Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Enzo Bianchi

In September 1941, Tenente Enzo Bianchi served in the 155a Squadriglia, 3o Gruppo C.T., which was equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

Tenente Bianchi was scrambled on the night of 5 September and engaged an unidentified bomber 12 miles north of Tripoli. He attacked it several times and returned to claim it as probably destroyed.
The claim can’t be verified with RAF records.

During the night of 2 and 3 November 1941, Wellingtons from both 40 and 104 Squadrons took off from Luqa and raided Castel Benito airfield, Tripoli. They reported dropping nearly 28 tons of H.E. and incendiaries. Workshops and ammunition dumps were hit, and petrol tanks were destroyed and fires were started in hangars and buildings. Aircraft dispersed on the ground were bombed and machine-gunned, and at least 12 were seen to be on fire. One CR.42 was shot down and one Wellington and crew was missing.
The majority of the pilots reported sighting night-fighters over the target. They made four separate attacks without effect. Fire was returned in all cases and the rear gunner of X claimed one CR.42 shot down, which was seen to crash on the ground. R received a hit in the port tyre and one in the fuselage. Heavy and light AA was inaccurate and moderate.
A New Zealand pilot with 40 Squadron, Sergeant C. A. Armstrong, pressed home his attack in such a determined manner that he gained the award of a D.F.M., his citation stating: ”…he bombed the aerodrome at Castel Benito, setting aircraft on the ground on fire. He then descended to 200 feet and machine-gunned the airfield.”
X9763/U of the same squadron, piloted by Sergeant G. D. Colville, failed to return. Sergeants Gavin David Colville (RAF no. 929677), 20-year-old Ian Russell McCalman (RAAF no. 400418), 23-year-old Harold Michael Forth (RAF no. 748116), Ernest Donald Spry (RAF no. 957039), 20-year-old Thomas Wilson Robson (RAF no. 1100625) and 20-year-old John Thomas Ackroyd (RAF no. 1379183) were all KIA.
The 3o Gruppo carried out as many as 11 flights with the CR.42 CNs (caccia notturna/night-fighter) of its Squadriglie between 19:50 and 01:00.
Tenente Egisto Andalò of the 154a Squadriglia claimed to have shot down a bomber (most probably X9763/U) north of Tripoli and to have probably shot down a second. In its turn, the guns on board the bombers hit his plane and he was wounded in the leg by two bullets. The enemy aircraft crashed down into the sea in flames where it continued to burn for over an hour. Tenente Bianchi (155a Squadriglia) claimed a second bomber probably shot down. In addition, a second CR.42 was hit. Overall, the pilots declared to have machine-gunned 16 enemy planes. 791 rounds from 7.7 mm machine guns and 843 from 12.7 mm machine guns were fired. The CR.42s were equipped with R.B. 30 receivers, which were said to work well; there was some interference on the same wave length, perhaps brought on by enemy transmissions.
At least seven Axis aircraft were destroyed on the ground at Castel Benito; two BR.20s (98o Gruppo B.T.), one G.50bis, one S.79, one S.84, one S.81 and one Ju 87 (German). Additional numerous casualties were suffered, including Tenente De Nunzio of 239a Squadriglia BaT, who was killed.

Bianchi ended the war with 2 probable biplane victories.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  05/09/41 night 1 Enemy aircraft (a) Probably destroyed Fiat CR.42   12m N Tripoli 155a Squadriglia
  02/11/41 19:50-01:00 1 Wellington (b) Probably destroyed Fiat CR.42   Castel Benito area 155a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 2 probably destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 probably destroyed.
(a) This claim can’t be verified with RAF records.
(b) Wellington X9763/U from 40 Squadron shot down (probably by Tenente Andalò) with a second damaged. 3o Gruppo claimed one Wellington shot down and two more as probable.

A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
La Battaglie Aeree In Africa Settentrionale: Novembre-Dicembre 1941 – Michele Palermo, IBN, ISBN 88-7565-102-7

Last modified 21 December 2017