Tag: 696

“Il cavallo di Troia” – the secret SLC base

by on Nov.25, 2021, under Allgemein

IMG_3568_600x600Enemy ships in the harbour of Gibraltar have been in the sight of the Royal Italian Navy since September 1940. After several attacks by “Gamma” frogmen and SLC units, ideas to build a secret base of the Decima MAS were realized in the second half of the year 1942. Convoy ships for the United States were beginning to arrive in quantity. The numbers of potential targets at anchor in the Bay of Algeciras were growing almost daily.

Earlier in 1942, a base for the Decima MAS “Gamma” frogmen was established in the Villa Carmela near La Linea from where several missions were carried out against British merchant ships (see page 126-131 / chapter II.I). During the months of shaping Villa Carmela into an advanced base, the idea for a bigger and much more effective operation had taken form in the mind of Licio Visintini, one of the SLC pilots of the mission B.G.4 in September 1941 (see page 374-381 / chapter II.III) which was carried out from the submarine Scirè.

IMG_3570_600x600Before the new base was ready for action, each attack at Gibraltar had required a long submarine voyage, air and land transportation of the attack-teams, the shipping of supplies and weapons, arrangements for rendezvous, an approach by submarine, and finally the task of smuggling the survivors back to Italy thru neutral Spanish territory.

Licio Visintini’s idea became real with turning the anchored ship Olterra inside the pier of Algeciras into a secret base for SLC missions. Visintini and further technical specialists replaced the original crew of the Olterra. An assembly workshop for the SLC devices (which arrived in sections, declared as spare parts for the damaged ship) was established in the hull. A portside cabin of the Olterra became the observation post with an excellent view of Gibraltar harbour. Finally, a folding door on the port side bow (see coffee table shot of page 386-387 /chapter II.III) became the exit door for the SLC units below waterline to reach their targets – and to return back into the hull of the Olterra. After months of intensive work in total secrecy, the inconspicious ship Olterra was turned into a Trojan Horse“il cavallo di Troia” – and six men were ready for action with their SLC devices.

IMG_3565_600x600The Olterra was starting point of the following SLC missions against enemy ships in the bay of Algeciras / Gibraltar harbour: B.G.5 (7/8 December 1942), B.G.6 (7/8 May 1943) and  B.G.7 (3/4 August 1943). Our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s features two Ref. 3646 watches which were used during these missions.

The Ref. 3646 / Type A “Radiomir Panerai” watch of Ernesto Notari is featured in chapter II.I (page 58-91 / see coffee table shot on the left) – more on this watch and its history can be found here. The Ref. 3646 / Type C “Radiomir Panerai” watch of Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III (page 350-367) – more on this watch and the history behind can be found here. The new “The References” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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30 September 1940 – today in history…

by on Sep.30, 2021, under Allgemein

R_SMG_Gondar_Crest_600x600The afternoon of 30 September 1940 marks the end of the mission „Operazione G.A.2“. Just five weeks after the sinking of the Iride, the Gondar (photo: historic crest of the submarine, showing SLC containers on its deck) was the second transport submarine of the Mezzi d’Assalto to be sunk.

The submarine Gondar (built in 1937) under the command of Tenente di Vascello Francesco Brunetti was dispatched from La Spezia with Alexandria as her target. On board the Gondar was the officer-in-charge of mission G.A.2, Mario Giorgini, three SLC teams and a reserve team.

When the Gondar reached the target area on 29 September 1940, she received a sobering radio message from reconnaissance: The British fleet had left the Port of Alexandria – so mission G.A.2 was aborted. The Gondar headed now for Tobruk and was already on its return journey when it was discovered by the Australian destroyer, HMAS Stuart. A second destroyer, HMS Diamond and a corvette now tracked the Gondar throughout the night alongside HMAS Stuart.

R_SMG_Gondar_SeaD_600x600After hours of attempting to evade capture, the Gondar gave up in the early hours of 30 September 1940. Commander Brunetti gave the order to dive down and abandon the Gondar, which effectively saved his team and the SLC pilots from going down after being sunk by the mighty enemy. A British Sunderland flying boat bombarded the Gondar while the crew was already in the water – effectively sealing the fate of the second transport submersible for SLCs (see historic photos on the left). For one of the two inventors of the new weapon, Elios Toschi, this second journey was also to be his last. He was taken prisoner by the British alongside the crew of the Gondar and his comrades – “missione fallita”.

The launch of the new weapon appeared to be ill-fated: Two operations (G.A.1 and G.A.2) failed, two valuable transport submersibles had been sunk and four SLC teams and their officers-in-charge had been taken as prisoners of war. It was to take over a year until another attempt could be made to penetrate the Port of Alexandria in December 1941…

Read more about “The birth of a legend – the first Panerai watches (1935-1939)” in chapter I on page 34-39, followed by the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I on page 106-109. Mario Giorgini, officer-in-charge of the mission G.A.2 is also featured in the second volume of “The References” on page 1016-1022. The Gondar is also featured in our book “History1” in chapter IV on page 288-357.

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A Ref. 3646 / Type E with brass dial

by on Sep.12, 2021, under Allgemein

Introducing another Ref. 3646 / Type E watch which surfaced in Germany – this specimen appeared with painted brass dial.

Noteworthy is the well preserved original strap and “Bottle Opener” buckle, wich most of today’s surfacing watches don’t have anymore.

The “Kampfschwimmer” watch with anonymous painted brass dial has an unpolished case with a matching flat bezel. The onion shaped winding crown (“BREVET +” Type 11) can be screwed down onto the collar of the 47 mm cushion shaped case with soldered lugs.

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type E
Dial: “Kampfschwimmer” (painted brass, anonymous)
Case number: 2608XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod.

Inside the watch is a Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod. movement with typical decorations and engravings on the bridges (17 RUBIS / FAB. SUISSE). The blued steel hands appear untouched with original luminous material. The inner caseback is decorated with half polish. An overview of different decorative polish on the inside of the caseback (Type A – Type G) can be found on page 486 in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

Find more info on straps and buckles here. More info on Ref. 3646 watches without Rolex hallmarks can be found here. More info on Ref. 3646 watches with brass dials can be found here.

Here we added another unknown watch into our database – yet another piece of the puzzle surfaced. Thanks to the collector who shared the photos and information with us!

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A Ref. 3646 / Type E watch surfaced in New Zealand

by on Sep.07, 2021, under Allgemein

Webb’s auction house from Auckland / New Zealand contacted us recently, providing information and photos of a yet unknown Ref. 3646 / Type E with “California Dial”. The watch appears with the matching flat bezel and both lead seals above and below the 47 mm cushion shaped case. The outer caseback is not engraved and the inner caseback is missing the Rolex hallmark and reference number, which is a typical feature of Ref. 3646 / Type E watches. The onion shaped winding crown (“BREVET +” Type 11) can be screwed down onto the collar of the 47 mm cushion shaped case with soldered lugs.

The “Error-Proof Radium Dial” by Rolex, with its railroad track minute markers and “SWISS MADE” signature at six o’clock, features half arabic and half roman numbers with luminous material applied from above.

Since 2016, five new watches of the number group Ref. 3646 / Type E surfaced, two of them expanded the number group from 260856 – 261097 (as of 1.1.2016) to 260850 – 260111. We have 31 Ref. 3646 / Type E watches recorded as of today, including this specimen from New Zealand.

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type E
Dial: “California Dial”
Case number: 2609XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod.

You can read more about Ref. 3646 watches with dissappeared Rolex hallmarks here.

[Photos with kind permission / courtesy of www.webbs.co.nz]

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Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial @ Dr. Crott

by on Aug.26, 2021, under Watch Point

We recently added another unknown watch into our database – yet another piece of the puzzle surfaced, which marks the Ref. 3646 / Type D #104 in our records. The “Kampfschwimmer” watch with anonymous painted brass dial appears with an unpolished case with a matching flat bezel. The original winding crown has been replaced.

Watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D are featured in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.IV (page 398-531) including a historic photo of a “Kampfschwimmer” wearing a 3646 with brass dial on page 475. Brass dialed Ref. 3646 / Type D are featured on page 468-493. In this part of the book, an overview of different decorative polish on the inside of the caseback (Type A – Type G) can be found on page 486.

The caseback of the watch is not engraved. However, a handwritten note from the son of the “Kampfschwimmer” explains that his father completed his training in Bad Tölz at Lehrkommando 702. You can read more about the training site Bad Tölz and the Lehrkommando 702 in our book “History2” on page 660-662 and 789-795.

The watch will be up for auction on November 13, 2021 at Dr. Crott’s 105th auction in Mannheim.

The inner caseback bears the typical Rolex SA hallmark, reference and case number known for 3646 / Type D watches. Inside the watch is a Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement with typical decorations and engravings on the bridges (ROLEX 17 RUBIS / FAB. SUISSE).

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type D
Dial: “Kampfschwimmer”  (painted brass, anonymous)
Case number: 2607XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1

We hope that this Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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25 July 1941 – today in history…

by on Jul.25, 2021, under Allgemein

Giobbe_Malta_600x600Augusta (Sicily) 11 pm. The night of 25 July 1941 marks the beginning of the “Operazione Malta 1”, known by its disastrous result for the Mezzi d’Assalto, only three months after the first successful attack with MT explosive boats against British ships in Souda Bay (Crete) on 26 March 1941. One day later, in the early morning of 26 July 1941, the Decima MAS lost the head of the flotilla (Capitano di Fregata Vittorio Moccagatta), the head of explosive boats (Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe), the doctor of the flotilla (Tenente Medico Bruno Falcomatà), SLC pilots (including their inventor, Teseo Tesei) and MT explosive boats pilots during the attack of the harbour of La Valetta (Malta).

Giobbe_Panerai_600x600On a side note of the history, the commander of the explosive boats / “Mezzi di Superficie”, Giorgio Giobbe (1906-1941), is well known for wearing his Panerai watch on his right wrist in a photo taken prior the mission against Malta (see page 111-115 in chapter II.I). More about missions and watches of the Decima MAS can be found here.

Read more about “The birth of a legend – the first Panerai watches (1935-1939)” in chapter I, followed by the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I – more information on the historic content in our “The References” book set can be found here. Read about the featured watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio in the first and second volume here.

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Mezzi d’Assalto

by on Jun.26, 2021, under Allgemein

MdA_MT_600x600Just a few days before the first success of the MT explosive boats on 26 March 1941 in Souda Bay, the 1st MAS Flotilla changed its name and became the 10th MAS Flotilla – the Decima MAS on 15 March 1941. Capitano di Fregata Vittorio Moccagatta was the new commander and divided the special weaponry – Mezzi d’Assalto – into two divisions:

The surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe (see photo on page 115, commander Giobbe wearing clearly visible a Panerai watch on his right wrist) had a fleet of various explosive boats (category MT, MTM, MTR, MTS, MTMS, SMA and MTL) for sabotage operations, based in La Spezia.

MdA_Gamma_600x600The underwater division – Mezzi Subacquei – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Junio Valerio Borghese operated the diving School in Livorno, the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio, the transport submersibles (Scirè and Ambra) and the frogmen of the “Gruppo Gamma”.

After the desaster at Malta in July 1941 (“Operazione Malta 1”), the Decima MAS was restructured. Capitano di Fregata Ernesto Forza became the new commander of the Decima MAS. The underwater division was given the name of the fallen inventor of the SLC, Teseo Tesei, now commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese. The surface division was given the name of the fallen commander of the Decima, Vittorio Moccagatta, now commanded by Salvatore Todaro. See page 116 with a historical chart of the new structured Mezzi d’Assalto as of October 1941:

preview_refv2_0116-0117_XaMAS_1941

Ernesto Notari became commander of the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio. His Ref. 3646 / Type A “Radiomir Panerai” (with its unique engraved caseback) is documented on page 58 – 91.

heritage_696_notari_060-061

Read more about the Mezzi d’Assalto on page 92 – 153 in chapter II.I of the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

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Visintini’s 3646 / Type C “Radiomir Panerai”

by on May.10, 2021, under Allgemein

Rahmen_2019_3646TypeC_LVA watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar.

After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar. Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942…

The documentation of the watch (engraved caseback and view into the movement shown above) and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

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Missions and Watches of the Decima MAS

by on Apr.18, 2021, under Allgemein

SLC_RC_300x300Watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio are deeply connected to the history of the Royal Italian Navy during the Second World War. In our book “The References” we have included an overview of the missions of the “Decima” aside the legendary watches, which were an important part of the units of the underwater (“Mezzi Subacquei” / “Gamma” frogmen and SLC) and surface (“Mezzi di Superficie” / explosive boats) special forces of the Decima MAS (“Mezzi d’Assalto”).

After the disaster at Malta in July 1941 (“Operazione Malta 1”), the Decima MAS was restructured. Capitano di Fregata Ernesto Forza became the new commander of the Decima MAS. The underwater division was given the name of the fallen inventor of the SLC, Teseo Tesei, now commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese. The surface division was given the name of the fallen commander of the Decima, Vittorio Moccagatta, now commanded by Salvatore Todaro (the photo below shows a historical chart of the new structured Mezzi d’Assalto as of October 1941).

DecimaMAS_1941_300x300Chapter I and II of the first volume (1930’s-1940’s) carry the history of a new weapon – the SLC slow running torpedo, called “maiale” – and the men who trusted on the watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio during their dangerous missions in deep and darkness of the mediterranean sea. Because of the significance of the fascinating history behind these watches, we have dedicated our new book “The References” to the inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi.

Chapter II of “The References” features some of the rarest Panerai watches owned by famous and high decorated Italian veterans. The first watch of the Reference 3646 / Type A, featured in chapter II.I, belonged to Admiral Ernesto Notari. He was awarded with the Silver Medal for Gallantry at War (M.A.V.M.) for the mission B.G.6 in May 1943.

heritage_696_Notari_070-071
The documentation of the watch (see above page 70-71) and the history of Ernesto Notari, including a summary of the “Mezzi d’Assalto” missions until 8 September 1943 can be read from page 58 to 153 in chapter II.I.

Chapter II.II, about the watches of the Reference 3646 / Type B, features the watch of the legendary “Gamma” frogman Luigio Ferraro. He was awarded with the Gold Medal for Gallantry at War (M.O.V.M.) for his “Stella” missions in the eastern part of the mediterranean sea in 1943.

heritage_696_Ferraro_190-191
The documentation of the watch (see above page 190-191) and the history of Luigi Ferraro can be read from page 190 to 225 in chapter II.II.

A watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar. After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar. Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942…

heritage_696_Visintini_352-353
The documentation of the watch (see above page 352-353) and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Inventors, pilots and a royal visitor…

by on Mar.15, 2021, under Allgemein

The first watches for the pilots of the “new weapon” SLC were delivered in the middle of the 1930’s by Guido Panerai & Figlio to the Commando del 1° Gruppo Sommergibili of the Royal Italian Navy. According to the timeline of the development of the top secret slow running torpedos (siluro a lenta corsa, short: SLC) by the inventors Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, waterproof and luminous instruments for the pilots were necessary to carry out proper exercises and to control the SLC in depth and darkness.

IMG_2635_600x600The chapters I and II, dedicated to the first watches for underwater use (Ref. 2533 and 3646) take the readers of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s into these early years. Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi’s ideas became real. But strategic decisions after the Italo-Ethiopian War stopped the secret SLC project. The tests with these small weapons were archived and the Royal Italian Navy focused their interest in huge battleships, cruisers and destroyers.

The SLC project was re-started by the 1st Flottiglia MAS in 1939 at the advent of the Second World War. With the first missions of the Mezzi d’Assalto carried out from August 1940 onwards, the demand for skilled operators as well as new equipment – and more instruments for the operators – grew fast. An early Ref. 3646 / Type A, dated to April 1940, is featured in chapter II.I followed by the timeline of the missions carried out by the operators of the Decima Flottiglia MAS, the special commandos of the Royal Italian Navy.

IMG_3106_600x600The photo shows page 96 of “The References” with a historic photo from June 1940: The two inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, Alberto Franzini and Gino Birindelli above their co-pilots stand together with a royal visitor: Principe Aimone di Savoia Aosta, Duca di Spoleto –  just a few weeks before the first missions of the new weapon SLC were about to write naval history.

Read more about “The birth of a legend – the first Panerai watches (1935-1939)” in chapter I, followed by the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I – more information on the historic content in our “The References” book set with a total of 1392 pages can be found here. Read about the featured watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio in the first and second volume here.

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