Capitani Romani-class cruiser

Cruiser Scipione Africano
Class overview
Built: 19391942
In commission: 19421980
Planned: 12
Completed: 4
General characteristics
Type: Light cruiser/destroyer leader
  • 3,750 long tons (3,810 t) standard
  • 5,420 long tons (5,510 t) full load
Length: 142.2 m (466 ft 6 in) overall
Beam: 14.4 m (47 ft 3 in)
Draught: 4.1 m (13 ft 5 in)
  • 2 shaft geared turbines
  • 4 boilers
  • 110,000 hp (82,000 kW)
  • 41 knots (47 mph; 76 km/h)[1]
  • 43 knots (49 mph; 80 km/h) on trials.
Range: 4,350 nmi (8,060 km) at 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h), 1,400 tons of fuel oil
Complement: 418
Sensors and
processing systems:
Gufo radar

The Capitani Romani class was a class of light cruisers of the Italian navy. They were essentially designed to outrun and outgun the large new French destroyers of the Le Fantasque and Mogador classes.[2] Twelve hulls were ordered in late 1939, but only four were completed, just three of these before the Italian armistice in 1943. The ships were named after prominent Ancient Romans.[3]


The Capitani Romani class were originally classed as "ocean scouts" (Esploratori Oceanici), although some authors consider them to have been heavy destroyers.[4][5] In fact, after the war the two units still in service were reclassified caccia conduttori (Italian for flotilla leaders).

The design was fundamentally a light, almost unarmoured hull with a large power plant and cruiser style armament. The original design was modified to sustain the prime requirements of speed and firepower. Given their machinery development of 93,210 kW (125,000 hp), equivalent to that of the 17,000 ton cruisers of the Des Moines class, the target speed was over 41 knots (76 km/h), but the ships were left virtually unarmoured. As a result, the three completed warships achieved 43 knots (80 km/h) during trials.[3] The Capitani Romani class vessels shipped a main battery of eight 135 mm guns guns, with a rate of fire of eight rounds per minute and a range of 19,500 m. They also carried eight 533 mm torpedo tubes. The wartime load dropped the operational speed by one to five knots, depending on the source.[2][6][7]

Operational history

Main article: Operation Scylla

Only Scipione Africano saw combat. Equipped with the Italian-developed EC.3 Gufo radar,[8][9] she detected and engaged four British Elco motor torpedo boats lurking five miles ahead during the night of 17 July 1943, while passing the Messina straits at high speed off Punta Posso.[10] She sank MTB 316 and heavily damaged MTB 313 between Reggio di Calabria and Pellaro.[11][12][13] A dozen British seamen lost their lives in this action.[14][15] The engagement lasted no more than three minutes.[10] Scipione Africano suffered minor damage and two injures when German and Italian batteries deployed along the Italian coast opened fire in the aftermath. The cruiser had been ordered from La Spezia to Taranto, which she eventually reached at 9:46 AM. Her high speed was decisive to the outcome of the battle.[16]

After her eventful passage into the Ionian Sea, she laid down four minefields in the Gulf of Taranto and the Gulf of Squillace from 4 to 17 August, together with the old light cruiser Luigi Cadorna.[17]

Attilio Regolo was torpedoed by the submarine HMS Unruffled on 7 November 1942, and remained in drydock for several months with her bow shattered.[18] She was interned in Port Mahon in the island of Minorca, Spain, after the Italian capitulation on 9 September 1943.[19]


Four of the ships were scrapped before launch. Five were captured by the Germans in September 1943, still under construction. All five were sunk in harbour, one was raised and completed. Three were completed before the Italian armistice.[3]

Ship Namesake Builder[20] Laid down Launched Completed Operational history
Attilio Regolo Marcus Atilius Regulus OTO, Livorno 28 September 1939[20] 28 August 1940[20] 15 May 1942[20] Commissioned in August 1942 and used as a mine-layer until seriously damaged by a torpedo in November. Ceded to France in 1948 renamed Châteaurenault.
Caio Mario Gaius Marius OTO, Livorno 28 September 1939[21] 17 August 1941[20] Captured by the Germans in La Spezia, with only the hull completed. Used as a floating oil tank and scuttled in 1944.
Claudio Druso Nero Claudius Drusus CdT, Riva Trigoso 27 September 1939[21] Construction cancelled June 1940. Scrapped between 1941 and February 1942.
Claudio Tiberio Tiberius OTO, Livorno 28 September 1939[20] Construction cancelled June 1940. Scrapped between November 1941 and February 1942.
Cornelio Silla Lucius Cornelius Sulla Ansaldo, Genoa 12 October 1939[20] 28 June 1941[20] Captured by the Germans in Genoa while fitting out; never completed. Sunk in an air raid in July 1944.
Giulio Germanico Germanicus Navalmeccanica, Castellammare di Stabia 3 April 1939[20] 26 July 1941[20] Captured by the Germans in Castellammare di Stabia while under completion, and scuttled by them on 28 September 1943. Raised and completed for the Italian Navy after the war. Renamed San Marco, she served as a destroyer leader until her decommission in 1971.
Ottaviano Augusto Emperor Augustus CNR, Ancona 23 September 1939[20] 28 April 1941[20] Captured by the Germans in Ancona while under completion; sunk in an air attack on 1 November 1943.
Paolo Emilio Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus Ansaldo, Genoa 12 October 1939[20] Construction cancelled in June 1940. Scrapped between October 1941 and February 1942.
Pompeo Magno Pompey the Great CNR, Ancona 23 September 1939[20] 28 August 1941[20] 4 June 1943[20] Renamed San Giorgio, served as a destroyer leader until 1963. Became a training ship in 1965. Decommissioned and scrapped in 1980.
Scipione Africano Scipio Africanus OTO, Livorno 28 September 1939[20] 12 January 1941[20] 23 April 1943[20] Ceded to France in 1948 and first renamed S7, then renamed Guichen. Scrapped 1979.
Ulpio Traiano Emperor Trajan CNR, Palermo 28 September 1939[20] 30 November 1942[20] Sunk 3 January 1943 by British human torpedo attack while under completion in Palermo.
Vipsanio Agrippa Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa CDT, Riva Trigoso October 1939[21] Construction cancelled June 1940. Scrapped between July 1941 and August 1942.

French post-War service

D606 Chateaurenault, the former Attilo Regolo

Attilo Regolo and Scipione Africano were transferred to France as war reparations. They were renamed Chateaurenault and Guichen respectively. The ships were extensively rebuilt for the French Navy by La Seyne dockyard with new anti-aircraft-focussed armament and fire-control systems in 1951-54. The ships were decommissioned in 1961-61.[3]

General characteristics as rebuilt

Post-war Italian service

San Marco, formerly Giulio Germanico, in 1959

Giulio Germanico and Pompeo Magno served in the post war Marina Militare, being renamed San Marco and San Giorgio respectively. Both ships were extensively rebuilt in 1951-55 and fitted with American weapons and radar.[3] Characteristics included:

San Marco was further rebuilt as a cadet training ship in 1963-65 when she was fitted with new CODAG machinery. New 76mm guns replaced the 40mm and X 5 inch mounting. San Marco was decommissioned in 1971, San Giorgio following in 1980.

See also


  1. "Pompeo Magno—Incrociatore leggero". Almanacco storico navale. Marina Militare.
  2. 1 2 Gardiner & Brown (2004), p. 65.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Bishop (2002), p. 489.
  4. Shipbuilding & marine engineering international, Volume 106, Whitehall Press, 1983, page 388
  5. Sadkovich, James (1990). Reevaluating major naval combatants of World War II. Greenwood Press. p. 132. ISBN 0-313-26149-0.
  6. McMurtrie, Francis E. Jane's Fighting Ships of World War 2. Tiger Books International. p. 168. ISBN 0517679639.
  7. Whitley, M. J. (1996). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Naval Inst. Pr. ISBN 978-1557501417.
  8. Swords, Séan (1986). Technical history of the beginnings of radar. History of technology series Radar, Sonar, Navigation and Avionics. 6. P. Peregrinus on behalf of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. p. 129. ISBN 0-86341-043-X.
  9. Preston, Anthony (1978). Warship nº 5. Conway Maritime Press. p. 155.
  10. 1 2 De Pellegrini Dai Coi, Maurizio (January 2012). "Scipione: posto di combattimento". Rivista Marittima (in Italian). Marina Militare: 28–40.
  11. Pope, Dudley (1998). Flag 4: The Battle of Coastal Forces in the Mediterranean 1939–1945. Chatham Publishing. pp. 121–122. ISBN 1-86176-067-1.
  12. Fioravanzo, Giuseppe (1970). Le azioni navali in Mediterraneo dal 1° aprile 1941 all'8 settembre 1943 (in Italian). Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare. pp. 468–469.
  13. Baroni, Piero (2007). La guerra dei radar: il suicidio dell'Italia 1935/1943 (in Italian). Greco & Greco. p. 187. ISBN 8879804316.
  14. Kindell, Don. "1st–31st July 1943". Casualty Lists of the Royal Navy and Dominion Navies, World War 2.
  16. Green, Jack; Massignani, Alessandro (1998). The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940–1943. London: Chatam Publishing. ISBN 1-885119-61-5.
  17. Cocchia, Aldo (1966). La Marina italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, volume 18. Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare. p. 397.
  18. Bragadin, Marc'Antonio (1957). The Italian Navy in World War II. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute. p. 241. ISBN 0-405-13031-7.
  19. Tomlin, Barbara (2004). With utmost spirit: Allied naval operations in the Mediterranean, 1942–1945. University Press of Kentucky. p. 241. ISBN 0-8131-2338-0.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946, p. 297.
  21. 1 2 3 Fraccaroli (1968), p. 39–40.


  • Gardiner, Robert; Brown, David K. (2004). The eclipse of the big gun: the warship 1906-1945. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-953-0. 
  • Bishop, Chris (2002). The Encyclopedia of Weapons of WWII: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,500 Weapons Systems, Including Tanks, Small Arms, Warplanes, Artillery, Ships, and Submarines. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 1-58663-762-2. 
  • Chesnau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Fraccaroli, Aldo (1968). Italian warships of World War 2. London: Ian Allan. pp. 9–10. 
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