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Italian carrier Aquila

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Quillin, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. Quillin

    Quillin New Member

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    When Italy started to convert the linner Roma into an aircraft carrier in 1941, they were trying to chance the tide of the Mediterranean naval war. Already at the start of the war, the British managed to take over the dominant position on the sea thanks to its aircraft carriers. The attack on Taranto (damaging 3 battleships) and the battle of Cape Matapan (crippeling the cruiser Pola that lead to the destruction of 3 heavy Italian cruisers), showed the Italians what carrier based aircraft could do. These plains managed to cripple the Italian fleet, allowing the surface ships to finish the task.

    Untill the building of the Aquila, the Italian navy didn't showed any interest in carriers. They saw the mainland of Italy as one big carrier. However this strategy had two shortcommings.
    Firts, the Regia Aeronautica couldn't provide immediatly air cover. When the fleet calls in for air support then pilots had to be called to their planes, planes had to take of and assemble and then fly towards the fleet. This takes time and how further the fleet operates, the longer it takes for the plains toarrive. These plains might come way to late to fight of an enemy air attack. A better way would be permanent air cover above the fleet but to do this, one needs planes above the fleet at all times, planes flying towards the fleet to replace the planes above the fleet and planes flying back to base to refuel. This would mean that too many planes and fuel has to be used to provide air cover, als the fleet should still be operating within the range of these airplanes and how further the fleet is, the less time planes can spend above it.
    Secondly, in order to let carrier Italy work, the fleet and the R.A. had to work together but both services competed more against each other.

    Italy had however already lost the war once it started with the Aquila. Indeed, Italy surrendered before the Aquila was finished and even when she was finished on time, she would have arrived to late.
    One might however reconsider his thoughts when he says that Aquila would change the tide of the naval war. Once and for all, Aquila wasn't completed on time. Even when she was completed, there still had to be training done. The British opperated carriers for more then 20 years and had more experience with it then Italy that had to start from nothing.
    Further more, the Italians would have had to change their naval tactics and learn how to center its fleet around the carrier, instead of relying on the battleship. Also, the Italians had to develop and train air attacks like dive bombing and doing torpedo assaults. Whit this comes that Italy would have had to build dive bombers and torpedo planes that could operate on carriers if it took the Aquila seriously.

    However, Italy never took carriers for serious, not even with the Aquila. The only planes the Aquila would have gotten were the Re.2001's fighter planes. This showes that the Italians were only building carriers to fight of enemy torpedo bombers and just provide cover for the fleet. The Re 2001 OR should however been capable on carrying torpedo's and bombs but the question would be if a fighter can handle itself in the roll of bomber or torpedo plane. The only thing the Italian navy wanted were planes that they could command (and not the R.A.) and that could give immediatly cover. The task of shinking other ships would still be for the battleships although they were becomming more and more in a disadvantage against carrier planes.
     
  2. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    In some repects a limited carrier was probably about the best they could hope for. The Japs, Brits and Yanks had all been monkeying around with carriers since the end of WW1 yet by 1939 none of them had got it entirely right. Trying to play catch is generally difficult, particulally during a shooting war. A dedicated fighter carrier might have been the best bet but they left it far too late.
     
  3. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Reminds me of the whole 'Graff Zepplein' thing, though slightly more realistic.
     
  4. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Essentially the same result, a total waste of resources.
     
  5. me262 phpbb3

    me262 phpbb3 New Member

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    the problem was fat herman, not the graf zeppelin or the planes.
    another thing to understand was the decision of hitler about the fleet, he never liked the navy, prolly coz they where not nazis
     
  6. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    True enough; Raeder was never one of his cronies.
     
  7. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    The RM had a long-standing interest in carriers, but when Mussolini installed himself as head of the navy, he secured a position from which he could quell dissenting views. The RM was as in a situation as bad as the Kriegsmarine with Goering ruling his roost.
    The lack of a carrier had far-reaching impact on RM planning. Any plan that sent ships beyond the range of land-based cover earned an immediate frowny face.
    There was an excellent article in the last Warship annual covering the aircraft carrier in the Italian navy.
     
  8. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    At first glance, given the geography of the Mediterranean, it would appear that the lack of a carrier would not be a big deal. But you're right, in actuality, the lack of a carrier in the RM was crippling. And it should be noted how the Royal Navy's fortunes tended to wane whenever there were no carriers available for their Mediterranean Fleet.
     

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