Biplane fighter aces


Capitano Giovanni D'Ajello

17 January 1908 -

Date Decoration Note
??/??/40 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare 1940-43

Giovanni D’Ajello was born on 17 January 1908 and was from Napoli.

D'Ajello was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo) on 1 Ocotber 1929.

In the end of August 1940, the new armoured aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious joined HMS Eagle to strengthen the Mediterranean Fleet. Both carriers headed eastwards to launch a dawn air strike with aircraft from both carriers against Italian airfields on the occupied Aegean island of Rhodes. As dawn broke on 4 September, Swordfish from HMS Illustrious’ 815 and 819 Squadrons hit Calato. However HMS Eagle’s’ 813 and 824 Squadrons had been delayed in take off and the 13 Swordfish arrived over Maritza to find the defense alerted. The 163a Squadriglia Autonoma was based here and scrambled a motley collection of CR.32s, CR.42s and Meridionali biplanes. One CR.32 and one CR.42 collided during takeoff and were destroyed, and another CR.32 flown by Sergente Aristodemo Morri failed to return. The rest however shot down four of the Swordfish (E4C, E4H, E4K and E4M), one falling to the commanding officer Capitano D’Ajello. Two of the bombers came down in the sea, from where one was recovered, with its crew, by an Italian submarine. Another (K8403 ‘E4M’) force-landed on Scarpanto island. Of the twelve Naval aircrew lost, four were killed including Lieutenant D.R.H. Drummond and his crew, and the remainder taken prisoner. On the ground at Gadurra airfield considerable damage was done by the thirty high-explosive and twenty incendiary bombs dropped. Two S.79s of 39o Stormo were destroyed and three were damaged, together with two Cant Z.1007bis, an S.81 and an S.82 transport. Four men were badly wounded and twenty slightly hurt, while a quantity of fuel, oil and bombs were destroyed.

In 1943, he served in the 1o Nucleo Addestramento Assalto.

D'Ajello ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 04/09/40 1 Swordfish (a) Destroyed Italian biplane ? off Rhodes 163a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Four Swordfish (E4C, E4H, E4K and E4M (K8403)) from HMS Eagle’s’ 813 and 824 Squadrons shot down. Four of the crews were killed and the rest (eight) were taken prisoners.

Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell’ A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 1 Volume A - L
Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-41 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-89747-207-1

Last modified 03 January 2024