Publius Cornelius Scipio is not a household name and yet it is the name of one of the great generals of the Roman Republic . The greatest threat to the Roman Republic came from the North African State of Carthage . In a series of three wars called the Punic Wars, Rome rose from a regional power with no navy to the dominant military and naval power of the Mediterranean . The greatest danger to Rome came in the second Punic War from 218-202 BC. The danger came in the person of the Carthaginian general, Hannibal. Hannibal had built a powerful army in the Carthaginian provinces of Spain and with the advent of war, crossed the Alps into Italy . While marching the length of the Italian Peninsula , Hannibal defeated Roman army after army. Finally Rome chose to wear him down through attrition. Instead of facing his army in pitched battle, Rome attacked his support. Scipio was appointed proconsul of Spain and conquered Carthaginian Spain . Without a source of fresh troops or supplies, the undefeated Hannibal was forced to return to Africa . In 202BC Scipio faced Hannibal in the Battle of Zama. Scipio became the only Roman general to defeat Hannibal in a battle and was given the honorific title of Africanus. It is as Scipio Africanus that he became better known in history.

Mussolini liked to recall the power of the ancient Roman Republic and Empire. He tried to get the Italian people to support his attempts conquer North African countries by calling his efforts the restoration of the Roman Empire . Names of ships were often used as a means to increase Italian pride. The names of Roma and Impero were chosen for the two newest battleships to reflect the past glory of the Roman Empire . There was a series of five classes of early light cruisers called the Condottieri, after Italian generals of the renaissance. The class of destroyers called the Navigatori were named after Italian explorers. For the final class of cruisers laid down just at the start of World War Two, the names of the ships were chosen from the great generals of the Roman Republic and Empire. One of the first ships of the new Capitani Romani to be laid down was the Scipione Africano, which was the Italian form of the Latin Scipio Africanus. 

After the end of World War One the balance of naval rivalries had completely changed. Former enemies were gone and former allies started eyeing each others navies as possible rivals. It varied from country to country. The Japanese Navy and USN quickly started competing with each other, while Great Britain eyed both of those former allies with some concern. In the Mediterranean the competition was between the navies of France and Italy . As a part of the French building program of the 1920s, a series of very large 2,100-ton destroyers were built that were clearly superior to any possessed by the Italian Fleet. In response to this the Regia Marina laid down a series of light cruisers that initially had minimal armor in order to maximize gunpower and speed. Their chief purpose was to run down and destroy the French super destroyers. Collectively called the Condottieri, there were five classes of cruisers included in this catchall title. The first two classes comprising a total of six ships were to all intent, unarmored. However, starting with the third class, Montecuccoli, the concept started incorporating armor with greater emphasis placed on defense with every succeeding class. The fifth class, Abruzzi, had long evolved past the original theory and were in fact balanced light cruiser designs at almost twice the displacement of the original Condottieri.

Plan, Profile & Quarter Views
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However, in the 1930s the cycle started all over again as the French navy built even larger destroyers of the Le Fantasque at 2,600-tons and Mogador at over 2,900-tons. Again the Regia Marina reacted to the new French destroyer designs by resurrecting the original design theory behind the initial Condottieri. However, this time the design was even lighter and faster. As a group they were called the Capitani Romani because they were all named after great Captains of the Roman Republic and Empire. Initially, the Italian navy developed a new category of warship in which to place these ships called Esploratori, or scouts, which were ranked larger than destroyers but smaller than cruisers. Two different classes of ships went into the Esploratori category of ships. One was the Navigatori Class of what were in reality large destroyers and the new Capitani Romani design. Since the new Capitani Romani design were significantly larger ships than the Navigatori Class, they were further distinguished by being called Esploratori Oceanici or ocean scouts. By the late 1930s this intermediate designation disappeared and the Navigatori Class were reclassed as destoyers with the Capitani Romani classed as light cruisers. Indeed they were more accurately called ultra light cruisers.

The Capitani Romani carried the concept of an unarmored, extremely fast cruiser to such outer limits as to make the early Condottieri designs appear balanced in contrast. They were basically very light hulls built around huge power plants. The standard displacement of the ship was 3,686-tons and yet the engines developed 110,000 shp on the two-shaft design. In contrast the last class of Condottieri displaced 9,440-tons standard and at 100,000 shp had 10% less power. The original design called for a 3,400-ton ship with eight 135mm (5.3-inch) guns, six 65mm AA guns, eight 533mm (21.7-inch) torpedoes and one aircraft without a catapult or hangar. It was anticipated that the maximum speed would be 41-knots, even with the provision for minimal protection to vital areas. As the design matured, it was discovered that all of these goals could not be maintained. The design was coming in heavier than planned and the two essential ingredients in the mix that had to be maintained were the firepower and speed. Something had to go. The aircraft, all protection and the 65mm AA guns were jettisoned from the design and the Capitani Romani received eight single 37mm/54 mounts for AA defense. The weight saving measures worked and the three Capitani Romani to be completed all hit 41-knots during trials.

Hull Detail
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The 135mm/54 (5.3-inch) gun was a new 1938 design, which fired a 32.7kg (72 pound) shell. The only other ship class that used this gun was the modernized battleships of the Andrea Doria Class that had them in triple turrets. The maximum range was 19,600m (21,430 yards). With a maximum elevation of 45 degrees they were basically surface weapons with extremely limited AA value. The torpedo mounts were of an unusual design and very distinctive. Instead of the conventional four in line mount, each mount was double storied with two tubes above another two with a total of four reloads available. However, this unusual design was not a success as it suffered frequent breakdowns. For ASW the ship was equipped with a total of 24 100kg depth charges. Additionally, the ships were given mine rails and equipped to carry up to 136 mines. In order to carry the maximum quantity of mines the torpedo tubes and 4th turret could not be used. The maximum mine capacity of the ship with full use of all armament dropped to 52 mines.

Twelve Capitani Romani were laid down with ten in 1939 and two in 1940 but with Italy ís entrance into the war as an ally of Germany , construction slowed to a great degree. Eventually eight of the ships were launched but only three completed. The first three were all laid down on September 23, 1939 and were Ottaviano Augusto (Octavian Augustus, better known as Caesar Augustus), Pompeo Magno (Pompey Magnus or Pompey the Great), and Ulpio Triano (Trajan). Scipione Africano (Scipio Africanus) was not far behind, as she was laid down on September 28, 1939. 

Hull Detail
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The Scipione Africano was launched January 12, 1941 and completed on April 23, 1943. She was the second of the class to be completed, almost a year after Attilio Regolo in May 1942. After completion the Africano spent a short amount of time at La Spezia and Genoa . When the allies invaded Sicily , she was ordered south. She set sail on July 15, 1943 and on July 17 encountered four British Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) in the Straits of Messina. In a night action she sank MTB 316 and damaged another one without damage to herself. The next day she pulled safely into Taranto . Between August 4 to 17, Africano was engaged in laying mines off Calabria and Taranto . With the surrender of Italy Africano went to Pescara to pick up the governmentís leader, Marshall Badoglio and then escorted the corvette Baionetta with the Italian King aboard to Brindisi . After accomplishing this mission, she took Badoglio to Malta for the formal surrender ceremony.

After Italy joined the allies as a co-belligerent, Scipione Africano was assigned to the 7th Squadron and was used for transport missions and training. The cruiser stayed with the Italian navy after the war ended, at least until the final division of the Italian ships occurred. With five years under the Italian flag, on August 9, 1948 Scipione Africano sailed for Toulon after being ceded to the French navy. She was originally renamed S7 on August 15 and then renamed Guichen. The cruiser had a far longer service history under the French flag than under Italian one. Modernized more than once, she was placed in reserve on April 1, 1961. She stayed in that condition until June 1, 1976, when she was condemned and renamed Q554. Still it was not until the end of the decade that she was finally broken up. (History from Capitani Romani in two parts by Elio Ando in WarshipVolume II, 1978 ; Cruisers of World War Two, An International Encyclopedia, 1995, by M.J. Whitley)  

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The Niko Model Scipione Africano
Although the Niko Model Scipione Africano is one of their first models, it displays a very good level of detail. The lower edge of the hull displays a slight remnant of the casting sheet but light sanding should remove this. As the original ships featured very smooth sides, you wonít find a huge number of details on the hull sides. The model captures the slight knuckle formed where the forecastle joins the superstructure, whose sides were flush with the hull sides. There are very nice anchor hawse at the bow and support detail underneath the six 37mm platforms that overhang the hull at the 01 level of the forward superstructure. Porthole locations are shown but only faintly, as there is no depth to them. I recommend using a pin vice to drill out these portholes, otherwise they could be lost in painting. The sides forward superstructure, around B gun position and the two aft superstructure feature a good level of detail with raised hatches, a series of small square raised windows. The portholes are faint and need to be drilled as the ones on the hull sides.

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As with most models it is on the decks of the hull casting that detail dominates. There is a very high quantity of small, fine detail on the short forecastle. None of this detail is overstated. The chocks at the sides of the forecastle are extraordinary thin and fine and it is amazing that they were not broken in transit. However, there was some breakage because of the very fine and delicate casting of the hull. The breakwater has support gussets on the forward and rear faces and these are exemplary in their thinness. Although the forecastle has standard bollards, there are some features that are unusual. At deck edge abreast of the A gun position are fittings that appear to be single post bollards with a horizontal cross bar. I assume these are a variant of the bollard as they appear ideal for securing cable but I had not run across them before. It appears that larger versions of these appear between the anchor windlasses and deck hoods for the chain locker. The windlasses are small but feature the correct hourglass profile despite their small size. There are plenty of other very small deck fittings and detail, some of which are apparently ventilators. There is no wooden planking deck detail as all decks were metal.  

Masts, Platforms & Fittings
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Running to the rear and outward from B barbette are solid splinter shields for the forward edge of the superstructure. These bulkheads are so finely cast and thin, that they are translucent when put up to the light. Also found at the 01 deck level of the forward superstructure are small lockers and three cable reels. The reels are adequate but are not particularly crisp. The rear face of the forward superstructure has two medium lockers and recessed openings, which appear to be access points for mine storage. The 01 deck level for the amidship deckhouse has a detailed skylight fitting. There is one overhanging gun position on the starboard rear side of this deckhouse. This position has thin solid splinter shielding, support ribs under the platform and a small ammunition locker. The instructions show that this same position should also appear on the port side but the port position was not there. I checked the plan found in Profile Morskie #43 on the Scipione Africano and it confirmed that a port position was present. There was no sign that a position had been there and broke off as there were absolutely no remnants of a break and I could not find a broken platform in the small parts. Since the instructions show the platform, it is my guess that this platform may have become dislodged when the hull casting was removed from the mold. The bottom of the starboard platform is translucent, so it is very delicate. Other detail on this deck are a ventilator and three more cable reels. Oddly, these reels seem to have more detail than the ones on the forward 01 deck and are more defined and delicate. Two more of these reels are found on the deck of the small aft deckhouse.

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Scipione Africano - Profile Morskie 43

This title in the series is devoted strictly to the Scipione Africano. It follows the standard format established by this Polish company and is very strong in the quantity of line drawings provided in 1:200 and 1:400 scales. Most of the superstructure, armament and fittings are featured in larger scale drawings. Another pus is a 1:400 scale full color plan and profile of the ship that is included in the volume. This volume will help you super detail the Niko kit. This volume runs 32 pages in length, plus covers, and includes three separate fold out plates. Text is in Polish.


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The quarterdeck is very long, as it runs 60% of the length of the ship. The deck detail is dominated by the mine laying tracks, which run down each side of the deck for the entire length. They have a crossover with turntables just aft of Y gun position and sweep outwards over the side just forward of depth charge positions cast on the hull. Also running along each side of the quarterdeck are a quantity of twin standard bollards and the single post cross shape bollards. A few of these positions were broken. On centerline are the base plates for the two torpedo mounts. Small circular deck access hatches are also found adjacent to these positions. The position of the aft hatch is at variance with the plans in the PM#41 monograph. The reference shows this deck hatch on the port forward quarter, while the model has the hatch on the port aft quarter. This is almost insignificant and if this bothers you, the location can be easily changed by sanding the existing hatch and by adding a very thin slice of the appropriately sized plastic rod. There is a small cluster of detail between the two aft barbettes. Two positions shown as skylights in PM#43 could have been better defined on the model but in the large cluster of deck fittings at the end of the quarterdeck, the detail is very crisp. These details include deck hatches, bollards and other assorted fittings. At the extreme stern are two short depth charge racks with cleanly defined individual depth charges and a smoke generator in a centerline position. 

Smaller Resin Parts
The forward superstructure goes together like a wedding cake, one layer after the other. The different layers of resin superstructure levels have good detail. The 02 level has very finely done ventilation louvers, large ventilator cowls, and doors. To give some depth the port holes have to be drilled, as is true with the port holes on the hull casting. There is a very thin layer of casting film on the bottom that needs to be sanded off before fitting this level to the hull. There is a possible pitfall for the builder with this level. The hull casting has no locator markings on the deck, so you will have to position it carefully. The rear face of this level is flush with the rear face of the bulkhead where the quarterdeck starts. Make sure that you donít place it flush with the tab on which the flying deck over the first torpedo mount rests. This tab is set slightly lower than the deck edge so that should not present a problem. However, use white glue to give yourself time to get the level on centerline. With no marking lines, it is easy to make a mistake and have this level slightly to port or starboard. Although there are no level outlines on any deck piece, other levels are easier to place since they are smaller and more easily aligned with the level below.

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Orizzonte Mare - Immagini A8 - Incrociatori Leggeri Classi Capitani Romani & Etna

The Immagini series deals with photographs (images) of the subject matter. With this volume it is almost all of the ships of the Capitani Romani, including of course Scipione Africano. Of the 128 pages of this reference, 112 pages have coverage of the cruisers of the Capitani Romani, as neither of the two cruisers of the Etna class were completed. This is by far the most comprehensive photographic coverage available for these light cruisers. Text is in Italian. 


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The next level is the navigation bridge. You canít miss it since it has the prominent square windows in the bridge face. Detail on this level is excellent. In addition to the windows on the front face, youíll find assorted doors and square windows on the side bulkheads. The splinter shielding for this level is very thin and realistic. As with every level, sand off the slight resin film on the bottom of the casting. Fit should be no problem as the flat bridge face is flush with the flat front face of the 02 level. However, to give you time to make minor adjustments in fitting the piece, I still recommend the use of white glue. The next level up serves as the base for the forward director. The top of the splinter shied on the front face has wind baffles clearly defined. The front face of this level should be flush with the front face of the navigation bridge level below. Then comes the upper three pieces of the forward superstructure capped by the director. Look at the profile included in the instructions to see how they appear from the side. The forward stack is the smaller of the two. There is a good level of detail on this piece with forward and aft steam pipes, vertical ladders ending in small platforms on the sides, and a nice base for the funnel cap. The stack has the clinker screen cast as part of the piece. Fitting the forward stack should be no problem as it simply slides flush with the two large ventilators cast as part of the 02 level. Just slide it to the rear until it is flush and make sure it is on centerline. The foremast is a tripod of resin. It is very well done and cast on resin film. It is very thin and delicate, so use caution and patience when removing it from the thin film.

Over each torpedo position the ship has flying boat decks. The longer of these two platforms covers the forward torpedo mount. It fit perfectly on the tab of the rear face of the superstructure and on crane base of the hull casting and on the supporting legs at the rear end of the platform. The crane itself is a let down as the two pieces that form it are in resin. The gaps between the structural members, which should be open, are closed with resin film. Although it is possible to open these up with a hobby knife, the open ironwork crane should have been part of the photo-etch fret. Resin can never match photo-etch when it comes to portraying lattice designs. The aft stack is a really excellent piece. The piece has the stack house at the bottom with ventilation louvers and search light towers on the sides. In addition to the steam pipes and vertical ladders found on the forward stack, there are minute sirens on each side of the forward face of the stack. This stack is very busy as there are four platforms that attach to it. The side searchlight platforms and forward and aft AA platforms for the quad 20mm mounts.. The AA platforms are different in that the forward platform has a more U shape that will be flush with the forward face of the stack, while the aft AA platform has a sharp V shape that fits flush with the more angular rear face of the stack. Each platform has two separate support pedestals with nice detail. Again, there are no locating lines on the hull piece, so youíll have to gage the right spot for placement of the aft stack. However, this stack is placed between the two cable reels on hull casting to the rear and a skylight fitting to the port forward face. Just make sure the stack is on centerline and that there is equidistant space between the stack and the reels aft and the stack and the skylight forward. At the end of amidship deckhouse there is a small aft director tower. Although the piece is rather small, it is packed with detail in that is covered with ventilation louvers.        

Niko Scipione Africano with Dry-Fitted Major Parts
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The castings for the various pieces of armament are some of the highpoints of this kit. The main turrets have fine detail such as the lines of the facets of the crown, sighting doors at the front, access door at the rear and extra front and side detail. The separate gun barrels have blast bags as part of the castings. The odd over and under torpedo mounts are crisp and well done in spite of their small size. The single mount 37mm guns are outstanding in the fineness of the castings. There are four quad 20mm mounts that are in the AA platforms forward and aft of the second stack. The barrels are exquisitely thin and I frankly donít know how Niko did that.

There are many other small resin parts to this kit. Shipís boats for the forward flying deck and cable reels for the aft flying deck. Two ventilators are attached to the aft flying deck where it rests atop the aft deckhouse. There are a number of crisp carley floats that will be painted in the lively yellow and red scheme used by the Regia Marina for these fittings. In addition to the boats atop the flying deck, there are two additional boat positions on the sides of the amidship deckhouse. These are for the larger shipís boats. The boat racks are in resin and are not bad but would have been better in photo-etch. Other fine small detail includes the searchlights, paravanes, binocular pillars, binnacle and other fittings. As a summation for the resin parts, the resin fittings generally are exceptional, especially the armament; the boat racks and especially the crane should have been done in photo-etch; and some fittings on the hull casting could have had more definition. 

Brass Photo-Etch, Decals & Camouflage Template
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Brass Photo-Etch Fret, Decals and Camouflage Masking
The Niko Model
Scipione Africano comes with a small brass photo-etch fret. You can tell that this kit is one of the first from Niko in that the parts mix on the fret are quite modest. Contained on the fret are life rings, anchor chain, vertical ladder and inclined ladder. Since the provided runs of inclined ladder do not have handrails, I would substitute another partyís photo-etch inclined ladders with handrails for these parts. With their later kits, Niko has greatly expanded the type of parts that they include on the photo-etch fret. My one great regret about this model is that the crane was not in photo-etch, as you probably know by now.

Niko Scipione Africano with Dry-Fitted Major Parts
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Niko includes a nice decal sheet. The decals include: ensigns, straight out and furled; jacks, straight out and furled; masthead pennant and nameplates for all three members of the class to be completed during the war. One unusual and very thoughtful feature provided by Niko is a masking layer for the hull to allow the accurate painting of the camouflage scheme on the hull. Normal procedure is to paint lighter colors first. Since the hull camouflage consists of a very light gray and a very dark gray, you probably be better placed to paint the entire hull light gray before applying the camouflage mask. After all of the masking strips are in place, remove those that cover areas to be in dark gray. This will leave the light gray areas covered and should give you the exact camouflage pattern after you spray the dark gray, allow to dry and remove the remainder of the mask. Of course this is easier said than done, as the mask has to be transferred to the hull, piece by piece, starting from the bow or stern on each side. Also, the mask only covers the hull so the painting of superstructure, turrets and funnels still needs to be done by hand or with your own masking. No railings are included, so youíll need 3rd party (or is it 2nd party) offerings if you wish to add these.

Box & Instructions
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The instructions come on two pages. One page is back-printed. One side has good line drawings in 1:700 scale of the starboard profile and deck plan. These drawings will have to be used in the assembly of the kit, since they more accurately show placement of structural features and fittings than the actual assembly diagrams. Use the assembly diagrams/photos for the general area of placement but use the profile and especially plan drawings to finalize specific locations of the fittings. If you can find a copy of Scipione Africano, Profile Morskie 43, get it. The drawings included in this reference show you all the detail you need not just to assemble the model but to add further detail. However, you donít need to have a copy to correctly assemble the model, as long as you consult the plan and profile, you should have no problem. The second side of this sheet has a gray tone plan and profile for the camouflage scheme. All colors are identified by Humbrol number only. The sides are Humbrol 196 and 67, which I assume are light and dark gray respectively. The forecastle in front of the breakwater are Humbrol 34 and 60, which has to be white and red for the aerial recognition barber pole design. All of the decks behind the breakwater are in Humbrol 145, which has to be a mid gray. The second sheet contains the assembly diagrams. These diagrams are actually a series of photographs. The main diagram shows the hull and completed sub assemblies, while there are 13 insets that show attachment of the parts of the subassemblies. This could have been simplified as two of the attachments show single 37mm pieces and two other simply show attachment of the gun barrels to the turrets. Although the subassemblies are not numbered, the sequence of assembly should be logical. You can proceed in any order but obviously youíll have to have the forward superstructure subassembly in place before attaching the forward director subassembly. It is critical that you use the provided plan for placement of shipís boats, cable reels and some of the other fittings to ensure accurate placement.

Photographs of Finished Model from Niko Model Web Site
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The Niko Model
Scipione Africano is a notable model. As their first cruiser size model and first non-Polish subject, Niko pressed the envelope in their model casting skills. Some of the parts, such as the AA guns are superb and easily match or exceed in detail the offerings of other resin companies. However, some parts done in resin, such as the boat racks and crane, should have been done in photo-etch. There are possible pitfalls in assembly for the unwary because of the lack of locator lines on the decks of the hull casting. However, with examination of the plan provided and use of slow drying glue to allow for minor adjustments, most modelers should be easily able to assemble this striking replica.