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Weapons of World War Two

Aquila aircraft carrier

Aquila aircraft carrier

Even if seemingly strange, Italy already took interest on the problem of aerial protection of the units in navigation, by using special ships, soon after the Great War. In 1921, Lieutenant Fioravanzo presented the project of a cruiser fitted with strong antiaircraft armament and able to carry a group of 16 fighters. As it can be seen, those were already the antecedents, albeit the concept of aircraft carrier was still rather far. In 1925, the general of naval engineers Rota presented a new project where it appeared for the first time a single flight deck, but the unit was still a hybrid between a cruiser and an aircraft carrier.

The project from 1936, presented by General Pugliese, finally foresaw an exclusively aircraft carrier unit, but the rivality between the Navy and the Aviation (which had a tendency to monopolize all the inherent problems regarding the utilization of aircraft) and some gubernatorial decisions would leave the project in the papers. But after the beginning of the Second World War, with the harsh experiences of the Tarento's night in 1940 and the encounters of Gaudo and Matapan in 1941, the authorities understood that also for a nation "extended across the Mediterranean as a natural aircraft carrier", as Mussolini had said, it was vital to have units of that type.

The general of naval engineers Sigismondi had so the mission of studying a project which, due to evident reasons of time, provided the adaptation of the already existing transatlantic Roma. The unit would receive the name Aquila (Eagle), whereas another similar unit, denominated Sparviero (Hawk) would be obtained by modifying the transatlantic Augustus, practically identical to the Roma. The works for the Aquila started in July 1941 in the shipyards Ansaldo of Genoa, and the 8th July 1943, date of the Armistice, the unit, ready for trials, was in the dock of Genoa, where she was abandoned, without ever being delivered to the Regia Marina.

Having been left inside the northern region, the unit was attacked by an assault craft of the Regia Marina the 19th April 1945, to prevent her from being used in the obstruction of the dock. Fitted with excellent vanguard technical solutions, the beautiful vessel would never arrive to her baptism of fire. Removed from the list of the Fleet the 13th May 1947, the Aquila was scrapped in La Spezia in 1952.

Year: 1943

Length: 232.5 meters

Beam: 30.05 meters

Draught: 7.3 meters

Displacement: 27800 tonnes at full load

Propulsion: Steam turbines Belluzzo on four axes fed by eight boilers RM, for a total power of 151000 horsepower with four propellers

Maximum speed: 30 knots

Operational range: 10200 kilometers at 18 knots; 2950 kilometers at 29 knots

Armor: 400-800 millimeters in waterline (by application of steel and reinforced concrete layouts); 70-80 millimeters in fuel deposits and magazines

Armament: Eight 135-millimeter 45-caliber dual-purpose cannons (8 x 1); twelve 65-millimeter 54-caliber dual-purpose cannons (12 x 1); one hundred thirty-three 20-millimeter 65-caliber fast-firing cannons

Aircraft: 51 (with two catapults)

Complement: 1175 of seamanship and 245 of aviation

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf EMesserschmitt Bf 109E8.8 cm Flak 36/37 and Krauss Mafei SdKfz 7

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