Leone Pancaldo.jpg
Pancaldo in 1943
 Regia MarinaKingdom of Italy
Name: Leone Pancaldo
Namesake: Leon Pancaldo
Builder: Cantieri Navali Riuniti, Riva Trigoso
Laid down: 7 July 1927
Launched: 5 February 1929
Completed: 30 November 1929
Fate: Sunk by aircraft, 30 April 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Navigatori-class destroyer
  • 1,900 long tons (1,930 t) standard
  • 2,650 long tons (2,693 t) full load
Length: 107 m (351 ft 1 in)
Beam: 10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)
Draught: 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in)
  • 2 shaft geared turbines
  • 4 boilers
  • 50,000 hp (37,300 kW)
  • 630 tons fuel oil
Speed: 38 knots (43.7 mph; 70.4 km/h)
Complement: 224
Service record
Part of:
  • Destroyer Division 14 (1940)
  • Destroyer Division 15 (1943)

Leone Pancaldo was one of twelve Navigatori-class destroyers, built for the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) between the late 1920s and the early 1930s. Shortly after Italy's entry into World War II, she was sunk by British torpedo bomber in Augusta, but was later refloated and repaired. She was briefly used in fast troop transport missions to Tunisia until her second and final sinking by Allied aircraft in April 1943.

Construction and career

Leone Pancaldo, built at the Cantieri Navali Riuniti in Riva Trigoso, was laid down on 7 July 1927, launched on 5 February 1929 and completed on 30 November 1929, second ship of her class to be commissioned. Between May and September 1930 she underwent modification work aimed at improving stability and seaworthiness.[1][2]

During the 1930s, Pancaldo largely operated with the Italian fleet, participating in exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. Between December 1930 and January 1931 she and seven sisterships were deployed in the Atlantic Ocean in support of Italo Balbo's transatlantic flight from Italy to Brazil.[3] Between 1936 and 1938, Pancaldo also participated in the Spanish Civil War, that saw heavy Italian naval involvement in support of Francisco Franco's forces.[1]

Originally classified as an esploratore (flotilla leader/scout cruiser), Pancaldo was re-rated as a destroyer in 1938.[1] After being briefly used for training in Pola, between 1939 and January 1940 she underwent further modification work to her bow in the Muggiano shipyard in La Spezia.[1][4]

World War II

When Italy entered World War II, on 10 June 1940, Pancaldo was part of the 14th Destroyer Division, together with sisterships Ugolino Vivaldi, Antonio Da Noli and Lanzerotto Malocello.[1][5] On 9 July 1940 Pancaldo, together with Vivaldi and Da Noli (the latter was however forced to go back before the start of the battle by an engine breakdown), took part in the Battle of Calabria.[6][7] After the battle was over, Pancaldo and most of the fleet reached Augusta, Sicily, where they refuelled; they were spotted there by a British reconnaissance plane, and on the following day Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier Eagle attacked Augusta with the aim of striking the Italian fleet during its stop there. Radio intercepts, however, had alerted the Italian commands of the danger, and most of the fleet was transferred to other bases; only Pancaldo and Vivaldi, that had not yet completed refuelling, were left in the harbour when the Swordfish attacked. Both destroyers opened fire with their anti-aircraft guns, but one of the torpedoes dropped by the planes hit Pancaldo, causing her to sink in a few minutes on a 30-meter bottom, with the loss of sixteen men.[8][9][1]

Inspection of the wreck by divers revealed that the hull was not irreparably damaged, and a decision was made to raise the ship and repair her.[1] To lighten the ship before the salvage, many parts were removed, including her artillery and torpedo tubes; on 26 July 1941, a year after her sinking, Pancaldo was brought to the surface, and on 1 August she entered drydock. After provisional repairs that enabled her to withstand a voyage at sea, on 27 October 1941 Pancaldo left Augusta heading for Genoa, where she underwent extensive reconstruction work in the Ansaldo shipyard, lasting till 17 November 1942.[1] She was also fitted with a Gufo radar, and re-entered service on 12 December 1942, nearly two and a half years after her sinking.[1]

Pancaldo was assigned to the 15th Destroyer Division, based in Trapani, but she only became fully operational in March 1943. For a month she was used in fast troop transport missions to Tunisia, in company with other destroyers. On 29 April 1943 Pancaldo sailed from Pozzuoli for one such mission, together with German destroyer ZG3 Hermes; the two ships were carrying 247 and 215 German soldiers, respectively.[1] During the trip, the destroyers were repeatedly attacked by Allied aircraft; after fending off the first two attacks, Pancaldo succumbed at about 12:30 to another attack by 50 USAAF Curtiss P-40s, and sank off Cape Bon.[10] Of the 527 troops and crew aboard, 199 perished, mostly Italian crew members. Her commanding officer, Commander Tommaso Ferreri Caputi, was seriously wounded but survived.[1][11] Hermes was seriously damaged in the same attack, but managed to reach Tunis.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k http://conlapelleappesaaunchiodo.blogspot.it/2014/03/leone-pancaldo.html
  2. ^ http://www.navypedia.org/ships/italy/it_dd_navigatori.htm
  3. ^ http://www.marinaiditalia.com/public/uploads/2011_05_13.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.navypedia.org/ships/italy/it_dd_navigatori.htm
  5. ^ http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-4006-18ItGrYu.htm
  6. ^ Gianni Rocca, Fucilate gli ammiragli. La tragedia della Marina italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, p. 28.
  7. ^ http://www.naval-history.net/xDKWW2-4007-20JUL01.htm
  8. ^ Gianni Rocca, Fucilate gli ammiragli. La tragedia della Marina italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, p. 28.
  9. ^ http://www.naval-history.net/WW2CampaignsCarriers.htm
  10. ^ Gianni Rocca, Fucilate gli ammiragli. La tragedia della Marina italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, p. 276.
  11. ^ Gianni Rocca, Fucilate gli ammiragli. La tragedia della Marina italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, p. 277.