The Regia Marina “Costanzo Ciano” Light Cruisers

In 1939 the Regia Marina launched a building program aimed to cover operations in the India Ocean. The nucleus for this was the building of a naval base in Chisimaio (very close to the Kenya’s border), and a set of warship specifically designed to operate at that latitude.

Specifically, the program (8 April, 1939) called for:

3 long range cruisers (max 152mm, 8000t);

2 fast oilers, with ability to act as a raiders, 8500t;

12 “oceanic submarines” built for tropical climates (120mm, 1350t);

6 long range DEs, built for tropical climates (max 100mm.);

the program included also, for the Mediterranean:

12 CTs, with double purpose main guns (max 120mm, 1500t);

12 submarines (100mm, 635t).

6 minelayers (1100t)

The very center of the program were the three light cruisers, class later named after the suddenly deceased, prominent fascist politician, Admiral Costanzo Ciano.

The required specs fo such units were as follows:

8000 t., 32k for 12 hours, standard load, 15000nm at 15k (one diesel engine on the central axis, turbines on the others); 6 or 8 152mm, 8 90mm AA, very good horizontal protection, two airplanes, 50% more ammunition load compared to the standards.

A first draft for the cruiser was an unusual ship for the Regia Marina, with two quadruples 152 mm.:

Breakout Fleet

For a long time, it was believed that the Ciano aspect would had been very close to the latest “Garibaldi” class light cruiser, as in the proposed drawing in Warship 2006:

Costanzo Ciano from Warship
This is NOT the Costanzo Ciano appearance.

Newer findings of original documentation (reported in Storia Militare) permit a more precise reconstruction of the cruiser aspect (grey areas directly derived from original documentation, other area speculations based on the cruiser design practice of the times):

RM Costanzo Ciano CL

The specification were:

8 155/55 in quadruples or 9 in triples, 45° elevation, the latter being chosen in November, 1939; 8 90/50 in stabilized turrets, 8 twin 20/65 in stabilized nests (see below).torretta stabilizzata per 4 complessi da 20

(Sources: Le implicazioni navali della conquista dell’impero (1935-1941), E. Pellegrini, Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare, Roma 2003; Il programma navale italiano del 1939 (A. de Toro), Storia Militare, November 2013); The Breakout fleet – the oceanic programmes of the Regia Marina 1934-1940, Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O’Hara, Warship 2006))

6 thoughts on “The Regia Marina “Costanzo Ciano” Light Cruisers

  1. The Regia Marina had a very ambitious colonial naval policy for such a late colonial power. I’ve even heard of an Ansaldo design from 1933-34 for 93 metre long, 1,940 tonne sloop armed with four 152 mm guns in two double mountings was proposed. It would have been interesting to see what Italy would have devised if the war had been delayed.

  2. Well, there was the ambitious “escape fleet” program, that envisaged for two 9/406 mm battleships, one ore more aircraft carriers, oceanic cruisers, and the escort vessels. I never heard of the Ansaldo design, at least in this form: do you have any further info?

  3. Michele Cosentino mentions it in Warship 2016 on the Regia Maria sloop Eritrea:

    It was an Ansaldo design for a colonial sloop that was superseded by the development of the Eritrea.

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