Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Capitano Marco Marinone

On 2 June 1941, five Blenheims from Malta were out at midday after a convoy of six ships that had been sighted by a Sunderland. Two CR.42s and a Z.501 were seen over the convoy, but the Blenheims kept their distance until the Italian aircraft appeared to leave the area. Probably they ships’ crews assumed that the Blenheims were friendly since daylight attack by RAF had not yet become common.
At 14:45 the Blenheims attacked, but one went into the sea during the run-in. It seems this may have fallen to a pair of CR.42 pilots of the 70a Squadriglia, 23o Gruppo CT. Tenente Marco Marinone and Tenente Antonio Bizio reported seeing a lone Blenheim to the north-west of Lampedusa while they were escorting a convoy off the Italian coast, and they claimed this shot down between them. The attack by the other four Blenheims was successful. The steamer Montello, which was carrying ammunition, blew up and sank, whilst the Beatrice Costa, carrying a cargo of petrol in drums, caught fire. Her crew abandoned her, and her escort sent her to the bottom.

At 10:05 on 29 August 1942, eleven Kittyhawks from 2 SAAF Squadron and eleven Tomahawks from 5 SAAF Squadron patrolled the forward areas, meeting a reported ten plus Bf 109s and MC.202s.
The 2 SAAF Squadron claimed one fighter shot down and five damaged at 10:45 10-25 miles south-south-west of El Alamein when Lieutenant B. R. Bennetts (AL181/DB-W) claimed a MC.202, Lieutenant
Lancelot Charles Henry Hope (EV351/DB-U) claimed a damaged Bf 109 and a damaged MC.202 (both 10 miles south-south-west of El Alamein), while Captain J. E. Parsonson (ET1019/DB-Q) and Lieutenant R. C. Hojem (ET9699/DB-I) each claimed a damaged MC.202. Lieutenant A. Morrison (EV366/DB-L) claimed a damaged Bf 109. Lieutenant Joseph Kourie (SAAF no. 104000) of the unit was shot down and killed in AK760/DB-K while Captain Parsonson returned with his Kittyhawk damaged with a bullet in the coolant system.
5 SAAF Squadron claimed two fighters and two probables at 11:00 south of El Alamein when Second Lieutenant H. Smith (AN238/GL-O) claimed a MC.202 (12 miles south of El Alamein), Lieutenant J. V: Lindebergh (AN446/GL-V) a Bf 109 and Captain E. N. Colman (AN366/GL-N) and Major L. B. Pearce (AN231/GL-X) claimed a probable Bf 109 each. Pearce aircraft was damaged in this combat.
No Luftwaffe aircraft seems to have been in the air at this occasion, but they had clashed with eleven MC.202s from the 23o Gruppo, which scrambled at 09:15 to intercept and identify eleven P-40s. During the following combat at 09:50, the Italian pilots claimed five SAAF aircraft and one probable. One was claimed by Maggiore Luigi Filippi (CO 23o Gruppo), one by Capitano Claudio Solaro (CO 70a Squadriglia), two by Sottentente Pietro Farinetti (75a Squadriglia) and one by Sergente Luigi Bandini (70a Squadriglia). One P-40 was claimed as a shared probable by Capitano Solaro, Sergente Bandini and Tenente Marinone (70a Squadriglia). Sottotenente Farinetti (MM8385) was shot down and killed and a second MC.202 was written-off when Sottotenente Giuseppe Spinelli-Barrile (70a Squadriglia) force-landed wounded with MM9048 within Axis lines. Sergente Aldo Bianchini (75a Squadriglia) crash-landed wounded with his damaged fighter (MM8371) at Abu Haggag while Sottotenente Giuseppe Melandri (70a Squadriglia) damaged MM8117 when landing at Tamet (pilot safe).

At 06:10 on 1 September, two formations of the 23o Gruppo Macchis, the first of eight led by Maggiore Luigi Filippi, and the second of ten led by Capitano Claudio Solaro, took off to provide cover for the ground troops south-east of El Adem.
At 07:15, Maggiore Filippi and his pilots spotted 24 Bostons south-east of El Alamein and attacked their escorts, claiming two P-40s shot down. These being claimed by Filippi and Capitano Mario Pinna (CO 75a Squadriglia).
Almost at the same time Capitano Solaro’s pilots joined the attack, claiming two fighters; Maresciallo Balilla Albani (70a Squadriglia) claiming a P-40 and Sergente Maggiore Celso Zemella (70a Squadriglia) claiming a Spitfire. Tenente Marinone (70a Squadriglia) claimed a probable P-40 but was then hit and he force-landed near El Alamein, within Axis line, badly damaging MC.202 MM9060/70-11 but escaping unhurt himself. The Italian fighters landed again at 07:40.

Marinone ended the war with 1 shared biplane victory.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1941                
  02/06/41 14:45 1/2 Blenheim (a) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   NW Lampedusa 70a Squadriglia
  1942                
  29/08/42 09:50 1/3 P-40 (b) Shared probably destroyed MC.202   SE Bir el Mukheisin 70a Squadriglia
  01/09/42 06:10-07:40 1 P-40 Probably destroyed MC.202 MM9060/70-11 SE El Alamein 70a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed and 1 and 1 shared probably destroyed.
(a) This claim can’t be verified with RAF records.
(b) Claimed in combat with Kittyhawks from 2 SAAF Squadron and Tomahawks from 5 SAAF Squadron, which totally claimed 3 fighters, 2 probables and 5 damaged while losing 1 fighter and getting 2 damaged. 23o Gruppo claimed 5 P-40s and 1 probable while losing 3 MC.202 (1 pilot KIA) and 1 damaged.

Sources:
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Two – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781909166127
Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-41 - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro.




Last modified 27 March 2022