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Air attack and sinking

144709 hours

A German reconnaissance (sighted by the destroyer Legionario) observed the maneuver and the new route taken by the Fleet and then communicated the relative data to his Command.

145009 hours.

The Germans, as soon as they received the sighting of the fleet at one time approaching 180 ° to the left, and that this had taken the route to exit the Gulf of Asinara, gave orders to 2nd Luftflotteto attack the FF.NN.BB. They then took off from Istres airport, in three waves, twenty-eight"DO217",of which eleven of the II KG 100 (transferred from Cognac) and seventeen of the III KG 100

An air formation was sighted and an air alert was raised.

151509 hours

The air formation, consisting of eleven aircraft, was recognized as German and, given the significant number of aircraft, the CC.FF.NN.BB. raised the signal P.3 to the shore which meant "Combat post ready to open fire" ._ cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

151609 hours

153709 hours

The first five German aircraft, which were commanded by theMajor Jope, had now passed the point hitherto envisaged for the release of the bombs, and therefore had to consider themselves moving away (in fact they flew at an altitude exceeding 5,000 m and were close to the vertical of the target, on a site 80 ° instead of 60 ° ). There were therefore no elements such as to judge their flight as "a definite hostile action". It was therefore impossible to open fire beforehand when the planes dropped the first bomb whose luminous tail, given the height at which the planes flew, was initially mistaken for a recognition signal. Soon after it was realized that it was a bomb and the order was given to the anti-aircraft artillery of the FF.NN.BB to open fire and all the ships of the Fleet went into action immediately. However, given the high altitude at which the German planes flew, the Italian guns had to fire at maximum elevation. With this elevation, although the accuracy of the shot was difficult, an effective barrage was still obtained.


Admiral Biancheri,always in his “Report”, so he reported the fire action of the FF.NN.BB .: “The whole formation begins to zigzag at full strength and instantly opens fire on the attacking planes. The volume of fire is very intense ”.

However, the fighters could not be catapulted, both for the surprise of the attack of the German planes, and for the speed of their action.

A first bomb fell 50 m bow of the cruiser Eugenio di Savoia, headquarters of the Command of the 7th Naval Division, without causing damage. A second bomb fell very close to the stern of the battleship Italia, causing the maximums to blow up in the power plant. The ship governed, but only for a short time, with the rudder remaining in the band, the maximums were immediately put back into operation and no other damage occurred

154 209 hours

An isolated plane, part of the II KG 100 reached Rome aft and starboard. The starboard 90 mm batteries immediately entered into action on the battleship, which had been in tappet from 3.10 pm, while the 152 mm medium-caliber towers could not be used because the German planes had a very high site. Immediately thereafter, the left 90 mm batteries were also fired as the German air formation had entered their range.

Rome was hit by a first bombPC-1.400Xin the central part, on the right side, between Tower 9 and Tower 11 of the 90 mm anti-aircraft batteries. The bomb crossed the unit to its full height and exploded just below the keel, causing flooding of the boiler room and aft engine. The damage caused immobilized the two engines relating to the propellers of the extreme stern, reducing the speed from 22 to 16 knots, they did not use the equipment of the General Plunger for the direction of the right anti-aircraft fire, they interrupted the electrical and telephone contacts, including those of the shooting anti-aircraft, and a leak occurred through which he took water. The ship tilted to the right and was counterbalanced by flooding to the left.

While the Rome was making a 60 ° turn to the left, the plane piloted by Sergeant Kurt Steinborn, dropped a PC-1400X bomb on the 80 ° site, targeting this battleship. The pointer, Sergeant Eugen Degan, followed the bomb that hit Roma in the center-bow on the left. The bomb slipped between the armored tower (where the command board, the admiral board as well as the fire direction of the large calibers were located) near the bow funnel, the tower No. 2 of the large caliber 381 mm guns and the 152 mm medium-caliber gun system. The bomb exploded in the vicinity of the engine room in the bow and initially caused a steam leak as well as the flooding of the engines in the bow, whose engines blocked. The ship then went on only for a bridegroom. At the same time the 152 mm ammunition depot exploded and for "sympathy" (a term used in the Navy to communicate that thedeflagration of an ammunition depot due to the explosion of another ammunition depot located in the immediate vicinity) the ammunition depot of Tower no. 2 of the 381 guns that was thrown into the air.

As a consequence of the explosion of the ammunition, a dense column of flames and smoke arose which reached heights of around 400 m which completely enveloped the armored tower; the ship was almost lifted into the air and immediately fell back and started skidding to the right side. The reservoirs of the anti-aircraft gunners (cabinets in which ammunition are stored near the individual pieces) burned down. Therefore, the bullets contained in them caught fire, were thrown into the air, seriously injuring and killing several sailors.

155209 hours

The Rome, so badly hit, capsized breaking into two sections that sank vertically.

161109 hours

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