Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Capitano Duilio Sergio Fanali Medaglia d'oro al valor militare

21 June 1911 – 27 August 1987


Photo kindly provided by Storia Aeronautica Italiana

Duilio Sergio Fanali was born in Rome on 21 June 1911.
He attended the Ibis course of the Air Force Academy being promoted to Sottotenente on 1 October 1932. He achieved the pilot's licence on 16 March 1933 and the military pilot’s license on 3 May 1934.

In 1936, Mario Bacich, Ernesto Botto and Fanali were part of the elite Reparto Alta Velocità (High Speed Unit) at Desenzano sul Garda. The unit trained the very best Italian pilots on the high-speed techniques necessary to fly the Macchi seaplane racers. For those stunt pilots the Roman firm Giusti had produced a limited edition of its standard flying helmets made in red leather.


Fanali during his time in Spain.

With the rank of Tenente he volunteered for service in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the Aviazione Legionaria. He arrived in Spain in April 1937 as a member of the 65a Squadriglia Autonoma di Assalto, was under the command of Capitano Vittorio Desiderio. The unit was equipped with the Breda Ba65 K-14 and based at Cadiz. Fanali’s personal aircraft at this time was “65-23”.

On 8 May, he flew the units first mission, a reconnaissance over Castuera, together with the ace Tenente Adriano Mantelli, who was temporarily assigned to the 65a Squadriglia.

On 6 June the Squadriglia was transferred to Soria. Here they started to fly reconnaissance, light bombing and strafing missions against Republican troops. They also started to fly a patrol service to try to intercept the much feared and fast "Martin Bombers" (i.e. Tupolev SBs).

During an armed reconnaissance over the enemy lines at S. Maria Maria de Cayou – Torrelavega on 27 July, the Bredas were attacked by I-16 Ratas and Fanali’s aircraft was damaged.

As a Capitano, Fanali took command of the 65a Squadriglia on 13 October.

On 26 November, the Squadriglia was transferred to Tudela airfield.

In December, the unit took part in the battles for Teruel. After that the city fell they took part in the Argon offensive, which by 15 April had cut the Spanish Republic in two.

During an assault mission in the Teruel area on 18 February 1938, Fanali's "16-18" was hit by shrapnel. In spite of over a hundred holes on the airframe, Fanali managed to return and land safely.


Fanali inspecting combat damage on “16-18” after the mission on 18 February 1938.

On 4 June the Squadriglia was transferred to Puig Moreno airfield.

On 1 July Fanali left the command of the 65a Squadriglia to Capitano Miotto and returned to Italy.

In 1940 he was Commander of the 165a Squadriglia, 12o Gruppo, 50o Stormo Assalto at Sorman (Lybia). This unit was equipped with Breda Ba.65s.

On 1 June, the 50o Stormo was changed to Bombardamento Leggero (Light Bombing) and re-equipped with Caproni Ca.310Bs, thus losing two Squadriglie; 165a of 12o Gruppo and 169a of 16o Gruppo.
At Mussolini's Declaration of War on 10 June, Fanali was temporarily leading a Nucleo of nine Ba.65/A80s, under the Command of the 12o Gruppo.

On 14 June the Bredas were passed to 159a Squadriglia.

At 16:20 in the afternoon on 21 June five Bredas of the 159a Squadriglia flew a ground-attack mission in the Bir El Gobi area. This was the last mission with the type for Capitano Fanali and with him were Tenente Roberto Pastorelli , Sergente Maggiore Simonini, Sergente Maggiore Corrado Sarti and Sergente Molteni.
On the same day was Fanali appointed CO of 160a Squadriglia of the 12o Gruppo, which had just received some Fiat CR.32s from the 8o Gruppo of the 2o Stormo, at Tobruk T2. These aircraft were modified with a belly rack for two 15 kg bombs. The main duty of this unit was the attack of tanks, armoured cars and trucks.
It is reputed that Fanali’s personal aircraft was the well-known CR.32quater "160-10" MM4666.


Fanali in front of a CR.32 from 160a Squadriglia in Libya during the summer of 1940.

During the morning on 4 August, 80 Squadrons ‘B’ Flight received a signal from the headquarters to provide four Gladiators to escort a Lysander from 208 Squadron flown by Pilot Officer Burwell, which was to observe enemy troops movement at Bir Taieb el Esem on the other side of the Libyan border. 'Pat' Pattle (Gladiator Mk.I K7910) decided to lead the escort and took with him Flying Officer Peter Wykeham-Barnes (L8009), Pilot Officer Johnny Lancaster (K7923) and Sergeant Kenneth George Russell Rew (RAF no. 526687) (Gladiator K7908). They took of at 17:15 and reached the rendezvous point in ten minutes where they found the Lysander circling at 6000 feet. Wykeham-Barnes and Rew took up a position about 3000 feet above and immediately behind the Lysander, whilst Pattle and Lancaster climbed 1000 feet higher on the starboard flank. The aircraft crossed the border a few miles south of Sidi Omar twenty minutes later and followed the sand tracks leading to their target.
During the same morning eleven CR.42s of the 97a Squadriglia went from Benghazi-Berka to El Adem T3 to participate, together with twelve other CR.42s from the 96a Squadriglia, which had arrived the previous day, and with nine CR.42s of the 10o Gruppo, in an aerial covering flight of the 2a Divisione Libica of Regio Esercito. This Division was marching from Bir el Gobi to Gabr Saleh.
In the meantime, a concentration of British armoured vehicles was discovered in the Bir Sheferzen area, around 30 kilometres south-west of Sollum, near the border where a logistic outpost of the Western Desert Force was located and consequently an air attack was planned.
At 16:50, a formation of assault aircraft of the 50o Stormo took off together with an escorting group of Fiat CR.42 fighters of the 4o Stormo heading for it. The assault aircraft took off from Tobruk T2bis and were twelve aircraft of the resident 12o Gruppo Assalto. They included six Breda Ba.65/A80s of the 159a Squadriglia, armed with 2kg bombs (the Bredas could carry up to 168 of these small calibre bombs) commanded by the Squadriglia Commander Capitano Antonio Dell’Oro and flown by Tenente Adriano Visconti, Tenente Fioravante Montanari (who led the second section), Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Bianchelli, Sergente Maggiore Gianni Pappalepore and Sergente Maggiore Paolo Perno. The other six were Fiat CR.32quaters of the 160a Squadriglia, armed with eight 2kg bombs and divided in two groups of three. The first group led by Capitano Fanali (Squadriglia CO) included Sottotenente Giuseppe Mezzatesta and Sergente Maggiore Corrado Sarti as wingmen while the second group was lead by Sottotenente Giuseppe Rossi with Sottotenente Mirko Erzetti and Maresciallo Romolo Cantelli as wingmen.
The Italian fighter escort took off from El Adem T3 and was composed of 31 CR.42s (ten from the 97a Squadriglia, eleven from the 96a Squadriglia, one from the 73a Squadriglia and nine from the 10o Gruppo). At the head of the two formations were Maggiore Ernesto Botto (in the aircraft from the 73a Squadriglia) and Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli. Pilots from the 97a Squadriglia were Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni, Sottotenente Giovanni Barcaro, Sergente Franco Sarasino, Sottotenente Riccardo Vaccari, Sergente Angelo Golino, Sottotenente Jacopo Frigerio, Sergente Maggiore Otello Perotti, Maresciallo Vanni Zuliani, Sergente Maggiore Raffaello Novelli and Sergente Maggiore Massimo Salvatore. Pilots from the 10o Gruppo were apart from Maggiore Romagnoli, Capitano Giuseppe D’Agostinis, Tenente Enzo Martissa, Sottotenente Ruggero Caporali and Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato from the 91a Squadriglia, Capitano Luigi Monti and Tenente Giuseppe Aurili from the 84a Squadriglia and Tenente Franco Lucchini and Sergente Amleto Monterumici from the 90a Squadriglia.
The two Italian formations met at a rendezvous point twenty kilometres east of El Adem and then headed for the target. The 4o Stormo’s aircraft flew at heights between 3500 and 4500 meters, the Fiat CR.32s at 1000 meters and the Bredas at 300 meters.
On the way towards the frontline, at 5000 m over Ridotta Capuzzo, they spotted a formation of nine Blenheims heading to El Adem, escorted by many Glosters Gladiators. Aircraft of the 96a Squadriglia and the 10o Gruppo attacked the bombers and then chased the fighters. In the fierce combat that followed, Tenente Lucchini claimed a Gladiator with the use of 385 rounds of ammunition. Pilots from the 91a Squadriglia claimed two Gladiators and three Blenheims as shared, with two additional Gladiators as shared probables (one of the Glosters was most probably the same claimed by Lucchini). Capitano Monti and Tenente Aurili claimed to have damaged two Blenheims each and then reported being credited with the three Blenheims shot down by the Stormo’s formation as shared. The pilots from the 90a Squadriglia claimed the same three Blenheims and a Gladiator jointly with the 96a Squadriglia and other pilots of the 10o Gruppo plus the individual victory of Lucchini and recorded “other Glosters shot down by pilots of 9o and 10o Gruppi”. At the end of the combat, Maggiore Botto, who personally claimed a damaged British bomber with the use of 200 rounds of ammunition, recorded ten enemy aircraft shot down together with other units. Apart from the five confirmed and two probables already detailed, the remaining victories should be those of the 50o Stormo, more prudently the 10o Gruppo’s Diary claimed only three Blenheims and a single Gloster shot down.
The 97a Squadriglia, covering at a higher altitude, spotted first six Blenheims, which were attacked by the other Squadriglie and then three other Blenheims that were heading towards Egyptian territory and dived to pursue them. Capitano Larsimont Pergameni and Sergente Sarasino chased them for a while, claiming hits on them.
The fighters from the 97a Squadriglia had most probably attacked a trio of Blenheim Mk.Is (L8667, L8391 and L8530) from 55 Squadron, which had been ordered on short notice to bomb up and meet two other flights from other squadrons over Ma’aten Bagush at 17:00 to attack an Italian M. T. convoy, 13 miles east of Bir El Gobi (obviously the Libyan division). Commanded by Pilot Officer T. O. Walker in L8667, they missed the rendezvous with the other Squadrons over Ma’aten Bagush and headed alone towards the front. After crossing the frontier, the trio spotted a big formation of about 25 CR.42s (4o Stormo’s formation). Twelve of these fighters started in pursuit as the Blenheims turned for home (the 97a Squadriglia formation). A running engagement, which lasted seven minutes started after which the Italian fighters broke off without having caused or suffered any damage. The other RAF Squadrons involved in this combat were 211 Squadron and most probably 112 and 113 Squadrons. 211 Squadron was up with two Blenheims piloted by Squadron Leader Bax (L8533) and Flight Lieutenant G. D. Jones (L8532), which were intercepted by a reportedly 40-50 fighters. Sergeant J. McIntosh, gunner of L8532, was wounded in the forearm and it seems that it was badly damaged and forced to land before reaching its base since it was salvaged by 51 RSU at Sidi Barrani on 10 August but Struck off Charge on 20 September. The total lack of records of 113 Squadron and the high level of incompleteness of those of 112 Squadron makes it quite difficult to reconstruct their contribution to the combat. It seems however probable that at least three Gladiators of 112 Squadron were around this area at the time, because it is known that Pilot Officers R. H. Clark, Homer Cochrane and B. B. E. Duff left Maaten Gerawla during the day for Sidi Barrani, with the task of patrolling over Sidi Omar (extremely close to the area where the evening combat developed). No encounters with the enemy are however recorded in the fragmentary reconstructed ORB of the unit.
The formation from the 50o Stormo continued alone towards the border, arriving over Bir Sheferzen (around thirty kilometres south and slightly east of the position where the escort left it) at 17:20, where they discovered numerous British vehicles that were immediately attacked by the Bredas Fanali’s trio of CR.32s while Rossi’s stayed at 1000 meters as cover. The Italian aircraft performed two passes over the vehicles and while they were preparing the third the 208 Squadron Lysander and 80 Squadron Gladiators came into the area. The crew of the Lysander spotted the Italians first and alerted the escort with a red Very light before heading due east at low altitude to reach safety. Pilot Officer Burwell carried some bombs that he tried to aim at Italian transports that he saw in the vicinity but missed, then he was forced to return by the strong opposition encountered.
Pattle and Lancaster dived down but failed to spot any enemy aircraft. Wykeham-Barnes and Rew had also disappeared but a few seconds later Pattle heard Wykeham-Barnes over the radio ordering Rew to attack. Immediately afterwards Pattle saw a reported seven Breda Ba.65s in two separate flights - one containing three aircraft in vic formation and the other made up of two pairs, heading east hunting the Lysander.
Wykeham-Barnes and Rew attacked the formation of four Bredas before they could reach the Lysander and Wykeham-Barnes shot down one of them in flames immediately but at the same time was Rew shot down and killed. Pattle and Lancaster meanwhile attacked the other three Italians from astern. The Bredas dispersed and all four Gladiators separated as they each selected a different enemy machine as a target. Pattle attacked two aircraft, which kept close together and turned in a complete circle. The Bredas dropped to around 200 feet and each released two bombs. This reduced weight meant that they slowly began to creep away from Pattle’s slower Gladiator. Suddenly they however turned north towards the fighter base at El Adem. Pattle quickly cut inside their turn and closed in to 150 yards. He delivered a quarter attack on the nearest Breda but his two port guns almost immediately ceased firing. His aim had been good however and he had hit one of the Italians who slowed down considerably. He swung in directly astern of it and, after a few more bursts from his remaining two guns, saw a puff of white smoke from the starboard side of the engine. He continued to attack the Breda, which dropped lower and lower and finally force-landed on good grounds five miles further on. The second Breda got away. Lancaster had also been having trouble with his guns. After his initial burst, all four guns jammed and he spent the next ten minutes frantically pulling his Constantinescu gear pistons and aiming at various enemy aircraft, but without any further bullets leaving his guns. Eventually he was forced to go on to the defensive and got an explosive bullet in the left arm and shoulder. Because he feared the loss of blood would cause him to lose consciousness, he wriggled out of the fight and with his right thumb pressed tightly against his left radial artery, held the stick between his knees and waggled his way home. In spite of his wounds and the serious damage to his Gladiator, he made quite a smooth landing before losing consciousness. It is reported, that the fitter who came to examine the aircraft shortly afterwards pronounced it too damaged to repair in situ and ordered it to be burned forthwith! However, in fact it seems that even if 80 Squadron didn’t fly it any more, Gladiator Mk.I K 7923 was repaired and later in the year passed to the Greek Air Force.
After claiming the Breda, Wykeham-Barnes was attacked by the CR.32s. He claimed one of them before another, attacked him, which hit his Gladiator, in his Combat Fighter Report he recorded: “The left side of the instrument panel and most of the windscreen went and two bullets came through the back of the seat before I could close the throttle, and the CR 32 passed under me. My machine then fell into a dive and I abandoned it, landing me by parachute.” He had received a shrapnel wound. He was also to receive a swollen tongue and a pair of very painful blistered feet before being rescued by a detachment of 11th Hussars, who brought him back to Sidi Barrani.
Four of the Bredas were damaged and in particular that of Sergente Maggiore Perno, which was hit fifty times and the pilot was slightly wounded in the leg, before Fanali’s Fiats were able to intervene. In the meantime, it was the section of Sottotenente Rossi, which was waiting higher up for its turn to attack, that first fell over the RAF fighters, taking them by surprise. After the sharp initial attack of the Fiats the combat developed into a WW I style dogfight which lasted fifteen minutes. At the end all the Italian aircraft returned to base claiming three of the enemies; one by Fanali (probably Wykeham-Barnes) and two by Cantelli (probably Rew and Lancaster).
One of the damaged Bredas was piloted by Tenente Adriano Visconti who pressed home his attacks against the enemy armoured vehicles notwithstanding the enemy’s fighter opposition. The behaviour of Visconti in this particular combat deeply impressed his commander Capitano Dell’Oro who proposed him for a Medaglia d’argento al valor militare. The motivation of this award that Visconti received “in the field” stated that: ”During a strafing attack against enemy’s armoured vehicles he pressed home his attacks careless of an enemy fighter that was following him shooting at him from short distance (…) and with its last ammunitions he succeeded in burning one of the armoured cars of the enemy(…)”.
After Pattle had claimed the Breda he broke away while attempting, without much success, to clear his port fuselage gun. Immediately, he was attacked by five biplanes (identified as CR.42s) diving towards him from the direction of El Adem, which was approximately 10 miles north-west. He flew on, pretending that he had not seen the Italians, until they were almost in position to open fire and then, with a flick of the wrist and a sharp prod of the foot, shot up and away from the Fiats. The Italians split up and attacked him independently from all directions. The Fiats made repeated attacks simultaneously from the quarter and beam, using the speed they gained in the dive to regain altitude. After each attack Pattle was forced on to the defensive and turned away from each attack, occasionally delivering a short attack on the most suitably target as it dived past. One Fiat on completing its attack turned directly in front of his Gladiator, presenting him with an excellent deflection shot at close range. He fired a long burst with his remaining two guns, which caused the Italian fighter to turn slowly onto its back and then spin down towards the desert. Pattle last saw it spinning at 200 feet and didn’t claim it for sure, but was later credited with this victory. Soon after his starboard wing gun also jammed but fortunately, at the same time the remaining Italian fighters broke away. He was now 40 miles behind enemy lines with only one gun operational and he turned for home at 1000 feet altitude.
When some miles north-west of Bir Taieb El Essem, he was again spotted and attacked by twelve CR.42s and three Breda Ba.65s. The Bredas broke away after a few dives while the CR.42s attacked. They used the same tactics as the five earlier had used with quarter and beam attacks. Within a few seconds Pattle’s remaining gun jammed because of an exploded round in the breach, so he attempted to make the border by evasive tactics and heading east at every opportunity. He soon discovered that one of the Italian pilots was an exceptional shot who made repeated attacks using full deflection with great accuracy. Each time this particular Italian came in, he had to use all his skill and cunning to keep out of the sights of the Fiat. The remainder of the Italians as a whole lacked accuracy and did not press home their attacks to a decisive range. Nevertheless, their presence and the fact that he had to consider each attack made the work of the more determined pilot very much easier. He managed to keep this up for fully fifteen minutes before the determined Italian came out of a loop directly above Pattle’s Gladiator and opened fire. Pattle turned away to avoid the bullets, but flew straight into the line of fire from another Fiat. The rudder controls were shot away, so he could no longer turn. He pulled back on the control column, climbed to about 400 feet and jumped. As he fell the pilot parachute caught his foot, but he managed to kick it free and the main chute opened just in time for him to make a safe landing off the first swing. The time was now around 19:00. He started to walk towards what he thought was Egypt during the night but found out at dawn to his horror that he had actually walked in the opposite direction, deeper into Libya. He turned around and crossed the border at around midday. At 16:00 on 5 August, he was rescued by a detachment from 11th Hussars, which brought him back to Sidi Barrani.
It is possible that Pattle was shot down by Tenente Franco Lucchini.

Taking off from T2 at 17:10 on 1 January 1941, the 50o Stormo carried out the first mission of the new year when three CR.32s of the 160a Squadriglia (Capitano Fanali, Tenente Giacomello and Sergente Patellani) and two Breda Ba.65s of 159a Squadriglia (Sergente Maggiore Paolo Perno and Sergente Maggiore Bianchelli; their leader, Tenente Pastorelli, had been forced to return early with engine problems) attacked British mechanized units near Sidi Bu Amud with four 50kg, six 15kg and 164 2kg bombs. The returning crews claimed the destruction of some tanks and a Bofors AA gun. So close were the lines that they were back at 17:40.

On 3 January, the 50o Stormo carried out an assault mission in the Sidi Rezegh area, participating pilots were the usual: Capitano Fanali, Tenente Giacomello, Tenente Pastorelli, Sergente Maggiore Giovacchini, Sergente Maggiore Bianchelli and Sergente Maggiore Sgariglia in three CR.32s and three Ba.65s. They claimed the destruction of some armoured vehicles.

At 12:45 on 4 January, one Breda Ba.65 piloted by Sergente Maggiore Bianchelli and three CR.32s piloted by Capitano Fanali, Tenente Giacomello and Sergente Maggiore Giovacchini (all from the 12o Gruppo) took off from T2 and attached British mechanized units in an area north-east of Menastir. They were back at 13:40 claiming to have obtained good results.

On 6 January, the 12o Gruppo carried out a full strength mission (three Ba.65s and five CR.32s!) when Capitano Fanali leading Tenente Giacomello, Tenente Pastorelli, Sergente Maggiore Giovacchini, Sergente Maggiore Bianchelli, Sottotenente Mezzatesta, Sergente Maggiore Scaramucci, and Molteni took off from T2bis at 12:35 and attacked British mechanized troops ten kilometres south-west of Tobruk. They landed at 13:15, claiming the destruction of five British tanks.

On 8 January, the 12o Gruppo attacked British armoured cars south of Acroma with nine aircraft (Fanali, Giovacchini, Molteni, Corda, Colli, Mezzatesta, Montanari, Barbetta and Dal Zotto), claiming some of them notwithstanding heavy AA fire. They landed back at 11:35.

On 10 January, Hurricanes strafed Derna N1 many times, destroying Tenente Montanari’s S.81 and damaging the 152a Squadriglia’s Ca.133.
The presence of the British monoplanes over the airfield led to the delay of an assault mission already planned in the morning for three Ba.65s and five CR.32s from the 12o Gruppo.
The assault aircraft took of at 15:10 in the afternoon with the escort of five G.50s from the 2o Gruppo. Led by Maggiore Giuseppe Baylon the G.50s were flown by Maresciallo Giuseppe Alessandri and Sergente Dino Cattani of the 150a Squadriglia and Sottotenente Italo Làrese and Sergente Maggiore Albino Fabbri of the 152a Squadriglia, Larese suffered an engine breakdown after five minutes of flight and was forced to turn back. The assault planes were ready to attack Commonwealth mechanized troops in the Gad El Amar area when a Hurricane appeared and attacked, breaking up the formation and the ground-attack itself. The G.50s intervened, protecting the assault aircraft from the attacks of the Hurricane (and reportedly of other monoplanes) then carried out the strafing attack themselves, claiming ten British tanks. Coming back at around 16:40 over Derna, the G.50s met a British Hurricane that was strafing the landing ground. During the combat, Sergente Cattani was bounced and hit. The pilot, slightly wounded was able to land but the G.50 was written off. In the meantime, Sergente Magiore Albino Fabbri was able to claim the Hurricane shot down over the Gulf of Bomba, it was the first victory of his unit during the Second World War.
At 17:00, while landing almost blinded by the fading sun, Capitano Fanali collided with a Breda Ba.65, writing off the two machines. Fanali was slightly wounded in the face.
According to British records, Flying Officer Ernest Mason and Second Lieutenant Robert Talbot of 274 Squadron took off at 07:30 and again attacked Derna airfield at 10:00, landing back at 10:45. They reported to have intercepted three SM 79s that were about to land, claiming that they had forced two of them to crash-land on the aerodrome. They (reportedly) experienced medium AA and Talbot went on with the strafe claiming damage to two SM 79s , two unidentified monoplane fighters and a Caproni Ca.133, recording that the aircraft were not well dispersed.
At 16.15 in the afternoon, Second Lieutenant Robert Talbot recorded that over Derna he discover some feet below and on port of him a formation of Italian monoplanes of the G.50 type composed by three in a vic and two independent (in fact it seems that also Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Treggia was up in a G.50 on a standing patrol). He made a first unobserved vertical attack aiming at the leader of the vic and claiming him possibly shot down as it spiralled down, then a lengthy dogfight started at the end of which his second opponent baled out. As an interesting note, Talbot recorded that the new Italian fighters although not as fast as the Hurricanes seemed more manoeuvrable and with better climb. Ten minutes before, at 16:05, Mason had claimed another SM 79, which was landing at Derna. Five G.50s then appeared and Mason claimed one of them damaged while witnessing Talbot’s victories. The Italian monoplanes were described as “dark brown with white crosses”.
Even if only a Ca.310 and Montanari’s S.81 are known as lost on ground on Derna on this day, and that the SM 79 units didn’t record losses of this magnitude, it is also known that the airfields of Derna N1 and N3 were littered with around a hundred of abandoned planes so was quite easy for the British pilots to find suitable ground targets, and is also possible that their claims were true.

During the period 10 June 1940 – 1 February 1941, the 12o Gruppo flew 115 combat missions and 26 armed reconnaissance missions, during which they claimed 3 aircraft destroyed and 3 probables in air combat, 2 on the ground, 64 tank/armoured cars and some hundreds of vehicles. During the same period they lost three 3 pilots as killed in action. The 160a Squadriglia lost seven CR.32s in combat and eight in other accidents.

On 7 March, the 50o Stormo was disbanded, and the 12o Gruppo was ordered to transfer to Pisa airfield (Italy) to reorganize itself as the 12o Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre (159a, 160a and revived 165a Squadriglie), equipped with Fiat G.50bis.

On 23 June 1941, Fanali was promoted to Maggiore.

By December, the Gruppo had a second tour in Africa, based at Castelbenito, with a second-line duty of air defence and convoy escort.

In August 1942 the 12o Gruppo returned to Italy.

On 11 January, 1942 Fanali was appointed CO of the 155o Gruppo (351a, 360a and 378a Squadriglie) of the 51o Stormo.

At the end of May, the Gruppo, with 33 brand new Macchi MC.202s, was transferred to Gela airfield (Sicily) to take part in the attacks against Malta.
During this period Maggiore Fanali’s personal aircraft was MC.202 serie VI "351-10" (MM 8349).

On 1 June, he led his unit, the 155o Gruppo CT, on its first sweep over Malta, but nothing was seen.

At 11:00 on 15 June 25 MC.202s from the 155o Gruppo CT (six of the 351a Squadriglia, ten of the 360a Squadriglia and nine of the 378a Squadriglia) led by Maggiore Fanali, took-off to escort ten Italian Ju 87s of the 102o Gruppo (led by Capitano Giuseppe Cenni), which out to attack the convoy ‘Harpoon’ bound for Malta. They found the convoy 70 km south of Pantelleria. At 12:10, while the Junkers were diving with their 500 kg bombs, escorting Spitfires from 601 Squadron attacked them. The 360a Squadriglia attacked the British fighters and Capitano Carlo Miani (CO of the 360a Squadriglia), Tenente Tullio Martinelli, Sottotenente Francesco Fagiolo and Maresciallo Pasquale Bartolucci claimed a Spitfire each while Sottottenente Romano Biasiol, Tenente Giambattista Caracciolo, Sottottenente Nicola Longano and Sergente Maggiore Mario Varacca claimed a shared "Hurricane". Another "Hurricane" was claimed by 1o Aviere Motorista Enrico Boerci, gunner of a Stuka flown by Sergente Maggiore Gastone Converso (209a Squadriglia).
One Ju 87R-2 (“239-8” MM7084; previous Werknr. 5792) of the 239a Squadriglia was damaged by enemy fire and made an emergency landing in the water 50 km south-east of Pantelleria Island; the crew (pilot Maresciallo Antonio Marchetti and gunner Aviere Scelto Montatore Luigi Grosso) became MIAs. Two other Ju 87s (flown by Capitano Aldo Stringa – CO of the 209a Squadriglia – and Maresciallo Zaccaria Perozzi of the 239a Squadriglia) suffered heavy damage at wings and rudders but landed safely at base, while two more suffered light damages. None of the escorting MC.202s were damaged.
The Spitfires claimed two Ju 87s destroyed, two probable Ju 87s and one damaged. 21-year-old Sergeant Jack Nock McConnell (RAF no. 405293) was killed when he dived into the sea with his Spitfire (BR306). Two more Spitfires were damaged while Sergeant G. Allen-Rowlandson (BR360) had to ditch when he run out of fuel on the return journey.
In some sources Fanali is credited with one victory in this combat but its not sure that he even participated in this combat since it seems that only the 360a Squadriglia was involved in combat. However, according to other sources, Miani and Martinelli only shared an aircraft, the other being shot down jointly by Fanali, Maresciallo Remo Zedda (360a Squadrigla) and Sergente Maggiore Roberto Gaucci (378a Squadriglia).

At around 10:00 on 2 July, Fanali led the Gruppo (ten of the 351a Squadriglia – one returned because of engine troubles – seven of the 360a Squadriglia and six of the 378a Squadriglia) together with fifteen Re.2001s of the 2o Gruppo to escort five Z.1007bis of the 29o and the 33o Gruppi, which were out to bomb Kalafrana and Safi.
They were attacked by about thirty Spitfires of 603 and 249 Squadrons. Three Spitfires were believed shot down by 155o Gruppo; one by Tenente Giovanni Franchini (351a Squadriglia), one shared by Fanali, Sergente Maggiore Luigi Caroli (351a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Romano Pagliani (152a Squadriglia), and one more shared by pilots of the 351a Squadriglia (Franchini, Sottotenente Giuseppe Bonfiglio, Maresciallo Aldo Romagnoli, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Cerri, Caroli and two other pilots). Fanali, Capitano Riccardo Spagnolini (351a Squadriglia), Capitano Ippolito Lalatta (CO of the 351a Squadriglia), Franchini, Romagnoli, Caroli and Cerri shared another Spitfire as a probable. Fifteen more enemy fighters were claimed as damaged. The 2o Gruppo claimed seven victories; two by Sergente Maggiore Rino Ricci (152a Squadriglia), two by Sergente Cesare Di Bert (150a Squadriglia) and one each by Capitano Salvatore Teja (CO of the 152o Squadriglia), Tenente Giacomo Metellini (152a Squadriglia) and Pagliani.
Sottotenente Giuseppe Riccardi ("351-5", MM8340) was shot down into the sea at about 18 miles south-east of Valetta and he became MIA while Sergente Willy Malagola’s (360a Squadriglia) MC.202 was hit by three 20 mm rounds and several of .303 caliber. All bombers were damaged, two of them crashed in emergency landings. It seems that a number of the Re.2001s also were damaged.
The RAF claimed two "Bf 109s" when Pilot Officer Ray Smith of 603 Squadron and Flight Sergeant Tommy Parks (BR379 “V”) of 249 Squadron claimed one each. Squadron Leader P. B. ‘Laddie’ Lucas (BR324 “R”) of 249 Squadron claimed one as a probable while Pilot Officer J. F. McElroy (BR254 “G”) from the same squadron claimed another as a damaged. A Macchi was claimed as a shared probable by 603 Squadron’s Pilot Officers N. S. King and E. H. Glazebrook, although both were hit in head-on attacks and were obliged to crash-land BR345 and BR365 respectively on returning to Takali. Two more of the unit’s pilot, Pilot Officer F. R. Johnson and Flight Sergeant C. H. Parkinson (“X-S”) each claimed a damaged Re.2001. Several of the Spitfires evaded the close escort and attacked the bombers, but could only claim damage before being forced away. Three pilots of 603 Squadron – Pilot Officer Ray Smith, Pilot Officer D. G. Newman and Sergeant Ken Mitchell – together with Sergeant C. S. G. De Nancrede (BR246 “J”) of 249 Squadron, jointly claimed damage to one of the Cants, the latter gaining strikes on another bomber. Warrant Officer C. B. Ramsay (BR251 “E”) also attacked a bomber, he and De Nancrede then mixing with the escort (believed to be Bf 109s) each claiming strikes on their opponents before being chased away.

Between 06:55 and 07:05 the next day, twenty-four aircraft (ten of 351a Squadriglia, seven of 360a Squadriglia and seven of 378a Squadriglia) took-off to escort three Sm.84bis over Malta together with sixteen Re.2001s from the 2o Gruppo. While the Sm.84s aborted the mission when they missed the rendez-vous with the Reggianes, the MC.202s reported a combat with fifteen Spitfires which lasted about ten minutes. The Italian pilots claimed six Spitfires damaged and radio-interception revealed that a Spitfire pilot parachuted. This was Pilot Officer Richard E. McHan of 126 Squadron who had been scrambled in the led of three other Spitfires. McHan’s aircraft parachuted wounded from BR465 “H”. Having no individual claims, Comando Caccia credited the victory as a shared between the pilots who had fired: Fanali, Capitano Ippolito Lalatta, Tenente Aristide Sarti (351 Squadriglia) and Maresciallo Giacomo Pappalepore (351 Squadriglia).
Sergente Egidio Masiero (152 Squadriglia) took off late and joined a patrol of Spitfires believing they were Reggianes. The Spitfires did not see him and when he realized his mistake, he fired at the last Spitfire and dived to escape, without checking the results.

In the early afternoon of 7 July, twenty-three MC.202s of 155o Gruppo (seven of 351a Squadriglia, nine of 360a Squadriglia and seven of 378a Squadriglia; one from 378a Squadriglia returned however due to technical problems) and twelve of 20o Gruppo, led by Fanali, and twelve Re 2001s of 2o Gruppo (two turned back), escorted nine Cant Z.1007bis of 9o Stormo, which were out to attack Luqa.
Twenty-two Spitfires Mk.Vs of 126 and 185 Squadrons were scrambled and attacked, diving in two groups; one group attacking the bombers and the other the escort.
Two Spitfires of 185 Squadron were shot down when 20-year-old Flight Sergeant Peter Terry (RAF no. 1257673) crashed on land with BR317 and 21-year-old Flight Sergeant Haydn Haggas (RAF no. 1282139) crashed into the sea in BR283. Both pilots were killed. One of the Spitfires was claimed by Maresciallo Olindo Simionato (150a Squadriglia, 2o Gruppo) and one was shared by pilots of the 20o Gruppo (including possibly also by Fanali). The 20o Gruppo also claimed damaged five Spitfires; two of them by Capitano Carlo Miani (CO of the 360a Squadriglia) and Sottottenente Romano Biasiol (360a Squadriglia) on the way home. One of the damaged Spitfires crashed during landing.
Flight Sergeant J. W. Yarra (BR387 “W”) of 185 Squadron shot down the MC.202 (MM9033) of Tenente Fabrizio Cherubini (353a Squadriglia, 20o Gruppo) and he became MIA. Yarra claimed one more fighter as a Re.2001. Flight Sergeant J. E. MacNamara of 185 Squadron claimed two Z.1007 damaged and Pilot Officer W. L. Miller of 126 Squadron claimed a third damaged while another Z.1007 (MM23243) of 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo, flown by Tenente Francesco Antonelli was shot down by AA fire; five of the crew jumped but three were KIA.

In the end of July, Fanali was allotted the radio codename ‘Roma’ after his hometown.

On 12 August, at 17:55-18:00 seventeen MC.202s of the 155o Gruppo took off from Pantelleria to escort fourteen SM.79 torpedo-bombers of the 132o Gruppo, which were going to attack a convoy during Operation Pedestal. Taking part in the escort were Fanali (in an aircraft from the 360a Squadriglia), Capitano Riccardo Spagnolini (351o Squadriglia), Tenente Giovanni Franchini (351o Squadriglia), Tenente Aristide Sarti (in "351-7" MM8342) Tenente Vittorio Bastogi (returned back home after a few minutes because of engine troubles), Sottotenente Giuseppe Bonfiglio (351a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Luigi Caroli (351a Squadriglia), Tenente Giambattista Caracciolo (360a Squadriglia), Sottottenente Romano Biasiol (360a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Francesco Fagiolo (360a Squadriglia), Maresciallo Remo Zedda (360a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Mario Varacca (360a Squadriglia), Sergente Willy Malagola (360a Squadriglia), Tenente Manlio Biccolini (378a Squadriglia), Tenente Mario Mazzoleni (378a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Roberto Gaucci (378a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gambari (378a Squadriglia).
After the SM.79s had released their torpedoes the escorting fighters clashed with six to eight Hurricanes. Four of them were claimed shot down after they were seen diving into the sea. Mazzoleni (MM7836) and Gaucci (MM7828) claimed one each while Spagnolini and Franchini claimed a third as a shared. A fourth was claimed as a shared destroyed jointly by Fanali and all pilots of the 360a Squadriglia. A fifth, which was seen leaving trailing smoke, was claimed as a probable while two more were claimed as damaged. The 20o Gruppo, led by the 51o Stormo CO, Tenente Colonello Aldo Remondino ("378-1" MM9029), claimed three additional Hurricanes destroyed. These were claimed by Capitano Luigi Borgogno (CO of the 352a Squadriglia), Maresciallo Pietro Bianchi (352o Squadriglia) and Remondino, jointly with other pilots.
It seems that the Fleet Air Arm lost a Fulmar and a Sea Hurricane that, even though it landed on the deck of HMS Victorious, was so damaged that it was pushed into the sea. Another Sea Hurricane, hit by a ship AA, alighted on sea water. A Fulmar was damaged by fighters while a Hurricane was damaged by defensive fire from a torpedo-bomber and another by AA. The British claimed two Bf 109s, a MC.202, and a SM.79, plus one SM.79 probable and another damaged. No Axis fighters were lost, but seven torpedo-bombers of the 132o Gruppo were damaged.

On 12 October, there were five major raids against Malta between dawn and dusk.
Around midday (raid no. 3) on 12 October eight Ju 88s approached. They were escorted by ten MC.202s from 155o Gruppo and twenty Bf 109s from JG53 (according to some sources the Bf 109s belonged to I/JG 27 and I/JG 77). South of Sicily, halfway to Malta, eight Spitfires from 249 Squadron, seven from 229 Squadron and six from 1435 Squadron attacked them. 155o Gruppo claimed two shot down and three damaged Spitfires. One was claimed by Sottotenente Plinio Sironi (MM9087) from 378a Squadriglia while the second was claimed as a shared between Maggiore Fanali, Sottotenente Giuseppe Bonfiglio (351a Squadriglia), Tenente Tullio Martinelli (360a Squadriglia), Sottottenente Romano Biasiol (360a Squadriglia), Maresciallo Remo Zedda (360a Squadriglia), Maresciallo Pasquale Bartolucci (360a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gambari (378a Squadriglia). Marescialo Zedda sustained a damaged propeller while Tenente Agostino Cigala Fulgosi’s (360a Squadriglia) MC.202 (MM8346) was damaged ant the pilot wounded in the left leg.
RAF lost only one Spitfire when Sergeant W. B. Knox-Williams of 1435 Squadron in EN978 ‘O’ was shot down into the sea. He was however rescued later in the day. The British fighters in returned claimed five Bf 109s and four Ju 88s, four aircraft probables and seven damaged. It seems that only one Ju 88 were in fact lost.
In the late afternoon on the same day (raid no. 5), four MC.202s of 360a Squadriglia, five of the 378a Squadriglia and two of the 20o Gruppo, led by Maggiore Fanali (in his brand new aircraft MM9065 “155”), escorted five Ju 88A-4s of KG 54, together with Bf 109s in an new attack on Malta.
Sixteen Spitfires of 229 and 1435 Squadrons scrambled and these were intercepted by the Axis fighters.
The Italian fighters claimed two destroyed (both fell burning in the sea), and two damaged off Malta coast. Regarding the claims of these there are three versions:
According to the 155o Gruppo diary, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gambari (378a Squadriglia) (MM 9095) shot down a Spitfire while Fanali, Sergente Ferruccio Serafini (378a Squadriglia) (MM 7839) and Gambari shared the second.
According to the 378a Squadriglia diary, the individual kill was credited to Fanali, while Gambari and Serafini shared the second. (This is the only other individual success for him, other than that of 4 August 1940).
According to the 378a Squadriglia flight logbook, one aircraft was destroyed by Gambari and the second was claimed as a shared between him and Serafini.
It seems that the only RAF loss was Flight Lieutenant Art Roscoe of 229 Squadron, who crash-landed his damaged Spitfire (BR464) at Takali severely wounded.
RAF claimed a Junkers and two Macchis shot down, two bombers probable and three fighters damaged. However it seems that all bombers and Macchis returned safely.
During the day German fighter pilots claimed nine Spitfires plus four probables and seven damaged. Totally the Axis reported 15 victories during the day but only nine Luftwaffe and four Regia Aeronautica claims have so far been identified.
The RAF claimed 27 victories (12 Ju 88s, 11 Bf 109s, three MC.202s and one Re.2001), plus 13 probables and damaged during the day, for the loss of seven Spitfires (six more were damaged) and three pilots. It seems that 4 Bf 109Gs and 12 Ju 88s were lost while three MC.202s and two Ju 88 were damaged.

The heavy attacks on Malta continued the next day, 13 October, with four major raids against the island.
In the afternoon (raid no. 4) Fanali led five MC.202s of the 360a Squadriglia and four of the 378a Squadriglia, together with five of the 20o Gruppo, 15 of the 153o Gruppo and 42 Bf 109s, to escort eight Ju 88A-4s to bomb Hal Far.
They were attacked by Spitfires 20 miles north of Gozo. One of the Spitfires was claimed as a probably shot down by pilots of the 378a Squadriglia including Fanali (‘155’/MM9065), Tenente Mario Mazzoleni (MM7843), Sottotenente Manlio Molinelli (378-11/MM7768), Sergente Maggiore Roberto Gaucci (378-1/MM9029) and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gambari (MM9095). The Spitfire was last seen heading home trailing dark smoke. Six more Spitfires were claimed damaged. 20o Gruppo claimed another one as a probable and one damaged. Sergente Maggiore Mario Varacca (360a Squadriglia) saw one Spitfire being shot down by a bomber's gunner, while Luftwaffe fighters claimed another.
The Axis formation was first attacked by eight Spitfires from 249 Squadron and five of the escort were claimed shot down. Two Bf 109s were claimed by Squadron Leader Woods (AR466/R), one Macchi was claimed jointly by Squadron Leader Stephens (EP338/A) and Flight Sergeant de l’Ara (BR565/T) while Flight Sergeant Hiskens (EP135/Z) claimed another and Flying Officer McElroy (EP340/M) reported shooting down a Re.2001! The bombers were also attacked, Sergeant Stead (BP869) claiming one damaged and Squadron Leader Stephens one destroyed. Eight Spitfires joined the battle after bombs had fallen on Qrendi, Pilot Officer Nash claiming a Ju 88 shot down and Wing Commander Donaldson (AD529) reporting strikes on a second. Donaldson’s aircraft was then hit and damaged, and he was forced to crash-land at Takali. Flight Sergeant Ballantyne, whose aircraft had been shot-up by a Bf 109, did likewise, while Sergeant Miller’s aircraft received a hole in the wing.
As the Axis formation headed homewards eight Spitfires of 1435 Squadron pursued them, Sergeant Whitmore (EN968/H) claiming a bomber about eight miles north of Zonqor Point, and Flight Lieutenant Wally McLeod (BR236/E) a Macchi, two others were claimed damaged by Sergeants Philip (EP612/B) and Knox-Williams (EP714/T), while one of the units Spitfires was slightly damaged.
Luftwaffe didn’t sustain any losses but two of the 153o Gruppo’s MC.202s crashed into the sea when Capitano Enzo Radini, CO of the 373a Squadriglia, and his wingman Tenente Felice Mezzetti failed to return from this sortie. Capitano Enzo Radini was rescued six miles south-east of Delimara by rescue launch HSL 128 badly burned and becoming a PoW while Tenente Felice Mezzetti becoming MIA.

On 8 November Operation Torch was launched and two days later the 155o Gruppo was transferred to El Aouina, Tunisia, with 21 fighters.

On 29 November was Fanali, who was escorting a convoy, attacked by six P-38s. The right wingtip of his aircraft ("155" M 9065) was damaged. Having his guns out of use due to a pneumatic system failure, he was however able to escape and land safety at Gela.

The 155o Gruppo returned to Gela on 9 December to receive more fighters.
Its official diary recorded that in 1942 it had flown 625 combat sorties, involving 54 combats. The unit had claimed 55 enemy aircraft destroyed, 25 probable and 222 damaged, with the loss of six Macchi MC.202s.

Information on the 155o Gruppo during 1943 are incomplete because of the loss of records. However, in the second half of December 1942 the unit was based at Ciampino for the defence of Rome and in the following April the unit was transferred to Capua for the defence of Naples.

From 30 April 1943 the first Macchi MC.205 Veltros were delivered. Fanali's personal aircraft was a Serie I (MM9348), again coded "155".

On 15 May, the Gruppo was ordered to transfer to Monserrato airfield, Sardinia.
It seems that in this late period of the war, Fanali did not participate much in combat.

On 2 August 1943, the MC.202s and MC.205s of the 51o Stormo took part in a long combat (around two hours) over Sardegna against US P-38s.
The P-38s were from the 14th FG, which claimed three Bf 109s and one MC.202 and three more damaged Bf 109s. At 14:35, 5 miles south of Paula, Captain William E. Hanses (48th FS) claimed a Bf 109 while 1st Lieutenant Joseph E. Miller Jr. (48th FS), 1st Lieutenant Orson T. Smith (48th FS) and Lieutenant Barcak (48th FS) claimed a Bf 109 damaged each. At 15:40, at the outskirts of Cagliari, 1st Lieutenant Lothrop F. Ellis (49th FS) claimed a Bf 109 while 1st Lieutenant Carroll S. Knott (49th FS) claimed one Bf 109 and one MC.202.
It seems that no P-38s were lost in this combat.
The Italian pilots from the 51o Stormo claimed 11 or 12 P-38 in the ”Battle of Cap Pula”. It seems that two of these were claimed by Maggiore Fanali, CO of the 155o Gruppo (MC.205).
Maresciallo Ennio Tarantola of the 151a Squadriglia (MC.205) called this his ”lion’s day” taking off five times in the same day to face enemy attacks. After bouncing a formation of P-40s from 325th FG, he then engaged the P-38s from the 14th FG, claiming two of them shot down over Capo Pula.
During one of these actions Tarantola lost his friend, and fellow ace, Maresciallo Pietro Bianchi (his MC.202 possibly shot down by 1st Lieutenant Knott), who was later posthumously decorated with the Medaglia d’oro al valor militare. This seems to have been the only loss for the Italians.

After the Armistice on 8 September, Fanali and his Gruppo joined the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force (Aeronautica Cobelligerante).

On 12 October, the Commander in Chief of ICAF, Generale Renato Sandalli, ordered the disbandment of the 155o Gruppo. Fanali strongly opposed this decision, and in a letter to Sandalli, he remembered the results of his unit from formation on 15 January 1941 to the Armistice with 115 combats, 127 enemy aircraft shot down and 31 pilots KIA or MIA. As the result of his effort, the decision was withdrawn and the 155o Gruppo continued to be active.

On 26 December, due to bad weather and lack of fuel, Fanali had to abandon MM 9348. He parachuted and fractured an ankle.

On 1 January 1945 was Fanali, with the rank of Tenente Colonello, appointed CO of the 51o Stormo.

From 10 June he led the Raggruppamento Caccia (Fighter Command).

Fanali ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 4.
During the war he was decorated with the Medaglia d'oro al valor militare, five Medaglie d’argento al valor militare, two Medaglie di bronzo al valor militare, the Croce al merito di Guerra, the Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Spagna and the Medaglia di benemerenza per i volontari della guerra Spagna, the Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Albania.

He continued to serve in the Italian Air Force after the war.

He served in the General Staff until April 1948 and was after this air attaché at the Italian Embassy in London until August 1951. He continued to serve at the General Staff of the Air Force and Inspector for the Schools between August 1958 and March 1961.
He was vice commander of the Nato Air Force of South Europe from 30 June 1961 to 2 May 1963.
He was then commander of 2a Air region, commander of the NATO Defence College from April 1965 to March 1966 and president of the Centre for Advanced Military Studies from July 1966 to February 1968.
He was Chief of General Staff of the Air Force from 28 February 1968 to 1 November 1971.

In the early 70,’s Fanali was put under investigation and sentenced as part of the "Lockheed Affair".

During his career he was decorated with additional six Medaglie d’argento (of which three during wartime) and two Medaglie di bronzo (of which three during wartime).

Dulio Fanali passed away at Minturno Scauri (LT) on 27 August 1987.

Duilio Fanali has previously been credited with 15 victories but recent research and his personal logbook can’t verify this.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
1 04/08/40 16:50- 1 Gladiator (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Bir Taieb el Esem 160a Squadriglia
  1942                
  02/07/42   1/3 Spitfire (b) Shared destroyed MC.202   Malta 155o Gruppo
  02/07/42   1/7 Spitfire (b) Shared probable MC.202   Malta 155o Gruppo
  03/07/42   1/4 Spitfire (c) Shared destroyed MC.202   Malta 155o Gruppo
  12/08/42   1/7 Hurricane (d) Shared destroyed MC.202   off Pantelleria 155o Gruppo
  12/10/42   1/7 Spitfire (e) Shared destroyed MC.202   S Sicily 155o Gruppo
2 12/10/42   1 Spitfire (f) Destroyed MC.202 MM9065 Malta 155o Gruppo
  13/10/42   1/5 Spitfire (g) Shared probable MC.202 MM9065 off Malta 155o Gruppo
  1942                
3 02/08/43 14:00-16:00 1 P-38 (h) Destroyed MC.205   Capo Pula 155o Gruppo
4 02/08/43 14:00-16:00 1 P-38 (h) Destroyed MC.205   Capo Pula 155o Gruppo

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 4 and 32 shared destroyed, 2 shared probable.
(a) Claimed in combat with 4 Gladiators from 80 Squadron, which claimed two Ba.65s, one CR.32 and one CR.42 for the loss of three Gladiators and 1 damaged. The 6 Ba.65s of the 159a Squadriglia and 6 CR.32s of the 160a Squadriglia claimed three Gladiators while only suffering four damaged Ba.65s.
(b) Claimed in combat with 603 and 249 Squadrons. 155o Gruppo claimed three Spitfires, one probable and fifteen more damaged. The 2o Gruppo claimed seven victories. The Italians lost one MC.202 and got one damaged while five Z.1007s were damaged and several Re.2001s. RAF claimed two enemy fighter, two probables and seven damaged (including two bombers).
(c) Claimed in combat with four Spitfires from 126 Squadron. 155o and 2 o Gruppi claimed six damaged Spitfires without losses. 126 Squadron lost one Spitfire (BR465 “H”) when Pilot Officer Richard E. McHan parachuted wounded.
(d) 155o Gruppo and 20o Gruppo claimed seven fighters, one probable and two damaged without losses (seven SM.79s were damaged). FAA claimed two Bf 109s, a MC.202, and a SM.79, plus one SM.79 probable and another damaged for the loss of two Sea Hurricanes and one Fulmar. Two Sea Hurricanes and one Fulmar were damaged.
(e) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 229, 249 and 1435 Squadron. 155o Gruppo claimed two shot down and three damaged Spitfires while getting two MC.202s damaged. RAF claimed five fighters and four bombers, four aircraft probables and seven damaged for the loss of one Spitfire (the pilot was rescued). It seems that only one Ju 88 were in fact lost. German fighters also most probably claimed in this combat.
(f) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 229 and 1435 Squadron. 155o Gruppo claimed two shot down and two damaged Spitfires without losses. RAF claimed a Junkers and two Macchis shot down, two bombers probable and three fighters damaged while getting one Spitfire damaged (the pilot was wounded). It seems that only one Ju 88 were in fact lost. German fighters also most probably claimed in this combat.
(g) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 229, 249 and 1435 Squadrons. Axis fighters claimed one, two probables and seven damaged (plus one destroyed by the bombers) for the loss of two MC.202s from 153o Gruppo. RAF claimed six fighters (four Italians) and three bombers destroyed, plus four aircraft damaged for two crash-landed Spitfires and two more damaged.
(h) Claimed in combat with P-38s from 14th FG, which claimed 4 enemy fighters without losses. The 51o Gruppo claimed 11-12 P-38s while losing one MC.202.

Sources:
50o Stormo d'Assalto - Nino Arena, 1979 STEM Mucchi, Modena, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
53o Stormo - Marco Mattioli, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-977-5
Ace of Aces: M T StJ Pattle - E C R Baker, 1992
Adriano Visconti Asso di Guerra - Giuseppe Pesce and Giovanni Massimello, 1997 kindly provided by Vincent Biondi
Ancora sugli Assi italiani - Giovanni Massimello, 1996 Storia Militare no. 28 (IV), January 1996 kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
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
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5
Gli Stuka della Regia Aeronautica - 1940-45 - Alberto Borgiotti and Cesare Gori, 1976 STEM Mucchi, Modena, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Gli Stuka della Regia - Ali straniere in Italia no. 2 - Fabrizio Becchetti and Marco Gueli, 2003 La Bancarella Aeronautica, Turin, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Golfo di Cagliari, 2 agosto 1943 - Nicola Malizia, Storia Militare Magazine n. 157
Il Breda 65 e l'Aviazione d'assalto - Giancarlo Garello, 1980 Edizioni dell'Ateneo & Bizzari, Roma, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Caccia RE 2001 - Sergio Govi, 1982 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Walzer del 102o Gruppo - Giuseppe Pesce, 1976 STEM Mucchi, Modena, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Italy's Breda Ba.65 (World War II November 1996) - Jon Guttman, 1996
La battaglia aerea di Capo Pula, 2 agosto 1943 - Marco Mattioli, 2002 Ali Tricolori n. 23
Malta: The Spitfire year 1942 - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London.
Pantere. La storia del 155o Gruppo 1941-2001 - Gianandrea Bussi and Edoardo Raucci, 2001 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, ISBN 88-87261-10-5 kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Quelli del Gatto Nero - I 60 anni del 51o Stormo 1939-1999 - Nicola Malizia, 1998, Rimini, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Storia Aeronautica Italiana
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Additional information kindly provided by Ferdinando D'Amico, Santiago Flores, Stefano Lazzaro, Stefano Mencarelli and Ludovico Slongo.




Last modified 29 September 2013