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The Italian Navy has always been ridiculed as being a navy of cowards. The Bartolomeo Corleoni ran and was caught. The Vittorio Veneto ran and escaped but lost 3 cruisers at Matapan. No navy needlessly throws major units away, if your ship(s) can escape from a superior force then that is what it/they should do. That is common sense, not cowardice. If you want some deeds of derring do then the Italian light forces showed what they could do when acting as escorts to the convoys being fought across the Mediterranean from Italy to North Africa. When allowed to the Italian forces fought well in a war they never wanted in the first place.
Regia Marina (RM)
|The Italian Navy was populated with first class ships and men. With the Italian entry into WW2 in June 1940, the navy was the best prepared. With two inconclusive battles against Commonwealth forces in July and August 1940, the Italians kept their major warships closer to port, waiting for a numerical advantage to come their way. Admiral Cunningham was not going to wait for such an event and decided to attack the Italian Fleet in harbour at Taranto. Many fine ships being sunk or damaged, and effectively ending the Italian Fleet as a credible danger.|
|Class Name||Number||Type||First date||Thumbnail|
The Italian aircraft carriers were good, and benefited from the assistance given by the USA and Commonwealth Navies. Where they fell down was in the quality of the aircraft carried. It is not until the Italians receive the second hand ME-109T's from Germany that they have a fighter that is nearly as good as the Commonwealth aircraft, and enough of the license built JU-87 Stukas enter service to give them a decent strike force.
|Battleship, Battlecruisers, Pre-dreadnought types
The Italian Littorio Class battleships were very good, a blend of firepower and armour the equal of any of the Commonwealth battleships they might face in the Mediterranean Fleets. Altering the balance of power by giving the Italian Fleet nine or ten battleships at wars start puts pressure on the Commonwealth to contain them. Then unleashing five or six raiders out into the Indian and Pacific Oceans paralyses the movement of convoys during 1940. Slowing down the build-up of forces in Egypt with which the Allies can attack the Italian positions in Africa.
|RM Andrea Doria||02||BB||1915|
|RM Conte Di Cavour||02||BB||1914|
|RM Dante Alighieri||01||BB||1913|
|RM Regina Elena||04||BB||1908|
The Italian cruisers were very good. Their biggest problem was doing their trials in extreme light displacement conditions which made the ships appear much faster than they were. The Italians kept their ships in active service much longer than the twenty years that a lot of navies deemed the date of obsolescence. This meant that a lot of ships were repurposed at age twenty to new duties. Raiders, AA ships, fast transports, to name a few. New ships were added as the Navy could afford them, and these new ships were always of good design compared to other comparative navies.
|RM Alberto Di Giussano||06||CLA||1930|
|Destroyers / Minelayers|
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