The best protected Italian cruisers
The four Zara class ships remain the most famous Italian cruisers of the Second World War for having the sad privilege, with the three American cruisers of the New Orleans class a little later, to have been cast at close range without having fired a single shot, and this during the famous battle of Cape Matapan, probably the first and last big classic engagement of Regia Marina. The Zara (launched in 1930), the Fiume (1930), the Gorizia (1930), the Pola (1931), were an evolution of the heavy cruiser after the two Trento.
Design of the Zara class
It was a question of less favoring the speed than the armor, in particular by the adoption of smaller dimensions (183 against 196 meters long, but a width unchanged to preserve the stability, as well as refitted superstructures to decrease the pitch) . Thus their displacement at full load increased from 13,300 to 14,300 tons). Also, the armor reached in many places 150 mm against 100 to 70 at best on both Trento.
Their firepower remained unchanged except for the range of 203 mm pieces, their best DCA and the abandonment of the torpedo tubes. Developing 95,000 hp instead of 150,000, because of the reduction in the number of boilers (8 against 12), their maximum speed in operation did not exceed 32 knots. However at the tests, the Pola maintained 34.2 knots with all the available power. the Pola had a bridge structure different from the other three since it extended to the rear, encompassing the funnel a concept that was taken over the Bolzano.
The Zara class in action
All four were therefore sunk by war, Zara, Pola and Fiume during the fatal night of March 29, 1941 off Cape Matapan, and the Gorizia in June 1944 by chariots handled by Free Italian crews. South in the harbor of La Spezia.
Displacement 11,680 tons standard -14,300 tons Fully Loaded
Dimensions: 182,80 m long, 20,62 m large, 7,20 m draft
Machinery: 2 shaft Parsons turbines, 8 Thornycroft boilers, 95,000 hp.
Top speed: 32 knots
Protection: Belt 150, decks 70, turrets 150-120, CT 150 mm
Armament: 8×203 (4×2), 6×100 (8×2), 6×40 AA, 8×13.2 AA
Author’s profile of the Zara class