"At 0540 it was getting light when the crowís nest lookout reported ĎAlgerian fishing-boats in sightí. Commander Scurfield stared at the ships racing over the horizon. They were not fishermen but two cruisers and five destroyers. The Italian fleet had found them." (The Tribals, Biography of a Destroyer Class, by Martin H. Brice, at page 96)

Design History of the Condottieri
If you examine the designs of light cruisers built by the Italian navy between World War One and World War Two, youíll find an interesting evolution in the design process and design philosophy. This evolution reflects a change in thought of the mission of these designs. Between 1928 and 1933 the Italian Navy laid down twelve light cruisers, divided into five classes. These ships were collectively called the Condottieri, as they were named for famous Italian captains of free agent armies that dominated Italy during the Renaissance, when the peninsula was a series of small kingdoms and principalities, as well as subsequent Italian heroes of the Italian unification. These five classes can be further subdivided into two groups that reflect two different theories of cruiser missions.

Six of the ships belong in the first two classes, with four ships in the 1928 Da Barbiano Class and two more ships in the follow up Luigi Cadorna Class of 1930. Both of these classes are true to the original mission of the Italian light cruiser, hunting French destroyers. They were designed to combat one type of ship, the large French super destroyers, which were significantly larger than Italian destroyers. To that end speed was essential as well as armament that could dispose of the intended combatant. Accordingly, these first two classes of the Condottieri were of very low displacement with comparatively huge power plants. They had to be fast enough to overtake destroyers, so the machinery fit dominated the design. Likewise eight 6-inch guns was incorporated as the main battery. That was figured to be more than sufficient to out-range the French 5.1-inch guns. There was no real thought to armor. After all, their opponents were to be destroyers. The 6-inch guns of the Condottieri could out-range and destroyer the destroyers long before the French could get within effective range of their smaller and less numerous guns. At 24mm the belt of these six cruisers was less than an inch and left the machinery spaces vulnerable to almost any ordnance in any fleet.

They were handsome ships in their own right but their almost strait stems made them appear somewhat antiquated. If anything, the cutwater edged forward the closer it came to the waterline in a subtle ram bow. The four ships of the Da Barbiano Class were laid down in 1928, launched in 1930 and completed February 1931 to February 1932. These 5,110-ton ships mounted eight 6-Inch and six 3.9-inch guns, had a maximum speed of 36.5 knots but carried no armor, except for a miniscule 24mm (1-inch) belt and 23mm on the turrets. The Da Barbiano actually hit 42 knots for 30 minutes during trials but that was in an artificially favorable environment. Since a bonus was paid to the builders for exceeding contract speed, builders would force the machinery beyond normal and safe limits during trials, resulting in artificially high legend speeds. In 1930 another class of Condottieri was laid down. The two ship Luigi Cadorna Class had the same size, speed and armament as those of the Da Barbiano Class. Although there was still a lack of armor, as it was the same scheme as the earlier design, these ships had a slightly greater displacement at 5,323 tons due to improved strengthening of the hull. Laid down in 1930, they were both completed in 1933.

So far all six light cruisers had followed the same pattern of very light ships of tremendous speed but no armor. One of the truisms of warship construction is that if you design a warship to fight a specifically identified warship, the odds will be against the two types meeting in combat. It is far more likely that the design will face a different ship or type entirely. What if the Condottieri met in combat something other than a French destroyer? What would happen if they faced a French or British light cruiser? In that case they would have very little choice but to use their high speed to run. Of the three great components of warship construction, armor, armament and speed, speed is by far the easiest to be degraded. Once armor is in place, it stays there without degradation unless pierced in battle or accident or unless submerged below the waterline due to overloading. Guns may become obsolescent as newer ordnance marks improve upon ballistic performance and also may malfunction and jam in combat but by and large they are well tested before combat. However, speed can be very illusory. There are so many factors that will significantly degrade a designís speed. Sea growth on the bottom, the type or quality of fuel oil or coal in an earlier age, the type and purity of feed water, and most telling the time from the last overhaul. Propulsion machinery had to be constantly tinkered with and maintained and even with the finest maintenance wore out with time.


Plan, Profile & Quarter Views
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Machinery was also very vulnerable in combat as machinery spaces occupied a large volume of the shipís internal design. Any breech in the shipís hull in the area of the machinery spaces automatically insured a dramatic loss in speed. Propulsion systems required both boilers which burn fuel oil to heat feedwater into steam and that steam is then used to turn the turbine, which then turns the propeller shaft. Loose a boiler room and there is no steam to turn the turbines. Loose a turbine and it doesnít matter how much steam that you have on hand. The first two classes of Condottieri were very, very vulnerable to loss of propulsion due to combat damage. With no side armor to speak off, anything could penetrate their machinery spaces and cause a catastrophic loss of speed. As it dawned on the admirals of the Italian navy that perhaps their light cruisers would have to face something more formidable than a destroyer, it was realized that the design philosophy for light cruisers had to change. Future construction would have to be much more balanced. The next three classes of Condottieri, composing six cruisers in all, reflect the total change in design philosophy and the quest for balance.

The two Condottieri laid down in 1931, only one year after the two cruisers of the Cadorna Class, were very different in design philosophy and appearance. The two cruisers of the Raimondo Montecuccoli Class saw a big jump in displacement to 7,405-tons. Length also jumped from 555 feet in the prior two classes to 598 feet. The primary reason for the additional length was the increase in the power plant. To keep the ships as fast as the earlier no armor designs but to carry armor of a 60mm belt and 70mm on the turrets, a larger plant was necessary. Where the two earlier designs could achieve their 36.5 knots with 95,000 shp, the Montecuccoli Class required 106,000 shp to hit 37 knots maximum speed. This power plant produced the same horse power, as the much heavier USN heavy cruisers. Since there was much less displacement to lug around, the two Montecuccoli would of course be much faster.

Although Muzio Attendolo was laid down first on April 10, 1931, this two ship cruiser class is called the Montecuccoli Class after the Raimondo Montecuccoli, which was laid down on October 1, 1931 at Ansaldo Yard in Genoa, almost half a year after the Attendolo in Trieste. However, the Genoa yard working on Montecuccoli was faster and she was launched on August 2, 1934 and completed on June 30, 1935, slightly ahead of her sister. Although there was no increase in gun power the armor scheme had almost tripled in width. Fully 1,376-tons or 18.3% of displacement of the ship was devoted to armor, compared to the 578-tons or 8% of displacement of the preceding design.


Forward Half of Hull Casting & End On Shots
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In appearance the Raimondo Montecuccoli was tremendously changed from the previous design. Instead of the straight stem the new twins featured a graceful curving cutwater and an equally graceful curving stern. The two widely spaced funnels were certainly more aesthetically pleasing as they had a new attractive funnel cap design in place of the flat topped funnels of the two earlier Condottieri designs. However, of all of the new features, it was probably the new conical design for the forward superstructure that made the greatest visual impact. This became a feature of the future light cruiser designs but with the Raimondo Montecuccoli it was at its purest before additional bridgework on the following classes complicated the simple beauty of the lines of the conical tower. This cruiser design is one of the most aesthetically pleasing designs ever created. It really is a design of grace and beauty. The next two designs of the Condottieri were improvements in the basic design inaugurated by the Raimondo Montecuccoli. They may have been more capable designs but in turn they lost some of the elegance of line that characterized Montecuccoli and Attendolo.

The fourth class of Condottieri continued with the trend for larger but better protected cruisers. The two ships of the Duca DíAosta Class saw another jump in displacement to 8,317-tons, length to 613 feet and armor to a 70mm belt with 90mm on the turrets. The armament remained the same as the three preceding designs but the power plant increased to 110,000 shp to achieve 36.5 knots maximum speed. These two, Emanuele Filiberto Duca DíAosta and Eugenio Di Savoia were laid down in 1932 and 1933, launched in 1935 and 1936 and completed in 1935 and 1936. The changes from the preceding Montecuccoli Class were all to make the ships more stable and provide enhanced protection, hence improved survivability. Armor alone took up 1,700 tons of the 8,317-ton displacement, more than 20% of the cruisersí displacement. The armor scheme represented a 29% increase over the Montecuccoli Class. Quite clearly the Condottieri had evolved from the early light, extremely fast but extremely frail cruisers that started the parade in the 1920s. To keep the 36knot+ speed of the earlier cruisers more powerful engines were installed. Horsepower was 110,000, up from the 106,000shp of the Montecuccoli Class. The Duca DíAosta Class were very similar in appearance to the Montecuccoli Class but a new bridge level on the forward tower disrupted the pure conical profile of the Montecuccoli tower.


Aft Half of the Hull Casting
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The fifth class of Condottieri were the two ships of the Abruzzi Class, Luigi Di Savoia Duca Degli Abruzzi and Giuseppe Garibaldi both laid down in December 1933. With this design standard displacement jumped another 1,000 tons to 9,440. Appearance changed. The conical tower introduced by the Montecuccoli was still there but the two funnels were placed much closer together. For the first time, armament increased. This class introduced triple 6-inch gun turrets for the two lower turret positions. The armor scheme increased once again, jumping to a 100mm (4-inch) belt. The design also had another groundbreaking change. Instead of increasing horsepower to keep a 37 knot standard, this class actually lowered machinery requirements. To fit the additional armor and armament, something had to give and it was the 37-knot requirement that was sacrificed. When you think about it, the last class of Condottieri had come 180 degrees from the first class. The first class had sacrificed armor for speed and the last class sacrificed speed for armor. However, it is all relative. The Abruzzi Class with their 100,000shp could still hit 34-knots, so they were not slugs. Like beauty, speed can fade but not the extra armor and armament of the Abruzzis. They were clearly the best balanced and most combat worthy design of any of the Italian light cruisers. The Italian navy did prepare a 6th design in the Condottieri series. In 1938 a new design was prepared to improve on the Abruzzzi design. It was only slightly larger with slightly improved deck and turret armor. Two ships were to be built and were to be named Constanzo Ciano and Venezia, formerly Luigi Rizzo. However, before the design was finalized and orders placed World War II started. The Regia Marina moved on to other priorities and so the plans for these two cruisers were cancelled in 1940.

Operational Career of the Raimondo Montecuccoli
After joining the fleet in 1935 the Montecuccoli spent the first two years of her career in training with the fleet. However, in 1937 she was selected for a special mission and one in which her crew were probably eager to participate. With the Japanese invasion of China, western powers had started to worry about their interests in the area. Italy, even under Mussolini, felt concern about her interests with the Japanese aggression. Raimondo Montecuccoli was selected to steam to the far east to show the flag and protect Italian interests in the area. She left Naples on August 27, 1937 and arrived in Shanghai on September 15. In early 1938 Montecuccoli made a grand tour of the east by paying visits to Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. At the end of the year, with an increasingly worrisome political situation in Europe, Montecuccoli was recalled to Italy. Her place in the east was taken by one of the first of the Condottieri, the Colleoni and on November 1, 1938 Montecuccoli left China for good. She arrived at Naples on December 7, 1938.

As soon as Montecuccoli returned, she went into the yard for a refit. When this was completed, she was assigned as part of the 2nd Squadron of the 8th Cruiser Division. By 1940 she was reassigned to the 7th Cruiser Division along with Attendolo and the two ships of the fourth Condottieri group, Savoia and Aosta. When Italy entered the war on the side of Germany, the initial missions of Montecuccoli included covering minelaying sorties, cover for troop convoys to North Africa, as well as being part of the cruiser screen that engaged at the Battle of Punto Stilo. In December 1940 she was at the mouth of the Adriatic bombarding Greek positions north of Corfu. On a mission lasting from April 19 to April 24, 1941, Montecuccoli along with the other cruisers of 7th Division were tasked to employ their mine laying capacity. The narrowest part of the passage from the western Mediterranean and the island of Malta is between Cape St. Bon in Tunisia and Sicily. A barrage of mines was laid by the cruisers off the southern point of this passage, Cape St. Bon. Montecuccoli would return to this area in the next year and be a key participant in one of the infrequent victories of the Regia Marina over the Royal Navy. 





Raimondo Montecuccoli Vital Statistics

 


Dimensions: Length - 597-feet 9-inches (182.2m) overall; Beam - 54-feet 6-inches (16.6m); Draught - 18-feet 4-inches (5.6m); Displacement: 7,405-tons standard, 8,853-tons full load: Armament: Eight 6-inch 4x2; Six 3.9-inch (100mm) 3x2; Eight 37mm AA 4x2; Eight 13.2mm MGs 4x2; Four 21-inch torpedo tubes 2x2

Armor: Belt - 60mm; Deck - 30mm; Turrets - 70mm; Conning Tower - 100mm: Complement: 578
Machinery: 2 shaft Belluzzo Geared Turbines; 6 Yarrow boilers; Maximum Speed - 37 knots at 106,000shp; Range - 4,122nm at 18 knots

 

For the balance of 1941 it was more of the same. Cover for Italian convoys to North Africa, unsuccessful sorties to intercept British convoys and aborted missions. However, while providing close cover for convoy M42 from December 16 through 19, Montecuccoli was at the First Battle of Sirte. However in this battle she was more in the role of bystander, rather than participant. The main Italian force of two battleships and two heavy cruisers was the Italian force engaged in the brief twilight action. Montecuccoli, along with Aosta and Attendolo, were in a secondary force centered around the old battleship Duilio. Convoy escort duty continued in 1942 but then there was a change. Montecuccoli and Savoia were sent to Sardinia. It was an attempt to catch they high-speed minelayer Welshman, which had been making successful supply runs into Malta. On May 14, 1942 the two cruisers went off to hunt their quarry but the speedy Welshman eluded them. In June the pair were still at the port of Cagliari in Sardinia when accurate information reached them on a new convoy leaving Gibraltar for Malta. This was Operation Harpoon, as the Royal Navy dubbed this convoy mission. The British left Gibraltar on June 12 and Montecuccoli with Savoia, plus five destroyers steamed out of Cagliari the next day for interception. After being spotted by a British submarine the Italian force put into Palermo on the northwest tip of Sicily and waited. The heavy escort for the Harpoon convoy was the battleship Malaya, carriers Eagle and Argus, cruisers Charybdis, Kenya and Liverpool and eight destroyers. On June 14 the British convoy came under very heavy air attack as they approached the narrow seas between Cape St. Bon and Sicily. Attacks concentrated on the heavy escorts. The Liverpool was hit and had to be towed. Also the freighter Tanimbar was sunk. Also on the 14th Montecuccoli, Savoia and the five destroyers of the 7th Cruiser Division shortened anchor and sped to the south in order to intercept the British convoy in the gap between Cape St. Bon and Sicily. This time the Condottieri would find their quarry. At 2130 on June 14 the heavy covering force turned back towards Gibraltar. Night was falling and by daybreak on the 15th the convoy would be within range of aircraft from Malta. Although the departure of 7th Cruiser Division from Palermo had been reported, the British didnít think that they were bound for the convoy. It was believed that they would not attack in the night and certainly not the next day when the Harpoon convoy would be within the range of RAF aircraft based in Malta.

Battle of Pantelleria
The island of Pantelleria lies about halfway between Cape St. Bon and Sicily. At early light on June 15, 1942 south of Pantelleria, the Italian force was sighted by the lookout of HMS Bedouin, a Tribal Class destroyer that was part of the Malta supply convoy. At first they were mistaken for fishing boats but this illusion was soon dispelled as Montecuccoli, Savoia and their consorts came charging in looking for a fight with their old foes of the Royal Navy. This started a very confused action that would last most of the day. The Harpoon convoy had been found. The British escorts were the old light cruiser Cairo; fleet destroyers Bedouin, Escapade, Icarus, Ithuriel, Marne, Matchless and Partridege; Hunt Class Badsworth, Blankney and,Kujawiak; fleet minesweepers Hebe, Hythe, Rye and Speedy; and six MTBs. The supply ships they were protecting were four freighters, Burdwan, Chant, Orari, and Troilus plus the American tanker Kentucky. The numerous British escorts quickly laid smoke screens. Five RN fleet destroyers, led by Beouin charged through the smoke screen to attack 7h Cruiser Division. "At 0700, Bedouin and the others raced through a smokescreen, closing the Italian cruisers to 5,000 yards. Overwhelming fire drove them back into the smoke again. Cairo had been hit, Partridge was stopped, Bedouinís superstructure had been almost shot away and she too stopped burning. They had inflicted some splinter damage on Eugenio Di Savoia and that was all, but the cruisers did not try to force their way through the dense smokescreens." (The Tribals, Biography of a Destroyer Class, by Martin H. Brice, at page 97) Cairo was hit as well but not seriously. 


Superstructure
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The British escorts made very heavy use of smokescreens to avoid contact with the Italian force. Admiral Da Zara, commander of the Italian force, was naturally hesitant to charge through the smoke. This was not so unusual, as Admiral Jellicoe had been equally hesitant about taking the Grand Fleet into German smokescreens at the Battle of Jutland. Instead, the Italians sent two of their destroyers, Lanzaretto Malocello and Ugolini Vivaldi, out to the flanks in an effort to turn the edge of the screen, while the cruisers waited in the center for a target of opportunity. While trying to edge around the smokescreen, the Ugolini Vivaldi was severely hit, set afire and stopped in the water, and the Malecello was hit as well by the Hunt Class destroyers. When Da Zara heard that two of his destroyers were in trouble, he sent the other three to their aid, leaving the two cruisers without escorts. Shortly after this contact was broken and all British escorts that could do so were ordered to rejoin the convoy, still on the way to Malta. Monteccuccoli and Savoia resumed the chase but now the Italian destroyers were out of the game. By late morning German and Italian air attacks had resumed again.

However, the Italian cruisers were likewise subjected to RAF attacks from Malta. The British attacked with torpedo planes but there were no hits. By this time the damaged Vivaldi had gained control of her fires so the destroyers Ascari and Oriani were ordered to rejoin the cruisers.

"Bedouin and Partridge had been left behind, but at 0900 Partridge repaired her damage and got under way again. Bedouinís damage was more serious. She had been hit twelve times, mainly by 6in shells, although not all of them had exploded. Splinters from one shell had perforated the gearing-casing and fire broke out in the gearing room so that the 4in and 2pdr magazines had to be flooded. Main and steering engines were dead and there was no electricity. The mast had been shot away, the primary fire-control wrecked and the bridge badly damaged. Still, Commander Scurfield hoped to have the electrical damage repaired to get going again on one engine soon. In the meantime, Partridge took the Tribal in tow, Bedouinís damaged bow making it difficult to rig a towing wire." (The Tribals, Biography of a Destroyer Class, by Martin H. Brice, at page 97)


Primary & Secondary Armament
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The two cripples rejoined the convoy by 1142. In early afternoon German dive bombers started getting more hits. The freighter Chant was sunk at 1315 and Burdwan and Kentucky were damaged. Now they too had to be towed. Bedouin and Partridge fell out as they could not keep up. One destroyer and two minesweepers were left with Burdwan and Kentucky, as the remaining undamaged freighters and escorts made best speed for Malta. Over the horizon the Montecuccoli and Savoia saw the smoke from the damged British ships and made for it. "The tanker Kentucky had only a small fire aboard, but several shells from the Montecuccoli and then a torpedo from the Oriani caused her to explode in flames like a huge funeral pyre, and shortly thereafter she sank." (The Italian Navy in World War II, 1957, by Commander Marcí Antonio Bragadin, at page 184)

"Now the two Italian cruisers reappeared. They finished off Burdwan and Kentucky and they found Partridge and Bedouin. Partridge slipped the tow, made smoke and was chased away by Raimondo Montecuccoli and Eugenio Di Savoia, who again fired at Bedouin in passing. As they went by, Bedouin ignited her own smoke floats and got one engine moving. At the same instant an Italian torpedo-bomber raced in from starboard at low-level, was hit by the destroyerís guns and crashed in the sea. The torpedo hit Bedouinís engine room, blasting right through the ship. She rolled over to port and sank with the loss of 28 men." (The Tribals, Biography of a Destroyer Class, by Martin H. Brice, at page 97 & 98 ) The cruisers chased the Partridge for more than 30 minutes but destroyer was faster, showing that the cruiserís top speeds in an operational environment were much lower than the inflated test speeds. Another RAF attack came in at 1425. This bombing attack was again unsuccessful but the Italian force was getting closer to Malta, the source of the attacks. Due to the fact that Da Zara had yet to see any fighter protection that had been promised, he decided not to press his luck and broke off the chase. At 1556 fighter escorts finally made their appearance over Montcuccoli and Savoia just in time to break up another British torpedo plane attack a few minutes later.

An off-shoot of the persistent attacks by the Montecuccoli force and the air attacks on the convoy was that the convoy blundered into a mine field as it reached Malta. Destroyer Kujawiak was sunk, Icarus, Badsworth, Matchless, Ithuriel, Hebe and the freighter Orari were badly damaged with the loss of part of that freighterís cargo. Of the five freighters and one tanker that had departed Gibraltar under heavy RN escort on June 12, only the Troilus reached Malta undamaged. Anyway you slice it, the destruction of the Operation Harpoon convoy was a notable Italian victory. The sinking or damage to the British ships was a combination of air and surface attack. The Bedoiun had been crippled by the gunfire of the cruisers but was finished off by air attack. The Burdwan and Kentucky were crippled by air attack but finished off by the cruisers. Without the intervention of the 7th Cruiser Division, it is quite likely that they could have gained the safety of Malta. Throughout the war in the Mediterranean, the Royal Navy generally got the better of the Regia Marina but not with Raimondo Montecuccoli on June 15, 1942.


Antiaircraft Guns, Torpedo Tubes & Directors
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In August there was a much larger replay of Operation Harpoon. In Operation Pedestal the British put together a huge convoy of 14 merchant ships supported by 2 battleships, four aircraft carriers, seven cruisers and 25 destroyers, plus smaller escorts. The 7th Cruiser Division participated the plans to intercept this convoy south of Pantelleria, just as they had done in June. However, this time Muzio Attendolo had joined Montecuccoli, her sistership, and the Savoia. Further the 3rd Cruiser Division was part of the force with heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trieste and Balzano. The six cruisers were escorted by eleven destroyers. The Italian plan was to break up the convoy and have the large cruiser force destroy it as it tried to slip through the Cape Bon-Pantelleria Gap. However, the RAF presence at Malta was far more formidable than it was in mid-June. With 187 RAF aircraft on the island, the Italian cruisers would have to have fighter cover if they wished to operate within range of Malta. Since the German and Italian airforces were already experiencing success through air attacks alone, they pressed that they should destroy the convoy without the participation of the navy. The Regia Marina still wanted to be involved and held the position that only through the naval presence could the destruction of the convoy be assured but that they had to have fighter cover. The decision was left to Mussolini and he decided in favor of the airforce. Accordingly, the cruisers were recalled. However, the threat posed by the Malta based aircraft was all too real. A torpedo attack from Malta Based aircraft succeeded in torpedoing the Balzano and blowing off the bow of the Muzio Attendolo.

Montecuccoli was at Naples on December 4, 1942 when USAAF bombers of the 9th Airforce paid a mass visit. She was badly damaged and was sidelined for repairs until summer of 1943. However, in that same raid, Savoia was damaged and worse yet, her sistership Muzio Attendolo was sunk, while still under repair from the loss of her bow in August. That one attack took out the entire 7th Cruiser Division. When the allies invaded Sicily Montecuccoli and old companion Savoia sortied from La Spezia on August 4 to use their guns on General Pattonís forces around Palermo. However, when aerial reconnaissance made their position the mission was cancelled and they returned to port. With the September armistice between Italy and the allies Montecuccoli was part of the Regia Maria that sailed into Malta. From there she was sent to Alexandria, Egypt. She still was to receive missions but now as part of the allied force. For the remainder of the war she was employed as a high-speed transport.

With the end of the war, still had only used a portion of her service life. Unlike many of the larger cruisers and the battleships of the Regia Marina, Montecuccoli remained in the service of her country of birth. She had a long career with the modern Italian navy. She was given modern radar, as well as an updated AA fit and became a training ship. She received another major refit but this one significantly changed her appearance. In this refit lasting from October 1953 to June 1954 B turret was removed in an over all modernization of the ship. From this she went back into the training business for 1,000s of new sailors of the Italian fleet that were not born or just babies when Montecuccoli was started back in 1930. At the end of 1963 Montecuccoli was stricken from the navy list. However, she didnít go to the breakers right away. She remained at La Spezia until 1972, when she was finally broken up. (History fromCruisers of World War Two, An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1996, by M.J. Whitley: The Italian Navy in World War II, 1957, by Commander Marcí Antonio Bragadin; The Tribals, Biography of a Destroyer Class, by Martin H. Brice;


Hull Parts, Smaller Superstructure & Meridionali Ro.43
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The Delphis Montecuccoli Hull
As is obvious from the photographs, the 1:350 scale Raimondo Montecuccoli is cast with a one-piece full hull model. The first impression about the hull is the size. I certainly was not expecting a hull of the size of the one found in this kit. However, a quick check of the statistics for the Montcuccoli reveals that she was longer than a USN New Orleans Class heavy cruiser, 598-feet versus 588-feet. The Montecuccoli has less beam, creating a long hull with the very fine lines necessary for the ship to attain the phenomenal speeds designed for the class. This long, lean appearance really comes through with the Delphis kit.

On first examination the hull is very sleek with only a modest amount of deck detail. However, this is very misleading because the bulk of the deck detail is included as separate pieces. On the hull side, the most prominent feature is the bow with its very graceful curved cutwater and dramatic flair. This flair is very significant as it was designed to lessen the amount of water taken over the bows. The hull is cast in very dark gray resin. There are a series of eight resin pour stalks along the centerline of the hull bottom. These are slightly smaller than a dime in size, except the stern most, which is smaller. The hull is cast upside down with resin flowing through these eight pour stalks to fill the hull mold. The stalks are cut off very close to the hull bottom, so their remnants will be easily sanded smooth with the hull. There were no bubbles to be found along the bottom of the hull. There was some unevenness on the hull bottom but it was very minor and very faint seam line was present where the mold is split at the top for removal of the hull after the resin has cooled and hardened. All of these are very insignificant blemishes and are easily sanded smooth.

The Montecuccoli in her yearly years featured two, perhaps three rows of portholes on the side of her raised forecastle. The lowest row just had a few portholes and appears to have been plated over very early. The two rows of portholes were just on the hull sides at the forecastle. After the deck break, there was just a single row. The portholes were a problem with the hull casting. Some were closed over with a thin film and others appear to have been completely filled in. The portholes that were merely filmed over are easily opened up with the tip of a tweezers or other instrument. However if a porthole is filled in, youíll have to use a pin-vice to drill it out. Just run a length of tape at the top or lower edge of the porthole line to ensure that the new holes will be in line. Nothing in this process is difficult. It is just time consuming. If you donít have a reference on the Montecuccoli, thatís no problem as the kit comes with large profile drawings. There were also two small areas of ripples in the resin, one patch on each side. A very small amount of putty and gentle sanding will quickly correct these blemishes. For a one-piece full hull casting, the Delphis Montecuccoli hull is a remarkably smooth casting. Although it is the cleanest full hull casting that I have seen, the porthole problem presents an area that needs fixing. However, this may be only an aberration that is found in my copy. I have not heard of anyone mentioning this problem before. 


Ship's Boats & Smaller Fittings
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As with almost any kit, almost all of the hull detail is found on the deck. There is plenty of detail on the Montecuccoli deck but at first I was puzzled. Something seemed to be missing. Then I realized that although there were plenty of deck fittings and detail, there were no bitts or chocks. These parts are cast separately on resin runners and are added to the hull during assembly. Also the bilge keels are cast separately. These are solutions adopted by Delphis to overcome particular weaknesses in the one-piece full hull casting process. Delphis appears to have used a resin casting process very similar, if not identical to that used by Commanders/Iron Shipwright who has produced one-piece full hull models for several years now. For full hull enthusiasts it makes for the simplest and quickest build. You donít have to unite an upper and lower hull and fill the seam between the two. Also a one-piece full hull casting is much less susceptible to being warped. The hull is clearly cast upside down as with ISW models. For anyone that has built ISW models, three problems are normally present because of the casting process. One is a series of pinhole voids along the bottom of the hull due to bubbles of air being forced upwards to the top of the casting due to induced pressure. Since the hull is cast upside down, the bubbles burst at the bottom of the ship. Somehow Delphis has fixed this problem. As mentioned earlier, there were no bubbles along the bottom. Perhaps it was using eight small resin pour channels into the mold rather than using one large one like ISW. Maybe there were no bubbles because of the resin composition. For whatever reason the lack of bubbles on the bottom of the Delphis Montecuccoli is remarkable. The second area where pinhole voids will be found in ISW kits is in the smaller deck fittings. Instead of rising upwards in the casting, sometimes small bubbles of air will be trapped downward into the small hollows for these fittings. The Delphis solution to this second problem was to cast the smaller deck fittings separately. A typical third problem is similar in nature. Air can be trapped as it rises in the bilge keels, creating a gap or void in the finished casting. By also casting the Montecuccoli bilge keels separately, Delphis has eliminated that problem as well.

Now that you know that the smaller deck fittings are separate, then what fittings are cast as part of the hull? The cast on deck detail falls into a number of different categories. There are quite a number of deck access hatches. Delphis includes all of the hatch detail, including dogs. The anchor capstans or windlasses are very nicely done with a perfect mushroom profile and spoked top plan. Also in the forecastle area are other well done detail for the anchor chain rig, such as plates with housings, that lead to the chain locker and a series of smaller capstans forward. There are slight flares on each side of the bow where the anchor chain leaves the focísle over the side to secure the anchors. In the hull casting these are very well done. They have slight depressions where the chain runs through with holes already present where the chain exits the deck. Aft of A barbette there are a series of ready ammunition lockers for the twin 37mm AA guns. These were all clustered around the superstructure tower. The stern also has similar deck detail as the focísle, less the anchor chain rig, including two capstans apparently associated for folding the propeller guards flat against the sides of the hull.

The deck area between the deck break and X barbette features some of the largest and finest of the cast in detail. At the deck break where the raised forecastle drops a level to the main deck, there are two short solid bulkheads, one on either side. These bulkheads actually start at focísle deck level at quickly curve down to slightly above the halfway point between the focísle and the main deck. They then run parallel with the main deck before again curving downward at the end. These bulkheads cast by Delphis as part of the hull capture all of the subtle curves of the original and provide inboard support ribs as well. Next come the bases for the torpedo mounts. This detail includes a base plate and raised ribbed platform. Further back on the main deck are found two of the three twin 100mm positions. These are very nicely captured with a cross-hatched nonskid foot plate. There are also two large square fittings just to the aft of the 100mm positions. I donít know their purpose but each appears to be a large rectangular hatch within a raised coaming lip. 






References on the Raimondo Montecuccoli Class

Raimondo Montecuccoli Profile Morskie 9

This is an early volume in the Profile Morskie series is by series founder Slawomir Brzezinski. The early copies in the series were much larger in physical size than the size currently employed. They do not have separate inserts, as are now used. This title is 32 pages in length plus covers. Of those 11 pages are of drawings of the ship and equipment. The balance is in the form of text in Polish and photographs. The drawings are not as extensive as those found in the new format issues. However, it is still one of the best sources that you can get for assembling the Delphis Raimondo Montecuccoli. Long out of print, you'll have to get it on the used book market.

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Incrociatori Leggeri Classi Raimondo Montecuccoli, Emanuele Filiberto Duca D'Aosta - Orizzonte Mare Immagini A6

Written by Franco Bargoni this volume in the Orizzonte Mare series provides a wealth of photographs on the Montecuccoli Class, 3rd Group of Condottieri and the following Duca D'Aosta Class, 4th Group of Condottieri, which were very similar in appearance to the Montecuccoli Class ships. Except for three pages of text in Italian, the 160 pages contain all photographs of the ships with descriptive labels also in Italian. This volume provides the greatest photographic coverage that you will find on the class. 

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Incrociatori Leggeri Classe Condottieri Gruppo Montecuccoli Parte Seconda - Orizzonte Mare 7/II

This is another volume by Orizzonte Mare. Written by Elio Ando, this title is solely on the two Montecuccoli Class cruisers. The approach is much different than the Immagini A6 volume. Instead of being all photographs, this volume provides the history of the ships in Italian. About half of the 76 pages is text but there are still plenty of excellent photographs, plus two pull out sets of profiles/plans.

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Navi e Marinai Italiani Nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale

This volume by Elio Ando and Erminio Bagnasco covers the entire Regia Marina of World War Two. Hard bound and 391 pages in length, the volume is mostly photographs. Since it covers every warship class, specific photographs of the Montecuccoli Class are much fewer than the Orizzonte Mare volumes on the ships. However, the title contains a beautiful, multi page full color pull out profile of Montecuccoli in the 1942 camouflage scheme. A full review of this title is found at  NaviEMarinaiWW2.htm.

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A large 01 level rises from the main deck. On the forward portion of this deck are another two large coamings with what appears to be a series of three hinged hatches on each fit. Resting atop this is a curved support for the forward edge of the catapult. The catapult mount itself has excellent base plate detail. There are two sets of boat chocks and another three deck access fittings in two different styles from those found on the focísle or main deck. The largest of these is a six-hatch coaming offset to the port edge of the 01 deck. About two thirds of the way towards the rear of this level are two base plates for twin 13.2mm machine guns. These are miniature versions of the base plates for the 100mm base plates with the same nonskid pattern. At the extreme aft of this level rests the third 100mm position. This position is circular and overhangs the main deck. The sides of this 01 level are packed with detail. There are a number of recessed alcoves and prominent overhangs to this structure. Overhanging decks require a significant undercut to achieve and getting this feature correct and clean can be very difficult in a resin casting. Delphis has pulled this off beautifully, as these recessed alcoves are absolutely clean in spite of the very deep undercut. There are a number of fittings along the sides of this level but perhaps the most spectacular are the two found at the forward edge. These appear to be the mine stowage racks. Under the magnification of macro photography, you can actually see the individual mines stored in the racks. There are doors with hinges and dogs and two styles of windows, large rectangular and small square. This level is asymmetrical in that the port side is different from the starboard.

Large Superstructure Parts
The conical forward tower presents a very unusual and attractive feature for the Montecuccoli. I find that this superstructure really adds to the beauty of this ship. Delphis has done a bang up job on this in that the part captures the elegance of the original and yet has plenty of minute detail. The detail includes portholes with swiveling cover plates. The forward searchlight platform is part of the casting as well as the upper platform. Delphis has cast vertical ladders on the tower and you may consider replacing this with photo-etch ladders as they are slightly finer than the cast on ladders.

The stack castings are superb. They are lovely in shape and executed to perfection with one possible exception. The forward stack is substantially larger. There are steam pipes that run up the side of the stack and then flare outwards. There is an attached deck house on the forward face that supports searchlights on each side of the stack. The rear stack has a substantial two level deck house that surrounds most of the base of the stack. Two more base plates for the 13.2mm twin machine gun mounts are found on top of the first level of this structure. These plates have a radial pattern as opposed to the grid pattern of the plates on the 01 level. The upper level to this structure is surmounted by the base plate for a searchlight. There are single steam pipes on either side of the stack but the upper ends were broken at the point that they flared away from the funnel. The sides of the aft deck houses had two types of doors and some ready ammunition lockers for the 13.2mm mounts. Both stacks have excellent aprons on the stack caps and cast on vertical ladders. The only question that I have about the stacks concerns solid partitions leading all the way up to the cap. The Delphis stacks are cast in this manner. Separate uptakes or flues in a stack do have solid partitions separating them but did they run all the way up to the top of the cap in Montecuccoli. I donít know the answer but it may be a moot point since there is no stacking grating or clinker on the photo-etched frets. 


Brass Photo-Etch Fret #1
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There are three large parts for the forward superstructure. At the deck break there is a part that extends the focísle level aft but is much narrower than the focísle deck forward of the break. This part connects the focísle with the cast on 01 level. There are open passageways under the overhanging deck that traverse the width of the deck. There are also two very wide overhangs with support pillars for gun directors. Over this runs a long superstructure level that starts with B barbette and ends with stowage racks for two Meridionali Ro.43 floatplanes. There are a great number of doors on each side of this level. Forward, right behind B barbette is the third level, which serves as the base for the conical tower. This part has some very nice curved splinter shielding, support pillars, ready ammunition lockers, life rings, wonderful waffle doors and port & starboard running lights.

Armament
Delphis has really put a major effort into super-detailing the armament parts of the Raimondo Montecuccoli. The 6-inch turrets are fine but the kudos go to the smaller ordnance. The six-inch mounts have very closely spaced barrels coming from the blast bags cast as part of the turret. The two superfiring turrets have range finder hoods extending beyond the rear upper sides of the turret as well as a small siting hood at the rear roof. These turrets also have a prominent flat apron and cast on vertical ladders. The twin 100mm guns are outstanding castings. The detail of the guns and mounts is some of the most impressive that I have seen in this scale. Breech-blocks, training mechanisms and recoil mechanisms are all executed in minute detail. It is almost a shame that they are inside gunshields. Even with the guns inside the gun houses, a lot of the detail is still visible as they have open backs and wide front openings that extend almost the complete length of the shield. Each gun shield has cast on doors, ladder rungs and hinged cover plates for the top of the position, cast in the open position. The twin 37mm AA guns are just as nice as the 100mm guns. From the flared muzzles to the loading chambers, detail is just piled on these parts. These mounts are completely open, so none of their beauty will be hidden behind shields. The panoply of extraordinary ordnance doesnít end here. Even the twin 13.2mm machine gun mounts are far better than normal. Normally machine guns are part of the photo-etch and are not resin castings. Delphis has really produced one of the best machine gun mounts that you are likely to find anywhere. The two twin tube torpedo mounts also have plenty of detail with operatorís position, fittings and tube doors.

Smaller Parts
The smaller resin parts continue with the detailed treatment of this ship. There are all sorts of deck houses, platforms and fittings. The nicest are the two Meridionali Ro.43 floatplanes. Each has six resin parts as well as some brass detail. The upper wings are cast in two parts as they were gull winged in shape where they joined the forward fuselage. Both the upper and lower wings have ribbed detail where fabric was stretched over the interior frame. The fuselage has a cleanly defined engine cowling, entry doors and even an observerís machine gun. Three more resin parts are the large center float and two small wing floats. Directors, searchlights, signal lamps, carley rafts, shipís boats and cable reels all reflect significant detail. To complete the forest of deck fittings, there are eight runners of bitts, chocks and other fittings. 


Brass Photo-Etch Fret #2
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Brass Photo-Etched Frets
Delphis includes two large brass frets with their Raimondo Montecuccoli. The largest of the two is composed mostly of railing. However, there is still a wide assortment of other lovely detail. Some of this is relief etched. Some of the nicest are the base plates for the four 37mm AA mounts. These mounts are clustered around the tower, so they are in a very visible position. There are a large number of triangular supports with circular voids for saving weight. There are a large number of perforated platforms, which will really add very fine detail to the resin hull and superstructure. Two of the perforated platforms extend beyond the edge of the hull at the wing 100mm mount positions. These platforms with their under deck supports will be another area of standout detail. Other items are block & tackle, shipís boat propellers, inclined ladders, support braces, vertical ladder and anchor chain. Of the brass parts on this fret the anchor chain is probably the weakest part of the fret. Real chain would be the best substitute.

The second fret contains some of the big ticket items. First of all there is the catapult. Montecuccoli had only one catapult mounted centerline amidships. For some reason Delphis provides three catapults on this fret. The catapult is not balanced over the turntable as is USN catapults. The turntable is at the extreme rear of the mount with the forward portion supported by a curved track, which is cast in resin on the hull of the kit. This is another area of significant interest in this model, especially with one of those fine Ro.43ís sitting atop a cradle at the rear. Another oddity is the presence of lattice-work crane arms. As far as I have been able to ascertain, Montecuccoli did not carry this fitting. Apparently the floatplanes were brought aboard by the solid boat boom at the forward edge base of the main mast. Perhaps these additional parts are included because they will be necessary for a succeeding kit. There are six runs of anchor chain, which are of better quality than the runs found on the large fret. Other parts are aircraft propellers, Gufo radar, aircraft cradles, accommodation ladders, supports of different types, platforms, yardarms, and boat chocks. A few of these are also relief-etched. The photo-etch is of good quality but is not quite at the detail level found with WEM or GMM.

Instructions
This is a weak link in this kit. There really is no assembly diagram where parts are shown separately. Instead plans and profiles are used with the location of parts designated by number shown by a line leading to the location on the profile or plan. There will be no problem with the larger parts and Delphis does include several blow-ups of critical areas which will help a lot but I think that some things will be missed by this approach. There are six pages of instructions included but only a few pages deal with parts location. They are not numbered but a short description of each page is as follows. One page has the vital statistics written in Italian. One very large page has a single plan and profile with the location of parts shown by number and line. The large size of the page really helps in spotting exact locations and fit of parts. The next page has two profiles and one plan. One profile and the plan shows the 1940 fit and the other profile shows the 1942 fit. One page has eight blow-ups of detail of different areas of the ship. One page shows the camouflage pattern and lists the formulas for the exact colors using Humbrol paints. The last page shows the smaller resin parts and assigns a number to each one that is used in the plan and profile showing parts location. The major problem with these instructions will deal with the photo-etch, rather than the resin parts. The resin parts are numbered but not the photo-etch. 


Packaging & Instructions
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Verdict
Delphis presents a unique opportunity for the modeler. There are no 1:350 scale models of any Italian light cruiser of any of the five Condottieri groups until now. To top it off Delphis picked one of the most attractive cruiser designs ever built with clean, sleek and graceful lines. For a first effort in 1:350 scale the Italian company has done a remarkable job in producing a very clean hull casting. Although the covered portholes will require some time expenditure to open and place, that process is not overly difficult. The only other significant problem comes in the format of the instructions. The small resin parts, especially the ordnance, are some of the most detailed parts that you will find in 1:350 scale. In the final analysis, Delphis has provided the modeler all of the components for building an extraordinarily beautiful model with their Raimondo Montecuccoli.

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