Biplane fighter aces


Sottotenente Ernani Loddo

In January 1941 Ernani 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.

Loddo ended the war 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
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 01 September 2013