Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

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aurora
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Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby aurora » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:47 am

After the Battle of Sparivento, Winston Churchill demanded Somerville's scalp, having questioned the admiral's offensive spirit ever since his objections to attacking the French at Mers-el-Kébir. However, a board of inquiry exonerated Somerville, who enjoyed the strong support of several fellow admirals.

At 1.12pm Somerville had ordered his ships to abandon the chase; and return south to rejoin the convoy. He was well aware that Italian battleships were faster than the Ramillies and more powerful than the Renown, and that there was little chance of his force catching the battleships Vittorio Veneto and the Giulio Cesare unless something happened to slow them down.

He was also aware that the three merchant ships were about to reach the most dangerous part of the passage to Malta. Despite this one further attack was made by aircraft from the Ark Royal, which saw nine torpedo bombers attack the Vittorio Veneto while seven dive-bombers attacked some of the Italian cruisers. Neither attack met with any success, and nor did an attack by Italian aircraft against the Ark Royal. At 5pm Somerville’s ships rejoined the convoy, and escorted it safely to Malta, before turning back to return to Gibraltar.

As for Campioni, although he had a mandate to be "conservative", he had presided over the loss of Italy's best opportunity to deal the British a sharp setback in a fleet action. His days of command at sea were numbered. As Iachino remarked, "the use of these ships, which constituted at that moment nearly all of our fleet's effective units after the blow at Taranto, was decided by Supermarina mainly for reasons of morale, and to demonstrate that our combative spirit remained intact. Iachino replaced Campioni shortly afterwards.

It would seem to me that the reasons for retaining Somerville and dismissing
Campioni were sound.
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Jim

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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby paulcadogan » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:24 am

aurora wrote:Despite this one further attack was made by aircraft from the Ark Royal, which saw nine torpedo bombers attack the Vittorio Veneto


The Italians were smarting from the Taranto attack and, having seen what Swordfish torpedoes could do, there would be no risking the two operational battleships with an enemy carrier in the vicinity. (Their fears were later justified at Matapan!) It is clear from the track chart of the battle, that Campioni had no intention of engaging offensively with the two battleships since he altered course AWAY from the battlefield when the cruiser engagement started.

The Ark Royal's aircraft then intervened and he immediately turned the battleships away completely and withdrew, eventually loosing off a few salvos from VV's aft turret at the pursuing British cruisers causing them to break off the chase. Renown was too far back to engage VV, only spotting her briefly hull down at extreme range. By that time there was too much danger of Italian air attacks and no real chance of closing the range. There had even been a submarine alert. It was only prudent for Somerville to call off the chase. The track chart of the battle shows this pretty well. There is no question that he showed great offensive spirit in the face of a superior Italian force. Churchill was just being Churchill!

(Here I go illustrating again!) Here's the track chart to which (a few years ago) I added notations to show exactly how the battle progressed. I did it by matching the points on the chart with the events described in Peter C. Smith's Renown bio. It all matched up pretty well.
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aurora
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby aurora » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:27 am

Thanks Paul for your interest and input ,which as usual contains a beautifully portrayed Track Log. Notwihstanding the Taranto Effect- would an unfettered Campioni have done anything different-he ultimately lost his command for obeying Il Duce.??? :?
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aurora
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby aurora » Tue Jan 27, 2015 6:54 pm

Campioni, although he had a mandate to be conservative, he had presided over the loss of Italy's best opportunity to deal the British a sharp setback in a fleet action. His days of command at sea were numbered. As Iachino remarked, "the use of these ships, which constituted at that moment nearly all of our fleet's effective units after the blow at Taranto, was decided by Supermarina mainly for reasons of morale, and to demonstrate that our combative spirit remained intact.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim

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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby pgollin » Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:27 pm

aurora wrote:Campioni, although he had a mandate to be conservative, he had presided over the loss of Italy's best opportunity to deal the British a sharp setback in a fleet action. His days of command at sea were numbered. As Iachino remarked, "the use of these ships, which constituted at that moment nearly all of our fleet's effective units after the blow at Taranto, was decided by Supermarina mainly for reasons of morale, and to demonstrate that our combative spirit remained intact.


Was it better than Iachino's opportunity at Second Sirte ? There he had an overwhelming force which could have obliterated the remnants of the Mediterranean Fleet.

.

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aurora
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby aurora » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:23 pm

Nearly all sources acknowledge the Italian fleet inflicted significant damage and several casualties on the British squadron while suffering minimal damage and no casualties in return.

The action, however, represented a failure on the Italians' part to exploit their advantage and destroy the convoy. Indeed, they were unable to sink or cripple a single cargo ship. This was due to Admiral Vian's vigorous and skillful defence in the face of a superior adversary.

The overwhelming strength of the Italian fleet was not fully exploited by Admiral Iachino also because bad weather and lack of radar prevented him from continuing the pursuit of the convoy at dusk.

I am of the opinion that Campioni's failure was worst of the two because he had only the wrath of Mussolini-IF he had failed to best his enemies on the day
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby pgollin » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:16 am

.

There was no way that Campioni could have achieved anything as he did not have the forces required to force an action. What was he meant to do ?

Iachino, on the other hand, had the force and the time to destroy the remnants of the Mediterranean fleet and most of the merchant ships - and he threw the opportunity away. (He achieved almost nothing considering his force advantage.) He wandered around wasting his time advantage and then left as soon as he could think of an excuse whilst still having an overwhelming advantage. As for "bad weather" - he had the bigger ships, in general.

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aurora
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby aurora » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:41 pm

Quote
"There was no way that Campioni could have achieved anything as he did not have the forces required to force an action. What was he meant to do" ?

Quote aurora
"the use of these ships, which constituted at that moment nearly all of our fleet's effective units after the blow at Taranto, was decided by Supermarina mainly for reasons of morale, and to demonstrate that our combative spirit remained intact.

We will just have to agree to disagree
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby pgollin » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:43 am

.

What was Campioni meant to do ?

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aurora
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby aurora » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:39 pm

pgollin wrote:.

What was Campioni meant to do ?



Presumably proceed to attack the RN force
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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby pgollin » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:08 pm

.

Such articles as the Wikipedia rubbish ignore the basic tactics used by fleets.

SIMPLISTICALLY, cruisers were scouts in support of the battleships. Both the Italian and British cruisers were TRYING to tempt the other side to (in modern terminology) "get in too deep". The Italians wanted the British cruisers to come into the effective range of the Italian battleships and be pummelled (also hopefully getting the British capital ships to be forced to support them). The British, however, wanted to do exactly the same thing and tempt the Italian cruisers into 15-inch range of their heavies.

The fact that both were playing the same game meant that true battle could only have taken place if either ;

a: both battleships groups wanted to engage (no)

b: There had been a desire to have a cruiser/cruiser engagement, but the tactics weren't there.

---------------

Campioni had an overwhelming advantage in cruisers, so could have TRIED to have a cruiser/cruiser fight. In addition with the VV he had a ship that he "should" have been able to take on Renown (Ramillies was not in the game - but had to be considered as a possible danger).

.

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Re: Battle of Spartivento-Comparisons

Postby Byron Angel » Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:19 pm

..... Do we know what Iachino's orders were? Often times, otherwise inexplicable behavior on the part of a commander in battle can be explained by examining the orders under which he was operating. How often have we seen phrases like ... "Avoid engagement against a superior force." ...or... "Do not unnecessarily risk your ships." ?

B


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