Biplane fighter aces


Capitano Bruno Alessandrini

Bruno Alessandrini served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, where he served in the 24a Squadriglia, XVI Gruppo.

During his time in Spain, he claimed four victories with the Fiat CR.32.

On 29 May 1937, he claimed a damaged SB over Soria.

On 12 July, he claimed a probably destroyed I-15 over El Escorial de Madrid.

On 18 July, 23 CR.32s from XVI Gruppo and four from 2-G-3 intercepted a formation of 12 light bombers, escorted by 32 I-15s and I-16s, between Valdemorillo and Navalcarnero. Italian pilots were credited with 14 victories - eight light bombers (R-Zs from Grupo No 30), five ’Ratas’ and a ‘Curtiss fighter’ - for the loss of Tenente Giuseppe Mollo from 26a Squadriglia. One of the R-Zs was claimed by capitán Joaquín García Morato. Six R-Zs and at least three of the fighters claimed by the CR.32 pilots were actually lost, both Capitano Armando François (25a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Giuseppe Aurili (24a Squadriglia) downing light bombers to give them their fifth individual victories while Alessandrini claimed another R-Z over Brunete as his first victory. Tenente Corrado Ricci (26a Squadriglia) claimed a “Papagayo” (R-Z or Aero 101) over Brunete. Two of the Ratas were credited to Sergente Maggiore Brunetto di Montegnacco (26a Squadriglia), whose tally now stood at 15 individual victories. Of this action he wrote:

“Fighter escort for bombing raid over the Brunete-Valdemorillo front. Gruppo formation. Collective attack on enemy “Praga” [Aero A-101 light bomber] aircraft. I spotted three Ratas diving down at us from above, and I tried to disrupt their attack by throwing myself straight at them. I shot one down and forced another to break away from us. The third fighter, rolling onto its back, caught up with Tenente Ricci and hit him with a round that, fortunately, only perforated his parachute. Seeing more Ratas, I quickly despatched a second Republican fighter but couldn’t follow it all the way to the ground as I was attacked by two “Curtiss fighters”. My first Rata fell east of Valdemorillo and the second crashed a short distance away from it.”

He claimed an I-15 over Brunete on 25 July.

On 26 July, Corrado Ricci of the 26a Squadriglia claimed a shared Martin bomber (SB) together with other pilots from XVI Gruppo and a second as a probable by himself over Valdemorillo.
Alessandrini (24a Squadriglia) claimed an I-15 in the same area.
This was Ricci’s last claim in Spain before returning to Italy.

The XVI Gruppo encountered the enemy near Fuentes de Ebro on 28 August. Its pilots claimed two ’Ratas’ and five ‘Curtiss fighters’ destroyed and three as probables, for the loss of three CR.32s and three pilots taken prisoner.
One of the I-16s was credited to Alessandrini, reportedly claimed over Sierra de Alcubierre.
The Republicans appear to have lost only one I-15, however.

In the beginning of February 1942, Capitano Alessandrini served as CO of the 155a Squadriglia, 3o Gruppo Autonomo CT in North Africa. This unit was still equipped with Fiat CR.42s.
At the time of Operation Torch (8 November 1942) he still served as CO of this unit.

Alessandrini ended the war with 5 biplane victories and a total of 5.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  29/05/37   1 SB Damaged Fiat CR.32   Soria 24a Squadriglia
  12/07/37   1 I-15 Probably destroyed Fiat CR.32   El Escorial de Madrid 24a Squadriglia
1 18/07/37   1 R-Z (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Brunete area 24a Squadriglia
2 25/07/37   1 I-15 Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Brunete 24a Squadriglia
3 26/07/37   1 I-15 Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Valdemorillo 24a Squadriglia
4 28/08/37   1 I-16 Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Sierra de Alcubierre 24a Squadriglia
5 09/01/41   1 Skua Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Mediterranean  

Biplane victories: 5 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 5 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) The CR.32s claimed 8 light bombers, 5 I-16s and 1 I-15 for the loss of 1 CR.32. It seems that 6 R-Zs and 3 fighters are verified with Republican records.

A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Two – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781909166127
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Three – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2016 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781910690000
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - Giovanni Massimello, 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan

Last modified 27 June 2018