During the 1920s, the major naval powers of the world began developing classes of larger destroyers or “super destroyers”. These ships were to be used in different
capacities, either as scouts or flotilla leaders. The Regia Marina’s
Navigatori class was conceived as an answer to the large Jaguar and Guépard classes of built for
the Marine Nationale. The
Navigatori class was significantly larger than other contemporary Italian destroyers and because of their size, speed and armament they
were initially classified as “esploratori” or scouts.

The original plan was to build 24 ships, but only 12 were actually constructed. All of the ships were named for Italian navigators of the 13th through 15th centuries,
hence the name
Navigatori class. They were indeed large, with standard displacement exceeding 2,000 tons. They measured about 352 feet long (107.2 meters) with
a maximum beam of 36.5 feet (11.15 meters) and a maximum draught of 14.8 feet (4.5 meters). The main armament was six 120mm/50 Ansaldo and OTO 1926
pattern guns fitted in three twin mounts. Anti-aircraft armament consisted of two 40mm/39 Vickers single mounts on the foc’sle abreast the forward funnel and four
13.2mm Breda twin mounts with two on the sides of the bridge and two just aft of the second funnel on a platform. The torpedo launchers consisted of two triple 21-
inch (533 mm) tubes. Two rangefinders were fitted with one above the bridge and one aft of the second full atop the superstructure.
The ships were fast with speed at about 35 knots and if pushed up to 40 knots. However, general seaworthiness and stability were not very good which required the
reduction of top weight. This was done by removing the lower level of the bridge structure and the two legs of the original tripod mast and replacing the triple torpedo
tubes with twin versions (the triples were fitted again during wartime) in the early 1930s. In the later 1930s, ships were given new clipper bows, which increased the
sheer of the foc’sle deck and widening of the beam between the forward 120mm mount and the aft torpedo tubes.
Ugolino Vivaldi was the first ship to undergo this
modification and served as a prototype for modifications made to nine other ships. These ships received a more arched bow stem and more sheer and also the
hawseholes were fitted on the deck edge.
Vivaldi retained the hawseholes lower on the bow. Nicoloso Da Recco and Antoniotto Usodimare did not undergo this
rebuilding due to the outbreak of war, so the retained the original straight stem and bow hawseholes. In 1938, with scouting duties now regulated to aircraft, the
Navigatori ships were re-classified as destroyers and red pennant letters were added to the bow. During the war, the ships received improved anti-aircraft guns and,
overtime, increased numbers. All ships saw heavy action, with only
Da Recco surviving the war and decommissioned in 1954.

Ugolino Vivaldi was laid down on May 16, 1927 at the Cantieri Odero – Genoa Sestri yard. She was launched January 9, 1929 and completed March 6, 1930. She
was named for a Genovese explorer and merchant who, in 1291, embarked on an expedition with two galleys (the other was commanded by his brother Vandino) to
sail to India to establish a trade route. They sailed into the Atlantic along the Moroccan coast but the expedition was never heard from again. While it was a failure, this
expedition was the first recorded voyage that sailed out from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic since the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. On
August 1, 1940,
Vivaldi rammed and sank the Royal Navy submarine HMS Oswald in the Gulf of Taranto. She was damaged at Pantelleria on June 15, 1942 but was
able to safely reach Naples. Before Italy’s surrender to Allied forces in 1943,
Vivaldi carried out 155 missions, covering 59,991 miles. On September 9, 1943, while
attacking German forces, she was damaged by coastal artillery. While trying to make it to safety in the Balearic Islands, she was hit by aerial bombs and eventually
sank on the morning of September 10, 1943.
The Kit - E.V.A. is a brand new resin ship producer from Italy which is focusing on Regia Marina subjects. The Ugolino Vivaldi is their first release and so far they
have released two other Regia Marina kits. The kit is comprised of resin and photo-etch parts and decals, with a full hull/waterline option and represents
Vivaldi in a
1940 fit.

The design of the hull is rather interesting in that it is in three parts. The upper hull is split in two basically at the foc’sle break and the lower hull is one piece. Why
was this done this way? I honestly do not know, but I can venture a guess.
Vivaldi received a new “clipper” bow but retained the hawseholes lower on the bow
during her reconstruction. Most of the other ships received the bow with more arched stem, increased sheer and hawseholes were fitted on the deck edge. Perhaps E.
V.A. is planning another version of the kit with the latter fit and it may have been easier in theory to develop a new master for the bow section since the aft section
was common to all ships. No matter why, this approach will present a challenge to modelers.
The upper hull sections have some detail cast into them, including some hatches, lockers and portholes. The portholes are not even along the sides and some need to
be opened up more. I did notice that bitts and/chocks appear to be represented with solid rectangular shapes, so if you wish to correct these you will need to seek
after-market replacements and perform a little surgery. The aft hull section has the ship’s name cast into it, but you can substitute the photo-etch version or a decal if
you wish. The foc’sle section has a recess for the forward funnel and both sections have slightly raised footprints to mark the positions for the different
superstructure parts. Looking closely at the deck, you will see that the surface has a series of ridges and is not smooth. These step striations are typical for 3D printed
parts, and the master was created using this method. However, the master needs to be sanded smooth to eliminate these ridges so that they are not transferred to the
molds and the cast resin parts. The modeler will have to do some sanding and using some spot-filling spray primer. The lower hull appears to be good but there are
numerous pinholes that need to be filled in.

When you look at the surfaces underneath the upper hull sections and the top of the lower hull you will clearly see a lot of excess resin that will need to be removed
and areas sanded sooth in order to mate the parts. The aft upper hull section has a substantial casting runner that will add more work to the process and to further
complicate matters, this piece is warped.
The next largest parts are the deck structures and funnels. Again there is some detail, like watertight doors, windows, portholes and hatches but some are a bit
bland, like the doors. I would suggest replacing them with after-market photo-etch doors to add a little more detail. The parts need a lot of cleanup to remove
excess resin along the bottoms, fill in pinholes and to smooth out the surfaces.

The smaller parts include various gun tubs, the open bridge deck, lookout housing, 120mm gun turrets, barrels and mounts, mounts for the 13.2mm guns, torpedo
tubes, rangefinders, breakwater, boats, life rafts, running gear, cowl vents, depth charges and other detail parts. Again, these parts require a lot of clean up. A pair
of cradles is also provided to use as a display stand and some lengths of plastic rod are included to use to make some parts as indicated in the assembly instructions.
The photo-etch brass fret provides some lengths of pre-measured railings for the foc’sle and main deck, catwalks, inclined and vertical ladders, some watertight
doors, bridge wing supports, funnel caps, jack and ensign staffs, propellers, propeller guards, rudder, boat rudders and other details. The brass is nicely done with
some good relief etching, with part numbers etched into the fret for easier identification. A nameplate is also included for a display stand. Decals for the bow and aft
red pennant letters, flags and ship’s name are provided.

An eight-page instruction booklet is included which does a good job of showing how to construct the model. The cover page has a brief history of the ship and some
specifications. The following pages have a series of clear assembly illustrations that cover specific sections of the model. The bottom of page 7 has a rigging guide,
which is a very nice touch as this bit of information is often omitted from assembly instructions. The last page has a painting and decal placement guide with
references to Lifecolor paints for the non-generic colors.
Bear in mind that this kit is the first release by E.V.A. and admittedly is a bit rough overall. However, I see a diamond in the rough and a lot of potential here
with some effort on the modeler’s part. There is a lack of Regia Marina kits in 1:350 scale and this gap will be filled by E.V.A. based on this and the other two
kits currently available and the list of planned releases that was shared with me. Sorry, I can’t spill the beans because I have been sworn to secrecy but all I
can say is stay tuned. This kit is definitely not recommended for novices but rather for modelers with experience working with resin kits. E.V.A. kits are
currently available only through eBay.
Felix Bustelo
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