Biplane fighter aces


Maggiore Simeone Marsan

24 August 1911 –

Date Decoration Note
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/?? Medaglia d’argento al valor aeronautico 1940-43
??/??/40 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/42 Croce di guerra al valor militare 1940-43

Simeone Marsan was born on 24 August 1911 and was from Zara.

Marsan was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo) on 1 October 1932.

On the last day of August 1940, the 151o Gruppo C.T. (366a, 367a and 368a Squadriglie) was ordered to move in Libya with 30 CR.42s as a reinforcement for the attack against Sidi Barrani.
The unit under the command of Maggiore Carlo Calosso was one of the first equipped with CR.42s in 1939 and was based in Caselle Torinese near Turin, with sections and Squadriglie detached in different airbases of North Italy for local defence duties.
They departed Caselle Torinese in the morning of 6 September and at 18:20 on 8 September, the whole Gruppo landed in Tripoli Castel Benito.
The 366a Squadriglia formation was composed of ten aircraft: Capitano Bernardino Serafini (CO), Tenente Mario Ferrero (the Gruppo Adjutant), Sottotenente Amedeo Guidi, Maresciallo Giulio Cesare, Sergente Maggiore Fiorenzo Milella, Sergente Maggiore Dino Carta, Sergente Maggiore Roberto Marchi, Sergente Maggiore Cesare Chiarmetta, Sergente Antonio Camerini, Sergente Eugenio Cicognani. Tenente Piero Veneziani and Maresciallo Giovanni Accorsi followed in the unit’s hack Caproni Ca.133 together with five ground personnel.
The formation of 367a Squadriglia comprised the Gruppo Commander Maggiore Carlo Calosso, the 368a Squadriglia’s pilot Sergente Piero Hosquet and nine other pilots for a total of eleven. Among them were Capitano Simeone Marsan (the CO), Tenente Irzio Bozzolan, Tenente Aldo Bonuti, Sergente Maggiore Gino Bogoni and Sergente Tolmino Zanarini. The Squadriglia’s other six pilots were Tenente Giuseppe Costantini, Maresciallo Bruno Castellani, Sergente Maggiore Rodolfo Benco, Sergente Maggiore Bruno Celotto, Sergente Renato Mingozzi and Sergente Maggiorino Soldati.
The 368a Squadriglia formation was composed of nine aircraft: Capitano Bruno Locatelli (CO), Tenente Giuseppe Zuffi, Sottotenente Furio Lauri, Sergente Maggiore Davide Colauzzi, Sergente Maggiore Annibale Ricotti, Sergente Maggiore Alvise Andrich, Sergente Stefano Fiore, Sergente Ottorino Ambrosi, Sergente Mario Turchi. Tenente Orfeo Paroli and Maresciallo Guido Paparatti followed in the Ca.133 of the Squadriglia (Paroli and Fiore were just transferred from 367a Squadriglia).
On 25 September the 151o Gruppo transferred from Benghazi to El Adem where it replaced the 9o Gruppo C.T.

Starting from 09:00 on 19 December, nine Hurricanes from 274 Squadron took off with fifteen minutes intervals during the morning. Then at least seven others took off for a second mission, this time taking off with 25 minutes intervals. Although explicitly ordered to keep clear of fighters they engaged CR.42s on two separate occasions during the day.
Second Lieutenant Talbot (P3721) claimed a confirmed victory over a CR.42. He was flying at 17,000 feet, 30 miles west of Bardia (Great Gambut) when at 13:05 he discovered two formations of six CR.42s stepped up to right and flying one mile to starboard. He approached unobserved and attacked a straggler of the formation. He reported:

“attacked by remainder of formation. 1 CR 42 spiralled down after attack and was later seen burning on the ground by Flying Officer Greenhill. CR 42s where on offensive patrol not escorting bombers.”
Flying Officer Greenhill (P3822) reported the height of the Fiats (around 15,000 feet) and added:
“the CR 42s were 11 or 12 in a bunch (no formation). I delivered an attack from astern and the enemy immediately attacked, 1 CR 42 was badly damaged (probably shot down), 6 holes in own aircraft through main spar. Enemy a/c on offensive patrol showing determination. Holes in own aircraft about 303 size (1 e/a seen burning after engagement by 2nd Lieutenant Talbot).”
They had met a formation from the 151o Gruppo, back in action after many days, out for an armed reconnaissance and to strafe targets of opportunity. The formation included four fighters from the 366a Squadriglia (Tenente Guglielmo Chiarini, Sottotenente Amedeo Guidi, Maresciallo Giulio Cesare and Sergente Maggiore Roberto Marchi), four from the 367a Squadriglia (Capitano Marsan (leading the sortie), Capitano Giuseppe Costantini, Sergente Maggiore Renato Mingozzi, and Sergente Tolmino Zanarini), three from the 368a Squadriglia (Capitano Bruno Locatelli, Sergente Maggiore Davide Colauzzi and Sergente Maggiore Annibale Ricotti) and a single fighter from the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Gino Battaggion), which had taken off from N1 at 12:15. At 4,000 meters, south of Sidi Azeiz, six-seven British monoplanes (described as Spitfires and Hurricanes) attacked with height advantage. The Italian pilots reacted but many pilots (in particular those of the 366a Squadriglia) were unable to fire their guns because of stoppages caused by the insufficient maintenance of the previous days. Capitano Locatelli used 55 12,7mm and 90 7,7mm rounds of ammunition on two Hurricanes and in the end one fighter was claimed as probable and two-three shared damaged by the whole formation. The formation landed at Z1 at 14:15 and no losses were suffered but Fiat CR.42 MM4325 piloted by Sergente Maggiore Ricotti was damaged and landed unserviceable, having the tanks holed (in fact it was so badly damaged that it was written-off). Three more CR.42s were lightly damaged including Tenente Battaggion’s who claimed a damaged Hurricane in return. The 366a Squadriglia didn’t suffered combat damages but three out of four of its planes once on land were found u/s, two of them for excessive oil consumption and the other for the broken propeller speed regulator.

On 20 December, the 366a Squadriglia discovered that most of its fighters needed a thoroughly engine revision at a S.R.A.M and were not repairable in the Squadriglia. The 367a Squadriglia detached its only three combat ready CR.42s to Z1, to fly with the 4o Stormo; five pilots accompanied the fighter with Capitani Marsan and Giuseppe Costantini leading them. Two fighters of the 368a Squadriglia (one flown by Tenente Furio Lauri) were also detached to Z1.

On 12 February 1941, the last 12 airworthy CR.42s of the 151o Gruppo were pulled out of the frontline and sent west to Sorman airfield, on the Libyan coast. Here the unit was placed under the command of Tenente Colonnello Raffaele Colacicchi, who had taken over from Maggiore Calosso in the December when the latter stood down due to ill health. The three squadriglie commanders were Capitano Bernardino Serafini (366a), Capitano Marsan (367a) and Tenente Giuseppe Zuffi (368a).

On 8 June 1942, he was promoted to Maggiore.

On 15 August 1942, Maggiore Marsan was posted to the 4o Stormo, handing over the temporary command of the 101o Gruppo Tuffatori to Capitano Carlo Alberto Rizzi.

In a mission between 15:30-17:10 on 18 September, Maggiore Marsan led 16 MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo (eight each from the 73a and 96a Squadriglie) on a free sweep south of El Alamein. They met Spitfires over El Alamein, with ten Spitfires at 7 000 meters altitude and ten more flying 2 000 meters lower. The 73a Squadriglia claimed three shot down without losses. One was claimed by Sergente Teresio Martinoli. The second was shared by Sergente Armando Angelini, Maresciallo Paolo Perno and Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi. The third was shared by Maggiore Marsan, Maresciallo Salvatore Mechelli, Tenente Giuseppe Oblach, Tenente Giulio Reiner and Tenente Vittorio Squarcia.
It seems that they had been in combat with Spitfires from 145 and 610 Squadrons, which reported meeting eight fighters identified as Bf 109s over Burg el Arab at 16:55. 145 Squadron made three claims when Flight Sergeant Edgar Andrew Kerr (Spitfire Vb AR287/ZX-K) claimed a probable, Flight Lieutenant John Stuart Taylor (AB147/ZX-Y) claimed a damaged and Sergeant P. G. C. Thomas (BP986/ZX-X) claimed a probable. Flight Lieutenant Mervin Robert Bruce Ingram (Spitfire Vc AR289/P) from 601 Squadron also claimed a probable. The Spitfires returned without losses.

In 1943, he served in the 5o Stormo.

Marsan ended the war with 1 shared probable biplane victory and a total of 1 shared destroyed.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  19/12/40 12:15-14:15 1/11 Hurricane (a) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   S Sidi Azeiz 367a Squadriglia
  19/12/40 12:15-14:15 1/11 Hurricane (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   S Sidi Azeiz 367a Squadriglia
  19/12/40 12:15-14:15 1/11 Hurricane (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   S Sidi Azeiz 367a Squadriglia
  18/09/42 15:30-17:10 1/5 Spitfire (b) Shared Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein 73a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 shared probably destroyed, 2 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared probably destroyed, 2 shared damaged.
(a) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 274 Squadron, which claimed 1 and 1 probable CR.42 without losses. 151o Gruppo claimed 1 probable and 2 damaged Hurricanes while suffering 1 badly damaged CR.42 and 2 lightly damaged. The 70a Squadriglia claimed 1 damaged Hurricane while suffering 1 damaged CR.42.
(b) Probably claimed in combat with Spitfire Vs from 145 and 601 Squadron, which claimed 2 probable Bf 109s and 1 damaged without losses. 73a Squadriglia claimed 3 destroyed Spitfires without losses.

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
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Desert Prelude: Operation Compass - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2011 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-61421-18-4
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell’ A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5

Last modified 15 December 2022