WORLD WAR 2 ITALIAN AIR FORCE ORDER OF BATTLE ON 10TH JUNE 1940
1ST AIR REGION (MILANO)
4th Bomber Division 'DRAGO' (Dragon) (Novara)
43rd Bomber Wing, with:
98th Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Cameri)
99th Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Cameri)
7th Bomber Wing, with:
4th Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Lonate Pozzolo)
25th Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Lonate Pozzolo)
13th Bomber Wing, with:
11th Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Piacenza)
43rd Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Piacenza)
2nd Fighter Division 'BOREA' (Boreas, poetic name of the Noth Wind)(Torino-Caselle)
3rd Fighter Wing, with:
18th Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Novi Ligure)
23rd Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Novi Ligure)
53rd Fighter Wing, with:
150th Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Torino-Caselle)
151st Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Torino-Caselle)
6th Bomber Division 'FALCO' (A Hawk) (Padova)
9th (independent) Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Gorizia)
16th Bomber Wing, with:
50th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.1007bis – Vicenza)
50th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.1007bis – Vicenza)
18th Bomber Wing, with:
31st Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Aviano)
37th Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Aviano)
47th Bomber Wing, with:
106th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.1007bis- Ghedi)
107th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.1007bis- Ghedi)
2ND AIR REGION (PALERMO)
3rd Bomber Division 'CENTAURO' (Centaur) (Catania)
11th Bomber Wing, with:
33rd Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Comiso)
34th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Comiso)
41st Bomber Wing, with:
59th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Gela)
60th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Gela)
24th Bomber Wing, with:
52nd Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Catania)
53rd Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Catania)
11th Bomber Brigade 'NIBBIO' (Kite) (Castelvetrano)
96th Independent Bomber Squadron (SM-95c – Reggio Calabria)
30th Bomber Wing, with:
87th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Sciacca)
90th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Sciacca)
36th Bomber Wing, with:
108th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Castelvetrano)
109th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Castelvetrano)
1st Fighter Division 'AQUILA' (Eagle) (Palermo)
6th Independent Fighter Squadron (MC.200 – Comiso)
30th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Palermo)
1st Fighter Wing, with:
17th Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Palermo)
157th Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Palermo)
3RD AIR REGION (ROMA)
5th Bomber Division 'EOLO' (Aeolus – Latin God of the winds) (Viterbo)
46th Bomber Wing, with:
104th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Pisa)
105th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Pisa)
9th Bomber Wing, with:
26th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Viterbo)
29th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Viterbo)
8th Fighter Brigade 'ASTORE' (Goshawk) (Roma-Ciampino)
7th Independent Fighter Squadron (Ba.88 – Campiglia)
51st Fighter Wing, with:
20th Fighter Squadron (G.50 – Roma-Ciampino)
21st Fighter Squadron (G.50 – Roma-Ciampino)
52nd Fighter Wing, with:
22nd Fighter Squadron (G.50 – Pontedera)
24th Fighter Squadron (G.50 – Pontedera)
4TH TERRITORIAL AIR ZONE (BARI)
116th Independent Bomber Squadron (BR.20 – Grottaglie)
2nd Independent Fighter Squadron (CR.32 – Grottaglie)
35th Bomber Wing, with:
86th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.501 – Brindisi)
96th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.506bis – Brindisi)
37th Bomber Wing, with:
54th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Lecce)
29th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Lecce)
SARDINIA AIR COMMAND (CAGLIARI)
10th Bomber Brigade 'MARTE' (Mars – Latin God of war) (Cagliari)
3rd Independent Fighter Squadron (CR.32 – Monserrato)
19th Independent Ground Attack Squadron (Ba.88 – Alghero)
124th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Cagliari-Elmas)
8th Bomber Wing, with:
27th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Villacidro)
28th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Villacidro)
31st Bomber Wing, with:
93rd Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.506bis – Cagliari-Elmas)
94th Bomber Squadron (Cant Z.506bis – Cagliari-Elmas)
32nd Bomber Wing, with:
88th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Decimomannu)
89th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Decimomannu)
ALBANIA AIR COMMAND (TIRANA)
38th Independent Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Tirana)
160th Independent Fighter Squadron (CR.32 – Tirana)
120th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Tirana)
AEGEAN AIR COMMAND (RHODES)
161st Independent Fighter Squadron (Ro.44 – Leros)
163rd Independent Fighter Squadron (CR.32 – Maritza)
39th Bomber Wing, with:
56th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Gadurra)
92nd Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Maritza)
LYBIA AIR COMMAND – WEST (TRIPOLI)
1st Sahara Recon Squadron (Ca.309 – Mellaha)
26th Independent Recon Squadron (Ca.309 – Hon)
122nd Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Mellaha)
136th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Tripoli)
15th Bomber Wing, with:
46th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Tarhuna)
47th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Tarhuna)
33rd Bomber Wing, with:
35th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Bir Bhera)
37th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Bir Bhera)
50th Ground Attack Wing, with:
12th Ground Attack Squadron (Ba.65 – Sorman)
16th Ground Attack Squadron (Ca.310bis – Sorman)
2nd Fighter Wing, with:
13th Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Castel Benito)
1st Recon Squadron (Ca.309 – Mellaha)
LYBIA AIR COMMAND – EAST (BENGASI)
2nd Sahara Recon Squadron (Ca.309 – El Adem)
127th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – El Adem)
137th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – El Adem)
13th Bomber Division 'PEGASO' (Pegasus – Mytological winged-horse)(Bengasi)
14th Bomber Wing, with:
44th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – El Adem)
45th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – El Adem)
10th Bomber Wing, with:
30th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Benina)
32nd Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Benina)
14th Fighter Brigade 'REX' (King, in Latin) (Tobruk)
8th Fighter Squadron (CR.32 – Tobruk)
10th Fighter Squadron (CR.42 – Tobruk)
ITALIAN EAST AFRICA AIR COMMAND – NORTH (ASSAB)
25th Bomber Squadron (Ca.133 – Bahar Dar)
26th Bomber Squadron (Ca.133 – Gondar)
27th Bomber Squadron (Ca.133 – Assab)
28th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Zula)
118th Bomber Flight (Ca.133 – Assab)
Recon Flight 'North' (Ca.133 – Agordat)
409th Fighter Flight (CR.42 – Massaua)
413th Fighter Flight (CR.42 – Assab)
ITALIAN EAST AFRICA AIR COMMAND – CENTRAL (ADDIS ABEBA)
4th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Scenele)
29th Bomber Squadron (SM.81 – Assab)
44th Bomber Squadron (SM.79 – Ghiniele)
49th Bomber Squadron (Ca.133 – Gimma)
41st Recon Flight (Ca.133 – Addis Abeba)
110th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Dire Daua)
410th Fighter Flight (CR.32 – Dire Daua)
411th Fighter Flight (CR.32 – Dire Daua)
ITALIAN EAST AFRICA AIR COMMAND – SOUTH (MOGADISCIO)
31st Bomber Squadron (Ca.133 – Neghelli)
Recon Flight 'South' (Ca.133 – Mogadiscio)
SPECIAL AIR SERVICES COMMAND (MILITARIZED AIRLINES LONG-RANGEAIRPLANES)
147th Squadron (SM.75)
148th Squadron (SM.73)
149th Squadron (SM.82)
604th Flight (SM.75)
608th Flight (SM.82)
610th Flight (SM.75)
615th Flight (SM.83)
616th Flight (SM.74)
604th Flight (SM.75)
Italian East Africa Detachment (SM.73/Ca.148c/Ca.133T/Fokker F.)
Lybia Parachutist School Detachment (SM.81)
AIR FORCE COMMAND FOR THE ARMY
Under Army GHQ control:
27th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Casabianca)
42nd Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Bari)
121st Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Airasca)
131st Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Napoli-Capodichino)
Under Army Group West control:
31st Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Venaria Reale)
33rd Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Bresso)
34th Recon Flight (Ca.311 – Cervere)
39th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Venaria Reale)
40th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Venaria Reale)
114th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Tornino-Mirafiori)
118th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Levaldigi)
119th Recon Flight (Ca.311 – Bologna)
123rd Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Levaldigi)
129th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis/Ca.311 – Mondovi’)
132nd Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Levaldigi)
Under Army Group East control:
24th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Verona-Boscomantico)
25th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Jesi)
28th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Lucca-Tassignano)
29th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Arezzo)
32nd Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Udine-Campoformido)
34th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Parma)
35th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Verona-Boscomantico)
36th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Padova)
38th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Gorizia-Merna)
87th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Padova)
113th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Bologna-Borgo Panigale)
115th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Verona-Boscomantico)
116th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Gorizia-Merna)
125th Recon Flight (Ro.37bis – Udine-Campoformido)
128th Recon Flight (Ro.37 – Parma)
AIR FORCE COMMAND FOR THE NAVY
Under Upper Adriatic Sea Department control:
4th Recon Section (Cant Z-501 – Pola)
Under Ionian & Lower Adriatic Sea Department control:
142nd Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Taranto)
145th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Brindisi)
171st Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Brindisi)
3rd Recon Section (Cant Z.501 – Taranto)
Under Upper Thyrrenhian Sea Department control:
141st Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – La Spezia-Cadimare)
187th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – La Spezia -Cadimare)
1st Recon Section (Cant Z.501 – La Spezia-Cadimare)
Under Lower Tyrrenhian Sea Department control:
182nd Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Nisida)
Under Sardinia Naval Command control:
146th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Cagliari-Elmas)
148th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Vigna)
183rd Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Cagliari-Elmas)
188th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Cagliari-Elmas)
199th Recon Flight (Cant Z.506 – Santa Giusta)
5th Recon Section (Cant Z.501 – Olbia)
The Sardinia flights were grouped under the 85th Recon Squadron
Under Sicily Navy Command control:
144th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Stagnone)
170th Recon Flight (Cant Z.506bis – Augusta)
184th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Augusta)
186th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Augusta)
189th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Siracusa)
The Sicily flights were grouped under the 83rd Recon Squadron
Under Albania Naval Command control:
288th Recon Flight (Cant Z.506bis – Brindisi)
Under Lybia Naval Command control:
143rd Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Menelao)
Under Aegean Sea Naval Command control:
147th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Leros)
185th Recon Flight (Cant Z.501 – Leros)
The Aegean Sea flights were grouped under the 84th Recon Squadron
All Military aircraft in Italy during WW2 were part of the AirForce and with Air Force crews. To provide direct air recon capabilitiesto the Army and Navy, two separate Commands ('Air Force for the Army' and'Air Force for the Navy') were established, to act as a go-between the'owner' of the airplanes and crews (i.e. the Air Force) and the 'users'(i.e. the Army and the Navy). The Army and Navy assigned airplanesusualy had an 'Air Spotter Officer' provided by the 'user' (respectivelyan Army or a Navy officer).
1. Command Structure
The operational commands of the Regia Aeronautica were divided into areas known as either Zona Aerea Territoriale. Squadra, Comando of the named area, or the title of the Expeditionary Force if they entered non-Italian zones of influence. The first of these was a pre-war allocation which was soon discarded.
These commands were the equivalent of the German Luftflotte, British Group, or American Division, and could be of mixed aircraft types. The following gives an outline of their duties:
Squadra 1 (SQA1) - Milano HQ
This command was responsible for the protection of northern Italy, where most of the home industries were located. It was also a training area for the other commands. In the early weeks units participated in attacks on southern France and Corsica, thereafter patrolling the French coastline and escorting the navy until September 1943. They also provided units for occupied France.
Squadra 2 (SQA2) - Palermo HQ
Initially based in Sicily for operations against Tunisia. Algeria, and Malta, it also controlled the sea between France and French-West Africa, blocked the Sicilian Canal, and carried out anti-shipping operations in the central Mediterranean. On 23 December 1940 it moved to Italy (Padova HQ) and from 6 April joined operations against Yugoslavia, supporting Squadra 4 and Aeronautica dell’Albania with supplies, equipment and back-up operations, until 17 April. Thereafter, it remained on home defence duties until 1943, when many of its units were disbanded.
Squadra 3 (SQA3) - Roma HQ
SQA3 controlled the sea between Corsica and the French coast and conducted operations in the western Mediterranean. Attacks were made in June 1940 on France and Corsica. It turned to home defence duties until November 1942, when several units were passed to Aeronautica della Sardegna and Aeronautica della Sicilia for anti-invasion operations. From July to August 1943, it helped defend Sicily, resuming home defence duties until September.
Squadra 4 (SQA4) - Bari HQ
This command covered the central and eastern Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea. and watched the Balkan countries. From 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. with HQ now at Brindisi, (replacing 4 ZAT on 30 December), they operated against Greece. The Yugoslavia campaign was entered from 6 to 17 April 1941. From 28 April to 1 May they covered the occupation of Corfu. Cefalonia and Zante Islands. HQ was moved to Bari on 10 May. They then supported Aeronautica dell’Albania through to 1943. Some units were then passed to the defending commands of Sardinia and Sicily and the rest helped defend Sicily in July and August 1943. Home defence duties continued until the end.
Squadra 5 (SQA5) - Tripoli HQ
Originally Aeronautica della Libia until 15 July 1940. when this split into Settore Ovest (Tripoli) and Settore Est (Tobruk) to ease administration problems over such a vast area of North Africa. Operations were carried out on Egypt and Tunisia, mainly border patrols at first, and attacks on shipping in the central and eastern Mediterranean. On 1 September 1940, they supported the advance on Sidi Barrani, losing heavily during the subsequent retreat from 9 December to 6 February. A lack of proper ground attack aircraft meant committing even ordinary bombers to attacks at ground level where small arms fire was deadliest.
With German assistance, they returned to the attack on 15 February 1941, only to retreat again in November. A counter-attack was launched in January 1942, ending in the conquest of Tobruk in June and the advance to Alamein by July.
Because of the comparative lower ability of their aircraft to fight and re-equip, in 1941 and 1942 the Germans agreed that Italian aircrew in Africa would deal with the protection of ports, supply lines and escort duties. The Germans would continue the front-line activities, calling on the large Italian numbers only when a major offensive was launched. This doctrine was modified when the MC202s arrived in numbers, allowing the MC200s, G50s and CR42s to switch to fighter-bomber roles. A Settore Centrale was added on 15 July 1942 to cover Cirenaica.
A build-up of resources culminated in the Alamein battles which reached a pitch in October 1942, ending in a retreat from Egypt and Libya by January 1943. On 15 February the command took over the Tunisian area until withdrawn from Africa in May, when the Squadra ceased.
Aeronautica della Sardegna (ASAR) - Cagliari HQ
This command covered the central Mediterranean, Tunisia, Algeria and helped block the Sicilian Canal. Operations were made on French shipping between France and Africa in June 1940. They were very active against the Malta-bound convoys and were thrown against the invasion forces, reinforced by Squadra 3 and 4, from November 1942 to May 1943. They then assisted in the defence of Sicily, relying on self-defence in the last weeks of the war. When Corsica was occupied in 1943, they commanded that area too.
Aeronautica dell’Egeo (AEGE) - Rodi HQ
This controlled the Aegean Islands and later Greece (Aeronautica della Grecia (AGRE) was not operational until 15 August 1941, HQ Athens). The main duties were escorting convoys from Greece to Libya, anti-shipping operations in the eastern Mediterranean and armed recces of Egypt, Turkey. Palestine, Syria and Cyprus. They supported the campaigns against Greece, then Crete (20 to 31 May 1941).
Aeronautica dell’Albania (AALB) - Tirana HQ
This command controlled the Adriatic Sea, watched the Balkans and joined the Greek (28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941) and Yugoslav (6 to 17 April 1941) campaigns. Following the Balkan surrender, the area was split into German and Italian occupation zones. On 7 May 1942 the area was sub-divided into air commands for Albania and Slovenia-Dalmazia, for Anti-partisan operations until September 1943.
Aeronautica della Sicilia (ASIC) - Palermo HQ
From 23 December 1940 they took over from Squadra 2, with operations against Malta, blocking the Sicilian Canal and anti-shipping sorties in the central Mediterranean. They were heavily involved in the campaign to reduce Malta and from November 1942, operated against the invasion forces in French West Africa and protected the sea and air convoys en route to and from Tunisia. It was virtually wiped out in July and August, trying to defend itself and Pantelleria.
Aeronautica della Tunisia (ATUN) - Tunis HQ
This command was formed in November 1942 for the control of supply routes between Sicily and Tunisia, and for the protection of the main ports in Tunisia. These were Tunis, Bizerte, Sousse and Sfax. Units from the Sicilian command were used until 15 February 1943, when the area was absorbed by Squadra 5 and the command ceased.
Aeronautica della Provence (APRO) - Salon HQ
The Italians moved into southern France on 9 November 1942, at the same time occupying Corsica and moving into Tunisia. The air command was set up on 15 April 1943. using mainly close support units. Later, it became a training ground for the remnants of the bomber force until ousted by the Germans in September 1943.
Africa Orientale Italiana (AOI) - Addis Abeba HQ
Limited in resources and reliant on supplies via Libya, this area, covering Eritrea. Ethiopia and Somaliland, was widely fought over from June 1940 to November 1941. The command was split into north, east, west and south areas. They patrolled the Sudanese, Kenyan, French and British Somaliland borders and watched for activities in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and at Aden. Attacks were launched on British Somaliland and southern Sudan. Many battles were fought with antiquated and sparse numbers of aircraft on both sides. The area was unusual in that its bomber units, for the most part, had duplicate numbers with those in other command areas.
Corpo Aereo Italiano (CAI) - Brussels HQ
Mussolini decided to join Hitler’s subjugation of England and formed this expeditionary force on 10 September 1940. However, the units proved relatively ineffective in the aerial campaign due to outdated aircraft and tactics. They were withdrawn by 15 April 1941, having made a few coastal raids and local fighter patrols.
Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia (CSIR) - Tudora HQ
The Comando Aviazione for this expeditionary force was formed on 25 July 1941. They were to support the Italian 8th Army in its advance to the River Don and operations in southern Russia. Where necessary, they also assisted the Germans, receiving commendations from General Messe and the local German commanders for covering the assault over the Don. After the retreat from Stalingrad began, the air contingent withdrew to Italy in January 1943. In 17 months the two fighter gruppi had flown over 6000 sorties, claiming 88 for the loss of 19.
Regia Marina (RM)
This was similar to RAF Coastal Command and was equipped with land and ship-borne flying boats and sea planes. Individual area commands covered the Alto Adriatico, lonio e Basso Adriatico, Alto Tirreno, Basso Tirreno, Sardegna. Sicilia, and Isole dell'Egeo. They carried out anti-shipping, anti-submarine, convoy escort, air-sea-rescue, and maritime recce duties. The Z506Bs were initially used to bomb land targets too. On 20 May 1943 eleven Sezioni Aerei di Soccorso replaced all ASR units.
Servizi Aerei Special! (SAS)
This was the Transport Command, which was split in two sections. The SAS itself was equipped with military aircraft, based in various areas of Italy, according to the current support requirements. The second section was the Nuclei Communicazioni, which largely had commandeered civil aircraft, older types of transport and light communications types. Where possible and comparatively safe, they used the pre-war civil routes to keep in touch with the Italian Empire and its Allies. Both sections ferried supplies, men, and post to and from the war zones. The excellent S82 could carry a complete fighter and was important to continued operations in East Africa. Most aircraft ferrying was done by front-line units at rest, or those due to use them. Heavy losses were suffered during the Tunisian campaign.
Aviazione per il Regia Esercito (AVRE)
This was the Army Co-operation Command and the individual Gruppi and Squadriglie were attached directly to various Army Commands. By late 1942, these units were only operating in the Balkans where there was less threat of annihilation for their vulnerable aircraft. Although giving good support in the early stages of the war, they were later a great drain on the already limited resources of the air force, despite the excellent work by the crews. The emphasis was then on fighter defence and anti-shipping strikes.
The basic tactical unit was the Stormo. This consisted of two Gruppi and normally had one type of aircraft. Each Gruppo comprised two (bomber) or three (fighter) Squadriglie, which had from six to nine aircraft each. There was sometimes a Nucleo, which was effectively a Staff Section. There were also many independent (Autonomo) Gruppi and Squadriglie which were directly responsible to their area command. These usually had slightly more aircraft and crews on strength. Each unit was supplied with replacement aircraft and crews from its own Gruppo Complementare (Training Unit) which was based in Italy.
During my research, I came across several terms referring to the ceasing of active service. The most common were ‘scioglie’ (dissolved), and ‘quadro’ (suspended). I have translated all these terms, for simplicity, as ‘disbanded’.
Key to Units
The status and squadriglie shown were those on 10 June 1940. or when the unit formed. Subsequent changes are detailed, where known, in the text.
Arrival - Earliest known day or month the unit used the base.
Base - The most used at that time, although the aircraft may have been scattered to subsiduary bases too.
Zone - Command area or Expeditionary Force. - My own abbreviations. See Glossary for full titles:
ALIB - Libya AALB - Balkans AEGE - Aegean Islands AGRE - Greece APRO - Southern France ASAR - Sardinia. Corsica ASIC - Sicily. Pantelleria ATUN - Tunisia Sqa - Squadra (Replaced ZAT) AOI - East Africa CAI - Belgium CSIR - Russia ZAT - Area of Command
Duties - The most common during the time at that base:
AE - Aerial escort AS - Anti-Submarine DF - Day Fighting NF - Night Fighting AG - Anti Guerilla ASR - Air Sea Rescue GA - Ground Attack TB - Torpedo Bombing AN - Anti Naval CE - Convoy Escort IT - In Transit TG - Training AR - Armed recce DB - Day Bombing NB - Night Bombing TR - Transport
1 Gruppo APC - Squadriglie 12, 89, 104
1 Gruppo APC - Squadriglie 12, 89, 104 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Tripoli-Mellaha Tripolitan Ca 309 Ca 164 Fi 156C ALIB AR Jan 1943 Zuara Tripolitan Ca309 SQA5 IT 20 Jan 1943 Capua-Grazzanise Italy Ca313 Ca314 SQA3 TG
The Aviazionc Presidio Coloniale was formed to patrol the vast desert areas of Libya, surveying, liaising with the garrison forts, mapping and keeping an eye on natives and bordering countries. Despite limited maintenance and fuel facilities, which were even more pronounced when war began, the APC units continued these duties with much success. They also carried out many desert rescues which the Ca 309 coped with well. Although fragile, as war standards go. it proved capable of withstanding the desert conditions.
This unit began its war by patrolling the Tunisian border as well as the oases and western desert area of Libya. They had 12 aircraft available; a S 75 arrived in August, followed by a Fi 156C in September. On 22 November a Z 509 (MM 351) joined the Gruppo and was used to escort S 75s around Libya. Two Ca 164s were received for local liaison duties from January 1941. Sometime after. 89 sq left the unit.
103 sq was one of the Squadriglie Aviazionc Sahariana which carried out similar duties to the APC. but on a more local basis. They were at Hon in December 1941, with S 81s. and joined 1 Gruppo in June 1942. Their aircraft were passed to the Battaglione Sahariana.
On 8 January 1942. a Ca 133 S arrived at Sirte, followed by another on 16 February, for ambulance duties in Libya. On 23 May 12 sq moved to Agedabia. maintaining sections at Mellaha. Derna and Gialo. In July 103 sq was detached to Misurata. 104 sq stayed at Mellaha. On 15 August 12 sq. with five Ca 309s, went to Siwa. from where they helped to halt an enemy attack on Gialo oasis between 16 and 22 September 1942. 12 sq then returned to Agedabia on 9 November, then to Sirte on 20th, joining 103 sq at Misurata on the same day. Sections were still kept at Marsa Matruh. Derna and Gialo. 12 sq disbanded on 10 December, passings its aircraft and crews to 103 sq. 104 sq was still at Mellaha.
103 sq. meanwhile was acting with 102 sq Aviazionc Sahariana. to protect against further attacks on Gialo in December. This latter unit was equipped with 11 ex-torpedo-bomber S 79s of 133 Gruppo and was formed on 1 December, for the aforesaid purpose, at Castelbenito. It left for Italy by 20 January with five remaining S 79s.
As the Allies advanced across Libya, the Gruppo. together with 102 sq. retired to Mellaha. then 'withdrew' to Italy in January 1943 with 13 Ca 309s. On 1 March. 1 Gruppo APC became 1 Gruppo OA with 103 and 104 sq and joined 20 Stormo. 103 sq left that day for 69 Gruppo and 36 sq took its place. 102 sq disbanded on 15 March. By 28 July the unit had 30 aircraft at Grazzanise.
1 Gruppo OA - Squadriglie 27, 121 Stormo 20
1 Gruppo APC - Squadriglie 12, 89, 104 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Arezzo Italy Ro 37 SQA1 IT 11 Jun 1940 Lucca Italy Ro 37 SQA3 AR 13 Jun 1940 Airasca Italy Ro 37 SQA1 AR
This unit began the war under the command of Alto Comando Regio Esercito with 10 aircraft. Operations against France started on I I June, with 27 sq detached to Casabianca. Two days later the unit transferred to the control of IV Corpo d'Armata.
27 sq disbanded on 25 February 1942. followed by the Gruppo on 1 April. 121 sq had become autonomo on 20 March and was now under the control of 2 Armata.
See 1 Gruppo APC for further history.
2 Gruppo APC Squadriglie 16, 23
2 Gruppo APC Squadriglie 16, 23 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 El Adem Cirenaica Ca 309 ALIB AR Jun 1940 Benghasi Cirenaica Ca 309 S81S ALIB AR
This unit began its war by patrolling the Egyptian border as well as the oases and eastern desert area of Libya. They had seven aircraft available.
In June they received fiveS 8Is. modified as ambulance aircraft, and used by 16 sq. However, due to the shortage of transport aircraft, these eventually left for units such as 145 Gruppo in early I94l. Five Ca 309s of 23 sq joined in the advance on Sidi Barrani.
After the British counter-offensive swept through their territory, this unit remained based in the Benghasi area until it was disbanded in August 1942. Desert missions were carried out to the south and south-east, but the unit was constantly under strength and limited in its use.
2 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 150, 151, 152 Stormo 6
2 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 150, 151, 152 Stormo 6 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 1 Jun 1940 Grottaglie Italy CR32 G50 4ZAT DF. TG. AE 21 Dec 1940 Castelbenito Tripolitan G50 SQA5 DF 1 Jan 1941 Maraua Cirenaica G50 SQA5 DF. GA. AE 1 Feb 1941 Castelbenito Tripolitan G50 AS SQA5 TG Mar 1941 El Ftehja Cirenaica G50 AS SQA5 AE 22 Jul 1941 Treviso? Italy G50 SQA2 TG Mar 1942 Ciampino Italy Re 2001 SQA3 TG 4 May 1942 Caltagirone Sicily Re 2001 ASIC DF. AE. AN. AR 14 Jun 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily Re 2001 ASIC AE 15 Jun 1942 Pantelleria Pantelleria Re 2001 ASIC AR. AE. AN Jul 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily Re 2001 ASIC AE. AN. AR 13 Aug 1942 Chinisia Sicily Re 2001 ASIC AE. AN. CE Jan 1943 Treviso Italy Re 2001 SQA2 DF. NF 15 May 1943 Sarzana Italy Re 2001 SQA1 DF. NF 23 May 1943 Genova Italy Re 2001 CR.42CN D520 SQA1 DF. NF
From June to November 1940. the unit patrolled the lower Ionian Sea and Italian coastline. This did not bring much excitement, but enabled the pilots to gain valuable flying experience as the CR 32s were gradually exchanged for the more modern G 50s. On 20 September the Gruppo became Autonomo. The first action came between 8 and 14 July, in the battle of Punta Stilo. Orders arrived in December for a move to africa. Being the first monoplane fighter unit to serve there, they were reinforced on 16 December by 358 sq with 9 G50s and a Ca 133.
From 21 to 23 December 18 G 50s arrived at Castelbenito. Like most Italian units, they began suffering from sand in the engines and lubricants. Even so. they defended Tripoli port and its surrounding area during December.
After moving to Maraua. they began more offensive duties such as ground strafing, escorting such units as 50 Stormo Assalto. as well as intercepts. February 194I found them equipping their G 50s with sand filters, which only partly cured the wear and tear problems.
March through to June saw bomber escort duties to 98 Gruppo's BR20s and Ju 87s of Italian and German units. These missions flew over the Tobruk. Solium and Sidi Barrani areas. The last was an escort to Tobruk and back on 16 July. On the 22nd. they returned to Italy.
After several months in limbo. 152 sq was sent to Gorizia to train on the Re 2001 in January 1942. They rejoined the Gruppo in April, where it had reformed in March at Ciampino. 151 sq did not reform. The pilots of 152 sq introduced 150 and 358 sq to their new aircraft.
After numerous delays the unit finally moved to Sicily with 18 Re 2001s. It was the first unit to use these aircraft in combat, making its debut over Malta. A busy time was had with bomber escorts, intercepts and fighter sweeps over and around Malta. For example, on 14 June 17 Re 2001s escorting S 79s against the Harpoon convoy, bound for Malta, claimed seven intercepting Hurricanes! Using bases in Sardinia. Pantelleria. and Sicily, by 13 August they still had 19 Re 2001s which returned to Chinisia on that date.
On 14 August, a mission gave credability to the fact that German bomber crews often liked to have Italian fighter escorts. Eighteen Re 2001s of this Gruppo, from Pantelleria. with four German Me 109s, escorted three Hell! torpedo-bombers against the Pedestal convoy. When attacked by Spitfires, three Re 2001s defended the bombers and were all downed. The bombers escaped unharmed.
150 sq was detached to Monserrato in July and on return to Chinisia in August, was disbanded the next month. By 1 November, only 21 out of 31 aircraft were serviceable. 358 sq was detached from July to November to Pantelleria. then was temporarily disbanded on 11 November, along with the rest of the Gruppo.
In the spring of 1943. the Gruppo reassembled with HQ at Genova, becoming 2 Gruppo Intercettori, with about 15 Re 2001s and CR 42s. On 9 May 156 sq Intercettori was formed, and on 1 July replaced the now disbanded 358 sq at Albenga. It was now renumbered as 358 sq! The crews of the old 358 sq were spread through the other Squadra 1 Intercettori units and the aircraft went to 160 Gruppo.
During May. the Gruppo collaborated with 8 Gruppo in aerial bombing trials. On 26 May, 152 sq was detached to Sarzana. and 358 sq to Albenga. to defend la Spezia and Genova areas. They replaced the Sezioni Intercettori which were disbanded at those bases on 23 May. Between 21 June and 11 July. 358 sq was at Sarzana. 152 sq received four cannon-armed Re 2001s in June. By July, the unit also used Venegono and had received a few D 520s to help in day and night defence. By I September there were only six Re 2001s and 11 CR42s on strength.
3 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 153, 154, 155 Stormo 6
3 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 153, 154, 155 Stormo 6 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 1 Jun 1940 Monserrato Sardinia CR 32 CR 42 ASAR DF. TG. AE. CE 24 Jul 1941 Sorman Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 CE. DF. NF. GA Dec 1941 Ara Fileni Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 DF GA Jan 1942 El Merduma Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 DF. GA 29 Jan 1942 Sidi Omar Egypt CR42 SQA5 DF. GA Feb 1942 Benghasi K2 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 CE. NF. DF. GA May 1942 Benghasi K3 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 25 May 1942 Martuba 5 Cirenaica CR42 SQA5 GA. DF 14 Jun 1942 Ciampino Italy MC 200 SQA3 TG Sep 1942 Lecce Italy MC 200 SQA4 CE 11 Nov 1942 Chinisia Sicily MC 200 ASIC CE. AE. DF May 1943 Caltagirone Sicily Me 109G ASIC TG 12 Jun 1943 Comiso Sicily Me 109 G ASIC TG. DF 16 Jul 1943 Palermo Sicily Me 109 G ASIC IT 16 Jul 1943 Littoria Italy Me 109G SQA3 TG 22 Jul 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy Me 109 G SQA1 DF
From 1 June 1940, 155 sq was detached to Alghero under training, and also to defend Cagliari port and escort 19 Gruppo on sea recces. The first operation was on 16 June, escorting Breda 88s to Corsica. At this time 3 Gruppo had 28 CR 32s and three Ca 133s. On 9 August, two pilots of 153 sq downed a French LeoH 470 flvingboat. In November the Gruppo joined in the battle of Capo Teulada. escorting bombers and ships, and making day intercepts. It was also involved in training with the Regia Marina units.
From January' 1941. the CR 32 was gradually replaced by the CR 42. The older aircraft ceased operations around April. A G 50 B two-seater trainer arrived that month, with the intention of converting the pilots to the G 50 bis. Lack of available numbers of the latter type meant the unit remained on CR 42s.
On 25 May 155 sq left Alghero for Roma-Lecce-Rodi-Aleppo-Mossul to help the Iraqi revolt. On 6 June it returned to Rodi and was renumbered as 164 sq.
With a new 155 sq formed on 14 July, the Gruppo moved 10 days later to the Libyan front, having left its aircraft to 24 Gruppo in Sardinia. On arrival they received 12 CR 42s from 150 Gruppo who were returning to Italy. There followed a period of ground strafing, night fighting, convoy escorts and defence of Tripoli port. On 28 December Ara Fileni and Bir el Mcdiuna were used to help protect German forces from approaching Allied units. 154 sq moved to Martuba in March, followed in May by the rest of the Gruppo.
In June 1942. the unit returned to Italy to rest and re-equip with MC 200s and replacement pilots after 11 months of operations. In September 153 sq was detached to Reggio Calabria. The whole unit now began escorting convoys.
The unit reunited in November at Chinisia. to escort ships and aerial transports reinforcing Tunisia. Bases in Pantelleria and Tunisia were used in a shuttle effect. In January. 154 sq went to Reggio Calabria for convoy escort duties off Calabria.
After the Axis withdrawal from Africa, the unit received Me 109Gs in June, having lost many aircraft to Allied bombing in May. With more losses, in the air and on the ground, the unit retired to Italy to re-equip with new Me 109s. On 7 September they still awaited full equipment.
4 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 14, 15 Stormo 7
4 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 14, 15 Stormo 7 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Lonate Pozzolo Italy BR.20 SQA1 DB Jul 1941 Cameri Italy S84 SQA1 TG 30 Apr 1942 Sciacca Sicily S84 ASIC DB. AN Aug 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily S84 ASIC NB. DB. AN Oct 1942 Lonate Pozzolo Italy S84 SQA1 TG
This unit received the BR20 in 1936. After a tour in Africa, they returned home before the war started. BR.20Ms arrived in the Spring of 1940. On 12 June they began attacks on southern France. The next day they were intercepted by the D 520s of GC 111/6 over Toulon. The CR 42 escort defended them well.
By 29 July 1941. they were re-equipping at Cameri w'ith S84s. These new aircraft were difficult to train on. However, the unit was declared operational in April 1942 and moved to Sicily.
Operations began against Malta and its shipping routes. On 7 May the unit became part of the Aerosilurante. but did not use the Savioas as torpedo-bombers. They reverted to the Bombarda-mento Terrestre title on 1 October. From July to August they made high level escorted raids over Malta, as well as operations against shipping supplying Malta.
Returning to Italy the unit remained in training until disbanded on 15 June 1943.
4 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 14, 15 Stormo Auto
4 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 14, 15 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Scenele K 91 Ethiopia S81 A0I DB Jul 1940 Ghiniele Ethiopia S81 A0I DB Aug 1940 Dire Daua Ethiopia S81 S79 ADI DB, NB Mar 1941 Addis Abeba Ethiopia S79 A0I DB
The war started on 13 June with four out of 12 S 81 s raiding Aden. One was shot down by four Gladiators of 94 sq. one by AA. and one crashed from technical trouble. Not a good start! On 20 July, the remaining nine aircraft were at Ghiniele. for operations against British Somaliland. A month later they were switched from Dire Daua to Sciasciamanna.
On 18 November, 15 sq was detached to Giggiga for night bombing sorties over Aden. Four days later. 14 sq converted to S 79s. passing its surviving S 81s to 15 sq. On 3 December, two S 79s moved to Gura for operations in the north. By 30th March 1941. the situation had so worsened that the unit disbanded and its remaining aircraft went to 44 Gruppo.
5 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 31, 39, 40 Stormo 19
5 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 31, 39, 40 Stormo 19 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Venaria Reale Italy Ro 37 SQA1 TG. AR Oct 1940 Bari-Palese Italy Ro 37 4ZAT TG 15 Jan 1941 Devoli Albania Ro 37 AALB AR Apr 1941 Berat Albania Ro 37 AALB AR 21 May 1941 Scutari Albania Ro 37 AALB AG Jul 1942 Zara Yugoslavia Ro 37 Fizir Ca 111 AALB AG 1 Sep 1942 Lucca Italy Ca 311 Ca314 SQA3 TG Sep 1942 Mostar Yugoslavia Ca 311 Ca314 Ca 111 bis Ca 164 AALB AG
The squadriglie began the war under the command of 6 Armata (31 sq). 1 Corpod"Armata(39 sq) and IV Corpod’Armata (40sq). The next day 31 and 40 sq joined 39 sq under I Corpo for operations against France. On 24 June 31 sq was temporarily assigned to 71 Gruppo with the Corpo d’Armata Alpino.
31 and 39 sq moved to Bari for action over the Greek front. 40 sq remained at Venaria Reale, becoming Autonomo and transfering to Sicily. Moving forward to Devoli with 18 Ro 37s, the unit began operations on 20 January 1941. Their recce missions were often escorted by the G 50s of 154 Gruppo.
In April they moved base again, to cover the ground forces advancing into Yugoslavia. From July, still with 17 Ro 37s, they carried out anti-partisan duties in the Montenegro area. During the Summer of 1942 they added some ex-Yugoslavian Rogozarski Fizir biplanes to their operational strength. 31 sq was replaced by 36 sq. but the latter left to join 20 Stormo on 26 August. A Ca 111 was attached in July.
39 sq passed to 70 Gruppo on 1 September and the Gruppo was repatriated to Italy, retraining on the Ca 311 and Ca314. Some of these types may have been used from July. On 2 September the unit came under 21 Stormo and received 120 and 121 sq. Each squadriglia had a Ca 164 and a Ca 111 bis for liaison duties. 128 sq joined in March, at Zara, followed by 33 sq at Mostar in early June.
120 sq was at Mostar until early July, then moved to Ronchi. with a section at Ghedi. They then went to Lavariano by 23 July and disbanded on 16 August. 121 and 128 sq were at Zara. The former left for 68 Gruppo in late August. By 7 September the Gruppo had three Ca 31 Is and 12 Ca314s operational.
6 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 79, 81, 88 Stormo Auto
6 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 79, 81, 88 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Fontanarossa Sicily MC 200 SQA2 TG. DF. AE 21 Jun 1941 Campoformido Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG 25 Nov 1941 Martuba Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 12 Dec 1941 Derna Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 18 Dec 1941 Sidi Magrum Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 20 Dec 1941 El Merduma Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF 22 Dec 1941 Tarnet Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF Jan 1942 Ara Fileni Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF. AR 29 Jan 1942 Agedabia Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF Feb 1942 Benghasi K3 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 TG. DF Mar 1942 Martuba Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 AE. DF. AR Jun 1942 Campoformido? Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG Dec 1942 Margana Pantelleria MC202 ASIC DF. AE. CE. GA. AN Jan 1943 Sciacca Sicily MC 202 MC.205V ASIC DF 24 Jan 1943 Sfax Tunisia MC 202 ATUN DF. AE 5 Mar 1943 Gabes Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 DF. AE Mar 1943 Lonate Pozzolo Italy MC.205V SQA1 TG Apr 1943 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC.205V ASIC DF. CE. AE May 1943 Catania Sicily MC.205V ASIC DF 25 Jun 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy MC.205V SQA1 DF 2 Jul 1943 Osoppo Italy MC.205V SQA2 DF 30 Jul 1943 Ronchi Italy MC.205V SQA2 DF
This was the first unit to receive the MC 200 Saetta. taking 29 on charge by I November 1939. After two fatal crashes and numerous technical problems with the Series I. they were all grounded for inspection. Thus the unit did not begin operations until September I940. At the end of July, they joined I Stormo and carried out their first operation on 15 September with later Series aircraft escorting Ju 87s of 96 Gruppo over Malta. On I November two Macchis downed a Sunderland flyingboat off Augusta. In the winter a section was detached to Reggio Calabria for armed recces over the Messina Straits. In early 1941 the unit was involved in medium and high level sweeps over Malta. They tried out at least one Re 2000 in March at Catania. The comparative comments with the MC 200 were not officially recorded.
Returning to Italy to re-equip with MC 202s, six being received on 15 October, they prepared for the Libyan front. Tropical filters were added to the new fighters. After acclimatising, the unit began fighter sweeps in January 1942 with Series 3 aircraft. Withdrawing in the Spring to Benghasi for a rest and local defence duties, they soon launched back into the fight by March. Escorts, sweeps and intercepts were made over the Gambut. Tobruk, and Bir Hacheim areas until they were recalled to Italy in June.
With the campaign for Tunisia under way. the unit was sent to Pantelleria. with two squadriglie detached to Sfax in northern Tunisia. Operations were carried out. strafing the invasion fleets off the Tunisian coast, and escorting the sea and air traffic between Sicily and Tunisia. By 21 February 1943 the unit was split between Sfax (79 sq). Achichina (81 sq) and Gammart (88 sq). The latter squadriglia flew in to that base on 3 February with nine fighters.
The first MC205 V Veltros were received in Italy during this period, when 79 sq arrived at Sciacca. At the end of March the Gruppo returned to Italy to fully equip with the new fighter. They rejoined 1 Stormo.
On rejoining the fray over Pantelleria, they were the main defence unit, maintaining air superiority through April and May. On 20 April 32 MC.205Vs of 1 Stormo claimed 18 out of 80 Spitfires and P 38s for the loss of one!
By June they were back in the homeland, defending northern Italy with their few remaining airworthy fighters. On 7 September they had no serviceable aircraft left.
7 Gruppo Comb Squadriglie 76, 86, 98 Stormo 5
7 Gruppo Comb Squadriglie 76, 86, 98 Stormo 5 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Campiglia Marrittima Italy Breda 88 SQA3 IT 19 Jun 1940 Lonate Pozzolo Italy Breda 88 SQA1 GA Aug 1940 Castelvetrano Sicily Breda 88 SQA2 IT 9 Aug 1940 Castelbenito Tripolitan Breda 88 SQA5 GA Sep 1940 Derna Cirenaica Breda 88 SQA5 GA Sep 1940 Benina Cirenaica Breda 88 SQA5 DF 16 Nov 1940 Treviso Italy MC 200 SQA2 TG. DF, AE 25 May 1941 Comiso Sicily MC 200 ASIC DF Jun 1941 Catania Sicily MC 200 ASIC DF. AE Jun 1941 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC 200 ASIC AE. CE. AN Jun 1942 Reggio Calabria Italy MC 200 ASIC AE. CE Jul 1942 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC 200 ASIC CE Jul 1942 Araxos Greece MC 200 CR.42CN AGRE CE. DF. AE, NF Sep 1942 Crotone Italy MC 202 SQA4 TG. DF 25 Mar 1943 El Hamma Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 DF, AE. GA 6 Apr 1943 La Fauconnerie Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 DF. AE 10 Apr 1943 Enfidaville Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 AE 5 May 1943 Soliman Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 AE 10 May 1943 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 202 ASIC DF
On 6 May 1939 5 Stormo received the Breda 88 at Lonate Pozzolo. On 11 June 1940. this Gruppo became Autonomo. The unit moved to Squadra 1 control, for operations over the French Alps. They rejoined 5 Stormo on 13 July, after flying in the final phase of the French campaign.
On 9 August they left the Stormo again and moved to Libya to support the advance on Sidi Barrani. The sand filters added to the 32 Bredas slowed them down and caused engine overheating, thus handicapping further an already underpowered aircraft. The unit did operate over the Sidi Barrani area, but with limited results. They were soon seconded to local defence duties by midSeptember. 76 sq was at N1.86 sq at Benina, and 98 sq at T2. When the Gruppo returned to Italy the Bredas were left behind as decoys on various bases.
In March 1941 the unit joined 54 Stormo. re-equipping with the MC 200 fighter. They then became involved in operations against Yugoslavia. Two months later they were in Sicily, protecting shipping, escorting bombers over Malta and on local defence duties.
In early 1942 a detachment was sent to Palermo. In June, the Gruppo was escorting bombers over Malta again, followed convoy escorts in July. 76 sq stayed in Pantelleria until early August on escort duties.
Moving to Greece, and adding CR.42CNs for night fighting, they resumed escorting ships and bombers and local defence patrols. 76 sq was still in Pantelleria and acquired some MC 202s and CR 42s by August.
Re-equipping with MC 202s in Italy, the Gruppo was thrown into action in Tunisia from March 1943. Detachments were sent to K 34 and K 41 Landing Grounds. They were the last Italian unit to leave the African continent. By 18 May they had no aircraft or crews left and were disbanded on the 27th.
8 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 92, 93, 94 Stormo 2
8 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 92, 93, 94 Stormo 2 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Tobruk T 2 Cirenaica CR 32 CR42 ALIB DF. CE. AE 22 Jul 1940 Berka Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 TG 20 Aug 1940 Derna Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 6 Sep 1940 Gambut Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AR 12 Sep 1940 El Adem Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 19 Sep 1940 Uadi el Menastir Cirenaica CR42 SQA5 DF. AE 15 Dec 1940 Berka Cirenaica CR42 SQA5 IT 20 Dec 1940 Mirafiori Italy CR42 SQA1 TG 20 Jan 1941 Torino-Caselle Italy CR42 MC 200 SQA1 TG. DF, NF Apr 1941 Oria Manduria Italy CR42 MC 200 SQA4 DF. NF May 1941 Torino-Caselle Italy MC 200 CR42 MC 202 SQA1 DF, NF. CE 25 Nov 1941 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF. AR 20 Dec 1941 Agedabia Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF 25 Dec 1941 En Nofilia Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 DF. AR Jan 1942 Agheila Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF Feb 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF, CE 11 May 1942 Martuba 5 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 AE. AR. GA. DF 24 Jun 1942 Ain el Gazala Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 TG. CE. AE 15 Jul 1942 Abu Haggag Egypt MC 200 SQA5 AE. CE. DF. GA 15 Oct 1942 Bu Amud Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 CE. DF 5 Nov 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 CE. DF 15 Nov 1942 En Nofilia Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 CE. DF. GA 17 Nov 1942 Ghindel Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 GA 7 Dec 1942 Tauorga Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 IT 7 Dec 1942 Misurata Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 IT 10 Dec 1942 Campoformido Italy MC 200 SQA2 DF 26 May 1943 Sarzana Italy MC 200 SQA3 DF, CE 5 Aug 1943 Capua Italy MC 200 SQA3 DF 7 Aug 1943 Sarzana Italy MC 200 SQA3 DF. CE Sep 1943 Littoria Italy MC 200 SQA3 DF, CE
The first operation occurred on 11 June 1940. when three CR 32s scrambled over base to 4000 metres. Poor maintenance and supply meant limited use could be made of Tobruk T 2. However, it was useful for protecting the port and T 3 base. Two Blenheims were claimed over T 3 on the 11th. The Gruppo made 96 sorties that day. On 14 June six CR 32s escorted S 81 bombers over the front and claimed three Gladiators for the loss of one CR 32. During this period, the unit was active over Sidi Barrani. Mersa Bagush and coastal areas. A Sunderland was downed on 21 June.
The next day the first nine CR 42s arrived from Tripoli and joined 94 sq. By late June sand was causing many engine and weapon problems. On 2 July the CR 32s ceased operations and more CR 42s arrived. The latter claimed another Sunderland on 3 July near Bardia. Escorts to Ro 37s began over the Solium area. Four CR 42s were lost in a dogfight over Menastir with six Gladiators on 4 July. By 7 July, all aircraft were non-operational for maintenance work, resuming action two days later.
On 22 July, eight aircraft were passed to 13 Gruppo and the remaining 11 moved to Berka for re-equipment. Sand filters were applied in late August.
A section was detached to Derna and Tobruk T 4 for local defence. During the advance on Sidi Barrani. the unit patrolled over the Axis troops. Three fighters were detached to Tmimi on 18 September, claiming five out of nine Blenheims in one raid. Two days later the Gruppo claimed a Sunderland and a Blenheim, as well as successfully escorting S 79s over Marsa Matruh. October saw intercepts and bomber escorts in the Solium area. A Lysander and a Wellington were claimed during the month. November found the unit protecting the supply routes and frontline troops in the Sidi Barrani area. On 7 December they strafed Bir Quatrani during a sandstorm. Operations were reduced while the storm blew itself out after two days. The first Hurricanes were met on 11 December - one CR 42 lost. By the 14th, only one fighter was still serviceable, so it was passed to 13 Gruppo and the unit returned to Italy.
Picking up replacement crews at Mirafiori, on 25 January 1941 they received CR 42s from 157 Gruppo for the day and night defence of Milano. Torino and Genova. The first MC 200s arrived on 23 February and sections were detached to Albenga, Piacenza and Novi Ligure.
During April the unit carried out defensive patrols in support of the Yugoslav campaign. The following month sections were sent to Novi Ligure, for naval escort and local defence. On 21 August pilots went to Venegono to train on the MC 202. The first was received on 7 October. However, it was passed to 1 Stormo on 15 October and the unit became fully equipped with MC 200s.
Resuming operations on 18 December, they protected the retiring troops, and defended Benghasi port and its shipping. In May 1942. they began supporting the new offensive with armed recces, ground strafing, bomber escorts and local defence. Apart from 6 and 7 June, when sandstorms curtailed operations, life was hectic. On 24 June the unit moved to Gazala for a rest and refit, detaching sections to Derna, Benghasi and El Ftehja for bomber and convoy escorts. On 29 June the Cape Governor was escorted during his tour. In late July individual squadriglie. operating from Sidi Barrani, protected convoys travelling between there and Marsa Matruh.
In August the aircraft received bombracks. There were several fights with Beaufighters attacking ships in the Tobruk area at this time. On 4 September the fighter-bombers were first used, in a night action against 10 Indian Div and NZ Div west of El Mreir. By 1 October there were 16 out of 21 MC 200s serviceable. Clashes with Beaufighters, Marylands, Bostons and Halifaxes occurred in the sea area off Tobruk.
On 4 November the unit passed its aircraft to 13 Gruppo and collected more from 150 Gruppo at Benghasi. 94 sq was detached to Sidi Barrani between 1 and 6 November. The Gruppo protected Benghasi port against heavy bomber raids, then carried out fighter-bomber sorties in the Agedabia and El Akmar areas. By 3 December only three aircraft were serviceable out of 26. Four days later they were passed to 13 Gruppo and the crews flew to Italy in a S 82.
New MC 200s arrived in January 1943 for the defence of the Valle Padana area. 92 and 94 sq moved to Caselle and 93 sq to Albenga. 92 sq joined 93 sq on 15 February. During January and February the pilots ferried D 520s from France to Italy. In March they experimented with air to air bombing. By May it was fully realised that the MC 200 was proving inadequate for bringing down four-engined bombers, due to poor armament, low speed advantage and low numbers intercepting.
On 26 May the Gruppo reunited at Sarzana and protected La Spezia naval base and its shipping. Some Re 2001s may have been used at this time. Battles were fought with B 24s, B 17s, Baltimores and Beaufighters. A B 17 was claimed west of Capo Corso on 5 June, and a Beaufighter near Gorgona on the 28th. The Re 2001s and D 520s were not as effective as hoped, due to poor radio communications and training. In July 94 sq was detached to Metato. with 12 MC 200s, for the defence of Livorno, followed by naval escort duties.
2 Stormo disbanded on 10 August, and the Gruppo became Autonomo. On the 21st a section of four MC 200s went to Grottaglie, to defend Taranto. The Gruppo's last operation was on 3 September, when a B 17 was claimed over Pisa.
9 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 73, 96, 97 Stormo 4
9 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 73, 96, 97 Stormo 4 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gorizia Italy CR 42 SQA1 TG Jun 1940 Torino-Mirafiori Italy CR42 SQA1 AE. AR 1 Jul 1940 Comiso Sicily CR42 SQA2 AE. AR 11 Jul 1940 Berka Cirenaica CR 42 ALIB TG Aug 1940 Benghasi Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF Sep 1940 El Adem Cirenaica CR42 SQA5 DF. AE 25 Dec 1940 Gorizia Italy MC 200 SQA2 TG 1 Mar 1941 Brindisi Italy MC 200 SQA4 AR. AE Apr 1941 Gorizia Italy MC 200 SQA2 AR. AE Apr 1941 Bari Italy MC 200 SQA4 IT Jul 1941 Gorizia Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG Sep 1941 Ciampino Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF 29 Sep 1941 Comiso Sicily MC 202 ASIC AR. AE. GA 25 Nov 1941 Martuba Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 12 Dec 1941 Barce Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 20 Dec 1941 El Merduma Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF 22 Dec 1941 Tarnet Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF Dec 1941 Gorizia? Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG 15 Apr 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 202 ASIC AR. AE Apr 1942 Campoformido Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG 24 May 1942 Martuba 4 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF. AR 24 Jun 1942 Sidi Barrani Egypt MC 202 SQA5 AR 30 Jun 1942 Fuka Sud Egypt MC 202 SQA5 DF. AR. GA. AE 30 Oct 1942 Abu Smeit Egypt MC 202 SQA5 IT 1 Nov 1942 Martuba 4 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 TG. DF 13 Nov 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 15 Nov 1942 Ara Fileni Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 AE. AR. DF 6 Dec 1942 Misurata Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 IT 6 Dec 1942 Castelbenito Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF. AE. CE 16 Jan 1943 Milano-Bresso Italy MC 202 SQA1 TG. CE May 1943 Ciampino Sud Italy MC 202 MC.205V SQA3 DF Jun 1943 Furbara Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF 9 Jun 1943 Ciampino Sud Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF Jun 1943 Gerbini Sicily MC 202 Me 109 G ASIC TG. DF 21 Jun 1943 Catania Sicily MC 202 ASIC DF 10 Jul 1943 Palermo Sicily MC 202 ASIC IT 14 Jul 1943 Crotone Italy MC 202 SQA4 DF 16 Jul 1943 Castrovillari Italy MC.205V SQA4 TG. DF 27 Aug 1943 Gioia del Colle Italy MC.205V SQA4 DF
Although the first unit to receive the new MC 200 in 1940. the pilots preferred their CR 42 biplanes. So, they made a swap with 1 Stormo, who were delighted to accept the latest aircraft. The Gruppo moved to Mirafiori shortly before war broke out and began operations against France by patrolling the Alpine border.
After the French surrender, they flew escort to bombers over Malta, then moved on to the Libyan front. During the British counter-offensive in late 1940, this unit suffered heavy losses to action and environment. By the end of the year, they were reequipping in Italy, with the once-rejected MC 200. In March, 73 sq moved to Brindisi, to support the Greek campaign. The next month all three squadriglie joined operations against Yugoslavia. One squadriglia was detached to Allure di Pola.
By July they were re-equipping again, this time with the excellent MC 202. In late September the unit was testing their new aircraft in the skies over Malta. On 25 November 96 and 97 sq transferred to Libya to check-out their non-tropical fighters in desert conditions. 73 sq remained in Sicily and began a career of photo-reconaissance. Its MC 202s were given cameras, but kept their weaponry , and were known to dogfight as much as their fellow squadriglie. The other two squadriglie returned to Sicily, having passed their aircraft to 1 Stormo. Then the whole Gruppo retired to Italy to receive new MC 202s with sand filters.
On 26 May 1942 the freshly equipped unit left for a second tour of the desert. With air superiority their main role, they effectively supported the advance to El Alamein. In the period leading to the Allied onslaught, the unit suffered losses to ground-strafing fighters and the bombing of their bases.
In late October they passed their 10 surviving Macchis to 3 Stormo at Abu Smeit. Picking up 28 brand new MC 202s at Martuba, they returned to the front once more.
However, by December they were back at Castelbenito. defending Tripoli port. Bad weather and lack of fuel reduced the number of sorties. The next month they once again handed their aircraft to 3 Stormo. and left for Italy.
With no new fighters immediately available, the pilots were used to ferry aircraft to operational units. Consideration was given to re-equipping with the D 520! During May 1943, some MC.205Vs joined the trickle of MC 202s arriving at the unit. They defended Rome for the next two months, having 21 MC 202s on strength by 9 June. The replacements arrived from Furbara and Cerveteri.
By late June they were training in Sicily, with 18 Me 109 Gs. as well as conducting operations in the surrounding waters. Finocchiara and San Salvadore were used as forward strips during this time. 73 sq was detached to Reggio Calabria with six MC 202s and two borrowed MC.205Vs. moving on to Sigonella in July. After trying to stem the Allied advance on Sicily, the unit returned to Italy where they received the latest MC.205Vs. A section was detached to Pescara in mid-August. By 7 September the unit had only nine fighters left on operations.
4 Stormo 7 Gruppo Sqa 86
10 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 84, 90, 91 Stormo 4
10 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 84, 90, 91 Stormo 4 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Tobruk T 2 Cirenaica CR 42 ALIB DF Jun 1940 Benina Cirenaica CR 42 ALIB DF Jun 1940 Berka Cirenaica CR 42 ALIB DF Aug 1940 Bir el Gobi Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF Sep 1940 El Adem Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AE Sep 1940 Berka Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AE 6 Jan 1941 Gorizia Italy MC 200 SQA2 TG Apr 1941 Ronchi Italy MC 200 SQA2 AE, AR 16 Jun 1941 Trapani Sicily MC 200 ASIC IT Sep 1941 Comiso Sicily MC 200 ASIC AE. GA. AR Nov 1941 Chinisia Sicily MC 200 ASIC DF Dec 1941 Gorizia Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG 15 Apr 1942 Sciacca Sicily MC 202 ASIC AE. AR Apr 1942 Campoformido Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG. DF 24 May 1942 Martuba 4 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF. AR 28 Jun 1942 Sidi Barrani Egypt MC 202 SQA5 AR. DF 30 Jun 1942 Fuka Nord Egypt MC 202 SQA5 DF. AR. GA. AE 3 Jul 1942 Mumin Busak Egypt MC 202 SQA5 DF 15 Jul 1942 Fuka Sud Egypt MC 202 SQA5 DF 30 Oct 1942 Abu Smeit Egypt MC 202 SQA5 IT 1 Nov 1942 Martuba 4 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 TG. DF 13 Nov 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 15 Nov 1942 Ara Fileni Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 AE, AR. DF 10 Dec 1942 Ciampino Italy MC 202 SQA3 AE. DF May 1943 Furbara Italy MC 202 MC.205V SQA3 TG. DF 4 Jun 1943 Cerveteri Italy MC 202 MC.205V SQA3 DF 9 Jun 1943 Ciampino Italy MC 202 MC.205V Me 109 G SQA3 DF 21 Jun 1943 Catania-Sigonella Sicily MC 202 MC.205V ASIC DF 9 Jul 1943 Palermo Sicily MC 202 MC.205V ASIC IT 14 Jul 1943 Crotone Italy MC.205V SQA4 DF 24 Jul 1943 Ciampino Italy MC.205V SQA3 TG. DF Aug 1943 Castrovillari Italy MC.205V SQA4 DF
Although the first of the Stormi to receive the new MC 200 in 1940. the pilots preferred their biplane fighters. So they made a swap with 1 Stormo. who were delighted to accept the latest aircraft. The CR 42 had first been received in September 1939.
The unit maintained patrols on the Egyptian border, and then moved to support the advance on Sidi Barrani in September. During the British counter-offensive in late 1940 they suffered heavy losses to action and the environment. By early January they were re-equipping in Italy with the once rejected MC 200.
Operations were carried out against Yugoslavia in April, with 23 aircraft on strength. Two months later the unit was in Sicily, operating over Malta and the Sicilian Canal. 91 sq was initially detached to Palermo. By the end of 1941, they had re-equipped with MC 202s and returned to Sicily in April for two weeks.
Having tested their new aircraft in action, they returned to Italy to receive the same type, but with sand filters. On 26 May 1942 they left for a second tour of the desert. With air superiority their main role, they effectively supported the advance to El Alamein. In the period before the Allied onslaught, the unit suffered losses to ground strafing fighters. Damage to their bases also reduced their response to enemy attacks. Nevertheless, their fighter sweeps caused the Allies some problems. In late October they passed their surviving MC 202s to 3 Stormo at Abu Smeit. Picking up brand new Macchis at Martuba. they returned to the front in time to cover the retreat. In December they handed their aircraft to 9 Gruppo and returned to Italy.
While waiting for replacement aircraft, the pilots were used to ferry other aircraft to operational units. By April 1943 some MC.205Vs were added to the MC 202s. followed by a few Me 109 Gs in June. 90 sq defended Naples from Capua in April and May. 91 sq was detached to Furbara, with eight MC 202s until the end of June, when it moved to Sigonella. The other squadriglie had 12 MC 202s and two Me 109 Gs operational at Ciampino. On the 23rd. 10 MC 202s were detached to Reggio Calabria.
By late June the whole unit moved to Sicily to carry out defensive operations over the island. 84 sq was at Catania by the 25th. After suffering losses during the Allied invasion, they returned to the mainland. A section was detached to Pescara in August. By 7 September they had only eight MC.205Vs left on operations.
11 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 1, 4 Stormo 13
11 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 1, 4 Stormo 13 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Piacenza Italy BR.20 SQA1 DB. TG 27 Sep 1940 Melsbroech Belgium BR.20 CAI NB 10 Jan 1941 Piacenza Italy BR.20 SQA1 TG 8 Apr 1941 Gioia del Colle Italy BR.20 SQA4 DB. AR 27 Apr 1941 Piacenza Italy BR.20 SQA1 TG 22 Jul 1941 Derna Cirenaica BR.20 SQA5 DB. AN 7 Dec 1941 Barce Cirenaica BR.20 SQA5 DB 14 Dec 1941 Misurata Tripolitan BR.20 SQA5 DB Mar 1942 Bir Dufan Tripolitan BR.20 SQA5 DB 8 Apr 1942 Piacenza? Italy Ca314 SQA1 TG Jun 1942 Reggio Emilia Italy Ca314 Ca313 SQA2 TG Jun 1942 Manduria Italy Ca314 SQA4 CE Jan 1943 Treviso Italy CR.42CN SQA2 TG
The BR20 was received in December 1936 and when the BR.20M arrived, training began with the crews from 7 Stormo at Cameri in 1940. This base and San Damiano were used for training.
After operating over southern France, they became part of the expedition to Belgium, for operations over England. The first mission was on 24 October, against Harwich. Sixteen BR.20Ms from both 13 and 4 Stormo participated, losing two aircraft in the bad weather over Belgium. Night raids were carried out by this unit on Harwich and Ipswich when weather permitted. In January they returned to Italy, via Monaco and Bolzano. One squadriglia flew direct to Piacenza.
They then joined in the end of the Greek campaign and the Yugoslav offensive. After more training and a rest, they moved to Libya for operations over Tobruk. A low serviceability resulted from the sand affecting engine, weapon, and hydraulic parts.
On 8 April the unit returned to Italy for retraining in the maritime escort role. Moving to Manduria. they patrolled the sea lanes between Italy and Greece. The unit changed roles from Combattimento to Intercettori when 13 Stormo disbanded on I0 January 1943. The Gruppo disbanded on 28 August.
12 Gruppo Assalto Squadriglie 159, 160 Stormo 50
12 Gruppo Assalto Squadriglie 159, 160 Stormo 50 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Sorman Tripolitan Ca 310 CR32 Breda 65 ALIB GA 30 Jun 1940 El Adem Cirenaica CR32 Breda 65 ALIB GA Sep 1940 Tobruk T 2 Cirenaica CR 32 Breda 65 Ro 41 SQA5 GA Dec 1940 El Adem Cirenaica CR 32 Breda 65 SQA5 GA Jan 1941 Benghasi Cirenaica CR 32 Breda 65 SQA5 GA 1 Feb 1941 Italy G50 Sqa TG Dec 1941 Castelbenito Tripolitan G50 SQA5 GA. DF. CE May 1943 Sciacca Sicily MC 200 ASIC DF. CE. AR 21 May 1943 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 200 MC 202 CR42 ASIC DF. CE. AR
Starting with 24 ex-Hungarian order Ca 310s. the unit realised these were inadequate for the approaching offensive. So, they reequipped from 21 June, with Breda 65 A 80s (159 sq) and CR 32s (160 sq). The former were not much better, but were all the industry could immediately offer as an assault plane. The fighters were fitted with bomb racks to increase their effectiveness.
On 11 June 159 sq was detached to Tobruk T 2 with seven Ca 310s for ground strafing and recce duties. They strafed enemy troops and armoured vehicles over the next few days, but the aircraft suffered heavily from the return fire, the sand and the weather. By October the whole unit was at Tobruk, having covered the advance to Sidi Barrani. Four Ro 41s were used by 159 sq for local day and night defence in August. The unit had retired to Benghasi by February, having been decimated in the retreat.
Converting to the ground attack version of the G 50. they operated over Libya for a second tour. By 25 December 1941 they were the only such type of unit left in Libya. They then switched to local defence and convoy escorts. In August 1942. with 159. 160 and 165 sq as a Gruppo Autonome, they had 18 G 50s at Castelbcnito.
By May 1943 they were operating around Sicily, sometimes with the MC 202s of 53 Stormo. The unit disbanded on 26 June.
13 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 77, 78, 82 Stormo 2
13 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 77, 78, 82 Stormo 2 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Castelbenito Tripolitan CR 42 CR 32 ALIB TG 19 Jun 1940 Tobruk T 2 Cirenaica CR 42 ALIB DF. AE. GA 8 Aug 1940 Berka Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 16 Sep 1940 Gambut Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AE. GA 18 Sep 1940 Tmimi Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AE. GA Feb 1941 Jesi Italy CR 42 SQA2 DF Jun 1941 Genova? Italy CR 42 SQA1 AN. AR Oct 1941 Torino-Caselle Italy MC 200 SQA1 TG Jan 1942 Ciampmo Sud Italy MC 200 SQA3 DF Feb 1942 Castelbenito Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 DF Mar 1942 Misurata Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 CE Apr 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF 7 May 1942 Martuba 5 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF. AE 24 Jun 1942 Am el Gazala Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF 15 Jul 1942 Bu Amud Cirenaica MC 200 MC 202 CR.42CN SQA5 DF. CE Jul 1942 Abu Haggag Egypt MC 200 SQA5 GA Sep 1942 Bu Amud Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF 9 Nov 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 200 SQA5 DF. GA 13 Nov 1942 En Nofilia Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 DF. GA 17 Nov 1942 Ghindel Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 DF. GA 30 Nov 1942 Tauorga Tripolitan MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 GA 17 Jan 1943 Sorman Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 DF. GA 22 Jan 1943 Gabes Est Tunisia MC 200 MC 202 ATUN GA. DF 31 Jan 1943 Torino-Caselle? Italy MC 200 SQA1 TG 21 Feb 1943 El Hamma Tunisia MC 200 SQA5 GA 26 Feb 1943 Palermo? Sicily MC 200 ASIC GA May 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy MC 202 D520 SQA1 DF Jun 1943 Ciampino Italy MC 202 SQA3 TG 12 Jul 1943 Furbara Italy MC 202 SQA3 TG, DF Jul 1943 Lonate Pozzolo Italy MC 202 D520 SQA1 TG 31 Jul 1943 Metato Italy MC 202 D520 SQA3 DF. TG
On the eve of war this unit had 11 unserviceable CR 32s and 28 CR 42s. Fully converted to the latter, the older types were passed to 50 Stormo in June. For the rest of the year the unit supported operations against Egyptian targets, being especially active over Tobruk. 78 sq remained in defence of Benghasi in June.
The new year found the unit split into local defence sections around the industrial cities of the north. From June 1941 they tackled units of the Royal Navy operating in the Ligurian Sea.
Re-equipping in October, they returned to the African front the following February. They assisted the Axis offensives with ground attacks, intercepts, bombing and troop protection. From Bu Amud they protected Tobruk, using a day section of MC 202s and a night section of CR 42s. as well as their usual MC 200s. On 14 September aircraft from this unit sank the destroyer Zulu and set fire to four MTBs off Tobruk. 82 sq was detached in November to Castelbenito for local defence duties.
Leaving Libya in January 1943. they fought on in southern Tunisia mainly with ground attacks on pursuing Allied troops. 77 and 78 sq used MC 202s. and 82 sq used MC 200s. After heavy losses they passed their surviving aircraft to 3 Stormo and returned to Italy.
With the situation getting more desperate, they were sent back to Tunisia in February for more ground attack sorties. By the 26th only the Nucleo was operational, the main unit having retired with no aircraft left.
During March the pilots ferried aircraft from the factories to operational units. This held up training and prevented a much needed rest. Eventually re-equipping with MC 202s. they joined the interceptor defences of Italy. 358 sq used D 520s on local defence until 20 July, when they passed them to 13 Gruppo.
At the end of July. 78 and 82 sq moved to Metato with 12 D 520s and some MC 202s. On 10 August the unit became Autonomo when 2 Stormo disbanded. By 7 September 82 sq was detached to Venafiorita with six out of 10 MC 202s serviceable, while the rest of the Gruppo was still at Metato. By then there were no D 520s left.
15 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 32, 125 Stormo 22
15 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 32, 125 Stormo 22 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Udine Italy Ca311 SQA1 AR 17 Jun 1940 Miration Italy Ca311 SQA1 AR
This unit began the war under 2 Armata control, with 12 aircraft. Seven days later they transferred to 4 Armata. for operations against France. 114 sq was at Mirafiori and was temporarily attached to the Gruppo for action before the French armistice.
The Gruppo and its two squadriglie were disbanded on 25 February 1942.
16 Gruppo Assalto Squadriglie 167, 168 Stormo 50
16 Gruppo Assalto Squadriglie 167, 168 Stormo 50 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Sorman Tripolitan Ca 310 CR 32 Breda 65 ALIB GA 30 Jun 1940 Tobruk T 2 Cirenaica Ca 310 CR 32 Breda 65 ALIB GA Dec 1940 El Adem Cirenaica CR 32 Breda 65 SQA5 GA Jan 1941 Benghasi K 1 Cirenaica CR 32 Breda 65 SQA5 GA Jan 1941 Italy MC 200 Sqa TG Apr 1941 Ravenna Italy MC 200 SQA2 DF. AE. AR 12 Jun 1941 Gela Sicily MC 200 ASIC DF, AE Jul 1941 Gerbini Sicily MC 200 ASIC DF, AN, CE 13 Jun 1942 Monserrato Sardinia MC 200 ASAR DF, AN. AE Jul 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 200 ASIC CE. DF 1 Aug 1942 Crotone Italy MC 200 CR 42 MC 202 SQA4 DF, NF. CE Feb 1943 Medenine Tunisia MC 202 ATUN DF. GA 21 Feb 1943 K34 LG Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA Feb 1943 K41 LG Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA 5 May 1943 Korba Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 AE 10 May 1943 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 202 ASIC DF
Re-equipping with Breda 65 K 14s (168 sq) and CR 32s (167 sq) from 2 Stormo. the unit supported the advance to Sidi Barrani in September 1940. The CR 32s were given bombracks to assist the assault planes. Both types were poorly equipped for the work required. The Ca 310s were briefly re-used in July after heavy losses by the unit. Ain el Gazala was used as a forward base in June. By early 1941 the remnants of the unit were back in Benghasi.
Converting to the MC 200. they joined 54 Stormo as a Caccia Terrestre Gruppo in March. 169 sq had joined them. The following month they had two squadriglie at Ravenna, and one detached to Udine for operations against Yugoslavia. Only 11 of the 22 Macchis were serviceable at this time.
After the Balkan experience, they began sorties over Malta, then escorting bombers and shipping in the surrounding waters.
With the Allied invasion of North Africa, the unit was ordered to Tunisia in December 1942. having received MC 202s in the meantime. Fighting continued until May 1943. with many dog-fights. For example, on 7 March. 17 Macchis claimed nine Spitfires and a P-38 for the loss of two of their ow n. On 30 March they joined the reformed 54 Stormo. By mid-April only this Stormo remained in Tunisia.
Withdrawing to Sicily to rest before the next round, they helped defend that island and southern Italy through the Spring. No aircraft or crews were left by 18 May. so the unit was disbanded on the 27th.
17 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 71, 72, 80 Stormo 1
17 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 71, 72, 80 Stormo 1 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Boccadifalco Sicily CR 32 SQA2 DF Sep 1940 Trapani-Milo Sicily MC 200 SQA2 TG. AE. AR. DF 21 Jun 1941 Campoformido Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG Nov 1941 Ciampino Italy MC 202 SQA3 TG Nov 1941 Comiso Sicily MC 202 ASIC IT. DF 25 Nov 1941 Martuba Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF Nov 1941 Benina Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 12 Dec 1941 Benghasi K 2 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF Dec 1941 Sidi Magrum Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 20 Dec 1941 Bir el Merduma Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF 21 Dec 1941 Ara Fileni Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF 22 Dec 1941 Tarnet Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF. AR Jan 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 16 Mar 1942 Martuba 4 Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF, AR 24 Jun 1942 Sidi Barrani Egypt MC 202 SQA5 IT. DF 26 Jun 1942 Campoformido Italy MC 202 SQA2 TG Nov 1942 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC 202 ASIC GA. AE. AN. DF Nov 1942 Pontedera Italy MC 202 SQA3 TG 6 Nov 1942 Decimomannu Sardinia MC 202 ASAR GA. AN Jan 1943 Capodichino Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF. CE Jan 1943 Lonate Pozzolo Italy MC.205V SQA1 TG Feb 1943 Sciacca Sicily MC.205V ASIC TG Apr 1943 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC.205V ASIC CE. AE. DF 14 May 1943 Chinisia Sicily MC.205V ASIC AE. DF 21 May 1943 Finocchiara Sicily MC.205V ASIC AE. DF 26 Jun 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy MC.205V SQA1 DF Jul 1943 Osoppo Italy MC.205V SQA2 DF 17 Jul 1943 Ronchi Italy MC.205V SQA2 DF
In May 1940 this unit passed its MC 200s to 6 Gruppo. returning provisionally to the CR 32. Easier logistics demanded this action.
So. on the eve of war there were 26 CR 32s in readiness. Moving to Trapani and receiving new MC 200s. operations began on 15 September when they escorted Ju 87s of 96 Gruppo to Malta. For the rest of that year they used Castelvetrano and Pantelleria as forward bases. The Gruppo transport was provided by three Ca 133s.
In early 1941. fighter sweeps were flown over Malta, and a section was sent to Pantelleria for local defence during the w inter period. 80 sq used Fontanarossa in January. From August the previous year. 72 sq had been at Comiso, escorting bombers and recce aircraft over Malta.
From June to October 1941. the unit trained in Italy on the new MC 202. being only the second unit to receive them. The aircraft were taken to Ciampino where they were fitted with sand filters and prepared for Africa.
Stopping briefly in Sicily, the unit arrived in Cirenaica. doing much to reduce the RAF's dominance there. In December, at Martuba. they additionally received 9 Gruppo’s old MC 202s. Fighter sweeps were carried out from Tarnet and Benghasi port was defended. During May 1942 sweepsand intercepts were made in the Tobruk and Bir Hacheim areas. The following month the unit returned to Italy for a rest and refit.
Due to the poor production supply, the unit was without aircraft for several weeks. Eventually it went to Pantelleria. where it operated against the Allied fleet at Bone, escorting bombers, strafing and making intercepts. Moving to Sardinia with 33 fighters, it dealt with targets on or near the Algerian coast, being among the few units capable of surviving such missions.
Retiring briefly to escort warships and defend Italian cities from the increasing bomber raids, it was re-equipped with the superb MC.205V and sent back to Sicily. Communication problems caused the navy to be attacked four times in January before the fighters could intervene. The inter-service wrangles did not help!
Hastily completing its training, operations recommenced at the end of April in support of the evacuation of Tunisia. Protection was given to the air and sea transports plodding between Tunisia and Sicily. Moving to Chinisia. with Finocchiara as a forward landing ground, they continued their intercepts and escorted torpedo-bombers who still tried to break the Allied flow. With few aircraft left, they retreated at the end of June to Italy where further equipment was awaited.
18 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 83, 85, 95 Stormo 3
18 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 83, 85, 95 Stormo 3 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Novi Ligure Italy CR42 SQA1 GA. AE. AR 19 Oct 1940 Monaco Monaco CR 42 CAI IT Oct 1940 Darmstadt Germany CR 42 CAI IT Oct 1940 Maldegem Belgium CR 42 CAI AE. AR 11 Jan 1941 Frankfurt Germany CR 42 CAI IT Jan 1941 Pisa Italy CR42 SQA3 TG 25 Jan 1941 Sorman Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 CE 30 Jan 1941 Mellaha Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 CE 24 Feb 1941 Tarnet Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 DF 5 Apr 1941 Benghasi K 2 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 12 Aug 1941 Torino-Mirafiori Italy G50 SQA1 TG Sep 1941 Trapani? Sicily G50 ASIC CE 15 May 1942 Mirafiori Italy MC 200 SQA1 TG 16 Jul 1942 Ciampino Sud Italy MC 200 SQA3 TG 18 Jul 1942 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC 200 ASIC IT 18 Jul 1942 Tripoli Tripolitan MC 200 SQA5 IT 23 Jul 1942 Abu Haggag Egypt MC 200 SQA5 AR. DF. AE, GA Oct 1942 Abu Nimeir Egypt MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 TG Oct 1942 Abu Smeit Egypt MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 TG 3 Nov 1942 Bir el Astas Egypt MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA 6 Nov 1942 Bu Amud Cirenaica MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA 10 Nov 1942 Benghasi Cirenaica MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA 12 Nov 1942 En Nofiha Tripolitan MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA 16 Nov 1942 Tauorga Tripolitan MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA 15 Jan 1943 Castelbenito Tripolitan MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. TG 19 Jan 1943 Medenine Tunisia MC 200 MC 202 ATUN DF.GA 22 Jan 1943 El Hamma Tunisia MC 200 MC 202 ATUN DF. GA Feb 1943 Achichma Tunisia MC 200 MC 202 ATUN DF. GA Feb 1943 El Hamma Tunisia MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF.GA Mar 1943 Gabes Tunisia MC 200 MC 202 SQA5 DF. GA Apr 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy MC 202 SQA1 TG 11 Jun 1943 Ciampino Sud Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF 21 Jun 1943 Cerveteri Italy MC 202 MC.205V SA1 207 SQA3 DF, TG
The Gruppo carried out strafing attacks on bases in southern France and escorted bombers. 85 sq was detached to Villanova d’Albcnga in June. Two months later the pilots were ferrying 30 CR 42s to Castelbenito, via Pantelleria. returning in the Gruppo's Ca 133s. They had six of these on strength.
The unit temporarily transfered to 56 Stormo for operations over the English Channel. The first mission was on 29 October, escorting 43 Stormo to Ramsgate. On 11 November, on a similar mission, they fought a pitched battle with Hurricanes and Spitfires over Harwich. After this, they were restricted in offensive sorties, although sweeps were flown over the Channel, ceasing on 3 January. During this time pilots checked out the Me 109 E in a neighbourning German unit and may have asked to re-equip with that aircraft later. The Gruppo was known to the Germans as 18/JG56. After a brief rest in Italy they moved to Libya for the first half of 1941. followed by a spell of escort duty in Sicily. More CR 42s were received, from 23 Gruppo at Sorman, on 1 March to replace losses. The faithful old Ca 133s were still in attendance.
In February Sirte was used as a forward base, and 83 sq was detached to Tauorga. This squadriglia then moved to Hon (9 March). Mellaha (23 April), and Derna (May). Reforming on 15 May 1942. with 30 MC 200s. they moved to Ciampino where 21 aircraft were fitted with bombracks. They then flew to Libya. By July they were 60% operational and preparing for the Alamein battles. On the night of 12 August, seven pilots were killed on the ground by raiding Swordfish and Albacores - this was a great blow to the Gruppo. Further losses on the ground reduced their effectiveness, but in the retreat across Libya they managed to hinder the Allied advance with fighterbomber attacks under the escort of 23 Gruppo. Towards the end of October they received 4 Stormo’s old MC 202s in place of 13 MC 200s lost to bombing on the 21st. They were followed by more from 13 Gruppo on 31 December. 83 sq was detached to Castelbenito on 20 November.
During operations over southern Tunisia, further MC 202s were passed over by 4 Stormo. on 8 January 1943 at Castelbenito. 83 sq moved from there to Medeninc on the 20th. sharing with 70 sq of 23 Gruppo the role of last Italian air unit to leave Libya. By the end of March the unit withdrew to Italy, having no serviceable aircraft left.
Re-equipping at Caselie. they moved south for the defence of Rome. Six MC.205V Series Ills and three SA 1 207s arrived at the end of July and joined in the bomber intercepts. Brief detachments to Sicily ended with a mauling which caused a quick return to Cerveteri. They then successfully fought against the incoming B 17s and B 24s with their Macchis. By 7 September there were two MC.205Vs and nine MC 202s still operational.
19 Gruppo Comb Squadriglie 100, 101, 102 Stormo 5
19 Gruppo Comb Squadriglie 100, 101, 102 Stormo 5 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Alghero Sardinia Breda 88 ASAR GA Jul 1940 Lonate Pozzolo Italy Breda 88 SQA1 TG
On 6 May 1939. 5 Stormo received the Breda 88 at Lonate Pozzolo. On 11 June 1940 the Gruppo became Autonomo.
On 16 and 19 June, raids were carried out on Corsican targets, but the 13 aircraft were found to be grossly underpowered. The unit rejoined 5 Stormo on 13 July, moving to Italy, where it finally disbanded on 1 December 1940.
IL 51°STORMO CACCIA "Ferruccio Serafini" - by Nicola Malizia
Copyright N.Malizia/F.McMeiken - Translated by Frank McMeiken
With Foglio d'Ordini N.029/2 dated 25 September 1939 the Stato Maggiore of the Regia Aeronautica decreed the constitution of the 51°Stormo Caccia Terrestre, a definition used a the time to distinguish land based fighter units from the small number of Caccia Marittima - seaplane fighter - units. The date of formation of the unit was fixed for 1 October 1939. Inserted into the structure of the 3^Z.A.T. (Zona Aerea Territoriale), which covered Lazio and Tuscany, the new unit, commanded by Ten.Colonnello Pilota Umberto Chiesa, was established at Ciampino Sud airfield, controlling the 20°Gruppo (Squadriglie 351^/352^/353^) and 21°Gruppo C.T. (Squadriglie 354^/355^/356^), a standard structure for a fighter Stormo of the period. Equipped with early series FIAT G.50, the unit commenced and intensive training period, driven by the events unfolding in a part of Eastern Europe: the beginnings of the Second World War, when, on 1 September of the same year, had entered into Poland. On 1 January 1940 the 51°Stormo C.T. became a part of the 8^Brigata Caccia, a major Unitá Aerea which parented our unit together with the 52°Stormo C.T. and the 88°Gruppo Autonomo C.M., the latter disbanded shortly afterwards. The formation of the 8^ Brigata Caccia offered the occasion to each unit to adopt an original insignia, which we can define as being the first emblem of the 51°Stormo Caccia: a wolf, red in colour, on a black background, with the "Hostibus Terror" for the 51°Stormo C.T., and a black wolf on a red background with the motto "Ad Hostes Ululans" for the 52°Stormo C.T..
The Black Cat
Another emblem was, however, shortly to be adopted by the 51°Stormo Caccia, still in the spring of that tumultuous 1940, an emblem derived above all from the traditional and 'sportive' rivalries played out between fighter and bomber crews, given the presence on the same airfield, on the North Side, of the 12°Stormo B.T., whose emblem at that time featured three green mice, evidence of the international records captured by the unit's S.79 during the pre-war period. The frequent practice attack on the Capital, the defence of which being entrusted initially to FIAT CR 32, incapable of confronting the "incursori" (avenger), gave rise to much playful discussion on the base until finally, when during one of the last exercises, the FIAT G.50 were available, technically more capable of spoiling the usual triumph of the tri-motors of the "Sorci Verdi".(Green Mice). The supremacy of the FIAT G.50 aroused the enthusiasm of the pilots of the 51°Stormo C.T., and one of these, the then Ten.Vincenzo Sant'Andrea, an able designer, painted on the fin of a G.50 a Black Cat [Gatto Nero] which was pouncing on three Green Mice. Despite the annoyance of the aircrew of the 12°Stormo B.T., who used their influence and prestige to try to provoke the prohibition of the badge, the Stato Maggiore RA took a wise and prudent decision....yes to the Mice, but instead of green, they had to be grey. Eventually, this compromise was accepted by both sides, although later, with the commencement of hostilites, and with the 20°Gruppo C.T. inserted into the 56°Stormo C.T., a unit which was assigned to the C.A.I. (Corpo Aereo Italiano), sent to Belgium to partecipate in the "Battle of Britain", all the personnel of the unit of C.O. Comandante Mario Bonzano changed the colour of the mice to green, and they have remained so coloured to this day!
World War Two
After the declaration of war against France and Great Britain, the 20°Gruppo C.T. assumed responsibility for the defence of the Capital, while other units, initially the 356^Squadriglia of the 21°Gruppo C.T., moved to the airfield at Capodichino to defend the Napoli area. Here the unit, in the light of its predicted inability to guarantee an adequate night alert service with the FIAT G.50, was re-equipped with FIAT CR 32, FIAT CR 42, while the 'daylight only' FIAT G.50 were joined by a few Macchi MC 200, although these too were similarly not suited to night operations. A similar initiative involved the 20°Gruppo C.T. which, remaining at Ciampino Sud, established one of the first alert detachments of the Regia Aeronautica at Guidonia, with a fleet of FIAT CR 32 "quater".
51° Stormo disbanded: British Channel, Greek and Lybia operations (1940-41)
In mid-summer 1940 important structural changes initiated within the 3^ZAT placed the 51°Stormo Caccia in the position of a reparto quadro [disbanded]. The 20°Gruppo C.T. was transferred to the forming 56°Stormo C.T., incorporated in the CAI, and destined to operate from bases in Belgium, while the 21°Gruppo C.T., declared a reparto autonomo [autonomous unit], passed two of its Squadriglie, the 354^ and 355^, to the 24°Gruppo Autonomo C.T., which was posted to the Greek front on the commencement of operations in this new Balkan theatre. In Belgium, the 20°Gruppo C.T., operating within the CAI, was incorporated into the Luftwaffe II Fliegerkorps, assuming the German designation of 20/Jagdgeswader 56. The unit retained on the fins of its FIAT G.50 the untouchable "Gatto Nero", still with grey mice, but which gradually were turning green. The operational base of the 20°Gruppo C.T. was that at Maldegem, where in truth the unit failed to make any valid impression in the contest on this difficult front. In the two memorable encounters in British skies, involving mainly the other unit of the 56°Stormo C.T., the 18°Gruppo Caccia, the 20° remained definitely outside the action, and never engaged with aircraft of the R.A.F. Nonetheless, its contribution was still valid, as the unit was assigned the task of mounting difficult continuous patrols along the Channel coasts, suffering its share of losses, with two pilots killed and one gravely injured. On the return of the entire CAI in Italia, two units of the 20°Gruppo Autonomo C.T. (352^ and 353^), which remained alone for a few months in Belgium, were offered the possibility of re-equipping with German Bf 109F, a proposal voiced in April 1941. Unfortunately for the unit, Bonzano was ordered to return to Italy.
Meanwhile, at Ciampino Sud airfield, on 15 January 1941 a new unit as formed, destined to become intertwined with the story of the reformed 51°Stormo C.T., which at the time was still a reparto quadro. In fact, the 155°Gruppo Autonomo C.T. (Squadriglie 351^,360^.378^) was formed, equipped with a brand new fleet of FIAT G.50 "bis", and just before the end of the same month the entire unit was transferred to the Libyan front. In the arid and empty desert sands of the Marmaris plain the unit, commanded by Luigi Bianchi, joined the struggle of the desert war, sacrificing men and machines in a battle that did not always produce the desired successes despite the intense effort. The unit lost eight men and many aircraft, remaining in the operational sector until December 1941.
Following a brief period at Ciampino Sud, the 20°Gruppo Autonomo C.T., returning from airfields in Belgium, Holland, and France, where it had operated for seven months, was requipped with FIAT G.50 "bis". In May 1941 the unit was also transferred to the Libyan front, performing the same role as the 155°Gruppo Autonomo C.T., and on many occasions finding itself engaged in operations in the same sector. Further casualties added to the long list of combat losses, and amongst these was the outstanding figure, decorated with the Medaglia d'Oro al V.M., of Cap.Mario Montefusco, Commander of the 151^Squadriglia, shot down on 4 July 1941. At the end of 1941 both the 20° and 155°Gruppo Autonomo C.T. made a bitter return to Italy.
The Malta years (1942-43)
On 1 January 1942, under Foglio N.30014/S issued by the Comando 3^Squadra Aerea, the 51°Stormo Caccia Terrestre was reconstituted, being placed under the command of Col. Pil. Aldo Remondino, and parenting the 20°Gruppo C.T. (Squadriglie 151^/352^/353^) and 155°Gruppo C.T. (Squadriglie 351^/360^/378^). The Stormo's flying equipment comprised Macchi MC 200, FIAT G.50 "bis", a few FIAT CR 42, some Caproni Vizzola F.5, Nardi F.N. 305, and a sole Caproni Ca 164, the latter two types being assigned to liaison duties. Training was under way on the G.50 "bis" and Macchi MC 200, in view of the predicted arrival of a new fighter aircraft, the Macchi MC 202 "Folgore", the first example of which joined the "Gatto Nero" unit on 24 March 1942. First unit to completely re-equip with the new fighter was the 155°Gruppo C.T. of Comandante Duilio Fanali, and which just before the end of May was transferred to the airfield at Gela, in Sicilia, ready to launch, together with other units of the Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe, the siege of the island of Malta. It was joined in June by the 20°Gruppo C.T. of Comandante Gino Callieri. Thus commenced the period in which the men of the "Gatto Nero" wrote their most heroic, glorious, and tragic pages of their war history, pages featuring sacrifice and courage, suffering, and many deaths, 20 young pilots and several ground crew. Their role was to confront with their Macchi C.202, in the skies over Malta, the British island, the fearsome Spitfire Vc and Vb, excellent fighters controlled by their capable Fighter Directors under the watchful eyes of the radar stations positioned in various locations throughout the island fortress, on which the hopes and illusions of the Germans and Italians eventually were to founder. However, in those skies over the central Mediterranean acts of sublime heroism abounded, as pilots died in the flower of their youth. The most glorious figure was that of Cap. Pilota Furio Niclot Doglio, Commander of the 151^Squadriglia, shot down on 27 July 1942 during a desperate fight against two separate flights of Spitfire V. He was awarded a posthumous Medaglia d'Oro al V.M.
Although many aircraft of the RAF were shot down over the British island, the enemy's supremacy, boosted by its radar and the use of the Enigma machine to decode Ultra signals traffic, together with the American landing in North Africa, grew in an unmatchable manner. The Italo-German forces had no other choice than to offer their final extreme sacrifice, eventually ending in tragedy. A large part of the Macchi MC 202 of the 51°Stormo C.T. were able to withdraw to the airfields in Tunisia, where they met for the first time aircraft of the USAAF. The personnel continued to fight and die for their country until the inevitable happened, and the unit withdrew to the friendly airfield of Ciampino Sud.
After a few months of relative relaxation, despite the involvement of a few sections of Macchi MC 202, detached to Napoli Capodichino and Capua airfields in defence of the Napoli area, in May 1943 the 20°Gruppo C.T., equipped with a few new Macchi MC 205 "Veltro" together with thirty MC 202, flew to the airfield at Capoterra near Cagliari, followed by the 378^Squadriglia of the 155°Gruppo C.T. This Gruppo was detached instead to Monserrato, where it awaited the arrival of the other two of its units, detached to Sardegna during June. Sardegna offered the men of the 51°Stormo C.T. the last act of their heroic resistance through the daily battles against vast formations of Anglo-American fighters and bombers, recording victories and defeats. In the sky over Sardegna, and over the seas that separate it from Tunisia, and even over the Capoterra airfield, the unit lost another 17 pilots and 10 ground personnel. Amongst these heroic victims fell four heroes, decorated with posthumous Medaglia d'Oro al V.M, Capitani Piloti Italo D'Amico and Paolo Damiani, Sergente Pilota Ferruccio Serafini, and M.llo Pil.Luigi Bianchi, and on 2 August 1943 the Bandiera di Guerra of the Unit was decorated with the Medaglia d'Argento al V.M., an initial and merited recognition of the sacrifice and courage of the personnel of the "Gatto Nero".
After the armistice (September 8th, 1943): the ICAF years
After the events of the Armistice of 8 September 1943, and the eventual recovery from several intricate situations, the 51°Stormo Caccia figured amongst the first units of the reconstituted Aeronautica Militare Italiana, which concentrated in the South with a few units, continued, now alongside the Allies, the fight against the Nazi presence. It was another page of struggle and suffering, with aircraft weary from their long battles. The 20°Gruppo C.T. alone received Spitfire Vc, inherited from a Jugoslavian unit that had received them in turn from the R.A.F. The 20° and 155°Gruppo C.T. were joined by the 21°Gruppo Caccia (Squadriglie 361^/386^): thus other heroic men were added to the long list of those who performed with honour, and who made the supreme sacrifice. The War of Liberation conducted in the South cost the 51°Stormo C.T. another ten fatalities. Finally came peace, and the great desire for a new beginning.
After WW2 - Transfer to Northern Italy - Spitfires IXC and Mustang P51D (1946-1951)
With the ending in July 1946 of Macchi MC 205 operations, ceded shortly after to the 5°Stormo, and having operated for a few weeks with the few Spitfire Vc of the 20°Gruppo C.T., in the same month the 51°Stormo C.T., stationed at Lecce airfield, received its first Spitfires IXc, aircraft considered as 'war residue', certainly not new, but equally tired after a long operational career with the squadrons of the R.A.F. In the month of June 1947 the 20° and 21°Gruppo Caccia relocated to the Vicenza "Dal Molin" airfield, while on 24 July of the same year the 155°Gruppo C.T. was deployed to the base at Treviso S.Angelo. The following year, 1948, saw the transfer of the 20° and 21° Gruppi to the base at Treviso, where the 155° Gruppo and Comando di Stormo were already located. Finally the units of the "Gatto Nero" were together again, and they undertook intense operational activity on the Spitfire IXc.
The Spitfire IXc, graceful to see in their silver livery, were no longer reliable fighters, suffering from fatigue in every component, and above all in their engines. This induced the SMAM to suspend and reauthorise their activity following numerous accidents, some fatal, which afflicted both the 51° and 5° Stormo, the latter also flying the famous British fighter. The technicians of the 51°Stormo Caccia recount how they lacked even basic aircraft maintenance manuals and sufficient spare parts to perform repairs on their aircraft. Spitfires IXc operations were concluded just before the end of 1950, when first the 155°Gruppo C.T. was re-equipped in October with the North American P-51D "Mustang", transferring from Treviso to Ghedi, where on 1 January 1951 it gave life to the reconstituted 6°Stormo C.T. On 18 December 1950 the first three Republic P-47D "Thunderbolt", arrived at Treviso San Angelo, quickly reinforced by further examples for operations by the 20° and 21°Gruppo which changed their designations from Caccia Terrestre to Caccia Bombardieri.
The jet era (1951-1954)
Operation of the P-47D gave the 51°Stormo C.B., although in less measure that which disastrously affected the 5° Stormo, also re-equipped with the "Thunderbolt", serious problems of serviceability and safety, given that these mastodontic fighters were also war veterans. Nevertheless, the P-47 of the "Gatto Nero" provoked the loss of 4 piloti, two from the 20°Gruppo, one from the 21°, and a fourth from the 22°Gruppo C.B., a Gruppo that was reformed on 1 February 1953 to receive those "Thunderbolt" still considered capable of flight. The 22° was transfered South, operating from the airfields at Gioia del Colle and Amendola, during the period in which the 21°Gruppo C.B. initially, and subsequently the 20°, were equipped with the new jet fighter, the Republic F-84G "Thunderjet", ceded under the MAP. These jets were operated from Aviano airfield while the unit waited for the completion of its definitive base, the new and modern airfield at Istrana. On 1 November 1951 at Vicenza 'Dal Molin' airfield the 56th Tactical Air Force was constituted, incorporating the three units in the North: 5°, 6° and 51°Stormo Caccia.
Within the 56th TAF, on 1 February 1953 it was decided to transform the "Stormi" into "Aerobrigate", increasing their standard structure from two to three flying Gruppi. "Thunderjet" activity was intense, although the unit registered two sad losses, one for each Gruppo. Finally, between February and March 1954 the unit took possession of the finished base at Istrana, although it still lacked adequate structures. However, the enthusiasm of youth made this easy and possible.
20 June 1954: the Medaglia d'Oro al V.M. is assigned to the Bandiera di Guerra of the 51°Stormo C.B. On this bright and warm day, the Istrana base was decked out for a solemn festival, and the Presidente della Repubblica, Sen.Luigi Einaudi, visited the base of the 51°Stormo Caccia to attach to its Bandiera di Guerra the Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare. Homage and honour to the units' fallen, honoured in a solemn ceremony, highlight of which was the superb exhibition by the acrobatic team of the "Gatti Neri", the celebrated future Tigri Bianche, well known in Italy and abroad.
1°Stormo Caccia Intercettori (1956-1961)
On 1° May 1956 the unit was inserted into the 51^Aerobrigata. On 2 November 1955 the first two North American (FIAT) F-86K arrived at Istrana airfield, destined to form the equipment of the first Gruppo of the 1°Stormo C.OT., the 6°Gruppo. This unit had been collecting under its insignia and within its structure all the aircraft that were steadily arriving from Fiat at Caselle Torinese, together with all the personnel that would rebuild another famous unit with a similarly celebrated emblem (Incocca - Tende - Scaglia).
After the 6°Gruppo COT it was the turn of the 17°, and in December of 1956 it was possible to reform the 23°, which, due to the impossibility of operating from the crowded Istrana base, was detached to Pisa S.Giusto. At Istrana, meanwhile, the 21° and 22° Gruppi were re-equipped with the Republic F-84F "Thunderstreak". The 20°Gruppo C.B. had been placed into the "reparto quadro" position (disbanded) just before the advent of the F-86K, during October of 1955.
The life and activity of the 1°Stormo Caccia Intercettori Ognitempo (all-weather interceptors) lasted until 1 May 1959, when the unit was transformed into the 1^Aerobrigata Intercettori Teleguidati, organising initially around the 6° and 17°Gruppo, while the 23°Gruppo COT at Pisa continued to operate the F-86K. The same aircraft, formerly of the 6° and 17°Gruppo COT, finished up, together with a large part of the dependent personnel, serving with the 22° and 21°Gruppo. In the space of only four years the same pilots and the same technicians of the 20°Gruppo C.B., later the 6°Gruppo COT, found themselves reunited under the insignia and codes of the 22°Gruppo COT. The Istrana base now resounded with the roar of the new AMI jets, capable of breaking the sound barrier, if only in a steep dive. On 1 September 1961 the 51^Aerobrigata absorbed within its ranks the Reparto Volo Tattici Leggeri, equipped with FIAT G.91/R1, aircraft coming from the 14° and 103°Gruppo CTL of the 2°Stormo, which changed their insignia from that of the "Cavaliere Errante" to that of the "Gatto Nero". The permanence of the FIAT G.91/R1 within the 51^A/B lasted until the end of 1963.
The "Starfighter" era (1961-1972)
In the context of the technical and structural renewal of the Aeronautica Militare, and destined to bolster the fleets of some of the fighter units, Italy entered into the era of the Lockheed F-104G "Starfighter", the first examples of which were assigned in March 1963 to the 9°Gruppo of the 4^Aerobrigata. The second unit to receive the type was the 21°Gruppo COT of the 51^A/B, which having passed on its F-84F, on 1 September of the same year commenced transition onto the new aircraft at Grosseto airbase, which had become the "Centro di Qualificazione F-104". From Grosseto, in the following year the 21°Gruppo C.I. moved to Cameri airfield, where in practice it assumed autonomous status, despite retaining for a time the codes and insignia of the 51^A/B. These were eventually changed to that of "21", an unusual code for A.M. gruppi, which was painted on the side of the noses of the Starfighters together with the "Gatto Nero" on the fins until the date of 1 April 1967. On this day, with the reconstitution of the 53°Stormo, the F-104G of the 21°Gruppo C.I. cancelled the badge of the "Gatto Nero" from their fins, and replaced it with that of the Asso di Spade, the historical emblem of the reborn piemontese unit. The 22° and 23°Gruppo COT continued to operate the veteran North American (FIAT) F-86K, the first from the base at Istrana, the second from 1 July 1964 from that of Rimini Miramare, having abandoned the airfield at Pisa S.Giusto. Over the following few years the activity of the F-86K, intense and constant, was able of completing all the operational tasks assigned to the "Gatto Nero" units by the SMAM: permanent "Alert H24" missions, from its home base, or "Alert HJ" from bases in the South, air-to-air weapons camps to achieve the requisite Combat Readyness, held at the CAT at Brindisi initially and later at Decimomannu. Meanwhile, the 'old, indestructable, and Noble' 651^Squadriglia Collegamenti e Bersagli performed all the activity inherent in the training of anti-aircraft units of the units of the Marina Militare, Esercito, and Aeronautica, utilising the excellent Lockheed T/RT-33A, equipped to tow various types of target through the sky. On 12 September 1967 the SMAM decided to abolish the Aerobrigate and to dust off the old designation of Stormo, altering the establishment of flying units within a Stormo from three to two Gruppi. On 9 June 1969, when a large part of the personnel - pilots and technicians of the 22°Gruppo C.I. - were to be found at Cameri, after the unit has passed all its F-86K to the 23°Gruppo CIO at Rimini, from Torino Caselle came the first of the F-104S destined to join the unit of the 51°Stormo, which in this circumstance had bee afforded absolute priority. The first 5 F-104S were ferried later and definitively to Istrana on 20 September 1969, intensifying their activity in view of the re-acquisition of the necessary Combat Readyness. They would soon commence the mounting of "Alert HJ" operations from the basic [at that time] airfield at Trapani Birgi, where the first Cellula d'Allarme [Alert Cell] arrived during 1972.
The "Circolo of the 51"
Constituted on 1 January 1971, the Circolo del 51 has the aim of maintaining intact the ideals, the traditions, and the comradeship of those of yesterday and of today: they record the highs, the lows, the records, and the varied emotions of every era and event that has characterised the life and history of the Stormo, which today has reached its 62nd year of life, a mature age form which it can look back on a distinguished past. The people of the Circolo meet nearly always in early May every year, when the warming air accentuates the green surroundings of Istrana airfield, and where all have left - in different periods - a piece of both their youth, and also of their spirit. It is a day of authentic celebrations, of memories never forgotten, of friendship and comradeship, free of the ranks that on one day each had carried on his own blue uniform.
The 51°Stormo "Ferruccio Serafini"
In accordance with the precise instruction issued by the SMAM on 1 March 1971, which ordered that every Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare should be named after a hero belonging to the unit, it was decided to dedicate the 51°Stormo to the memory of Ferruccio Serafini, of Falcade (Belluno), Medaglia d'Oro al V.M., who fell in air combat in the skies of Sardegna on 22 July 1943. It should be noted that Istrana airfield is titled in the memory of Vittorio Bragadin, from Treviso, also a holder of the Medaglia d'Oro al V.M., representing the 101°Gruppo Bombardamento a Tuffo, and shot down over Malta on 5 November 1941 by violent British anti-aircraft fire while engaged with his unit in a night dive-bomber attack.
With effect from 23 March 1973, by when the 23°Gruppo C.I. at Rimini had already received its first Lockheed F-104S (9.3.73), the unit was absorbed into the structure of the 5°Stormo, where it still represents the sole fighter unit of the Stormo, today based at Cervia. In accordance with Foglio SMA Nr.11/0518/G3-6/62, dated 10 September 1973, the 155°Gruppo CBOS, formerly of the 50°Stormo, but traditional unit Gruppo of the "Gatto Nero", was transferred from Piacenza to Istrana. The first F-104S for the Panther [Pantere] unit arrived at the Veneto base on 24 October 1973. This situation would last for around eight years, until 1 January 1985, when a new order detached the 155°Gruppo CBOS from the 51°Stormo, and passed it under the control of the 6°Stormo at Ghedi.
On 1 January 1988 the "Nucleo Addestramento Operativo e Standardizzazione velivolo AMX" was constituted at Istrana and assigned to the 51°Storno. The new AMX fighterbomber, built in partnership with Brasil, was assigned initially to the 103°Gruppo, and which in turn was transferred to the control of the 51°Stormo [1.1.1989]
In July of the following year it was the turn of the 132°Gruppo, also equipped with AMX, to detach from 3°Stormo at Verona Villafranca and reinforce the structure of the "Gatto Nero".
These aircraft assumed the responsibility of performing and continuing the new missions assigned to the Istrana unit, both at home and abroad. The two Gruppi have played a full part in the NATO sanctioned war operations over the territory of the former Jugoslavia , and continue to their professional and unheralded defensive vigil of Italian territory and airspace, carrying both at home and abroad the celebrated "Gatto Nero" insignia....perennially painted on their aircrafts' fins.
This history of the 51°Stormo of Istrana (Treviso), a unit considered one of the elite on the strength of its wartime record. The Stormo's casualties, who died in battle, for the sacred destiny of Italy, or who were killed in peacetime operations, and for the passion which constantly drove them on, have written, together with those who survived their time with this famous unit, the most glorious pages of history under a memorable and indestructible insigna: the Gatto Nero with its eternal rivals, the three green mice.
20 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 351,352, 353 Stormo 51
20 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 351,352, 353 Stormo 51 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Ciampino Sud Italy CR32 G50 SQA3 NF, DF 19 Oct 1940 Ursel Belgium G50 CAI AE. DF Apr 1941 Castelbenito Tripolitan G50 SQA5 DF May 1941 Misurata Tripolitan G50 SQA5 DF.CE May 1941 El Ftehja Cirenaica G50 SQA5 DF, CE, GA Jun 1941 Martuba Cirenaica G50 SQA5 DF, GA. AE Aug 1941 Gambut Cirenaica G50 SQA5 AR. AE 18 Nov 1941 Sidi Rezegh Cirenaica G50 SQA5 DF. AE 12 Dec 1941 Derna Cirenaica G50 SQA5 TG, DF. AE 14 Dec 1941 Agedabia Cirenaica G50 SQA5 DF. AE Dec 1941 El Merduma Tripolitan G50 SQA5 DF. AE 20 Dec 1941 Ciampino? Italy MC 202 SQA3 TG May 1942 Chinisia Sicily MC 202 ASIC AE. AR 30 Jun 1942 Gela Sicily MC 202 ASIC AE. AR Nov 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 202 ASIC CE.DF Mar 1943 Ciampino Italy MC 202 G55 SQA3 TG May 1943 Chinisia Sicily MC 202 G55 ASIC DF 16 May 1943 Capoterra Sardinia MC 202 G55 ASAR DF Jul 1943 Casa Zeppera Sardinia MC 202 G55 ASAR DF 31 Jul 1943 Fohgno Italy MC 202 G55 SQA3 DF 23 Aug 1943 Milis Sardinia MC 202 ASAR DF 27 Aug 1943 Foligno Italy MC 202 G55 MC.205V SQA3 DF
As part of the Rome defences, this unit had four CR 32s as interim nightfighters, plus 25 G 50s for day sorties. On 13 June 1940. the CR 32s were detached to Guidonia. From September the unit joined 56 Stormo. and took 45 G 50s and six Ca 133s to Belgium. Low range capability kept them from being more active in this theatre and several pilots suffered from severe frostbite due to lack of cockpit heating. However, escorts and sweeps were carried out over Ramsgate and Harwich, but without much opposition. The main sweeps were made over Margate and Folkestone by the CR 42s of 18 Gruppo. especially on 23 November. The Germans referred to the unit as 20/JG 56. After the main CAI units had left for Italy. 352 and 353 sq remained for patrols along the Dutch. Belgian and French coasts as far as Calais, until April.
With the Italian forces under pressure in Libya, the unit was rushed straight to the front there. It was about this time 351 sq went to 155 Gruppo and was replaced by 151 sq. During the Spring of 1941 they protected the troops and supply columns, and made local intercepts. Like most units they suffered from the sand, until filters could be fitted. In July they escorted 209 sq in attacks on Tobruk.
For the rest of 1941 they made many armed recces and escorted the dive-bombers, sometimes jointly with the Germans. On 19 November a commando raid on Sidi Rezegh cost them 18 G 50s. and five more on 22 December at Agedabia. With virtually no aircraft left they returned to Italy in the new year.
They now rejoined 51 Stormo. which had been disbanded from September 1940 to 1 January 1942. Receiving the MC 202 in March, the unit was then ordered to Sicily for operations around Malta, starting in June. On 21 March 1943 they were at Ciampino. receiving the third prototype G 55 for operational trials. The unit moved to Sardinia in May. where the G 55 successfully fought in several dogfights. During March the crews complained that the new' Macchis needed much modification to make them combat ready. Poor petrol quality and excessive oil loss caused problems. Hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems often caught fire. And the aircraft lacked radios!
Meanwhile, nine pre-production G 55s were taken on at Ciampino Sud. In June. 11 G 55/Is arrived and. together with the G 55/Os. were used by 353 sq for the defence of Rome from Ciampino Sud. The main unit was now at Foligno. On 5 August several aircraft and pilots were passed to 155 Gruppo.
On 23 August 151 and 352 sq went to Milis for interceptor duties, scoring well against USAAF P-40s. They were soon back at Foligno. where the unit also received a few MC.205Vs. They were hoping to fully equip with G 55s. but no more arrived before the armistice. 353 sq was still detached at Ciampino. with 12 G 55s on 7 September.
21 Gruppo CT
21 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 354, 355 Stormo 51
21 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 354, 355 Stormo 51 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Ciampino Sud Italy CR 32 SQA3 NF. DF 4 Aug 1940 Capodichino Italy CR 32 G50 MC 200 SQA3 NF. DF 12 Apr 1941 Bari Italy MC 200 SQA4 DF 4 May 1942 Otopem? Romania MC 200 CSIR IT 4 May 1942 Stalino Russia MC 200 CSIR AR. AE. DF Jul 1942 Voroscilovgrad Russia MC 200 CSIR AR. DF. GA 9 Jul 1942 Makejevka Russia MC 200 CSIR AR. DF 24 Jul 1942 Voroscilovgrad Russia MC 200 MC 202 CSIR AE. DF. GA 22 Jan 1943 Stalino Russia MC 200 MC 202 CSIR DF. GA Jan 1943 Saporoshje Russia MC 200 MC 202 CSIR DF Feb 1943 Odessa Russia MC 200 MC 202 CSIR IT May 1943 Zagabria Yugoslavia MC 200 MC 202 CSIR IT 15 May 1943 Firenze Italy MC 202 SQA3 TG Jun 1943 Capua Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF 23 Jun 1943 Chmisia Sicily MC 202 ASIC DF 15 Jul 1943 Palermo Sicily MC 202 ASIC IT 16 Jul 1943 Manduna Italy MC 202 SQA4 DF 24 Jul 1943 Pescara Italy MC 202 SQA2 DF 6 Aug 1943 Gioia del Colle Italy MC 202 SQA4 DF
356 sq became Autonomoon 3 June I940. but rejoined the Gruppo on 4 August. On 13 June the CR 32s were detached to Guidonia as a nightfighter section. The Gruppo transferred from 51 to 52 Stormo on 11 September. 354 and 355 sq became Autonomo and moved to the Greek-Albanian front on 28 October. Three CR 32 qtr nightfighters were assigned to 356 sq on 7 November, to add to their G 50s. However, by december the unit was training on 17 MC 200s. as well as a few G 50s.
In April they moved to Bari with nine Macchis for operations in the Yugoslav campaign. Subsequently, they prepared for antipartisan duties when orders came for the Russian front. 382 and 386 sq now joined 356 sq. The unit may have been on convoy escort duties between Tunisia and Sardinia in August.
Between March and July 1942 the unit personnel moved to Stalino. replacing 22 Gruppo. They received that unit’s surviving aircraft in addition to the 10 new MC 200s they had brought with them. In early June 361 sq arrived from the Aegean.
On 27 June two squadriglie were detached to Borvenkovo to cover the crossing of the River Don at Izyum. carrying out fighter sweeps and ground strafing. Using Voroscilovgrad as their main base, squadriglie were detached where needed most. Two went to Tazinskaja as escorts to Ju 87 Ds from 24 July, and two then went to Oblivskaja four days later. In August two were on intercept duties at Millerovo and one was at Kantermirovka until 18 December when it moved to Starobelsk. Reunited back at Voroscilovgrad by the end of December, the last operation was carried out on 17 January 1943 over the Millerovo area. Five days later they retired to Stalino. ready for the return journey home. Fifteen unserviceable aircraft were left behind.
During September they had received 12 MC 202s. and later two photo-recce versions had arrived. Bad weather hindered operations and the MC 202s only managed 17 sorties with no losses or claims. The MC 200s claimed 88 Russian aircraft for the loss of 15. A creditable performance for an open-cockpit fighter in the Russian Autumn and Winter! In February , at Odessa, the unit had 24 MC 200s and nine MC 202s left.
Fully equipping with the MC 202 Scries VIII. they were sent to Sicily two months later. 382 sq left the Gruppo about this time. By August the Gruppo was back in Italy with only a few' serviceable aircraft.
22 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 357, 358, 359 Stormo 52
22 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 357, 358, 359 Stormo 52 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Pontedera Italy G50 SQA3 AE 21 Jun 1940 Liguria Italy G50 SQA1 AE Jun 1940 Piemonte Italy G50 SQA1 AE Jun 1940 Ciampino Italy G50 MC 200 SQA3 TG. DF. AE 6 Mar 1941 Tirana Albania MC 200 AALB DF. AG 12 Aug 1941 Beneasa Romania MC 200 CSIR IT 12 Aug 1941 Tudora Russia MC 200 CSIR DF 26 Aug 1941 Krivoi Rog Russia MC 200 CSIR DF. AE 20 Oct 1941 Saporoshje Russia MC 200 CSIR DF. AE. GA 7 May 1942 Otopeni? Romania none CSIR IT 7 May 1942 Ciampino Italy Re 2001 SQA3 TG Jul 1942 Elmas Sardinia Re 2001 ASAR AN Sep 1942 Gela Sicily Re 2001 ASIC GA. AR. AE 7 Nov 1942 Monserrato Sardinia Re 2001 ASAR AN. GA. AR Feb 1943 Capodichino Italy Re 2001 D520 Re 2005 FC 20 bis SQA3 TG. DF 10 Jul 1943 Pantelleria Pantelleria Re 2001 ASIC AN. DF. CE Jul 1943 Capodichino Italy Re 2001 Re 2005 MC 202 SQA3 DF
The war began for this unit during a transfer to bases closer to the front, due to the poor range of their 28 G 50s. The first operation was on 15 June I940. escorting S 79s of 9.4! and 46 Stormi to Calvi port, in Corsica. For operations against the French mainland they moved to Liguria and Piemonte, with 357 and 358 sq detached toTorino-Caselle. 358 sq left for Libya on 23 December, the first G 50 unit to arrive in that theatre. It joined 2 Gruppo that month.
On 24 October. 360 sq reformed and joined the Gruppo. which also received its first three MC 200s that month. During December 362 sq left 24 Gruppo to defend La Spezia naval base, from Sarzana. They subsequently joined 22 Gruppo at Ciampino for the defence of Rome. 369 sq also joined in December. By this time the Gruppo had 37 MC 200s and a few G 50s.
In March 1941. with 36 MC 200s. the unit moved to Albania, taking 359, 362 and 369 sq. For the next three months they carried out intercepts over the Greek and Yugoslav fronts. On 8 May the pilots ferried fresh aircraft from Niksic to Scutari and Tirana, being brought back to their unit by the Gruppo S 81. From June they became involved in anti-partisan operations, becoming Autonomo in August.
Flying through Romania in August, they headed for their next assignment. This was to be a relatively successful campaign for the unit, despite the bitter weather and harsh conditions. For this, they received a further squadrigha. 371 sq from 157 Gruppo. The numbers of unit aircraft sent were 51 MC 200s, two S 81s, and three Ca 133s. The three Ca 133s joined at Krivoi Rog on the 26th, then they moved to Stalino. Two were lost by March 1942 and were not replaced as they were found to be inferior to the companion S 81s and S 73s.
In the first combat, they claimed six bombers and two fighters, on 27 August. Intercepts and escorts for recce aircraft were the early duties. Bad weather restricted the number of sorties and by October they were called on to give direct support to the ground forces as well.
On 9 November 371 sq was detached to Stalino. exchanging with 359 sq on I December, who in turn was replaced by 369 sq on the 28th. On 18 February. 362 sq replaced them, followed by 371 sq again on 24 March. Between September 1941 and March 1942, the unit downed 14 Russian fighters plus several bombers, for no loss.
Between 5 March and 3 May. the Gruppo joined the German Nahkampffuhrer Stalino to escort German aircraft, mainly Ju 87s, over the Don front. Fighter sweeps and ground strafing were also required. The unit earned a German commendation for their assistance in this area. However, the crews were now showing signs of strain from their constant battles with the elements and the enemy, so they were recalled to Italy on 7 May. Their aircraft were passed to the incoming 21 Gruppo.
Recuperating at Ciampino, the Gruppo was re-equipped with Re 2001 fighter-bombers. 371 sq left the Gruppo at this time. In late July the unit moved to Sardinia for operations against Allied convoys.
Three specially equipped Re 2001s joined the Gruppo and on 12 August two of them took off with an escort for an eventful mission. The British carrier Illustrious was sighted and the two fighterbombers flew in at low level. Looking similar to the Hurricane, they managed to avoid the anti-aircraft guns and fighter patrols and planted one of the 650 kg bombs on the carrier's deck. Fortunately for the Royal Navy, the bomb failed to explode! The feat caused a celebration on the pilot's return, tempered by the loss of their escorting comrades. Some sources state the attackers used only 100 kg bombs, which were ineffective against the armoured deck. Even so. it was an audacious attack. In early September the special Re 2001s followed the Gruppo to Sicily, possibly being converted to photo-recce aircraft.
362 sq had been detached to Monserrato in mid-August and now temporarily joined 2 Gruppo at that base. On 27 September the Gruppo sent nine aircraft to Palermo for convoy escort duties. The main unit now turned from anti-shipping to fighter-bomber attacks on Malta. Its experience was useful during the last major blitz on the Maltese defences. However, the Allied invasion of North West Africa meant a recall to Sardinia for more anti-shipping sorties from 7 November, with 23 Re 2001s operating against Bone and Bougie. On 15 January 1943. 371 sq temporarily joined the Gruppo.
By Spring, the unit was at Capodichino. intending to re-equip with MC 202s. They were also suffering from radio problems at this time (as had most of the units on home defence). The supply situation was such that they never fully re-equipped. Various types were received with varying results. For bomber intercepts. D 520s arrived in February, while the unit was still overseas. In April they tried out a FC 20 bis twin-engined fighter from Capua against the B 24 raids near Rome, without success.
From 10 May to 24 June the Gruppo joined 42 Stormo Intercettori. 362 sq had rejoined the unit in June at Capodichino. and had received the first prototype and ten pre-production models of the Re 2005. They were used for the defence of Rome and Naples, operating from Metato and Guidonia in June. The Gruppo carried out radio training at Littoria from the 28th. On 10 July eight Re 2005sof 362 sq went to Catania-Sigonella and by 14 July, the two survivors were passed to 371 sq. when 362 sq returned to Italy. Ten more of these potent fighters were received at Capua on 31 July. The Gruppo was briefly sent to Pantelleria in July, joining 8 and 160 Gruppi on convoy escorts. 369 sq was detached to Littoria and a S 81 radio plane was used to improve liaison control between the escorts and the shipping.
The unit spent the rest of 1943 defending the homeland. 150 sq joined at Capua in May. From mid-July 359 and 369 sq were at Capodichino. while 150 and 362 sq were at Capua. By 7 September the only unit aircraft flyable were nine MC 202s.
23 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 70, 74, 75 Stormo 3
23 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 70, 74, 75 Stormo 3 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 9 Jun 1940 Cervere Italy CR 42 SQA1 GA. AE, DF 21 Jun 1940 Torino-Mirafiori Italy CR 42 SQA1 IT 22 Jun 1940 Villanova d’Albenga Italy CR42 SQA1 DF 25 Jun 1940 Torino-Mirafiori Italy CR 42 Ca 133 SQA1 TG 9 Jul 1940 Campiglia Italy CR 42 SQA1 IT 9 Jul 1940 Capodichino Italy CR 42 SQA3 IT 10 Jul 1940 Reggio Calabria Italy CR 42 SQA2 IT 11 Jul 1940 Comiso Sicily CR 42 SQA2 AE. DF 16 Dec 1940 Castelbenito Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 IT 19 Dec 1940 Ain el Gazala Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 IT 20 Dec 1940 Derna Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AE 1 Jan 1941 Ain el Gazala Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF. AE 5 Jan 1941 Tmimi Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 AE 6 Jan 1941 Derna Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 AE 7 Jan 1941 Berka Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 AE. DF 9 Jan 1941 Benghasi K 2 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 4 Feb 1941 Uadi Tarnet Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 DF 6 Feb 1941 Sorman Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 DF 1 Mar 1941 Comiso Sicily CR 42 Re 2000 ASIC DF. AE. AR 19 Apr 1941 Pantelleria Pantelleria CR 42 ASIC CE 21 Jun 1941 Boccadifalco Sicily CR 42 MC 200 Re 2000 ASIC DF. NF, TG 12 Dec 1941 Castelbenito Tripolitan CR42 MC 200 SQA5 DF 13 Dec 1941 Misurata Tripolitan CR 42 MC 200 SQA5 CE 24 Dec 1941 Trapani-Milo Sicily CR 42 MC 200 ASIC DF 27 Dec 1941 Torino-Mirafiori Italy MC 200 G 50 bis MC 202 SQA1 TG Jul 1942 Ciampino Italy MC 202 SQA3 IT Jul 1942 Capodichino Italy MC 202 SQA3 IT Jul 1942 Gerbini Sicily MC 202 ASIC IT Jul 1942 Gela Sicily MC 202 ASIC IT Jul 1942 Pantelleria Pantelleria MC 202 ASIC IT Jul 1942 Castelbenito Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 IT 16 Jul 1942 Abu Haggag Egypt MC 202 SQA5 GA. DF, AE 22 Oct 1942 Abu Nimeir Egypt MC 202 SQA5 DF 1 Nov 1942 Abu Smeit Egypt MC 202 SQA5 DF 5 Nov 1942 Bir el Astas Egypt MC 202 SQA5 IT 6 Nov 1942 Bu Amud Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 DF 10 Nov 1942 Benghasi Cirenaica MC 202 SQA5 IT 11 Nov 1942 En Nofilia Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 GA 16 Nov 1942 Tauorga Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF 17 Jan 1943 Castelbenito Tripolitan MC 202 SQA5 DF 19 Jan 1943 Medenine Tunisia MC 202 ATUN DF. AE. GA 7 Feb 1943 El Hamma Tunisia MC 202 ATUN DF 26 Mar 1943 Achichma Tunisia MC 202 SQA5 DF 30 Mar 1943 Castelvetrano Sicily MC 202 ASIC IT Apr 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy MC 202 SQA1 DF 18 Jun 1943 Milano-Bresso Italy MC 202 SQA1 DF 28 Jun 1943 Ciampino Sud Italy MC 202 SQA3 DF 5 Jul 1943 Cerveteri Italy MC 202 MC.205V Me 109 G. F SQA3 DF. TG
At the start of the war. the Gruppo carried out strafing attacks on bases in southern France and escorted bombers. Bad weather hindered early operations, making Cervere particularly impractical. Combats were fought with French fighters. Notably on 15 June with GC III/6. who claimed four CR 42s and three BR20s for the loss of two D 520s. The Italian losses were actually five fighters and one bomber.
Border patrols were flown in the latter stages of the campaign. After the armistice, a detachment was sent to Bresso to form a Sezione Caccia Noturne, for the night defence of Milano.
Then the unit became Autonomo and moved to Sicily. They made their first raid on Malta on 12 July, claiming a Hurricane. They also escorted bombers, recce planes and rescue aircraft in Maltese skies. At this time claims were made by both sides that aircraft with ‘Red Cross' insignia were being shot at and/or used for non-rescue-evacuation purposes. Both probably without foundation. In November, the unit escorted 97 Gruppo's Ju 87s against shipping south of Malta.
The next month, they moved to the African front with their Fiats and attendant Capronis. They left behind a small Nucleo of pilots and aircraft, which evolved into 156 Gruppo on 20 January 1941. Some fighters used base Z 1. near Gazala. for strafing duties on 17 December. Three days later the Gruppo was at Derna. Their first big operation was on 25 December, escorting 15 Stormo over Solium port. On I March, two S 79s of the SAS transferred the personnel and crews from Sorman to Comiso. The CR 42s were left to 18 Gruppo and part of 151 Gruppo.
After a rest the men rejoined the unit on 1 April, and took over the equipment of 156 Gruppo, which disbanded on the 8th. That month, some of the Gruppo pilots were formed into a Sezione Sperimentale with six Re 2000 Serie I fighters. Although a better aircraft than the MC 200. it lost the major production contract and only a limited number were built for the Italian forces. (It did serve well with the Hungarian Air Force, however). The Sezione was attached to 23 Gruppo. becoming 377 sq CT on 1 August, then leaving to become Autonomo on 28 December.
Meanwhile, on 19 April. 75 sq and part of 74 sq moved to Pantelleria for convoy escorts between Naples and Tripoli. The unit was spread between Pantelleria (74 and 75 sq convoy escorts). Trapani-Milo (70 sq defence), and Palermo (Sez Sperim defence) for the next four months.
On 27 September a CR 42 was shot down by Italian naval antiaircraft fire while on convoy escort. This raised the usual interservice arguments which the leaders never seemed to solve. That same month the unit received some MC 200s. These were used on day and night training at Boccadifalco.
On 12 December the unit took 14 CR 42s and seven MC 200s to Libya, leaving the Re 2000s and a CR 42 at Milo with 377 sq. Twelve days later, after coastal defence work, they returned to Sicily. S 82s were used at this stage, for personnel transport.
Reuniting in Italy, they received five G 50 bis for training. Some pilots went to Bresso, using MC 200s to defend Milano from February to May 1942. The rest of the unit underwent intensive training. On 15 May they rejoined a reformed 3 Stormo under Squadra 1, along with 18 Gruppo. By this time they had 12 G 50 bis and one MC 200. The pilots were also called on to ferry these types to Libya in this period. On 22 May. the first MC 202 was received, being passed from 20 Gruppo to 70 sq. The Gruppo was intended to join operations over Malta, but the African front was in more urgent need of fighters. So. on 8 July, leaving the G 50 bis at Mirafiori. 75 sq moved south, picking up new MC 202s at Ciampino and Capodichino along the way. On the 11th and 14th. 74 and 70 sq followed a similar route, rejoining 75 sq at Abu Haggag by 16 July.
They claimed a P-40 on their first sorties, the next day. The new fighters were set to escorting CR 42s of 50 Stormo. and MC 200s °f 18 Gruppo. on fighter-bomber raids. Operating under 4 Stormo until 25 July, they returned to 3 Stormo control. For the next two months there were many dogfights with P-40s. Spitfires. Martlets and Hurricanes. The CO of Squadra 5 sent them congratulations on 31 July for five claims without loss. The MC 202s had problems with the sandy conditions. 10 being forced down at Derna on 31 August, during a sandstorm. The aircraft had been rushed to the frontline before sandfilters could be installed. This had to be remedied under operational conditions, despite the heavy involvement in the Alamein battles.
During the second battle (30 August to 5 September) the unit kept 60% serviceability, claiming 18 aircraft for the loss of three in 175 sorties. One of the pilots went to the assistance of a German pilot who was cornered in a dogfight. The German was none other than Hans Joachim Marseille, the top-scoring ace of the Desert War (157 claims)! In gratitude, his unit. I/JG 27. sent the Gruppo a crate of champagne.
Heavy rain now made the bases less efficient and night bombing raids caused casualties. Many aircraft were destroyed and damaged by bombing on 21 October, so the unit moved the next day. Serviceability was now down to 40%. with a daily average of 12 to 15 aircraft available.
On 5 November the unit, one of the last to pull out of the forward area, withdrew to Bir el Astas. 40 km from Marsa Matruh. The ground staff went straight to Bu Amud. joined by the aircraft and pilots the next day. The unit helped delay the Allied advance across Libya, by constantly strafing the forward troops. On 3 December 70 sq was detached to Castelbenito for the defence of Tripoli. The rest of the Gruppo joined them on 17 January. 4 Stormo left for Italy, passing its remaining MC 202s to 23 and 18 Gruppi. On 19 January, 74 and 75 sq moved into Tunisia. 70 sq. and 83 sq of 18 Gruppo. followed the next day. being the last Italian air units in Libya.
During the Tunisian phase. P-38s were met for the first time. They initially proved easier to shoot down than other fighter types. 70 sq was known to use a FN 305 liaison aircraft at this time and 75 sq was detached to Sfax during January and February . By the end of March the personnel flew to Sicily in S 82s, leaving their aircraft to 54 Stormo.
Re-equipping in Italy, they sent sections to Bresso and Lonate Pozzolo for local defence. Then the unit reunited at Ciampino from 28 June for the defence of Rome. Some Me 109 Gs and a Me 109 F arrived early in July and joined in bomber interceptions. By the start of August half a dozen MC.205V Serie III were also received. All three types were now used on bomber intercepts, mainly against the B 17s and B 24s.
The unit was meant to move to Sardinia on 21 August, but the chaotic situation prevented this. On 7 September, the unit had eight MC 202s and two MC.205Vs operational.
24 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 361, 362 Stormo 52
24 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 361, 362 Stormo 52 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Sarzana Italy CR 32 SQA3 DF Oct 1940 Tirana Albania G50 AALB TG Oct 1940 Berat Albania G50 AALB AE Nov 1940 Devoli Albania G50 AALB AE. DF 5 Jan 1941 Durazzo Albania G50 AALB AE Mar 1941 Tirana Albania G50 AALB AE. DF Jun 1941 Grottaglie Italy G50 SQA4 DF 19 Jul 1941 Monserrato Sardinia G50 CR 42 ASAR DF. AE Aug 1942 Elmas Sardinia G50 CR42 ASAR DF. AE. AS. CE 14 May 1943 Venafiorita Italy MC 202 MC.205V D520 SQA3 TG. DF 27 Aug 1943 Metato Italy MC 202 D520 SQA3 DF
The unit originally had 360 sq as well, but this disbanded on 28 May 1940. The two squadriglie defended Sardinian naval ports until October when the Gruppo became Autonomo.
On transfering to Albania, they received G 50 fighters for escorting bombers and transport aircraft. 355 sq. which operated from Tirana against the Greeks, joined the Gruppo in March or April 1941. 354 sq. also from 21 Gruppo. joined as well in October 1940. It brought its own G 50s and a Ca 111 bis support plane. Twenty-four G 50s operated from Devoli. for missions over Yugoslavia. 361 sq went to 154 Gruppo in October and 362 sq joined 22 Gruppo in December.
After the Yugoslav surrender, 361 sq returned, bringing 395 sq also from 154 Gruppo to help defend the Puglie area. 354 and 355 sq were at Grottaglie. 361 sq was at Lecce and 395 sq was at Brindisi. In addition. 370 sq joined in April!
The Gruppo was sent in July 1941 to Sardinia to escort S 79 and S 84 torpedo-bombers. However, the G 50 lacked the range so some CR 42s were acquired for the longer missions. 361 and 395 sq became Autonomo at this time. This still left three squadriglie attached. After the occupation of Corsica, a mixed section was sent to Ajaccio.
Throughout the summer of 1941. the unit flew escort missions from Sardinia. By 1 August 1942. 354 and 370 sq were at Elmas, and 355 sq was at Alghero. They had 19 CR 42s and 16 G 50s on strength. As the Allied bombing raids increased, the Gruppo found they didn't have enough warning to take off and attack in strength. Usually, they flew into action during the bombing. Always outnumbered, they claimed nine victories in three escorted raids in February 1943. In March they made 28 scrambles. Three victories were claimed over Cagliari on the 31st. out of 18 aircraft that were hit — thus underlining the lack of firepower.
On 30 April a section was detached to Venafiorita to checkout the MC.205V. The rest of the unit followed on 14 May. but due to the lack of these potent aircraft, they received mainly MC 202s. This was still a great improvement on the G 50!
Some bomber intercepts were made while still training. One squadriglia was detached to Alghero from May to August, then to Foligno. To assist the cannon-armed fighters. D 520s were received from 2 Stormo when that disbanded on 13 August. The Gruppo reunited at Metato and defended the home skies until the armistice.
25 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 8, 9 Stormo 7
25 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 8, 9 Stormo 7 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Ghemme Italy BR.20 SQA1 DB Apr 1941 Forli Italy BR.20 SQA2 DB. AR Jul 1941 Camen Italy S84 SQA1 TG 1 Jul 1942 Sciacca Sicily S84 ASIC DB. AN Jul 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily S84 ASIC DB. AN. NB 1 Oct 1942 Lonate Pozzolo Italy S84 SQA1 TG
This unit received the BR20 in 1936. After a tour in Africa, they returned home before the war started. BR.20Ms arrived in the Spring ol 1940. On 12 June they began attacks on southern France. The next day they were intercepted by D 520s of GC 111/6 over the Toulon area. The CR 42 escorts defended them well.
Fifteen bombers were moved to Forli for operations over Yugoslavia. The bad weather reduced the effectiveness of this and other units in the area. By 29 July 1941. they were exchanging their BR20s for S 84s. The new aircraft were difficult to train on. However, the unit was declared operational in April 1942 and moved to Sicily on I July with 24 S 84s.
Operations began against Malta and its shipping routes. On 7 May the unit became part of the Aerosilurante. but did not use the Savoias as torpedo-bombers and reverted to the Bombardamento Terrestre title on I October. In July and August the unit carried out high level escorted raids on Malta, as well as anti-shipping sorties.
Returning to Italy, they remained training until disbanded on 15 June 1943.
25 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 8, 9 Stormo Auto
25 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 8, 9 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gabuen Ethiopia Ca 133 A0I DB Dec 1940 Vittoria d Africa Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB Jan 1941 Gabuen Ethiopia Ca 133 A01 DB Mar 1941 Dire Daua Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB Mar 1941 Alomata Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB TR TG
9 sq was detached immediately to Lugh Ferrandi. with six Ca 133s. They moved to Belet Uen 10 days later for operations over Kenya and the Indian Ocean, returning to Lugh Ferrandi by 11 July. In August they went to Baidoa, moving to Vittoria d’Africa on 16 September for better dispersal. Three of 9 sq aircraft left for Bardera on 18 December, for sorties over the British offensive from Kenya.
By 16 June, a section of 8 sq was at Afmadu. returning to Gabuen in September. 8 sq then moved in December, to support 9 sq in the operations over the British offensive from Kenya.
By 17 January 1941 the unit had seven Ca 133s left. These old aircraft were now suffering severely from the increasing numbers of Hurricane and Gladiator opposition, and from four years of constant use. Only large escorts of CR 42s could help, but there were not enough of them available.
On 16 March, two Ca 133s flew from Dire Daua to Dessie for operations over the Cheren area during the British northern offensive. All remaining aircraft then went to Alomata. turning to supply drops during April. The unit had ceased to exist by July.
26 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 11, 13 Stormo 9
26 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 11, 13 Stormo 9 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Viterbo Italy S79 SQA3 DB 11 Sep 1940 Castebemto Tripolitan S79 SQA5 DB Sep 1940 Derna Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB 12 Jan 1941 Viterbo Italy S79 SQA3 TG
In June 1940 bombing operations were carried out over Corsica. The unit was subsequently transfered to Libya, to support the advance on Sidi Barrani from Derna, up to I 8 September. Close support sorties and bombing of Egyptian targets were carried out for the rest of the year.
The unit was nearly always on low strength because of lack of spares and using an aircraft not designed for ground support duties. In January they returned to Italy, abandoning many S 79s that couldn't be repaired.
The 9 Stormo was disbanded on 15 January and presumably so was this Gruppo.
26 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 11, 13 Stormo Auto
26 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 11, 13 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gondar Ethiopia Ca 133 S81 A0I AR TG
This unit carried out recces over the Sudan during June 1940. 11 sq was at Gondar with six Ca 133s and 13 sq was at Bahar Dar. converting to S 81 s. The whole unit intended replacing the aged Ca 133s as they became unserviceable. However, due to lack of aircraft and crews, the unit appears to have been disbanded and dispersed to other units by July 1940.
27 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 18, 52 Stormo 8
27 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 18, 52 Stormo 8 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Villacidro Sardinia S79 ASAR DB. AN 4 Apr 1941 Castebenito? Tripolitan S79 SQA5 D8, AR Nov 1941 Barce Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB 14 Dec 1941 Misurata Tripolitan S79 SQA5 DB 27 Dec 1941 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis SQA3 TG May 1943 Manduria Italy Z 1007 bis SQA4 NB Jul 1943 Bologna Italy Z 1007 bis SQA2 NB
From January 1938 to June 1939 this unit and its crews fought in Spain. This experience was put to good use in operations over Corsica and Tunisia, although many of the veterans had moved on. The unit remained in Sardinia until April 1941. continuing action against Allied shipping after the French surrender. They were especially active on 9 July and 1 August 1940. against Force H from Gibraltar. The carrier Ark Royal was claimed as damaged on 9 Julv and the propaganda ministry wanted it announced that it was sunk!
The unit was moved to the Libyan front for the rest of 1941. supporting the battles there. Returning to Italy at the end of the year, they converted to the Z 1007 bis by August 1942.
By July 1943 they were using 10 aircraft from Manduria for night operations.
27 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 18, 52, 118 Stormo Auto
27 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 18, 52, 118 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Assab K 14 Eritrea Ca 133 AOI DB 15 Jun 1940 Dessie Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB Jul 1940 Assab Eritrea Ca 133 AOI DB Aug 1940 Scenele LG Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB Jan 1941 Assab K 14 Eritrea Ca 133 AOI DB Mar 1941 Dessie Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB
This was the only three squadriglic bomber unit with 18 Ca 133s. 118 sq was detached to Sardo when the unit moved to Dessie for operations over French Somaliland and Aden. 118 sq began converting to S 81 s. leaving the Gruppo soon after. The rest of the unit operated over British Somaliland, losing several aircraft on the ground to Blenheims from Aden. Reinforced with spare aircraft from Asmara, the unit operated over the Sudan, taking part in the conquest of Kassala. In July, raids were made on Jibuti airbase in French Somaliland. 18 sq. with six Ca 133s. moved to Scenele on 30 July, followed by 52 sq in August. Dagabur and Combolcia were used as dispersal bases, during raids on British Somaliland.
In case of a British counter-attack, the unit sent three Ca 133s to Miesso, four to Dessie. and two to Giggiga. Another aircraft returned from Hargheisa to Dire Daua. With the threat of retaliation decreasing, the unit was used to fly reinforcements and mailbags between Asmara and Addis Abeba.
From 6 to 9 November, the unit assisted in halting the British offensive in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. By January I94l. they were back at Assab. with every operation becoming more dangerous with the increasing quality of the opposition.
During the battle of Cheren. the unit flew from Dessie. By 31 March they had only four serviceable aircraft. Shortly after, the last was destroyed by a bombing raid. Four pilots and two mechanics escaped in a S 81 from Combolcia to Gondar. The remaining personnel helped to defend Dessie. surrendering on 26 April I94l.
28 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 10, 19 Stormo 8
28 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 10, 19 Stormo 8 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Villacidro Sardinia S79 ASAR DB. AN 30 Apr 1941 Castelbenito? Tripolitan S79 SQA5 DB. AR Jun 1941 Benghasi K 1 Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB. AR Nov 1941 Barce Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB 14 Dec 1941 Misurata Tripolitan S79 SQA5 DB 27 Dec 1941 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis SQA3 TG May 1943 Gela Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC NB May 1943 Castelvetrano Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC NB May 1943 Manduria Italy Z 1007 bis SQA4 NB 4 Jun 1943 Perugia Italy Z 1007 bis Z 1007 ter SQA3 NB
From November 1937 to June 1939. this unit fought in Spain. One year later they were attacking Corsica and Tunisia. Following the French surrender, they were active against Allied shipping in the Mediterranean, especially against Force H from Gibraltar, in July and August. They joined 27 Gruppo in attacks on the carrier Ark Royal on 9 July.
19 sq moved to Libya on 30 April, followed by 10 sq in May. They supported the major operations in that theatre until the end of the year.
Converting to the Z 1007 bis by August 1942. they carried out a series of night raids against Allied forces in North Africa, intensifying this in May 1943 as the Allied closed in. In June they joined the Raggruppamcnto Bombardamento at Perugia, where they also received some uprated Z 1007 ters.
28 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 10, 19 Stormo Auto
28 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 10, 19 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Zula Eritrea S81 S79 A0I AR, NB Aug 1940 Gura Eritrea S79 A0I AN. DB. NB Apr 1941 Sciasciamanna Ethiopia S79 A0I DB
From the start, this unit patrolled the Red Sea for British shipping, and carried out night raids over southern Sudan. 10 sq moved to Gura in July, where the whole unit converted to S 79s in August. These new' aircraft were received straight from Italy, via Libya. On 17 August, three were sent to Addis Abeba, returning five days later. Operations were carried out over Aden and the Gulf of Aden, to stem the British supply system. By January 1941, they were being escorted by 412 sq. Three were detached to Dessie on 16 March for operations against the offensive on Cheren. The following month, the unit appears to have been disbanded at Sciasciamanna.
29 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 62, 63 Stormc Auto
29 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 62, 63 Stormc Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Assab K 3 Eritrea S81 A0I DB. NB 15 Jun 1940 Mille Ethiopia S81 A0I DB. NB 1 Jul 1940 Dessie Ethiopia S81 ADI DB, NB 20 Jul 1940 Sciasciamanna Ethiopia S81 A0I DB Oct 1940 Yavello Ethiopia S81 A0I DB 19 Dec 1940 Bardera Ethiopia S81 ADI DB
For the first few weeks, the unit flew their 12 S 81's over Aden and the Sudan, switching to support the offensive against British Somaliland from Sciasciamanna in July. 63 sq was detached to Scenele. receiving three replacement aircraft on 13 August and again on 16 August.
In late October, 65 sq with Ca 133s joined 29 Gruppo although it stayed at Yavello for the time being. The Gruppo lost three S 81 s to two Hurricanes over Lodwar. while operating from Yavello. On 16 December 65 sq left for 49 Gruppo and the surviving four S 81s of 62 and 63 sq returned from Scenele to Sciasciamanna. Three days later, the unit moved to Bardera for operations over El Wak. By March 1941, the unit was non-operational.
29 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 62, 63 Stormo 9
29 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 62, 63 Stormo 9 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Assab K 3 Eritrea S81 A0I DB. NB 15 Jun 1940 Mille Ethiopia S81 A0I DB. NB 1 Jul 1940 Dessie Ethiopia S81 ADI DB, NB 20 Jul 1940 Sciasciamanna Ethiopia S81 A0I DB Oct 1940 Yavello Ethiopia S81 A0I DB 19 Dec 1940 Bardera Ethiopia S81 ADI DB 13 Jun 1942 Villacidro Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR AN 18 Jun 1942 Chinisia Sicily Z 1007 bis ASAR AN. DB. NB May 1943 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis Ju 88 A SQA3 TG
Operations were carried out over Corsica during June 1940. Three months later the unit was transferred to Libya to support the advance on Sidi Barrani. The aircraft were called on for tactical close support and suffered severe losses due to lack of spares and improper use of the aircraft type. On 16 December they were unfortunate in losing the leaders of 63 sq. 29 Gruppo and 9 Stormo — all in one attack on Sidi Omar! Some ordinary level bombing was made on Egyptian targets, before the unit returned to Italy.
The 9 Stormo disbanded on 15 January, reforming on 10 May 1941. The unit then converted to the Z 1007 bis. Operations began against Malta in June and continued until January 1942. On 5 January four aircraft were detached to Castelvetrano for antishipping and recce operations. The whole unit returned to Sicily, after a rest, in June. They continued their attacks on Malta and its shipping lanes, day and night.
By July 1943 they had only two serviceable aircraft left and training had begun on the Ju 88 A. The unit was still non-operational on 7 September.
10 Stormo 32 Gruppo 58Sqa
30 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 55, 56 Stormo 10
30 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 55, 56 Stormo 10 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 ALIB AN 11 Sep 1940 Italy S79 Sqa TG 25 Apr 1941 Sciacca Sicily S79 ASIC AN Jun 1942 Boccadifalco Sicily S79 ASIC AN. AR Aug 1942 Sciacca Sicily S79 ASIC AN, CE 1 Nov 1942 Boccadifalco Sicily S79 S84 ASIC TG, AR. DB. AN May 1943 Villafranca Italy Ca314 SQA2 TG. CE 28 May 1943 Jesi Italy Ca314 SQA2 CE 25 Jun 1943 Milano-Bresso Italy Ca314 SQA1 CE
The S 79 bomber was received in 1939 and operations began against shipping in the Mediterranean, east of Malta, in June 1940. By September the unit was re-equipping in Italy with updated S 79s.
They moved to Sicily in April 1941. carrying out patrols and convoy escort duties, mixed with bombing strikes. By November 1942. they were exchanging the old S 79s for S 84s. which were used in the anti-shipping, recce and bombing roles. In January 1943. the unit lost 17 S 84s at Palermo-Boccadifalco to bombardments.
By May they were in Italy, re-equipped with Ca314s for convoy escort duties. The Gruppo had now joined 13 Stormo Combattimento. On 7 September, under Squadra I. they had seven out of 21 aircraft operational.
31 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 65, 66 Stormo 18
31 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 65, 66 Stormo 18 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Aviano Italy BR.20 SQA1 DB. AR 9 Jun 1941 Fontanarossa Sicily BR20/M ASIC NB Oct 1941 Lecce-Galatina Italy BR.20M SQA4 IT Oct 1941 Milano-Bresso Italy BR.20M SQA1 TG
The BR20 bomber was received in 1938 and was used by this unit over France in June 1940. Missions were carried out over the Mediterranean approaches to southern France, then over the Alpine border in the latter stages of the campaign.
Remaining at Aviano, now under Squadra 2, they began operations against the Sebenico area of Yugoslavia. The BR.20M arrived to back up the older type.
On 9 June I94l, 18 BR.20Ms joined 99 Gruppo of 43 Stormo in night operations over Malta. Losses were suffered from the Hurricanes of the Malta Night Fighter Unit. 18 Stormo was disbanded from May 194I to 15 October 1941, reforming as a Transport Wing, but without 31 Gruppo. Due to losses and inefficient technical aids, despite a stable and relatively robust aircraft, this unit was recalled to Italy in October. It was withdrawn from operations and disbanded on 21 January 1942.
31 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 65, 66 Stormo Auto
31 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 65, 66 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Yavello Ethiopia Ca 133 A0I AR. DB
This unit carried out recce duties during June 1940, switching to day bombing in August. 65 sq was at Neghelli from 10 June, joining 66 sq at Yavello on 12 August. In late October. 66 sq disbanded, passing its crews to 65 sq. They were transferred to 29 Gruppo at Sciasciamanna. then to 49 Gruppo at Gimma on 16 December 1940.
32 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 57, 58 Stormo 10
32 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 57, 58 Stormo 10 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 ALIB AN 11 Sep 1940 Italy S79 Sqa TG 29 Apr 1941 Chinisia Sicily S79 ASIC AN Jun 1942 Boccadifalco Sicily S79 ASIC AN Oct 1942 Palermo? Sicily Ca314 ASIC TG, CE. AR May 1943 Villafranca Italy Ca314 SQA2 CE 21 May 1943 Milano-Lmate Italy Ca314 SQA1 TG 28 May 1943 Jesi Italy Ca314 SQA2 CE
The S 79 was received in 1939. Operations began in June 1940. against shipping in the eastern Mediterranean. By September the unit was re-equipping in Italy. In April 1941 they moved to Sicily, operating from that island for the next two years. Force H. from Gibraltar, was attacked on 23 July 1941 and another notable operation was on 14 June 1942. when five S 79s were detached to Sciacca for operations against the Malta-bound Harpoon convoy.
Two Ca314s arrived on 21 October 1942 and the unit began to convert to escort duties. There were 18 of the new type operational by 1 November. Four days later, they carried out their first convoy escort. By the following January, they added maritime recce to their roles.
10 Stormo moved to Jesi shortly after, with few. if any, aircraft. They awaited re-equipment with Ju 88 As which never arrived.
33 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 59, 60 Stormo 11
33 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 59, 60 Stormo 11 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Comiso Sicily S79 SQA2 AN Jul 1940 Castelbenito? Tripolitan S79 ALIB AN Aug 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 ALIB AN. DB Sep 1940 Z1 Cirenaica S79 ALIB DB Dec 1940 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis S79 SQA3 TG Jun 1941 Trapani-Milo Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC AN 29 Aug 1941 Chinisia Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC AN Jan 1942 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis SQA3 TG 25 May 1942 Chinisia Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC AN 13 Jun 1942 Villacidro Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR AN 18 Jun 1942 Chinisia Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC AN Sep 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC DB. AR Nov 1942 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis SQA3 TG 25 Jun 1943 Jesi Italy Z 1007 bis SQA2 TG
The S 79 was used by this unit in 1939 as a high speed transport, ferrying troops to Albania during the invasion. From the outbreak of the war in 1940. they operated against shipping in the west and central Mediterranean. In July they were very active in the eastern approaches to Malta.
The demands of the desert offensive caused the unit to move to Libya in July with 16 S 79s. They continued anti-shipping operations, this time along the African coastline. In September they supported the advance on Sidi Barrani.
Returning to Italy at the end of the year, they were rested. On the re-formation of 9 Stormo. they joined on 10 May 1941 with new Z 1007 bis bombers. After a month’s training they moved to Sicily for operations around Malta. Re-equipping in January 1942 with the Z 1007 bis Series VIII, they returned for more anti-shipping strikes from Sardinia and Sicily. From September to November they diverted their efforts to bombing Malta, and then to the invasion forces in North West Africa.
By 7 September 1943 they were attached to 10 Stormo. at Jesi. awaiting re-equipment with Ju 88 As.
34 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 67, 68 Stormo 11
34 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 67, 68 Stormo 11 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Comiso Sicily S79 SQA2 AN Jul 1940 Rodi-Gadurra Aegean S79 AEGE NB. AN. DB
This unit used the S 79 as a high speed transport to ferry troops to Albania in 1939. From June 1940 they operated against shipping in the Mediterranean. On 4 July they made their first night sorties against Alexandria, repeating this on 27 July with four aircraft and 5 October with six. In mid-july they were very busy against shipping off Malta, especially 19 July, known as the Battaglia de Capo Spada.
In November, four torpedo-bombing S 79s were attached to the unit for trials. As the results were reasonable, on 20 April 1941 the unit became Aerosilurante. At this time 279 and 281 sq replaced 67 and 68 sq. The outgoing squadriglie were disbanded.
279 sq was sent to Cirenaica on 7 May. operating from Berka by 17 November. On 15 May 1941 the Gruppo disbanded, both squadriglie becoming Autonomo. One was in Libya and the other was in the Aegean.
35 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 43, 44 Stormo 33
35 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 43, 44 Stormo 33 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Bir el Bhera Tripolitan S79 ALIB AR. DB. GA Sep 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 ALIB DB. GA 21 Oct 1940 Italy S79 Sqa TG
This unit maintained patrols along the Tunisian coast in June 1940. In July they joined anti-shipping operations against Malta-bound vessels. On 11 July they attacked the carrier Eagle and its convoy, repeating the attacks the next day. This was followed by ground attack and low level bombing missions during the eastward offensive against Sidi Barrani. This led to heavy losses, so on 21 October the unit was withdrawn to Italy.
36 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 45, 46 Stormo 33
36 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 45, 46 Stormo 33 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Bir el Bhera Tripolitan S79 ALIB AR. DB. AN Sep 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 ALIB DB. GA 21 Oct 1940 Italy S79 Sqa TG
This unit maintained patrols along the Tunisian border in June 1940. In July they attacked Malta-bound convoys. On 11 July they attacked the carrier Eagle and its convoy, repeating the attacks the next day. This was followed by ground attack and low level bombing missions during the advance on Sidi Barrani. This led to heavy losses, so on 21 October the unit was withdrawn to Italy.
37 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 47, 48 Stormo 18
37 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 47, 48 Stormo 18 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Aviano Italy BR.20 SQA1 TG 6 Dec 1940 Grottaglie Italy BR20/M 4ZAT DB. NB 1 Apr 1941 Aviano Italy BR20/M S82 SQA2 DB. TG 5 Oct 1941 Viterbo Italy S82 SQA3 TG 13 Oct 1941 Trapani Sicily S82 ASIC TR 21 Nov 1941 Lecce Italy S82 SQA4 TR 27 Dec 1941 Viterbo Italy S82 SQA3 TG Nov 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily S82 ASIC TR
Moving to Grottaglie in December 1940. this unit gave tactical support over the Greek front to the end of March. They then tried night bombing, which was not common at that time. Bad weather over the Balkans hindered most operations anyway.
Rejoining 18 Stormo at Aviano, now under Squadra 2. the unit operated against the Serbenico area of Yugoslavia. The improved BR.20M had been received in December, but operations were still ceased on 12 April due to losses and inefficient equipment. The Stormo temporarily disbanded.
On 10 April a Sezione Speciale Bombardamento formed at Ciampino and received seven S 82s. From 16 May they made bombing raids from Gadurra to Alexandria. In July they switched to transport duties only, assisting the supply runs to Cirenaica from Lecce by October. On I January 1942 the Sezione disbanded and the aircraft and crews were passed to 37 Gruppo.
Reformed at Aviano in July 1941. under 18 Stormo Trasporto, 37 Gruppo received three armed and five unarmed S 82s by September. Moving to Sicily the following month, with 10 S 82s and two Ca 164s, they began ferrying troops and evacuating wounded between Castelvetrano-Tripoli-Castelbenito. Despite delays by engine changes on most of the aircraft, this busy unit carried out its duties very successfully. In November they delivered enough fuel to Derna to help the ground units beat off the Allied attacks. By the 21st of that month, seven S 82s were still serviceable, flying aircraft engines, spares and fuel to Tripoli, Benghasi and Martuba. In December the aircraft were withdrawn for a complete overhaul.
On 10 March 1942 the unit replaced 148 Gruppo in 45 Stormo. On 1 April three S 82s of 47 sq were detached to Villacidro for a bombing raid on Gibraltar. In May the unit practiced paratroop drops for the intended invasion of Malta. This did not proceed, so the Gruppo. with four others, transferred the Folgore Division to Fuka. only a few days before the battles of El Alamein. From November to March they switched to sending men and materials to Tunisia, suffering heavy losses on the new' routes. For example, on 12 November, four S 82s of 47 sq were lost to six Beaufighters flying between Tripoli and Castelvetrano.
They may have returned to Italy, or have been disbanded in Sicily by April.
38 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 49, 50 Stormo 32
38 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 49, 50 Stormo 32 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Decimomannu Sardinia S79 S82 ASAR DB. AN Sep 1941 Bologna Italy S84 SQA2 TG 28 May 1942 Gioia del Colle Italy S84 SQA4 AN Aug 1942 Villacidro Sardinia S84 ASAR AN Aug 1942 Gioia del Colle Italy S84 SQA4 TG 6 Nov 1942 Alghero Sardinia S84 ASAR AN 30 Nov 1942 Gioia del Colle Italy S84 SQA4 TG 11 Jan 1943 Lecce Italy S 84 bis SQA4 AN Mar 1943 Manduria Italy S 84 bis SQA4 TG
The S 79 was received in early 1939. This was the first unit to operate against Tunisia, bombing Bizerte on 12 June. The unit then turned to anti-shipping operations in July and August, including attacks on Force H from Gibraltar. In the latter month, three S 82s were received by 49 sq and used in March for long range attacks on Gibraltar. One was lost to anti-aircraft fire and the other two returned to Ciampino in July 1941.
Meanwhile, on 9 November 1940, 19 S 79s of 32 Stormo hit shipping north of Cap de Fer. Losses were taken during attacks on coastal convoys in January. More attacks were sent from Sardinia on the following 8 and 10 May, 23 and 25 July. These were the more notable efforts.
32 Stormo 89 Gruppo 229 Squadriglia
The need to rest and re-equip sent the unit to Bologna, where S 84s were received on 17 October. On 1 May 1942 the 32 Stormo became Aerosilurante. However, 38 Gruppo remained as Bombardmento Terrestre, but accompanied their fellow 89 Gruppo on shipping raids. They occasionally used the special motorised bombs, known as FF. (See chapter 5 on Weapons). Crews were sent to Gorizia for instruction on radio-guided torpedoes.
On 12 August 10 S 84s. each with two of these weapons, attacked shipping in the Pedestal convoy. The results did not seem to be any more successful than ordinary torpedoes. Several aircraft used Milis during November, for attacks on the invasion fleets. On 1 December the unit made a rare day raid overland, sending 10 S 84s to Bone. Due to bad weather, the bombers missed their MC 202 and Re 2001 escorts. They ran into waiting USAAF and RAF Spitfires which downed three, caused another three to crash on landing and badly damaged the rest! 89 Gruppo handed over its S 84s to replenish the unit and changed to S 79s.
On 11 January 1943. the unit received the updated S 84 bis and became Autonomo on the 27th. By April they ceased to operate these aircraft, and disbanded on 15 June.
39 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 51, 69 Stormo 38
39 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 51, 69 Stormo 38 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Tirana Albania S81 AALB TR Oct 1940 Valona Albania S81 AALB TR Oct 1940 Scutari Albania S81 AALB TR. DB Feb 1941 Gioia del Colle Italy BR.20 SQA4 TG 14 Apr 1941 Foggia Italy BR20 SQA4 DB. CE.AR Jun 1941 Tirana Albania BR.20 AALB AG 20 Jan 1942 Mostar Yugoslavia BR20 Fi 156 C AALB AG. AR. DB
The S 81 bomber-transport was received on 7 April 1939, when the 38 Stormo formed. Operations were immediately carried out over Albania and they stayed in that theatre throughout World War II.
So that fighter and recce units could use the more suitable base at Valona. the Gruppo moved to Scutari for the Greek campaign. The S 81s were used for tactical bombing, but mostly to ferry reinforcements and materials to the Julia Division. BR20s were gradually introduced in February' and March 1941 and 16 of these operated from Foggia over the Yugoslav front. Three quarters of the sorties were in tactical support of the Italian ground forces, while the remainder were on recce, convoy escort and strategic raids.
By June they were preparing for anti-partisan operations, which would take up their duties until hostilities ceased. 51 sq was detached to Zara on 19 July 1942. During that summer the CO of 39 sq used a Fiesler Storch for liaison and local recce duties. On 15 February' 1943 the Gruppo left 38 Stormo. becoming Autonomo. then disbanding on 4 June. The squadriglie became Autonomo. 69 sq moved from Mostar to Scutari on 27 August. By 7 September, they were still al Mostar (51 sq) and Scutari (69 sq).
40 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 202, 203 Stormo 38
40 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 202, 203 Stormo 38 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Lecce-Galatina Italy S81 4ZAT TR Oct 1940 Valona Albania S81 AALB TR Oct 1940 Scutari Albania S81 AALB TR, DB Feb 1941 Gioia del Colle Italy BR.20 SQA4 TG 14 Apr 1941 Foggia Italy BR.20 SQA4 DB. CE. AR Jun 1941 Tirana Albania BR.20 AALB AG Nov 1941 Fontanarossa Sicily BR.20M ASIC NB Nov 1941 Tirana Albania BR.20M AALB AG
The S 81 bomber-transport was received in April 1939. when 38 Stormo formed. They joined operations over Albania and stayed in that theatre through most of the World War II. They were used in anti-shipping attacks on 12 July, known as the Battaglia de Punta Stilo.
So that fighter and recce units could use the more suitable base at Valona. the Gruppo moved to Scutari for the Greek campaign. The S 81s were used for tactical bombing, but mostly to ferry reinforcements and materials to the Julia Division. BR20s were gradually introduced in February and March 1941 and these operated from Foggia over the Yugoslav front. Most of the sorties were in tactical support of the Italian ground forces, while the remainder were on recce, convoy escort and strategic raids.
By June they were preparing for anti-partisan operations. In November the unit briefly operated at night over Malta. On 20 and 21 November they lost one aircraft on each of the only two active nights! After that, it was back to the Balkans.
In late 1942. or early 1943. 10 aircraft of 202 sq were detached to Sicily for recce and escort duties. On 14 May 1943, 203 sq was detached to Scutari, returning to Tirana on 18 June. A section was sent to Manduria from 30 July to 6 August. 202 sq then went to Gioia del Colle that day. On 7 September there were 18 BR.20Ms available at the two bases.
41 Gruppo - Squadriglie 205
41 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 204, 205 Stormo 12
41 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 204, 205 Stormo 12 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Ciampino Nord Italy S79 SQA3 DB 6 Jul 1940 Rodi Aegean S79 AEGE DB. AR. AN 7 Aug 1940 Ciampino Italy Z 1007 bis S82 SQA3 TG 25 Sep 1940 Gadurra Aegean Z 1007 bis S82 AEGE DB. AR 5 Nov 1940 Brindisi Italy Z 1007 bis 4ZAT DB 20 Jan 1941 Littona Italy S84 SQA3 TG 5 May 1941 Capua Italy S84 SQA3 IT May 1941 Lecce Italy S84 SQA4 IT May 1941 Gadurra Aegean S84 S79 AEGE AN. AR. DB 9 Feb 1942 Ciampino? Italy S79 SQA3 AN. TG 2 Aug 1942 Pisa San Giusto Italy S79 SQA3 TG Apr 1943 Decimomannu Sardinia S79 ASAR AN May 1943 Gorizia Italy S79 SQA2 AN 1 Jul 1943 Siena-Ampugnano Italy S79 SQA3 AN 16 Jul 1943 Lecce Italy S79 SQA4 TG 30 Jul 1943 Siena Italy S79 SQA3 AN 13 Aug 1943 Gioia del Colle Italy S79 SQA4 TG 27 Aug 1943 Siena Italy S79 SQA3 AN
The crews from this unit had flown the S 79 in Spain and had used the aircraft as a high speed transport during the invasion of Albania in 1939. Briefly operating against France, with an attack on Ghisonaccia on 19 June 1940. they moved to the Aegean theatre. Attacks were carried out on convoys and land targets in the eastern Mediterranean.
In June a S 83 was used for recce duties over Gibraltar, using the Spanish base of Cartagena. It was intended that the S 79s used that base for bombing the Royal Navy around Gibraltar, but Spain would not allow this. The S 83 eventually rejoined the unit at Gadurra.
Re-equipping with the Z 1007 bis. the unit continued operations against Haifa. Palestine and Tel Aviv. For longer range operations they received six S 82s. Three of these arrived at Ciampino on 11 August. They moved to Gadurra on 2 September, where they were damaged by enemy bombardment two days later. On 13 October five S 82s joined the Gruppo and. on the 18th. operated against the Bahrain oil refineries, flying on to Zula in East Africa. The two remaining S 82s were passed to 92 Gruppo on 5 November.
A lack of strategic bombers meant a transfer to the Greek front. However, with a greater need for tactical support, they were returned to Italy, with no aircraft left on strength. On 31 October the S 83 moved to Brindisi to support the Greek campaign, moving to Littoria via Ciampino on 8 January.
In February 1941, the Gruppo was the first to receive the new S 84. By May they were partially trained in torpedo-bombing and were hastened back to the Aegean with 12 S 84s. On the way they stopped at Capua to pick up torpedoes and Lecce for new crews. The S 83 rejoined the unit at Gadurra in May. but was shot down by a Beaufighter near Amorgos on 3 July. The Gruppo CO was lost in this aircraft.
From 20 to 28 May, the S 84s carried out operations on and around Crete, bombing, torpedoing and reconnoitering. Tobruk was also bombed in April. 282 sq was attached for the month of July. During the year the S 84 was found to be inadequate for the anti-shipping role. On 19 January 1942 the unit re-equipped with the S 79. receiving aircraft and crews from the now disbanded 281 sq. The S 84 was no longer used after 1 February and the unit left Gadurra on the 9th. Since May 1941 the unit had had an average seven S 84s on strength, with only three operational.
With the additional experienced crews, the level of competence rose sharply. Between 13 and 15 June they struck heavily against shipping from Alexandria to Malta. The Gruppo had by now left 12 Stormo. possibly from January. It was certainly Autonome in June 1942. Withdrawing to Pisa in August, they received new S 79s, made by Reggiane, in November.
205 sq went to Decimomannu in April 1943 and 204 sq left for Siena on 25 May, to join Raggruppamento Aerosilurante when that unit formed on 1 June. 205 sq joined them at Siena on 1 July, retaining an emergency section at Milis on a 10 day relay.
42 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 200, 201 Stormo 12
42 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 200, 201 Stormo 12 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Orvieto Italy S79 SQA3 DB. AN 27 Nov 1940 Grottaglie Italy S79 4ZAT DB Feb 1943 Tirana Albania BR.20M AALB AG 15 May 1943 Scjak Albania BR.20M AALB AG
The squadriglie were not the same as those with 92 Gruppo in the Aegean. The crews had already received combat experience in Spain and Albania when they began anti-shipping operations in June 1940. An attack was made on Ghisonaccia on 19 June, then they continued attacks against shipping. They participated in the Battaglia de Capo Spada on 19 July.
Fourteen S 79s were taken to Grottaglie. but after only two weeks the unit disbanded. On 12 December the aircraft and crews were transfered to Libya, to reinforce 41 Stormo.
Reforming in February 1943. the unit moved to Albania to replace 39 Gruppo as part of 38 Stormo. It began anti-partisan operations, bombing and reconnoitering until the armistice. In May it completed a night training course and moved to Scjak. On 7 September they had 13 serviceable aircraft.
43 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 3, 5 Stormo 13
43 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 3, 5 Stormo 13 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Cascina Vaga Pavia Italy BR.20 Sqa 1 DB 27 Sep 1940 Melsbroech Belgium BR.20 CAI DB. NB 12 Jan 1941 Monaco Monaco BR.20 CAI IT Jan 1941 Zavente Italy BR.20 SQA1 IT Jan 1941 Bolzano Italy BR.20 SQA2 TG 8 Apr 1941 Gioia del Colle Italy BR.20 SQA4 DB. AR 27 Apr 1941 Piacenza Italy BR.20 SQA1 TG Jun 1941 Rovasenda Italy BR.20 SQA1 TG Jul 1941 San Damiano-Piacenza Italy BR.20 SQA1 TG Jul 1941 Barce Cirenaica BR.20 SQA5 DB. AN Nov 1941 Martuba Cirenaica BR.20 SQA5 DB 7 Dec 1941 Barce Cirenaica BR.20 SQA5 DB 14 Dec 1941 Misurata Tripolitan BR.20 SQA5 DB Jan 1942 Bir Dufan Tripolitan BR.20 SQA5 DB 2 Mar 1942 Barce Cirenaica BR.20 SQA5 DB 15 Mar 1942 Reggio Emilia Italy Ca313 Ca314 SQA2 TG Jul 1942 Manduria Italy Ca314 SQA4 CE Jan 1943 Tirana Albania Ca314 AALB TG 27 Jan 1943 Devoli Albania Ca314 AALB AG. TG May 1943 Scjak Albania Ca314 AALB AG 15 May 1943 Devoli Albania Ca314 AALB TG. AG
The BR20 was received in December 1936 and first used in action against southern France in June 1940.
In the Autumn, the unit joined Mussolini’s expeditionary force to help the Germans defeat the RAF. Operations began with a night raid on 24 October against Harwich. The first day raid was on 29 October, against Ramsgate. Neither raid caused much damage and opposition was minimal. Several night raids were then undertaken against Ipswich and Harwich. The remaining day raids were left to 43 Stormo.
Returning to Italy in January via Monaco. Neubiberg. Zavente and Bolzano, the unit was rested and re-equipped. It then took part in the last phase of the Greek campaign and made recce and bombing missions over Yugoslavia.
After a further period of retraining, they left for Africa, beginning sorties against Tobruk in July 1941. Technical problems arose from sand wear, so anti-shipping operations were flown from November.
In March 1942 they received replacement aircraft from 11 Gruppo. who were returning to Italy. On 15 March the Gruppo was also ordered home, to convert to the Ca314 for the maritime combat and escort role. They commenced convoy escort duties between Italy and Greece, while based in Manduria. 13 Stormo disbanded on 10 January 1943 and the Gruppo passed to 32 Stormo. which subsequently also disbanded on 27 January. During the month the Gruppo limited its flying because of the need to refit and improve its radio communications.
The unit now went to Albania as 43 Gruppo Combattimento, completing night training at Tirana. They settled in to Devoli in May, with a section detached to Scutari until June. Five pilots were sent to Italy to learn to fly the Ju 88 A. The Gruppo continued training in July.
44 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 6, 7 Stormo 14
44 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 6, 7 Stormo 14 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 El Adem Cirenaica S79 ALIB DB. AN Sep 1940 Tmimi Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB Dec 1940 Italy S79 Sqa TG
This unit had been in Libya since 1936. The II S 79s were unarmed versions, which had previously been prepared for use as bomber-transports in East Africa. The unit operated against shipping in the eastern Mediterranean in June and July. They then supported the advance on Sidi Barrani in September.
The surviving S 79s then went to East Africa for operations against Port Sudan and Aden. Six were lost on the ground, three were shot down and the rest were captured in that theatre.
44 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 6, 7 Stormo Auto
44 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 6, 7 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Ghiniele K 92 Ethiopia S79 ADI DB, AN, AR 20 Jul 1940 Addis Abeba Ethiopia S79 ADI DB. AR 15 Dec 1940 Gura Eritrea S79 A0I DB, AR. AN 19 Dec 1940 Addis Abeba Ethiopia S79 ADI DB. AR Apr 1941 Combolcia Ethiopia S79 ADI DB. AR 22 Apr 1941 Gimma Ethiopia S79 A0I DB Apr 1941 Cer-Cer Ethiopia S79 A0I DB
This was the only modern bomber unit in the theatre when war was declared. The main targets were naval ports and airbases, for which large numbers of small bombs were carried. They were thought more likely to hit the target, besides which, there was a scarcity of heavier bombs. Poor navigational skills and lack of radio communications hindered success.
Five S 79s of 7 sq went to Addis Abeba on 15 June, moving on to Gura on 28 June. The whole unit rejoined at Addis Abeba on 20 July with 11 S 79s, beginning operations against British Somaliland two days later. They took part in all actions in the central sectors until February 1941.
On 27 July, three S 79s were detached to Sceneie for operations over Aden. During August various detachments were sent to Dire Daua to support the Italian offensive. In September, they operated over Aden and the Gulf of Aden, watching for convoys from India and attacking ships, ports and airbases when possible.
Three aircraft were sent to Yavello on 21 September for raids on SAAF units at Archers Post. They returned on 11 October. Five days later, three from 6 sq used Dire Daua for anti-shipping sorties. Ten S 79s from Gura then operated over Port Sudan area, with sections detached at Asmara. They returned to Addis Abeba four days later.
By 30 March, they were the only bomber unit still operational. All remaining bombers were passed to its control. Two. at this time, were raiding Giggiga. Three were sent to Dessie on 5 April, but by 9 April only two were left serviceable in the whole unit. These evacuated from Combolcia to Gimma on 22 April. A week later, the last S 79. flying from Cer-Cer to Sciasciamanna. was shot down by 3 sq SAAF.
45 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 2, 22 Stormo 14
45 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 2, 22 Stormo 14 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 El Adem Cirenaica S81 ALIB AN Sep 1940 Tmimi Cirenaica S81 SQA5 DB Jan 1941 Castelbenito? Tripolitan S81 SQA5 TR
This unit had operated in Libya since 1936. The 19 S 81s on strength in June 1940 were used in anti-shipping operations. On 8 July they successfully attacked a convoy in the eastern Mediterranean. In September they switched to the support of the advance on Sidi Barrani.
By January the surviving aircraft were passed to the newly formed 145 Gruppo Trasporto.
46 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 20, 21 Stormo 15
46 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 20, 21 Stormo 15 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Tarhuna T18 Tripolitan S 79 ALIB DB RD AM 13 Jun 1940 Benina Cirenaica S 79 ALIB UD, AN HR Sep 1940 Maraua Cirenaica S 79 SQA5 UD Apr 1941 Ferrara Italy Ca313 SQA2 TG TP 19 Apr 1941 Vicenza Italy Ca313 CR 42 SQA2 TG 28 Aug 1942 Benghasi K 1 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 CE Sep 1942 El Adem Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 GA 1 Nov 1942 Benghasi K 1 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 GA, DF 14 Nov 1942 Tarnet Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 GA 18 Nov 1942 Sorman Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 GA Jan 1943 Zuara Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 IT 19 Jan 1943 Vicenza Italy CR 42 SQA2 TG TP May 1943 Siena Italy CR 42 SQA3 TG 21 May 1943 Capoterra Sardinia CR 42 ASAR CE. GA 16 Jul 1943 Pontedera Italy CR 42 SQA3 GA 28 Jul 1943 Firenze-Peretola Italy CR 42 SQA3 TG
The unit had been in Libya since 1936. Tarhuna base may also have been known as Maraua. In July they made several attacks on shipping from Alexandria, notably on the 8th, 12th. 13th and 19th. In September they supported Italy's first desert offensive, the advance on Sidi Barrani.
By April 1941, they were training in Italy, receiving the first Ca313s on the 11 th. Eight days later they continued training at Vicenza. By 30 March they had nine Ca313s. Poor electrics and underpowered engines held up training, with various crashes, some fatal. When the unit was officially declared Stormo Assalto in May. it was decided to re-equip with the assault version of the CR 42.
In early September 1942, they moved to the El Alamein front and gave good ground support in the face of much Allied fighter defence. In January they were withdrawn, with 27 CR 42s and two S 79s still on strength.
Re-equipping in Italy, and supported by S 75s of NuCom. they moved briefly to Sardinia, in case of invasion there. One squadriglia went to Pontcdera from 28 May to 25 June. There were 34 CR 42s on strength on 9 July. 20 sq was detached to Palermo between 16 and 28 July. By September there were very few serviceable aircraft.
47 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 53, 54 Stormo 15
47 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 53, 54 Stormo 15 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Tarhuna T 18 Tripolitan S81 ALIB DB 13jun 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 S81 ALIB DB, AN Sep 1940 Maraua Cirenaica S79 S81 SQA5 DB Apr 1941 Ferrara Italy Ca313 SQA2 TG 19 Apr 1941 Vicenza Italy Ca313 CR 42 SQA2 TG 28 Aug 1942 Benghasi K 1 Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 IT 7 Sep 1942 Bu Amud Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 CE Sep 1942 Dema Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 CE 9 Nov 1942 Agedabia Cirenaica CR 42 SQA5 DF 15 Nov 1942 Tarnet Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 GA. DF 25 Nov 1942 Sorman Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 GA, DF Jan 1943 Zuara Tripolitan CR 42 SQA5 IT 8 Jan 1943 Vicenza Italy CR 42 SQA2 TG 21 May 1943 Oristano Sardinia CR 42 ASAR GA 16 Jul 1943 Pontedera Italy CR 42 SQA3 GA 28 Jul 1943 Firenze-Peretola Italy CR 42 SQA3 TG
The unit had been in Libya for four years, when they commenced operations against shipping in the eastern Mediterranean. Attacks were particularly effective in July. Two months later they were operating against Sidi Barrani. In January the surviving S 81 s were passed to the newly formed 145 Gruppo Trasporto and the unit carried on with its S 79s.
By April 1941 they were re-equipping in Italy with the new Ca313 light bomber. The underpowered engines caused the inexperienced crews several crashes, some fatal. In May the unit became part of 15 Stormo Assalto and re-equipped with CR 42 fighter-bombers.
Five months later they were facing the Allied lines at El Alamein. They carried out ground support, local defence and reinforcement convoy escort duties during this hectic period. By January, they left Libya with 23 surviving CR 42s.
Re-equipping by May 1943, they moved to Sardinia in case the Island was invaded. 53 sq was detached to Palermo from 16 to 28 July. The unit had 16 operational CR 42s by now. By September there were none left serviceable.
49 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 61,64 Stormo Auto
49 bis Gruppo BT Squadriglie 61, 64 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gimma Ethiopia Ca 133 A0I AR. DB Dec 1940 Yavello Ethiopia Ca 133 A0I DB. AR 16 Dec 1940 Gimma Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI DB. AR Feb 1941 Alomata Ethiopia Ca 133 A0I DB Mar 1941 Dire Daua Ethiopia Ca 133 ADI AR Apr 1941 Dessie Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI AR 7 Apr 1941 Alomata Ethiopia Ca 133 ADI AR. TT Jul 1941 Gondar Ethiopia Ca 133 AOI TR
This unit carried out armed recces during June to October 1940. turning to day bombing in November against the British attacks on Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. Three aircraft were detached to Neghelli on 30 June.
On 16 December 65 sq joined the Gruppo and the unit moved that day to Gimma. leaving two Ca 133s behind. Operations restarted against the British in the north, with CR 42 escorts in January. It is possible this unit lost nine aircraft at Alomata to strafing Blenheim 4 Fs claimed on 6 February. The survivors moved to Dire Daua, then to Dessie. On 7 April, the last four returned to Alomata. beginning supply-drops to troops on 19 April. Gimma and Lekemti were also used for this purpose. By 10 May, only two were left, reducing to one at Gondar on 6 July. It used Azozo as a forward base, until destroyed by fire on 21 September.
50 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 210, 211 Stormo 16
50 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 210, 211 Stormo 16 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Vicenza Italy Z100 7 Z 1007 bis SQA1 TG Oct 1940 Brindisi Italy Z 1007 bis 4ZAT DB 14 Apr 1941 Marizza Aegean Z 1007 bis AEGE DB, AN 6 Sep 1941 Vicenza? Italy Z 1007 bis SQA2 TG Feb 1942 Sciacca Sicily Z 1007 bis ASIC AN, DB Jun 1942 Manduria Italy Z 1007 bis SQA4 TG 29 Oct 1942 Alghero Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR DB, AN 31 Jan 1943 Viterbo Italy Z 1007 bis SQA3 TG May 1943 Pistoia Italy Z 1007 bis SQA3 TG 11 Jun 1943 Bresso Italy Z 1007 bis SQA1 TG. NB 30 Jul 1943 Cameri Italy Z 1007 bis SQA1 NB
This unit received the original Z 1007s in May 1939. By June 1940, the 20 on strength were considered non-operational due to their poor characteristics. The much improved Z 1007 bis was issued and the unit moved to Brindisi for operations over Greece.
On 25 January they bombed Salonika and on 6 April began operations against Yugoslavia, with a raid on Mostar. Moving to the Aegean in mid-April, they pursued the Allied forces with attacks around Crete and Tobruk (12 May). Between 21 and 29 May. they supported the German invasion of Crete with bombing and recce missions. This was followed by raids on Egypt and Palestine. Returning to Italy for a rest and refit, they were then sent to Sicily for anti-shipping sorties and the bombing of Malta. The Gruppo was by now Autonomo and a daily average of 15 to 18 aircraft were used against Malta.
After another refit in Italy, they were sent to Sardinia to take on the invasion fleets and ports of North West Africa. On 31 January 1943 they rejoined 16 Stormo. On 9 July they had six operational aircraft. By September there were none left serviceable.
51 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 212, 213 Stormo 16
51 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 212, 213 Stormo 16 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Vicenza Gioia del Colle Italy Z 1007 Z 1007 bis SQA1 TG 1 Mar 1941 Alghero Gioia del Colle Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR AN Jul 1942 Villacidro Gioia del Colle Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR AN. NB. DB 12 Aug 1942 Alghero Gioia del Colle Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR AR 15 Aug 1942 Villacidro Gioia del Colle Sardinia Z 1007 bis ASAR AN. DB Mar 1943 Bologna Gioia del Colle Italy Le 0451 SQA2 TG 25 Jun 1943 Littoria Gioia del Colle Italy Le 0451 Ju 88 A SQA3 TG 2 Jul 1943 Viterbo Gioia del Colle Italy Ju 88 A SQA3 TG
This unit used the Z 1007 from August 1939. but it was not considered up to operational standards. Therefore, the updated Z 1007 bis was delivered and training continued for the first few months of the war.
In March 1941 the unit moved to Sardinia for anti-shipping duties. It was felt that the Z 1007 bis would stand more chance of survival than other types. Although very sturdy and easy to fly. they too did not receive the defensive weapons required against an aggressive opponent.
In September, they experimented with night attacks on shipping, but lacking radar and other ‘modem' equipment, they returned to day raids. By this time the Gruppo was Autonomo. Seventeen of the units aircraft were in action in the Convoy battles of June 1942. In August, 13 were engaged in watching the convoys and subsequently informing the torpedo-bombing units.
By March 1943. the unit was re-equipping in Italy with ex-Vichy French bombers. It was possible these were briefly used in Sardinia, but as they seemed to be in poor condition this was unlikely.
The crews moved in June to Littoria to learn day and night flying on the Ju 88 A-4. The Gruppo joined 9 Stormo and the following month the Le 0451s were passed to the Germans for transport duties.
Also in June, six pilots from the Gruppo joined the reformed 172 sq RST. which was to train on the Ju 88 D. By 7 September neither unit was up to operational standard.
52 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 214, 215 Stormo 34
52 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 214, 215 Stormo 34 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Fontanarossa Sicily S79 SQA2 AN Dec 1940 Cirenaica S79 SQA5 AN.DB
Originally equipped with S 81s, they operated as a transport unit during the occupation of Albania. The S 79 was received in July 1939 and began operations in June 1940. with attacks on ships in the eastern Mediterranean and around Malta. The unit had previously used their Sicilian base in 1937. On 11 July they attacked the carrier Eagle and its support ships, east of Malta. By December the unit was in Libya, covering the gains made in the advance to Sidi Barrani. It is assumed, like many other units, they ceased operations after the retreat in early 1941.
53 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 216, 217 Stormo 34
53 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 216, 217 Stormo 34 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 3 Jun 1940 Fontanarossa Sicily S79 SQA2 AN Dec 1940 Cirenaica S79 SQA5 AN. DB
Originally equipped with S 81s. they operated as a transport unit during the occupation of Albania. The S 79 was received in 1939 and began operations in June 1940 against shipping in the eastern Mediterranean and around Malta. On 11 July, they joined 52 Gruppo in an attack on the carrier Eagle and its support ships, east of Malta.
By December the unit was in Libya, covering the gains made in the advance to Sidi Barrani. It is assumed, like many other units, they ceased operations after the retreat in early 1941.
54 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 218, 219 Stormo 37
54 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 218, 219 Stormo 37 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Lecce Italy S81 4ZAT TG 15 Jul 1940 Ain el Gazala Cirenaica S81 SQA5 NB Mar 1941 Bir Dufan Tripolitan S81 SQA5 NB
This unit formed at Lecce in April 1939, for operations over Albania. In July 1940. they moved to Libya with 13 aircraft to carry out night bombing. They then supported the offensive on Sidi Barrani. By the end of January, the S 81s were being passed to the newly formed 145 Gruppo Trasporto. The last operations were made in March, from Bir Dufan.
55 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 220, 221 Stormo 37
55 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 220, 221 Stormo 37 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Lecce Italy S81 BR20/M 4ZAT TG. DB 11 May 1941 Gerbini Sicily BR.20M ASIC NB 17 Dec 1941 Lecce Italy BR.20M SQA4 TG Apr 1942 Castelvetrano Sicily BR.20M ASIC NB 2 Jun 1942 Lecce Italy BR.20M SQA4 TG Nov 1942 Reggio Emilia Italy BR.20M SQA2 IT 28 Nov 1942 Milis Sardinia BR.20M ASAR NB. AR 20 Jan 1943 Villacidro Sardinia BR.20M ASAR AR 15 Feb 1943 Decimomannu Sardinia BR.20M ASAR AR 21 May 1943 Pistoia Italy BR.20M SQA3 TG
After operating over Albania with S 81 s in 1939. the unit received BR20 and BR.20M aircraft in October 1940. Two months later. 15 were operational over the Yugoslav frontier. Difficult terrain and bad weather reduced the effectiveness of this unit.
In May they began night operations over Malta. After making room for German air units in December, they returned the following April to resume the night raids. This time they suffered heavy losses to the improved Maltese defences.
By June 1942 they began training and refitting again. 277 sq had replaced 220 sq and the Allied invasion of North West Africa meant more action for this unit. The first operation, from Sardinia, was a night raid on 8 December against Philippeville. In January and February they were switched to maritime recce, with an average of six to eight aircraft operational.
When the unit returned to Italy it was intended to re-equip with the Z 1007 bis. but was disbanded on 29 May.
56 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 222, 223 Stormo 39
56 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 222, 223 Stormo 39 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gadurra Aegean S 81 AEGE AN. DB. NB Nov 1941 Castelvetrano? Sicily S81 ASIC TR May 1943 Orvieto Italy S 73 S82 S83 S75 S 75 bis SQA3 TR
This unit formed at Marizza in November 1938. with S 81s. During the early months of the war they were very active against convoys from Alexandria and targets on the Egyptian coastline.
On 8 July they joined in the Battaglia de Punta Stilo, attacking shipping making its way from Malta to Alexandria. This latter port was a regular target, being attacked on 22 June; 7. 16 and 25 July; 26 August; 8 and 21 September and 5 October, with an average eight S 81s from 39 Stormo. On 19 July they damaged the destroyer Havoc. On 28 August they operated against Port Said. Suez and El Qantara. From February to April 1941, the unit made several night attacks on Crete in support of the German invasion.
On 2 November 1941 the Gruppo transferred to 18 Stormo as a transport unit. Along with 37 Gruppo, it ferried troops and materials to Libya, then Tunisia, continuing this task through 1942. Heavy losses were suffered from enemy air attacks, both in the air and on the ground.
In February 1943, two S 83s were used for liaison trips between Italy and Albania. From May to July aircraft of both squadriglie. including armed S 75 bis of 223 sq. were busy reinforcing units on the Orvieto-Manduria-Rodi run and evacuating civilians on the Castelvetrano-Palermo-Catania runs. They also flew a Orvieto-Decimomannu-Villacidro run, in case of an invasion of Sardinia. By 31 July the unit had five S 75s, one S 73 and about six S 82s serviceable at Orvieto. The S 73 was operating Roma-Orvieto-Pisa-Bastia.
The unit was still based at Orvieto in September.
57 Gruppo T Squadriglie 224, 225 Stormo Auto
57 Gruppo T Squadriglie 224, 225 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Oct 1941 Castelvetrano? Sicily S81 ASIC TR Feb 1943 Orvieto Italy S73 S82 S83 Ca 133 S SQA3 TR
This unit was formed by 10 October 1941. possibly before. They were part of 18 Stormo from November, transporting men and materials to Libya, then Tunisia. This task became more vital during the Allied invasion a year later. However, enemy fighters began to deal severely with the old aircraft.
On 15 December 1942 an aerial convoy left Sciacca for Lampedusa, losing two S 81s to fighters and another four badly damaged. Five more were destroyed on the ground. By February the unit was using S 82s and two S 83s at Orvieto. During that month the S 83s were used for liaison trips between Italy. Albania and Yugoslavia.
By 31 July they had about 10 S 82s and one S 73 at Orvieto. using that base until the armistice. They were the last unit to use Ca 133S ambulance planes. The above information is often quoted for 37 Gruppo and due to lack of records this cannot be verified.
59 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 232, 233 Stormo 41
59 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 232, 233 Stormo 41 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gela Sicily S79 SQA2 DB 21 Jun 1940 Milano-Bresso Italy S79 SQA1 DB 24 Jun 1940 Gela Sicily S79 SQA2 AN. DB 21 Oct 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB. AN Apr 1941 Ferrara Italy Ca313 SQA2 TG 23 Dec 1941 Treviso Italy Ca313 CR.42CN Do 217J-1 SQA2 TG. NF Jan 1943 Torino-Caselle Italy Re.2001CN CR.42CN Do 217J-1 Beaufig. SQA1 TG. NF 21 May 1943 Metato Italy Re.2001CN CR.42CN Do 217J-1 SQA3 NF 10 Jul 1943 Ciampmo Italy Re.2001CN CR.42CN Do 217J-1 SQA3 NF 16 Jul 1943 Littoria Italy Re.2001CN CR.42CN Do 217J-1 SQA3 NF 30 Jul 1943 Lagnasco Italy Re.2001CN CR.42CN Do 217J-1 SQA1 NF 7 Aug 1943 Venegono Italy Re.2001CN CR.42CN Do 217J-1 SQA1 NF
This unit formed on 1 July 1939 with veterans of the Spanish Civil War. S 79s were received on 16 September. They began operations in June 1940. with attacks from Bresso over the north east Alps on the 21st and the 23rd. Poor weather defeated effective results. They then returned to Sicily and switched to shipping attacks, especially in the Battaglia de Punta Stilo on 10 and 11 July.
The severe losses in Libya during September meant a transfer to desert operations. Twelve new S 79s were received in December and strikes began against Mersa Matruh with close support duties to the fore. By mid-December the unit was worn out in the confusion of the retreat.
Back in Italy the first Ca313s were received in April 1941, but the crews considered these as only interim types. It was December before they had assault and night fighter versions of the CR 42. The ground attack role seemed to be set for future operations. Following their move to Treviso, it was realised there was no real night defence of Italy’s industries against the increasing RAF raids. Therefore, the Gruppo. along with its sister 60 Gruppo, changed to the Intercettori role, protecting central and northern Italy. Through 1942 the crews were sent to Germany for night training on Dornier and Messerschmitt nightfighters.
By January' 1943 the unit had mainly CR.42CNs. with some Do 217 Js and a captured Beaufighter. The latter had landed in error at Magnisi, Siracusa on 7 January 1942. It was passed to 41 Stormo for trials, but on 29 January 1943 it was destroyed when an engine failed on the landing approach during training.
Bad weather reduced the number of flights in January. Even the FN 305 liaison aircraft, recently attached, were restricted. There was also trouble with the local anti-aircraft units, firing on anything that flew! The pilots were sent to Salon, in France, to ferry in some MS 406s and D 520s. while the anti-aircraft units improved their training.
Ten Re.2001CNs arrived in May and were used with the Fiats and Dorniers from Metato, with detachments to Littoria. Between 20 May and 21 June they made 26 scrambles and 19 patrols, but the enemy was only seen three times! A BR20 was attached for night training, due to the limited hours available on the Dornier’s engines. 234 sq and 233 sq exchanged Gruppo’s between 21 May and 30 July, then rejoined their original units.
The Gruppo was quite often split between several bases in an effort to counter all the night bombing. This reduced efficiency and by July, they only had an overall average of seven serviceable aircraft. In early August they reunited at Venegono. now as a Gruppo Autonomo. 41 Stormo had disbanded on 24 June. By 7 September they only had four Re.2001CNs and two CR.42CNs operational.
60 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 234, 235 Stormo 41
60 Gruppo BT Squadriglie 234, 235 Stormo 41 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gela Sicily S 79 SQA2 DB. AN 21 Oct 1940 Benina Cirenaica S79 SQA5 DB. AN Apr 1941 Ferrara Italy Ca313 SQA2 TG 23 Dec 1941 Treviso Italy Ca313 CR.42CN Me 110 C Do 217 J-1 SQA2 TG. NF 21 Oct 1942 Lonate Pozzolo Italy Do 217 J-1 Me 110 C Re 2001 Do 217J-2 CR.42CN SQA1 NF. DF Apr 1943 Venegono Italy Re.2001CN D520 Me 110 C Do 217 J-1 Do 217 J-2 CR.42CN MC.205V BR.20M SQA1 NF, DF
This unit raided Biserta port in June 1940, then commenced operations against shipping, especially in the Battaglia de Punta Stilo on 10 and 11 July. The Spanish Civil War veterans flew well, and as the Libyan situation deteriorated, they were transferred to that front. Operations began against Mersa Matruh. but the ground forces requested more and more close support.
Consequently, by mid-December. the bomber unit was worn out. Limited antishipping sorties were carried out in February 1941. then the unit was retired to Italy.
Receiving the Ca313 type as replacements in April, they continued training on this aircraft until December when CR 42s arrived. Training restarted for the ground attack role, then it was decided to change to the Intercettori role, to defend the national industries from the ever increasing RAF night raids. The new role began on 18 February 1942. The crews were sent to Germany for night training on the expected re-equipment of Messerschmitts and Dorniers.
On 21 October, the unit moved to Lonate Pozzolo. with the first (and only) three Me 110 Cs and 12 Do 217 J-ls. Four days later they flew the first patrol, with two of each type over the Venegono area. Without radar they had limited ability.
In January 1943 the pilots were called up on to ferry some D 520s and a MS 406 from France to Lonate Pozzolo. These aircraft were to boost the lack of cannon-armed fighters defending southern Italy. Nine of the D 520s were allotted to the unit in April for day interceptions. Tests were made for their night use and the pilots considered the D 520 better than the CR 42 for night flying.
On 5 February the first Do 217 J-2 arrived. This differed from the J-1 by having radar equipment! Most of the German aircraft were given to 235 sq. The Dorniers had few spares, troublesome undercarriages and. with poor crew training, this kept operational numbers low. Throughout February the crews were rotated to Germany for further training. Meanwhile, the Re 2001s were used in day operations, weather permitting.
On 16 July a Lancaster was claimed over CisIago by an Italian-flown Dornier. By now the unit was trying to cover the Liguria. Piemonte. Lombardia and Emilia areas. This meant detaching sections all over Italy, which had been the dispersal problem since 1941! Re.2001CNs were received in May to help boost the numbers. Four BR20s were assigned for day and night training. 234 sq used the Re.2001CNs at Metato and Littoria between May and July, while it exchanged Gruppo with 233 sq. The latter went to Caselle from 21 May to 9 July. The Gruppt? became Autonomo when 41 Stormo disbanded on 24 June. In July 59 Gruppo supplied three cannon-armed and two machine-gun-armed Re 2001s for use at Lagnasco and Venegono.
German engineers were then asked to help repair the Dorniers. In August three MC.205Vs were received at Lonate Pozzolo for day intercepts. By 7 September the unit had two Me 110 Cs. two Do 217 Js. two CR.42CNs and seven Re.2001CNs operational. 234 sq had been at Venegono since 9 July and 235 sq at Lonate Pozzolo since the previous October.
61 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 34, 128 Stormo Auto
61 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 34, 128 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Parma Italy Ro 37 Ca 311 SQA1 AR 11 Jun 1940 Mondovi Italy Ro 37 Ca 311 SQA1 AR Apr 1941 Gorizia Italy Ca311 SQA2 AR 22 May 1941 Mostar Yugoslavia Ca311 AALB AG 16 Aug 1941 Tudora Russia Ca311 CSIR IT 31 Aug 1941 Krivoi Rog Russia Ca311 CSIR AR 16 Nov 1941 Stalino Russia Ca311 CSIR DB. AR May 1942 Valona Albania Ca311 AALB AG Feb 1943 Gorizia? Italy Ca311 SQA2 TG 1 Mar 1943 Scutari Albania Ca 311 Ca314 AALB AG. AS Jul 1943 Jesi Italy Ca 311 Ca314 BR.20M SQA2 AS
At the start of the war 34 sq had four Ro 37s and three Ca 311 s. and 128 sq had four Ca 31 Is under 4 Armata control. A day later they moved to Mondovi, under 6 Armata. 34 sq left for 65 Gruppo at Cervere and 33 sq. already at Mondovi, took its place. 129 sq also arrived, from 72 Gruppo. Patrols were flown against French incursions and on 25 June, the Gruppo passed to 1 Armata control. 33 sq went to 67 Gruppo on 1 July and 34 sq rejoined that month. 129 sq left for 64 Gruppo in December.
From 6 to 15 April the unit’s 15 Ca 311s operated over the Yugoslav front, continuing with anti-partisan duties from May. 34 and 128 sq were now under 2 Armata. In July, 119 sq arrived and the following month they took 32 Ca 31 Is and an S 82 to Russia.
On 26 August, 34 sq moved to Krivoi Rog, followed by the others five days later. In October. 128 sq used Saporoshje. On 16 November, 119 sq went to Stalino. closely followed by the others. They began bombing operations from here, in addition to recce duties for the army. In the Spring of 1942, the unit left its surviving Ca 311 s to the incoming 71 Gruppo at Stalino. During their tour in Russia, between August 1941 and April 1942. they made 337 sorties in 686 hours and only lost four aircraft.
They returned to anti-partisan duties in Albania, joining 21 Stormo from May 1942. Various bases were used, such as Valona, Scutari. Scjak and Coritza. Two Fi 156 C liaison aircraft were used from Cortiza in October. On 25 November, six Ca314s were received by 119 sq. This latter squadriglia also used two Ca 164s from February 1943.
34 sq joined 68 Gruppo from December to June, then rejoined this Gruppo. From 1 March 128 sq was at Zara with Ca314s under 5 Gruppo. 119 sq had also departed in March and 25 sq had joined. The Gruppo became Autonomo. 39 sq arrived that month, based at Scutari until 28 May, then at Jesi with sections at Pescara and Ghedi. 25 sq was at Scjak until 30 July, then moved to Scutari. They also maintained a section at Coritza until September.
During July 34 sq temporarily used BR.20Ms for antisubmarine duties in liaison with the Regia Marina from Jesi. On 7 September the unit had only three Ca 311s and three Ca314s operational.
62 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 28, 29 Stormo Auto
62 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 28, 29 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Lucca Italy Ro37bis SQA3 AR
This unit transferred on 11 June from 8 Armata to 6 Armata control, for operations against the French. 29 sq was detached to Arezzo.
42 sq replaced 28 sq in 1941. The Gruppo was disbanded on 15 March 1942.
63 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 41, 113 Stormo 22
63 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 41, 113 Stormo 22 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Udine Italy Ro 37 SQA1 AR Jul 1942 Ronchi Italy BR.20 SQA2 TG. AG Feb 1943 Lubiana Yugoslavia Ca314 BR20 Ca 164 AALB AG
This unit began the war under II Gruppo Armata Est, with 16 Ro 37s. By 1 January 1941, three Ca 31 Is had arrived. In April the unit began operations with the Ro 37s over Yugoslavia, with a very intensive period from 11 to 14 April, searching for frontline units tor Squadra 2. The unit passed to 2 Armata during the summer and began anti-partisan duties over Yugoslavia until the end of the war.
They detached sections to various bases such as Alture di Pola. Zara. Lubiana. Grobnico and Mostar. In July and November 1942. 99 and 98 Gruppi passed their respective BR20s to 63 Gruppo at Ronchi. In February 1943. 113 sq was at Alture di Pola and 41 sq was at Lubiana. both using some Ca 164s for liaison and local recce duties. 119 sq joined in March and the Gruppo passed to 21 Stormo.
By May. 41 and 113 sq were at Lubiana and 119 sq was at Alture di Pola. where they remained until the armistice.
64 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 122, 136 Stormo Auto
64 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 122, 136 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Tripoli-Mellaha Tripolitan Ro37bis ALIB AR Jun 1942 Milano-Bresso Italy Ca313 SQA1 TG Oct 1942 Capua Italy Ca313 SQA3 IT Oct 1942 Castelbenito Tripolitan Ca313 SQA5 IT 9 Oct 1942 Benghasi Cirenaica Ca313 Ca 311 SQA5 CE 20 Nov 1942 Zuara Tripolitan Ca313 Ca 311 SQA5 AR Nov 1942 Sorman Tripolitan Ca313 Ca 311 SQA5 AR Jan 1943 Zuara Tripolitan Ca313 Ca 311 SQA5 IT 8 Jan 1943 Venaria Reale Italy Ca313 SQA1 AR Apr 1943 Cuers Pierrefeu France Ca313 APRO AR
This unit had an exhausting tour on the African continent, starting with patrols along the Tunisian border under 5 Armata. while France was still a threat. On 12 June. 136 sq was detached to Tobruk T 5. replacing 127 sq which had suffered badly from British ground attacks. On I September, because of disagreement with the Tobruk commander, the squadriglia moved to Gambut for recce and ground support duties. In February the Gruppo received some Ca 31 Is.
By June 1942. they were in Italy, training on the Ca313 and getting ready for the Russian front. However, orders were changed and consideration was given to re-equipping with BR20s for a second tour in Africa. By October they were embroiled in the retreat from El Alamein. using Ca 311s from 66 and 68 Gruppi. as well as their ow n Ca313s. The unit ended up split between Barce and Benghasi. On 5 November the Gruppo left 19 Stormo, but rejoining it on 25 January. Because of the worsening situation, they left Libya with 12 Ca313s in mid-January 1943.
Three Ca 164s were received in February for liaison duties and after a rest in Italy, the Gruppo moved to southern France. 122 sq used Cuers Pierrefeu and 136 sq used Hyeres. On 7 September they were the only Italian unit based in occupied France. They had 10 Ca313s operational out of 14. These were all captured, with their crews, by the Germans.
65 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 36, 37 Stormo 21
65 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 36, 37 Stormo 21 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Padova Italy Ca311 SQA1 AR 17 Jun 1940 Quarto d’Asti Italy Ca311 SQA1 AR 9 Jul 1940 Padova Italy Ca311 SQA1 TG 10 Apr 1941 Tirana Albania Ca311 AALB AR Jun 1941 Padova Italy Ca311 SQA4 AS Aug 1941 Forli Italy Ca311 SQA2 IT Aug 1941 Mostar Yugoslavia Ca311 AALB AR Jul 1942 Benghasi? Cirenaica Ca311 SQA5 AR Aug 1942 Alghero Sardinia Ro 37 bis Ca 312 Ca313 Ca314 ASAR AR. AN. AS Sep 1943 Ajaccio Corsica Ca313 Ca314 ASAR AR. AN
At the outbreak of war this unit was attached to 4 Armata with seven Ca 311s. They quickly transferred to 6 Armata and also received 34 sq from 61 Gruppo at Cervere on 17 June. The latter squadriglia stayed detached at Cervere and returned to 61 Gruppo on 9 July, when the main unit returned to Padova.
In April 1941.87 sq went to Albania with the seven Ca 31 Is for operations against Yugoslavia. After the surrender, the unit carried out anti-submarine duties over the Adriatic. Two months later they returned to Yugoslavia for anti-partisan operations. 87 sq joined 66 Gruppo in October. 36 sq stayed in the Balkans.
In July 1942 they reformed with 28 and 124 sq and joined 66 Gruppo in Libya, possibly Benghasi. It was decided the OA units were too vulnerable there, so by 1 August, they moved to Sardinia, becoming part of 20 Stormo OA.
They received some Ro 37 bis. followed by Ca314s, undertaking anti-shipping and submarine duties, with 28 sq at Elmas and 124 sq at Alghero. On 1 February 1943. a Ca 312 joined 131 sq which had joined the Gruppo the previous month. 28 sq had left for Oristano. moving to Novi Ligure by 23 July. Also in February. 124 sq became Autonomo. directly under 20 Stormo. Both 131 and 124 sq were at Alghero now' and by April, used Ca313 and Ca314 aircraft. On 17 April and 14 May, 131 sq lost five Ca314s to Allied bombing. On 23 July. 131 sq moved to Ajaccio. By 7 September the Gruppo had 14 Ca314s operational out of 23. plus one Ca313.
66 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 42, 131 Stormo 20
66 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 42, 131 Stormo 20 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Capodichino Italy Ro37bis SQA3 TG 1 Oct 1941 Bari-Palese Macchie Italy Ca311 SQA4 TG May 1942 Capodichino Italy Ca311 SQA3 TG 18 Jul 1942 Zuara Tripolitan Ca311 SQA5 IT Jul 1942 Benghasi K 3 Cirenaica Ca311 SQA5 AR. AN. CE Aug 1942 Zuara Tripolitan Ca311 SQA5 AR. CE Sep 1942 Abu Nimeir? Egypt Ca311 SQA5 AR. GA Sep 1942 Barce Cirenaica Ca 311 Ro 63 SQA5 AR 13 Nov 1942 Tarnet Tripolitan Ca311 SQA5 AR 26 Nov 1942 Zuara Tripolitan Ca311 SQA5 IT 28 Nov 1942 Palermo Sicily Ca311 ASIC AR. AS Feb 1943 Gela Sicily Ca 312 Ca313 Ca314 ASIC AR. AS May 1943 Gerbini Sicily Ca313 Ca314 ASIC AR. AS 16 Jul 1943 Novi Ligure Italy Ca313 Ca314 SQA1 TG
This unit began the war with seven aircraft of 42 sq detached to Bari-Palese and six of 131 sq at Capodichino. The Gruppo also had a Ca 111 bis on liaison duties. After the French surrender they passed to 6 Armata control. On 25 October. 42 sq went to 72 Gruppo at Valona. 131 sq became Autonomo and joined 30 Corps d‘Armata. leaving the Gruppo without squadriglie for a year. On 1 October 1941. 87 sq joined at Bari, leaving for Africa 10 months later.
Shortly after arrival. 87 sq was joined by 131 sq. They then moved to Benghasi. 131 sq was detached to Barce in July. By 1 August the unit had 12 Ca 311 s at Zuara and moved to the frontline at El Alamein to undertake ground attacks, convoy escorts and recces. A Ro 63 lightplane was used from Barce, for crew' rescue in the desert at this time. The Gruppo left 20 Stormo on 16 August. 87 sq was back at Benghasi K3 by 1 November.
After the retreat from Egypt, the unit retired to Sicily and rejoined 20 Stormo. The surviving aircraft were passed to the incoming 64 Gruppo and 66 Gruppo were then re-equipped with Ca313 and Ca314 aircraft and a Fi 156 C went to 40 sq in December. 131 sq had been replaced by 40 sq that month. A Ca 312 trainer was used by 87 sq at Gela in February 1943.
87 sq moved from Gela to Gerbini on 21 May. with a section at Reggio Calabria from 4 June. 40 sq was at Reggio Calabria, moving to Palermo on 21 May. Both squadriglie moved to Novi Ligure in July, but the Gruppo disbanded on 16 August.
67 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 25, 115 Stormo 21
67 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 25, 115 Stormo 21 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Bologna-BorgoPanigale Italy Ro37bis SQA1 AR 10 Jul 1940 Mellaha Tripolitan Ro37bis SQA5 AR Sep 1940 Benina Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 AR, GA Oct 1940 Mellaha Tripolitan Ro 37 bis Ca 310 SQA5 AR Feb 1941 Derna Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 AR Mar 1941 Mellaha Tripolitan Ro37bis SQA5 TG Dec 1941 Tarnet Tripolitan Ro 37 bis Ro 63 SQA5 AR Feb 1942 Sorman Tripolitan Ro37bis SQA5 TG Feb 1942 Novi Ligure Italy Ca314? SQA1 CE. AS
25 sq was detached to Jesi for operations against France, under XV Corpo d’Armata. The unit had IO aircraft altogether. On 11 June. 25 sq left for 72 Gruppo at Villanova d'Albenga. The following month found 115 sq in Libya, having been joined by 33 sq from 61 Gruppo on I July.
115 sq was busy during the advance on Sidi Barrani. returning to Mellaha in October to receive 20 Ca 310s. These were not in operational condition and only a few were used. On 1 January 1941. five Ca 310s and some Ro 37 bis were sent with 33 sq to Tobruk. Moving to Derna on the 6th. they lost several aircraft to the strafing RAF. Five days later. 33 sq was at Apollonia, with a section at Tobruk T 5. There followed a rapid series of moves-Soluch (28th). El Agheila (4 February). Tarnet (5th), Misurata (7th) evacuation of Cirenaica (9th). This w as typical of the chaotic situation at the time.
Wear and tear on the crews and aircraft reduced efficiency to almost nil. 115 sq used its Ro 37 bis during the spring offensive, but on 7 August the crews began returning to Italy. The aircraft were left in Libya for other units to use. On 31 December, a Ro 63 was transferred from 30 sq to 129 sq at Tarnet. This latter squadriglie had replaced 33 sq. and stayed in Libya when the Gruppo returned to Italy in February 1942. 132 sq joined the Gruppo in January, while based at Ain el Gazala. The Gruppo disbanded on 10 February, and the surviving Ro 37s were collected at Sorman and transferred to the Balkans. Between March and May. some of the crews retrained on CR 42s and formed 158 Gruppo Assalto at Sorman. The observers were passed to the RST units.
The Gruppo had reformed by August 1942. 115 sq and the Gruppo being part of 19 Stormo. They carried out convoy escorts and anti-submarine duties over the Alto Tirreno.
68 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 14, 35 Stormo 21
68 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 14, 35 Stormo 21 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Verona Italy Ro 37 SQA1 AR 20 Jun 1940 Torino Italy Ro 37 SQA1 AR Apr 1941 Peqini Albania Ro 37 AALB AR Jan 1942 Scutari Albania Ro 37 Ca 111 bis AALB AR Mar 1942 Venaria Reale Italy Ca311 SQA1 TG 9 Mar 1942 Zuara Tripolitan Ca311 SQA5 AR Jul 1942 Misurata Tripolitan Ca 311 Ca 312 SQA5 AR Nov 1942 Zuara Tripolitan Ca 311 Ca 312 SQA5 IT 28 Nov 1942 Palermo Sicily Ca 311 Ca 312 ASIC AR Nov 1942 Treviso Italy Ca 312 SQA2 TG Feb 1943 Ronchi Italy Ca 312 SQA2 TG Jul 1943 Jesi Italy Ca314 Ca313 SQA2 TG 25 Jul 1943 Lavariano Italy Ca314 Ca313 SQA1 TG
Twelve aircraft of this unit were used in the French campaign, under 4 Armata. 35 sq was detached to Venaria Reale on 20 June, under 6 Armata. On 14 April 1941.35 sq went to Peqini, Albania, with eight Ro 37s for operations against Greece and Yugoslavia in the closing stages of those campaigns. 35 sq was replaced by 33 sq at this time.
Re-equipping with 12 Ca 31 Is. 33 sq left for Libya in March 1942. 24 sq followed on 23 April. At the end of July. 33sq was back at Zuara. receiving Ca 312s which never measured up to operational standards. The unit was briefly involved in the Alamein battles, but in November returned to Italy. The remaining aircraft were passed to 64 Gruppo.
24 sq left for 73 Gruppo in December. 34 sq joined from 10 December to 18 June, with a section at Pescara from 21 May. then it moved on to 61 Gruppo. 121 sq arrived at Pescara in late August. By 7 September there were nine out of 15 Ca314s operational, plus two unserviceable Ca313s.
69 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 118, 123 Stormo 19
69 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 118, 123 Stormo 19 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Levaldigi Italy Ro 37 bis Ca 311 Ca 310 SQA1 AR 1 Jan 1941 Novi Ligure Italy Ca 311 Ca 310 SQA1 AR Dec 1941 Zuara Tripolitan Ca 311 Ro 63 SQA5 AR 9 Mar 1942 Benghasi K3 Cirenaica Ca311 SQA5 AR 27 Mar 1942 Barce Cirenaica Ca311 SQA5 AR Jul 1942 Capodichino Italy Ca 311 Ca313 Ca314 SQA3 AS. AR, TG Sep 1943 Pontecagnano Italy Ca313 Ca314 SQA4 AS. AR
On 11 June 1940. 118 sq was switched from 1 Armata to the control of 11 Corps d'Armata. 123 sq had been detached to Novi Ligure to defend the approaches to Levaldigi. During this first month of war. the unit exchanged its Ro 37 bis for Ca 311 s. On 24 June. 132 sq temporarily joined from 76 Gruppo in Sicily. By January 1941. 123 sq was still at Novi Ligure and 118 sq was at Mondovi. They had received two Ca 310s for training use.
Arriving in Libya by the end of 1941, they received the first Ro 63 - the Italian equivalent to the German Storch. This aircraft was tried out for liaison and desert rescue duties. The squadriglie were now based at Zuara (123 sq) and Misurata (118 sq). There followed a period of local defence duties. 118 sq moved to Barce and 123 sq to K 3. They returned to Italy at the end of July 1942. joining 20 Stormo on 1 October.
In November they became the first OA unit to receive the new Ca314 light bomber, with 17 on strength by the 13th. The Ca 311 s were used for anti-submarine duties until late 1942, with 123 sq detached to Palese-Macchie. Some Ca313s and a Ca 164 joined the unit in January 1943. 123 sq left on 29 January.
103 sqjoinedat Bari on 1 March, moved to Gioia del Colle by 14 May. then back to Bari on 30 July. 104 sq joined in April at Crotone, moving to Manduria on 23 July. Castrovillari on 30 July. Crotone on 6 August and Sibari on 13 August. 118 sq was at Pontecagnano until the armistice, with a section at Capua from 20 to 27 August.
By 7 September they had 11 out of 18 Ca314s. plus one Ca313. operational.
70 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 114 Stormo Auto
70 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 114 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties Mar 1941 Vicenza Italy Ro37bis SQA2 TG 6 Mar 1941 Tirana Albania Ro37bis AALB AR May 1941 Coritza Albania Ro 37 bis Ca 311 Ca314 AALB AG, AR May 1943 Valona Albania Ca 311 Ca314 AALB AR
This unit transferred on 6 March 1941, with eight Ro 37 bis. to join 25 sq with nine Ro 27 bis at Tirana. They began operations over Yugoslavia and stayed after the surrender to carry out antipartisan duties from May. Detachments were sent to various bases such as Alture di Pola. Lubiana. Zara. Grobnico and Mostar.
The Ro 37 bis were gradually replaced by Ca 31 Is and then Ca314s. 39 sq joined from September 1942 to March 1943. 25 sq used a Ca 164 from February 1943. then left the next month for 61 Gruppo. having been replaced by 123 sq from 29 January. 114 sq had a section at Devoli until 2 July. 123 sq was at Devoli until 13 August, then moved to Valona.
On 7 September, 114 and 123 sq had eight out of 12 Ca 31 Is and six out of six Ca314s operational at Valona.
71 Gruppo OA
71 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 38, 116 Stormo 22
71 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 38, 116 Stormo 22 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Gorizia Italy Ro 37 bis Ca 111 bis SQA1 AR 17 Jun 1940 Aosta Italy Ro37bis SQA1 AR Apr 1941 Udine Italy Ro37bis SQA2 AR May 1942 Stalino Russia Ca 311 Ca 312 CSIR AR Aug 1942 Voroscilovgrad Russia Ca 311 Ca 312 BR20M Fi 156 C CSIR AR Feb 1943 Stalino Russia Ca 311 Ca 312 BR20M Ca 164 CSIR AR 1943 Saporoshje Russia Ca 311 Ca 312 BR.20M CSIR AR 1943 Odessa Russia Ca 311 Ca 312 BR.20M CSIR AR. IT May 1943 Ronchi Italy BR20M SQA2 TG 17 Jul 1943 Venaria Reale Italy BR20M SQA1 TG 30 Jul 1943 Mirafiori Italy BR20 M SQA1 AR 3 Sep 1943 Venaria Reale Italy BR.20M SQA1 TG
This unit began the war under 2 Armata control. The eight Ca 111 bis were quickly put into reserve duties. The Gruppo moved to Aosta and temporarily received 31 sq. detached to Venaria Reale, from 5 Gruppo, for operations against France. This was under I Gruppo Armata Ovest. and controlled by Corpod'Armata Alpino.
By 7 April 1941. the unit was at Udine for operations over Yugoslavia. On 1 January they had received three Ca 311 s to assist the older Ro 37s.
In the Spring of 1942 the unit. Autonomo since 13 May. came under 8 Armata and joined in supporting the advance into Russia. They took over 61 Gruppo's Ca 311s at Stalino. During August and September they received seven BR.20Ms. followed by five more in December. Most of these went to 38 sq. performing valuable photorecce work in the Don area in August. At this time 116 sq was detached to Kalinovskaja landing ground, with a section of Ca 31 Is at Kantemirovka. Two Fi 156 C liaison aircraft were used from November.
By 18 December the Gruppo was fully reunited at Voroscilovgrad with 17 BR.20Ms and 15 Ca 31 Is. Both 38 and 116 sq used a Ca 133 S ambulance plane between September 1942 and April 1943. Two Ca 312s also arrived in 1942 for ambulance work, but were soon put on ordinary transport duties. By February 1943. 38 sq had two and 116 sq had three of these types, along with a Ca 164 each.
Following the retreat across Russia, the unit returned to Italy, leaving all its surviving Caproni aircraft behind. They re-equipped fully with BR.20Ms and carried on training in northern Italy.
72 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 119, 129 Stormo 19
72 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 119, 129 Stormo 19 Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Villanova d'Albenga Italy Ro 37 Ca 311 SQA1 AR Oct 1940 Valona Albania Ro37bis AALB AR Aug 1942 Larissa Greece Ro 37 Ro 37 bis Ca 311 BR20 Ca 164 Ca313 AGRE AS. AR
On the first day of war. 129 sq was detached to Mondovi with Ca 311s under III Corps d'Armata, while 119 sq stayed at Villanova with Ro 37s under XV Corps d'Armata. 25 sq arrived from 67 Gruppo at Jesi and joined 119 sq. 129 sq joined 61 Gruppo. followed by 119 sq in the Summer of 1941.
Meanwhile. 42 sq flew to Valona. where the Gruppo now had 27 Ro 37 bis. 25 sq was detached to Coritza and the other new arrival. 120 sq was at Argiroscastro. In December. 120 sq moved to Valona and 25 sq went to Tirana where it joined 70 Gruppo in March 1941. During January 1941. the Gruppo. escorted by CR 42s over the Greek front, became embroiled in several fights with Gladiators.
By April 120 sq exchanged its Ro 37 bis for nine Ca31 Is. which it took to Durazzo for operations against Yugoslavia. 42 sq continued to use its nine Ro 37 bis from Valona for the same campaign. Both squadriglie then participated in the anti-partisan duties, operating from Valona. Sections were detached to various bases, as required, such as Zara. Lubiana and Allure di Pola. 120 sq then left for Villanova for a rest, returning in July 1942 to replace 36 sq at Mostar. The latter went to Lucca, where it carried on using three Ca 164 liaison aircraft on anti-partisan duties. 120 sq went to 5 Gruppo in early 1943.
72 Gruppo seems to have then reformed as an Autonomo unit in Greece, with 31 sq at Argos and 35 sq at Larissa, all on antisubmarine and recce duties. 31 sq had six Ro 37s and three Ca 311s. with a section at Araxos. 35 sq had nine Ro 37 bis. Both squadriglie still used a Ca 164 each. They remained in this area until the armistice. By this time they had eight BR20s out of 11. four Ca 31 Is out of nine and one Ca313 out of one. operational.
73 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 127, 137 Stormo Auto
73 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 127, 137 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 El Adem Cirenaica Ro 37 bis Ca 310 SQA5 AR Sep 1940 Menastir Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 AR 26 Sep 1940 Solium Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 AR Dec 1940 Benghasi Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 IT Mar 1941 Castelbenito Tripolitan Ro37bis SQA5 AR Mar 1941 Benghasi K 2 Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 AR Mar 1941 Ain el Gazala Cirenaica Ro37bis SQA5 AR Apr 1942 Novi Ligure Italy Ca311 SQA1 TG Apr 1942 Alture di Pola Italy Ca311 SQA2 AG 22 May 1942 Piemonte Italy Ca311 SQA1 AR Jun 1942 Venaria Reale Italy Ca313 Ca314 SQA1 TG May 1943 Novi Ligure Italy Ca313 Ca314 SQA1 TG Jul 1943 Scutari Albania Ca313 Ca314 AALB AG Sep 1943 Scjak Albania Ca313 Ca314 AALB AG. AR
This unit suffered heavily in the first stages of the desert war. Operating under 10th Army. 127 sq was at Tobruk T 2. and 137 sq was at El Adem, with seven Ro 37 bis. On 12 June. 127 sq lost three aircraft to British attacks, leaving only one operational. Despite replacements from 137 sq and six Ca 310s received for ground attack duties, the unit was poorly equipped to carry out its work. In September, 137 sq moved to Menastir and both squadriglie went to Solium on the 26th. where three more Ro 37 bis were lost to bombing. 136 sq was temporarily attached for operations against Sidi Barrani in September. In December 137 sq withdrew to Benghasi, leaving 127 sq in the front line where it lost a further seven Ro 37 bis abandoned in the retreat. By February 1941, the Gruppo had only eight aircraft left, the Ca 310s having long since been abandoned as useless. It seems that the unit was then withdrawn from action.
In April 1942. 137 sq moved from Novi Ligure to Allure di Pola and 127 sq from Venaria Reale to Zara, both with Ca 31 Is. Due to bad weather and difficult terrain, they returned in May to Piemonte and Liguria. In June. 127 sq received the first Ca313 at Venaria Reale, followed the next month by 137 sq at Novi Ligure.
In September and December the squadriglie changed. 115 sq and 24 sq arriving in those respective months with Ca313s and Ca314s. 127 sq passed to 76 Gruppo in September. 115 sq received a Ca 164 in February 1943, at Novi Ligure. 24 sq was still at that base in May, with a section at Venaria Reale until 9 July. Then it moved to Scjakon 13 August. 115 sq. with a sectional Bressountil 11 June, then moved from Novi Ligure to Scutari. On 13 August it moved to Devoli. Meanwhile. 137 sq had gone to Albenga in February, with nine Ca313s, and stayed there until the armistice, under 19 Stormo command.
By 7 September the Gruppo had only two out of 10 Ca313s and four out of eight Ca314s serviceable.
76 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 132, 30 Stormo Auto
76 Gruppo OA Squadriglie 132, 30 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties 10 Jun 1940 Boccadifalco Sicily Ro37bis SQA2 AR Jul 1942 Venaria Reale Italy Ca313 SQA1 AR Feb 1943 Le Luc France Ca313 APRO AR
This unit started the war in Sicily, under the control of XII Corpo d‘Armata. with six Ro 37 bis. 132 sq was detached to Catania, then left on 24 June for 69 Gruppo at Levaldigi.
40 sq joined in 1941. only to become Autonomo again in May 1942. The Gruppo briefly joined 19 Stormo in that month. By July 1942, 30 sq was at Venaria Reale and 115 sq was at Novi Ligure. The latter squadriglia exchanged with 127 sq from 73 Gruppo in September, replacing its Ca313s with Ca314s in November. The Gruppo now joined 19 Stormo and moved to France when the Italians occupied their portion of that country in 1943. 30 sq used two Ca 164s for liaison duties.
82 Gruppo RM Squadriglie 139, 184 Stormo Auto
82 Gruppo RM Squadriglie 139, 184 Stormo Auto Arrival Base Country Aircraft Zone Duties Aug 1942 Prevesa Greece Z501 Z506 B AGRE CE, AR
This unit was formed in August 1942. from the Sezione Costiere under the Greek area command, for the Protection of convoys crossing to Cirenaica to supply the Axis forces in front of El Alamein. They initially had 11 Z 501s, boosted by seven Z 506 Bs by April 1943.
As the squadriglie were uniting, a famous incident occurred. On 28 July 1942, a Beaufort of 217 sq RAF was shot down by a destroyer's anti-aircraft fire while attacking a merchant ship off the southern Greek coast. Lt ET Strever. SAAF, and his crew were picked up and eventually passed to 139 sq. who were to fly them from Greece to Italy and a POW camp. The next morning, during the flight, the prisoners overpowered their captors and forced the pilot. Ten Mastrodicasa. to fly to Malta. Despite Red Cross markings already on the aircraft, the defending fighters from Malta attacked, so the Z 506 B landed on the water. Red Cross marked aircraft were rumoured to be used, by both sides, for spotting purposes. The floatplane was subsequently towed to St Pauls Island, then flown in to Kalafrana seaplane base. On 31 July, RAF markings were applied, with the intention of using the aircraft for air-sea-rescue duties, but it was felt too prone to being accidentally shot down. It left Malta a few days later.
By early 1943. the Gruppo was patrolling the approaches to the Aegean and the Greek coast and watching over friendly shipping in the area. On 20 May. 10 Sexione Aerea di Soccorso was formed from 184 sq at Prevesa. From 3 September, 184 sq was detached to Pola-Puntisella. By the 7th the whole Gruppo had three Z 501 s and five Z 506 Bs operational.
Main Book Reference: Combat Units of the Regia Aeronautica by Chris Dunning
Regia Aeronautica units that used the Fiat G.50 Freccia
Rep. Sper. G.50 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica Rep. Sper. G.50 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (May 1939) Escalona Spain Fiat G.50 Freccia
20 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 351, 352, 353 Stormo 51 and (56)
Regia Aeronautica 20 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 351, 352, 353 Stormo 51 and (56) Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Nov 1939) Ciampino Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Nov 1940) Maldegem Belgium Fiat G.50 Freccia (Jul 1941) to (Dec 41) Martuba Libya Fiat G.50 Freccia
21 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 354, 355, 356 Stormo 51
Regia Aeronautica 21 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 354, 355, 356 Stormo 51 Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Nov 1939) Ciampino Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Aug 1940) Capodichino Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
22 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 357, 358, 359 Stormo 52
Regia Aeronautica 22 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 357, 358, 359 Stormo 52 Arrival Base Country Aircraft (June 1940) Pontedera Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Nov 1941) Ciampino Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
24 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 354, 355, 370 Stormo 52
Regia Aeronautica 24 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 354, 355, 370 Stormo 52 Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Nov 1940) Tirana Albania Fiat G.50 Freccia (Apr 1941) Grottaglie Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (July 1941 to June 1942) Monserrato Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Nov 1942) Elmas & Alghero Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (May 1943) Alghero Sardinia Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
2 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 150, 152, 358 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 2 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 150, 152, 358 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Sep 1940) Grottaglie Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Feb 1941) Rifugio Castelberto Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Jun 1941) Dema-EI Fhteia Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
154 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 361, 395, 396 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 154 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 361, 395, 396 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Nov 1940) Berat Albania Fiat G.50 Freccia (Feb 1941) Devoli Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Jul 1941) Grottaglie Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Aug 1942 to Dec 1942) Gadurrä Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Sep 1943) Marizza Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
12 Gruppo Ass Squadriglie 159, 160, 165 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 12 Gruppo Ass Squadriglie 159, 160, 165 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Apr 1941 to Jul 1941) Rifugio Castelberto Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
155 Gruppo ACT Squadriglie 351, 360, 378 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 155 Gruppo ACT Squadriglie 351, 360, 378 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Feb 1941) Misrata Libya Fiat G.50 Freccia (Apr 1941) Derna Libya Fiat G.50 Freccia (Oct 1941) Ain El Gazala Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
161 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 162, 163, 164 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 161 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 162, 163, 164 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Feb 1941) Gadurrä Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Apr 1942 to Feb 1943) Grottaglie Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
23 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 70, 74, 74 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 23 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 70, 74, 74 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Feb 1942) Mirafiori Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
151 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 366, 367, 368 Stormo 53
Regia Aeronautica 151 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 366, 367, 368 Stormo 53 Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Feb 1942) Caselle (Arezzo) Arezzo Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Sep 1942) Araxos Greece Fiat G.50 Freccia (Jan 1943) Sfax Tunisia Fiat G.50 Freccia
151 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 393, 394, 275 Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 151 Gruppo CT Squadriglie 393, 394, 275 Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Feb 1942 to Nov 1942) Surman Libya Fiat G.50 Freccia
158 Gruppo Ass Squadriglie 236, 387, 388 Stormo 5
Regia Aeronautica 158 Gruppo Ass Squadriglie 236, 387, 388 Stormo 5 Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Apr 1943) Aviano Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Sep 1943) Osoppo Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
159 Gruppo Ass Squadriglie 389, 390, 391 Stormo 50
Regia Aeronautica 159 Gruppo Ass Squadriglie 389, 390, 391 Stormo 50 Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Apr 1943) Aviano Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia (Sep 1943) Osoppo Italy Fiat G.50 Freccia
376a Squadriglie Ass Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 376a Squadriglie Ass Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (May 1943) Durazzo Albania Fiat G.50 Freccia (Sep 1943) Tirana Albania Fiat G.50 Freccia
392a Squadriglie CT Autonomo
Regia Aeronautica 392a Squadriglie CT Autonomo Arrival Base Country Aircraft (Apr 1943 to Sep 1943) Tirana Albania Fiat G.50 Freccia
- Flight Simulators
IL-2 Sturmovik 'Cliff's of Dover' Blitz
IL-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad
DCS World - has no 3D model
Regia Aeronautica Aces (World War II) Ace No of Kills Teresio Vittorio Martinoli 22 kills Franco Lucchini 22 kills (1 in Spain) Leonardo Ferrulli 21 kills (1 in Spain) Franco Bordoni-Bisleri 19 kills Luigi Gorrini 19 kills Mario Visintini 17 kills Ugo Drago 17 kills Mario Bellagambi 14 kills Luigi Baron 14 kills Luigi Gianella 12 kills Attilio Sanson 12 kills Willy Malagola 11 Kills Carlo Magnaghi 11 kills Angelo Mastroagostino 11 kills Giorgio Solaroli di Briona 11 kills Mario Veronesi 11 kills Fernando Malvezzi 10 kills Giulio Reiner 10 kills Giuseppe Robetto 10 kills Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa 10 kills Massimo Salvatore 10 kills Claudio Solaro 10 kills Ennio Tarantola 10 kills Giulio Torresi 10 kills Adriano Visconti 10 kills
Regia Aeronautica Citations
- Nicola Malizia is also author of several books, including a comprehensive history of 51° Stormo caccia (Quelli del Gatto Nero, I 60 anni di storia del 51°Stormo - 1939-1999) Copyright N.Malizia/F,McMeiken
Regia Aeronautica Bibliography:
- Main Book Reference: Combat Units of the Regia Aeronautica by Chris Dunning
Magazine References: +
- Airfix Magazines (English) - http://www.airfix.com/
- Avions (French) - http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/rubrique10.html
- FlyPast (English) - http://www.flypast.com/
- Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) - http://vdmedien.com/flugzeug-publikations-gmbh-hersteller_verlag-vdm-heinz-nickel-33.html
- Flugzeug Classic (German) - http://www.flugzeugclassic.de/
- Klassiker (German) - http://shop.flugrevue.de/abo/klassiker-der-luftfahrt
- Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://boutique.editions-lariviere.fr/site/abonnement-le-fana-de-l-aviation-626-4-6.html
- Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://www.pdfmagazines.org/tags/Le+Fana+De+L+Aviation/
- Osprey (English) - http://www.ospreypublishing.com/
- Revi Magazines (Czech) - http://www.revi.cz/
Web References: +
- Nicola Malizia - http://www.europeanaf.org/history/51.htm
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/
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