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ZARA heavy cruisers (1931 - 1932)


Fiume pre-war


Name No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Fiume   STT, Trieste 29.4.1929 27.4.1930 23.11.1931 sunk 29.3.1941
Gorizia   OTO, Livorno 17.3.1930 28.12.1930 23.12.1932 damaged 10.4.1943, repair incomplete
Pola   OTO, Livorno 17.3.1931 5.12.1931 21.12.1932 sunk 29.3.1941
Zara   OTO, Muggiano 4.7.1929 27.4.1930 20.10.1931 sunk 29.3.1941

Technical data

Displacement standard, t

Fiume: 11326

Gorizia: 11712

Pola: 11545

Zara: 11680

Displacement full, t

Fiume: 13944

Gorizia: 14330

Pola: 14133

Zara: 14300

Length, m

179.6 wl 182.8 oa

Breadth, m


Draught, m

7.20 mean deep

No of shafts



Fiume: 2 sets Parsons geared steam turbines, 8 Yarrow boilers

others: 2 sets Parsons geared steam turbines, 8 Thornycroft boilers

Power, h. p.


Max speed, kts


Fuel, t

oil 2362

Endurance, nm(kts)5230(160
Armour, mm

belt: 150 - 100, bulkheads: 120 - 90, decks: 70 - 20, barbettes: 150 - 120, turrets: 150 - 120, CT: 150 - 70, communication tube: 120 - 100


4 x 2 - 203/53 Ansaldo 1927, 8 x 2 - 100/47 OTO 1928, 4 x 1 - 40/39 Vickers-Terni 1917, 4 x 1 - 12.7/62, 1 catapult, 3 seaplanes (P.6, M.41, Cant.25)



Standard scale images

<i>Zara</i> 1940
Zara 1940
<i>Pola</i> 1932
Pola 1932


<i>Fiume</i> pre-war
Fiume pre-war

Project history

One of the most successful "Washington" cruisers. As starting point at designing Trento design was served, significantly redesigned in aspiration to receive more balanced ship with the protection adequate to main guns calibre. It was originally supposed to increase belt thickness to 200mm, however even at decrease in a designed speed to 32kts, "Treaty" 10000t appeared are exceeded almost on 4000t. They have started to scale design down: High free-board flush-decked hull was refused in favour of lower board, with rather short forecastle that gave a prize in some hundreds tons though it negatively affected seaworthiness. A thickness of a belt was changed to 150mm, originally included in the design TTs were cancelled. The appreciable economy was ensured with application of more light machinery, developed earlier for 1st and 2nd Condottieri scouts series. Though the enumerated measures also have allowed to lower aloud standard displacement, it continued to exceed Treaty limited values approximately on 1500t.

Not advertising a design overload, Italians officially declared 10000t displacement of new cruisers of the programme 1928-1929 (Zara and Fiume) which have followed by Gorizia of 1929-1930 programme and Pola of 1930-1931 programme. Latter ship intended as flagship, some differed from remaining by increased fore superstructure pooled with the fore funnel.

Zara class cruisers have appeared one of the most protected "Washington" cruisers. The main 150mm belt, tapered to 100mm on the lower edge, was pulled between end barbettes, being closed by 120mm transverse bulkheads, and covered by 70mm armour deck. Above a belt the side had 30mm plating, and upper deck had 20mm thickness. Armour weight was 2700t, three times more than on Trento.

As it was already mentioned, machinery repeated structure accepted on Condottieri 1st and 2nd series scouts (only boilers number was increased from 6 to 8), but differed on an arrangement: on Zara for the first time in the Italian Navy "chess" placing have applied. There from a bow aftward followed: No1 boiler room (2 boilers); No1 engine room (starboard shaft turbine set) and No2 boiler room (1 boiler) on the starboard and port sides respectively; No3 and No4 boiler rooms (on 2 boilers each); No5 boiler room (1 boiler) and No2 engine room (port shaft turbine set). Though normal long-term machinery power was 76000hp with possibility forcing to 95000hp, on trials power reached 120000hp, and speed was 33-35.2kts; during service cruisers reached about 29-30kts.

In respect of armament Zara class ships differed from predecessors by transition to new 203mm M1929 guns, using heavier shell (125kg against 113kg on Trento).

It is paradoxical, but these ships were originally ranked on the Italian classification as light cruisers! Absurdity of similar reference was obvious, and they were very quickly re-rated at first into the category of armoured (to distinguish from commensurable, but the much easier protected Trento class), and then heavy.

Ship protection

150mm main belt (tapering to 100mm at lower edge) extending from the fore side of "A" to the aft side of "Y" barbettes and closed by 120mm bulkheads (90mm below waterline), it was covered by 70mm main deck. All side above the main belt had 30mm thickness, upper deck was 20mm. Turrets had 150mm faces, 75mm sides and 70mm roofs. Barbettes had 150mm protection above upper deck, 140mm between upper and main decks and 120mm below main deck. CT had 150mm sides, 80mm roof and 70mm deck. Director had 120mm vertical and 95mm horizontal protection. Steering gear was protected by 20mm lower deck with 30mm slopes.


1937, all: - 2 x 2 - 100/47, 4 x 1 - 40/39, 4 x 1 - 12.7/62; + 4 x 2 - 37/54 Breda 1932, 4 x 2 - 13.2/76

summer 1940, all: + 2 x 1 - 120/15 OTO 1934

1942, Gorizia: - 2 x 1 - 120/15; + 2 x 2 - 37/54 Breda 1938

Naval service

Pola 15.12.1940 was damaged by British air bombs at Naples and was under repair prior to early March, 1941.

During battle at Matapan 28-29.3.1941 three ships of this class were lost. By evening of 28th Pola was damaged by British air torpedo (Albacore from Formidable air group) and has lost a course. At night 29th she was sunk by torpedo from British destroyer Jervis. Arrived to the help cruisers Zara and Flume in the late evening 28th were hard damaged by gunfire of British battleships Barham, Warspite and Valiant. Fiume was sunk at once, Zara 29.3.1941 was finished by torpedo from British destroyer Jervis.

Gorizia was hard damaged 10.4.1943 by three bombs from American B-24 bombers, and by September, 1943 still was under repair at Spezia. She was scuttled by crew 8.9.1943, subsequently salvaged by Germans. She was again sunk at the same place 26.6.1944 by British Chariot human torpedoes (Italian manned), launched from MTB MS74.