Biplane fighter aces


Sergente Piero Buttazzi

In December 1940, Sergente Piero Buttazzi served in the 84a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo C.T., in North Africa. This unit was at the time equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

On 19 December, the 9o Gruppo flew its last mission before retirement from North Africa. Taking off from Ain El Gazala T4 at 15:00, Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni led ten other aircraft from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Giuseppe Oblach, Sergente Mario Guerci and Sergente Pasquale Rossi), 96a Squadriglia (Sergente Maggiore Dante Labanti, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gallerani and an unknown pilot) and 97a Squadriglia (Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli and Sergente Alcide Leoni) to an escort mission together with 14 CR.42s of the 10o Gruppo. These had taken off from the Z1 landing ground (ten kilometres south-east of T4 on the opposite side of the “litoranea” road) where they had transferred the same morning. The 10o Gruppo pilots were led by Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli and included five fighters from the 91a Squadriglia (Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sergente Maggiore Leonardo Ferrulli, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato, Sergente Maggiore Natale Fiorito and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Casero), six from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sergente Luigi Contarini, Sergente Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Alfredo Sclavo and Sergente Giovanni Battista Ceoletta) and two from the 84a Squadriglia (Sergente Domenico Santonocito and Sergente Buttazzi).
They escorted twelve SM 79s of the 41o Stormo, which took off at 14:45 from Martuba M2 with Tenente Colonnello Draghelli and Tenente Colonnello d’Ippolito at their head. They were to attack Sollum harbour and then to proceed to attack vehicles 10 km off Ridotta Capuzzo aimed against the British supply system.
Some minutes after 15:45, above the Sollum area, they were surprised by a number of Hurricanes; Tenente Guiducci reported five of them, the 73a Squadriglia recorded the attack of about ten while some the 235a Squadriglia crews spoke of eight “Spitfires”. It seems that the Hurricanes were somewhat lately intercepted by the CR.42s from 73a and 96a Squadriglie and 10o Gruppo while the 97a Squadriglia stayed with the bombers. According to Guiducci, the reaction of the CR.42s saved the bombers, avoiding the interception but this was not the case.
In the following combat, the Italian claims were extremely confused. Sergente Maggiore Ferrulli was credited with a Hurricane destroyed (in one of the rare individual victories assigned by his unit) and another damaged, but his aircraft was hit in the engine and he had to make an emergency landing near Bardia (he was unhurt and returned to his unit on 22 December). The 90a Squadriglia claimed two shared victories and two Hurricanes forced to flee with the use of 1328 rounds of ammo. The 84a Squadriglia claimed one individual and one probable victory shared with the whole 10o Gruppo. The 97a Squadriglia also claimed one Hurricane confirmed and one probable shared with the 10o Gruppo. The 73a Squadriglia claimed two shared individual and two probables. Post-war studies stated that one of the shared victories of 73a Squadriglia was in fact an individual of Tenente Bonfatti while Sergente Rossi got a damaged and Sottotenente Oblach one probable and one damaged. In fact, the Italian Bulletin of 20 December claimed that in a savage battle two Hurricanes were shot down in exchange for an Italian fighter that failed to return This suggests that all the Squadriglia Commanders at the end claimed the same two victories, from the original documents we can see that in fact one was an individual achievement of Ferrulli while the other was most probably a shared or possibly an individual of Bonfatti. The CR.42 reported as lost was obviously Ferrulli’s.
Sergente Buttazzi had to land at T5 because of an engine breakdown, while a fighter from the 73a Squadriglia was heavily damaged. The Italian formation landed back at 17:05.
At least seven of the bombers were hit. Capitano Meille (CO of the 233a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Bresciani were wounded and the co-pilot Sergente Maggiore Musiani was forced to make an emergency landing at Tobruk T5. The SM 79 of Sottotenente Trolla force-landed (and was most probably lost) after being hit by 543 bullets; Primo Avieri Luigi Favale was killed while Primo Avieri De Pasquale and Primo Avieri Palmieri were wounded. Tenente Stancanelli’s (233a Squadriglia) aircraft received 162 hits and also made an emergency landing. Sergente Maggiore armiere Antonio Carta (part of Tenente Stancanelli’s crew), in the confusion of combat, erroneously believed that his aircraft was falling out of control, jumped with his parachute and became MIA. Tenente Colonnello Draghelli made an emergency landing at Tobruk T2bis with his co-pilot Tenente Premurù, Maresciallo motorista Scagliarini, Sergente Maggiore armiere Della Ciana and Sergente RT Maurelli injured. In addition, the SM 79 of Tenente Persico, which was the last to land at 16:45, was damaged. The bomber’s gunners spent about two thousand rounds of 7.7mm ammunition and five thousands of 12.7mm, claiming three British fighters and one probable.
They had been intercepted by Hurricanes from 274 and 33 Squadrons. The former unit was employed in patrols in the Sollum-Bardia-Gambut area. At 15:50, Flight Lieutenant John Lapsley (V7293) was alone but another Hurricane was in the vicinity when, at 11,000 feet over Sollum, he discovered a mixed formation of 18 SM 79s plus CR.42s 12 miles ahead and slightly to starboard. He attacked the escort that engaged him mainly head on. He reported:

“one CR 42 dived into the ground about 30 miles west of Sollum. Being a bit late arriving after the bombing I found it impossible to engage the S79 due to the attentions of the CR 42s, about 30 CR 42s in vics of three making vics of nine both sides of the bombers and 3000 feet above them. The main force carried on being attacked by Flying Officer Weller 274 Squadron.”
As a special comment, he remarked: “Enemy attacked in a most determined manner.”
Flying Officer Arthur Weller (V7300) reported being up with another Hurricane later engaged by CR.42s (obviously Lapsley) and possibly another behind him (33 Squadron aircraft?). He was flying at 18,000 feet over the Sollum – Bardia road at 15:45 when he discovered SM 79s with CR.42 escort. He saw the fighters wheeling towards him while the bombers didn’t take any action. He reported:
“7 S79s fired at and damaged at least one engine on fire, one or two undercarriages fell out. Only noticed one formation of fighters to starboard of bombers [obviously Lapsley had drawn the attention of the rest of the escort] so attacked from port to line astern with plenty of extra speed. Took each sub leader in turn then his no 2. 7 aircraft altogether when work finished. Part of formation I had attacked was disorganized and impossible to see any missing. Owing to approach of CR 42s and no ammunition, I had to leave the fight. I noticed part of formation I had attacked to be in difficulties. Two a/c pulled up practically vertically and probably collided, impossible to see if any went down.”
He didn’t reported suffering damage of any kind but back at base his machine was found riddled with bullets. Weller was subsequently credited with one damaged SM 79.
33 Squadron also flew an offensive patrol over the Sollum-Gambut area where they met SM 79s and CR.42s and there is little doubt that they engaged this Italian formation. The British pilots claimed three SM 79s and four CR.42s. Two of the fighters falling to Flying Officer Vernon Woodward, who attacked and shot them down apparently without the knowledge of the other Italians and two to Flying Officer Charles Dyson (P2499). It is not known who claimed the bombers. Considering the high level of accuracy of 151o Gruppo’s reports that recorded being attacked by six to seven British monoplanes earlier on the day it is possible that some of the claims of 33 Squadron (which also patrolled over the Gambut area) where in fact against them.

On 23 December, 17 CR.42s from the 10o Gruppo took off at 08:30 to escort ten bombers from the 15o Stormo, which had taken off from T4 and bound to attack armoured vehicles around Sidi Azeiz. The escort included five fighters from the 91a Squadriglia (Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli, Capitano Vincenzo Vanni, Maresciallo Giorgio Di Giulio, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Casero and Sergente Luigi Ferrario), four from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sergente Alfredo Sclavo and Sergente Luigi Contarini) and eight from the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Sottotenente Luigi Prati, Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Roberto Steppi, Sergente Corrado Patrizi and Sergente Buttazzi).
The formation was attacked by six Hurricanes and the Italian pilots claimed one confirmed shot down, another as a probable and a third was obliged to force-land among its own armoured vehicles (the 90a Squadriglia’s pilots expended 455 rounds of ammo). The three victories were credited as shared among all the participating pilots. The Italian fighters landed back at Z1 at 11:05 with Sergente Ferrario’s aircraft damaged. The bombers (led by Colonnello Napoli) landed back at base at 10:30, with only one machine damaged by the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes were from 274 Squadron, which was out on a morning patrol to cover a line Sidi Omar-Sollum-Buq-Buq with twelve machines taking off with 15 minutes intervals. From the reports of the returning pilots, it seems that fighters from 73 Squadron were present even if this is not reported in 73 Squadron documents.
Pilots taking part were Pilot Officer Stanley Godden (P2638) (06:15-09:15), Pilot Officer Ernest Mason (P3722) (06:30-09:30), Second Lieutenant Bester (N2624) (06:45-09:35), Flying Officer Thomas Patterson (P2544) (07:00-09:45), Flight Lieutenant John Lapsley (V7293) (07:20-09:50), Sergeant Dean (V7423 (07:30-10:30), Second Lieutenant Robert Talbot (P3721) (07:45-11:05), Pilot Officer Garland (P 3977) (08:10-11:15), Sergeant John Clarke (N2627) (08:20-11.00), Flying Officer C. F. Greenhill (P5176), Pilot Officer Strange (N2628) (09:50-12:50) and Flight Lieutenant Peter Wykeham-Barnes (P2638) (10:00-13:00).
Pilot Officer Mason had a field day; firstly, he intercepted ten SM 79s in two vics of five at 07:30 (strangely enough he wrote 09:30 in his CFR) when he was 10 miles south-west of Gambut at the height of 12,000 feet. He discovered the ten bombers 2000 feet below and dived from above, past the escort on no. 4 of the rear vic. He reported:

“ no4 of rear vic dropped back but later observed to rejoin formation. Small a/c seen burning on ground (unreadable) miles south of Bir Chleta. Believed to be CR 42 claimed by 2nd Lieutenant Talbot. 12 CR 42s in 4s and 2s were on port flank 1000 feet above and behind. After carrying out this attack I climbed above and carried out another attack.”
Now he was at 10,000 feet and dived from above on four SM 79s of the rear vic. He reported:
“enemy aircraft damaged. Unable to observe further as I got involved with the escort and was also fired on by our own troops. Burning S79 observed on ground in this approximate position by Pilot Officer McFadden no 73 Squadron. 12 CR 42s in 2s and 4s were 1000 feet above on port flank. The escort had observed my approach as this was my second attack and closed in on main force that jettisoned bombs. After breaking off attack I got involved with 2 of the escort at 1000 feet and was considerably embarrassed by tracers and pom-pom fire from our own troops.”
Then at 09:15, 20 miles north-east of El Gubbi, when flying at 17,000 feet together with another Hurricane, he discovered a Caproni Ca.310 at ground level that he attacked from astern.
“port engine caught fire a/c climbed to 200 feet and then hit ground with wheels and flaps up. Bounced twice and went on nose. I circled a/c (E) and only one man (pilot) emerged from front exit.”
It is possible that the two claims made by Mason the previous days are included in these combat reports and that he thus claimed two SM 79s, one damaged and one additional Ca.310 (in fact it seems that no SM 79s were shot down).
Second Lieutenant Talbot claimed a CR.42. He was flying alone at 15,000 feet at 10:00 when he discovered ten SM 79s in two vics and 24 CR.42s stepped up on either side. 15 miles ahead and 2,000 feet below. He delivered a quarter attack on the no.5 bomber of the second vic and then an head on attack on a CR.42, which attacked while he was making a second pass. He reported:
“1 CR 42 shot down later burst in flames 1 S79 initial attack dropped out of formation and did not rejoin. Determined attacks from escort prevented me from observing results of combats with S 79. While the CR 42s attacked immediately the main formation increased speed but kept formation and opened fire.”
During the engagement, Flying Officer Greenhill force landed south of Taifa Rocks, reportedly with engine trouble. From the overall description of the combats, it seems likely that bullets from the escorting Fiats caused the engine trouble.

At 09:15 on 26 December, eight Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron took off from the LG south-west of Sollum to escort a Lysander doing artillery reconnaissance over Bardia. The Lysander failed to appear. At approximately 14:05 (obviously during a third patrol) two flights of five SM 79s escorted by a number of CR.42s were observed a few miles north-east of Sollum Bay. A separate formation of 18 CR.42s was following the bomber formation and escort 2,000 feet higher as top cover. Two Gladiators attacked the bomber formation whilst the remainder climbed to meet the higher formation. The attack on the bombers was broken off when the higher formation attacked the Gladiators. In the ensuing combat, Flight Lieutenant Gordon Steege and Flying Officer Wilfred Arthur each claimed a destroyed (seen to fall into the sea) and a damaged CR.42. Flying Officer Peter Turnbull, Flying Officer John Perrin and Flying Officer Alan Rawlinson each claimed one probable.
The CR.42s were 14 fighters from the newly arrived 23o Gruppo led by the CO, Maggiore Tito Falconi and 22 CR.42s from the 10o Gruppo. The CR.42s from the 23o Gruppo included three from the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Claudio Solaro, Sergente Pardino Pardini and Tenente Gino Battaggion), five from the 74a Squadriglia (Capitano Guido Bobba, Tenente Lorenzo Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Sante Schiroli, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Marzocca (forced to return early due to a sudden illness) and Sergente Manlio Tarantino) and five from the 75a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Monti, Sottotenente Renato Villa, Sottotenente Leopoldo Marangoni and Maresciallo Carlo Dentis). The fighters from the the 10o Gruppo included seven from the 91a Squadriglia (Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli, Capitano Vincenzo Vanni, Capitano Mario Pluda, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sottotenente Ruggero Caporali, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato and Sergente Elio Miotto), nine from the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Sottotenente Luigi Prati, Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Corrado Patrizi, Sergente Buttazzi, Sergente Luciano Perdoni and Sergente Mario Veronesi) and six from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Alessandro Rusconi, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sergente Luigi Contarini and Sergente Giovanni Battista Ceoletta), which had taken off at 13:00.
They were escorting ten SM 79s from the 41o Stormo under Tenente Colonnello Draghelli and five SM 79s 216a Squadriglia, 53o Gruppo, 34o Stormo, led by Tenente Stringa. The SM 79s had taken off from M2 at 12:25 and attacked Sollum harbour’s jetty (reportedly hit) and two destroyers inside Sollum Bay (with poor results because of the heavy AA fire). AA from the ships hit four bombers from the 34o Stormo; one of them, piloted by Sottotenente Bellini had to force land close to Ain El Gazala with the central engine out of action. Returning pilots reported an attempt to intercept by some Gladiators but the escort repulsed the British fighters. They landed without further problems at 15:15.
Over the target, immediately after the bombing, the Italian fighters reported the interception of “enemy aircraft” alternatively “many Glosters” or “Hurricanes and Glosters”. The 70a Squadrigli pilots claimed a shared Hurricane, this was possibly an aircraft from 33 Squadron. This unit’s ORB reported that during the day’s patrols many SM 79s and CR.42s were intercepted with one CR.42 believed damaged. Two Gladiators confirmed and two probables were shared between the whole 10o Gruppo. Another Gladiator was assigned to the 23o Gruppo (in the documents of 75a Squadriglia but this is not confirmed by the other two Squadriglie). Many Glosters were claimed damaged by Tenente Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Schiroli, Sergente Tarantino, Sottotenente Marangoni, Tenente Calistri, Tenente Monti and Sottotenente Villa. The CR.42s were back between 14:30 and 15:05.
No Gladiators were lost even if three of them were damaged (all repairable within the unit). The Australians had done a very good job indeed, facing a formation four times more numerous (even if it seems improbable that all the Italian fighters were able to join the combat). From the Italian reports, it seems that only the front sections of the escort (including the 74a, 75a and the 84a Squadriglie) were engaged in a sharp dogfight with the Gladiators. The Australians were able to shoot down the CO of the 74a Squadriglia, Capitano Guido Bobba, who was killed when his fighter fell in flames into the sea and damaged Tenente Lorenzoni’s fighter, who landed at T2 (and came back to Z1 the day after). Three more CR.42s were damaged when Tenente Angeloni was forced to land at T5 before reaching Z1, Sergente Veronesi’s fighter was damaged and Sottotenente Prati was forced to make an emergency landing short of T2 (his fighter was reportedly undamaged and only suffering for a slight engine breakdown). Maggiore Falconi’s fighter was also heavily damaged but managed to return. The morning after Angeloni was able to return to Z1 with his aircraft.
Capitano Guido Bobba was awarded a posthumously Medaglia d’Argento al valor militare. He was replaced as CO of the 74a Squadriglia by Tenente Mario Pinna.

The last Italian bombing mission of the day on 27 December was again against Sollum. Four SM 79s from the 41o Stormo under Tenente Colonnello D’Ippolito and four bombers from the 216a Squadriglia, 34o Stormo, led by Tenente Romanini took off from Tmini at 14:30.
They were escorted by fighters from the 23o Gruppo and 10o Gruppi. Maggiore Tito Falconi was at the head of the formation of the first unit, which also included Tenente Claudio Solaro, Sottotenente Oscar Abello and Sergente Ubaldo Marziali from the 70a Squadriglia, Tenente Mario Pinna, Sottotenente Milano Pausi and Sergente Giuseppe Sanguettoli from the 74a Squadriglia and Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Maria Monti, Maresciallo Giovanni Carmello, Sergente Leo Mannucci and Sottotenente Leopoldo Marangoni from the 75a Squadriglia.
It seems that the bomber formation split and the 41o Stormo attacked British mechanized units in Halfaya and Gabr Bu Fares under heavy AA that damaged, although slightly, all the aircraft. The SM 79s of the 34o Stormo attacked ships in Sollum harbour and were intercepted by many Hurricanes. The SM 79s were totally unable to defend themselves because of icing on all the guns and one of them was shot down. This was Sottotenente Aldo Peterlini’s bomber and Peterlini was killed together with three of his crew (Sergente Maggiore Arturo Scagnetti (second pilot), Aviere Scelto Motorista Alcide Frizzera and Aviere Scelto Radiotelegrafista Gioacchino Scuderi). The other two members of the crew (Primo Aviere Armiere Ciancilla and Primo Aviere Montatore Fiore) where able to bale out. Tenente Pandolfi’s aircraft was riddled by enemy bullets (probably RD) while the other two SM 79s were less seriously damaged although suffering some wounded among their crews.
They had been intercepted by 33 Squadron which claimed three SM 79s and one probable and probably two CR.42s during offensive patrols performed by pairs of Hurricanes over Sollum. They also claimed one SM 79 and one CR.42 damaged. Vernon Woodward claimed one of the probable CR.42s and the damaged CR.42.
Falconi’s pilots recorded combat with many Hurricanes, one of which was claimed as probable by the 70a Squadriglia and six more were damaged. Tenente Solaro and Sottotenente Abello returned with damaged fighters. Solaro had been hit by AA fire and Sottotenente Abello by British fighters. Calistri and his men claimed a shared Hurricane and four more damaged. They landed back at 16:55. A shot down Hurricane was also recorded by the 74a Squadriglia, which also recorded a SM 79 shot down by AA fire.
The CR.42 escort from the 10o Gruppo was composed of seven fighters from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Alessandro Rusconi, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sergente Alfredo Sclavo, Sergente Bruno Bortoletti and Sergente Enrico Botti), six from the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore Mechelli, Sergente Domenico Santonocito and Sergente Buttazzi) and six from the 91a Squadriglia (Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli, Capitano Vincenzo Vanni, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sottotenente Orlando Mandolini, Sottotenente Ennio Grifoni and Sergente Elio Miotto). Tenente Guiducci reported that the heavy AA immediately hit one of the SM 79s, which was shot down. Then five monoplanes (Hurricanes and Spitfires(!)) tried to attack but were immediately counterattacked and one of them was shot down. Later, another attempt by a lone British fighter failed after the intervention of the Italian escort. The 90a Squadriglia pilots expanded 320 rounds of ammunition and it seems that in the end the victory was assigned to the whole formation as a Gruppo victory. It seems that it was the same aircraft claimed independently by the two Squadriglie of the 23o Gruppo.

At 15:00 on 3 January 1941, Maggiore Tito Falconi led four CR.42s of the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Claudio Solaro, Tenente Gino Battaggion, Sergente Maggiore Balilla Albani and Sergente Cesare Sironi), five of the 74a Squadriglia (Tenente Mario Pinna, Tenente Lorenzo Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Sante Schiroli, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Marzocca and Sergente Giuseppe Sanguettoli) and seven of the 75a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Maria Monti, Sottotenente Giuseppe De Angelis, Sottotenente Renato Villa, Maresciallo Giovanni Carmello, Maresciallo Luigi Pasquetti and Sergente Leo Mannucci) in an escort mission for SM 79s attacking mechanized vehicles around Bardia. Fighters from the 10o Gruppo were also present including Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Mario Veronesi, Sergente Buttazzi and Sergente Luciano Perdoni of the 84a Squadriglia and Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sottotenente Orlando Mandolini, Sergente Luigi Contarini and Sergente Alfredo Sclavo of the 90a Squadriglia. Hurricanes were intercepted and two of them were claimed damaged by the 70a Squadriglia’s pilots. During the return journey, the CR.42s went down to strafe, claiming three armoured vehicles.
They landed back at 17:20.

In January 1941, the 10o Gruppo was withdrawn to Italy to re-equip with the Macchi MC.200 and in April they operated from Ronchi with 23 MC.200s against Yugoslavia.

On 16 June 1941, 10o Gruppo moved to Trapani, Sicily to take part in the attacks on Malta.

By the end of 1941, the 4o Stormo re-equipped with Macchi MC.202s.

In early May 1942, the 4o Stormo was in Sicily with the duty of bomber escort over Malta.
On 22 May, the 10 Gruppo returned to North Africa and to Martuba 4 airfield for a second desert tour.

Between 08:35-10:10 on 7 June, eight MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo (two from the 84a Squadriglia, three from the 90a Squadriglia and three from the 91a Squadriglia) were on a free sweep in the Sidi Muftach area led by Maggiore Paolo Maddalena. The Italian formation was divided into two sections; one at an altitude of 3,500m with Maggiore Maddalena and one covering at 4,000m with Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini (90a Squadriglia).
At 09:10, an enemy formation of about ten aircraft was spotted heading east, 10 km to the west of Acroma. Maddalena informed the pilots by radio and headed towards them. It was then that he saw another formation of about 20 P-40s at almost the same altitude. He led the attack which lasted over 20 minutes and came to an end at a very low altitude. Five enemy aircraft were credited shot down along with one probable and 14 machine-gunned (2658 rounds). Maddalena (10o Gruppo) claimed two P-40s, Capitano Piccolomini claimed one P-40 and fired on two, Sottotenente Mario Squarcina (90a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40 while the pilots of the 91a Squadriglia claimed the fifth P-40 as a shared. Sergente Buttazzi (84a Squadriglia) fired on four P-40s. They all returned to base without losses.
73 Squadron (09:30-10:50) and 213 Squadron (09:40-10:45) were on patrol over Acroma and Gazala, each with twelve Hurricane IIcs. One aircraft of 73 Squadron returned earlier because of an oil leak. 73 Squadron was top cover at 11,000ft and flying south-east (from Acroma towards Gazala) when, at 10:04, six Bf 109s were sighted at 12,000ft. While the Wing was manoeuvring to keep the enemy away from the sun, 73 Squadron was jumped by a further enemy formation of six Bf 109s that coming away from the sun. A dogfight ensued and the RAF formation broke up. Altogether twelve Bf 109s were met with some MC.202s (total rounds: 204 ball, 87 HE/Inc.). There was no knowledge of any casualties inflicted on the enemy.
The Canadian and 22-years old Flight Lieutenant Charles Tom Cantrill (RCAF no. C/1210) in Hurricane BH330 went missing (KIA), Sergeant D. R. Wiseman (BN375) made an emergency landing after losing the Hurricane’s propeller following the hits made on it by an unidentified plane while Sergeant A. S. Wilson (BL279) baled out. The rest of the Squadron then returned in groups of two or three.
South of Acroma at 10:05 and at an altitude of 10,000ft, 213 Squadron reported:

“...Enemy formation sighted from W... 1 flight of 73 500 ft above and behind, 1 flight 600 yds to port. EA formation consisted of 6 Me.109Fs 5000 ft above. EAs dived and whole formation went into tight defensive circles. Some Macchi 202s also appeared on the scene. Individual combats resulted. ... Combat broken off owing to shortage of petrol. All returned safely. … 5 EA were attacked ... from 5000 to 15000 ft.... Me.s generally attacked by steep dives, opening fire as they pulled straight out. The 202s dived down to the deck and pulled up on anybody who wasn’t looking. No visible results. 1 AC received a strike in starboard mainplane.”
It seems that the damaged Hurricane (pilot unknown) made a forced landing at Gambut-Acroma between 10:15-10:25.
Squadron Leader Young (BN286):
“... I saw a 109 diving down on the tail of a Hurricane. I followed it down and when I was within 300 yds, it pulled out of its dive and straight up. I stuck to its tail and at 250 yds gave it a short burst, but with no results. … The dog fight lasted about 20 minutes. 60 Ball, 60 He/inc.”
Flight Sergeant Lack (BE340):
“...after been warned, I saw one of them diving past me to starboard. It then pulled straight in front I of me. I pulled my nose up and gave him a short burst of 30 rounds but with no luck. I saw a Macchi 202 slightly below me and heading in the opposite direction and prepared to attack it but then saw a 109 coming at me from starboard beam. I avoided this attack. Previously … I saw 2 Hurricanes flying in line astern. The rear one pulled straight across to starboard, breaking off the tail of the leading Hurricane which spun down and crashed in flames. I saw nobody bale out. The other plane crash landed in the same area S of Acroma… 62 Ball, 63 He/Inc.”
Flight Lieutenant C. M. Temlett (BM981):
“... I saw them diving down through our formation, almost down to the deck, then pulling up straight. I dived down after one of them to 3000 feet but it pulled up and got above me. I climbed after it almost vertically, got within 250 yds range, gave it a short burst but with no visible result. 50-Ball, 50-He/Inc.”
73 Squadron probably spotted Maddalena’s section but it had then been surprised by Piccolomini emerging from a higher altitude. The formation of two echelons stepped at different heights, which was standard for 4o Stormo, appeared to be effective. The action appears to have been well led by Maddalena, helped, at long last, by the radio working well. The quoted collision does not match perfectly with the 73 Squadron report; in accepting it as good, it seems that Wiseman ran into Cantrill.

Between 13:45-15:10 on 8 June, Capitano Franco Lucchini led ten MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo (six from the 84a Squadriglia, two from the 90a Squadriglia and two from the 91a Squadriglia) on a sweep over Bir Hacheim. At 14:20, a formation of 15 P-40s was spotted lower down from an altitude of 4,000m over Bir Hacheim. They were attacked and engaged in an air battle for ten minutes. In total, three P-40s were credited shot down, one probable, and three machine-gunned (1507 rounds). All the claims for destroyed P-40s were made by the 84a Squadriglia. One was claimed by Tenente Luigi Giannella (MC.202 MM7803), the second was claimed by Sergente Luciano Perdoni (MM7919; who also claimed the probable) while the third was shared between Capitano Lucchini (MM7797; he fired on three more P-40s), Tenente Paolo Berti (MM7937; he fired on three more P-40s) and Sergente Buttazzi (MM7933).
It seems that the 10o Gruppo had encountered 233 Wing, that reported combat over Bir Hacheim when 2 SAAF Squadron with four Kittyhawks flew as the leader squadron on a wing sweep between 14:35-16:10. The fighters were flying at an altitude of between 8,000ft and 6,000ft but they broke away from the formation and were not involved in the fight. Eight Tomahawks of 5 SAAF Squadron (14:45-16:00) were top cover and were flying at 8,000ft with eight Tomahawks of 4 SAAF Squadron (14:30-16:15) as medium cover. 4 SAAF reported over twenty enemy aircraft and Lieutenant G. H. Kaufmann (4 SAAF Squadron) claimed a damaged Bf 109 at 15:30 but the back of his plane’s canopy was hit by a shell. This badly damaged the fighter (Cat. II) but the pilot was unhurt. At the same time was Lieutenant John Lindbergh (5 SAAF Squadron, Tomahawk IIb AN309/GL-O) was flying at 8,000ft when he saw seven Bf 109s attacking from above:

“... I saw Me.109s attacking left-hand section of medium cover. I gave warning by R/T and turned towards the EA. At this moment I saw another 109 coming almost head-on and slightly below. I aimed a bit in front of him and fired. Almost immediately he started smoking from the top of its cowling, near the nose. ... I saw another 109, about 1000’ below me climbing steeply. I intercepted his climb at my own level and fired a long burst, following him up. I saw the explosive ammunition hitting the 109’s rudder and starboard wing. As I was turning away I had to take violent avoiding action to avoid another 109 on my tail. … One Me. 109 damaged.”

In the morning on 12 June, 14 MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo (six from the 84a Squadriglia (09:20-10:40), four from the 90a Squadriglia (take-off 09:15) and four from the 91a Squadriglia) led by the Gruppo commander Maggiore Paolo Maddalena, together with German Bf 109s were escorting Luftwaffe Ju 87s to attack targets south-east of Acroma.
The Italian formation, which acted as indirect escort, was divied into two groups, one at an altitude of 4,500 metres with Capitano Franco Lucchini and the other at an altitude of 4,000 metres with Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini. The MC.202 reached and went beyond the Ju 87s and their direct escort of Bf 109s over Menelao. Halfway between Gazala and Acroma, the patrol of the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Paolo Berti, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi, Sergente Roberto Ugazio and Sergente Buttazzi) was surprised by two Spitfires and broke up formation even if there was no damage. Only Sergente Maggiore Veronesi managed to fire at an attacking fighter.
The two attacking Spitfires belonged to 145 Squadron on a patrol (10:00-11:00) during which Flight Lieutenant J. J. P. Sabourin (Spitfire Vb AB339/ZX-M) claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and a second damaged.
Capitano Lucchini, who remained alone with Sergente Maggiore Veronesi and Sergente Buttazzi, continued the mission and came up against an enemy formation of about twelve fighters divided between Spitfires and P-40s north-east El Adem. These were attacked and one P-40 was shared destroyed while some others were machine-gunned.
Eleven Hurricanes from 73 Squadron (10:15-11:25, one had returned early) were on a sweep south-east of El Adem. Three Bf 109s attacked but made off quickly but not before Pilot Officer G. R. Wolston (Hurricane IIc BN363) managed to claime two damaged Bf 109s 10 miles west of Gambut. It seems that it was these fighters that was attacked by Lucchini’s section.
The formation from the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan and Sergente Gregorio Taverna) counter-attacked and twarted the attacking Spitfires but the formations were scattered. Soon after this, Capitano Piccolomini spotted a lone P-40 and his section gave chase. It was hit several times but continued it flight heading towards, the east. Piccolomini followed the P-40 up to Gambut where it made a wheels-up landing. The P-40 claimed as a shared victory (reported as south-east of Acroma). During the chase over Tobruk, Sottotenente Vanzan (MM7906/90-8) suddenly noticed that Sergente Taverna (MM7397) wasn’t with them anymore. Taverna had been shot down by the South African Bofors guns at Gambut. He baled out at 100ft but was badly injured and did not survive. Vanzan was also hit by anti-aircraft fire but managed to get back to Martuba.

After a sortie between 15:35-17:00 on 13 June 1942, Sergente Buttazzi force-landed with MC.202 MM7814/84-5.

Between 08:00-09:35 on 17 June, twelve MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo (six from the 84a Squadriglia, three from the 90a Squadriglia and three from the 91a Squadriglia), led by Maggiore Paolo Maddalena (CO 10o Gruppo), were on a free sweep over Sidi Rezegh. The fighters from the 84a Squadriglia and Maggiore Maddalena himself flew at an altitude of 4,000/4,500 metres while the remainder served as top cover at 6000 metres. Nine bombers with a strong escort of 25 fighters split between P-40s and Spitfires (35 according to another source) were sighted at an altitude of 2000 metres south-west of Tobruk at 08:55 and they were attacked. After a while, a patrol from a higher altitude also intervened.
In the ensuing combat, five fighters were claimed shot down while nine Bostons and twelve fighters were machine-gunned (2782 rounds fired). Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini (90a Squadriglia) claimed two P-40s. Tenente Luigi Giannella (84a Squadriglia in MM7815) claimed one P-40 (or Spitfire) individually and a shared P-40 with Capitano Franco Lucchini (84a Squadriglia in MM7797/84-0; he additionally fired at three Bostons and one P-40), Tenente Italo Alessandrini (84a Squadriglia; he additionally fired at four P-40s), Sergente Buttazzi (84a Squadriglia in MM7919; he additionally fired at one Boston and four P-40s) and Sergente Roberto Ugazio (84a Squadriglia in MM7928; he additionally fired at three Spitfires). Tenente Orlando Mandolini (91a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40. Maggiore Maddalena fired at one Boston and two P-40s. Sergente Barbera took part in the battle even though his fighter’s guns were not working.
Four Bf 109Fs from 2./JG 27 was on a Freie Jagd and they also claimed two P-40s in the same area (east of Sidi Rezegh) and at the same time. These were claimed by Leutnant Friedrich Körner (08:50) and Leutnant Karl von Lieres und Wilkau (08:59).
Nine Bostons from 12 SAAF Squadron were in action attacking armoured vehicles and motor transports between Sollum and Tobruk (take off 09:32). Their formation was of three vics of three at 8000 feet, while as usual the escort was provided by 233 Wing; three Tomahawks of 4 SAAF Squadron were close cover (09:40-10:40) and four Tomahawks of 5 SAAF Squadron were top cover (09:30-10:30) along with four Kittyhawks of 260 Squadron (09:35-10:15).
12 SAAF Squadron stated that at 09:55 the formation was attacked by six enemy fighters. They came down one by one from 6500/7000 feet, two of them penetrating the escort and attacking K.711 from starboard quarter five times for four or five minutes. Successive diving attacks from above on starboard quarter were followed by steep climbing turns to port. The pilot of the bomber kept height and formation, while the top gunner opened fire from 300 yards, closing in on 200 yards. The bomber was hit by a cannon shell and seven bullets; there were no casualties (.303-400). The report by 12 SAAF Squadron continued:

“... the Bostons were pounding away steadily at enemy transport in the Sidi Rezegh area, only 30 miles away, so close that from Baheira main it was possible to hear the bombs bursting from our main raids. The armourers at least had the satisfaction of hearing the results of their labour.”
Close tight to the bombers, the three pilots of 4 SAAF Squadron sighted six enemy fighters divided between Bf l09s and MC.202s. At least four of these, upon coming out of the sun, attacked at the same moment as the bombers had reached their objective. The attacks lasted from 09:55 to 10:20 but they didn't manage to break up the formation.
Lieutenant Sydney Reinders (Tomahawk IIb AN394/KJ-N) reported:
“9.55. I was flying on the left of the Bostons on the way to the target when enemy ac were reported attacking us…approximately: 445408. We were then attacked from then onwards until we reached about 10 miles W of Bahira main. At 10.20, after warding off two attacks from behind the bombers I saw a MC202 coming in from 6 o’clock below me. I was then flying on the port quarter of the Bostons and above them; the 202 went straight for the bombers. I peeled off to the right and attacked him from his rear port quarter; I gave him a long burst and pulled up to the left. As he pulled up I came from dead astern and into the sun and gave him another long burst. Black smoke and pieces of ‘something’ flew off the a/c at the wing roots; I could then have been no more than 100 yards behind at this stage, facing dead into the sun. I peeled off on the left and rejoined the bombers. I did not see what happened to the 202… 50-200 ball, 50 tr, .3-500 ball.”
The 5 SAAF Squadron cover was also attacked by eight Bf l09s twelve miles north-west of Gambit at 10:00. 22-year-old Squadron Leader Louis Cecil Botha (SAAF No. P/102722 in AK519/GL-A) and 21-year-old Lieutenant Kenneth Colin Morgan (SAAF No. 205417 in AN3097GL-O), where both shot down in flames and did not return. Lieutenant Charles Sommerville’s fighter (AN420/GL-P) was also shot down but he managed to return safely. No claims were made.
It seems that about the same moment that 5 SAAF Squadron was attacked, 260 Squadron was also attacked by six Bf l09s but to no effect.
Two 145 Squadron pilots who were patrolling over the airfield were also involved (09:25-10:35). Pilot Officer Weber pursued a MC.202 from Gambut up to Rezegh, and then he saw two Bf l09s near Anarid and fired at them but to no effect.
It seems that the section of Macchis at an altitude of 4000/4,500 metres attacked the bombers and 4 SAAF Squadron, while the one higher up would have attacked 5 SAAF Squadron and presumably 260 Squadron. Maggiore Maddalena, Capitano Lucchini, and Sergente Buttazzi fired at the bombers, though with little success. In this case they should have managed to reach them due to the small size of the 233 Wing escort. At a certain point the two Spitfires intervened.
It is more difficult to explain the involvement of the Germans, either because the Italian sources do not mention their presence or due to the number of Axis planes reported by the Commonwealth pilots that matches only the number of the Italian formation. Nevertheless, we cannot rule out their presence possibly against 5 SAAF and 260 Squadrons. There is also the significant discrepancy in the estimate of the planes encountered by pilots of the 10o Gruppo and the enemy fighters recorded. 2 SAAF Squadron did not report the time of the missions during the day, and so they could have been present even if the notes were limited to just seeing a MC.202.

On 1 July, the 10o Gruppo transferred to Fuka.

4o Stormo MC.202s were on patrol in the early morning period on 15 July. Capitano Luigi Mariotti led twelve MC.202s of both 9o and 10o Gruppi on an escort to four Ju 88s over the front, between 09:05-10:25. They engaged a formation of a reported 15 P-40s covered by ten Spitfires patrolling at higher altitude, claiming two P-40s shot down (one by Tenente Vittorio Squarcia from the 73 Squadriglia) plus three probables.
Just as they landed, twelve more MC.202s, led by Capitano Carlo Ruspoli, took off at 10:30 to carry on the escort. Ruspoli had to make an early return due to engine trouble and the experienced Maresciallo Luigi Bignami (84a Squadriglia) took his place as formation leader. They too encountered a formation of P-40s, this time estimated to be 48 strong, and claimed two shot down after a 15-minute combat by Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi (84a Squadriglia in MM7919/84-12) and Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici (90a Squadriglia) with a third claimed as a probable by Maresciallo Dante Labanti (96a Squadriglia).
Sergente Maggiore Elio Trevisan was hit and forced to land near El Daba in MM7900/90-11. Sergente Maggiore Monterumici saw him getting out of the cockpit and sitting down, leaning against his aircraft. On return to Fuka at 11:40, Monterumici took off in the Ca.133 ‘hack’ to recover Trevisan. He landed nearby but discovered that his comrade who had appeared to be asleep was actually dead. Trevisan’s aircraft was later recovered by Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini, who flew it back to Fuka.
Hurricane IIbs from 238 Squadron reported intercepting the Ju 88s during a mission between 11:20-12:30, one being claimed as a damaged by Pilot Officer B. Nordon (Hurricane KC-V) and a second shared as a damaged between Sergeant W. E. G. Cordwell (KC-P) and Flight Lieutenant Peter Olver (KC-U). Hurricane KC-F flown by Squadron Leader R. G. A. Barclay was damaged.
Some at least of the Macchis were engaged with Hurricane IIcs of 33 and 213 Squadron between 10:25-11:30, the pilots of the latter unit reporting meeting six MC.202s and four Bf 109s in the northern sector of the El Alamein line. They claimed one Macchi shot down by Warrant Officer R. J. ‘Wally’ Wallace (Hurricane IIc BP338), who also claimed a second as a damaged. Sergeant H. A. Aitken (BN357) claimed a damaged MC.202 and Pilot Officer L. J. Barnes (BP197) claimed a damaged Bf 109E. Flying Officer James Wooler (BE172/T) from 33 Squadron claimed a damaged Bf 109E. 213 Squadron suffered two Hurricanes damaged by the MC.202s when Sergeant J. D. Newick force-landed slightly wounded with BP189 and Pilot Officer Barnes returned with Barnes returned with BP197 damaged (Cat. I).
Ten Bf 109F-4 trops of I./JG 27 were also in the area at this time, providing top cover to Ju 87s. The pilots of this unit reported meeting 18 Hurricanes, Leutnant Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt of 2./JG 27 attacking one which crash-landed a 17km miles west of El Hammam. This was possibly Sergeant Newick.

Between 06:45-08:15 on 18 July, eight MC.202s; four of the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Luigi Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi and Sergente Buttazzi) and four of the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini and Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici), led by Lucchini, flew a “free hunt” mission off from Bu Amud. Over the front at 12,000 feet, they spotted nine P-40s escorted by eleven Hurricanes. The P-40s jettisoned their bombs over the El Qasaba area and tried to escape home eastward. The Italian fighters caught the Allied aircraft over Burg el Arab, 50 km east of El Alamein. After a 15-minute combat a P-40 was claimed as a shared destroyed by Lucchini (MC.202 MM7803/84-1) and Buttazzi (MM7896/84-8), a second was claimed as a shared by Giannella (MC.202 MM7805/84-2) and Veronesi (MM7928/84-9), a third was claimed by Savini and a fourth was claimed jointly by Piccolomini, Vanzan and Monterumici. All Italian fighters returned safely to base.
It seems that they had been in combat with Hurricane IIcs from 274 and 80 Squadrons, which reported that between 07:21-09:45 twelve Hurricanes of 274 Squadron, covered by others of 80 Squadron, patrolled north and south over El Alamein. Two Bf 109s jumped the top cover, followed by six more and some MC.202s. Claims for five fighters damaged were submitted by the two RAF units:
Squadron Leader James Hayter (Hurricane IIc BE487/F) from 274 Squadron claimed one damaged Bf 109E
Pilot Officer R. H. Hunter (BE229/S) from 274 Squadron claimed one damaged MC.202
Sergeant S. Lerche (BE683/O) from 274 Squadron claimed one damaged Bf 109
Flight Lieutenant Russell Foskett (BP235/J) from 80 Squadron claimed two damaged Bf 109s at 08:00.
Hurricane Z5064/Z from 274 Squadron was shot down by a Macchi but Flight Sergeant T. B. Hamilton was safe while BN348 from 80 Squadron received a bullet in the cooling system which caused the pilot to crash-land.

The high number of aircraft flying in the area during these days caused such confusion that the German Freya radar personnel had troubles to identify friend or foe aircraft. So, many times the alarm was delayed, and Axis fighters scrambled late.
This happened on 20 October when at 10:55, 14 MC.202s of the 4o Stormo hurriedly scrambled to intercept 24 Bostons and Hudsons above Fuka, escorted by 30 P-40s and 20 Spitfires. The bombers were still releasing their cargo over the airfield when the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Giuseppe Oblach, Tenente Vittorio Squarcia, Sergente Armando Angelini and Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi), 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Tenente Alessandro Mettimano and Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi), 91a Squadriglia (Capitano Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, Sergente Maggiore Leonardo Ferrulli and Sergente Maggiore Alessandro Bladelli), and 97a Squadriglia (Tenente Jacopo Frigerio, Tenente Giovanni Barcaro, Sottotenente Leo Boselli and Maresciallo Giovanni Bianchelli), attacked them. The escort intercepted the Italian fighters, and a number of claims were made. Ruspoli, Oblach and Ferrulli claimed two P-40s each, Bladelli, Frigerio, Barcaro and Boselli claimed one P-40 each while Bianchelli claimed one Spitfire. Another Spitfire was claimed as a probable by Bladelli. Mettimano, in his first combat mission, damaged four Hudsons and a P-40 while Angelini, Rinaldi and Squarcia jointly claimed four damaged P-40s. Buttazzi claimed three damaged P-40s and Lucchini claimed a Hudson as a damaged. Lucchini’s MC.202 (MM7905/84-4) was hit when a 20mm shell tore off the aircraft’s spinner and he was forced to make an emergency landing at 11:30.
Totally the 4o Stormo claimed 25 enemy aircraft shot down during the day, but of the 57 fighters (43 of which were combat-ready) on charge in the morning, only eleven were serviceable in the evening. The 9o Gruppo reported the mission as between 10:55 and 12:20 while the 10o Gruppo reported it as between 11:00 and 12:30
The 23o Gruppo also scrambled (11:00-12:30) and they also made a number of claims. From 70a Squadriglia, Sottotenente Luigi Bandini and Sergente Maggiore Celso Zemella each claimed a P-40 over El Daba while Tenente Antonio Maccanti claimed a probable P-40 in the same area. 74a Squadriglia was in combat south of El Alamein, and Sergente Maggiore Felice Papini claimed a Boston and Sergente Maggiore Emilio Stafano claimed a Spitfire while Tenente Giorgio Solaroli claimed a shared Spitfire together with Sergente Maurizio Mandolesi (75a Squadriglia). Tenente Carlo Moruzzi claimed a probable P-40.

After the battle of El Alamein, the Axis forces gradually retreated. In early December, the 10o Gruppo was at Castelbenito to be sent back to Italy.
During the period January 1942 – January 1943, the 4o Stormo flew 7202 hours on missions, took part in 133 combats, claimed 289 aircraft destroyed (totally 501 from the beginning of the war) and lost 24 pilots KIA or MIA with 29 wounded and 2 POWs.

After a period of rest, on 24 February 1943, pilots of the 10o Gruppo rejoined to reorganize the unit at Bresso airfield, under the command of Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis.
Pilots in the 84a Squadriglia were Capitano Franco Lucchini (CO) (hospitalized), Tenente Luigi Giannella, Tenente Alessandro Mettimano, Sottotenente Francesco De Seta, Sottotenente Ugo Picchiottini, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Maggiore Corrado Patrizi, Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi, Sergente Maggiore Luciano Perdoni and Sergente Livio Barbera.
Pilots in the 90a Squadriglia were Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini (CO), Sottotenente Sforza Libera, Sottotenente Renato Baroni, Sottotenente Luigi Cima, Sergente Maggiore Massimo Salvatore, Sergente Maggiore Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Battista Ceoletta, Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici and Sergente Maggiore Natale Molteni.
Pilots in the 91a Squadriglia were Capitano Luigi Mariotti (CO), Tenente Giuseppe Ferazzani, Tenente Alvaro Bondi, Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli, Sottotenente Elio Miotto, Sottotenente Guerriero Silvestri, Sottotenente Vittorino Daffara, Maresciallo Alessandro Bladelli, Maresciallo Lamberto Martelli, Sergente Maggiore Ferruccio Terrabuio, Sergente Ambrogio Rusconi and Sergente Giulio Fornalé.
On 20 April, the Gruppo transferred to Ciampino Sud for the defence of Rome.

The 5 July 1943 was to become a tough day for the Macchis of 9o and 10o Gruppi with heavy combat and serious losses.
From 07:15 to 09:25 Tenente Giorgio Bertolaso and Sergente Ambrogio Rusconi of the 91a Squadriglia flew a reconnaissance mission from Sigonella over the sea, searching enemy shipping or signs of sunken ships.
At 10:25, 27 MC.202s and MC.205s of the 4o Stormo scrambled to intercept 52 bombers escorted by about 20 Spitfires, that were heading to bomb the airfields around Catania. The 9o Gruppo was led by Capitano Giulio Reiner, while Capitano Franco Lucchini was leading the 10o Gruppo. The 10o Gruppo consisted of the 84a Squadriglia (Lucchini, Sottotenente Francesco Palma, Sottotenente Enzo Dall'Asta and Capitano Luigi Giannella (CO of the 84a Squadriglia) flying MC.202s and Tenente Alessandro Mettimano, Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi and Sergente Livio Barbera flying MC.205s), the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Luigi Cima, Maresciallo Massimo Salvatore and Sergente Maggiore Giambattista Ceoletta flying MC.202s) and 91a Squadriglia (Tenente Mario Mecatti (CO), Sottotenente Giovanni Silvestri and Sottotenente Elio Miotto).
Giannella and Palma was a few minutes late to take-off because the ground crew were checking their weapons.
The Italian fighters made a frontal attack over Gerbini ignoring the escorting Spitfires. Two B-17s were claimed by Salvatore and Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) together with some Bf 109s. Lucchini claimed a Spitfire while Reiner, Salvatore and Mecatti claimed a probable bomber each. Three bombers were claimed damaged by Lucchini, Giannella, Mettimano, Dall’Asta and Buttazzi. Additional damaged bombers were claimed by Reiner, Salvatore, Mecatti (who also claimed a damaged Spitfire), Sergente Ettore Chimeri (73a Squadriglia), Sergente Bruno Biagini (96a Squadriglia), Cima and Ceoletta.
When the Italian fighters landed again at 11:55, Lucchini was missing. He had been seen by Dall’Asta attacking the bombers against heavy defensive fire and then diving into the ground east of Catania. During the alarm, some of the ground crew also reported to have seen a MC.202 falling with the canopy closed, some kilometres east of the airfield. A car from the unit tried to reach the place, but it couldn't go on due to the bombing of the area. Lucchini’s body wasn’t found until two days later.
Taking part in this interception were also more than 100 Bf 109Gs from I, II and III/JG 53 and I and II/JG 77. They claimed twelve bombers for the loss of four Bf 109s including Major Johannes Steinhoff, Kommodore of JG 77, who force-landed his stricken aircraft.
It seems that the Italian fighters had been in combat with USAAF B-17s from 99th Bomber Group, which were out to attack Gerbini. They were intercepted near Ragusa at 23,000 feet but the escorting Spitfires from 72 and 243 Squadrons intervened. The Spitfires claimed one and one damaged Bf 109 while the bombers gunner claimed 45 enemy fighters shot down! According to American records, three B-17s from the 99th BG (42-29486 and 42-29483 of the 348th BS and 42-29492) were lost during the day.
After this combat, an American pilot of a shot down bomber was brought to San Salvatore airfield.
At 11:55, four aircraft from the 91a Squadriglia scrambled. Tenente Vittorino Daffara damaged two four-engined bombers, claimed a P-38 shot down and hits on two Spitfires. Maresciallo Lamberto Martelli damaged two four-engined bombers while Tenente Giuseppe Ferazzani damaged a P-38.
At 13:00, Tenente Renato Baroni of the 90a Squadriglia scrambled from San Salvatore and had an in-conclusive contact with enemy fighters, returning to land at 15:00.
At 13:25 there was a new alarm and three MC.202s and two MC.205s of the 84a Squadriglia took off flown by Capitano Luigi Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Corrado Patrizi, Segente Maggiore Mario Veronesi, Tenente Alessandro Mettimano and Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi. At least three additional Macchis flown by Sottotenente Sforza Libera (90 a Squadriglia), Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) and Maresciallo Lamberto Martelli (91a Squadriglia) also scrambles.
During the alarm an enemy formation released bombs on San Salvatore airfield; luckily, only a few bombs hit the strip, but many others exploded around it and the tent of the 90a Squadriglia became surrounded by large craters. The American pilot quivered during the bombing and showed a little fear; to excuse himself, he stated that he was unaccustomed to be at the receiving end of bombers. More huge formations passed over the heads and bombed the other airfields.
The eight Macchis intercepted a reported 70 four-engined bombers escorted by 30 P-38s in the area between Gela, Enna and Caltagirone. The Allied aircraft were returning from a bombing mission over Catania.
Sottotenente Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Sottotenente Libera and Tenente Mettimano each claimed a P-38 in this in combat. Two probables were claimed by Mettimano and Sergente Patrizi. Mettimano, Patrizi, Squarcia and Martelli damaged several bombers. Libera was subsequently shot down and killed in this combat while Veronesi, after receiving hits in the engine and in the water cooler, made a gear-up emergency landing near Comiso.
The Italian fighters landed back at 13:55.
It is possible that they had been involved in combat with P-38Gs from 96th and 97th Fighter Squadrons, which returned claiming five enemy fighters at 13:30. First Lieutenant Gerald Lynn Rounds and Second Lieutenant Russell C. Williams from 97th FS claimed one Bf 109 each. First Lieutenant William Judson Sloan of 96th FS claimed one Bf 109 and one Re.2001 while Second Lieutenant James V. O’Brien from the same unit claimed a second Re.2001.
While the aircraft were refurbished with fuel and ammunition, a MC.202 flown by Sergente Maggiore Patrizi, scrambled. He took off at 14:15 and didn’t return.
At 14:20, three MC.202s from 91a Squadriglia flown by Tenente Bertolaso, Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli and Sergente Giulio Fornalé took off for another scramble. It seems that they became involved in combat with B-17s, which were out to bomb Gebrini in the afternoon with a close escort of P-38s while 20 Spitfires from 126 and 1435 Squadrons provided top cover. Bf 109s and Macchis tried to intercept over Gerbini. A Bf 109 was claimed damaged by Flight Sergeant F. K. Halcombe (JK368/V-J) of 1435 Squadron, Pilot Officer Chandler (JK139/V-X) similarly claimed a Macchi damaged, while Flying Officer Geoff White (JK611/MK-M) of 126 Squadron shot down a Macchi. His victim was possibly Sergente Patrizi of the 84a Squadriglia who baled out of his disabled MC.205V near Gibrini. In the combat Leonardo Ferrulli was seen to shoot one of the bombers down, from which three men baled out, along with an escorting P-38 before he was in turn jumped by a flight of Spitfires that had been patrolling over the B-17s. Ferrulli baled out of his damaged MC.202 but was to low, his parachute failing to deploy before he hit the ground near Scordia, killing him. Tenente Bertolaso returned claiming damage to four four-engined bombers while Sergente Fornalé claimed hit on a bomber.
At 15:35 there was a new scramble with Capitano Giannella in a MC.202 and Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi in a MC.205. They returned after 30 minutes with no news.
At 17:35, there was again a new scramble by a MC.202 (pilot unknown) and Sottotenente Ugo Picchiottini in a MC.205. These two fighters returned at 18:00.
In the late afternoon, a German car arrived at San Salvatore airfield, and Sergente Maggiore Patrizi got out of it, aching all over and with scratches on many parts of his body; the pilot was welcomed with happiness by the personnel that crowded round him to listen to his adventure. He told that he chased a formation of Spitfires; while he was shooting at one of them, another one attacked him at six-o'-clock, and did not let him go, forcing him to jump from his burning aircraft and parachute. He touched down near Gerbini and was picked up by the Germans.
Towards the evening an aircraft from Comiso landed, carrying Sergente Maggiore Veronesi.
From 17:30 to 17:55, Tenente Fabio Clauser of the 90a Squadriglia flew a sortie together with Marescialo Salvatore but they didn’t encounter any enemy aircraft.
Tenente Clauser flew another sortie from 20:00 to 20:15 over San Salvatore.

Buttazzi ended the war with 4 shared biplane victories and a total of 1 victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  23/12/40 08:30-11:05 1/17 Hurricane (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sidi Azeiz area 84a Squadriglia
  23/12/40 08:30-11:05 1/17 Hurricane (a) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sidi Azeiz area 84a Squadriglia
  23/12/40 08:30-11:05 1/17 Hurricane (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Sidi Azeiz area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  27/12/40 14:30- 1/19 Hurricane (c) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  08/06/42 14:20-15:10 1/3 P-40 (d) Shared destroyed MC.202 MM7933 Bir Hacheim 84a Squadriglia
  12/06/42 09:20-10:40 1/3 P-40 (e) Shared destroyed MC.202   NE El Adem 84a Squadriglia
  17/06/42 08:55-09:35 1/5 P-40 (f) Shared destroyed MC.202 MM7919 Sidi Rezegh 84a Squadriglia
1 15/07/42 10:30-11:40 1 P-40 (g) Destroyed MC.202 MM7919/84-12 El Alamein 84a Squadriglia
  18/07/42 06:45-08:15 1/2 P-40 (h) Shared destroyed MC.202 MM7896/84-8 Burg el Arab area 84a Squadriglia
  20/10/42 11:00-12:30 1 P-40 Damaged MC.202   Fuka area 84a Squadriglia
  20/10/42 11:00-12:30 1 P-40 Damaged MC.202   Fuka area 84a Squadriglia
  20/10/42 11:00-12:30 1 P-40 Damaged MC.202   Fuka area 84a Squadriglia
  05/07/43 10:25-11:55 1/4 Enemy bomber Shared damaged MC.205   Gerbini area 84a Squadriglia
  05/07/43 10:25-11:55 1/4 Enemy bomber Shared damaged MC.205   Gerbini area 84a Squadriglia
  05/07/43 10:25-11:55 1/4 Enemy bomber Shared damaged MC.205   Gerbini area 84a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 4 shared destroyed, 3 shared probably destroyed, 1 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 1 and 8 shared destroyed, 3 shared probably destroyed, 3 and 4 shared damaged.
(a) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 274 Squadron, which claimed one CR.42 while suffering one damaged Hurricane. 10o Gruppo claimed one, one probable and one damaged Hurricanewhile suffering one damaged CR.42.
(b) Claimed in combat with Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron, which claimed 2 and 3 probables without any losses, and possibly Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed a damaged CR.42 during the day. The 23o Gruppo claimed 1 Hurricane and 1 Gladiator and the 10o Gruppo claimed 2 and 2 probable Gladiators while losing one CR.42 and getting five more damaged.
(c) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed two probable CR.42s and one damaged without losses. The 10o and 23o Gruppi claimed 3 Hurricanes and 1 probably shot down with another 10 damaged while suffering 3 damaged CR.42s.
(d) Probably claimed in combat with Tomahawks from 4 and 5 SAAF Squadrons, which claimed 2 damaged while getting 1 P-40 damaged. The 10o Gruppo claimed 3 P-40s and 1 probable without losses.
(e) Claimed in combat with 145 and 73 Squadrons which claimed 1 destroyed and 2 damaged without losses. 10o Gruppo claimed 2 P-40s without losses.
(f) Claimed in combat with P-40s from 4 SAAF, 5 SAAF and 260 Squadrons, which claimed 1 damaged fighter while losing 3 Tomahawks (2 pilots KIA). The 10o Gruppo and 2./JG 27 claimed 7 fighters without losses.
(g) Probably claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33, 213 and 238 Squadron, which claimed 1 MC.202, 3 damaged, 2 damaged Bf 109Es and 2 damaged Ju 88s while suffering 3 damaged Hurricanes. 9o and 10o Gruppi and I./JG 27 claimed 5 fighters destroyed and 4 probables while suffering 1 damaged MC.202 (pilot KIA).
(h) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 80 and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 5 damaged fighters while losing 2 Hurricanes. 10o Gruppo claimed 4 fighters destroyed without losses.

2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
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
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Desert Prelude: Operation Compass - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2011 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-61421-18-4
Eagles over Gazala: Air Battles in North Africa May-June 1942 – Michele Palermo, IBN Editore, ISBN (10) 88-7565-168-X
La Battaglie Aeree In Africa Settentrionale: Novembre-Dicembre 1941 – Michele Palermo, IBN, ISBN 88-7565-102-7
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Stormi d'Italia - Giulio Lazzati, 1975 Mursia, Milan, ISBN 88-425-1946-4, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro and Ludovico Slongo

Last modified 01 July 2022