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RenegadeSuede

Did the Italian Navy Favor Torpedo Warfare?

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I've been reading alot about how the Italian Regia Marina pioneered many torpedo advancements, projects, and even debunked some torpedo stigmas when it came to naval warfare, and I am wondering if this was reflective in terms of the Italian naval tactic generally concerning their use of torpedoes in combat. In other words, was the Italians' use of torpedos more prevalent in their tactics or were their uses of torpedos more effective than other nations of the time?

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I'm not sure.

Though I'd note that a large number of Italian destroyers used triple rather than the quad or pentad tubes of other nations.

They seem to have been pretty effective in destroyer on destroyer engagements.

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They are certainly famous for their manned torpedo attacks on the A-H dreadnought Viribus Unitis in WW I, and British ships in Alexandria in WW II.

 

Torpedo.jpg.98f4ed04c0b06ad25d552d975b973691.jpg

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Prewar strategy was very hopeful.  Reality was that the night time sweeps by torpedo boats where a failure. Early in the war smoke screens and torpedo attacks where ok at deterring others. 

 

Between policy of not releasing all torpedoes in one strike and what was either horrible luck or more likely problems with getting proper torpedo solutions there are only a couple of successes. A revenge shot against Mohawk being the most memorable as the wreck would serve as a beacon for several engagements. Including the best success of torpedo armed craft by surface forces in the war. 

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It's a bit of a give-and take. They certainly hit on some successful designs - the Japanese took some lessons from Italian torpedoes, and the Germans used them as well.

 

From the air, there was a lot of success for the  Sparviero trimotor bombers rigged as torpedo bombers - although there weren't many of them, hence why they were nicknamed themselves "I soliti quattro gatti." Likewise, the Italian submarine, although hardly ever talked about, made their presence known, although they weren't at all as successful as their more famous German counterparts (for which there are many reasons, from doctrine to equipment related issues). In terms of the war's sub aces, the captain of the Leonardo da Vinci, Gianfranco Gazzana-Priaroggia, is ranked as 20th most successful - the most successful sub skipper outside of the Kreigsmarine.

 

From surface ships, in my opinion the biggest issue seems to have been volume. There is a great example of this in the engagement with HMS Ajax - that attack came in piecemeal (well, the destroyer attack at least). Had the DDs coordinated better, their chances of success would've been much higher. Then again, it was a night, a weakness for the Italian navy relative to the British. Likewise, there was the tactic of holding back 1/3 of torpedoes when a run was first made - the idea being that one could still launch a torpedo attack later in the battle if the opportunity presented itself, rather than fire all the fish in one salvo. Given the number of narrow misses reported by British ships at Punta Stilo/Calabria from Italian torpedo attacks, perhaps that greater volume of fish in the water would've made the difference.

 

There were, however, issues relating to the aiming of torpedoes, I don't know the specifics, but as SparvieroVV mentioned, there was something funny that always persisted when it came to getting the proper firing solution, from surface ships at least. 

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