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British Battleship vs Italian Battleship...

...The Mediterranean 1940-41, Duel No 101, from Osprey Publishing

Title: British Battleship vs Italian Battleship

Author: Mark Stille

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-3226-9

Number 101 in Osprey's Duel series considers the naval war in the Mediterranean during the first part of WW2. As ever, it features plenty of wartime archive images, along with excellent artwork and a number of coloured maps to illustrate events.
Both the Royal Navy and the Italian Regia Marina were well equipped, including not only their ships but allso the training of their officers and crew. When you read the detail it might come as a surprise to realise that British and Italian battleships only directly engaged each other on just one occasion, and that was at long range rather than at close quarters. This was the Battle of Calabria in July 1940. Both sides had battleships at two other actions which are covered in the book, at Cape Spartivento in November 1940 and again at Cape Matapan in March 1941. Following an Introduction and a Chronology of events over the period, the book goes on to explore the Design and Development stories of battleships by both navies. Then it goes on to consider the Strategic Situation, such as how the Royal Navy devoted much effort in getting supply convoys through to the island of Malta, while the Italians concentrated on defending the Central Mediterranean, and looking to avoid direct confrontation unless they had a numerical advantage. Air power on the side of the Allies also remained a constant threat. It goes on to look at the Technical Specifications of the vessels on either side, a comparison of the 2 sides and then details of the three main combat scenarios that took place.
Everything is rounded off with an Analysis of what happened in this period before Italy surrendered in 1943. The Italian battleships were sailed to Allied harbours, though one was attacked and sunk by German aircraft carrying radio guided glide bombs. Another interesting addition to their Duel series.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.


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