Yugoslav torpedo boat T3

Yugoslav torpedo boat T3.jpg
T3 underway in 1931
Name78 T
BuilderStabilimento Tecnico Triestino
Laid down22 October 1913
Launched4 March 1914
Commissioned23 August 1914
Out of service1918
FateAssigned to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
AcquiredMarch 1921
Out of serviceApril 1941
FateCaptured by Italy
AcquiredApril 1941
Out of service16 September 1943
FateCaptured by German forces at Rijeka
Nazi Germany
Acquired16 September 1943
Out of service1945
FateSunk at Trieste by Allied bombing on 20 February 1945
NotesCrewed by Croatian sailors
General characteristics
Class and type250t-class, T-group sea-going torpedo boat
  • 262 t (258 long tons)
  • 320 t (315 long tons) (full load)
Length58.2 m (190 ft 11 in)
Beam5.7 m (18 ft 8 in)
Draught1.5 m (4 ft 11 in)
Installed power
Speed28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range980 nmi (1,810 km; 1,130 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement39 officers and enlisted
  • 2 × Škoda 66 mm (2.6 in) L/30 guns
  • 4 × 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
  • 10–12 naval mines

T3 was a sea-going torpedo boat that was operated by the Royal Yugoslav Navy between 1921 and 1941. Originally 78 T, a 250t-class torpedo boat of the Austro-Hungarian Navy built in 1914, she was armed with two 66 mm (2.6 in) guns, four 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes, and could carry 10–12 naval mines. She saw active service during World War I, performing convoy, escort and minesweeping tasks, anti-submarine operations and shore bombardment missions. Following Austria-Hungary's defeat in 1918, she was allocated to the Navy of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which subsequently became the Royal Yugoslav Navy, and was renamed T3. At the time, she and the seven other 250t-class boats were the only modern sea-going vessels of the fledgling maritime force.

During the interwar period, T7 and the rest of the navy were involved in training exercises and cruises to friendly ports, but activity was limited by reduced naval budgets. The ship was captured by the Italians during the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. After her main armament was modernised, she served with the Royal Italian Navy under her Yugoslav designation, although she was only used for coastal and second-line tasks. Following the Italian capitulation in September 1943, she was captured by Germany and, after being fitted with additional anti-aircraft guns, served with the German Navy or the Navy of the Independent State of Croatia as TA48. In German/Croatian service her crew of 52 consisted entirely of Croatian officers and enlisted men. She was sunk by Allied aircraft in February 1945 while in the port of Trieste, where she had been built.


In 1910, the Austro-Hungarian Naval Technical Committee initiated the design and development of a 275-tonne (271-long-ton) coastal torpedo boat, specifying that it should be capable of sustaining 30 knots (56 km/h) for 10 hours. This specification was based on expectations that the Strait of Otranto, where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea, would be blockaded by hostile forces during a future conflict. In such circumstances, there would be a need for a torpedo boat that could sail from the Austro-Hungarian Navy base at the Cattaro (now Kotor) to the Strait during darkness, locate and attack blockading ships and return to port before morning. Steam turbine power was selected for propulsion, as diesels with the necessary power were not available, and the Austro-Hungarian Navy did not have the practical experience to run turbo-electric boats. Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino (STT) of Trieste was selected for the contract to build eight vessels, ahead of one other tenderer.[1] The T-group designation signified that they were built at Trieste.[2]

Description and construction

The 250t-class, T-group boats had a waterline length of 58.2 m (190 ft 11 in), a beam of 5.7 m (18 ft 8 in), and a normal draught of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in). While their designed displacement was 262 tonnes (258 long tons), they displaced about 320 tonnes (315 long tons) fully loaded. The crew consisted of 39 officers and enlisted men. The boats were powered by two Parsons steam turbines driving two propellers, using steam generated by two Yarrow water-tube boilers, one of which burned fuel oil and the other coal. The turbines were rated at 5,000 shp (3,700 kW) with a maximum output of 6,000 shp (4,500 kW) and designed to propel the boats to a top speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph). They carried 18 tonnes (17.7 long tons) of coal and 24 tonnes (23.6 long tons) of fuel oil,[3] which gave them a range of 980 nmi (1,810 km; 1,130 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph).[2] The T-group had one funnel rather than the two funnels of the later groups of the class.[1] Due to inadequate funding, 78 T and the rest of the 250t class were essentially coastal vessels, despite the original intention that they would be used for "high seas" operations.[4] They were the first small Austro-Hungarian Navy boats to use turbines, and this contributed to ongoing problems with them.[1]

The boats were originally to be armed with three Škoda 66 mm (2.6 in) L/30[a] guns, and three 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes,[1] but this was changed to two guns and four torpedo tubes before the first boat was completed,[2] to standardise the armament with the F-group to follow. They could also carry 10–12 naval mines. The fifth of its class to be built, 78 T was laid down on 22 October 1913, launched on 4 March 1914, and completed on 23 August 1914.[2] Later that year, one 8 mm (0.31 in) machine gun was added.[1]


World War I

During World War I, 78 T was used for convoy, escort, minesweeping tasks, anti-submarine operations[1] and shore bombardment missions.[5] She also conducted patrols and supported seaplane raids against the Italian Adriatic coast.[4] On 24 May 1915, 78 T and seven other 250t-class boats were involved in the shelling of various Italian shore-based targets known as the Bombardment of Ancona, with 78 T involved in the shelling of Porto Corsini near Ravenna.[6] In the latter action, an Italian 120 mm (4.7 in) shore battery returned fire, hitting the scout cruiser Novara and damaging one of the other 250t-class boats.[7] On 23 July, 78 T and another 250t-class boat participated in a shore bombardment and landing operation led by Novara's sister ship Saida against San Benedetto del Tronto, Ortona and Termoli on the central Adriatic coast of Italy.[8] In late November 1915, the Austro-Hungarian fleet deployed a force from its main fleet base at Pola to Cattaro in the southern Adriatic; this force included six of the eight T-group torpedo boats, so it is possible that one of these was 78 T. This force was tasked to maintain a permanent patrol of the Albanian coastline and interdict any troop transports crossing from Italy.[9]

On 6 February 1916, the scout cruiser Helgoland, 78 T and five other 250t-class boats were intercepted by the British light cruiser HMS Weymouth and French destroyer Bouclier north of Durazzo in Albania, during which the only damage was caused by a collision between two of the other 250t-class boats.[10] In 1917, one of her 66 mm guns was placed on an anti-aircraft mount.[2] On 11 May 1917, the British submarine HMS H1 stalked 78 T off Pola, firing two torpedoes at her. The British captain had kept his submarine's periscope extended too far and for too long, and the tell-tale "feather" had alerted the crew of 78 T, allowing her crew to avoid the incoming torpedoes.[11] That night, the Huszár destroyer Csikós, accompanied by 78 T and two other 250t-class boats, were pursued in the northern Adriatic by an Italian force of five destroyers, but were able to retire to safety behind a minefield.[12] On 23 September, 77 T and 78 T were laying a minefield off Grado in the northern Adriatic when they had a brief encounter with an Italian MAS boat.[12] On 28 November, a number of 250t-class boats were involved in two shore bombardment missions. In the second mission, 78 T joined seven other 250t-class boats and six destroyers for the bombardment of Porto Corsini, Marotta and Cesenatico.[13] By 1918, the Allies had strengthened their ongoing blockade on the Strait of Otranto, as foreseen by the Austro-Hungarian Navy. As a result, it was becoming more difficult for the German and Austro-Hungarian U-boats to get through the strait and into the Mediterranean Sea. In response to these blockades, the new commander of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, Konteradmiral Miklós Horthy, decided to launch an attack on the Allied defenders with battleships, scout cruisers, and destroyers.[14]

During the night of 8 June, Horthy left the naval base of Pola in the upper Adriatic with the dreadnought battleships Viribus Unitis and Prinz Eugen. At about 23:00 on 9 June 1918, after some difficulties getting the harbour defence barrage opened, the dreadnoughts Szent István and Tegetthoff,[15] escorted by one destroyer and six torpedo boats, including 78 T, also departed Pola and set course for Slano, north of Ragusa, to rendezvous with Horthy in preparation for a coordinated attack on the Otranto Barrage. About 03:15 on 10 June,[b] while returning from an uneventful patrol off the Dalmatian coast, two Royal Italian Navy (Italian: Regia Marina) MAS boats, MAS 15 and MAS 21, spotted the smoke from the Austrian ships. Both boats successfully penetrated the escort screen and split to engage the dreadnoughts individually. MAS 21 attacked Tegetthoff, but her torpedoes missed.[17] Under the command of Luigi Rizzo, MAS 15 fired two torpedoes at 03:25, both of which hit Szent István. Both boats evaded pursuit. The torpedo hits on Szent István were abreast her boiler rooms, which flooded, knocking out power to the pumps. Szent István capsized less than three hours after being torpedoed.[16]

Inter-war years

78 T survived the war intact.[1] In 1920, under the terms of the previous year's Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye by which rump Austria officially ended World War I, she was allocated to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (KSCS, later Yugoslavia). Along with three other 250t-class, T-group boats, 76 T, 77 T and 79 T, and four F-group boats she served with the KSCS Navy (later the Royal Yugoslav Navy, Serbo-Croatian Latin: Kraljevska Jugoslovenska Ratna Mornarica, KJRM; Краљевска Југословенска Ратна Морнарица). Transferred in March 1921,[18] in KJRM service, 78 T was renamed T3. At the time of her transfer, she and the other 250t-class torpedo boats were the only modern sea-going warships in the Yugoslav fleet.[2][19] In 1925, exercises were conducted off the Dalmatian coast, involving the majority of the navy.[20] In May–June 1929, six of the eight 250t-class torpedo boats accompanied the light cruiser Dalmacija, the submarine tender Hvar and the submarines Hrabri and Nebojša, on a cruise to Malta, the Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, and Bizerte in the French protectorate of Tunisia. It is not clear if T5 was one of the torpedo boats involved. The ships and crews made a very good impression while visiting Malta.[21] In 1932, the British naval attaché was reporting that Yugoslav ships were engaging in few exercises or manoeuvres due to reduced budgets.[22]

World War II

In April 1941, Yugoslavia entered World War II when it was invaded by the German-led Axis powers. At the time of the invasion, T3 was assigned to the Southern Sector of the KJRM's Coastal Defence Command based at the Bay of Kotor, along with her sister ship T1, several minesweepers and other craft.[23] T3 was captured in port by the Royal Italian Navy and was operated by them under her Yugoslav designation. She was fitted with two 76 mm (3 in) L/30 anti-aircraft guns in place of her 66 mm guns, but no other significant alterations were made to her.[24] Due to her obsolescence, the Italians only used T3 for coastal and second-line duties.[25]

When the Italians capitulated in September 1943, the German Navy (German: Kriegsmarine) seized T3 in the port of Rijeka and renamed her TA48. She was commissioned on 15 August 1944, and was used for patrol and escort work in the northern Adriatic.[26] The Germans added to her armament, fitting her with two single 20 mm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft guns in addition to the guns fitted by the Italians, and removing two of her torpedo tubes.[27] She was either crewed exclusively by Croat officers and sailors but remained under German control,[1] or was transferred to the Navy of the Independent State of Croatia but then repossessed by the Germans on 14 December 1944 due to the unreliable nature of the Croatian personnel.[26] Her complement was also increased to 52 during her German/Croatian service.[1] She was active in the northern Adriatic but saw little action.[28] She was sunk in the port of Trieste by Allied aircraft on 20 February 1945.[1][29][c]


  1. ^ L/30 denotes the length of the gun. In this case, the L/30 gun is 30 calibre, meaning that the gun was 30 times as long as the diameter of its bore.
  2. ^ Sources differ on what the exact time was when the attack took place. Sieche states that the time was 3:15 am when the Szent István was hit,[16] while Sokol claims that the time was 3:30 am.[15]
  3. ^ Sources conflict on who sank TA48. Gardiner and Lenton state that they were Allied aircraft without specifying their nationality,[1][30] while Chesneau states they were British aircraft,[29] and Wilmott states that US aircraft carried out the attack.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gardiner 1985, p. 339.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Greger 1976, p. 58.
  3. ^ Jane's Information Group 1989, p. 313.
  4. ^ a b O'Hara, Worth & Dickson 2013, pp. 26–27.
  5. ^ Cernuschi & O'Hara 2015, p. 171.
  6. ^ Cernuschi & O'Hara 2015, p. 168.
  7. ^ Cernuschi & O'Hara 2014, p. 1235.
  8. ^ Cernuschi & O'Hara 2015, p. 169.
  9. ^ Halpern 2012, p. 229.
  10. ^ Cernuschi & O'Hara 2015, p. 170.
  11. ^ Compton-Hall 1991, p. 242.
  12. ^ a b Cernuschi & O'Hara 2016, p. 67.
  13. ^ Cernuschi & O'Hara 2016, p. 68.
  14. ^ Sokol 1968, pp. 133–134.
  15. ^ a b Sokol 1968, p. 134.
  16. ^ a b Sieche 1991, pp. 127, 131.
  17. ^ Sokol 1968, p. 135.
  18. ^ Vego 1982, p. 345.
  19. ^ Gardiner 1985, p. 426.
  20. ^ Jarman 1997, p. 733.
  21. ^ Jarman 1997, p. 183.
  22. ^ Jarman 1997, p. 451.
  23. ^ Niehorster 2013.
  24. ^ Chesneau 1980, p. 304.
  25. ^ Brescia 2012, p. 151.
  26. ^ a b Whitley 1988, p. 81.
  27. ^ Lenton 1975, p. 107.
  28. ^ O'Hara 2013, p. 181.
  29. ^ a b Chesneau 1980, p. 357.
  30. ^ Lenton 1975, p. 110.
  31. ^ Willmott 2010, p. 209.


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