Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Romeo Della Costanza

27 March 1916 - 1 September 1941

Date Decoration Note
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/41 Croce di guerra al valor militare 1940-43

Romeo Della Costanza was born on 27 March 1916 in Pesaro.

In November 1940, Romeo Della Costanza served in the 363a Squadriglia, 150o Gruppo Autonomo C.T., which was equipped with Fiat CR.42s. The unit was at this time operating over Greece.

On 14 November, the airfield at Koritza was near to the frontline and was attacked daily. During the day he claimed one of three with which he was engaged over the area.

On 24 December, five Blenheim Is from 211 Squadron bombed Valona airfield, destroying two 150o Gruppo CR.42s and damaged a third.
Three 363a Squadriglia CR.42s flown by Sottotenente Della Costanza, Sergente Enrico Micheli and Mario Scagliarini were scrambled and duly caught the raiders. Costanza claimed a probable while Micheli fired at another.
It seems that Italian AA defenders also claimed one Blenheim probably shot down.
No bombers were lost by 211 Squadron. One of the observers, Pilot Officer Eric Bevington-Smith recalled:

"We assembled five crews and set off for Valona. The weather was appalling, with a cloud base below 2,000 feet and we flew along the Gulf of Corinth and up to Valona, where the cloud base was 1,700 feet ... we just managed to slip through in line astern, went up into cloud again, and by good luck came out of the cloud over Valona and dropped our bombs. The AA had not yet woken up, so we put our noses down and went flat out for the harbour entrance. When we were about 500 feet we met an Italian cruiser and destroyer coming in for Christmas. We turned our front machine guns on and dived on the ships, and as we passed our rear gunners sprayed the decks. It worked; we were at least two miles away before shellfire started bursting around us, and a quick change of course to the south got us away. If only those Italian gunners had not assumed that the entrance to the harbour of their home port, they were safe!"

After the end of the Greek campaign, the 150o Gruppo remained in the area and took part in counter-insurgency operations against Montenegrin partisans. They also intensified their unit-training program.

On 1 September 1941, Tenente Romeo Delia Costanza of the 363a Squadriglia was killed in an accident near Tirana when his MC.200 dived into the ground from 2 000 meters during an aerobatic exercise.
The aircraft was most likely MM5249.

At the time of his death, Costanza was credited with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 14/11/40   1 PZL P.24 Destroyed (a) Fiat CR.42   Koritza area 363a Squadriglia
  24/12/40   1 Blenheim Probably destroyed (b) Fiat CR.42   Valona airfield area 363a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with PZL P.24s from 23 Mira. Italian fighters claimed eight P.24s over Koritza during the day while losing two aircraft and getting a third damaged. 23 Mira claimed eight CR.42s. A number of PZLs may have been damaged, and some possibly shot down but no Greek pilots were killed or wounded during this engagement.
(b) Claimed in combat with Blenheim Is from 211 Squadron, which didn't suffer any losses.

53o Stormo - Marco Mattioli, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-977-5
Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-07-0
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell’ A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 1 Volume A - L
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - H kan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5
Ministero della Difesa - Banca Dati sulle sepolture dei Caduti in Guerra
Additional information kindly provided by Gianandrea Bussi.

Last modified 22 January 2024