Italian Navy during WW1

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, May 13, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Among the first operations of the Italian Navy during WW1, under the command of Admiral Duke-of-Sea Paolo Thaon di Revel, there was the rescuing of Serbian troops from Montenegro: 260.000 men and thousands of tons of war material.

    The navy gave also an important contribution to the war on land: a brigade of seamen fought with 3rd Army of Duca d'Aosta this unit was named San Marco by the name of a small town near Venice where these men fought against the coming Austro-Hungarians and saving Venice by being conquered. But the things did not go very well at the beginning: armoured cruisers Amalfi and Garibaldi were sunk by German and Austrian submarines; battleship Benedetto Brin and Leonardo da Vinci were destroyed in their home bases by traitor's sabotages.

    The opposite navies were numerically almost equal, but the Austro-Hungarians had the advantage of having more protected and hidden harbours. To solve this problem the Italian shipbuilding industry found a solution: the Mas.

    The Mas-Motoscafo Anti Sommergibile (Anti Submarine Speedboat) was just a light and small, but very fast, speedboat equipped with a heavy machine gun and a couple of torpedoes able to take bigger units by complete surprise and eventually sink them escaping unharmed. The only thing that was needed was a crew of few men of skill, and first of all, guts in order to arrive very, very close to the giants of seas with a tiny boat.

    Men like these were for example the crew commanded by Luigi Rizzo that on december the 9th 1917 penetrated into the well-defended Trieste port and sunk the battleship Wien, again Rizzo and his crew, with on board the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, assaulted the Buccari's harbour sinking a big merchant ship (this action had an enormous effect on morale because d'Annunzio made fun of the enemies with a teasing message). But finally Rizzo Mas, with another Mas commanded by Guardiamarina Aonzo, on June the 10th 1918 ashore of Premuda island in the Adriatic Sea, attacked an Austro-Hungarian force composed by 7 warships, 12 submarines, 40 airplanes and many torpedo-boats, and sunk the battleship Szent Istvan giving the grace blow to the Austro-Hungarian Navy and a big contribution to final victory.

    To be remembered also the raid of Major Raffaele Rossetti and Lieutenant Raffaele Paolucci in Pola port: diving underwater they reached the battleship Viribus Unitis and mined it. They were captured, but some hours after, at dawn, the battleship exploded and sunk.
    Despite those successes, the operational experience during WW1 was limited in those quick actions by Mas and submarines in the Adriatic Sea. There weren't real clashes in open seas between heavy ships. This lack of experience would cost dearly to the Italians years later during WW2 against the British, who had centuries of sea war experience.
  2. cally

    cally New Member

    Pictures of Mas-Motoscafo Anti Sommergibile - the Italian version of the MTB are very hard to obtain especially of the early WW1 boats...

    I always believe in having as large and as clear an image as possible however in this particular case it is one of the rare occasions that I am unable to provide one. Here are a few smaller pictures which will at least give you an idea of what these fast little WW1 Italian boats were like...

    Attached Files:

  3. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    They seem to be a similar concept to our Coastal Motor Boats - but with the torpedoes in a more sensible postion (in a CMB, the torpedo was in a trough in ths stern and slid off backwards).

    But the MAS must have been difficult to handle if only one torpedo was launched, given the weight of the torpedoes as a proportion of that of such a small vessel.

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