The Gabbiano class corvette was considered one of the most successful ships built by Italy during WW2. When Italy entered into the war, the Regia Marina recognized the need for reliable and well-armed anti-submarine
escorts. In the early 1930s, a 500-ton subchaser,
Albatros, was built. Her steam propulsion plant was difficult to maintain and operate and her armament was soon deemed inadequate and obsolete. In the early 1940s,
General Leonardo Fea, of the Genio Navale, designed a class of 400-ton anti-submarine corvette. Between 1942 and 1943, an order for 60 of these
Gabbiano class ships was placed with several Italian shipyards. The
ships were named after birds, animals, insects, edged weapons, firearms or mythological characters depending on which yard they were built. There were only very minor differences between the ships built at the
different yards, with the most obvious being the arrangement of the portholes.

Gabbiano class was well-built and efficient. They had a single-funnel, long forecastle and a small superstructure, which gave them a handsome profile. They were well armed, with a single 3.9in/47 gun fitted
forward and up to seven 20mm/65 guns. They had potent anti-submarine armament, which comprised of eight single-barreled depth-charge mortars and two large and distinct “Gatteschi” multi-level depth charge racks at
the stern. Some ships had two single 17.7 inch torpedo tubes.
The Gabbiano class suffered heavy losses, with only 19 surviving the war. However they had early successes sinking three British submarines and damaging others all in the space of a few months. Post-war, Italy
was allowed to keep the surviving ships and in the early 1950s completed two that were never finished (incorporating technical improvements). A third ship, which was sunk in Venice, was refloated and rebuilt. These
ships continued to be used as anti-submarine vessels as well as in training, fishery patrols and auxiliary roles. By the mid-1960s, they were starting to be decommissioned but a few remained in service for several years
still. The
Ape was the last ship to be decommissioned, on July 31, 1981, employed as a Special Forces support ship.

Cicogna (which is stork in Italian) was laid down at the Ansaldo Yard in Genoa on June 15, 1942. She was launched on October 10, 1942 and completed on January 11, 1943. She was assigned to the 1st Corvette
Squadron out of Trapani. She is credited with sinking the British submarine
HMS Thunderbolt with depth-charges on March 14, 1943. Her career was cut short on July 24, 1943, when she was bombed while at
anchor in Messina. She caught fire and had to be grounded; later when Sicily was evacuated, she was scuttled.
The Kit - Niko Model‘s follow-up to the 1:350 scale USCGC Taney is this little gem of a kit. The kit comes with an assortment of cast resin parts, two frets of photo-etch and decals. The hull comes in two parts split
at the waterline to give the modeler the option of a full-hull or water-lined model. The casting is very well done and fairly clean with a tiny bit of resin over-pour along the bottom of the upper hull and the top of the lower
hull. This of course will need to be cleaned up, especially if you plan to build a full-hull model. Some filler will most likely be need along the joint where the upper and lower hulls meet. There is a good amount of detail
cast into the upper hull such as the breakwater, boat cradles, some water-tight doors, portholes and mooring bits. Throughout the decks you will see raised areas which indicate where other parts, such as the bridge
structure and armament will be fitted.  

The bridge is the next largest part. The bridge is an open space and the windows are open as well, which gives the modeler the option of perhaps adding some crew figures inside before closing this area up. To fit over
the top of the bridge is the upper deck, which also has a good amount of detail. The diamond-shaped tread plate for the deck is well done and you can see that the bulkhead has lots of fittings cast into it. This is a very
nice touch as it adds a bit of realism to this area of the ship. Again, there are raised spots which indicate where some of the smaller parts will be fitted. Some resin flash will need to be removed along the deck edge, from
some of the windows and in other spots. The funnel is also well done with some added details that match up with some photos I’ve seen.
There is a multitude of smaller resin parts ranging from the main and secondary armament, boats and rafts, depth-charges, torpedo tubes, running gear, various deck and bridge fittings and other equipment. These are
all generally well-cast but there is some resin flash that will need to be cut away. All of the small parts will give the model a very busy and realistic look to it. Having depth-charges already cast and done in such a way
to simplify assembly is a bonus. It can be a bit of a pain cutting down plastic rod to make your own depth charges. Unlike the
Taney kit, there is no turned brass mast nor any brass rod provided. You will have to get
some rod to make the mast for this model.

The kit comes with a complete set of photo-etch parts. There is a small fret with five lengths of railings. The second fret has the detail parts such as the unique “Gatteschi” multi-level depth charge racks, inclined
ladders and vertical ladder, netting for the rafts, funnel grill, platforms and supports, communication equipment, mast details, propeller guards and other fittings. The etch looks well done with a good amount of relief
etching. A small sheet of decals is provided which has the hull numbers, name of the ship and the Regia Marina ensign and jack.

The assembly instructions are printed on four pages. The first page has images of the kit parts. The resin parts keyed to numbers that are referenced in the assembly diagrams. Some of the resin parts are marked as
not to be used on this particular model; does this means that another Regia Marina kit is in the works?  The following pages are fully illustrated with sub-assemblies and more general placement of parts clearly shown.
The last page has painting instructions for the splinter camouflage scheme worn by
Cicogna. The color references are Hobby Color paints so you will have to do your own cross referencing for matching White
Ensign Colourcoats
or some other brand.
Overall this appears to be another well-done and accurate kit from Niko Model. It is an interesting but exciting choice for their second kit in 1:350 scale. It is great to see a Regia Marina kit in this scale, as the Italian
World War II fleet has been rather over looked in this scale. I am looking forward to what is next from
Niko Models in this scale. You can purchase this kit from such Steel Navy sponsors as Free Time Hobbies, L’
and White Ensign Models.
Felix Bustelo