Thursday 5 April 2018

Paraguayan River Gunboats

One unusual aspect of the Chaco War was that although both belligerents were land-locked, the Paraguayans had a navy that took an active part in the war/

A map of the area shows why.

Two rivers – the Paraguay and the Pilcomayo – effectively bordered the area claimed by Paraguay, and they were able to use them to supply and support their forces in the Chaco area. As a result, the Paraguayans had a small but very effective navy.

The backbone of the Paraguayan Navy were two river gunboats, the Humaitá-class gunboats. These had been designed in Paraguay with Italian assistance, and built in Genoa by Cantieri Odero between 1928 and 1931.

The ships were named Humaitá and Paraguay and they reached Asunción on 5th May, 1931.

Their characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 856 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 229.7' (70m)
    • Beam: 35.1' (10.7m)
    • Draught: 5.6' (1.7m)
  • Propulsion: 2 x Parsons 3,800 shp (2,800 kW) geared steam turbines driving 2 shafts
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Range: 1,700 nautical miles at 16 knots
  • Complement: 86
  • Armament: 4 × 4.7" (2 x 2) Guns; 3 × 3" (3 x 1) Guns; 2 × 40mm (2 x 1) Anti-Aircraft Guns; 6 mines
  • Armour:
    • Belt: 0.5"
    • Deck: 0.3"
    • Turrets: 0.3"
    • Conning tower: 0.76"

The two ships were used extensively during the war, and still exist today. Humaitá is now a museum ship and Paraguay is awaiting refurbishment that will include the replacement of her engines by new diesel ones.


  1. Replies
    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      They look like cut-down versions of contemporary destroyers, and had a lot of firepower for their size.

      All the best,



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