Biplane fighter aces


Maresciallo Raffaele Chianese

Sergente Raffaele Chianese served in the 4o Stomro CT before taking part in the Spanish Civil War.

By the end of August, after the first 12 CR.32s, and their pilots, had reached Melilla, three more had been sent to Majorca and nine were offloaded in the port of Vigo de Galicia, on Spain’s Atlantic coast, from the Spanish ship Ebro. The latter had been renamed Aniene in Italy so that it could run contraband under a flag of convenience.

The nine CR.32s delivered to Vigo de Galicia were unloaded on the night of 27 August, although the presence of a British naval vessel in the port at the same time meant that this operation could not be completed in secrecy. Nine pilots under the command of Tenente Dante Olivero (from 6o Stormo) were also on board Aniene, and each of them had a false identity. Amongst the aviators were Sottotenente Adriano Mantelli (’Arrighi’) and Sergenti Brunetto di Montegnacco (’Antonio Romualdi’), GianLino Baschirotto (’Edoardo Giri’) and Chianese, while five groundcrew provided technical support. The men and their machines then travelled by train southwards along the Vigo-Orense-Salamanca-Caceres-Seville route, which was controlled by Nationalist forces that had recently occupied the eastern Extremadura to unite the occupied zones of southern and north-western Spain. The reassembly of the nine aeroplanes, which were destined for the Segunda Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio (2a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio), commenced after the three-day journey had ended in Tablada on 30 August.

On the morning of 9 September capitán Joaquín García Morato led Italian pilots Sergente Chianese and Sergente Achille Buffali from Tablada to the airfield at Cáceres, in Extremadura, from where they could support the Nationalist advance towards Madrid.
It is possible that capitán Morato already at this time was serving as a flight leader in the 2a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio since it is known that he served in this role during September-December 1936.

In the morning on 11 September, capitán Joaquín García Morato and Sergente Chianese claimed a Ni-H.52 each. These were flown by French pilots Captain Jean Labitte and Sergeant Abel Guidez, who had enrolled in the Escuadra España from the reserve corps of the Armée de l’Air. Both pilots survived to return to their unit.
This was capitán Morato’s fifth victory, and his first with the CR.32.

On 16 September, Sergente Chianese of the 2a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio downed a D.372 near Talavera that was piloted by British pilot Keith Lindsay of the Escuadra Internacional. The injured pilot managed to return to the Republican side.
A short while later during the same sortie Chianese downed a militarised, red-painted. Miles M.2 two-seat single-engined monoplane that was being used as a makeshift reconnaissance aircraft - both crewmembers were killed.

On 24 September, the CR.32s were transferred to Talavera airfield, which was closer to the operational zone of Toledo and Madrid.

On 30 November, Sergente Chianese of the 2 a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio took part in a strafing attack when his CR.32 burst into flames and he was forced to take to his parachute over Republican territory. He was soon captured, and remained a PoW until being freed in a prisoner exchange in July 1937.

Chianese claimed 3 biplane victories during the Spanish Civil War.

When Italy declared war on the Great Britain and France on 10 June 1940, Maresciallo Chianese served in the 91a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, 4o Stormo C.T.

Chianese was one of the best aerobatic pilots of the Stormo.

On 12 June, the 2o Stormo’s fighters in North Africa were joined by those of the 10o Gruppo (84a, 90a and 91a Squadriglie) of the Gorizia based 4o Stormo C.T.. The Gruppo was commanded by Tenente Colonnello Armando Piragino and started the war at Tobruk T2 with 27 CR.42s.
The 91a Squadriglia C.T. was composed of the following pilots: Capitano Giuseppe D’Agostinis (CO), Tenente Enzo Martissa, Sottotenente Ruggero Caporali, Maresciallo Chianese, Maresciallo Vittorio Romandini, Sergente Maggiore Leonardo Ferrulli, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato, Sergente Maggiore Natale Fiorito, Sergente Maggiore Elio Miotto, Sergente Aldo Rosa, Sergente Alessandro Bladelli, Sergente Guido Scozzoli and Sergente Luigi Ferrario. They had ten CR.42s on strength (including Piragino’s).

On 29 July, the 10o Gruppo took off at 17:05 for a routine evening patrol over the Bardia-Amseat-Sidi Rezegh area. Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli leading Capitano Giuseppe D’Agostinis, Maresciallo Chianese, Tenente Enzo Martissa and Sergente Aldo Rosa of the 91a Squadriglia, Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti and Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini of the 90a Squadriglia and Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Vincenzo Vanni and Tenente Giuseppe Aurili of the 84a Squadriglia. During the mission, Chianese was seen to suddenly dive towards the ground and was followed by the entire formation assuming that he had discovered some sort of target on ground. In truth, weakened by the insufficient alimentation and the bad hygienic conditions of El Adem, Chianese had lost consciousness, regaining control only when a few metres from the ground. Once at base he was sent back to Gorizia.

Chianese never regained active service but his experience was used in the Fighter School of Gorizia.

Chianese ended the war with 3 biplane victories, these being claimed during the Spanish Civil War.

He continued to serve as a flying instructor after the war.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 11/09/36 morning 1 Ni-H.52 (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Talavera area 2a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio
2 16/09/36   1 D.372 (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Talavera area 2a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio
3 16/09/36   1 Miles M.2 (c) Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Talavera area 2a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio

Biplane victories: 3 destroyed.
TOTAL: 3 destroyed.
(a) The 1a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio shot down 2 Ni-H.52s flown by French pilots Captain Jean Labitte and Sergeant Abel Guidez, who had enrolled in the Escuadra España from the reserve corps of the Armée de l’Air. Both pilots survived to return to their unit.
(b) Dewoitine D.372 of the Escuadra Internacional flown by British pilot Keith Lindsay, who escaped injured.
(c) Crew in enemy aircraft KIA.

Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
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
Due Volte Asso - Giovanni Massimello, 1997 Storia Militare Nr. 49 Ottobre 1997 kindly provided by Massimo Cappone
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
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
Additional information kindly provided by Fulvio Chianese, Alfredo Logoluso, Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 29 September 2012