Zara-class Heavy Cruiser
Ships in class: Zara, Pola, Gorizia, Fiume
The Zara-class represented a great improvement over the Trento class. The main battery was composed of eight of the more modern 203mm/50 guns that Bolzano incorporated, with the better designed ammunition hoists and accompanying rate of fire. The Zaras dropped the torpedos, but kept a similar arrangement of secondary armaments as the Trentos. The Zaras were slower than the Trentos, but featured more than double the protection which was laid out in a scheme similar to that a battleship my incorporate, making them extremely sturdy for their size. Four ships in class were built, of them three were sunk during the Battle of Cape Matapan. When Pola was disabled by a torpedo hit from a British Swordfish, the other two members of the 1st cruiser division moved to protect her. Under cover of night a squadron of British battleships was able to close to within 3800 yards of the three cruisers and escorts, and sink them in very short order. The loss of an entire cruiser division illustrated a glaring deficiency on the part of the Regia Marina when it came to night actions- the lack of radar on most vessels. Gorizia, which had not been present at Matapan, survived until she was captured by the Germans upon the Italian surrender to the Allies. She survived heavy damage inflicted by an American air attack, but was sunk in harbor in La Spezia by Italian human torpedoes.