The deadly leech

Thought customized to support combat swimmers torpedo appeared fairly long time — almost a century back. Its creators were Italians, one time is a trendsetter in the field of underwater sabotage the war.

The history of the group underwater vehicle (FPG) torpedo-shaped type, which is often referred to as man-torpedo, began in June 1915. That's when Luigi Martignoni, a mechanical engineer favorite "Alessandro Poer", offered his own particular head — Raphael Rossetti, a major engineering service of the Italian Navy, to explore the possibility of converting ordinary torpedo operated underwater vehicle by which one could seep into the well-guarded military naval base Austro-Hungarian Navy.

Creator single

Rossetti took a fancy idea, but only three months later, he designed it on paper and filed already own boss — Colonel Giovanni Sculpey engineering service. But he took no interest in the project, although it has promised not to interfere with "private technology initiative" Rossetti, who was allowed to present his "rationalization proposal" later on command. What Rossetti and made immediately: September 24, 1915 memo went to the Vice-Admiral Alberto de Bono, who headed the Naval District of La Spezia. But the admiral, too, was a skeptic, however, still advised to "discuss the idea of" the chief of the torpedo testing center in La Spezia guns Capitano di Corvettes (Captain 3rd rank) Guido Kavalatstsi.

Paradoxically, and the latter took the intention to "ride the torpedo" is more than a cool: November 3, Rossetti had once again come to de Bono, this time with the detailed framework of a two-seat torpedo-shaped outline of the carrier frogmen and sabotage mines designed to be installed on the bottom of the enemy ships. As a base for the creation of the upcoming device, which had estimated cruising range of 30 miles, Rossetti wished to use a 14-inch (355.6-mm) torpedo an old standard B57, another was in service with the Italian Navy, but gradually is replaced by the latest A63. So the flaws in the "product" for the tests would not appear. Yet de Bono thought the project was "too optimistic" and dismissed it, so did the new chief of naval Vice Admiral neighborhood Leon Vayale.

Then Rossetti had the courage to take a desperate step — started to implement the hidden secret of command. In May 1916, being the representative of the Naval Shipyard Sestri Levante (Genoa), officer, as they say zabugornye naval historians, "insolently stole" a couple of B57 and forged documents forwarded in a hidden place. In May 1917, he was transferred to La Spezia, in the state administration, engaged in testing various ship systems and weapons, delivered to the adjacent submarine base both torpedoes and then proceeded to have a more active work on a project group of the underwater vehicle.

January 18, 1918 Rossetti spent the first test of its own "wonder weapon", and 24 January and 27 February repeated the experiments, try out different types of propellers and diving equipment "drivers". After the regular testing of March 9, 1918 Rossetti concluded that "chelovekoupravlyaemaya torpedo carrier," as he referred to it, is ready to show the highest authorities and with the approval of his application on to the next destination — to sabotage the main naval base (GVMB) Austro-Hungarian Navy Paul.

GPN "Minyatta" (also from time to time "Mignatta"), or in Italian "Leech", generally repeated torpedo B57, but have a larger propeller diameter (450 mm). GPN length — 8.3 meters, the diameter of the main section — 600 mm, speed — up to 2 knots. Managing the exchange rate was made "by hand" — swimmers ought, working with his hands and feet, as if the oars of a boat, to expose them, contributing to a reversal, "Leeches" in the right direction. Two commandos were placed on the dashboard of a carrier on top, they should put on diving suits, but do not wear masks — their heads were supposed to be above the water level. Armament — Two 170-pound mines, presumably with magnetic suction cups. A clear indication that the data is still represented a "infernal machine", no. For example, a number of sources claimed that it was just only iron containers filled with explosives and detonators equipped with watch movements, designed for 6 hours. Rossetti even consider the option of "underwater mines, underfloor ship by 12-foot linearization." The aft section "Leeches" self-destruct mechanism is housed.

The long-awaited approval

Rossetti was planning to use the "Leech" to break through the inner harbor GVMB Paul, where the end of the war were contained the largest Austro-Hungarian ships. According to his plan to tow GPN cruising range which does not exceed 10 miles, and autonomy — 5:00, as can be closer to the entrance to the harbor floors were to torpedo boat. Then commandos boarded the vehicle under its own power and attempted to infiltrate inside the base. After laying mines on the bottom of the enemy ship or, if there is a suitable situation, even 2-ships saboteurs were to go to the evacuation area, where they waited for the boat.

The inventor of the higher command sends a memo describing the structure and capabilities of the new standard in naval armaments, and all actions taken by him and several of his associates in the last two years. "Theft" torpedoes could not cause the bosses of negative emotions, but overall the idea seemed worthy of attention, and the creator of "Leeches" called on April 1, 1918 to the commander of the Italian Navy Vice Admiral Count Paolo Emilio Taonu di Revel. Audience approval of the project is over and the transfer of Rossetti to Venice, where he arrived on April 5 in the instructions of the Director vastsello (Captain 1st rank) Costanzo cyano.

Soon, but Rossetti decided to go back to La Spezia, where, under his direction, was developed a lightweight version of diving equipment, and already on May 31 brought "Leech" on finishing tests — she performed "race" at 8 km, showing quite good results.

Rossetti was the youngest partner Dr. naval lieutenant — Rafael Paolyuchchi, who in February 1918, offered himself as a volunteer for the role of a commando raid in the floor with a view to undermining the 1st of battleships were there like "Radetzky". Paolyuchchi thought that the easiest way to infiltrate the base alone: where the guard was able to find a boat or submarine, it could completely miss the 1st swimmer. Sailing directions carefully examining the area, he came to the conclusion that if it is to deliver tightly GVMB, he would have without the help of others to overcome about 2-3 km. With a swimmer out to take special mine to its design, which was a torpedo-blank about a meter in length and a diameter of about 5 cm, is supported on the surface of the water using a 2-inflatable balloons and equipped with a charge of explosives (TNT) weighing 220 pounds (about 99.8 kilograms). Mine was supplied with clockwork explosion.

"Then I will return back by the same method — later recalled Paolyuchchi how to persuade command — again will overcome all obstacles and will have to wait for results outside the explosion. When that happens, I'll swim further out to sea, and with his back to the enemy, including small electronic flashlight to show me a waiting boat where I am. "

For several months, a medical lieutenant, acting on its own initiative, preparing for the mission, arranging a night swim in the harbor of Venice, and finally headed for the fact that I could cover the distance without stopping to 5 miles, in other words, is 3-4 times more than required under the pla
n. As the simulated mines he used heats the water tank weighing 300 pounds (136 kg). In May 1918 Paolyuchchi reported on their own terms, and that particular boss advised to continue exercising. And in July, the lieutenant met his namesake — Rafael Rossetti, who in the meantime try to "tame" their "Leech".

Brought together officers Costanzo cyano, he is credited with the following words: "Paolyuchchi, finish up their nightly swim and solves the problem, together with Rossetti, and you, Rossetti, finish their solitary hikes and combined with Paolyuchchi. Everything here is for us and organized team ".

However, the first to sail to "leeches" companion for Paolyuchchi ended in failure: the machine rolled over and the driver was in the "submerged" state and nearly drowned. Raphael rescued miraculously turned next to lift, whose team started the cable to the "torpedo-carrier" and took it in conjunction with the lieutenant out of the water. Practically "Minyatta" was not yet finalized, but Costanzo cyano designated control "operation to attack HMB Paul," insisted on the immediate implementation of sabotage. In the end, the command required "to attack Paul, regardless of the degree of readiness of the device" in the first one which matches the night of November — by then already had Rossetti with 2 "Leeches» — S-1 and S-2. Having received orders to return to Venice, he October 25, 1918 held last qualification tests: Volunteers came out to "Minyatte" out of the harbor and the naval arsenal which "undermined" the ship at anchor in Bolshennom Venetian canal in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Salute. The chips are down …

Through the barriers to the goal

Evening October 31, 1918 in Venice heading to Paul kitted out with 2 pyatisilnymi silent stroke motor torpedo boat MAS 95 type "A" and destroyer 65PN type «PN», who carried on the deck of FPG S-2. The operation was headed by Costanzo cyano. Not far from the islands of Brijuni "Leech" was launched on, MAS 95 took her in tow and brought to a distance of 1 kilometer from the barriers at the entrance to the harbor, and at 22 hours 13 minutes (according to other sources — in 22 hours and 20 minutes), it With years of the first line of defense of the enemy.

Overall, the situation has favored the Italians. In 1-x, the weather was a "real subversive" — black, moonless night and drizzling rain. In-2, another 30 October ruler of Austria-Hungary, Charles I abandoned the upcoming administration of the armed forces of the country falling apart and gave the Navy under the control of the Yugoslav Committee, who took over the fortress Paul and ships. At 16 hours and 45 minutes later day or Admiral Miklos Horthy left the flagship — the battleship "Viribus Unitis", resigned from the possibility of the Austro-Hungarian commander of the fleet, and in the evening the imperial flag was lowered on the ship for the last time. In the Navy base and joined linienshifskapitan (Captain 1st rank) Janko Vukovich de Podkapelski, a Croat by nationality. Thus together with the Horthy ships left most of the officers of the Austrian and Hungarian descent on board were mostly lower ranks that reflected here — not in the best possible way — on the disposition objection to the watch and patrol service. Well, in general sailors have already begun to celebrate the coming of the long-awaited peace. And then "arrived," Rossetti and Paolyuchchi, which are said to Italian historians knew nothing about the change of command and the beginning of peace talks.

When he reached the first barrier, Rossetti and Paolyuchchi found that it consists of a large number of empty iron cylinder length three yards each connected between a languid metal cables. The smallness waited, swimmers slipped into the water and then began to drag and drop "Leech" through the ropes, fear seems to be the sound of scraping against steel torpedo carrier is not interested enemy.

"As soon as we passed the barrier — Paolyuchchi later wrote in the article" Fate "Viribusa Unitisa" posted in 1919 in number 105 of the New York The Fortnightly Review, — I felt the touch of his own hand. Turning around, I saw that Rossetti shows to the side — it shows a black silhouette of going directly to us. " It was the enemy's submarine, marching without lights in the positional position. A moment later the submarine passed saboteurs and went into the Adriatic Sea. Rossetti then started the engine and sent a "Leech" in the direction of the breakwater at the entrance to the inner harbor base. Rossetti delayed until the unit in its shadow, Paolyuchchi swam a little forward, so a better way to look further. But he was expecting a very nasty surprise — at the gates of the breakwater were languishing logs, downed longish iron nails. Paolyuchchi reported barrier Rossetti, but he decided to go further, taking advantage of the tide. Soon he was replaced by the ebb and saboteurs had to do more to vpribavok poured cool rain mixed with hail. In the end, the Italians managed to drag the "Minyattu" and a new obstacle, it is now the last. There were two after midnight, so after spending a few hours in the water, the saboteurs were able to get only to the duty of Austrian ship, which seemed just beyond the gate.

But Rossetti and Paolyuchchi awaiting another trial: they found strung across the channel network with reinforced their explosive charges — in order to prevent a breakthrough in the harbor of enemy submarines. In general, stubborn Italians and successfully overcame this obstacle. Time has come to three o'clock in the morning, but now between the saboteurs and enemy armored giants remained virtually unblemished aqua place from time to time crossed by the rays of searchlights.

After passing between the 2-columns perfectly illuminated ships, the Italians in 4 hours 30 minutes (according to other sources — in 4 hours 50 minutes) approached the port side of the battleship "Viribus Unitis." The largest warship was close to the shore all, but almost reached it, Rossetti and all of a sudden Paolyuchchi steel sink. It was found that due to the failed valve nasal air inside the machine enters seawater. It was necessary to maintain the buoyancy of "Leeches" podtravlivaya compressed air from the cylinder, so that it could now not be enough to reverse the road. After solving the problem, the saboteurs had taken refuge in the shadow of the battleship and rested a couple of minutes. "Of all our problems, this was the worst" — later recalled Paolyuchchi.

Then he saw Rossetti prepared to descend the boat and walked on the other side of the ship, attached to its bottom mine — in the region of 4 and 5th 150-mm guns, setting a clockwork fuse for 6 hours and 30 minutes — and returned to the "leeches", meaning off base. But the upper Watch found saboteurs. Did not help them escape and homemade camouflage under bushes and floating pile of leaves. Litsezrev suitable for them sent from the battleship boat, Rossetti and Paolyuchchi set the timer on the second mine, slipped into the water, pushing his "torpedo", and have come to expect when they take prisoner.

Effects of the operation

Both Italians were removed from the water and taken on board … "Viribusa Unitisa." There Rossetti and Paolyuchchi, which met quite peacefully — almost as friends learned of the change of power in the field. Saboteurs brought before the commander and the commander of the battleship fleet Janko Vukovich de Podkapelski, first gave themselves for wrecked Italian spy plane pilots, but then realized that was about to take off into the air from the explosion of his own as "infernal machine," said they commandos dropped from a plane and they managed to undermine the "Vi
ribus Unitis." However, Rossetti did not share details of the operation. But de Podkapelski and heard was quite enough — it is here ordered the crew to abandon the battleship, "Run for your lives! The Italians have set a bomb on the ship! ".

Rossetti and Paolyuchchi, long-term heart beat and having obtained permission de Podkapelski also jumped overboard. They were later picked up the boat, flat with the same type of battleship "Tegetgof." But the explosion at the scheduled time, not a bomb and shivering saboteurs returned back to "Viribus Unitis," atones crew has met the prisoners are not so complacent. So he de Podkapelski was not in the ecstasy of the fall of early morning swim. With Rossetti and Paolyuchchi tore insignia. The participants were shouting that they fool, sought to show where booby, in general, a little more — and did not manage to avoid lynching. A battleship continued to circle around the boat with those who jumped overboard, but is not yet known — or paddle to shore, or do not believe the Italians and vorachivatsya on ship.

But in 6 hours and 44 Minutka body armored giant shuddered, shot up a large column of water and doused the deck "Viribusa Unitisa", which was a matter of Minutka tilt 20 degrees to starboard. Rossetti and Paolyuchchi again asked de Podkapelski permission to leave the ship, but someone suggested saboteurs lock in the hold of a sinking battleship, allowing them to "enjoy" the fruits of their own work. In general, in a similar way to deal with the prisoners are unlikely to have time: a quarter of an hour, "Viribus Unitis" capsized and sank. The Italians were able to correctly find it more vulnerable spot — cellar ammunition detonated 150-mm guns.

And what about "Leech"? In the confusion, forgot all about it, but it will not go away — and over the waves washed it to the steamer "Vienna" with a displacement of about 7,376 gross tons, was used as a floating base compound of German submarines. In the ship worked the second bomb, left by Rossetti GPN. As a result of explosion, "Vienna" sank, taking the rovnenky keel (according to other sources, the ship was damaged bow, but did not sink).

Clearly the number of victims of sabotage is not clear so far. It is estimated that about 300-400 people. One authentically — Commander "Viribusa Unitisa 'own ship did not survive: the Italians and many others beheld as initially de Podkapelski was on the top deck of a sinking battleship, and then tried to swim to shore. At this point, Captain 1st Rank hit on the head with timber …

As for Rossetti and Paolyuchchi, they are first held in the ancient battleship "Habsburg", in February 1918, reclassified as a training ship and later used in the field as a floating bullpen. After a while, they were transferred to the battleship "Radetzky", where they were right before the Nov. 5, 1918, when Italian troops occupied Paul, by the terms of the armistice city went to Italy.

Almost immediately after the release of Colonel engineering service Rossetti submitted to this title more November 1, 1918, and Paolyuchchi produced a captain, bestowed the Gold Medal for military awards. Got it, and Costanzo cyano. Additionally signed a special decree that the three officers stood monetary prize — just 1.3 million pounds in gold. But Rossetti perspective divide that sum from the cyano sincerely outraged and after a long discussion he still headed for the fact that the funds went only to him and Paolyuchchi — to 650 thousand. But Luigi Martignoni, the creator of the idea, embodied Rossetti then perhaps nothing noted. According to the last as the creator could not find in any of the sources of anything intelligible on the subject.

But what is most striking — and Rossetti Paolyuchchi part of their first award was given to the widow Janko Vukovich de Podkapelski, and later it was decided to allocate the funds between the widows of sailors who died in the explosion, "Viribusa Unitisa" …

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