In June 1940, when Italy entered World War II, Iachino commanded the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. A month after the British raid on Taranto on 11 November 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini removed Admiral Domenico Cavagnari as commander in chief of naval forces and named Iachino to replace him. Iachino, who in 1938 had supported Mussolini's "Italy as aircraft carrier" arguments against the proponents of Italian naval aviation, backed such development in later years, particularly after his country's grievous losses (three cruisers and two destroyers sunk and 2,300 dead) during the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941. The near total lack of an Italian air force and of Luftwaffe air cover transformed an offensive Italian naval venture against the British into a defensive retreat that, because of miscalculations on Iachino's part, precipitated a confused, one-sided night battle.
The Matapan disaster haunted Iachino. Despite his superb theoretical grasp of naval strategy and tactics, he had proved irresolute in this and other encounters with the Royal Navy, notably the two Battles of Sirte Gulf on 17 December 1941 and 22 March 1942. Relieved of fleet command in April 1943 and opting for the Allies after the armistice, Iachino served without further command until retiring as a full admiral in 1954. He died in Rome on 3 December 1976.
Gordon E. Hogg
Bragadin, Marc' Antonio. The Italian Navy in World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1957.; Giorgerini, Giorgio. Da Matapan al Golfo Persico. Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1989.; Greene, Jack, and Alessandro Massignani. The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940–1943. London: Chatham Publishing, 1998.; Iachino, Angelo. Le due Sirti. Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1953.; Iachino, Angelo. Il punto su Matapan. Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1969.