Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Tenente Carlo Canella

22 June 1914 - 1 June 1986

Carlo Canella was born on 22 June 1914 in Pescantina.

Canella was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo) on 28 October 1938.

He served in the 84a Squadriglia, 4o Stormo, prior to the war.

On 2 May 1940, he was promoted to Tenente.

He served with 412a Squadriglia, equipped with Fiat CR.42s, in the East African campaign of 1940-41.

On 12 June 1940 he shot down a British Wellesley bomber over the Keren area. It seems probable that this was in fact Pilot Officer B.K.C. Fuge’s Wellesley (K7730) of 47 Squadron shot down the previous day, and not seen to crash at the time by the defenders. The British crew became prisoners.
AA also claimed this aircraft.

Having known since 13 October, by aerial reconnaissance, that a Flight of 47 Squadron had been detached to Al Qadarif (Gadaref), pilots of Regia Aeronautica planed a strafing attack on that field. On the 16 October, taking off at 06:00 from the Italian advanced field of Barentu, an S.79 flown by Generale Pietro Piacentini (CO of Settore Aeronautico Nord AOI) himself led in eight CR.42s of the 412a Squadriglia flown by Capitano Antonio Raffi, Tenente Mario Visintini, Tenente Canella, Tenente Di Pauli, Sottotenente Fiorindo Rosmino, Sottotenente Levi, Sergente Maggiore Lugi Baron, and Sergente Pietro Morlotti. Some sources say that nine CR.42s were involved in this strike, but possibly the ninth pilot, newly arrived Sergente Carlo Scarselli, was left to protect Barentu.
At 06:55, the Savoia dropped its bombs on the field, then the fighters strafed between 07:00-07:20 and totally destroyed all eight Wellesleys of 47 Squadron detachment (K7742, K7762, K7779, K7781, L2650, L2675, L2677 and L2688) and, personally by Capitano Raffi, two of 430 Flight’s Vincents (K4657 and K4731) while they were taking off, which were claimed as Gladiators shot down. An attempt to call the 1 SAAF fighter detachment at Azaza (some 20 kilometers north-east) was foiled, as the telephone line between Al Qadarif and Azaza was found to have been cut. Italian claims were quite accurate, eleven aircraft being claimed destroyed, together with a munitions dump, some lorries, a searchlight and, it seems, a Packard car, the latter fired on by Tenente Canella.
Capitano Raffi was decorated with a Medaglia d’argento al valor militare as the organizer of the attack, while the other pilots gained a Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare each.

On 12 December, the 412a Squadriglia launched an airfield strafe on the advanced strip at Italian pilot, where 237 Squadron’s ‘B’ Flight was based.
In the morning, five aircraft took off led by a S.79 (Tenente Colonnello Liberati). At 06:10, three of them (Capitano Antonio Raffi, Tenente Canella and Tenente Mario Visintini) attacked the parked Hawker Hardys, destroying K4053, K4308, K4055 and K4307 while the other two CR.42s (Tenente Luciano Cacciavillani (detached from the 413a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Giovanni Levi) remained above as cover.
Capitano Raffi, CO of the 412a Squadriglia, made several attacks on one aircraft, which consistently refused to burn, but his own aircraft was then hit in the oil sump by fire from the Sudan Defence Force detachment guarding the airfield. Trailing smoke, he headed for his base, but the engine finally seized and stopped some 100 kilometres from the target and he force-landed east of Aroma, near the Atbarah River. Tenente Visintini landed alongside, took his CO aboard and seated on Raffi's knees after dispensing his parachute, took off and returned successfully. Once at Barentu, after refurbishing, Tenente Visintini, Tenente Cacciavillani and Sottotenente Levi returned to destroy Raffi's abandoned fighter to ensure its total destruction.
The Italian pilots claimed to have destroyed five Vickers Vincents on the ground at Qawz Rajab, together with three armoured cars near the downed Fiat.

At dawn on 9 February 1941, Capitano Mario Visintini led an attack on Akordat airfields and its satellite airfield with Tenente Canella, Tenente Raimondo Di Pauli, Sergente Aroldo Soffritti and Sergente Pietro Morlotti (all from the 412a Squadriglia).
The attack was repeated in the same evening on Akordat and Bisha airfields.
A total of 16 aircraft were claimed by Italians in these two missions: 11 burned and 5 damaged including 5 Hurricanes, 5 Hawker biplanes, 2 Gladiators, 2 Wellesleys, 1 Valentia and 1 ‘Martin’ Lysander.
The 203 Group diary admitted 6 destroyed and 4 badly damaged in the morning, 1 burned and 4 damaged in the evening, for a total of 15 out-of-use aircraft. Destroyed aircraft included two Wellesleys (K7713 and L2665) of 47 Squadron, two Hardys (K5921 and K4319) and two Lysanders L1026 and R2044) of 237 Squadron.
At this point, Mario Visintini was granted with a Medaglia d’oro al valor militare for his outstanding combat record, while the other four pilots each gained a Medaglia d’argento al valor militare for the daring missions.

Canella ended the war with 7 biplane victories.

During the war he was decorated with two Medaglie d’argento al valor militare and one Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare.

Carlo Canella passed away in Caprino Veronese on 1 June 1986.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
? 12/06/40   1 Wellesley (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Keren area 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Wellesley (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  16/10/40 07:00-07:20 1/8 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Al Qadarif 412a Squadriglia
  12/12/40 06:10- 1/3 Vincent (c) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Qawz Rajab 412a Squadriglia
  12/12/40 06:10- 1/3 Vincent (c) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Qawz Rajab 412a Squadriglia
  12/12/40 07:10- 1/3 Vincent (c) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Qawz Rajab 412a Squadriglia
  12/12/40 06:10- 1/3 Vincent (c) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Qawz Rajab 412a Squadriglia
  12/12/40 06:10- 1/3 Vincent (c) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Qawz Rajab 412a Squadriglia
  1940                
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Hurricane (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Hurricane (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Valentia (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Hardy (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Hardy (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Hardy (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Hardy (d) Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Gladiator (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Wellesley (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Wellesley (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Dawn 1/5 Lysander (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Evening 1/5 Hurricane (d) Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Evening 1/5 Hurricane (d) Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Evening 1/5 Hurricane (d) Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Akordat 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Evening 1/5 Gladiator (d) Shared destroyed on the ground Fiat CR.42   Bisha 412a Squadriglia
  09/02/41 Evening 1/5 Hardy (d) Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Bisha 412a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 7 destroyed, 27 shared destroyed on the ground, 5 shared damaged on the ground.
TOTAL: 7 destroyed, 27 shared destroyed on the ground, 5 shared damaged on the ground.
(a) Probably Wellesley (K7730) of 47 Squadron, flown by Pilot Officer B.K.C. Fuge, shot down previous day; the crew became POW’s.
(b) According to British sources eight Wellesleys of 47 Squadron (L2650, L2675, L2677, L2688, K7742, K7762, K7779 and K7781) and two Vincents of 430 Flight (K4657 and K4731) were burned on the ground, against claims for nine Wellesley destroyed on the ground and two Gladiators shot down during take-off. The latter were unofficially credited to Capitano Antonio Raffi.
(c) Five Vickers Vincents were claimed destroyed by 412a Squadriglia while actually four Hawker Hardys (K4053, K4308, K4055 and K4307) of ‘B’ Flight, 237 Squadron were totally burned on the ground.
(d) 412a Squadriglia claimed 11 aircraft destroyed and 5 damaged on the ground (i.e. 2 Hurricanes, a Valentia, 3 Hardys, 2 Gladiators, 2 Wellesleys and a Lysander burned, 3 Hurricanes and 2 Hardys damaged). Actual losses were: in the morning, two Wellesleys (K7713 and L2665) of 47 Squadron, two Hardys (K5921 and K4319) and two Lysanders (L1026 and R2044) of 237 Squadron all burned, and four not specified aircrafts damaged at Akordat; in the evening, a Hurricane burned and two more damaged at Akordat, and a Vincent and a Gladiator damaged at Bisha, for a grand total of 15 destroyed or damaged aircrafts.

Sources:
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, kindly provided by Jean Michel Cala
Dust Clouds in the Middle East - Christopher Shores, 1996 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-37-X
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro and Ludovico Slongo.




Last modified 10 January 2015