Fighter aces


Tenente Vittorio Gnudi

29 June 1914 - 11 December 1940

Date Decoration Note
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/40 Croce di guerra al valor militare O.M.S.

Vittorio Gnudi was born in Venezia on 29 June 1914.

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

On 7 September 1940, eleven CR.42s from the 157o Gruppo arrived from Comiso to Castel Benito in North Africa and nine of the pilots were posted to the 2o Stormo. Posted to the 77a Squadriglia were Sottotenente Mario Nicoloso, Sottotenente Carmelo Catania and Sergente Renato Gori. Posted to the 78a Squadriglia were Sottotenente Luigi Cannepele, Sergente Teresio Martinoli and Sergente Francesco Merana. Posted to the 82a Squadriglia were Tenente Gianfranco Perversi and Sergente Nino Campanini (from 385a Squadriglia) while Tenente Gnudi was posted to the 94a Squadriglia.

In October, the 94a Squadriglia was based at Menastir.

At 11:25, Sergente Maggiore Danilo Billi from the 94a Squadriglia, 8o Gruppo scrambled from Menastir to intercept a lone reconnaissance aircraft identified as a Wellington. He was soon followed by Tenente Gnudi and Sergente Alberto Bottazzi (also from the 94a Squadriglia). Sergente Maggiore Billi attacked immediately, starting a fire on the British aircraft. The three pilots were back between 12:20 and 12:45 and Billi was credited with the victory after having used 220 rounds of ammunition.
He had intercepted a reconnaissance Blenheim Mk.IV of 113 Squadron (T2063) piloted by Sergeant Price, which had taken off at 10:35. The Bristol landed back at base at 13:00 and was rendered U/S by the fire of intercepting CR.42s.

On 9 December, three fighters of the 8o Gruppo, flown by Tenente Gnudi (94a Squadriglia), Tenente Giorgio Savoia (92a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Nunzio De Fraia (94a Squadriglia), scrambled at 08:25-08:40 from Menastir M against three enemy bombers that were inconclusively attacked; the Italian fighters were back at base at around 10:00.
During the morning, 45 Squadron carried out four sorties against the airfields of Menastir and Gambut while a couple of Blenheims of 39 Squadron attacked Sollum. Over Menastir, the attack was disturbed by three CR.42s described by the returning crews as “pursuing out to the sea for 30 minutes [Flight Lieutenant Paine] making an half hearted attempt to intercept without success [Pilot Officer Thomas]. In fact British post-war studies revealed that attacked by the Italian fighters, Blenheim Mk.I L1534 belly-landed at Sidi el Raniman with the crew (Flight Lieutenant Paine, Sergeant Chaplin and Sergeant Edwards) uninjured while L6663 was damaged beyond repair although the pilot, Pilot Officer C. Thomas and his crew (Sergeant R. Dodsworth and Sergeant Fisher) were safe. It seems that the damage suffered during the crash-landing was more severe to L6663 than the damage suffered during the interception. They were probably the victims of Gnudi, Savoia and De Fraia, which however only claimed damage to their opponents seeing them to escape.

At 08:00 on 11 December, a mixed formation of CR.42s from the 84a and 94a Squadriglie took off from Menastir for a covering patrol over Italian troops retreating from Bug Bug. Participating pilots from the 8o Gruppo were Tenente Gnudi and Sottotenente Giacomo Maggi in the last African mission of their unit, while from the 10o Gruppo there were Capitano Luigi Monti, Sottotenente Paolo Berti, Sergente Onorino Crestani and Sergente Roberto Steppi.
Over the front, they were attacked by Hurricanes, which shot down Gnudi, killing the pilot. Maggi fought back expending 70 rounds while Steppi claimed damage to them when they were fleeing.
The four 10o Gruppo’s pilots landed directly at El Adem while Maggi came back alone to Menastir at 09:30.
The Hurricanes were probably from 33 Squadron, which claimed one or two and one probable CR.42s during the day.

At the time of his death, Gnudi was credited with 3 shared damaged biplane victories.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  09/12/40 08:25-10:00 1/3 Blenheim (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Menastir 94a Squadriglia
  09/12/40 08:25-10:00 1/3 Blenheim (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Menastir 94a Squadriglia
  09/12/40 08:25-10:00 1/3 Blenheim (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Menastir 94a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 3 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 3 shared damaged.
(a) Claimed in combat with Blenheims from 45 Squadron, which got L1534 and L6663 damaged.

2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell’ A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 1 Volume A - L
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5
Ministero della Difesa - Banca Dati sulle sepolture dei Caduti in Guerra
Additional information kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo

Last modified 09 June 2023