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M.A.S. and Midget Submarines in the Black Sea 1942-1943

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In spite of this, from January to March 1943 Italian units continued to fight. on April 17, during the German operation to re-conquest a large bridgehead in Novorossjisk area, seven Mas (losses during 1942 were replaced with the arrival of new crafts from Italy) along with some German torpedo motorboats, were deployed at Anapa to attack the Russian coastal traffic. After some fruitless combats, all operations in that sector were suspended on April 25th.

After having abandoned Feodosia and Iwan Baba bases, which was too exposed to the rising Russian air offensive, the Italian Mas made their last mission off Yalta on May 13th. On May 20th, in the course of an official ceremony, Italians left their crafts to the Kriegsmarine.

The last units with Italian crews that continued to operate in the Black sea were CB coastal submarines, which, from the new Sevastopol base made another 21 missions, from June to August 1943; among these only one (that from 25th to 26th August) had a positive result: CB commanded by Tenente di Vascello Armando Sibille succeeded to torpedo and to sink a Russian submarine of unidentified class. After this, the last submarines were withdrawn and stored in the Rumanian Costanza port, where in August 1944, they were captured (in very bad condition) by the Russians.

MAS in the Black Sea

NOTES: On Ladoga Lake, the 12th Mas Squadron (units N.527 e 528) was commanded by Capitano di Corvetta Bianchini. The crafts were transported from La Spezia to the coast of this great lake, situated north of St. Petersburg, by a truck column that made more than 3,100 kilometers in 26 days. On 15 August, 1942, the two Italian torpedo motorboats began their brilliant if limited activity with the sinking by Mas 527 commanded by Tenente di Vascello Renato Bechi, of a Soviet gunboat of the “Bira” class. The 28th August, Mas 528 sank an enemy unit: a large “maona” with a displacement of more than 1,000 tons, loaded with soldiers. On the 29th September the two Italian Mas tried to torpedo a Russian armed motorbarge and on 22 October, a few days before the lake’s glaciation, they had their last battle, attacking with torpedoes and machine guns three enemy gunboats nearby. In November, the two Mas were given to Finland Navy and the crews returned in Italy.

Molotov cruiser. This unit was classified by Russian Registry as “light” but, if it is compared with similar units in other Navies of the same period, its result for tonnage and armament, make it more similar to a “heavy” type.


Construction Marti shipyards, Nikolaiev: construction Nov.1936, launched 03/22/1939, commissioned 06/16/1941
Displacement Normal: 8,800, Full: 11,500
Dimensions (Meters) L: 191.5, W: 18, D: 6.1
Engines 6 Boilers and 2 Turbines for 110,000 HP
Speed 30-35 Knots
Range 3,500 miles at 19 knots
Armor Vertical 76, Horizontal 51
Armament (mm) 9- 181/57 mm; 6 – 100/47 mm; from 6 to14 – 45/46 mm a.a.; 6 – 533 mm. torpedo launchers ; one aircraft launcher and two aircraft.
Crew 730

Article and Photos provided courtesy Alberto Rosselli

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  1. Joe! Great to hear from you again :) I bet those MTB drawings look great! Try posing this question in the forum. I’m sure somebody can help you!

  2. Hello Jim, I am trying to finish a story I started years ago of the raid on Malta by the XMAS unit that.
    Do you have any information on the British system of assigning radar units and shore batteries at Malta? It would appear that the attacking force was spotted immediately while still some distance away.

    Any nugget of information would be useful. Thank you so much. I did finish my ten volume set of Motor Torpedo Boats from 1280 AD to 1945. It’s called The Ship Killers