Coastal vessel, big Paraguayan river gunboat (small frigate-sized) with destroyer firepower.
In 1927, as tensions rose with neighbouring Bolivia, Paraguay ordered the building the 2 gunboats. The ships were designed by the naval engineer José Bozzano, who travelled around Europe looking for a shipbuilder, with the Italian Odero-Terni company being chosen. The ships were built in 1929, named Humaitá and Paraguay, and were armed with 4 120mm and 3 76mm guns, rivalling the destroyer classes of the time. They were delivered in 1931, and only a year later war broke out between Paraguay and Bolivia, wherein they gave Paraguay naval supremacy in the Paraguay River, and escorted supply ships against Bolivian aircraft and transported troops throughout the war, ferrying a total of about 94 000 troops in 165 trips.
In 1947, as civil war broke out in Paraguay, Humaitá and Paraguay were in Argentina undergoing refits. The crews arrested their officers and joined the rebels, moving up the Paraná River to support rebel troops and deliver military equipment. However, loyalist aircraft struck the ships before they could reach the Paraguay River, with Humaitá being hit with a bomb, disabling it. It was repaired, but after another failed attempt to break through the loyalist coastal defences the ships retreated to Argentina, where they were interned and then handed over to the victorious loyalists after the war. In 1989, the ruling party had an internal split, and a coup was launched against the then President Stroessner. The ships joined the coup and shelled the military headquarters where he had fled, allowing them a swift victory. In 1992, the ships’ boilers had reached their end of life, and after a period of stationary service, they were replaced with diesels. Currently both ships are still afloat, with Humaitá taken out of active service and turned into a museum ship and Paraguay still operational.
2x2 120mm/50 Ansaldo model 1926 (200 rounds)
3x1 76mm/40 Ansaldo model 1917 (200 rounds)
2x1 40mm/39 Vickers-Terni model 1917 (1000 rounds)
6 mines (Vickers Mk.II mines)
19mm conning tower
745 tons standard
835 tons full
Propulsion: 2 Parsons geared steam turbines and 2 Thornycroft-Schultz boilers, 3800 hp, driving 2 shafts
Speed: 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h)
Range: 1700 nmi (at 16 knots)
2x1 Odero-Terni fire director with 3m Odero-Terni rangefinder
Gogin, I. (2021) Fighting ships of World War Two 1937 - 1945. Volume IX. Asia, Africa, Latin America. (pp. 112). Kindle Edition.