Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Italian Battleships of WW2

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the naval war in the Mediterranean is the role of the Italian Navy's capital ships. The commonly held perception is that they were committed only sparingly and, when faced with the British fleet, were always defeated. The actual story is far different and deserves proper attention. After entering the war, the Italians committed their battleships aggressively. Even after the disaster at Taranto, where several ships were placed out of action (but only one for the duration of the war), the Italians continued to employ their battleships as part of their strategy to retain control of the central Mediterranean. It was only late in the war, principally driven by fuel shortages, that the Italians ceased operations of their remaining capital ships. Ironically, the most dramatic loss of an Italian capital ship came at the hands of their former German allies when the Italians changed sides in September 1943. By the end of the war, three of the four rebuilt Italian battleships remained in service, together with two of the three modern battleships. This book tells the story of the seven Italian battleships that saw service between 1940 and 1943.