Motoscafo da Turismo (MT) Mbarchino esplosivo
Year of manufacture1947
Engine ModelAlfa Romeo 6C
Barchino Esplosivo MTM "Alfetta"
The idea to build a small and powerful motorboat which could attack and destroy with explosives enemy vessels at sea came in 1935 from Amedeo, the Italian Duke of Aosta. The Dukes's brother Admiral Aimone and fellow Navy officers developed the concept further which resulted in the production of 6 Barchinos in 1938.
The MTM concept (Motoscafo Turismo Modificato) consisted in a beautifully designed light wooden hull allowing high speed on the water propulsed by the best available Italian engine at that time, the 6 cylinder twin overhead cam Alfa Romeo 6C 2500. This 'state of the art' engine transmitted 90 HP to an almost futuristic Isotta Fraschini developped Z-drive with twin contra-rotation propellors.
Loaded with 300-330 Kg of explosives and 1 pilot these MTM Barchinos were capable of 33 Knots or 61 Km/h. during 3 hours.
The operator was seated in the back and at the distance between 100 and 50 m from the target left the craft by falling backwards. He disposed of a folded floating cushion on which the operator climbed to avoid the consequences of the close explosion.
In the early morning of March the 26-th 1941 3 Barchinos attacked succesfully the cruiser HMS York and the tanker Pericles in the shallow waters of Suda Bay (island of Crete). Later during the war the Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS (Motoscafo Armato Silurante) moved north operating along the coastline of the Provence and Liguria. The most significant action resulted in the heavy damaging of the French destroyer Trombe in mid-April 1945.
The production during the war was in hands of the CABI Cattaneo shipyard in Milano - Italy wich produced Barchinos in small series of 6 or max 12 examples at a time. Some Barchinos were also delivered to German units.
Most of these Barchinos were destroyed and only 5 or 6 have survived to these days. Three are exhibited in the Italian war museums of La Spezia, Milano and Venezia.
According to Ing. Lino Mancini from the still existing CABI Cattaneo works in Milano "Alfetta" must be one of a couple of Barchinos which they sold to the Riva shipyard in Sarnico who transformed them for leisure utility.
The now in speed boat transformed Barchino was imported by a first owner into Switserland on 12-02-1947 and registered on Zürich See under the name 'Alfetta'.
Next owner was very well known works Alfa Romeo racedriver with Klaussenrennen fame, Willy Daetwyler (° 1919), who later in his life sold this boat to his mechanic Bruno Picco (° 1903), a very well known Alfa Romeo Specialist in Zürich with international fame in Alfa Romeo Bimotore, 6C and 12C racecar tuning for customers from all over the world.
Bruno Picco kept the boat for 25 years in his garage, tuned his water sports Alfa Romeo to 2500SS specification (3 carburettors) and used this motorboat regularly during summer on the Zürich lake. The 6C Alfa Romeo engine developped 120 HP, which enabled 'Alfetta' to reach easily 65/70 Km. per hour. Thanks to the 'state of the art' Z-drive this speedboat comes completely out of the water at top speed.
The last owner bought this boat in 1980 and stored her year after year in a specialized boathouse (every year 1.200 SFr. only for storage charges) until he sold her in 2006 to my Alfa Romeo-crazy friend Raoul San Giorgi.
The beautiful construction of the wooden hull, the exceptional mechanical concept and the extroardinary historical provenance charmed me instantly when being confronted with 'Alfetta'. As a result of a combined classic car deal 'Alfetta' quickly became mine!
The prospect of bringing Alfetta back to her former glory and seeing her again navigating in peaceful circumstances on a idyllic Swiss or Italian lake got me very excited.
It was a pleasure for me to notice that classic wooden boat specialist Jan Van Damme in Zeebrugge was also immediately very enthusiast about "Alfetta" and agreed to restore her respecting as much as possible the military II-nd WW provenance and the immediate postwar Riva modifications.
My specialist classic car workshop Twin Cam took care of the beautiful Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS engine rebuild and the further mechanical components.
After approx. 2.000 hours were invested in this exciting project everybody from both teams, Jan Van Damme's and Bernard Marreyt's, got impatient for the moment when Alfetta would have her maidentrip after 2 years of restoration and many years of immobilisation.
For the last days of August we all went back to the Belgian seaside, partly to enjoy some nice summer weather but more important, to organize and assist to the maidentrip of "Alfetta" after a 2 year full restoration. A wonderful sight and a glorious moment to see this ex-WW II vessel back in the water after all this time.
Clearly the harbour of Zeebrugge was too small to demonstrate the incredible power developed by the beautiful Alfa Romeo 6C 2500SS engine, but the growling engine's exhaust sound at full throttle sounded very promising...!
'Alfetta' is for sale with Swiss registration documents and a new in 2006 specially manufactured transport trailer also with Swiss registration documents.