Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Sergente Ligabò

Ligabò took part in the Spanish Civil War where he served in the 1a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio.

In the morning on 30 October, Sottotenente Adriano Mantelli of the 1a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio and his flight consisting of Sergente Ligabò and Sergente Adamo Giuglietti, intercepted a formation of three Potez 540 bombers over Navalcarnero. Leading the Republican bomber formation was the second- in-command of the Escuadra Internacional (Escuadra No 4), Spaniard comandante Sampil, while the remaining two aircraft were flown by Bulgarian Zakharij Zakharev (’Volkan Goranov’) and Russian Ivan Proskurov. Zakharev’s (Potez 540 ‘N’) crew included three Spaniards (co-pilot, flight mechanic and a gunner), Petr Pavlovich Desnitskii (lower turret gunner), Anatoli Ivanov (gunner) and Leitenant Kuz’ma Terent’evich Demenchuk (navigator).
The Republican bombers were surprised and initially blinded by the sun when the CR.32s initially targeted Zakharev’s Potez, setting one of its engines on fire. The lower turret gunner Desnitskii kept firing his gun even after he was hit, claiming an enemy fighter. He was pulled from his position and replaced by Leitenant Demenchuk, who also was pulled from the turret just before the bomber crash-landed.
Proskurov attempted to assist his comrade by slowing down and positioning his aircraft between Zakharev and the opposing fighters. This courageous action won him the admiration of the Italian pilots, but it was ultimately performed in vain as the damaged bomber was doomed.
Although wounded in the leg by a bullet, Zakharev tried to nurse his stricken aircraft to the safety of Republican territory, but he and his Spanish co-pilot Pérez Sancho force-landed the aircraft in a clearing in No Man’s Land. All five crew managed to escape the wreckage and reach friendly troops with Zakharev, Desnitskii and Demenchuck wounded by gunfire from the Italian fighters. A short while later Sottotenente Mantelli shot down Proskurov’s Potez over Republican territory. Like Zakharev, the skilful Russian pilot also managed to save the lives of his crew by carrying out a successful emergency landing in a vineyard near Getafe. Although Mantelli also was credited with the destruction of flight leader Sampil’s Potez, the latter had in fact made it back to base at Albacete.
Mantelli, like his wingmen, returned to Talavera to find that his CR.32 had been holed in several places by fire from Proskurov’s gunner, Vladimirov, who had continued to fire at the Italian fighter in spite of a serious wound to one of his hands.
The Potez 540 flown by Zakharev was flown from Toulouse to Barcelona on 15 September, before heading on to Madrid to be assigned to the Escuadra Internacional (Escuadra No 4).

Ligabò claimed 1 shared biplane victory during the Spanish Civil War.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1936                
  30/10/36 morning 1/3 Potez 540 (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.32   Navalcarnero area 1a Escuadrilla de Caza del Tercio

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed.
(a) Potez 540 from Escuadra Internacional flown by Bulgarian Zakharij Zakharev (’Volkan Goranov’) force-landed.

Sources:
Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
Crickets against Rats. Regia Aeronautica in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1937. Vol. 1 - Marek Sobski, 2014 Kagero, Lublin, ISBN 978-83-64596-16-2
Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War - Alfredo Logoluso, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-983-6
GORIZIA ed il QUARTO STORMO
Regia Aeronautica: The Italian Air Force 1923-1945 - An Operational History - Chris Dunning, 2009 Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, Surrey, ISBN 978-1-906537-02-9
Soviet airmen in the Spanish civil war 1936-1939 - Paul Whelan, 2014 Schiffer Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-0-7643-0
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
Additional information kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso.




Last modified 12 September 2016