:: BAIONETTA (1942) ::

Baionetta antisubmarine corvette (1942) High resolution picture

The Baionetta was an Italian corvette launched in 1942, belonging to the Gabbiano class. She is specially known for having transported King Victor Emmanuel III and General Pietro Badoglio, along with their respective entourages and general staff officers, from the small harbour town of Ortona to Brindisi escorted by the light cruiser Scipione Africano, when they escaped from the Germans and Italian fascists after the Italian armistice of September 1943.

In the late 1940 the Regia Marina had understood that the escort of the overseas traffic started to present difficulties which had not been foreseen and seemed hard to overcome. Besides, the scarcity of available fuel advised against a prolonged utilization of units above a certain tonnage in convoy escort missions. However, the threat posed by the British Fleet which could interrupt the flow of supplies forced to use as well large units; this was a high risk, considering that the strong fuel consumption would have led, sooner or later, to the immobilization of the Italian Fleet.

It was decided then to build units of the same type than the British corvettes, adapted to escort missions, particularly antisubmarine, in such a way that they were built quickly, with a reduced initial cost and with good structural and nautical qualities. The studies started in the first months of 1941, and the 3rd October 1942 the first corvette, named Gabbiano, entered service with the Regia Marina. Of the other 59 units planned, all of them started, only 29 could be delivered to the Regia Marina before the arrival of the Italian armistice. A total of 49 units were completed, being a number of them seized by the Germans after September 1943.

The units in question had a very interesting propulsion plant, constituted by two Diesel engines in two axes, with a total power of 3500 horsepower, which in antisubmarine actions could give way to two silent electric motors, of 75 horsepower each, fed by accumulators and able to move the ship at a maximum speed of 7 knots, without betraying her presence to the hydrophones of the attacked submarine. The units had as well ecogoniometric systems and the installation of a demagnetization system allowed to face with sufficient safety the danger of magnetic mines.

Overall they showed themselves as good units and many of them had a very long operative life after the war. Among these the Baionetta, delivered to the Regia Marina the 28th July 1943, which was decommissioned by the Marina Militare the 1st January 1971 after long years of training service. In 1977 was still operative in the role of pilot ship the corvette Ape, modified as incursion support ship.

Class: Gabbiano (49 units, including Antilope, Ape, Baionetta, Berenice, Chimera, Crisalide, Driade, Euterpe, Flora, Gazzella, Lucciola, Minerva, Persefone, Scimitarra, Sfinge, Sibilla, Urania and Vespa)

Type: Corvette

Length: 64.4 meters

Beam: 8.7 meters

Draught: 2.75 meters

Displacement (standard): 670 tonnes

Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x Diesel engine, 3500 horsepower

Speed: 18 knots (33 kilometers/hour)

Range: 3000 nautical miles (5600 kilometers) at 15 knots

Complement: 112

Armament (initial): 1 x 100-millimeter 47-caliber cannon, 7 x 20-millimeter cannon, 8 x antisubmarine mortar, 10 x depth charge thrower, 2 x 450-millimeter torpedo tube



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