Biplane fighter aces


Sottotenente Giuseppe Cantù

In November 1941, Sottotenente Cantù served in the 375a Squadriglia, 161o Gruppo CT. This unit was at the time equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

Six Beaufighters of 272 Squadron attacked Agedabia at 12:15 on 26 November. Flight Lieutenant Gillian Campbell (Beaufighter O), Pilot Officer J. H. Baker (K), Flying Officer G. W. Morris (S), Pilot Officer K. B. Orr (A), Sergeant N. A. J. Price (E) and Pilot Officer W. G. Snow (C) shot down a Ca.311 as well as destroying four CR.42s on the ground (they also reported strafing Ju 87s). Four CR.42s were then seen over a convoy, and one of these was claimed as a damaged by Flying Officer Campbell.
The Ca.311 claimed shot down was from the 15o Gruppo O.A. flown by Maresciallo Emenegildo Gius, which had taken off for a reconnaissance mission over Benghazi-Msus-Saunnu-Antelat-Solluch-Benghazi but had to land due to the action of enemy fighters 40 miles south of Sidi Magrun. There was one person wounded.
The damage done to the CR.42 unit at Agedabia was really grave: the 366a Squadriglia suffered one CR.42 (FU) damaged beyond repair and another was damaged, and a Ca.133 was slightly damaged while CR.42 MM7617 (of the 367a Squadriglia) was RD.
The Beaufighter piloted by Sergeant Price was shot down; according to 272 Squadron’s ORB this was by anti-aircraft fire. The diary of 160o Gruppo reported that at 12:30, two CR.42s of the 375a Squadriglia were on a defence patrol when they intercepted the Beaufighters that were strafing the airfield. Sottottenente Cantù claimed one of the attackers shot down in flames near the airfield and then successfully fired on a second Beaufighter together with Sergente Maggiore Aurelio Munich. The Beaufighter made off trailing a lot of smoke and was credited as a shared probable. The crew of the shot down Beaufighter consisted of two non-commissioned officers, were taken PoW (Sergeant Price and Sergeant F. Southern).
It seems that the Beaufighter was shot down by the CR.42 but it can’t be excluded that it had been damaged by anti-aircraft fire since the fire from the ground was intense.

Cantù ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 26/11/41 12:30 1 Blenheim (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Agedabia 375a Squadriglia
  26/11/41 12:30 1/2 Blenheim (a) Shared probably destroyed Fiat CR.42   Agedabia 375a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed, 1 shared probably destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed, 1 shared probably destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Beaufighters from 272 Squadron, which lost one aircraft with the crew PoW.

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 05 October 2014