Free-French use of the Fiat CR.42 during the Second World War

During the offensive in North Africa in December 1942 the Free French Forces of General Leclerc captured the whole Fezzan region. When they arrived at Sabha they discovered the wrecks of 11 Italian aircraft, which had been destroyed by Allied fire or by the Italians themselves before they left the base. Among these wrecks were five Fiat CR.42s. One of these was very little damaged.

From 12 January 1943 /SC Kersaho and Sergeant Leroy went over this Fiat. The check showed that the aircraft was in a very good shape and only that the battery was defective.

On 20 January the engine was re-started for the first time. The following rolling and braking tests on the ground did not reveal any problem.

On 30 January Captain Finance carried out the first flight.
Since Captain Finance thought it was very important for his pilots to gain experience on this fighter, all the pilots of the Rennes escadrille flew the aircraft until the end of February when the lack of fuel limited the flights. The only notable incident occurred on 4 February when a tire burst while Sergeant Jourdain landed.

When the Bretagne groupe left Sabha to join the British in March 1943, the Fiat was left in the hangar and nothing is know about it future fate.

Le Fiat 42 Du Bretagne – Rémi Baudru, 1998 Le Fana De L'Aviation nr. 338 Janvier 1998
Additional information kindly provided by Rémi Baudru

Last modified 18 March 2003