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Type 600

by Cristiano D'Adamo


To understand the genesis of the “600” class, one has to look back at the pre-war disarmament conferences of Washington and London. The Conference of Washington of 1921 succeeded in curtailing the unlimited growth of the surface fleets of the major naval powers, but failed to regulate submarine warfare. This failure was to be remedied by the Conference of London of 1930, but the various naval powers were only able to define a fictitious categorization between “costal” submarines and “oceanic” ones. The first would be limited to 600 t., while the seconds could not exceed 2,000 t.


Eventually, the Germans demonstrated that smaller submarines could be successfully used in the oceans, and most navies understood that large submarines were of very limited use. The “600” class was Italy’s response to these new regulations which would allow naval power to build an unlimited number of “costal” submarines, vessels well suited for the Mediterranean. Two officers of the Regia Marina’s “Genio Navale” (engineering) generated the most popular submarine designs in use by the Italian Navy’s submarine fleet: Cavallini and Bernardis. The latter had been designing submarines since the First World War and was called to provide for the design for a new costal submarine class, the “Squalo”, from which one may say evolved the “600” class.


The “600” were the most numerous (59 units) of the many Italian submarines produced, and probably one of the most successful class ever built. They were produced in 5 series, which do not differ too much, but which show a slow progressive evolution of the boat within the constrained imposed upon the Italian shipbuilding industry by the war. The five series were named “Argonauta” (named after the first boat of the series), “Sirena”, “Perla”, “Adua”, and finally the “Platino”. These boats were built by various shipyards and differ only in relatively small details. The second series, the “Sirena”, began construction even before the first one was completed and operationally tested. The gamble paid off because these boats were actually of very good quality.


Note: The series "Platino" is also known as "Acciaio" or "Metalli" (metals). The series "Adua" is also referred to as "Africani" (Africans).
The series "Adua" includes three boats built for Brazil, "Tupy", "Tamoyo", and "Tymbira"


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