Biplane fighter aces


Maggiore Mario Bonzano

Capitano Mario Bonzano took part in the Spanish Civil War.

Capitano Bonzano took command of the 18a Squadriglia, XXIII Gruppo, on 30 July 1938.

To support the campaign to capture Barcelona in December 1938, virtually all the CR.32 units in Spain were committed. This included the 7a Escuadra de Caza, commanded by comandante Joaquín García Morato and comprising Grupos 2-G-3 and 3-G-3, based at Escatron. The 3o Stormo Caccia of the Aviazione Legionaria, led by Colonnello Venceslao D’Aurelio, was transferred from Caspe to Sariñena at the beginning of the offensive. XVI Gruppo, led by Arrigo Tessari, and including 24a, 25a and 26a Squadriglie led by Capitani Giuseppe Majone, Meille and Travaglini, respectively, remained at Caspe, however. XXIII Gruppo, commanded by Maggiore Aldo Remondino, and including 18a, 19a and 20a Squadriglie led by Capitani Bonzano, Giulio Crosara and Andrea Favini, respectively, was also based at Sariñena. Finally, the Squadriglia Autonoma Caccia Mitragliamento, led by Capitano Giorgio Iannicelli, flew from Caspe too.

On 8 January 1939, Capitano Bonzano was replaced as CO of the 18a Squadriglia by Capitano Vezio Mezzetti.

After commanding 18a Squadriglia, Bonzano led an experimental unit attached to XXIII Gruppo Caccia that tested and evaluated the Fiat G.50 in Spain after that 12 aircraft had been shipped there.
They arrived too late to see combat with l-15s or l-16s, however. This was perhaps a fortunate thing as the G.50 was both underpowered and defective in design..

In Spain, Bonzano claimed one individual victory and 14 shared (confirmed and probables).

On 7 October 1939, Maggiore Armando François took command over the 9o Gruppo after Capitano Bonzano.

Bonzano took part in the Battle of Britain as part of the Corpo Aereo Italiano (CAI). Here he commanded the 20o Gruppo (known as 20./JG 56 by Luftwaffe), which was split into 351a, 352a and 353a Squadriglia, based first at Ursel and then later at Maldegem and equipped with Fiat G.50bis.
The fighters of the 20o Gruppo C.T. brought with them 45 Fiat G.50bis and six Caproni Ca.133s. Each Squadriglia flew in five groups of three aircraft with two Ca.133s bring in the rest of the pilots and some of the crew of the squadriglia. Under Maggiore Bonzano, the Gruppo flew from Roma-Ciampino on 22 September to Treviso. In Treviso they were forced to stay on the ground due to fog and only on 6 October could the Gruppo fly on to Bolzano. Eleven days later they flew over the Alps and landed in Munich. The next two stages saw the Gruppo flying to Frankfurt, first, and then to its final base at Maldegem airfield. Only one Fiat G.50bis was left behind having to force-land with carburation problems.

Bonzano ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 ??/??/3?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Spain 18a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.

Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War - Alfredo Logoluso, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-983-6
Regia Aeronautica: The Italian Air Force 1923-1945 - An Operational History - Chris Dunning, 2009 Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, Surrey, ISBN 978-1-906537-02-9

Last modified 05 May 2013