The Italian Turbine Class Destroyers were slightly larger versions of the Sella Class Destroyers of 1922-1923. All eight ships in the class were laid down in 1925. They proved very fast on trials, with RN Turbine attaining 39 ½ knots. There were no significant modifications prior to Italy’s entrance into World War Two. Prior to the war the ships of the class saw action during the Spanish Civil War during 1937.

"Previously the old destroyer Ostro had torpedoed and sunk a Republican merchant ship off Bizerta on the evening of 13 August. She then joined up with her sister-ship the Turbine and both were successful, torpedoing and sinking a Soviet freighter off Algeria on the 30th." The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943, p. 23 by Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani

VITAL STATISTICS OF RN TURBINE

LAID DOWN: March 24, 1925; LAUNCHED: April 21, 1927; COMMISSIONED: August 27, 1927; FATE: Seized by German Army September 1943; served in Kriegsmarine as TA14; SUNK: September 16, 1944 by USAAF

DIMENSIONS: Length- 305 ft 9 in; (93.2m)(oa); 299 ft 6 in (91.3m)(pp); Beam- 30 ft 2 in (9.2m); Draught- 9 ft 10 in (3m)(mean); DISPLACEMENT: 1,070 – 1,090 tons (std); 1,670-1,700 tons (fl)

ARMAMENT (1940)- four 4.7 in (2x2); two 40mm/39cal (M1917 Vickers-Terni); two 13.2 MG; six 21 in torpedo tubes (2x3); 52 mines; COMPLEMENT: 179

MACHINERY: three Express Boilers; two shaft Parsons geared turbines: 40,000 shp; 36 knots (Turbine made 39.5 knots on trials; Range- 3,200 nm at 14 knots

SISTERSHIPS : Aquilone (AL), Borea (BR), Espero (ES), Euro (ER), Nembo (NB), Ostro (OT), Turbine (TB), Zeffiro (ZF)

 

When Italy declared war against Britain and France, all eight ships were based in Tobruk in Italian Libya. They formed first and second destroyer squadrons. Initially they were tasked to lay mines but also shelled British forces at Sollum, Egypt. On June 16, 1940 Turbine sank the British submarine, HMS Orpheus off Tobruk. They then began to conduct supply runs from Taranto to Tobruk, which proved to be their most common operational employment during the war. These missions were very similar in concept to those conducted by Japanese destroyers during the Guadacanal campaign, pressed into duty as high-speed transports. Within the first three months of the war six of the eight sisterships had been sunk by the Royal and Australian Navies. In the first major clash between the British and Italian navies, on June 28, 1940 Espero, Ostro, & Zeffiro were intercepted near Cape Matapan by HMS Liverpool, Gloucester, Orion, Manchester & HMAS Sydney. The Italian ships were loaded with military cargo, including two units of Blackshirt (Fascist Party) artillery. Because of the cargo, the destroyers couldn’t fire torpedoes. Also, because of the weight of cargo and age of the destroyers, the five Commonwealth cruisers gradually overhauled the three Italians. Sydney sank Espero during a rear guard action that allowed the other two destroyers to escape the overwhelming Commonwealth force. 

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"In this situation the squadrilla commander (Captain Baroni) decided to sacrifice his ship in order to save the other two, and he continued to fight on alone in order to cover the maneuvers of the other destroyers, which he had ordered to break off contact. The unequal struggle lasted for about two hours. British marksmanship was not very accurate, and the Espero was not hit until the fifteenth salvo. On the Italian destroyer the crew continued to fire courageously as long as their guns could be manned. Captain Baroni saluted his men while the ship was sinking, and went down with her voluntarily. The sacrifice of the Espero saved the other two destroyers, which were able to reach the African shore undamaged." The Italian Navy in World War II, p. 20, by Commander Marc’ Antonio Bragadin.

The cruisers fired almost 5,000 rounds during the engagement. The only damage to the cruisers was a single hit on Liverpool’s belt and blast damage from their own guns.

The aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm claimed the other five lost in these first three months. July 5, 1940 Zeffiro was sunk in Tobruk harbor by Swordfish from HMS Eagle. During this same attack Euro had her bows blown off and was beached to prevent her from sinking. She was later towed to Taranto and repaired. On July 20, 1940 the Swordfish from Eagle caught Nembo & Ostro in the Gulf of Bomba, near Tobruk, and sank them both with torpedoes. On September 17, 1940 the aircraft of HMS Illustrious claimed two more of the sisters, when Aquilone & Borea were caught in Benghazi harbor. Aquilone hit an air dropped mine and Borea succumbed to bombs. 

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Because the six were lost so quickly, it is unlikely that they received any modifications before their loss. However, Euro & Turbine did receive upgraded AA fits as the war progressed. Initially the 1917 model 40mm guns were landed and they received modern 20mm designs. Turbine landed her aft torpedo mount in order to add a gallery for two 37mm guns. The surviving two ships continued their missions as and with supply convoys for the rest of 1940 and all of 1941. Euro was one of the few ships to escape the destruction of the "Duisburg" supply convoy by the British cruisers of Force K. The British force, aware of the location of the convoy, raced out of Malta after sundown to make the interception. On November 9, 1941 at 0100 using radar, Aurora, Penelope, Lively & Lance closed to very short range before executing the pre-planned attack in which the British ships already had targets assigned before making contact. The convoy was caught flat-footed and massacred, losing all seven merchant ships and two destroyers, with another two seriously damaged. 

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"The Euro, commanded by Cigala Fulgosi, previously mentioned as the commander of Sagittario at Crete, got within 2,000 meters of the enemy ships without being damaged. Then, however, the silhouettes of two cruisers were sighted in the darkness, and it was thought that they might be the Italian cruisers Trieste and the Trento, which should have been about in that area. This suspicion was strengthened by the fact that they were not firing on the Euro and by the further fact that the squadrilla leader, the Maestrale, was sending out orders to the destroyers to collect on the left of the convoy – that is, to cross over to its other side. The result was that at the very last moment Cigala canceled his order to launch torpedoes. A minute later the British brought the Euro under heavy fire, but the destroyer was no longer in a torpedo-launching position. The Euro was hit by six shells, but, because of the short range, they passed right through the ship without exploding, although they killed about a score of men." The Italian Navy in World War II, at p 133-134, by Commander Marc’ Antonio Bragadin.

When Italy signed the armistice, these last two of the class went down separate paths. Euro escaped the Germans and joined the allied naval forces. As a member of the allied force, she operated in the Eastern Mediterranean until October 1, 1943, when she was sunk in Leros harbor by Stuka dive-bombers. Turbine was seized by the German Army on September 9, 1943 at Piraeus, where she was based. The Kriegsmarine pressed her into German service as torpedo boat TA14. In German service more 20mm guns were added and she became part of the 9th Torpedo-boat Flotilla operating in the Aegean Sea. She was involved in the occupation of Rhodes in fall 1943 and then resumed convoy escort duties. During one such mission, she was hit by aircraft rockets on February 1, 1944 but made port safely. Under repair at Salamis until May 1944, when she went back to her escort duties. She was not on duty long, when again she was damaged. On June 19, 1944 at Porto Lago, her bow was flooded as a result of an explosion, thought to be sabotage. She was again taken to Salamis for repairs but before they were completed, the name ship and last surviving member of the Turbine Class destroyers was sunk by an USAAF air strike on September 16, 1944. (Most of this history is from Destroyers of World War Two, by M. J. Whitley, The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943, by Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani, and The Italian Navy in World War II by Commander Marc’ Antonio Bragadin.) 

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RESIN CASTING
The Regia Marina model of R.N. Turbine is not large, even by destroyer standards. The hull measures slightly over 5 ¼ inches in length. As is the case with other models from Regia Marina, there are short remnants of the resin pour plugs on the bottom of the hull. These were easily removed and sanded flat within a matter of minutes. The hull of Turbine matches the excellent characteristics of the other kits from this company. The funnels, 01 level of the forward superstructure and all of the deck fittings are cast integral to the hull. Among the other intricate details are a very delicate and clean breakwater on the forecastle, beautifully done funnels with strengthening bands and ladders, smoke dispensers on the fantail, very well shaped capstans and some very small and delicate ventilator cowls on the forecastle. Be careful with handling the hull in this area. Due to their small size and fineness of casting, they can be easy to break.

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The smaller castings also live up to the reputation that Regia Marina has earned in the production of high quality resin kits. A number of the smaller parts deserve special mention for the quality of their casting. The mounts for the twin 4.7-inch main guns are not just solid lumps of resin. They are hollow to reflect the gun crew positions, behind and underneath the gun shields. All of the other gun mounts are very detailed, with the mount being resin and the guns being photo-etch or turned metal barrels. Two exceptions to this are the two twin 20mm mounts, which are from the PE fret and the three Model 1917 40mm guns, which are one piece resin castings. The amidships, oval gun tub and the two smaller round wing gun tubs are molded with entrance openings. All you have to do is run a PE ladder to the opening to add some extra detail. The torpedo mounts are very nicely done, exhibiting a great amount of fine detail on these one-piece castings. The only things that you really need to add are the masts. Regia Marina gives a template for these as well as their lengths, 20mm for the foremast and 30mm for the mainmast. Yardarms on both masts are 7mm in length. Since they are simple pole masts, I just cut these lengths from .02 diameter Evergreen plastic rod. 

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To me the most striking feature of this kit was the inclusion of all of the AA fits that the ships of this class acquired from 1927 until 1944. It is possible to build any fit that any one of these ships had during this period. The first thing that you must decide is which ship and which year fit you wish to build. From 1927 until 1939 the ships had the two twin 4.7-inch mounts and three Model 1917 40mm guns, one in each wing tub and one on the stern. In 1939 the stern 40mm was landed and two twin 13.2 mm machine guns were added, one in place of the 40mm mount and one in the centerline tub. In 1942 the two survivors, Turbine & Euro, replaced the 40mm in the wing tubs with twin 20mm mounts. In 1943 Turbine landed her aft torpedo mount and added a gallery for two 37mm guns. Regia Marina provides all of the guns, mountings and fittings to replicate any one of these versions. Some directors and superstructure details also changed with the different fits and model comes with these optional parts as well. 

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PHOTO-ETCH
Regia Marina provides photo-etched, stainless steel pieces for the 13.2 in MG, 20mm, and 37 mm guns, as well as a bridge AA director. This kit also comes with machined aluminum barrels for the 4.7-inch guns. This is the first time that I have seen a manufacturer provide this feature in a destroyer-sized model. All of the PE AA guns are expertly produced and provide great detail on the finished model. The only thing that you have to add are six inclined ladders (two from the forecastle to the bridge, two from the main deck to the forecastle and two from the main deck to the aft superstructure), ladders to the three gun tubs, and railing. Due to the modest size of the model and the limited amount of extra PE needed, this kit provides an excellent opportunity for your first try at adding photo-etch to a model. For the additional photo-etch, I used Tom’s two bar rail, inclined ladders and ladders.

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INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions comprise two pages. They are written in Italian, except for the color guide, which is in Italian and English. The first sheet is back-printed. The front side has the ships’ names with their pendant letters, statistical data and history. The back page finishes the history and also has a parts matrix, which describes each part, according to its alphanumeric designation. As is found with other Regia Marina kits, each parts runner labels each part with an alphanumeric designator. The instructions use this designator, rather than a drawing of the part, to show parts placement locations on the model. This page also has a color guide, keyed to a plan and profile drawing. This drawing shows the color scheme of the ships in 1940 with the distinctive "barber pole" forecastle, used for identification by aircraft. All colors are given with a Humbrol color number. The second page contains the assembly drawing and the port and starboard camouflage designs for Turbine 1942 (the fit and design that I modeled), Turbine in 1943, and Euro from 1943-1944. These camouflage profiles are also keyed to the Humbrol color guide. This page also has drawings that show detail specific to Euro in 1942 (Carley floats on the sides of both stacks) and the templates for the masts.

It is important that you study the assembly drawing first. In some instances, mostly AA mounts, more than one part is shown at a location. The part that is used depends upon the ship and fit that you wish to build. With these optional parts Regia Marina provides a key that has the part designator, a drawing of the optional part and the ship or ships that mounted the specific part. Everything is very logically laid out, once you understand how it is presented. 

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VERDICT
Regia Marina has again produced an excellent model warship. With the exception of some generic photo-etch for railings, ladders and inclined ladders, they have provided everything necessary to build a little gem of a model. This model is of one of the more obscure designs, an old Italian destroyer class that did not have the sleek race car appearance of the Italian destroyers of the 1930s. However, as I read about the individual exploits of the ships of the Turbine class and especially the skill and heroism of Captain Baroni aboard the Espero, I realized that this model ship is the perfect representative to reflect the courage of the officers and crews of the smaller Italian warships in World War Two.
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