Between 1913 and 1919 four classes of Italian Destroyers were laid down that were almost identical in size, displacement and appearance. The four classes; Pilo of 1913, La Masa of 1916, Sirtori of 1916 and Generali (Cantore) of 1919 all had three stacks, and displaced between 615 to 709 standard. All had a beam of 24 feet one inch and all were 241 feet long (oa), except those of the Pilo class, which were 239 feet long. The real differences came from different armament and fittings among the classes. All four classes were reclassified as torpedo boats on October 1, 1929.
The Pilo Class was the oldest with all being laid down in 1913, except for Giuseppe Missori, which was laid down in January 1914. Originally mounting five 4 inch/35 cal guns, two 40mm guns and four 18 inch torpedo tubes, only Fratelli Cairoli and Simone Schiaffino retained this fit. The others had various fits of armament with a decreased number of four inch guns and increased AA. During World War Two, two were sunk early (Cairoli 1940 and Schiaffino 1941, hence no modification), Giuseppe Dezza was scuttled in 1943, Missori was captured by the Germans and renamed TA 22, and three survived the war. Rosolino Pilo was scrapped in 1954 and Giuseppe Cesare Abba and Antonio Mosto made it to 1958, when they too were scrapped. An eighth member of the class, Ippolito Nievo was discarded before the war in 1938. Clearly past their prime by World War Two, they nonetheless could function effectively as escorts.
The Sirtori Class consisted of Giovanni Acerbi, Vincenzo Giordano Orsini, Giuseppe Sirtori and Francesco Stocco. All four were laid down on February 2, 1916 and to a modified Pilo design. They had a heavier armament of six 4-inch/45 cal guns (none on centerline) and introduced twin torpedo tube mounts. The Acerbi and Orsini were scuttled in Eritrea in 1941 after that Italian Colony had become cut off from Italy. The other two received slightly enhanced AA fits. Sirtori was scutted and Stocco lost in September 1943.
The La Masa Class was the follow on design for the Sirtori. The 4-inch guns were reduced to four with the aft two being on centerline. Other armament were two twin torpedo mounts and two 3-inch /40 cal AA guns, replacing the deleted 4-inch mounts. The class originally numbered eight but Benedetto Cairoli was sunk April 10, 1918 when she was rammed by sistership, Giacinto Carini. The remaining seven received various armament modifications during World War Two, losing the 3-inch guns and one or two 4-inch guns to receive up to six 20mm AA guns. Some retained their two twin torpedo mounts and others removed one mount and had a single twin mount placed centerline aft of the third funnel. Carini and Giuseppe La Masa retained only one 4-inch gun but had eight 20mm AA guns, a triple 21-inch torpedo mount aft of the third funnel and a twin 17.7-inch torpedo mount centerline for the aft 4-inch gun. Giuseppe La Farina was lost in 1941 and four (Angelo Bassini, Enrico Cosnez, La Masa, and Giacomo Medici) were lost or scuttled in 1943. The two survivors sailed on into the cold war with Nicola Fabrizi lasting to 1957 and Carini hung on until when on December 31, 1958, she was discarded as the last of the Italian three-pipers.
The forth and newest of the three-pipers was the Generali Class with all six being named after Italian Generals. Also known as the Cantore class after the lead ship, Generale Antonio Cantore this class was a slight modification of the preceding La Masa class, replacing the forward two wing mounted 4-inch guns with a single centerline mount. The rest armament was the same as in La Masa, with two 3-inch AA guns and two twin 17.7-inch torpedo mounts. The class was active in convoy runs to Albania and North Africa. Generale Achille Papa rammed and sank the submarine Cahcalot on July 30, 1940 and a month later almost sank the submarine, Rorqual. Three of the six (Cantore, Generale Antonio Chinotto, and Generale Marcello Prestinari) were lost to mines and the remaining three (Generale Antonio Cascino, Generale Carlo Montanari, and Papa) were scuttled at La Spezia on September 9, 1943 with the Italian armistice. (The bulk of the history of the Italian three-pipers is from Destroyers of World War Two by M. J. Whitley.)
One would think that building a three stack destroyer of WWI vintage would be a simple build but upon opening the box of the Regia Marina three-piper kit, you immediately notice the great number of parts. In addition to the hull there are four runners of resin parts, totaling 56 parts. The reason for the high parts count for a small model is that in keeping with their other kits, Regia Marina provides the greatest number of optional fits as possible. As with all of the kits from Regia Marina the parts are numbered from left to right on their runners with each number being assigned to each unique part(s). If a runner contains more than one of the same part, the number applies collectively to the group. This alpha-numeric parts assignment is the same with every kit from Regia Marina, until this summerís release of the North Carolina/Washington, when a new system was employed.
The parts include single, twin and triple torpedo mounts, two types of bridges, gun tubs, five different types of guns, two gun shields, carley floats, shipís boats, platforms and various other fittings. All are done to the high quality for which Regia Marina is known. The petit hull has five small and two large ventilators cast as part of the hull. Additionally it has minute bollards, anchor chain, steam pipes on the three funnels, breakwater and other finely cast detail. To me the detail of the various guns, torpedo mounts and bridges is exceptional.
Sheet One- The front side provides the names, letter designations, statistics and short history of the ships of the four classes of three pipers. They are written in Italian. The back side includes an armament key, showing which symbols represent which armament. Seven different plans are shown for the Pilo class ships. There are five plans for the Sirtori class, seven plans for the La Masa class and two plans for the Generali/Cantore class. Each of these 21 plans shows the various different armament fits that the ships of these four classes had during their careers.
Sheet Two- The front side shows a picture of the photo-etched fret with the various parts being given numbered corresponding to the locator numbers in the assembly section. There are two isometric drawings showing the optional fittings placement for the Pilo class with three insert drawings showing various carley float stowage arrangements. The reverse side has two isometric drawings for optional parts locations for the other three classes. It also includes four inserts showing fittings unique to individual ships. It concludes with camouflage profiles of TA 22, ex-Missori, in 1944 and Carini in 1952 without camouflage.
Sheet Three- The front page has 28 profiles showing various paint/camouflage schemes worn by the three pipers from World War One to World War Two. Sixteen of these are port and starboard views of eight of the ships that had a different pattern on each side. One of the profiles is for a zebra camouflage pattern worn by Orsini in 1918. The reverse side has ten more profiles, five starboard and five port for five of the ships in WW2 camouflage patterns and two drawings of the post war schemes worn by the survivors up to 1958. The sheet concludes with a parts matrix and text color description in Italian keyed to Humbrol colors.