R. Smg. Manara

Luciano Manara was a medium-cruising submarine of the Bandiera class (displacement of 942 tons on the surface and 1,147 in submergence). During the war it carried out 11 offensive/exploratory missions, mainly in the central Mediterranean, and 8 transfer missions (covering a total of 10,193 miles on the surface and 1,381 submerged), as well as 203 training sorties for the Submarine School in Pula.

Brief and Partial Chronology

February 18th, 1928

Manara was laid out in the Trieste Shipyard of Monfalcone (construction number 188).

October 5th, 1929

The submarine was launched at the Trieste Shipyard in Monfalcone.

The launch of the Manara in a picture published on the ‘Corriere della Sera’

Another photo of the launch. The original ‘square ‘low and straight’ bow is quite noticeable.

June 6th, 1930

Manara entered active service. Having shown a tendency to pitch, poor stability, and a tendency to go down by bow during surface navigation, the submarines of the Bandiera class were subjected, in the early days, to substantial modification works. At the bow the hull structure was raised to insert a floodable box to mitigate pitching, thus creating a “nose”. Side counter saddles were installed (to increase stability) and the shape of the cunning tower was modified, making it more enclosed.

Manara with the modified bow

1931

Together with the boats of the same class Fratelli Bandiera, Ciro Menotti, and Santorre Santarosa (and for a period, also the minelayer submarine Filippo Corridoni), Manara went to form the VI Submarine Squadron of Medium Cruise, based in Taranto.

Manara, Menotti and Santarosa made a cruise to Tripoli and the Dodecanese, to check the performance of the class. However. There was still a tendency to slip into the sea by the bow.

April 26th, 1931

Manara received the combat flag, offered by the Milan section of the Association of veteran ‘Bersaglieri’ (Luciano Manara was the organizer and commander of a battalion of volunteer bersaglieri during the First War of Independence).

1932

The VI Submarine Squadron was renamed VII Submarine Squadron, remaining based in Taranto.

1933

The VII Squadron was transferred to Brindisi. The units were used in training and short cruises in Italian waters.

1934

The VII Submarine Squadron was again renamed VI Squadron and it was transferred to Naples. Manara completed a cruise to the Dodecanese.

1935

The four boats of the class were transferred to Tobruk and remained there for a year.

December 1936

Manara carried out a clandestine mission to support Franco’s forces (opposed to the Republican or allied ships) during the Spanish Civil War. The boat spent a total of 60 days at sea but was unsuccessful.

1937

Manara, Bandiera, Menotti and Santarosa formed the XXXII Submarine Squadron (later XXXIV Submarine Squadron) based in Messina.

February 1937

The command of Manara was taken over by the Lieutenant Commander Ugo Ferruta, who took over from his peer Ugo Mazzola, from Naples.

October 5th, 1938

Manara was assigned to the Command School Flotilla.

April 27th, 1940

Lieutenant Salvatore Todaro took command of Manara.

June 10th, 1940

Upon Italy’s entry into the war, Manara (Lieutenant Commander Salvatore Todaro), together with Bandiera, Menotti and Santarosa, forms the XXXIII Submarine Squadron, framed as part of the VIII Grupsom, based in Trapani.

June 21st, 1940

Manara (Lieutenant Commander Salvatore Todaro) left for the first war patrol, south of Crete and in the waters of Cyrenaica, positioning itself in the middle of the Gaudo-Ras el Tin junction (where it remained until June 27th).

June 29th, 1940

On the way back to base, 45 miles southeast of Capo Spartivento Calabro, Manara was sighted by the seaplane Short Sunderland L 5804/S of the RAF’s 230th Squadron (201st Group), piloted by Captain William Weir Campbell, which had recently bombed and sunk Rubino. Having no more bombs, Sunderland descended to an altitude of a few meters and attacked Manara with machine guns. The submarine did not suffer any damage (on the Italian side there was the impression that the plane had dropped bombs, but this was a mistake, since it has already used all of them against Rubino) and the gunner on guard on Manara responds in turn with a long burst of machine guns, which appeared to have hit the British plane which also appeared to lose altitude (however,  Campbell’s Sunderland did not suffer any damage). Commander Todaro immediately gave the order to crash dive and disengage between one passage and another of the seaplane. However, Manara, whose diving maneuver was slow in itself, has to interrupt this operation half way due to the sudden blockage of the engines’ exhaust valve, which could not be closed.

The weapons officer, Ensign Vittorio Patrelli Campagnano (TN, a future Admiral of the Italian navy), then remains in the conning tower and got behind the machine gun and was ready to fire. Commander Todaro controlled the situation by leaning out of the hatch. In the end the problem was solved, Todaro and Patrelli Campagnano went below deck and Manara could dive.

July 7th, 1940

Manara, together with the submarines Ascianghi, Axum, Turchese, Glauco and Menotti, was sent on patrol south of Sardinia.

August 1st, 1940

Manara, together with the submarines Scirè, Argo, Neghelli, Turchese, Medusa (which Manara replaces due to an early return to base), Axum and Diaspro, was sent to form a barrage north of Cape Bougaroni following the departure, from Gibraltar, of the British Force H.  The submarines formed two lines of three and four units north of Cape Bougaroni, spaced ten miles apart, with an interval of twenty miles between each unit of the same line.

Italian submarines patrolled the area unsuccessfully until August 9th; Force H passed further north of the area patrolled, which thus were not able to spot it.

September 26th, 1940

Lieutenant Innocenzo Ragusa (from Crotone), previously the second-in-command, took over command of Manara.

April 21st through 28th, 1941

Manara, Santarosa and the submarines Goffredo Mameli and Ruggero Settimo were sent to patrol the waters around Malta.

July 21st and 22nd, 1941

Manara was sent between Pantelleria and Malta, together with three other submarines (Fratelli Bandiera, Dessiè and Ruggero Settimo) where the boats were deployed twenty miles from each other, in contrast to the British operation “Substance. Manara sighted the convoy and the British ships that had left Malta to rendezvous with Force H, and launcged the discovery signal, but failed to get into a suitable attack position.

July 30th, 1941

The boat was again sent between Pantelleria and Malta (together with the submarines Fratelli Bandiera, Tembien and Zaffiro) to participate in the fight against the British operation “Style”, which also consisted in sending a convoy to Malta. This time, however, he spots nothing.

March 16th, 1942

Manara was assigned to the Submarine School in Pula.

March 16th, 1942, through July 15th, 1943

Manara carried out 203 training sorties for the Submarine School in Pula.

Manara later in the war with the new mimetic painting

1942

The boat underwent modification work, and the size of the cunning tower was reduced.

July 1943

Manara moved to Brindisi to undergo major modernization works.

Epilogue

On September 3rd, 1943, while the British Eighth Army was landing in Calabria (Operation “Baytown”), the command of the Italian submarine fleet (Maricosom) began the implementation of the “Zeta” Plan, calling for the deployment of most of the surviving submarines in the waters of southern Italy, in a last attempt to protect the coasts of Campania and Calabria from the Allied forces.

Even Manara, which was obsolete, left Brindisi and was moved to the Ionian Sea (off the coast of Sicily), as part of this plan. In all, in addition to Manara, the submarines Alagi, Brin, Diaspro, Marea, Vortece, Ciro Menotti, Onice, Zoea, Luigi Settembrini, CB 8, CB 9 and CB 10 were sent to the waters of Campania and Calabria.

Manara, under the command of Lieutenant Gaspare Cavallina, set sail from Brindisi at 08:02 Pm on September 3rd, but navigation was tormented by breakdowns. First the left engine caught fire, then there were failures that caused several water infiltrations. The repairs of the breakdowns lasted from 06:10 AM to 05.30 PM on September 4th, but they were not enough to put the boat back in working order, so at 08.15 PM Manara had to reverse course to return to base. At 4.20 AM on September 5th, 1943, the submarine moored at the quay of the IX Submarine Group in Brindisi.

There, on September 8th, 1943, it was surprised by the announcement of the armistice between Italy and the Allies. Since Brindisi remained firmly in Italian hands (so much so that the fugitive Vittorio Emanuele III elected it as provisional capital), Manara escaped the fate of many other units under construction or damaged in ports of central or northern Italy, which were scuttled or captured by German forces. As he was still immobilized by the breakdowns, he did not have to face the sad journey to Malta.

Manara in a picture taken after the armistice

Once it was back in service, the submarine’s period of co-belligerence began. At 5.50 PM on October 27th, Manara, still under the command of Lieutenant Cavallina, sailed from Brindisi for a special mission on behalf of the British Special Operation Executive. Having sailed up the Adriatic, the submarine landed three groups, each composed of two informant operators, in as many locations on the Upper Adriatic coast (one of them was the “RAR” mission of the Military Intelligence Service, the secret service of the Italian armed forces. It was composed of the second lieutenant Vincenzo Rosati and the radio telegraphist Ezio Paolini, and it was the first mission to land in the Marche region. The team operated in the Ascoli Piceno area in November-December 1943. Once the mission was completed, Manara returned to Brindisi, where it arrived at 6:AM on November 3rd. The engines had failed again, so the submarine had to go back to the shipyard.

Its age, and the repeated failures that had affected its operation, advised against using Manara again in special infiltration missions. Therefore, it was used for training tasks. Returning to efficiency in 1944, the boat was used in the training of Allied escort ships (and later also of Italian ones). For this activity it was initially based in Brindisi, then in Taranto and finally in Palermo, then again in Taranto and Brindisi. From August 5th to October 27th, 1944, Manara (under the command of Lieutenant Enzo Mariano) was also based in Malta, where it carried out 14 training exercises.

Like the other Italian submarines, at the end of the war Manara was decommissioned, and like the other boats it languished in this state until February 1st, 1948, when it was decommissioned; demolition followed.

Original Italian text by Lorenzo Colombo adapted and translated by Cristiano D’Adamo

Operational Records

TypePatrols (Med.)Patrols (Other)NM SurfaceNM Sub.Days at SeaNM/DayAverage Speed
Submarine – Medium Range1910193138184 137.79 5.74

Actions

DateTimeCaptainAreaCoordinatesConvoyWeaponResultShipTypeTonnsFlag

Crew Members Lost

Last NameFirst NameRankItalian RankDate
ManaraAngeloNaval RatingComune6/29/1940