From time to time navies will develop a design and fall in love with it. In spite of deficiencies or short-comings, they keep coming back to the same design theory. In the United States in the 19th Century the USN and American public fell in love with the Monitor design. It didnít matter that at best, the design was very limited. It didnít matter that at best, the were coastal and more accurately harbor defense ships. The Monitors were still seen as miracle weapons that were comparatively inexpensive. Accordingly, money kept being expended for the upkeep of the rusting hulks of the Civil War and four new classes of monitors were designed and built as at the end of the century, all of which were money pits of very limited value. Well, the USN has not been the only navy to fall into this pattern, as most navies have experienced similar events at some point in time.
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 catch-all 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.
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 Attilio Regolo also received four twin 20mm/70 AA guns clustered around the aft funnel. The weight saving measures worked and the three Capitani Romani to be completed all hit 41-knots during trials.
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 Italyís 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). Attilio Regolo (Regulus) was not far behind, as she was laid down at Livorno on September 28, 1939.
Attilio Regolowas clearly on the fast track as it took only 11 months until she was launched. Launched on August 28, 1940, she was the only one of the class to be launched in 1940. Attilio Regolo also beat the rest of the Capitani Romani to completion. On May 14, 1942 at the height of the Mediterranean campaign, Attilio Regolo was commissioned but did not join the Regia Marina until September 8, 1942. Attilio Regolo was completed with a pole foremast but was given a light tripod when she was fitted with the Gufo radar set. Originally because of her high speed, Attilio Regolo was assigned as part of a destroyer force. On November 7, 1942 Attilio Regolo was at the port of Palermo in Sicily when she received orders to lay down a mine field south of the island. She left as flagship of Rear Admiral Gasparri, with six destroyers on this mission and on the way back to port was attacked by the British submarine HMS Unruffled. The torpedo blew off the bow all the way to the first turret. Another submarine, the HMS United, also made an attack but luckily for the cruiser missed. Attilio Regolo made it back to Palermo on November 9, 1942 and went in for repair for the next half a year. After receiving a new bow, she was assigned to the 8th Cruiser Division in mid 1943. In September 1943 when the Italian fleet was in route to Malta after the Armistice between Italy and the allies, the battleship Roma was sunk by German guided missiles. Attilio Regolo was on hand to rescue survivors. With the loss of Roma and apparently the target of everyone in sight, Attilio Regolo and some destroyers sailed for the neutral Spanish Port Mahon in the Balearic Islands, where they were interned. On January 19, 1945 Attilio Regolo was allowed to leave and after a stop in Algiers, she eventually joined the 7th Cruiser Division at Taranto. In the few months remaining before the end of the war, she carried out three nondescript missions and with the conclusion of hostilities was laid up at La Spezia. After the war Attilio Regolo was awarded to France and arrived in Toulon on August 1, 1948 as the R4. She was renamed to Chateaurenault and was active in French service until September 13, 1962 when she was converted into a naval school. A few years later she was scrapped. (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)
Regia MarinaAttilio Regolo
Capitani Romani by Elio Ando
Warship Volume II contains a two part article on the Capitani Romani Class ultra light Italian cruisers. Written by Elio Ando, a recognized expert in the field of Italian warship designs, the first part provides a detailed design and construction history of the class. The second part provides for the operational history of all the ships in the class.
The bow has a slight knuckle that runs from the anchor positions to the #2 gun barbette, which was duplicated on the model. To check the shape of the hull, superstructure and about everything else, I used to sources. One was the plan and profile by Elio Ando contained in his two-part study of the Capitani Romani found in Warship Volume II. The other source was Profile Morskie 43: Scipione Africano. In a comparison of the hull sides of the Attilio Regolo model with the two sources, I noticed two small discrepancies. One was the lower cutwater of the bow. Both profiles, as well as the text by Elio Ando, indicated that the lower cutwater was almost vertical, before angling forward at the knuckle. The lower cutwater on the kit angles slightly forward rather than vertical. This aspect in the kit can be adjusted by a careful swipe of the sanding pad. The other discrepancy the upper row of portholes on the bow. There are two rows of portholes at the bow and one row at the stern. The upper row at the bow has a small break in the horizontal line. At the bow the row starts above the knuckle and after about eight portholes, the row has a break and continues below the knuckle. On the model the break was present but the row still continued above the knuckle. It is a very small point but it is there.
On the hull casting superstructure you start finding all of the detail. This design is flush deck but the 01 deck level actually mergers with the hull sides presenting a smooth hull all the way to the top of the 01 deck. Regia Marina has captured the three platforms on each side at the top of the hull. These platforms are for the forward 37mm AA guns. They are very thin and prototypical. As the bulkheads of the 01 deck angle in forward from the hull sides, they end forward of #2 gun barbette. Although the length of these bulkheads is short Regia Marina the detail is crammed along their sides with a series of doors and small fittings. With the forward 02 deck forward, the same treatment is continued with doors and paravanes. Both stacks are part of the hull, except for the caps. With the fore stack large ventilators curl up on either side. References indicate that their openings facing outward about 30 degrees left and right of centerline. On the kit they face more forward than angled outward. The forward stack also has the vertical ladders and steam pipes cast as part of the casting.
The aft stack has a two level structure surrounding it and this also is cast as part of the hull piece. This area really jumps with detail. There are six gun tubs, two for single 37mm and four for twin 20mm guns. All of them have nicely thin splinter shields. Several platforms overhang the main deck and are done with good clean undercuts. Support pillars for the 20mm tubs, searchlight towers, small ventilators and of course doors add to the complexity of the casting at this location. As with the forward stack the aft one has steam pipes and vertical ladder as part of the casting.
The deck has detail cast on from bow to stern. First of all, these designs had steel decks, so you wonít find wooden decking, since they werenít there on the original. At the tip of the bow there is a close packed area of detail of various plates, bollards and fittings. Further back you find the capstans and anchor chain runs. The anchor chains are very well done on the resin hull and present a true three-dimensional aspect, which I personally prefer to more two-dimensional photo-etch. The curved breakwater is very thin and crisp with equally well-done support gussets. The main deck aft of the forward stack is dominated by mine rails, which run over half the length of the ship. They resemble railroad tracks but match both sets of plans. One small point on this is that the mine rails actually extend slightly beyond the hull sides at their discharge points at the stern. On the quarterdeck the business of the focísle fittings is duplicated. At the very stern are two short depth charge racks as part as the resin casting. The 01 level deck detail includes four cable or hose reels. Hull clean up will be required on the bottom of the hull casting, as there are a series of short resin casting plugs that will need to be removed.
Smaller Resin Parts
The reverse side has a fairly large isometric assembly drawing, parts list, and six separate camouflage patterns with port and starboard patterns. The assembly diagram appears to be the one published in the initial release that had no photo-etch. Accordingly there are a few disconnects for photo-etch parts. To avoid this Regia Marina has numbered the photo-etch parts with the same number of the previous resin part they replaced. Some photo-etch parts are missing from the instructions. The location for some parts, such as the stack grates are obvious. However, the Gufo radars are not shown on the assembly diagram or plan and profile. They are found on the foretop mast, one Gufo above the other Gufo, right above the foretop platform. The assembly drawing is somewhat generalized with no exact parts attachment locations shown. So to obtain the proper attachment location, you will really have to consult the provided plan and profile in the instructions.
The separate small supplementary sheet provides three photographs. One shows all of the smaller resin parts with the parts being numbered in accordance with the numbers of the parts on the assembly drawing. The second photograph numbers each photo-etch part. The third is actually a profile drawing of the 37mm AA gun, which can be made from photo-etch alone or photo-etch barrel and mechanism with resin mount. The resin/photo-etch combination will obviously provide a much greater three-dimensional appearance. All text on this sheet is in Italian with some additional text in English for colors and lists parts and paints needed with Humbrol number, to finish the model.