Italian submarines in World War Two

Zaffiro (ZA)

TypeCoastal / Sea going 
ClassSirena (21) 
Laid down 16 Sep 1931 Odero-Terni-Orlando, Muggiano
Launched28 Jun 1933
Commissioned4 Jun 1934
End service
Loss date9 Jun 1942
Loss position38° 21'N, 3° 21'E
Fate Sunk on 9th June 1942 north of Algiers, in position 38°21'N, 03°21'E by bombs from a British Catalina aircraft (Sq. 240/J).


CommanderDate fromDate toCommand notes
T.V. Giovanni Lombardi28 Apr 194018 Apr 1942
T.V. Carlo Mottura19 Apr 194219 Jun 1942

Ships hit

No ships hit by this submarine.

Patrols and events

 CommanderDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
1Lombardi, Giovanni9 Jun 19400440Leros14 Jun 19402100Leros505,19Patrolled 15 miles south of Cape Prassoni (Rhodes). Uneventful.

2Lombardi, Giovanni29 Jun 19401700Leros9 Jul 19400640Leros781Patrolled south of Rhodes in 35°50'N, 27°30'E, in Scarpanto Channel. Uneventful.

3Lombardi, Giovanni24 Jul 19401955Leros6 Aug 19400610Leros874Patrolled in Scarpanto Channel between (1) 10 miles south of Cape Prassinosi (2) 20 miles east of Kupho Island (3) 5 miles south of Punta Castello (Scarpanto). Uneventful.

Lombardi, Giovanni29 Aug 19400945Leros29 Aug 19401310Leros20Exercises.

4Lombardi, Giovanni3 Oct 19401500Leros10 Oct 19400155Leros654Patrolled off Mudros, Port Kalloni (Mytilene) and off Cape Baba. Sighted a number of vessels, but none that could be identified as enemy.

5Lombardi, Giovanni27 Oct 19401805Leros6 Nov 19401005Leros1078Patrolled in Kaso Straits, then from 1st November off Suda Bay. Uneventful.

6Lombardi, Giovanni2 Dec 19401650Leros5 Dec 19400105Leros253,5Patrolled near Rhodes, 154° - Punta Rosa - 42 miles. Ca. 37°20'N, 26°30'E.

7Lombardi, Giovanni22 Dec 19401800Leros31 Dec 19400710Leros895Patrolled to intercept traffic between Turkey and Greece. Uneventful.

Lombardi, Giovanni22 Jan 19410930Leros22 Jan 19411140Parteni15Passage Leros-Parteni.

Lombardi, Giovanni23 Jan 19411305Parteni23 Jan 19411530Leros10Passage Parteni-Leros.

Lombardi, Giovanni3 Feb 19411750Leros9 Feb 19411130Augusta673Passage Leros-Augusta. At 2005 hours on 8th February, was diverted to Cape Passero instead of Cape Spartivento, following a report of a submarine lurking near the latter.

Lombardi, Giovanni12 Feb 19410845Augusta14 Feb 19411900La Spezia552Passage Augusta-La Spezia.
  13 Feb 1941072040° 25'N, 12° 45'EAt 0720 hours, an Italian convoy of three steamers escorted by a torpedo-boat was sighted steering 220°.
  14 Feb 1941080742° 31'N, 9° 49'EAt 0807 hours, a derelict mine was sunk with machine gun and rifle fire.

Lombardi, Giovanni21 Apr 19410940La Spezia21 Apr 19411618La Spezia41Trials.

Lombardi, Giovanni26 Apr 19410853La Spezia26 Apr 19411500La Spezia43Trials.

Lombardi, Giovanni30 Apr 19410840La Spezia30 Apr 19411300La Spezia24,5Trials, escorted by the tug Taormina.

Lombardi, Giovanni5 May 19410925La Spezia5 May 19411740La Spezia26Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni9 May 19410800La Spezia9 May 19411850La Spezia55,4Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni16 May 19410900La Spezia16 May 19411810La Spezia25,5Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni19 May 19411455La Spezia19 May 19411905La Spezia31,4Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni19 May 19411455La Spezia19 May 19411905La Spezia31,4Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni22 May 19410905La Spezia22 May 19411425La Spezia30,3Exercises with C.B.2 and another unidentified C.B. boat.

Lombardi, Giovanni24 May 19411305La Spezia24 May 19411625La Spezia19,7Exercises with C.B.2.

Lombardi, Giovanni8 Jun 19410822La Spezia8 Jun 19411324La Spezia26,4Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni15 Jun 19410505La Spezia17 Jun 19410900Messina554,7Passage La Spezia-Messina. Sighted only Italian ships.
  16 Jun 19411245
(0) Off Naples.
At 1245, the submarine Smeraldo was encountered and exchanged recognition signals.

Lombardi, Giovanni19 Jun 19411755Messina21 Jun 19410130Crotone284,3Passage Messina-Crotone.

Lombardi, Giovanni21 Jun 19411236Crotone21 Jun 19412210Taranto81,2Passage Crotone-Taranto.

Lombardi, Giovanni27 Jul 19410825Taranto27 Jul 19411641Taranto49,3Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni29 Jul 19410755Taranto29 Jul 19411343Taranto33Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni30 Jul 19411200Taranto2 Aug 19411017Augusta355,3Passage Taranto-Augusta. Sighted only Italian vessels.

8Lombardi, Giovanni2 Aug 19411500Augusta5 Aug 19410850Augusta333Patrolled east of Malta. Uneventful.

Lombardi, Giovanni8 Aug 19410814Augusta8 Aug 19411415Augusta37,1Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni11 Aug 19411045Augusta11 Aug 19411205Augusta11,2Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni17 Aug 19410802Augusta17 Aug 19411420Augusta51,3Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni22 Aug 19411555Augusta22 Aug 19411750Augusta4,5Exercises.

9Lombardi, Giovanni23 Aug 19411150Augusta27 Aug 19411500Augusta520,5Patrolled between Malta and Pantelleria, in 36°16'N, 12°52'E. Uneventful.

Lombardi, Giovanni9 Sep 19410810Augusta9 Sep 19411158Augusta18,8Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni10 Sep 19410855Augusta10 Sep 19411640Messina75Passage Augusta-Messina.

Lombardi, Giovanni12 Sep 19410437Messina12 Sep 19411345Messina66,5Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni14 Sep 19410734Messina14 Sep 19411345Messina33Exercises, escorted by the auxiliary Diversi.

Lombardi, Giovanni16 Sep 19411908Messina16 Sep 19412400Messina24,6Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni18 Sep 19410715Messina18 Sep 19411501Messina67Exercises with the submarine Ametista, escorted by the auxiliary Marzano.

Lombardi, Giovanni22 Sep 19410000Messina22 Sep 19410742Augusta71,9Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni22 Sep 19411853Augusta26 Sep 19410940Leros621,1Passage Augusta-Leros. Attack periscope needed repairs. ULTRA decrypt revealed her passage.
  23 Sep 1941150536° 30'N, 19° 20'EAt 1505 hours, a CANT Z.506 seaplane was seen at 8,000 metres and exchanged recognition signals.
  24 Sep 1941141035° 48'N, 22° 17'EAt 1410 hours, an aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.

Lombardi, Giovanni6 Oct 19410837Leros6 Oct 19411302Leros25,8Exercises.

Lombardi, Giovanni10 Oct 19410812Leros10 Oct 19411158Leros18,2Exercises.

10Lombardi, Giovanni12 Oct 19410705Leros28 Oct 19410545Leros1840,9Patrolled on Alexandretta-Port Said route, between 33°00'N and 34°00'N, and between 33°20'E and 34°20'E, on a line with Topazio. Uneventful [ULTRA decrypt revealed the mission but the submarine was not identified].

Lombardi, Giovanni14 Nov 19410800Leros14 Nov 19411200Leros17Exercises.

11Lombardi, Giovanni21 Nov 19410744Leros21 Nov 19410952Leros30,4Sailed for patrol north of Cyrenaica, but returned because of defects.

11bLombardi, Giovanni22 Nov 19410650Leros4 Dec 19411250Leros1489,7Patrolled initially 20 miles north of coast on 20°50'E meridian, then, on 25th November, shifted to 22°00'E. At 1910 hours on the 25th, MARICOSOM ordered her to the area between 33°40'N and 34°20'N, and between 22°40'E and 23°20'E.

At 1810 hours on the 27th, the order was modified to a new area between 34°00'N and 34°40'N, and between 24°00'E and 24°40'E. At 1225 hours on the 29th, she was ordered between 34°00'N and 34°40'N, and between 25°00'E and 25°40'E to intercept an enemy convoy.
  22 Nov 19411035-105336° 33'N, 26° 48'EAt 1035 hours, a derelict mine was sighted at 600 metres and was sunk with machine gun and rifle fire.
  24 Nov 1941154234° 09'N, 22° 50'EAt 1542 hours, a merchant ship was sighted at a range of 25,000 metres, steering 020°. Zaffiro could not close to attack and soon lost sight of the vessel.
  25 Nov 19411450At 1450 hours, information was received of an enemy naval force from two signals from MARICOSOM. One (1210/25) reporting two cruisers and eight destroyers sighted at 0750 hours in 30°30' N [sic 33°30' N], 25°30' E steering 270°, 16 knots. The second (1225/25) amplifying it to three cruisers and eight destroyers in 33°30' N, 24°30' E, course 270°, 18 knots.

Zaffiro attempted to intercept and was later informed by MARICOSOM (1740/25) of a convoy of five steamers escorted by two cruisers and four destroyers, sighted at 1155 hours in 32°50' N, 25°30' E steering 285°, 14 knots. The submarine was hampered by defects to her diesel engines and sighted nothing.

Lombardi, Giovanni17 Dec 19410855Leros17 Dec 19411150Leros15Exercises.

12Lombardi, Giovanni18 Dec 19412110Leros28 Dec 19411525Leros985,6Sailed through 35°40'N, 28°20'E and 33°30'N, 30°16'E and patrolled off Rosetta in 31°40'N, 30°20'E to pick up Maiali operators after their attack on Alexandria (none showed up as all had been captured).
  22 Dec 1941193531° 51'N, 30° 21'EAt 1935 hours, a fishing vessel was sighted at 6,000 metres, but this was later corrected to be a British MTB. At 2125 hours, Zaffiro dived as it closed to 1,500 metres.
  23 Dec 1941000431° 41'N, 30° 22'EAt 0004 hours, Zaffiro had reached the rendezvous point where she was to pick up the six Decima Flottiglia MAS divers who had penetrated Alexandria (operation C 3). A destroyer appeared and the submarine dived to the bottom at 45 metres. The submarine surfaced at 0230 hours and continued her search until 0400 hours for the fishing vessel which should have been commandeered by the six men.

The submarine returned the following night from 0226 to 0500 hours and again between midnight and 0400 hours on the 25th, but none of the divers were at the rendezvous and Zaffiro headed for home.

13Lombardi, Giovanni3 Jan 19422123Leros8 Jan 19421110Messina830,3Passage Leros-Messina and via Kaso Strait and 33°50'N, 26°20'E for patrol in Grids 8475 and 1875 [Grid 18 is within a square between 33°20'N and 34°00'N, 21°40'E and 22°20'E].

Lombardi, Giovanni16 Jan 19421057Messina17 Jan 19420955Naples243,5Passage Messina-Naples for long refit.

Lombardi, Giovanni10 Apr 19420930Naples10 Apr 19421615Naples27Trials, escorted by the torpedo boat Achille Papa.

Lombardi, Giovanni14 Apr 19421013Naples14 Apr 19421335Naples20,2Trials.

Mottura, Carlo23 Apr 19421045Naples23 Apr 19421920Naples30,5Trials.

Mottura, Carlo24 Apr 19420940Naples24 Apr 19421425Naples36,3Trials.

Mottura, Carlo25 Apr 19420640Naples25 Apr 19421712Naples64,8Exercises.

Mottura, Carlo27 Apr 19420620Naples27 Apr 19422300Naples56,4Exercises.

Mottura, Carlo28 Apr 19420920Naples28 Apr 19421647Naples12,9Exercises, escorted by the torpedo boat Cosenz.

Mottura, Carlo30 Apr 19421415Naples30 Apr 19422245Naples24,5Exercises, escorted by the torpedo boat Achille Papa.

Mottura, Carlo1 May 19420940Naples1 May 19421620NaplesExercises, escorted by the torpedo boat Cosenz.

Mottura, Carlo2 May 19421320Naples2 May 19422300NaplesExercises.

Mottura, Carlo4 May 19420920Naples4 May 19421630NaplesExercises.

Mottura, Carlo5 May 19421400Naples5 May 19422245NaplesExercises.

Mottura, Carlo7 May 19420620Naples7 May 19422255NaplesExercises.

Mottura, Carlo8 May 19421355Naples8 May 19422130NaplesExercises, escorted by the torpedo boat Polluce.

Mottura, Carlo15 May 19420720Naples15 May 19421700NaplesExercises.

Mottura, Carlo16 May 19420750Naples16 May 19421530NaplesExercises.

Mottura, Carlo19 May 19421015Naples20 May 19421055Messina237,7Passage Naples-Messina with the steamer Vertunno (3,159 GRT, built 1905), escorted by torpedo boat Abba.

Mottura, Carlo1 Jun 19420200Messina2 Jun 19421750Cagliari412,4Passage Messina-Cagliari.

14Mottura, Carlo8 Jun 19420350Cagliari9 Jun 19421129Sunk with all handsSailed for patrol with Velella, between 38°20'N and 38°40'N, and between 03°00'E and 03°40'E (south of Balearic Islands). Probably sunk by RAF aircraft (Catalina "J" of 240 Sq) in 38°21'N, 03°21'E at 1130-1315 on 9th June. No survivors, five officers and forty-two ratings were missing. The wreck apparently located by divers south of Ibiza in 2005.
  9 Jun 1942
1129 (e)

(e) 38° 21'N, 3° 21'E
At 1129 hours, Catalina 'J' of 240 Squadron, piloted by Flight Lieutenant D.E. Hawkins, was on an A/S patrol when an enemy submarine of the PERLA class was sighted on the surface, steering 210° at 6 knots. The aircraft at once turned to the attack as the submarine opened fire with her machine guns. The aircraft took avoiding action, which prevented it from strafing the submarine, but it managed to release four 450-lb depth charges which straddled her stern, missing her by 5 to 15 yards.

The aircraft came back for a strafing run. The U-boat replied with her weapons until she was silenced.

About 20 minutes after the depth charge attack, the U-boat dived but surfaced again 5 minutes later and remained stationary. The crew came out on deck and about thirty-five men could be seen as the submarine began to sink by the stern. The aircraft came back for a strafing run and men began to jump or fall in the sea. White flags were waved as the submarine sank by the stern.

The Catalina attempted to alight to pick up the survivors but the heavy swell seriously damaged the hull and it had to take off. At 1315 hours, the aircraft left the scene after dropping a smoke float to mark the spot.

There is little doubt that this was Zaffiro. Unfortunately, none of her crew survived. T.V. Carlo Nottura, four officers and forty-two ratings perished.

77 entries. 72 total patrol entries (14 marked as war patrols) and 11 events.

All Italian submarines