Biplane fighter aces


Maresciallo Marecello Baccara

Baccara took part in the Spanish Civil War.

In the morning on 17 November 1936, capitán Ángel Salas led seven Fiats into an attack against two I-16s that tried to intercepted a flight of Ju 52/3ms over the northern Madrid suburb of Fuencarral. Both I-16s were shot down. One of them was credited to Sergente Maggiore Brunetto di Montegnacco while the second was claimed as a shared between Sergente Guido Presel, Baccara and Sergente Maggiore Eugenio Salvi.
Soviet I-16 pilot Leytenant Pavlov was killed.

During a patrol at 3000 meters over Torrijos on 7 December, Sergente Giuseppe Ruzzin of the 1a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio together with Baccara spotted seven Papagajos flying at a low level. After a steep dive Baccara shot down one, while Sergente Ruzzin first damaged one and then shot down one.

Baccara ended the war Spanish Civil War with 1 biplane victory.

On 13 June 1940, bombers from the 30o and 36o Stormi attacked the airfields in Tunis area escorted by the 1o Stormo’s fighters. The SM 79s of the 108o and 109o Gruppi under command of Generale Giuseppe Barba and Colonnello Carlo Drago took off from Castelvetrano at 07:05 in two formations. In the meantime 15 SM 79s of the 30o Stormo (five each from the 193a, 194a, and 195a Squadriglie) took off from Sciacca and formed with the 36o Stormo’s formation. On take-off, Tenente Arrighi’s bomber (MM22128) crashed but the crew was unhurt. The bombers then met 15 CR.42s from the 157o Gruppo, which had taken off from the island of Pantelleria on seeing the bombers passing overhead. The Italian fighters had taken off from Trapani at 04:40 and had landed at Pantelleria at 05:10. They were three fighters from the 385a Squadriglia (Capitano Aldo Li Greci (CO), Sottotenente Giacomo Cremona and Maresciallo Baccara), six fighters from the 386a Squadriglia (Capitano Gustavo Garretto (CO), Sottotenente Angelo Carminati, Sergente Fausto Fiorani, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Tomasi, Sergente Giuseppe Gullà) and six from the 384a Squadriglia (the war diary of the Squadriglia isn’t available but it seems that Sergente Teresio Martinoli, Sottotenente Luigi ’Gigi’ Caneppele and Maggiore Nobili (CO of the 157o Gruppo) were part of the formation together with three other pilots).
At around 08:35 when the fighters were flying towards Tunis, Sottotenente Carminati was suddenly taken ill and collided with Sergente Fiorani, both pilots crashed from 6000 metres. The 386a Squadriglia’s formation became totally uncoordinated with Dalla Pasqua, Tomasi and Gulla returning to Pantelleria after searching for wreckage after their comrades’ aircraft while Garretto went on, lost contact with the bombers and flew alone over Tunis at 6000 metres, finally returning at 09:50.
Over the target, the 36o Stormo pilots reported being attacked by French fighters tentatively identified as Curtiss that were immediately attacked and dispersed by the escorting CR.42s. Only the SM 79 of Tenente Poggi of the 259a Squadriglia was slightly damaged in the tail and in a fuel tank.
Two fighters was damaged and one of them as seen to dive away trailing smoke. Sergente Martinoli, Sottotenente Caneppele and Maggiore Nobili each fired their guns at an enemy fighter. Sergente Martinoli claimed a French twin-engined aircraft over Tunis during this mission (it seems that the claim was only made in his personal logbook) while the 385a Squadriglia’s fighters returned with nothing to report so it seems that only the 384a Squadriglia’s made contact with the French interceptors.
The 36o Stormo attacked Ksar-Said and Menzel-Temime airstrips with 50 and 100 kilos bombs while the 30o Stormo hit El Aouina from 4000 metres with 120 50 kilos and 40 100 kilos bombs. Colonnello Serra’s SM 79 was hit and damaged by AA.
All bombers were back at around 10:00 but on landing at Sciacca the Savoia of Tenente Terzo Mazzotti (MM21331/‘194 – 5’) run into a grove of olive trees and was written off.
The French fighters were almost surely Morane Saulnier MS.406s and Potez 630s (perhaps the twin-engined aircraft engaged by Martinoli) from 2ème escadrille GC I/9 but no other detail regarding this combat is known from French sources (and no losses or claims were recorded). It is also possible that first Escadrille of GC III/5 took part in the action.

In 1943, Baccara served in the 22o Gruppo.

Eight B-24Ds from the 376th BG attacked Naples on 7 February 1943, hitting the docks and damaging the destroyer Ugolino Vivaldi and at least two freighters. B-24D 41-11602/47 ‘Babe, the Big Blue Ox’ from 515th BS was shot down and the pilot Captain James K. Brereton and his crew became KiA. The bombers gunners claimed three Bf 109s destroyed and one probable between 15:40-15:48. The belly gunner aboard B-24D ‘34/S’ (514th BS) piloted by 1st Lieutenant R. L. Rhoades claimed one probable Bf 109, gunners aboard ‘39/K’ (515th BS) piloted by 1st Lieutenant G. E. Mayfield claimed two destroyed Bf 109s and the belly gunner aboard ‘56/B’ (515th BS) piloted by Captain E. A. Crouchley claimed one destroyed Bf 109.
The bombers had been attacked by 19 fighters, mostly MC.202s from the 22o Gruppo, which were scrambled at 16:40 to intercept the intruders. Tenente Giulio Torresi (371a Squadriglia) attacked a B-24 from below, hitting the left wing, A fire quickly started, and the bomber crashed to the ground killing the whole crew. Three fighters from 371a Squadriglia were damaged by return fire in various degree when Sergente Bruno Biagini’s MC.202 MM7419 was hit in combat and he crash-landed (aircraft destroyed and pilot safe), Tenente Enrico Londei’s MC.202 MM7421 was hit and damaged in combat (pilot safe) and Maresciallo Baccara’s MC.200 MM8198 force-landed (pilot safe).

Baccara ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  17/11/36 morning 1/3 I-15 (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.32   Fuencarral area 3a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio
1 07/12/36   1 Papagajo Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Torrijos area 3a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio

Biplane victories: 1 and 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 and 1 shared destroyed.
(a) The CR.32s claimed 2 I-16s without losses and it seems that 2 were shot down (Leytenant Pavlov KIA).

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
Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
Due Volte Asso - Giovanni Massimello, 1997 Storia Militare Nr. 49 Ottobre 1997 kindly provided by Massimo Cappone
Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War - Alfredo Logoluso, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-983-6
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
Additional information kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso.

Last modified 23 October 2023