carried: 2–4 × reconnaissance floatplanes

The Condottieri class was a sequence of five, different, light cruiser classes of the Regia Marina (Italian Navy), although these classes show a clear line of evolution. They were built before World War II to gain predominance in the Mediterranean Sea. The ships were named after military commanders (condottieri) of Italian history.

Each class is known after the first ship of the group:

Giussano class:

Cadorna class:

Montecuccoli class:

Duca d'Aosta class:

Duca degli Abruzzi class:

Evolution[edit]

The first group, the four Di Giussanos, were built to counter the French large contre-torpilleurs, and therefore they featured very high speed, in exchange of virtually no armour protection. The two Cadornas retained the main characteristics, with minor improvements to stability and hull strength.

Major changes were introduced for the next pair, the Montecuccolis. About 2000 tons heavier, they had significantly better protection, and upgraded power-plants to maintain the required high speed. The two Duca d'Aostas continued the trend, thickening the armour and improving the power plant again.

The final pair, the Duca degli Abruzzis completed the transition, sacrificing a little speed for good protection (whose scheme was the same of the Zara class heavy cruisers) and for ten (instead of eight) 6-inch guns.

Service[edit]

All ships served in the Mediterranean during World War II.

The ships of the first two subclasses (with the exception of Cadorna) were all lost by 1942, primarily to enemy torpedoes (with Colleoni sunk by destroyers at the Battle of Cape Spada after being crippled by HMAS Sydney, da Barbiano and da Giussano suffering a similar fate at the Battle of Cape Bon, and Diaz sunk by a submarine), which led to many authors (including Preston) to question their real value as fighting ships. However, the subsequent vessels fared considerably better with all, except Attendolo (sunk by an Allied bombing in December 1942), surviving the war.

After the end of the war, the Eugenio di Savoia and the Duca d'Aosta were given respectively to the Greek Navy and the Soviet Navy as war reparations; the Cadorna was quickly stricken, the Montecuccoli became a training ship, and the two Abruzzi served on in the Marina Militare until the 1970s, with Garibaldi becoming in 1961 the first European guided missile cruiser.

References[edit]

  • Preston, Anthony (2002). The World's Worst Warships. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-754-6. 
  • Whitley, M.J. (1996). Cruisers of World War Two : an international encyclopedia (Reprinted ed.). London: Arms and Armour. ISBN 1854092251. 

External links[edit]