Italy's navy, the Regia Marina was the fourth-largest naval force in the world at the outbreak of World War II, and yet is often overlooked and largely discounted as ineffective. In general the fleet was made up of obsolete vessels, lacked radar functionality, and had a reputation for indiscipline and poorly trained crews. The complex and bureaucratic command system imposed on the fleet further hampered its effectiveness. In this book, Mark Stille details why the Italian battleships were able to maintain a solid reputation, examining their impressive designs and the courage and determination of the fleet at Calabria, Sirte, Cape Spartiveto and Cape Matapan, all illustrated with stunning photographs from the Italian Navy's own archives.
Read an extract of Italian Battleships of World War II