Biplane fighter aces


Sottotenente Germano Gasperoni

24 October 1915 -

Germano Gasperoni was born on 24 October 1915.

Gasperoni served in the 75a Squadriglia, 23o Gruppo, 3o Stormo. This unit was equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

When the war started on 10 June 1940 the 3o Stormo was sent to the French border to take part in the attacks on southern France.

Gasperoni took part in the big attack on French airfields on 15 June.

In July 1940 the 23o Gruppo moved to Sicily and took part in the attacks on Malta.
On 9 July the 23o Gruppo became Autonomo and the first escort missions over Malta was flown on 12 July.

In the morning on 24 November, Tenente Ezio Monti and Sergente Gasperoni claimed a Wellington intercepted when flying alone 40-50 kilometres from Malta. The machine seemed possibly a bomber from 38 Squadron that during the day was transferring its “B” Flight in Egypt while “A” Flight was arriving from England but the British unit’s records don’t report any engagement with enemy fighters.

During the winter or the spring he was promoted to Maresciallo.

In the early afternoon on 12 June 1941 an air-sea rescue Cant Z.506B floatplane (MM45292) of the 612a Squadriglia, marked with Red Crosses, left Syracuse seaplane base for the second time that day to repeat a search for Sottotenente Umberto Curcio of the 7o Gruppo. Curcio, in MC.200 (MM5354), had failed to return from a sortie over Malta in morning. The floatplane was escorted by two CR.42s from the 23o Gruppo flown by Sottotenente Vittorio Bertoccini (MM7046) of 74a Squadriglia and Maresciallo Gasperoni. Hurricanes of 46 Squadron were scrambled for the second time of the day, intercepting the Cant and a reported three CR.42s 45 miles from Grand Harbour at an altitude of 200 feet. Squadron Leader 'Sandy' Rabagliati (in Hurricane Z2491) and Sergeant Hackston both fired at the Cant, but broke away when they saw the Red Crosses. Sergeant Main followed and got in three short bursts, which set the port engine ablaze, only seeing the markings as the aircraft, landed burning on the sea. He then climbed to 2,000 feet where he made a beam astern attack on a CR.42, firing a three second burst which caused the engine to pour flames and the pilots to bale out as the Fiat dived into the sea. He then reported seeing a second CR.42 being shot down. Rabagliati meanwhile had got one burst at one CR.42 and then attacked another head-on, firing until he saw it fall to pieces in the air. Looking round he saw two other Italian aircraft shooting down a Hurricane, and then saw a CR.42 and an unidentified aircraft orbiting over the Cant, which was burning furiously on the water. Hackston, after his initial attack, was able only to watch as a CR.42, attacked by one of the others, went diving into the sea. Five minutes later he became involved in a dogfight with MC.200s of which he claimed one destroyed. The larger amount of Italian fighters and Hackstons reported presence of Macchis has not been verified by Italian sources. Italian records show that only Bertoccini was shot down, while Gasperoni's CR.42 was damaged during this combat although he returned safely to base. The Hurricane that was seen by Rabagliati being brought down was claimed by Gasperoni. This aircraft was flown by Sergeant Norman Walker, who curiously had claimed a shared destroyed BR.20 in the raids made by Regia Aeronautica in the late part of Battle of Britain.

On 15 November 1941 Pantelleria-based CR.42s from 23o Gruppo intercepted a passing Blenheim, Maresciallo Gasperoni, Sergente Luigi Sacchi and Sergente Francesco Cuscuna claiming to have obtained hits on this. The damaged OADU Blenheim crash-landed on arrival at Luqa..

Blenheims were out from Malta on 11 December 1941, three of them attacking a 5,000 ton vessel in Argostoli harbour. The aircraft of Flight Lieutenant E. G. Edmunds of 18 Squadron failed to return, and it would seem that this fell foul of two 23o Gruppo CR.42s flown by Maresciallo Gasperoni and Sergente Leonzio Bicego. They had taken off during the morning to escort some S.82 transport aircraft to Tripoli, and claimed a Blenheim shot down between them. Gasperoni returned with his aircraft damaged and a wound in his left arm.

On 22 December 1941, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo) and promoted to Sottotenente.

In 1943, he served in the 4o Stormo.

Gasperoni ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  24/11/40 morning ½ Wellington (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   off Malta 75a Squadriglia
1 12/06/41   1 Hurricane (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   off Grand Harbour 23o Gruppo
  15/11/41   1/3 Blenheim (c) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   off Pantelleria 23o Gruppo
  11/12/41   ½ Blenheim (d) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Mediterranean area 23o Gruppo

Biplane victories: 1 and 2 shared destroyed, 1 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 1 and 2 shared destroyed, 1 shared damaged.
(a) Possibly claimed against a Wellington from 38 Squadron, which didn't report any engagements.
(b) Hurricane of 46 Squadron. Pilot Sergeant Norman McDonald Walker killed.
(c) Damaged Blenheim from O.A.D.U.; crash-landed on arrival at Luqa.
(d) Blenheim of 18 Squadron flown by Flight Lieutenant E. G. Edmunds shot down.

Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-41 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-89747-207-1
Additional information kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 24 January 2012