Reply To: Italian Navy Historical Branch

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Aldo’s excellent and informative post has given us much more to bite on, and prompted me to check my copies of ‘Jane’s Fighting Ships’ for World War II. As if often the case, that has thrown up some anomalies between different histories and I quote from ‘Jane’s’ here so that we can consider the differences and perhaps try to confirm the facts.
The notes is square brackets below are manuscript additions or amendments in my recently-acquired copies of ‘Jane’s’ for 1942, 1944-45 and 1947-48; these annotations were made by Admiralty Naval History Branch archivists in the 1950s and early 1960s after studying Allied naval action dispatches, British war losses records, and German and Italian records captured by the Allies and analysed by the NHB after internal release by Naval Intelligence.
‘Jane’s’ does not list any Italian Ciclone or Aliseo class for the years 1940-48, and neither the Ardito nor her sister ships are listed in ‘Jane’s’ for 1942. But the 1944-45 edition does list the Ardito in the Fortunale class of sea-going torpedo (and mine-laying) boats, of which 14 were launched from 1939 to 1943. The 1940 build-programme Fortunale ships are listed as: Animoso, Ardentimentoso, Impavido, Indomito, Intrepido, Irrequieto, [Ardente] and Ardito.
The specifications differ slightly from those given by Aldo’s sources, as follows:
Displacement: 860 tons
Dimensions: Length OA 293ft (c.89m); beam 31ft (c.9m.); max draught 11.5ft (3.5m)

Machinery: 2 sets Tosi geared turbines; 16,000HP
Speed: 28knots
Armament: 3-3.9” (100mm) 47cal; 6-20mm AA; 2-18” (c.396mm) torpedo tubes

In ‘Jane’s’ 1944-45 War Losses section, page 615:
“Ardito (1942) sunk by German aircraft off Bastia September 9 1943.”

This entry has been crossed through by hand and the NHB archivist has written “[as German TA26 severely damaged by coastal forces 15.6.44, blown up in Rapallo by Italian partisans 6.7.44]”. It appears from this that Ardito was taken into German naval service as TA26.
This section (page 617) also lists the Ardito‘s sister ships Intrepido and Impavido, as being scuttled by the Germans in 1945, but the archivist has amended Impavido’s listing “[TA25 sunk 14/15.6.44 by Brit. MTBs W of Spezia]”, so it appears that TA25 was not Ardito. All seven surviving vessels of the Fortunale class were ceded to Russia or Yugoslavia at the end of the war (‘Jane’s’ 1947-48).
An anomaly in Jane’s listing is that there is no photograph for the Fortunale class in the main section of the 1944-45 edition, yet there is a photograph on page 615 captioned “Ardito” and bearing the letters AD on the bow, which is almost certainly the correct designation for this vessel.

In respect of HM Submarine Turbulent, the 1944-45 edition of ‘Jane’s’ has this original entry with annotations:
“Turbulent (1941) reported missing [23] March 1943 [depth-charged by It. MA3 off Sardinia]”
The Supplementary War Losses section in ‘Jane’s’ for 1947-48 has this entry for the loss of Turbulent with one manuscript amendment:
“Turbulent was probably mined off Sardinia March 23 [14] 1943″.

These anomalies between Aldo’s notes from an unofficial Regia Marina website and a well-received history of the conflict, and the semi-official but sometimes contradictory or incomplete ‘Jane’s’, augments this interesting topic and I hope encourages further research. The official Marina Militare (Italian navy) website does not give any listing for the Ardito of this period, and does not list either the Ciclone or Fortunale classes of torpediniere.
As an historian I constantly meet contradictory evidence of this nature and although it can be frustrating it can also lead to deeper research which finally yields the facts.
I look forward to more comments on this topic and perhaps some definitive answers.
Justin Reay