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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Italian Battleships of WWII - Vittorio Veneto and Roma

The above YouTube clip is a tribute to the Littorio Class Battleship Roma - also referered to as the Vittorio Vento Class after the Vittorio Vento Battleship.


Vittorio Vento class Roma
The grand Italian Battleship of World War II was an unlucky ship in many ways because she never lived up to her potential despite being of a fabulous design. The Vittorio Vento was a real state of the art ship in her time, but sadly for the Italian Navy, she lacked a good aircraft carrier which denied an otherwise good fleet of much needed air protection. This would become a bad handicap against Great Britain's Royal Navy.


Vittorio Vento
 In November 1940 Vittorio Vento took part in the Battle of Teulada and her huge guns fired a salvo of shells that forced seven British cruisers to retreat. Then in the following March of 1941 during the Battle of Cape Matapan, Vittorio Vento again forced four cruisers and three destroyers to retreat. However, lack of air cover allowed a torpedo plan to inflict damage on the Italian battleship. She was forced to retreat back to Italy with the rest of the fleet forming a ring of protection around her. There followed a second air attack and a night time engagement against the Royal Navy, which resulted in the Italian loss of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers.

The Italian Navy had taken a bad mauling with these losses, but Vittorio Vento got back to Italy. She under went repairs and was moved to another port where the Italian armistice brought about an end to Italian participation in World War II.

In June of 1943 Vittorio Vento with other Italian ships left port for Malta to surrender the fleet over to the Royal Navy and participation on the allied side against Germany. On route, German bombers attacked the Italian fleet with Fritz-X bombs inflicting damage on much of the fleet and taking out another Littorio Class sister ship called Roma. She (Roma) was struck by two bombs and one exploded inside her magazine, causing a secondary explosion of ammunition. This caused a great many casualties among the crew as Roma capsized and sank. It was a day of disaster for the Italian navy caught in limbo after her war had ended.

Vittorio Vento did make it to Malta and was taken as compensation by the Royal Navy, though the Battleship was returned when the war ended. She was scrapped in 1948, which was a great sadness as she might have made a wonderful example of a state of the art WWII Battleship museum - the Vittorio Vento and Roma were a splendid ships.


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