Hello everyone! Today I’m going to suggest one of the three Gun Boats Israel bought from the Italians.
We’re starting of with this one, the Baglieto 52ft-class Motor Gun Boat, INS Ophir (T-150).
Source: ISRAELI PATROL BOATS IN AQABA - British Pathé
In 1955 the Israeli navy was doing quite well. But still there was a lack in small torpedo boats, specifically for boats that could be used in the Red Sea. And so new options were looked at to obtain more torpedo boats for the navy. At the same time relations with Italy had improved and so it was decided that an Italian firm would build the new boats. This firm would be Baglieto.
There was one big problem however. At the time this was happening, the Straits of Tiran were also being blocked by the Egyptians. Normally the Straits of Tiran would be used to sail new ships to Israel. So it was decided that the new boats made by Baglieto would be sent over by land through Ma’ale Ha’atzma’ut (It was a part of road going from the town of Mitzpe Ramon down to Ramon crater and today is a part of road 40 in Israel). This would severely limit the size the ships could be, and so they would be limited to a length of only 52,49 feet (16 meters).
Their small size did not mean they would be holding back in armaments and performance however. Although armaments changed a bit between the ships, they could carry a 40mm Bofors, two 20mm Oerlikons and two torpedoes. Although the torpedoes were rarely carried since they slowed down the boats because of their weight. That is the downside of having such a small and light boat.
The boats were powered by two Packard 71 engines which produced 1300 horsepower each. This would give the boats the ability to go at speeds of 40 knots.
But the small size of the boats proved to be quite a problem. On paper it looks nice, but in reality the small size made the ships struggle in rough weather. When one wave would hit the ship and another wave came right after that, the bow of the boat would dig into the second wave and almost sink the ship.
In the end the boats would work good enough, and they were fitted with torpedoes just before the Six Day War so that they could counter the threat of Egyptian destroyers.
INS Ophir was armed with one 40mm and one 20mm autocannon. Something that is interesting about the 20mm guns is that they are Oerlikon autocannons, but not the variant used by the allied forces of WW2. No, instead of those, Israel can be seen using the surplus of 20mm Flak 29 Oerlikon guns left over from Germany after they lost the war.
They are ofcourse identical in performance to the Allied variants. But their mounting is slightly different and it’s a cool little detail I thought I point out.
Now as said above, Ophir could also carry two German 17.7 inch (450 mm) F5W torpedoes. And she did have these for a short time. But these torpedoes were not carried for most of her carreer.
Length: 52,49 feet (16 meters)
Machinery: 2 x Packaerd 71 engines
Max speed: 40 knots (74 km/h)
Well that is all for this little boat. Many more suggestions like these to come in the future!
See you on the battlefield!