Biplane fighter aces


Sottotenente Germano Gasperoni

24 October 1915 –

Date Decoration Note
??/??/38 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) O.M.S.
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (3rd) 1940-43
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (4th) 1940-43
??/??/49 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (5th) 1940-43

Germano Gasperoni was born on 24 October 1915 and was from Rimini (Forlì).

He served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War and was decorated for this.

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 74a Squadriglia flown by Sottotenente Vittorio Bertoccini (MM7046) 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 72 km from Grand Harbour at an altitude of 60 m. Squadron Leader ‘Sandy’ Rabagliati (Hurricane II Z2491) and his No.2 Sergeant ‘Tom’ Hackston both fired at the Cant, but broke away when they saw the Red Crosses. Squadron Leader Rabagliati reported:

Sighted one aircraft flying at sea level. Dived to attack, gave short burst. Saw it was a Red Cross machine and broke off; other fighters shot it down. Gave one short burst at CR42. No results observed. Gave another short burst at another CR42 and he turned sharply, coming at me head-on; gave a short burst from head-on and the aircraft fell to pieces in the air. Saw two other enemy aircraft shot down one Hurricane. One enemy aircraft definitely a CR42. Orbited Cant seaplane after engagement, which was burning furiously on water but no aircraft in sight, so returned to base. One of the CR42s shot down Blue 1 [Sergeant Walker].”
Sergeant Hackston also reported meeting Macchis:
”... dived to attack to give one short burst. Later I observed the Cant floatplane blazing on the water – another Hurricane broke away. Saw one CR42 dive into the sea. About five minutes [later] I was jumped on by three Macchis when I was at sea-level. Had a running fight of about eight minutes. Put a long burst into one Macchi from a range of 200 yards, closing to 50 yards [183-46 m]. Black smoke came out and one piece flew off. I did not see this aircraft crash into the sea as I was being engaged by the other two machines. I out-distanced them after two to three minutes.”
Sergeant ‘Rocky’ Main followed up the attack on the Z.506B and shot it down into the sea:
”Sighted one Cant seaplane at sea level. Close in to range from astern and fired three short bursts. Port engine burst into flames. Observed red crosses on wings after the attack. Others had attacked it previously. Climbed to 2,000 feet [600 m] and fired one three-second burst from beam astern at CR42. Engine burst into flames and pilot baled out. Machine dived into sea. Saw another CR42 shot down.”
Hackstons reported presence of Macchis has not been verified by Italian sources. Italian records show that only Bertoccini was shot down and killed, 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 Macdonald Walker (RAF no. 745818) (Hurricane II Z2900), 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 1/2 Wellington (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   off Malta 75a Squadriglia
1 12/06/41 early afternoon 1 Hurricane (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   72km off Grand Harbour 23o Gruppo
  15/11/41   1/3 Blenheim (c) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   off Pantelleria 23o Gruppo
  11/12/41   1/2 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) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 46 Squadron, which claimed 2 destroyed CR.42s, 1 destroyed MC.200s, 1 destroyed Z.506B while losing 1 Hurricane (pilot KiA). 72a Squadriglia claimed 1 destroyed Hurricane while losing 1 CR.42 (pilot KiA) and getting 1 damaged. 1 Z.506 was also destroyed. No MC.200s were present.
(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
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell’ A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 1 Volume A - L
Fighters over Malta – Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, 2018 Fonthill Media, ISBN 978-1-78155-663-4
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 30 January 2024