RM Taranto (CL-1915)


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The German cruisers received from the War Reparations Commission were much needed as the Italians had not built many ships during WW1, no cruiser sized vessels at all. In real life the three German cruisers were all from different classes. But as I am lazy, and have a magic wand, I make the three ships all from the one class. The class of four were ordered from German building yards for Russia. On the outbreak of war the ships were taken over by the German Navy. The Elbing was sunk at Jutland. The design was as a broadside cruiser with four 5.9" guns per side. This was how the ships were surrendered in 1919 and turned over to the Italian Navy in 1920. The Italian Navy used these ships with the main fleet right through to 1935 when enough of the Condottieri types were completed to allow the Taranto, Bari, and Salerno to be repurposed to escort cruisers.

I have seen these ships armed with twin 6" fore and aft and other such armaments featuring turret guns. The amount of work to fit turrets to a ships of this age puts the work into the 'major reconstruction' category. Would you want to spend that amount of money on a 20 year old ex-German cruiser? Probably not. So that rules out the 5.3" DP weapon system which is turret based. The next step down for the Italian Navies dual purpose guns is the twin and single 3.9" weapons. Two twins fore and aft of those will give the ship a reasonable AA capability. New bridge structure required for mounting the modern fire control equipment. Some close range cannons and a set of torpedoes on each broadside and the Italians have a ship that should last for a further 10 years.

The ships, when this work was completed, were placed with the aircraft carrier Caraciolo as part of that ships escort force. Once war broke out in 1940, the Caraciolo was a target, and hunted by Commonwealth aircraft. The three Taranto class cruisers had a lot of work to do.

In Italian service. Note how the eight 5.9" are arranged.


  Pillau Class
Displacement 4,400 tons std, 5,400 tons full load
Length 445 ft
Breadth 47 ft
Draught 19 ft
Machinery 2 shaft steam turbines, 32,000shp
Speed 28 knots
Range 4500 miles at 12 knots
Armour 3" side, 1" deck
Armament Original (Italian service)

8 x .5.9" (8x1)

2 x 76mm (2x1)


As AA Cruiser

8 x 3.9" (4x2)

6 x 37mm (3x2)

14 x 20mm (14x1)

Torpedoes 4 x 21" (2x2) 4 x 21" (2x2)
Complement 440 455
RM Taranto

RM Bari

RM Salerno


Pillau class cruiser overhead, clearly shows the layout of the class.


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