anchor chain


Photo of Sagittario

Displacement 13,500 tons
Armament Light AA
Aircraft 33
Speed 32 knots
VTS Rating   0   2   7 2

The Italian fleet by the mid-'thirties was too speedy for the likes of the "training carrier" Falco, so the Regia Marina sought to build a faster ship to keep pace with the Fleet. A large, Pola-class heavy cruiser was already laid down, so the Italian designers rapidly created a design to fit it. The CV would have to have sufficient endurance to be turning into the wind, away from the fleet, and catching up after launches and recoveries. A heavy cruiser, though fast, is slim and the overhang of deckspace might unbalance it, so the flightdeck of the now-named Sagittario (Archer) was very narrow for a "fleet" carrier.

When Italy declared war on France, the Italian scouting fleet surprised a small but potent French fleet off Corsica. Fiat G.50 bis scout-bombers from Saggittario found the battlecruiser Strasbourg and stopped it dead in the water with near-misses in the stern that bent her propellor shafts. Jubilantly, the next attack wave of Caproni Bandini torpedo bombers (made by equipping the Campini jet project aircraft with a "conventional" three-row radial engine and using the capacious interior as a torpedo bay) sank her. Heady with success, Sagittario and her "sister" heavy cruisers attempted to slip past the Straits of Gibraltar but British Beauforts put torpedoes into both her and CA Gorizia and they had to turn back. They tried again after repairing and this time successfully met up with a large Axis fleet near the Azores. Planes from the similar French CV Duquesne found Sagittario and started vicious fires and explosions that doomed her.

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