Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci (1939)
Leonardo da Vinci was a Marconi-class submarine of the Italian navy during World War II. It operated in the Atlantic from September 1940 until its loss in May 1943, and became the top scoring non-German submarine of the entire war.
Leonardo da Vinci in 1940
|Name:||Leonardo da Vinci|
|Builder:||CRDA (Monfalcone, Italy)|
|Launched:||16 September 1939|
|Fate:||Sunk 24 May 1943|
|Class and type:||Marconi-class submarine|
|Length:||76.5 m (251 ft)|
|Beam:||6.81 m (22.3 ft)|
|Draught:||4.72 m (15.5 ft)|
Leonardo da Vinci was built at the CRDA shipyard in Monfalcone, near Trieste, Italy's leading submarine builder. One of six boats of the Marconi class, which were laid down in 1938–39, Leonardo da Vinci was launched in September 1939. Designed as an ocean-going vessel, she was intended for operations both in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic.
With Italy's entry into World War II in June 1940 Leonardo da Vinci was dispatched to the Atlantic to Bordeaux in occupied France to serve in the Italian submarine flotilla there, BETASOM. She arrived October 1940 after a successful transit of the Straits of Gibraltar, scene of a number of Axis submarine losses.
Leonardo da Vinci carried out 11 war patrols, sinking 17 ships of 120,243 GRT, which included the 21,500-ton ocean liner RMS Empress of Canada. Leonardo da Vinci was Italy's most successful submarine in World War II, and her captain, Lt. Gianfranco Gazzana-Priaroggia, Italy's leading submarine ace. In July 1942 Leonardo da Vinci was assigned to a special operation aimed at mounting raids on harbours on the eastern seaboard of the United States. To this end she was converted to carry a CA-class midget submarine, and during the autumn engaged in trials with the new weapon. However, the operation was delayed due to the need for modifications to the CA craft and Leonardo da Vinci returned to action to the Atlantic.
Planned attack on New York HarborEdit
Leonardo da Vinci was to be used on a clandestine attack on the New York Harbor. The project, first started in July 1942 by Junio Valerio Borghese, involved launching Leonardo da Vinci from the BETASOM base in Bordeaux to the mouth of the Hudson River loaded with a CA-class submarine and a team of divers armed with 28 explosive charges. Once in position, the divers would take the CA-class into the harbor. Their charges – ranging in size from 20 to 100 kg – would be set to undermine the ships in the harbor.
Early tests carried out in August 1942 were promising, showing that Leonardo da Vinci could effectively launch the CA-class and recover it. In reality, however, recovery of the CA-class was a remote possibility, and it was more likely that the divers would have to destroy the vehicle once they had completed setting their charges.
The mission was postponed following the loss of Leonardo da Vinci, and was ultimately canceled when the armistice was signed four months later.
In March 1943 Leonardo da Vinci made her last and most successful patrol, to the South Atlantic. On 14 March she sank the Empress of Canada en route to Takoradi, West Africa. She was carrying Italian prisoners of war, and Polish and Greek refugees, and of the 1800 people on board, 392 perished. On 19 March Leonardo da Vinci torpedoed and sank the 7,628 ton British cargo ship SS Lulworth Hill in the South Atlantic. She captured and took on board one survivor; two other men survived following a 50-day ordeal on a liferaft.
After the last sinking at the end of April, Leonardo da Vinci turned for home. On 22 May 1943, off the coast of Spain, it unwisely signalled its intention to head for Bordeaux on completion of its patrol. Its position having been fixed by direction-finding, on 23 May the destroyer HMS Active and the frigate HMS Ness (both escorts to convoys WS-30 and KMF-15) subjected the submarine to an intense depth charge attack and sank it 300 miles (480 km) west of Vigo at an estimated position of Coordinates: . There were no survivors.
|4th||28 June 1941||Auris||United Kingdom||8,030||Tanker; 27 survivors from a crew of 59|
|6th||25 February 1942||Cabedello||Brazil||3,557||Freighter; no survivors|
|6th||28 February 1942||Everasma||Latvia||3,644||Freighter from Convoy TAW 12 torpedoed at ; 15 survivors|
|7th||2 June 1942||Reine Marie Stewart||Panama||1,087||Schooner|
|7th||7 June 1942||Chile||Denmark||6,956||Freighter; 39 survivors from a crew of 44|
|7th||10 June 1942||Alioth||Netherlands||5,483||Freighter; 8 survivors from a crew of 36|
|7th||13 June 1942||Clan Macquarrie||United Kingdom||6,471||Collier; 1 killed from a crew of 90|
|8th||2 November 1942||Empire Zeal||United Kingdom||7,009||Freighter|
|8th||5 November 1942||Andreas||Greece||6,566||Freighter|
|8th||10 November 1942||Marcus Whitman||United States||7,176||Liberty ship; no casualties|
|8th||11 November 1942||Veerhaven||Netherlands||5,291||Freighter; no casualties|
|9th||14 March 1943||RMS Empress of Canada||Canada||21,517||Troopship; 392 killed from 1,800 aboard|
|9th||18 March 1943||Lulworth Hill||United Kingdom||7,628||Freighter|
|9th||17 April 1943||Sembilan||Netherlands||6,566||Freighter|
|9th||18 April 1943||Manar||United Kingdom||8,007||Freighter|
|9th||21 April 1943||John Drayton||United States||7,177||Liberty ship|
|9th||25 April 1943||Doryessa||United Kingdom||8,078||Tanker; 11 survivors from a crew of 54|
- Conway p 306
- Bagnasco p161
- Clay Blair, Hitler's U-boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942, p.740
- The US Navy's most successful submarine, USS Tang, sank 116,454 GRT, while HMS Upholder, the Royal Navy's most successful submarine, sank 93,031 GRT of shipping.
- Blair p.739
- Kemp p.59-60
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- Raiola, Giulio; de Risio, Carlo (1969). Obiettivo America, in Storia Illustrata.
- Giancarlo, Pertegato (2001-09-23). "Attacco a New York: nel '43 Borghese voleva minare un grattacielo". Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
- Associated Press, “400 Lives Lost In Sinking of Liner Year Ago”, The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Saturday 19 February 1944, Volume 50, page 2.
- Piccinotti, Andrea (2000–2006). "Sommergibili Classe Marconi". La storia della Regia Marina Italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale. Andrea Piccinotti. Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- Allen, Tony (9 May 2008). "SS Lulworth Hill (+1943)". The Wreck Site. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- "What Cares the Sea?" by Kenneth Cooke, published by McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960.
- Christiano D'Adamo. "Regia Marina Italiana – Boats – Leonardo da Vinci".
- "WRECKsite – Leonardo da Vinci".
- Erminio Bagnasco, Submarines of World War Two, Cassell & Co, London. 1977 ISBN 1-85409-532-3
- Blair, Clay, Hitler's U-boat War: The Hunters, 1939–1942. Random House 1996. ISBN 0-304-35260-8
- Roger Chesneau, Robert Gardiner: Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946 (1980). ISBN 0-85177-146-7
- Paul Kemp : Underwater Warriors (1997) ISBN 1-85409-455-6
- Giorgerini, Giorgio : Uomini sul fondo. Storia del sommergibilismo italiano dalle origini a oggi, Mondadori, 2002, ISBN 978-88-04-50537-2.
- Zolandez, Thomas (December 2017). "Question 32/53". Warship International. LIV (4): 280–281. ISSN 0043-0374.