When I was at high school in the 1970s I played a little World War II naval. Some great games were played and much reading occurred. The models were inexpensive, the games short, all ideal for wargaming at the college wargames club over a lunch break. However, by the 1980s frustration with some “newer” rules, combined with other interests, drew me to other periods. That was until I played a couple of games with my son a couple of years ago which rekindled my interest.
After some consideration, and being unhappy with the old models that dated back to the 1970s, an order was sent to Navwar to secure some 1/3000th models. In due course the models arrived and after a period in the lead mountain it was time to start some painting.
But where should I start? After some further consideration the first group of models were selected for the painting table – in particular vessels for the Italian Royal Navy, or Regia Marina. Now, while it was tempting to dive in the deep end and start with some battleships I opted to start with lighter forces. First two heavy cruisers the Zara and Fiume, shown below.
These ships always struck me as both colourful while having strong lines, in part influenced by an old book I have dating back to the 1970’s which provided so much inspiration at the time. My view hasn’t changed much in 40+ years, yes a little nostalgia. Now, the Zara class cruisers were armed with a respectable main armament of eight 8” guns and were heavily armoured. The distinctive air recognition provides a striking affect, though was tricky to paint. Both cruisers entered service in 1931 and were active in the early part of the war. Both served at the Battle of Matapan where they, along with their sistership Pola, were lost.
To support the heavy cruisers, or provide some variation, some light cruisers were also needed. Those chosen for the first batch were Giuseppe Garibaldi and Luigi di Saoia Duca degli Abbruzzi. If nothing else the ship names provide plenty of colour, though how I will abbreviate the names to place on the labels I am not completely sure!
These cruisers carried a significant armament with ten 6” guns with a reasonable turn of speed. They, along with one additional cruiser, formed the 8th Cruiser Division. They entered service in 1937 and had a long career. Luigi di Saoia Duca degli Abbruzzi was decommissioned in 1961 while Garibaldi remained in service until 1971.
As to destroyers I have initially focussed on four, all from the 9th Flotilla and also engaged at Matapan. They are Alfredo Oriano, Vincenzo Gioberti, Vittorio Alfieri and Giosue Carducci. Now, at 1/3000th scale the models are relatively small. Despite that there is some interesting detail, including a life raft modelled on the the funnel.
As to their service, they were all completed in 1937. Vittorio Alfieri and Giosue Carducci were lost at Matapan. Vincenzo Gioberti was lost in 1943 while Alfredo Oriano was taken over by the French after the war where she served until 1954.
Now, where would we be however, without a group photo. The initial elements of the Regia Marina ready to sortie.
With the first batch of Italian ships completed, excluding the labels, I now need to select some British ships to oppose them…