Giovanni dalle Bande Nere light cruiser (1930) High resolution picture

The Giovanni dalle Bande Nere was an Italian light cruiser launched in 1930, belonging to the Condottieri class. This one, formed by five successive groups, represented the development of the Italian light cruiser in the interwar period and each group constituted a class on its own, with different characteristics. The Giovanni dalle Bande Nere belonged to the first group, which was not a very fortunate project. The origin of this one dates back to 1926, when France started to build new types of destroyers of a notable displacement and armament in comparison with those in service. As response, the Italian Navy ordered to project some intermediate units which, even if being superior to the new French destroyers, did not follow the canons of the classic cruiser.

It was born so the new series of four units, classified as light cruisers, comprising the Alberico da Barbiano, Alberto di Giussano, Bartolomeo Colleoni and Giovanni dalle Bande Nere. They were ships of elegant line and well balanced armament, designed to achieve a great speed. But for achieving this advantage they were deprived of armor to a large extent, which rendered these units very vulnerable to enemy fire, as it was seen in the clash of the 19th July 1940, in which the British cruiser HMS Sydney, along with five destroyers, managed to hit the Bartolomeo Colleoni and the Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, sinking the first one and causing damages to the second one, while the British cruiser and a destroyer suffered only light damages.

Actually the speed trials had been carried with the ships very lightly loaded and not even fully completed, and later it would be seen that their service speed was not better than that of the contemporary foreign ships. So were chased the Italian cruisers in that occassion by the theorically slower British cruiser. In any case, they were without doubt good units which gave all what they could, even if they were in inferiority of conditions, as often happened. But in the end, none of them survived the war.

Between the 10th June 1940 and the 1st April 1942, date of her sinking, the Giovanni dalle Bande Nere accomplished fifteen war missions: four to intercept enemy ships, eight to escort convoys and three to lay mines, traveling in total about 35000 kilometers. At nine o'clock of the 1st April 1942, while in route to La Spezia, she was torpedoed by a British submarine; the ship, very lightly armored, broke in two and immediately sank.

Class: Condottieri Group 1/Giussano (4 units - Alberico di Barbiano, Alberto di Giussano, Bartolomeo Colleoni, Giovanni dalle Bande Nere)

Type: Light cruiser

Length: 169.3 meters

Beam: 15.5 meters

Draught: 5.3 meters

Displacement (standard): 5213 tonnes

Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine Belluzzo, 6 x boiler Yarrow, 95000 horsepower

Speed: 37 knots (68.5 kilometers/hour)

Range: 3800 nautical miles (7037 kilometers) at 18 knots

Complement: 507

Armament (as built): 8 x 152-millimeter 53-caliber cannon, 6 x 100-millimeter 47-caliber cannon, 8 x 37-millimeter 54-caliber cannon, 8 x 13.2-millimeter machine gun, 4 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube

Armament (in 1939): 8 x 152-millimeter 53-caliber cannon, 6 x 100-millimeter 47-caliber cannon, 8 x 20-millimeter 65-caliber cannon, 8 x 13.2-millimeter machine gun, 4 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube

Armor: 24 millimeters in waterline, 20 millimeters in deck, 23 millimeters in main turrets, 8 millimeters in secondary turrets, 40 millimeters in conning tower

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