Gli Incrociatori Italiani
Reviewed by Gene Katz
Having a long-time interest in the Regia Marina (RM, Royal Italian Navy), I jumped at a chance to expand my RM library. Recently, I ordered the volume Esploratori Italiani and was not displeased, and at the same time procured a very comprehensive tome on RM cruisers.
This second book is a Cruiser-Lover’s-Guide-to-the-Italian-Cruisers-Galaxy. Published as the 4th edition in 1976 by the Official History Office of the Italian Navy in Roma, authored by Giorgio Giorgerini and Augusto Nani, "Gli Incrociatori Italiani" is one of an official series of volumes on the RM that covers all aspects of the RM ships, actions, losses, histories, and related facts/figures of interest to RM and other Naval buffs, cruiser fans, ship historians, modelers, and Italo-philes. It is a heavy volume, over 700 pages, weighing in at almost 5 pounds, 8 -1/2 by11 inches, and covered with a black and white dust jacket. The hardback Navy blue cover is imprinted in gold.
Organized into 8 chapters in chronological order, from 1861 to 1975, it traces the cruiser historical timeline (both Italian and other cruisers of the world) from the final days of wooden ships to hybrids, scout cruisers, battle cruisers, armored cruisers, protected cruisers, lights and heavies, anti-aircraft cruisers, and so on up to the missile cruisers of the 1960’s Italian Navy. Even photos and drawings of the ‘30s built and ‘60s converted Garibaldi are shown displaying the tubes intended for launching the never-supplied Polaris missiles. The Kaiser’s Imperial High Seas Fleet and His Majesty’s Grand Fleet are represented, as well as the IJN, and even the USN’s four-pipe cruisers and two-ship Alaska Class Battlecruisers (CB).
Heavy with photos and illustrations, it captures the history and development of this ship type in the Italian language. The photos speak for themselves, since I am limited in my translation of Italian. (Luckily, my wife speaks Italian, so I do have a convenient and fairly reliable source). The illustrations, to me, make the book. Both line drawings and black and white photographs, including those of other world Navies cruisers, are numerous throughout each chapter. Generally, most of the Italian cruisers are represented by photographs, sectional cutaways, diagrams, and cross transverse views, outline drawings, side views, and plan (overhead) views, as well as tabular data and text. Details include things such as angle and thickness of armor, resistance to penetration, gun range if I have translated accurately. There are a lot of revealing photographs which will certainly please the model maker. A few of the really older photos show very early Italian Naval Aviation attempts aboard RM cruisers in the form of tethered observation balloons. They look like early crude versions of shipboard barrage balloons in WW2.
Represented are cruisers of various vintages and countries, including but not limited to, war prizes! However, many of the non-Italian ships are shown in overall photograph only. Even the individual Italian ship mottoes are given, as well as photographs of their beautifully carved, ornate (…that fine Italian flair) wooden chests containing their battle flags for hoisting in combat. Apparently these were donated to the ships, at the time of commissioning, by various cities in Italy.bb
I obtained my copy from Mr. Pirocchi of La Libreria Militare (they have a website, http://www.starfarm.it/libmil/bookshop.htm) in Milano, Italy, paid in Euros, and it arrived here in about 3 and ˝ weeks via sea mail. I did not hesitate to place an order since I successfully ordered from them before. Theoretically, the Italian Navy’s History Office is working/planning on updating and re-publishing each individual volume in the series (as in domani, domani…). You may be able to purchase from that Office directly, as they also have a website in Italian, but IMHO you may have a better chance by contacting one of their official Sales Agents as I did.