Weapons of World War Two
In the last months of 1940 the Regia Marina understood that the escort of the traffic directed to overseas started to present difficulties that had not been foreseen and which seemed hard to overcome. Besides, the scarcity of available naphtha advised against a too prolonged utilization of the units, above a certain tonnage, for missions of escort to convoys. The threat of the British Fleet which could interrupt the flow of supplies forced, however, to use as well large units, which was a high risk, considering that the strong fuel consumption would have led, sooner or later, to the immobilization of the Fleet.
It was decided then to build units of the same type than the British corvettes, adapted for escort, 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, the Gabbiano, entered service with the Regia Marina. Of the other 59, all of them started, only 29 could be delivered to the Regia Marina due to the arrival of the Armistice.
The units in question, studied to operate as "guard dogs" quickly moving within "herds" of merchant ships that advanced at a maximum speed of 11-12 knots, had a very interesting engine system, constituted by two Diesel in two axes, with a total power of 3500 horsepower, which in actions of antisubmarine hunt gave 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.
Length: 64.4 meters
Beam: 8.7 meters
Draught: 2.75 meters
Displacement: 771 tonnes
Propulsion: Two Diesel engines for a total power of 3500 horsepower; two electric motors fed by accumulators for a total power of 150 horsepower; two propellers
Maximum speed: 18 knots with Diesel engines; 7 knots with electric motors
Operational range: 3000 nautical miles at 15 knots
Armor: Being light units for escort missions, corvettes were practically devoid of armor
Armament: One 100-millimeter 47-caliber cannon; seven 20-millimeter 65-caliber fast-firing cannons; eight antisubmarine mortars; two hoppers for antisubmarine charges; two 450-millimeter torpedo tubes
Complement: 112 (included two officers as war complement)
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