Mussolini’s Navy – A Reference Guide to the Regia Marina 1930-1945
By Maurizio Brescia
Seaforth Publishing (www.seaforthpublishing.com)
An Imprint of Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk)
RRP GBP £40.00
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Mussolini’s navy tends to get overlooked in the English language literature about this period – especially when compared to its Axis colleague the German Kriegsmarine. However this superb work has addressed this issue and it will rank amongst the essential books on the Regia Marina.
The Regia Marina was the Italian Navy that fought in World War 2. This book starts with an historical description of the background and development of this force. Its organisation, its support facilities and the operations it conducted before and after the 1943 Armistice are eloquently presented.
There are details of all the capital ships with data on their full technical specifications and there are lavish photos and plans of these vessels. There is coverage of other issues such as camouflage schemes, medals, insignia and uniforms and a list of all the important personalities is also given.
The above is a quick summary of this excellent book’s coverage and a more detailed treatment is now given. The background chapter on the Regia Marina covers the period from 1861 to 1939 – its early years, its role within the European Powers and World War 1, and the inter-war years. No navy can operate without land bases such as dockyards, port and shipyards etc. and these are discussed.
A modest (16 page) description is given of the organisation of the Italian Fleet and its operations including a brief chronology, and details of convoys, submarines etc. There is a huge chapter covering all the capital ships such as battleships, aircraft carriers, heavy & light cruisers, destroyers and War Prize Cruisers. Even smaller vessels like torpedo boats are included as are submarines.
The Regia Marina was renowned for its audacious development of small surface and underwater assault craft and these are given expert treatment here. The identification letters and hull numbers used for the navy’s vessels are specified and so too are the camouflage patterns. The final few chapters cover flags, uniforms, rank and rank insignia and decorations and the final chapter is a World War 2 “Who’s Who” of the Italian Navy.
This tome has involved an extensive research effort and collation of technical and other data. The author has produced a first rate volume and I am confident that this will become a sought after and highly prized reference book. It covers all the essential aspects of the Regia Marina and he has done a proud task of recording the history of his nation’s navy.