Dear Readers! The desire to write this article arose after the publication of the work of Polina Efimova "The Romanian Fleet: Back to Square". I began to look for additional information about these ships in Romanian, Italian, Spanish and English sources and got so carried away by this that the materials were enough for a whole article.
This is my first attempt at writing on the nautical theme, so I beg your pardon if I have not always used nautical terminology.
Destroyers of the Marashti type (Distrugători clasa Mărăşti - rum.) Are also known as destroyers of the Vivor class (Distrugători clasa “Vifor”) and “tip M” (rum.); “Mărăști-class destroyers” (English); cruiser-scouts of the "Aquila" class (L'esploratore classe "Aquila" - Italian); destroyers of the Ceuta type - destructores Clase Ceuta (Spanish) and destroyers of the Light type (USSR).
They belong to the subclass “destroyer leaders”, and their direct successors were the ships of the “Regele Ferdinand“/ tip “R” (rum.) Type.
A total of 4 destroyers of the "Marashti" type were built and launched. These ships took part in both world wars, and since they happened to sail under the flags of different states, they several times changed not only their names, but also their weapons and, according to the rules of the operating country classification, even the class. All in all, they have lived quite a long and hectic life.
The history of these ships began in 1913, when the Kingdom of Romania placed an order for the construction of 4 military ships of the "Distrugător" type at the Italian Pattisson shipyard in Naples (Cantieri C. & TT Pattison di Napoli). Destroyer, in Russian destroyer, abbr. Destroyer). According to the specification, the speed of the destroyers was to be at least 34 knots with a standard displacement of 1,700 tons. Since the ships were to operate in the Black Sea, they designated a fuel supply for 10 hours for sailing at full speed. The armament was to consist of seven guns (3x 120-mm / 45, 4x 75-mm / 50) and five 450-mm torpedo tubes. In addition, the destroyers had to take a reserve of up to 50 minutes and a small number of depth charges.
These ships were designed by engineer Luigi Scaglia. By the way, he has just completed the construction of a series of 6 Indomito-class destroyers for the Italian Royal Navy. Initially, at the shipyard, the ships of the “Romanian order” were assigned literal-digital names: E1, E2, E3, E4, but soon the customer gave them the following Romanian names: Vifor, Vijelia, Vârtej and Viscol. Since then, these ships have become known as the "Vifor" class destroyers (Distrugători clasa "Vifor" rum.).
REFERENCE … Distrugători (masculine, plural) is read from Romanian Dis-tru-ge-TOR. Stress on the 4th syllable. "Destroyers" or "Destroyers" is translated. Distrugător (male, singular) is read from Romanian Dis-tru-ge-TOP. Stress on the 4th syllable. "Destroyer" or "Destroyer" is translated.
Vifor (male, singular) is read from the Romanian VI-for. Stress on the 1st syllable. Translation: "The Tempest".
Vijelia (feminine, singular) is read from the Romanian Vi-zhe-li-Ya. Stress on the 4th syllable. Translation: “Tempest / Storm / Hurricane”.
Vârtej (male, singular) is read from Romanian Vyr-TER. Stress on the 2nd syllable. Translation: (Whirlwind / Whirlpool).
Viscol (male, singular) is read from the Romanian VIS-col. Stress on the 1st syllable. Translation: (Blizzard / Blizzard / Blizzard / Blizzard / Blizzard).
The year was 1915, and the First World War had already begun, but Italy still remained neutral. However, Great Britain forced Italy to declare war on Austria-Hungary, as well as to oppose all the enemies of the Entente. A number of territories were promised as “payment for the blood” of Italy.
Moreover, Britain provided Italy with a loan of £ 50 million.
Since Italy was already preparing for war, the Italians decided not to transfer the ordered destroyers to the Royal Romanian Navy, and on June 5, 1915, they requisitioned ships of the "Romanian order" for the needs of the Royal Italian Naval Forces. By that time, the ships of the “Romanian order” were under construction in varying degrees of readiness: Vifor - 60%, Vijelia - 50%, Vârtej - 20%, and Viscol was not even laid down.
Since these ships were significantly superior to any other Italian destroyer of those years in terms of displacement, weapons and speed of movement, they were reclassified as Scout cruisers, and according to the Italian classification Esploratori. They were destined to play the role of leaders of destroyers and reconnaissance squadrons.
Scheme of the cruiser-scout "Aquila", 1917.
By order of July 27, 1916, the ships became part of the Italian Navy, but they did not leave their former names behind them, so they were given Italian names: Vifor was renamed Aquila (Eagle), Vijelie - Sparviero (Sparrowhawk), Vârtej - Nibbio (Kite) and Viscol - Falco (Hawk).
Since then, these vessels have become known as the L'esploratore classe “Aquila” - Italian.
Their construction continued, but, for various reasons, depending on the situation in the theater of operations, it was carried out with significant delays.
In addition to the "rebranding" of the ships, the issue of their armament was revised. It was decided to equip the vessels with the following types of weapons: 7x 102-mm guns with a barrel length of 35 calibers (4 "/ 35) of the system of the French engineer Gustave Canet, manufactured by the British company Armstrong Whitworth, as well as two paired 450-mm torpedo tubes (2x2 17, 7 ").
But the rumor that one of their future adversaries, the Austro-Hungarian Navy, was planning to rearm its cruiser Admiral Spaun by replacing the 100-mm guns with 150-mm, persuaded the Italians to arm three of their already completed ships with others. types of artillery systems, but also Kane-Armstrong: 3x 152-mm guns with a barrel length of 40 calibers (6 "/ 40), 4x 76-mm guns with a barrel length of 40 calibers (3" / 40) and 2x paired 450-mm torpedo tubes devices (2x2 17, 7 ").
While the ships were being completed, not only possible types of artillery weapons were discussed, but also its location. Below is the layout of the weapons on the destroyers.
Translation from Italian explanations for the schemes:
Armament on "Aquila" and "Sparviero", 1916th year.
Armament on "Aquila" and "Nibbio", 1918th year.
Armament on "Sparviero", 1918th year.
In 1916, while the fourth ship was still being completed, on the leader of the destroyers "Carlo Mirabello" (Mirabello-class destroyers), they decided to strengthen the armament by replacing the 102-mm / 35 bow guns with 152-mm / 40 (102/35 Mod. 1914 on QF 6 in / 40 produced by Armstrong-Whitworth). However, these guns turned out to be too heavy for this type of ships, and the rearmament attempt was considered unsuccessful.
Therefore, it was decided to arm the fourth and final cruiser of this series called "Falco" as follows: 5x 4, 7-inch (120 mm) guns with a barrel length of 45 calibers (4, 7 "/ 45) and 2x 3- inch (76 mm) guns with a barrel length of 40 calibers (3 "/ 40). 2x paired 450mm torpedo tubes (2x2 17.7”), as well as 2x 6.5mm Fiat-Revelli heavy machine guns of the 1914 model. The stock of mines was different for reasons unknown to me.
Below is a table of artillery, mine-torpedo and anti-submarine weapons. Since I translated from several foreign languages, I am not sure about the purpose of mines: we are talking about barrage or anti-submarine depth charges. The British simply write “Mines”, and the Italians write “mine & bombe di profondità” - mines and depth charges. Probably, they could take both mines and a number of depth charges.
Aquila and Sparviero were commissioned in 1917 and had time to fight, Nibbio fought for only a few months, and the First World War ended, but Falco was commissioned in the post-war period.
In 1920, Italy handed over 2 of the four requisitioned ships to Romania: Sparviero and Nibbio. They became part of the Romanian Royal Navy, but the Romanians did not leave their former names behind them, so they were given different Romanian names: Sparviero was renamed Mărăşti, and Nibbio was renamed Mărăşeşti and began to be classified as destroyers. Since then, these warships have become known as Mareshti-class destroyers (Distrugători clasa Mărăşti - rum.).
REFERENCE … The full names of the ships: NMS “Mărăşti” and NMS “Mărăşeşti”. NMS = Nava Majestatii Sale = His Majesty's Ship.
Mărăşti is read from the Romanian Mé-RESHT. Stress on the 2nd syllable. It is permissible to pronounce in the Russian manner “Me-NESh-ty”. Stress on the 2nd syllable.
Mărăşeşti is read from the Romanian Mé-re-SESHT. Stress on the 3rd syllable. It is permissible to pronounce in the Russian manner “Me-re-Shesh-ty”. Stress on the 3rd syllable.
These are settlements in Vrancea County, Romania. During the First World War, it was a war zone, where in the summer of 1917 the Romanian troops, who fought on the side of the Entente, won one of the few major victories: they stopped the advance of the German and Austro-Hungarian troops at Mareshesti, Maresti and Oytuz.
After the transfer of Sparviero and Nibbio to the Romanian Royal Navy (in some sources “resale”), the Italians decided to re-equip the ships they had left: Aquila and Falco.
In 1937, Aquila dismantled all 3 152mm / 40 guns and 2 of the four 76mm / 40 guns, and Falco dismantled one of the five 120/45 guns. As a result of castling, the two ships that remained to serve under the flag of the Italian Navy received the same artillery armament: 4 main guns 120mm / 45 and 2 anti-aircraft guns 76mm / 40.
After receiving the destroyers Sparviero and Nibbio, the Royal Romanian Navy also decided to rearm them, and in 1926 they replaced 3 152mm / 40 guns with three 120mm guns.
And in 1944, the next rearmament was carried out: on the destroyers Mărăşti (ex-Sparviero) and Mărăşeşti (ex-Nibbio), they dismantled 2 of 4 37-mm guns each and replaced them with two 20-mm automatic cannons.
In addition, 6, 5-mm machine guns were replaced with large-caliber 13, 2-mm.
I believe that we are talking about an anti-aircraft modification of the 20-mm automatic cannons "Oerlikon" of the FFS series and naval deck-mounted single anti-aircraft mounts with 13.2 mm Hotchkiss machine guns.
In the final version, the weapons of the destroyers by the end of World War II looked like this:
On October 11, 1937, the Italian Aquila and Falco were secretly sold to Spanish nationalists. The Spanish renamed Aquila to Melilla (Russian Melilla), and Falco to Ceuta (Russian Ceuta). Melilla and Ceuta were again considered destroyers.
The story with the names of the Spanish destroyers deserves a special mention, and I decided to talk about it in more detail in the following parts of this article.