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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Introducing the Italian Navy

The Regia Marina or Italian Royal Navy was a considerable force going into WWII. At least on paper, it was the 4th largest Navy of the participants, however not all of its ships and crews were at the level of opertional readiness. In addition to that, throughout te war it suffered from fuel shortages which limited its operational capabilities and its manufacturing capacity did not allow them to produce new or replacement ships as fast as the war demanded. On the technical side, the Italian ships were fast but lightly armored. They lacked radar, but had good range finding and accurate firing control mechanisms.  Lastly their aircraft carriers were never completed, so they had to rely on ground based air support. Despite some of these shortcomings, the Italian navy battled the British Royal Navy on equal terms for control of the Mediterranean and the shipping lanes to Malta and North Africa for about 3 years and it was not until the Allies landed in North Africa and established new air bases there that the balance was decidedly shifted in favor of the British Royal Navy. In addition to the Mediterranean theater, the Italian Navy also saw action on the Red Sea, posing a real threat to British shipments crossing the Suez Canal. Their submarines also fought in the Atlantic theater and the Far East. After the armistice in 1943, many ships surrendered to the Allies forming the Italian Co-Belligerent Navy, other were scuttled by their crews and a very small fraction were captured in port by the Axis forces or chose to remain on their side forming the National Republican Navy. However the role of these vessels was not as prominent from this point forward as it had been during the first half of the war. In terms of Toy Soldiers, I am only aware of one set made by Atlantic. Let's take a look. 

Atlantic Sailors - Part I
 It's not clear to me whether these sailors are from WWII or more recent. The weapons and the fact that some of them are wearing helmets, make them look a bit more modern to me, but I suppose they could pass for WWII if needed.

Atlantic Sailors - Part II
Then again the telescope would seem a bit old tech on a modern ship that operates with radar. 

Atlantic Sailors - Part III
These two guys are supposed to be used with a speed boat, but in place of that, I sat them on a matchbox raft. Not as fast, but good enough to show them seating.

Atlantic Sailors - Part IV
This man is supposed to be operating an AA gun. I don't have the one he is supposed to be used with, but I have a similar one from another Atlantic set which is good enough to display him as he was meant to be used.

Click here to see a post about the French Navy
Click here to see a post about the Danish Navy

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