Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Ernani Loddo

21 February 1920 – 14 November 1942

Ernani Loddo was born on 21 February 1920 and was from Cagliari.

In January 1941, Loddo served in 365a Squadriglia, 150o Gruppo Autonomo C.T. in the Greek campaign. This unit was at the time equipped with Fiat CR.42 and operated from Argyrocastron, Albania.

During the morning on 20 January, 211 Squadron despatched five Blenheims to bomb Valona. Four 150o Gruppo CR.42s attacked just as they had finished their bombing, and two were slightly damaged. Sottotenente Loddo claiming one shot down.
However, none of the Blenheims were shot down even if two returned to base slightly damaged.

Later in the war Loddo was transferred to 370a Squadriglia, 24o Gruppo Autonomo C.T. This unit was also equipped with Fiat CR.42s. With this unit he took part in the attacks on Malta in June 1942.

On 14 June Italian aircraft were out to attack ships taking part in Operation ’Harpoon’. At 08.15 when the convoy was located eight CR.42s drawn from all three squadriglie of the 24o Stormo C.T. led by 26-year old Capitano Alberto Bondi (commanding officer of 355a Squadriglia), set off, each carrying two 100 kg bombs beneath their wings.
At 10.25 the CR.42 pilots spotted the carrier HMS Argus and dive-bombed the ship from about 3000 feet, claiming two hits. HMS Malaya was also attacked, as were one or two of the convoy. In fact, no of the bombs found their mark.
After releasing the bombs, Sottotenente Loddo engaged what he described as a biplane floatplane, which he tentatively identified as a cruiser-launched Fairey Seafox and claimed to have shot it down.
The opponent of his opponent remains a mystery, for none of the British ships carried a Seafox on this operation, nor was there a report of a Walrus amphibian, or even a Swordfish, being attacked. He may conceivably have encountered a Ro.43 spotter biplane floatplane from one of the Italian ships, although none were reported lost during this day’s action.
In the attack carrier-based Fairey Fulmars shot two of the CR.42s, flown by Bondi and Sottotenente Bruno Castro, down. Both pilots were posthumously decorated with the Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare. Two other CR.42 were obliged to force-land due to fuel shortage at Sidi Hamed, Tunisia, where the pilots were interned by the Vichy French authorities.

The Spitfire Vcs from 81 Squadron was engaged in a confused combat over their airfield at Bône during the late morning on 14 November 1942, during which Flying Officer P. G. Anson, Flight Sergeant J. Friar and Flight Sergeant D. F. Husband claimed a fighter shot down between them which they identified as a Bf 109 E. This was probably a G version of 7./JG 53, reported shot down in flames by Spitfires 3km south-east of Bône, in which Leutnant Dieter Hirsch (Bf 109 G-4/Trop WNr. 16004 White 3 + 1) was killed. A second Bf 109 was claimed as a probable by Flight Lieutenant L. G. Bedford, who was himself shot down, baling out into the sea, suffering burns, but managing to swim ashore. A second Spitfire was hit and crash-landed with Flying Officer H. E. Fenwick WiA. It is probable that both these aircraft fell to Oberleutnant Wilfried Pufahl of 7./JG 53 who claimed two Spitfires, the first at 1500 meters altitude 30km south-east of Bône at 09:20 and the second at 800 meters altitude 10km south-east of Bône at 09:25.
Meanwhile, two more of 81 Squadron's pilots (Sergeant J. R. Baker and Flying Officer Roberts) claimed a BR.20, identified as a ”Breda 20”, which aircraft they had claimed has not been identified. However, during this same engagement Flight Sergeant J. Friar shot down a Fiat CR.42 of the 24o Gruppo which had been undertaking a reconnaissance over Bône from Sardinia. This CR.42 was flown by Tenente Loddo (370a Squadriglia), who became MiA (later reported as KiA). This may have been associated with an attack on Bône made by ten MC.202s of the 17o Gruppo which had departed from the same island. These Italian pilots, led by the Gruppo’s commander Capitano Pericle Baruffi, reported strafing ten twin-engined aircraft on the ground there. These were probably C-47s, but none of these aircraft suffered any damage on this date. One Macchi flown by Tenente Pietro Maurichi (80a Squadriglia) was damaged by AA, a second suffering engine trouble which caused Tenente Emilio Marchi (80a Squadriglia) to force-land at El Aouina, Tunisia.
At 15:25, seven 272 Squadron Beaufighter Ics took off from Malta to strafe El Aouina, but as they approached the airfield a signal rocket was fired, and a tremendous barrage of Flak was put up. Squadron Leader Anthony Watson fired at a Ju 52/3m, but his aircraft (Beaufighter Ic T5079/G) was hit in the starboard engine and he force-landed on a beach 42km north-east of the airfield at 17:02; after setting light to his Beaufighter, he and his navigator, Pilot Officer C. F. Cutting, began walking towards the Allied lines, eventually reaching them safely. Sergeant W. Russell claimed to have set two Ju 52/3ms on fire, but his own aircraft was damaged. Sergeant G. A. Tuckwell claimed to have set fire to a third and a twin-engined aircraft, and to have probably destroyed a single-engined type. During this attack two MC.202s from the 155o Gruppo were destroyed by fire (including MM9095 from the 378a Squadriglia). While trying to move some drums of fuel clear of others already on fire, Capitano Carlo Miani, commander of 360a Squadriglia, was severely burned on his right leg and was removed to hospital. Tenente Marchi was also wounded during this attack.

At the time of his death, Loddo was credited with 2 biplane victories.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 20/01/41 morning 1 Blenheim (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Valona 365a Squadriglia
2 14/06/42   1 Seafox (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   off Sicily 370a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Blenheims of 211 Squadron, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(b) No corresponding loss has been found in British records.

53o Stormo - Marco Mattioli, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-977-5
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
Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-07-0
Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-16-X

Last modified 02 June 2022