Biplane fighter aces


Capitano Giulio Cesare Giuntella

8 April 1915 -

Date Decoration Note
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) 1940-43
??/??/51 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/39 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare O.M.S.
??/??/?? Croce al merito di guerra 1940-43
??/??/?? Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Spagna (1936-1939) O.M.S.
??/??/?? Medaglia di benemerenza per i volontari della guerra Spagna O.M.S.

Giulio Giuntella was born on 8 April 1915 and was from Rome.

On 1 October 1936, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

Giuntella took part the Spanish Civil War.

Giuntella served in the 85a Squadriglia, 18o Gruppo, 3o Stormo. This unit was equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

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

On 15 June 1940, the Italian Headquarters ordered the 150o, 18o and 23o Gruppi C.T. to attack the French airfields in Le Cannet des Maures (2km south-east of Le Luc) and Cuers Pierrefeu (close to the naval base of Toulon), in Provence, with the purpose of destroying and disrupting the French fighter force on the ground.
Le Cannet des Maures was the base of the GC III/6, which had arrived there on 3 June with its Morane Saulnier MS.406 fighters and was in the midst of converting from that type to the new Dewoitine D.520 (on 15 June 1940 the groupe had at least 13 D.520s on hand). The airfield of Cuers Pierrefeu was the base of the escadrille de chasse AC 3 of the Aéronautique Navale, equipped with eleven Bloch 151 fighters, and the escadrille de bombardement en piquè AB 3 of the Aéronautique Navale, equipped with eleven Vought 156 dive-bombers.
At noon 25 CR.42s from the 23o Gruppo departed from Cervere (a small town in Piedmont near the French border) to attack Le Cannet Des Maures airfield. The first group, under the command of Maggiore Tito Falconi (CO of the 23o Gruppo in a CR.42 from the 70a Squadriglia) was to make the strafing attack. The group was composed of Capitano Luigi Filippi (CO of the 75a Squadriglia), Tenente Mario Rigatti, Tenente Calogero Mazza, Sottotenente Malvezzi, Maresciallo Luigi Pasquetti, Sergente Maggiore Renzo Borro, Sergente Maggiore Davini, Sergente Maggiore Germano Gasperoni (all from the 75a Squadriglia), Capitano Guido Bobba (CO of the 74a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Arnaldo Sala and Sottotenente Domenico Tessera (all from the 74a Squadriglia). The rest of the formation, with fighters from all three Squadriglie, was to act as top cover. This formation was composed of Capitano Ottorino Fargnoli (CO of the 70a Squadriglia), Tenente Claudio Solaro (70a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Oscar Abello (70a Squadriglia), Tenente Ezio Monti (75a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Balilla Albani (70a Squadriglia), Sergente Carlo Scarselli (70a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Celso Zemella (70a Squadriglia), Tenente Lorenzo Viale (74a Squadriglia), Tenente Mario Benedetti (74a Squadriglia), Tenente Mario Pinna (74a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Renzo Bocconi (74a Squadriglia), Sergente Raffaele Marzocca (74a Squadriglia) and Sergente Emilio Stefani (74a Squadriglia).
They arrived over the target at 13:00 and attacked under heavy AA-fire. They claimed to have hit fifteen “Curtis” fighters and four old bombers that lay on the sides of the airstrip, in particular Capitano Bobba claimed hits on three aircraft as did Sottotenente Tessera while Sergente Sala claimed to have hit two aircraft on the ground (it seems that at least three D.520s were destroyed when Dewoitine D.520 nos. 257, 294 and 304 of GC III/6 went up in flames).
During the strafing a number of French fighters identified as “four or five Morrane” or alternatively “Dewoitine” engaged the strafing Fiats. Capitano Filippi (MM4361), was shot down by Adjutant Pierre Le Gloan of GC III/6. Filippi baled out and was captured. Maresciallo Pasquetti claimed a “Morane” but was also hit, wounded (reportedly by AA fire but possibly by Le Gloan) and returned to Cervere despite large problems. He was later decorated with the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare in the field for this mission. Tenente Rigatti’s and Sottotenente Malvezzi’s fighters were also damaged (reportedly by AA). Among the pilots of the covering patrol, Sergente Stefani claimed a “Morrane”, Tenente Benedetti a probable “Morrane” and Sergente Marzocca a damaged “Morrane”. The pilots of the 70a Squadriglia reported an indecisive engagement with no losses caused or suffered and finally Tenente Viale had his fighter seriously damaged by an explosive bullet that hit the junction between the lower wing and the fuselage. Back at base the plane was declared RD (Riparabile in Ditta - Repairable but only in the manufacturer’s workshop) and sent to the Aeritalia-Fiat workshops in Turin.
The pilots of the 23o Gruppo observed that despite hits on aircraft on the ground they hadn’t burnt. This was found to have been caused by a defective batch of incendiary ammunition.
The formation from the 150o Gruppo departed from Villanova D’Albenga (in Liguria near the sea) at 12:00 and was composed of 27 Fiat CR.42s divided in three groups. Their target was the airfield of Cuers Pierrefeu and they arrived there at 13:00. A first group of eight aircraft commanded by Capitano Giorgio Graffer (CO of the 365a Squadriglia) and composed of Tenente Franco Gatti, Sottotenente Lorenzo Clerici, Maresciallo Felice Sozzi, Maresciallo Virginio Bodini, Sergente Maggiore Guido Fibbia, Sergente Maggiore Felice Squassoni and Sergente Bruno Zotti (all from the 365a Squadriglia) attacked the airfield of Cuers itself. A second group of nine fighters from the 363a Squadriglia led by the Gruppo CO Tenente Colonnello Rolando Pratelli (Capitano Luigi Mariotti (Squadriglia CO), Tenente Pietro Garfagnoli, Sottotenente Mario Daverio, Maresciallo Giuseppe Salvadori, Sergente Maggiore Natale Viola, Sergente Maggiore Bruno Benassi, Sergente Paolo Rossi, Sergente Antonio Lazzari) and a third group of eight aircraft from the 364a Squadriglia under command of the 53o Stormo commander Colonnello Arrigo Tessari (Capitano Nicola Magaldi (Squadriglia CO), Capitano Nino Caselli, Tenente Giuseppe Enrico Zuffi, Tenente Alberto Spigaglia, Maresciallo Delfino Fratini, Maresciallo Ugo Guidi, Sergente Maggiore Virgilio Pongiluppi, Sergente Giovanni Negri and Sergente Achille Pacini) covered Graffer and his men during the strafing attack.
The covering group led by Colonnello Tessari engaged six French fighters, while Graffer’s group, after four or five strafing passes enter combat against “Morane fighters” while regaining height. All in all four Morane were claimed shot down (all Bloch 151s from AC 3 and confirmed with French records) and 15 Moranes were claimed on ground (in fact at least six Vought 156s of AB 3 were destroyed). The victories were credited as “shared” to all the pilots of the Gruppo.
The aircraft of Capitano Nino Caselli (MM5579) and Tenente Zuffi of the 364a Squadriglia (MM5590) were lost. Caselli’s Fiat was shot down by French fighters and he was killed, while Zuffi landed on Cuers Pierrefeu undamaged due to a breakdown of the throttle. Zuffi was taken prisoner and his undamaged fighter was taken by the French (the only aircraft captured by the Aéronautique Navale), which in the following days painted it with French colours and duly photographed this trophy with pilots posing near it. After the war the Italians had to do great efforts with the Vichy Authorities to finally have back the fighter in August. Additionally the Fiats of Graffer and Clerici were damaged by French fighters during the dogfight.
Finally, 15 Fiat CR.42s the 18o Gruppo took off from Villanova D’Albenga immediately after the 150o Gruppo. They patrolled along the direction of Cuers Pierrefeu - Cannet des Maures - Hyères (the latter an airfield 13 km east of Toulon) to prevent any interference from the French fighter force. Led by the 18o Gruppo’s CO Maggiore Ferruccio Vosilla the formation was composed by Capitano Giulio Anelli (CO of the 85a Squadriglia), Tenente Giuntella and Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Ruzzin of the 85a Squadriglia, Capitano Gino Lodi (CO of 95a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Eugenio Salvi, Maresciallo Felice Longhi, Maresciallo Giovanni Ferrari and Sergente Maggiore Giacomo Grillo of the 95a Squadriglia (Vosilla flew with Salvi and Longhi as wingmen) and finally the 3o Stormo Commander Colonnello Fortunato Rolando in a 83a Squadriglia fighter with Maresciallo Francesco Colombo and Sergente Maggiore Evdo Formentini as wingmen together with Capitano Edoardo Molinari (CO of 83a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Carlo Lolli and Maresciallo Gaetano Bortolini.
At a height of 5500 meters over Beau Champ they were intercepted by enemy fighters, which suddenly appeared from a cloud bank. They were identified as “Morane 406 plus another type not sure” and in the ensuing combat three of them were claimed shot down plus four others hit without being able of ascertain the damage inflicted (these claims can’t be verified with French sources). It seems that no individual credit was given for these victories that went as shared to all the fifteen pilots participating in the mission. During the combat, two aircraft of the 83a Squadriglia were lost when Sergente Maggiore Formentini (MM4449) and Maresciallo Colombo (MM4366) both were shot down and killed (both were probably shot down by Le Gloan and Assolant of GC III/6, which had attacked the “vic” of the Stormo commander). All the fighters of the 85a Squadriglia suffered gun-jams and were forced to flee, Capitano Anelli, in particular, had to escaped into clouds to get away from enemy fighters, got lost and was obliged to force-land at Dorniella near Grosseto in Tuscany where his plane (MM4372) broke the landing gear and was heavily damaged (RD). Finally Maresciallo Gaetano Bortolini’s Fiat was hit by a cannon shell that opened a hole of 60 centimetres in the upper wing. Later during the day two more fighters were heavily damaged (RD) on landing back in Villanova D’Albenga returning from scrambles because of the bad conditions of the ground flooded by heavy rain but this was not connected with the above described combat.
The French reported that in the early hours of 15 June bad wheatear halted flight activities, then, at mid morning, it cleared up. At 10:00, a patrouille composed by Adjutant Diaz, Sergent Pimont and Sous-Lieutenant Stage took-off to cover the reconnaissance mission of a Potez 63. The mission was completed successfully.
At 11:40, the fighter control centre of Toulon signalled big formations of heavy fighters and bombers passing the border and heading south-west. Five minutes later a patrouille simple (three planes group) of Dewoitine D.520s (Adjutant Pierre Le Gloan, Capitaine Jacobi and Capitaine Assolant) of the 5th escadrille of groupe de chasse III/6 (GC III/6) took-off.
The patrouille made for Saint Raphael (on the coast, near the Italian border), where a group of fifteen enemy planes was signalled. Four minutes later (11:49), a second patrouille simple (Capitaine Guerrier, Adjutant Japiot, Sous-Lietuenant Capdeviolle), this time of the 6th escadrille, took off to help the first. However, it took off to late and didn’t participate in the combat.
After arriving over Saint Raphael, the patrouille of Le Gloan received by radio the order of going over Saint Tropez (around 30km south-west). At the same time, Capitaine Jacobi was forced to turn back with engine problems.
Le Gloan saw a formation of twelve Fiat CR.42s in the direction of Saint Tropez heading south-west. He reached them rapidly and attacked at 12:00. In a brief combat, Le Gloan and Assolant claimed two shared aircraft shot down. These were the last two aircraft of the Italian formation and one of the Italian fighters (Maresciallo Colombo of the 83a Squadriglia) was seen to go down in flames near Beauvallon (4km south of Grimaud) while the other went down in flames near Ramatuelle; the pilot was seen to bale out (probably Sergente Maggiore Evdo Formentini of the 83a Squadriglia).
At this moment the two pilots of the patrouille was split up. Le Gloan turned over Saint-Tropez and lost contact with the enemy while Capitaine Assolant attacked a third Italian fighter (perhaps Maresciallo Bortolini of the 83a Squadriglia), but his guns ceased to fire and he had to disengage coming back to Le Cannet des Maures.
Adjutant Le Gloan in the meantime, saw anti-aircraft fire in the direction of Hyères airfield (being over Saint Tropez this direction is quite close to the direction of Toulon-Cuers Pierrefeu that was under attack at that moment). Le Gloan flew in that direction and discovered a group of three Fiat CR.42s heading east. He attacked the right hand Fiat of the group and saw that after the first burst of fire it went down near Saint-Amèe, in the bay of Pampalonne. This claim is not confirmed with Italian records but perhaps claimed in combat with an aircraft from 150o Gruppo returning from the attack on Cuers or alternatively against stragglers of the 18o Gruppo formation. He was then attacked by eight Italian fighters and he disengaged by diving away.
At the same time (around 12:15), he received by radio the order of coming back to Le Cannet des Maures which was under attack. He obeyed immediately, arriving over his airfield while the Italians were strafing it. He dived on a couple of fighters and with a single burst of cannon fire he shot down one of them (Capitano Filippi). This plane went down near the farm of the Thermes, just 1km from the airfield of Le Cannet. Continuing his patrol Le Gloan saw a Fiat BR.20 bomber flying a reconnaissance mission over Le Cannet des Maures, probably with the aim of checking the damage inflicted to the airfield. Le Gloan attacked it and, even with no more cannon ammunitions left, shot it down with five passes of his remaining four guns. The bomber fell down near the farm of the Moulin Rouge. This was Fiat BR.20 MM21873 of the 172a Squadriglia Ricognizione Strategica, which in fact went down over Le Luc. Two of the crew were killed; Aviere scelto motorista Giovanni Bonanno and Aviere scelto fotografo Egisto Di Croce. The rest of the crew were taken POWs; Maggiore Mario Salvadori (an intelligence Officer from the Air force HQ aboard as a passenger), Capitano Giorgio Parodi (the Squadriglia’s CO) and Aviere scelto armiere Attilio Imparato. Bonanno was posthumously decorated with the Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare for this action because he helped his commander, who was wounded, to jump out of the falling plane, but after that he was unable to jump himself and died in the subsequent crash.
At Cuers Pierrefeu (attacked by the 150o Gruppo), the French reported that the Italian fighters attacked the parked Voughts of AB 3 and destroyed six of them. A section of three fighters of AC 3 had taken took off just minutes before the Italian attack. It was commanded by the Enseigne de Vaisseau Carmeille and included Second-Maitres Saint Vanne and Heff. The section had to patrol between Le Luc en Provence and St Raphael. Near the first locality it became involved in combat with 15 Italian fighters (possibly the 18o Gruppo). The section didn’t claim anything and didn’t suffer any losses even if, later, it was credited with two shared Italian fighters shot down. After this combat, the three pilots went on patrolling over Toulon.
Two other sections of AC 3 took off while the Italians arrived over Cuers. The section commanded by the Lieutenant de Vaisseau Ziegler (CO AC 3) was composed by the Second-Maitres Miramont and Briet. Gaining altitude over Cuers the section was attacked by the Italian fighters. Ziegler had his Bloch 151 (numbered AC3.1, serial number 77) seriously damaged and wounded, he was forced to crash-land at base with his left landing gear cut in half. Briet was rapidly in difficulties under the attack of the numerically superior Italians, with the ailerons damaged and the reservoir holed he disengaged, rejoining the first section over Toulon. Miramont engaged combat north-east of the airfield, over the hills of Hyères. His Bloch 151 (numbered AC3.3, serial number 69) was seriously damaged, but in the heat of the fight, he found himself 50 meters behind a Fiat CR.42 (Capitano Nino Caselli) and with a single burst of his four MAC guns he shot it down. Miramont was not able to continue the fight after this and had to land at Hyères.
The third section of AC 3 suffered worst. It was commanded by the Adjutant Chef Hourcade (a pilot of the Armée de l’Air attached to the Aéronautique Navale since 1939) (Bloch 151 AC3.15 serial 51) and included Soulimont (Bloch 151 AC3.8 serial 348) and Second-Maitre Le Bihan (Bloch 151 AC3.9 serial 37). A few second after the take-off, Hourcade was shot down and killed by the marauding Fiats; Soulimont engaged the Italians but was immediately put out of action and obliged to force-land with his aircraft riddled with bullets. Le Bihan received a burst of fire in the engine and five minutes after took-off had to land in the narrow of Rocbaron. Unfortunately, his plane hit a tree and burst into flames hitting the ground. He succeeded in extricate himself from the burning wreck, but died five hours later at the hospital. Some time later Le Bihan was credited with an aerial victory obtained by collision, but looking in the initial reports of this combat there is no trace of this victory.
It is interesting to note that all of Le Gloan’s claims were homologated by the CO of the Zone D’Opérations Aériennes Alpes (ZOAA). (“L’homologation” was the definitive confirmation of an aerial victory corroborated by evidences, was a recognition quite difficult to obtain in the French Air Force). The victories were credited as follows:
Fiat CR.42 individual, Ramatuelle.
Fiat CR.42 shared with Assolant, Saint-Amé bay of Pampelonne.
Fiat CR.42 individual, Beauvallon.
Fiat CR.42 individual , ferme des Termes near Le Luc.
Fiat BR.20, ferme du Moulin-Rouge near Vidauban.
That is not in complete accordance with the reconstruction above. It is also interesting to note that the victories claimed by AC 3 were apparently not homologated.

Giuntella was then part in the C.A.I. operations over Britain when 18o Gruppo was temporarily assigned to the 56o Stormo. They were based at the Saturn base (Ursel).

On the 23 November a fighter sweep was flown by 29 CR.42s of the 18o Gruppo led by Maggiore Ferruccio Vosilla with Sottotenente Franco Bordoni-Bisleri as his wingman. The course was Dunquerque - Margate - Eastchurch - Folkestone - Calais while 24 G.50s of the 20o Gruppo covered them, operating a little further inland. At 11:40, 12 Spitfires Mk.IIs (P7550, P7597, P7311, P7496, P7529, P7388, P7289, P7543, P7389, P7449, P7528, and P7324) from 603 Squadron were scrambled from Hornchurch and headed south. Off Folkestone, 603 Squadron spotted the Italian CR.42s travelling west and the Spitfires hit them from astern. The CR.42s were badly bounced and two of them were lost when MM5694 of the 83a Squadriglia flown by Tenente Guido Mazza and MM5665 of the 95a Squadriglia flown by Sergente Maggiore Giacomo Grillo were shot down into the sea and reported missing. On return to base Sergente Maggiore F. Campanile and Sergente P. Melano of the 83a Squadriglia had to force-land and both pilots were slightly injured. Later it was found out that Campanile had, due to the lack of armour plating, been saved by his parachute pack, which had stopped several machinegun bullets. During the combat Tenente Giuntella’s CR.42 was hit several times but he returned claiming hits on a Spitfire. Maresciallo Felice Sozzi of the 83a Squadriglia (83-15) attacked and chased off a Spitfire on the tail of Sergente Maggiore Luigi Gorrini’s aircraft, who in his turn were attacking other British Spitfires. Sozzi was however hit in return by two other Spitfires, who attacked him from behind. He was seriously wounded with three bullets in his lungs, but he succeeded despite pain and a damaged aircraft, to return for an emergency landing on a Belgian beach. He survived his ordeal and recovered to receive the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare “in the field”.
603 Squadron reported that they were to patrol Hornchurch at 4500 meters together with 64 Squadron. They were then ordered on to the Maidstone Patrol Line, then to the Rochford Line. When over Rochford they were detailed to Raid 44 and the squadron went south at 8500 meters. They were given correct height and direction of the enemy raid and dived through misty clouds which was 10/10 from 5500 meters to 7900 meters. When about 16km south-west of Dover they saw about 20 Fiat CR.42s at about 6000 meters flying west parallel to the English coast. There appeared to two separate groups of CR.42s flying one behind the other.
In the front group were four CR.42s in vic echelon starboard, flying wing tip to wing tip. To the right and slightly behind was one CR.42, which was attacked and shot down. There were several CR.42s to the left of this formation.
The second formation consisted of vics, pairs and single aircraft in no special order. Behind and about 90 meters above were two CR.42s flying absolutely straight (no weaving). The Cr42s were flying at about 320km/h.
603 Squadron dived and attacked the rear formation. On the whole, the Italian aircraft took no evasive action and those not attacked flew straight on, keeping their formation although Spitfires were weaving in and out of them. 603 Squadron reported that this was like attacking bombers.
Of those attacked from the rear, one climbed almost vertically, one turned slightly to port and one reduced speed considerably and made a sharp turn.
Pilot Officer Gilroy made head-on attacks on three separate CR.42s, the first of which took no evasive action and he had to pull out over the top of it at the last moment. When at 180 meters range the second CR.42 turned to the right and he had to pull out over the top of the third. All three aircraft fired at him, and twin streams of tracer were seen. Pilot Officer Gilroy’s Spitfire was hit by an amour piercing 7.7mm bullet in the spinner.
Pilot Officer Ronald Berry (P7449) thought that he had hit a reserve petrol in the top wing of an aircraft he attacked. He had a five-minute dogfight with two CR.42s which were on his tail and turned inside him every time. He spun three or four times but the CR.42s were always waiting for him and eventually he had to dive out of range.
Flying Officer Brian MacNamara (P7388), on attacking an enemy aircraft, reported first white and then black smoke coming from in front of the pilot, followed by a shower of small white objects., After this the CR.42 caught fire.
Pilot Officer Archie Winskill (P7389) had four CR.42s on his tail, one of which splintered his Perspex hood. He climbed straight up and left them behind.
The CR.42s had yellow nose, white engine cowlings, green and black camouflage resembling a mackerel, white crosses on tail and white circles with three red fasces on their wings.
None of the Italian pilots baled out and it was thought from the reactions of the aircraft after being fired on that in almost every case the pilot was killed.
It was not understood why the CR.42s kept formation when they were not being attacked and flew straight on. The two CR.42s flying behind the formation did not appear to be guarding it.
603 Squadron was very impressed by the willingness of the Italian pilots to dogfight when attacked, compared to previous experience with Bf 109s and in general their morale was far higher than they had been given to understand.
603 Squadron didn’t suffer any casualties and ten Spitfire landed at Hornchurch at 13:30, one aircraft landed at Rochford while one aircraft landed at Hawkinge. 603 Squadron claimed seven destroyed, two probables and two damaged:
Pilot Officer Winskill claimed two CR.42s destroyed (one in flames, one in sea).
Sergeant Andrew Darling (P7324) claimed two CR.42s destroyed (both in sea).
Flying Officer MacNamara claimed one CR.42 destroyed (in flames).
Flying Officer Colin Pinckney (P7529) claimed one CR.42 destroyed (in sea).
Pilot Officer Berry claimed one CR.42 destroyed (in sea) and one probably destroyed CR.42 (out of control).
Flight Lieutenant John Boulter (P7597) claimed one probably destroyed CR.42 (clouds of smoke and thinks it caught fire).
Pilot Officer David Scott-Malden (P7278 (?)/D) claimed two damaged CR.42s (1 bits of rudder, 1 tracer entered fuselage).
Squadron Leader George Denholm (P7550), CO 603 Squadron, described the combat:

The Italians looked quite toy-like in their brightly-coloured camouflage, and I remember thinking that it seemed almost a shame to shoot down such pretty machines. I must have been wrong, for the pilot who saw six going down at the same time said afterwards that it was a glorious sight. But I must say this about the Eye-ties: they showed fight in a way the Germans have never done with our squadron.
Denholm chased one Fiat halfway across the Channel but had to let it limp home as his own engine started to splutter.
18o Gruppo claimed five enemy fighters. However, it appears that only one Spitfire was actually damaged when Pilot Officer Winskill returned to base with the canopy shattered and the Spitfire damaged by return fire from the CR.42s. Winskill was however safe.
As 603 Squadron disengaged, more RAF units were alerted to the presence of furthers enemy units. 92 Squadron left Biggin Hill at 12:25 together with 74 Squadron. Aircraft identified as Bf 109s were sighted by 92 Squadron pilots some miles south of Dover, but these particular fighters avoided combat. It seems that it is likely that these were the Fiat G.50s of the 20o Gruppo. The Italian pilots reported sighting a formation of British fighters but did not engage them.

In January 1941 the unit was re-located to Libya.

On 6 February 1941, he was promoted to Capitano.

In May 1941 Capitano Giuntella served as commander of the 85a Squadriglia.

In August 1941 18o Gruppo returned to Italy and re-equipped with Macchi MC.200s.
With these aircraft they took part in the defence of Greece during the winter of 1941-42 before going back with 18o Gruppo to Libya in May 1942.
During the autumn of 1942 the unit started to receive MC.202s as replacements for lost MC.200s.

As of 8 November 1942 (on the launch of Operation Torch in North Africa), Capitano Giuntella served as CO of the 85a Squadriglia, 18o Gruppo CT. The unit was based at Bu Amud, Libya, and equipped with MC.202s.

On 19 November 1942, Maggiore Gino Lodi (CO 18o Gruppo), Capitano Giorgio Tugnoli (CO 74a Squadriglia) and Tenente Franco Bordoni-Bisleri (95a Squadriglia) were seriously injured in a car accident on the Tauorga-Tripoli Road. They were sent home to Italy aboard a hospital ship.
Capitano Giuntella assumed command of the 18o Gruppo on an acting basis and Tenente Carlo Moruzzi that of the 74a Squadriglia.

Allied aircraft from Algeria crossed into the southern area during the afternoon on 18 January 1943, 13 B- 17s of the 97th BG escorted by 33 P-38s of the 1st FG, flying down to attack the tempting concentrations of aircraft on the ground at Castel Benito. Between 15-20 Bf 109s and MC.202s intercepted over the target and as the formation made for home. First contact was made at 14:10 over Castle Benito airfield by 71st FS where Captain Francis H. Harris claimed one probable Bf 109, 1st Lieutenant Peyton S. Mathis Jr. claimed one damaged Bf 109 and Major Raymond F. Rudell claimed one probable Bf 109 F. The 27th FS (P-38Fs) also turned into the attackers and at 14:15 and 50km west of Tripoli airfield Captain Robert L. Stevens claimed one Bf 109 destroyed and 2nd Lieutenant Marcus C. Linn claimed one damaged Bf 109. At the same time, 1st Lieutenant John A. Sullivan claimed one Bf 109 over Tripoli airfield. Captain Darrell G. Welch claimed one MS.202 and one damaged Bf 109 50-65km west of Tripoli airfield at 14:20 and 1st Lieutenant James E. Pate claimed a damaged Bf 109 80km west of Tripoli airfield at the same time. Finally, at 14:30, 1st Lieutenant Elza E. Shahan claimed two damaged Bf 109s 32km south-west of Tripoli airfield while 1st Lieutenant Marvis C. Morrison claimed one damaged Bf 109 80km west of Tripoli airfield. Totally, the 1st FG claimed three destroyed, two probables and seven damaged. However, 1st Lieutenant Burton L. Weil from 27th FS was shot down at 15:17 and became a PoW.
Nine MC.202s of the 3o Stormo, flying aircraft handed over by 4o Stormo, made a head-on attack on the left-hand aircraft of the leading vic of B-17s 60km south of Zuara. Tenente Guglielmo Specker (83a Squadriglia), pulled up high after this initial attack and saw the bomber begin to fall behind, dropping from 6,100 meters to 3,000 meters. As it was going down, he attacked twice more, firing 370 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition into the stricken aircraft, from which the crew began to bale out. Tenente Specker followed it down as it completed a full 360 degree turn before reaching the ground; the wing struck first, folding up to the first engine, at which point the bomber blew up. Specker landed to find that only three of the original nine MC.202s were still serviceable. Capitano Giuntella (85a Squadriglia), Maresciallo Felice Longhi (95a Squadriglia) and Sergente Domenico Balduzzo (85a Squadriglia) also claimed a B-17 shared between them, but these may all have attacked the same bomber as Specker; nine crew members were captured next day.
The Bf 109 G-2s from II. And III./JG 77 took part in this interception. Three P-38s were claimed destroyed when Feldwebel Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert (4./JG 77) claimed one at 7,300meters 28km south-south-west of Azizia at 14:17, Oberfeldwebel Heinrich Hackler (8./JG 77) claimed one south-west of Tripoli at 14:22 and Unteroffizier Bruno Weidlich (4./JG 77) claimed one at 5000 meters 15km south-west of Gar el Haq at 14:27. Oberfeldwebel Johann Pichler (7./JG 77) claimed one B-17 at 1,200 meters altitude south-west of Tripoli at 14:20.
B-17 41-24385 from 340th BS, 97th BG, was lost to fighters in the Tripoli area with 1st Lieutenant Russel S. Wilkin and eight crew becoming PoWs. During the fight the gunners of the 97th BG had put in a modest claim for one Bf 109 destroyed. However, no Axis fighters were shot down during this engagement.

In 1943, he served in the 52o Stormo.

Giuntella ended the war with 3 shared biplane victories and a total of 4 shared.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  15/06/40 12:00- 1 ”Morane 406” (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Beau Champ area 85a Squadriglia
  23/11/40 13:00 ca 1 Spitfire (b) Damaged Fiat CR.42   16km SW Dover 85a Squadriglia
  18/01/43 p.m. 1/3 B-17 (c) Shared destroyed Macchi MC.202   60km S Zuara 85a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 3 shared destroyed, 1 and 4 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 4 shared destroyed, 1 and 4 shared damaged.
(a) Probably claimed in combat with Dewoitine D.520s from the GC III/6, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(b) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 603 Squadron. The 18o Gruppo claimed at least five and one damaged Spitfires while losing two and getting at least four more damaged. 603 Squadron claimed seven CR.42 shot down and two probables while getting one Spitfire damaged.
(c) Claimed in combat with B-17s from the 97th BG, which lost 1 B-17 (crew PoW). The 18o Gruppo and III./JG 77 claimed 3 B-17s shot down.

3o Stormo, storia fotografica - Dai biplani agli aviogetti - Carlo Lucchini and Leproni Enrico, 1990 Gino Rossato Editore
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Two – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781909166127
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Three – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2016 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781910690000
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 2 Volume M - Z
Il 23o Gruppo Caccia - Nicola Malizia, 1974 Bizzarri, Roma, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
L’aeronautica Italiana nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale - Giuseppe Santoro, 1957 Danesi, Roma, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
L’Aéronautique navale francaise de septembre 1939 à juin 1940 (Hors série Avions nr.1) - Lucien Morareau, January 1994 Le La Presse, Boulogne sur Mer, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
La campagne de France, les combars franco-italiens 10 juin-25 juin (Batailles Aeriennes nr. 11) - Matthieu Comas, January 2000 Le La Presse, Boulogne sur Mer, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Regia Aeronautica e Armee De L’Air 1940-43 - Giancarlo Garello, 1975 Bizzarri, Roma, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Regia Aeronautica periodo prebellico e fronti occidentali - Angelo Emiliani, Giuseppe Ghergo and Achille Vigna, 1975 Intergest, Milano, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Additional information kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 27 January 2023