MTSM motor torpedo boat

The MTSM motor torpedo boat ( Motoscafo da Turismo Silurante Modificato) was a series of small motor torpedo boats developed by the Italian Royal Navy during World War II. The vessel was an improved version of its predecessor, the motor torpedo boat MTS. This was achieved through a larger sea-going hull with reinforced keel and a sharper stem. The MTSM were designed to be towed by larger motorboats into the target area. Once there, the MTSM could carry out a torpedo attack on moored or stationary ships. The boat could also been transported by land on trailers.

MTSMA-Motoscafo Turismo Silurante Modificato Allargato
MTSM on a trailer
Class overview
Name: MTSM
Preceded by: MTS
Completed: 100
General characteristics
Displacement: 3 tons
Length: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Beam: 7.3 ft 10 in (2.48 m)
Draught: 2 ft (0.61 m)
Propulsion: 2 x Alfa Romeo outboard motors for a total of 190 hp
Speed: 34 knots at full load
Complement: 2

Early development

The Italian plans for an assault motor torpedo boat, the MTS model, began in December 1939. The Italian Naval Command goal was a small, high speed two-seat motor torpedo boat based on the MTM. In addition to speed, seaworthiness and range should have made the motorboat capable of carrying out operations against anchored targets successfully. The MTS was armed with two 450mm torpedoes.[1][2]

In the summer of 1940 Baglietto shipyards released the first four prototypes, MTS 1, MTS 2, MTS 3 and MTS 4. The motorboats were tested in an unsuccessful attack on Greek naval forces at Porto Edda, Albania, on 5 April 1941. After that it was clear that the MTS had indeed met the criteria, but due to its small wooden hull it was only partially seaworthy. The demand for a better and larger successor led to the development of the MTSM.[1][2][3]

Specifications and deployment

With a displacement of three tons, the MTSM had a length of 8.4 m, a beam of 2.2 m and a draft of 0.6 m. They were propelled by two 95 Hp Alfa Romeo AR 6c outboard motors and developed a maximum speed of 34 knots at full load.[2] The boats were fitted with radio equipment. Each MTSM was armed with a single 450mm torpedo amidships, behind the crew cockpit, and carried two 50 kg depth charges. The boat undergone its first test trials in the fall of 1941, and surpassed the expectations in terms of speed, maneuverability and steadiness.[4] More than 100 units were delivered by Baglietto between 1941 and 1943.[2]

Operational history

HMS Eridge (L68)
HMS Eridge

The main combat operational use of the MTSM was against the Allied supply line between El Alamein and Alexandria. These boats belonged to a sub-unit of the Decima MAS, the motorized column "Giobbe", which moved the boats along the coast by trailers. Little was achieved due to Allied air superiority, but the nighttime shelling by British destroyers gave an opportunity to the MTSMs. On 29 August 1942, while a flotilla of destroyers was bombarding Axis positions at El Daba, Egypt, MTSM-228, manned by Sub-Lieutenant Pietro Carminatti,[5] and crewman Cesare Sani[6] torpedoed and disabled HMS Eridge. The crippled destroyer was towed to Alexandria by HMS Aldenham, where she was declared a constructive total loss and was used as a base ship for the rest of the war. Eridge was scrapped in 1946.[7] MTSM-228, which fired her single torpedo from a range of 150 meters, was bombed by a British aircraft and had to be abandoned by her crew. The next morning, the small craft was still adrift and the Italians attempted to take her to the coast, but a German Stuka strafed the boat by mistake and blew her to pieces.[5]

At German request, another motorized column, the "Moccagatta", was deployed to the Crimea in support of Operation Barbarossa from May 1942 to March 1943. The unit comprised five MTMs and five MTSMs. Italian reports claim that in the night of 6 June 1942 a 4,000 ton Soviet freighter was torpedoed and crippled by an MTSM and later destroyed by German aircraft. On 6 July a small craft carrying 13 Soviet servicemen was captured by another MTSM off Foros.[8][9]

The MTSMs were widely used in the Mediterranean theatre by September 1943, when Italy signed an armistice with the Allies. Ten units joined the Italian Co-Belligerent Navy, while an unknown number was active with the navy of the Italian Social Republic, a fascist statelet in northern Italy which remained part of the Axis. Most operations of the latter units took place in the Adriatic sea, sometimes with mixed Italian and German crews.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Greene and Massignani, pp. 40-41
  2. ^ a b c d e Fock, Harald (1996). Marine-Kleinkampfmittel. Bemannte Torpedoes, Klein-U-Boote, Kleine Schnellboote, Sprengboote gestern – heute – morgen. Nikol, pp. 115. ISBN 3-930656-34-5 (in German)
  3. ^ Greene and Massignani, p. 72
  4. ^ Greene, Jack and Massignani, Alessandro (2004). The Black Prince And The Sea Devils: The Story Of Valerio Borghese And The Elite Units Of The Decima Mas. Da Capo Press, p. 40. ISBN 0306813114
  5. ^ a b Borghese, Valerio (1952). Sea Devils: Italian Navy Commandos in World War II. Naval Institute Press, p. 189. ISBN 1-55750-072-X
  6. ^ HMS Eridge (L 68)
  7. ^ Greene and Massignani, p. 122
  8. ^ Italeri 1/35 MTM Barchino by Ray Mehlberger Archived 2012-10-19 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Borghese, pp. 178-179
French destroyer Trombe

Trombe was a Bourrasque-class destroyer (torpilleur d'escadre) built for the French Navy during the 1920s.

After France surrendered to Germany in June 1940 during World War II, Trombe served with the navy of Vichy France. She was among the ships of the French fleet scuttled at Toulon, France, on 27 November 1942. She later was salvaged and repaired by the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy), who christened the ship FR 31. When the Armistice of Cassibile was signed, the repairs were still underway and Free France requested the return of the vessel upon completion of the work. On October 28 1943, the Trombe moved to Bizerte, once again under French command.

On April 16, 1945, off the coast of Liguria, the Trombe came under attack by a MT explosive motorboat and MTSM motor torpedo boat of the Marina Nazionale Repubblicana. MTM 548 struck the Trombe starboard, killing 20 men and causing severe damage. She was successfully towed to Toulon, where the damaged was ruled irreparable. The Trombe was stricken and scrapped in 1950.

HMS Aldenham (L22)

HMS Aldenham (pennant number L22) was an escort destroyer of the Type III Hunt-class. The Royal Navy ordered its construction in July 1940. Upon completion in February 1942, she was deployed to convoy escort duty. Aldenham is one of the ships credited with the sinking of the U-587 on 27 March 1942. After circumnavigating Africa, she joined the Mediterranean Fleet, escorting convoys between Alexandria, Malta and Tobruk. She took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily, landings at Salerno and Anzio, the Dodecanese Campaign and Operation Dragoon before being assigned to the Adriatic Campaign.

On 14 December 1944, Aldenham was sunk by a naval mine in the Adriatic Sea off Pag Island after she led a Royal Navy force in a bombardment mission against targets on the island of Pag and near the town of Karlobag in support of the Yugoslav Partisans. Although the rest of the force came to pick up survivors, cold weather and severe damage to Aldenham permitted the rescue of only 63 of her crew. Her wreck, broken in two by the explosion, was discovered in 1999–2000. It is a war grave, where 126 crew members and two Yugoslav Partisans aboard Aldenham at the time of the mining died. She was the last Royal Navy destroyer lost in World War II.

MAS (motorboat)

Motoscafo armato silurante (Italian: "torpedo armed motorboat"), commonly abbreviated as MAS was a class of fast torpedo armed vessel used by the Regia Marina (the Royal Navy of Italy) during World War I and World War II. Originally, "MAS" referred to motobarca armata SVAN ("armed motorboat SVAN"), where SVAN stood for Società Veneziana Automobili Navali ("Naval Automobile Society of Venice).MAS were essentially motorboats with displacements of 20–30 tonnes (depending on the class), a 10-man crew, and armament composed of two torpedoes, machine guns and occasionally a light gun.

The term "MAS" is an acronym for Mezzi d'Assalto, ("assault craft") in the unit name Flottiglia MAS ("assault craft flotilla"), the most famous of which was the Decima MAS of World War II.

MT explosive motorboat

The explosive motorboat MT (Motoscafo da Turismo) also known as barchino (Italian for "little boat"), was a series of small explosive motor boats developed by the Italian Royal Navy, which was based on its predecessors, the prototype boat MA (Motoscafo d'Assalto) and the MAT (Motoscafo Avio Trasportato), an airborne prototype. Explosive motorboats were designed to make a silent approach to a moored warship, set a collision course and run into full gear until the last 200 or 100 yards to the target, when the pilot would eject after blocking the rudder. At impact, the hull would be broken amidships by a small explosive charge, sinking the boat and the warhead, which was fitted with a water-pressure fuse set to go off at a depth of one metre. By the end of September 1938 the Navy Department ordered six explosive boats. The one-pilot vessels were built by the companies Baglietto of Varazze and CABI of Milan, which was also to supply the engines. The small vessels were used by the Italian Navy in at least two major operations in the Mediterranean theatre during World War II.

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