Italian Cruisers of World War II...

...a new book from Osprey Publishing

Title: Italian Cruisers of World War II

Author: Mark Stille

Publisher: Osprey

ISBN: 978-1-4728-2535-3

This new book from Osprey is number 258 in their New Vanguard series.  It covers the story of the Heavy and Light series of Cruisers built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) and their service during WW2.  It splits the story over 7 chapters, in addition to the Introduction.  It examines RM Cruiser Design; Cruiser Weapons and Fire Control Systems; Cruiser Radar; Cruisers at War;; Heavy Cruisers; Light Cruisers and these are rounded off with an Analysis and Conclusion.

The various design features found in the different classes are interesting, some of which were found to be less than successful.  It considers the constraints put on the designs by the Washington Treaty.  As a tank fan myself, it is interesting that the same three basic elements of design applied to warships as well - Firepower, Protection and Speed (mobility).  Italy enjoyed a strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean  and despite some defeats at the hands of the Royal Navy, they did achieve some success in their own successful convoy escort duties and in preventing allied convoys being able to use the straits of Sicily to reach ports such as Alexandria, forcing them to go all the way round the southern tip of Africa to get to Egypt.

After the Italian surrender in 1943, a number of surviving RM cruisers made it to Allied ports, where some were put into service for the allies.  It makes for some interesting reading which I found very informative, and it well illustrated by a good selection of archive photos plus the super artwork for which Osprey have such a well deserved reputation.  The neat colour profiles will be of interest to warship modellers and the accounts of the Italian cruisers themselves for WW2 naval historians.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.

Robin