Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Sergente Maggiore Roberto Lendaro

The 8o Gruppo, 2o Stormo C.T., was transferred to Libya in September 1935 and in 1940, it was the oldest colonial fighter unit of the Regia Aeronautica and was equipped with Fiat CR.32quater (a tropical version of the classic Fiat design with enlarged oil cooler and other slight improvements that enhanced its low altitude performances).
The 8o Gruppo (92a, 93a and 94a Squadriglie) was commanded by Maggiore Vincenzo La Carruba and started the war based at Tobruk T2 airfield with a full complement of 25 Fiat CR.32quaters.
Pilots in the 93a Squadriglia on 11 June were: Capitano Mario Bacich (CO), Tenente Alberto Argenton, Tenente Gioacchino Bissoli, Sergente Maggiore Italo Bertinelli, Sergente Luigi Di Lorenzo, Sergente Edoardo Azzarone, Sergente Lendaro and Sergente Duilio Bernardi. These pilots had eight CR.32quaters available on 11 June. On strength, there were also Tenente Vincenzo Sansone, Sottotenente Alberto Radice, Sergente Orazio Antonicelli and Sergente Ottorino Lancia but they hadn’t left Tripoli. Sergente Armando Angelini was assigned from the 53o Stormo on 9 June but he also remained in Tripoli.

On 21 June, six CR.32s of the 92a Squadriglia (Capitano Martino Zannier, Tenente Ranieri Piccolomini, Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Gorgone, Sergente Vito Copersino, Sergente Nadio Monti and Sergente Ernesto Pavan) and three from the 93a Squadriglia (Tenente Alberto Argenton, Sergente Italo Bertinelli and Sergente Lendaro) took off at 09:40 and attacked enemy vehicles south of Bir El Gobi, escorted by CR.42s from the 13o Gruppo. The fire from the CR.32s, which attacked in single file, stopped an enemy armoured car and forced two other armoured cars of the same formation, less seriously damaged, to flee.
They were back at base at 11:00, where Copersino’s fighter was found damaged in the fuel tank by AA. The 92a Squadriglia formation expended 1756 rounds and 96 two-kilo bombs.

On 3 July, three CR.42s from the 94a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Tadini, Sergente Maggiore Trento Cecchi and Sergente Maggiore Danilo Billi) and three from the 93a Squadriglia (Tenente Gioacchino Bissoli, Sottotenente Orlando Mandolini and Sergente Lendaro) scrambled from T2. They intercepted a Short Sunderland, which was heading for Tobruk. The three 93a Squadriglia pilots returned, claiming to have damaged the aircraft with the use of 650 rounds of ammo and that the same aircraft was immediately after attacked by one of the three planes of the other Squadriglia and shot down off Bardia. Tenente Tadini on the other hand claimed the destruction of this aircraft in collaboration with the 93a Squadriglia pilots.
It seems that they had intercepted Sunderland L5807/R from 228 Squadron piloted by Flight Lieutenant D. C. McKinley DFC and Pilot Officer J. C. J Lylian, which had taken off at 14:15 for an anti-submarine sortie around Tobruk. The flying-boat returned at 20:15, reporting being attacked by Italian aircraft, one of which was believed hit by return fire. The Sunderland reported no damage at all but the day after, back at Alexandria, it was taken up the slip for maintenance operations.

Lendaro ended the war with 1 shared damaged biplane victory.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
  03/07/40 14:15-20:15 1/4 Sunderland (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Tobruk area 93a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 1 shared damaged.
(a) Possibly claimed in combat with Sunderland L5807/R from 228 Squadron, which returned safely to base.

Sources:
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
Diario Storico 92a Squadriglia C.T. kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Diario Storico 93a Squadriglia C.T. kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5
Additional information kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo




Last modified 24 October 2010