Soldati-class destroyer

The Soldati class (also known as Camicia Nera class, meaning Blackshirt) were a group of destroyers built for the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) during World War II. The ships were named after military professions (Artigliere, for example, meaning "artilleryman"). There were two batches; twelve ships were built in 1938–1939, and a second batch of seven ships were ordered in 1940, although only five were completed.

Artigliere AWM-305865.jpg
Class overview
Name: Soldati class
Preceded by: Oriani class
Succeeded by:
Built: 1938–1943
In commission: 1939–1965
Planned: 19
Completed: 17
Cancelled: 2
Lost: 10
General characteristics (1st batch, as built)
Type: Destroyer
  • 106.7 m (350 ft 1 in) (o/a)
  • 101.6 m (333 ft 4 in) (pp)
Beam: 10.15 m (33 ft 4 in)
Draught: 3.15–4.3 m (10 ft 4 in–14 ft 1 in)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts; 2 geared steam turbines
Speed: 34–35 knots (63–65 km/h; 39–40 mph)
Range: 2,340 nmi (4,330 km; 2,690 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 206

Ten ships of the class were lost during the war. Three of the survivors were transferred to the French Navy and two to the Soviet Navy as war reparations, while two served in the Italian post-war navy, the Marina Militare.


In 1936, the Italian Regia Marina placed an order for twelve examples of a new destroyer design, the Soldati class. The design was essentially a repeat of the previous Oriani destroyer design, which was itself a development of the Maestrale class. The design featured an identical main gun armament of four 120 mm/50 calibre guns in two twin turrets, one forward and one aft, while torpedo armament was two triple 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes. A short (15 calibre) 120 mm gun[1] was mounted on a pedestal between the banks of torpedo tubes for firing starshell, while the anti-aircraft armament consisted of twelve 13.2 mm (0.52 in) machine guns. A single ship (Carabiniere) was completed with a fifth 120 mm 50 calibre gun replacing the starshell gun.[1] The ships' powerplant, with two geared steam turbines driving two shafts and generating 48,000 shaft horsepower (36,000 kW), and with one large funnel, was similar to that in the Oriani class and was sufficient to propel the destroyers to 38 knots (70 km/h; 44 mph).[2][3]

Orders for a second batch of seven destroyers were placed in 1940. All except one of these ships were to carry the five main gun armament of Carabiniere.[3][nb 1]

Construction and modificationsEdit

The first batch of ships were laid down in 1937, being completed between 1938 and 1939,[2] with the second batch being laid down in 1940–1941, with five completing in 1942.[4]

Four more of the first batch (Ascari, Camicia Nera, Geniere and Lanciere) were modified in 1941–42 by replacing the starshell gun with a full power 120 mm gun.[3] The anti-aircraft machine guns were gradually replaced by 20 mm cannon, with up to 10–12 being fitted by 1943. Five ships (Carabiniere, Granatiere, Fuciliere, Legionario and Velite) had the aft set of torpedo tubes replaced by two 37 mm (1.5 in) 54 cal. guns , while Fuciliere and Velite also had their starshell guns replaced by a further pair of 37 mm cannon.[3][5] Fuciliere and Velite were fitted with Italian radar, while Legionario was fitted with a German radar.[5]

The Germans captured Squadrista incomplete in September 1943, and transferred the ship, renamed TA33, to Genoa for completion as a fighter direction ship carrying a long-range Freya radar and German 105 mm and 20 mm guns, but she was sunk by Allied bombing in 1944.[6]

The two destroyers remaining in Italian service after the war were rebuilt as anti-submarine escorts in 1953–1954, with their torpedo tubes removed and the anti-aircraft armament changed to six 40 mm/39 pom-pom guns.[7]


Batch 1Edit

Ship Hull
Builder Namesake Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Alpino AP CNR Ancona[2] Alpini 2 May 1937[2] 18 September 1938[2] 20 April 1939[2] Lost 19 April 1943 when it was bombed by USAAF aircraft in La Spezia Harbour.[2]
Artigliere AR OTO, Livorno[2] Gunners 15 February 1937[2] 12 December 1937[2] 14 November 1938[2] Lost 13 October 1940, sunk by HMS York after being damaged at the Battle of Cape Passero the previous day.[9] 122 survivors, the 132 casualties included the commanding officer (CO), Captain Carlo Margottini. The wreck was discovered in 2017.[10]
Ascari AI OTO, Livorno[2] Ascari 11 December 1937[2] 31 July 1938[2] 6 May 1939[2] Sank 24 March 1943 after striking three mines during a troop transport mission from Palermo to Tunis, 194 out of 247 crew, including CO Commander Mario Gerini, lost together with some 200–300 German troops.[2]
Aviere AV OTO, Livorno[2] Airmen 16 January 1937[2] 19 September 1937[2] 31 August 1937 Torpedoed and sunk by the British submarine HMS Splendid on 17 December 1942 during an escort mission from Naples to Bizerte, 220 crew lost including CO Captain Ignazio Castrogiovanni,[3] 30 survivors.
Bersagliere BG CNR Palermo[2] Bersaglieri 21 April 1937[2] 3 July 1938[2] 1 April 1939[2] Lost on 7 January 1943 after being bombed in Palermo harbour.[3] 59 casualties.
Camicia Nera
(renamed Artigliere 30 July 1943[11])
CN (AR) OTO, Livorno[2] Blackshirts 21 January 1937[2] 8 August 1937[2] 30 June 1938[2] Survived the war, given to the Soviet Navy as war reparations as Lovky (Russian: Ловкий). Retired 1960.[12]
Carabiniere CB CT Riva Trigoso[2] Carabinieri[2] 1 February 1937[2] 23 July 1938[2] 20 December 1938[2] Survived the war and served in the post war Italian Navy (Marina Militare), being decommissioned on 18 January 1965.[2]
Corazziere CZ (CR) OTO, Livorno[2] Corazzieri 7 October 1937[2] 22 May 1938[2] 4 March 1939[2] Scuttled 9 September 1943 at Genoa following Italian Armistice. Raised by Germans but sunk by air raid 4 September 1944.[2]
Fuciliere FC CNR Ancona[2] Fusiliers 2 May 1937[2] 31 July 1938[2] 10 January 1939 Survived the war, given to the Soviet Navy as war reparations, serving as Lyogky (Russian: Лёгкий). Retired 1960.[13]
Geniere GE OTO, Livorno[2] Engineers 26 August 1937[2] 27 February 1938[2] 14 December 1938[2] Sunk 1 March 1943 by USAAF bombing while in drydock in Palermo.[2][14]
Granatiere GN CNR Palermo[2] Grenadiers 5 April 1937[2] 24 April 1938[2] 1 February 1939[2] Survived the war and served in the post war Italian Navy. Stricken 1 July 1958.[2]
Lanciere LN ST Riva Trigoso[2] Lancers 1 February 1937[2] 18 December 1938[2] 25 March 1939[2] Capsized and sank 23 March 1942 in heavy storm following Second Battle of Sirte.[2][3] 16 survivors including one who died later, the 226 casualties included the CO, Commander Costanzo Casana.

Batch 2Edit

Ship Hull
Builder Namesake Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Bombardiere BR CNR Ancona[4] Bombardiers 7 October 1940[4] 23 March 1942[4] 15 July 1942[4] Torpedoed and sunk 17 January 1943 by British submarine United during an escort mission from Bizerte to Palermo, 175 crew killed, including CO Commander Giuseppe Moschini, and 49 survivors.[4]
Carrista CR OTO, Livorno[4] Tank crewmen 11 September 1941[4] Captured on slipway by Germans following Italian armistice.
Given prospective name TA34 but scrapped incomplete.[4][6]
Corsaro CA OTO, Livorno[4] Corsairs 23 January 1941[4] 16 November 1941[4] 16 May 1942[4] Sunk 9 January 1943 by mines laid by HMS Abdiel[4] during an escort mission from Naples to Bizerte, 187 crew lost and 48 survivors including the CO, Commander Ferruccio Ferrini.
Legionario LG OTO, Livorno[4] Legionaries 21 October 1940[4] 16 April 1941[4] 1 March 1942[4] Joined Allies 1943.
Transferred to France as war reparation 15 August 1948.
Renamed Duchaffault. Stricken 12 June 1954.[4][15]
Mitragliere MT CNR Ancona[4] Machine gunners 7 October 1940[4] 28 September 1941[4] 1 February 1942 Interned Port Mahon, Majorca 1943. To Allies 1944.
To France as Jurien de la Gravière on 8 August 1948. Stricken 12 June 1954.[4][15]
Squadrista SQ OTO, Livorno[4] Fascist squad men 4 September 1941[4] 12 September 1942[4] Captured incomplete by Germany September 1943. Towed to Genoa for completion as TA33.
Sank 4 September 1944 by allied bombs while undergoing trials at La Spezia.[4][6]
Velite VL OTO, Livorno[4] Velites 19 April 1941[4] 31 August 1941[4] 31 August 1942[4] Badly damaged by torpedo from submarine HMS P228 on 21 November 1942. Repaired and joined Allies 1943.
Transferred to France as Duperré on 24 July 1948. Stricken 1961.[4][15]


  1. ^ Velite was completed with the starshell gun.[4]


  1. ^ a b Campbell, pp. 335–338
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd Whitley 1988, p. 169.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Gardiner and Chesneau 1980, p. 301.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Whitley 1988, p. 171.
  5. ^ a b Whitley 1988, pp. 170–171.
  6. ^ a b c Whitley 1988, p. 80.
  7. ^ Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p. 200.
  8. ^ a b Fraccaroli, Aldo (1968). Italian warships of World War 2. London: Ian Allan.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Deamer, Kacey. "Sunken WWII Destroyer Found by Paul Allen's Research Company". LiveScience. Purch. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  11. ^ Whitley 1988, p. 170.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Rohwer and Hümmelchen 1992, p. 197.
  15. ^ a b c Gardiner and Chumbley 1995, p. 109.


  • Brescia, Maurizio (2012). Mussolini's Navy: A Reference Guide to the Regina Marina 1930–45. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-544-8.
  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
  • Fraccaroli, Aldo (1968). Italian Warships of World War II. Shepperton, UK: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0002-6.
  • Gardiner, Robert & Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Gardiner, Robert & Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-85409-521-8.

External linksEdit