Biplane fighter aces


Sergente Maggiore Teresio Vittorio Martinoli Medaglia d'oro al valor militare

26 March 1917 – 25 August 1944

Date Decoration Note
25/08/44 Medaglia d’oro al valor militare (Posthumous)  
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) 1940-43
??/??/43 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/?? Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse 1940-43

Teresio Martinoli was born at Novara on 26 March 1917.

In 1937 he gained his glider pilots’ license and the following year he received his ‘wings’ on powered aircraft.

When Italy mobilised, he was drafted into the Regia Aeronautica and he undertook a military flying course at Ghedi and graduated as a Sergente Pilota.

He was assigned to the 366a Squadriglia, 151o Gruppo, 53o Stormo, but just prior to Italy’s entry into the Second World War he was transferred to Trapani, Sicily, to serve with the 384a Squadriglia, 157o Gruppo. This unit was at the time equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

On 13 June 1940, bombers from the 30o and 36o Stormi attacked the airfields in Tunis area escorted by the 1o Stormo’s fighters. The SM 79s of the 108o and 109o Gruppi under command of Generale Giuseppe Barba and Colonnello Carlo Drago took off from Castelvetrano at 07:05 in two formations. In the meantime 15 SM 79s of the 30o Stormo (five each from the 193a, 194a, and 195a Squadriglie) took off from Sciacca and formed with the 36o Stormo’s formation. On take-off, Tenente Arrighi’s bomber (MM22128) crashed but the crew was unhurt. The bombers then met 15 CR.42s from the 157o Gruppo, which had taken off from the island of Pantelleria on seeing the bombers passing overhead. The Italian fighters had taken off from Trapani at 04:40 and had landed at Pantelleria at 05:10. They were three fighters from the 385a Squadriglia (Capitano Aldo Li Greci (CO), Sottotenente Giacomo Cremona and Maresciallo Marecello Baccara), six fighters from the 386a Squadriglia (Capitano Gustavo Garretto (CO), Sottotenente Angelo Carminati, Sergente Fausto Fiorani, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Tomasi, Sergente Giuseppe Gullà) and six from the 384a Squadriglia (the war diary of the Squadriglia isn’t available but it seems that Sergente Martinoli, Sottotenente Luigi ’Gigi’ Caneppele and Maggiore Guido Nobili (CO of the 157o Gruppo) were part of the formation together with three other pilots).
At around 08:35 when the fighters were flying towards Tunis, Sottotenente Carminati was suddenly taken ill and collided with Sergente Fiorani, both pilots crashed from 6000 metres. The 386a Squadriglia’s formation became totally uncoordinated with Dalla Pasqua, Tomasi and Gulla returning to Pantelleria after searching for wreckage after their comrades’ aircraft while Garretto went on, lost contact with the bombers and flew alone over Tunis at 6000 metres, finally returning at 09:50.
Over the target, the 36o Stormo pilots reported being attacked by French fighters tentatively identified as Curtiss that were immediately attacked and dispersed by the escorting CR.42s. Only the SM 79 of Tenente Poggi of the 259a Squadriglia was slightly damaged in the tail and in a fuel tank.
Two fighters was damaged and one of them as seen to dive away trailing smoke. Sergente Martinoli, Sottotenente Caneppele and Maggiore Nobili each fired their guns at an enemy fighter. Sergente Martinoli claimed a French twin-engined aircraft over Tunis during this mission (it seems that the claim was only made in his personal logbook) while the 385a Squadriglia’s fighters returned with nothing to report so it seems that only the 384a Squadriglia’s made contact with the French interceptors.
The 36o Stormo attacked Ksar-Said and Menzel-Temime airstrips with 50 and 100 kilos bombs while the 30o Stormo hit El Aouina from 4000 metres with 120 50 kilos and 40 100 kilos bombs. Colonnello Serra’s SM 79 was hit and damaged by AA.
All bombers were back at around 10:00 but on landing at Sciacca the Savoia of Tenente Terzo Mazzotti (MM21331/‘194 – 5’) run into a grove of olive trees and was written off.
The French fighters were almost surely Morane Saulnier MS.406s and Potez 630s (perhaps the twin-engined aircraft engaged by Martinoli) from 2ème escadrille GC I/9 but no other detail regarding this combat is known from French sources (and no losses or claims were recorded). It is also possible that first Escadrille of GC III/5 took part in the action.

On 7 September 1940, eleven CR.42s from the 157o Gruppo arrived from Comiso to Castel Benito in North Africa and nine of the pilots were posted to the 2o Stormo. Posted to the 77a Squadriglia were Sottotenente Mario Nicoloso, Sottotenente Carmelo Catania and Sergente Renato Gori. Posted to the 78a Squadriglia were Sottotenente Luigi Cannepele, Sergente Martinoli and Sergente Francesco Merana. Posted to the 82a Squadriglia were Tenente Gianfranco Perversi and Sergente Nino Campanini (from 385a Squadriglia) while Tenente Vittorio Gnudi was posted to the 94a Squadriglia.

After some days of inactivity due to the incessantly blowing Ghibli wind, a big coordinated Italian action against Mersa Matruh was planned for 31 October. It was planned to use at least 50 SM 79s from the 9o Stormo, 14o Stormo and 33o Gruppo with an escort of 40 CR.42s from the 2o Stormo and 151o Gruppo to attack the British base and its different targets.
At 10:10, Menastir M was attacked by British bombers reported as ten Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys (in fact seven Blenheims from 55 Squadron and three from 84 Squadron). The bombers arrived from a northerly direction completely undetected and hit the parking area of the 93a Squadriglia with many small and medium calibre bombs launched from 3000 metres. The Squadriglia HQ hut was completely destroyed by a direct hit while four CR.42s were lightly damaged by splinters (RS) and one was heavily damaged (RD). The heavy damaged CR.42 was immediately taken to the S.R.A.M. of El Adem (according to other sources the RD Fiats were three and the RS Fiats were two). Luckily no losses were suffered by the personnel of 8o Gruppo.
At 10:15 (09:40 according with other sources), while the 9o Stormo formation was taxiing on Gambut airstrip, a formation of seven Blenheims from 211 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Gordon-Finlayson and two others from 84 Squadron suddenly appeared overhead. The British bombers had managed to approach undetected by gliding down from 3000 metres with turned off engines and bombed with extreme precision, destroying three bombers while three others remained RD and many others were less seriously damaged. Heavy were also the losses among 9o Stormo’s personnel, with two dead among 63a Squadriglia (Sergente Armiere Carlo Marchi and Primo Aviere Radiotelegrafista Eugenio Bonino).
Three fighters of the resident 82a Squadriglia scrambled after the bombers had turned on their Mercury engines. They were flown by Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Sergente Maggiore Dante Davico and Sergente Nino Campanini but they were unable to intercept.
Three fighters of the 78a Squadriglia also scrambled at 10:00. These were flown by Tenente Ippolito Lalatta, Sottotenente Luigi Cannepele and Sergente Ernesto Taddia. These were also unsuccessful and they landed back at base at 10:45.
Sergente Maggiore Roberto Marchi and Sottotenente Carlo Albertini of the 366a Squadriglia scrambled from the nearby Amseat A3 for the British bombers. While in pursuit an enemy fighter, identified as a Hurricane, crossed the path of Albertini, who spent 420 rounds on it. The aircraft escaped smoking heavily and Albertini, who landed at 10:45, was credited with a probable victory.
At 10:25, three CR.42s from 92a Squadriglia, 8o Gruppo, scrambled from Menastir M. The three fighters were flown by Sottotenente Luigi Uguccioni Sergente, Mario Veronesi and Sergente Marcello Mosele. Veronesi intercepted a Hurricane which he claimed damaged with 150 rounds of ammunition. The three aircraft returned to base at 10:45.
It seems that both scrambles from 366a and 92a Squadriglie had been involved in combat with Hurricanes escorting the British bombers and in fact, 80 Squadron had put up eight Gladiators and two Hurricanes between 9.00 and 11.00 to patrol off Bardia at 15,000 feet and to cover bombers attacking Menastir and a target 38 miles west of Bardia (Gambut). The returning pilots didn’t report any encounter with Italian aircraft while returning 211 Squadron crews reported that an Italian CR.42 tried to follow them but after firing two bursts from 500 yards was set upon by a Gladiator and a Hurricane and last seen diving towards the ground with smoke trailing from it.
The Italian mission against Mersa Matruh was not cancelled and at 10:50 only ten SM 79s of 9o Stormo (that in the original intentions were to constitute the bulk of the formation) took off together with 11 SM 79s of the 14o Stormo and five from the 33o Gruppo. The bombers were escorted by 18 CR.42s from the 13o Gruppo, which flew as close escort, and 18 more from the 151o Gruppo, which was to fly an indirect support sweep.
At 11:45 two sections with six CR.42s of the 78a Squadriglia took off from Gambut G with Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio leading Sottotenente Luigi Cannepele (a future posthumously Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare winner and inspirer of the famous “Gigi tre osei” symbol of the 150o Gruppo C.T.), Sergente Rovero Abbarchi, Tenente Ippolito Lalatta (leading the second section), Sergente Ernesto Taddia and Sergente Teresio Martinoli. They were followed at 11:55 by two sections from the 82a Squadriglia. The first section included Tenente Guglielmo Chiarini (section leader), Sottotenente Giuseppe Timolina and Sergente Maggiore Dante Davico while the second section included Tenente Gianfranco Perversi (section leader), Sergente Francesco Nanin and Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan. Together with these six CR.42s, six more of the 77a Squadriglia took off with Capitano Domenico Bevilacqua leading Tenente Eduardo Sorvillo, Sottotenente Carmelo Catania, Sergente Maggiore Ernesto Scalet, Sergente Ernesto Paolini and Sergente Renato Gori. Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio took command of the whole formation.
For the 151o Gruppo this was the first long range escort mission since arriving in Libya and they received the order to move at 11:00 and at 12:10 they took off from Amseat A3 to arrive over Mersa Matruh at the same time as the bombers. Participating pilots were from all three Squadriglie - 366a Squadriglia (Capitano Bernardino Serafini, Tenente Mario Ferrero, Tenente Piero Veneziani, Sergente Maggiore Fiorenzo Milella, Sergente Maggiore Roberto Marchi and Sergente Rosario Di Carlo), 367a Squadriglia (Capitano Simeone Marsan, Sergente Maggiore Renato Mingozzi, Sergente Maggiorino Soldati, Tenente Irzio Bozzolan, Sergente Maggiore Gino Bogoni and Sergente Bruno Celotto) and 368a Squadriglia (Capitano Bruno Locatelli, Sergente Maggiore Davide Colauzzi, Sergente Mario Turchi, Tenente Giuseppe Zuffi, Sergente Piero Hosquet and Sergente Ottorino Ambrosi).
The bombers gathered over Tmimi and then headed east in groups of five in arrow formations. The fighters from the 13o Gruppo flew in flights of three in echelon right formation at 5000 meters, directed to a rendezvous point 20 kilometres south-west of Mersa Matruh along the road that connected this base with Bir Kenayis, which they reached at 12:56.
After the bombers arrived over Mersa Matruh, each formation went for different targets but was attacked by British fighters while aiming for their targets.
At 12:46, the 14o Stormo, led by Tenente Colonnello Lidonici, attacked the airfield of Bir Kenayis but finding it empty they headed for an alternative target of enemy troops south-west of Mersa Matruh, who were hit at 13:01. In fact, 80 Squadron pilots on the ground noticed Italian bombers attacking the aerodrome of Bir Kenayis at 12:45 and reported that bombs fell to the south-west and some distance away, obviously they thought that the Savoias had missed their intended target of some miles. Gunners of the 14o Stormo claimed two Hurricanes and a Gladiator destroyed, and another Gladiator probable. One SM 79 crash-landed near Sidi Barrani and was written off while a second crash-landed in the desert near Tobruk and was also written off. Three more SM 79s returned at 14:40 so badly damaged that they were classified RD and another one went to the SRAM for major repairs. Among the crews there were three dead (Sottotenente pilota-puntatore (pilot aimer) Federico Tonizzo, Primo Aviere Montatore Mario Padalino, Primo Aviere Armiere Guerino Invorti) and two wounded (Tenete Beltramini (another aimer) and Tenente Martinelli (observer)). Of its 11 SM 79s, in the evening only five were still fit for further operations.
At 12:55 the 9o Stormo, led by Tenente Colonnello Italo Napoleoni, released its bombs on the railway near El Qasaba airfield. The diarist of 6 Squadron noted that Quasaba had been bombed at 13:05 by five Savoia SM 79s, dropping approximately 30-40 100kg bombs and that no casualties nor damage had been suffered by the Squadron’s detachment while the diarist of 208 Squadron reported that around 40 bombs of the 100kg type were dropped by 15 SM 79s and that four of them fell in the camp damaging three lorries and three tents while the remainder fell around the railway siding. Two SM 79s from the 11a Squadriglia, 26o Gruppo B.T. were shot down. The Squadriglia flew in a ‘V’ formation led by Tenente Giovanni Ruggiero and it was the two outer SM 79s that were shot down in flames by a Hurricane (Sottotenente Fulvio Fabiani, Sergente Arturo Bigliardi, Primo Aviere Fotografo Adorno Antonini, Primo Aviere Motorista Francesco Farina and Primo Aviere Armiere Vincenzo Scarinci) (Tenente Roberto Di Frassineto, Sergente Maggiore Armando Zambelli, Aviere Scelto Motorista Camillo Caiazzo, Primo Aviere Armiere Alfredo Pacifici and Aviere Scelto Radiotelegrafista Giuseppe Costa); all but Zambelli (POW) were killed. In an aircraft of the 13a Squadriglia was Primo Aviere Motorista Tommaso Giorgio killed and Aviere Scelto RT Canaponi was wounded by Hurricane bullets.

Primo Aviere Motorista Francesco Farina (right) killed when the SM.79 piloted by Sottotenente Fulvio Fabiani was shot down on 31 October 1940.
Farina was born on 11 February 1917 and was originally from Ostuni (Brindisi).
He trained in the Corso Normale Motoristi Aeronautica held at the R. Scuola ind. G.L Bernini, in Naples from June 1937 to January 1938.
In 1941, he was decorated with a posthumous Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare.
Image kindly provided by Valeria Panzetta.

A gunner in the SM 79 to the left of Tenente Ruggiero, at the time 22-years-old Aviere Scelto Armiere Cherubino Mariotti recalled, of this his first combat mission:

"On 31 October 1940 I was on a S79, first left wingmen of a five planes formation that was attacked by British fighters after bombing enemy troops near Mersa Matruh. We, gunners, were returning fire when I noticed that the two end wingmen of our formation were hit and were losing height in flames. Suddenly I centred in my gun sight a Hurricane that was closing to the last three planes shooting continuously at us. Arrived at the distance suitable to start the “famous” turn that permit it to fan with its eight guns its target, I was able to aim at its belly and saw my tracers entering it. Obviously hit, the plane directed towards the ground leaving a thick cloud of black smoke. In this way I avenged the ten dear friends lost in the two planes fell in flames.”
Sergente Pilota Armando Zambelli who was the only survivor of the SM 79 flown by Tenente Di Frassineto recalled:
“It was 31 October 1940, I was hospitalised in Derna infirmary when I heard that we were going to start for an important bombing mission. Today it can seem a bit excessive all the enthusiasm with which we wanted to take part in war missions, but twenty years old and with the high spirit of those days all seemed normal for us. I left the infirmary and reached the Squadriglia. When my Commander Capitano Giovanni Ruggiero asked me how I felt I told him: “Perfectly and I’m ready to start” [in fact, Tenente Ruggiero wasn’t promoted to Capitano until 15 November 1940].
My crew was composed by: Tenente Di Frassineto, me, Primo Aviere Fotografo Antonini, Primo Aviere Motorista Stramccioni and Aviere Scelto Armiere Costa
[Strangely enough, Zambelli here quotes among his crew, a member of the crew of Sottotenente Fabiani and an airman: Stramaccioni that neither is recorded among the casualties of 9o Stormo in WWII]. The action was one of the most important of the war so far and our forces were fifty S 79s with the escort of forty fighters started from an airstrip near Derna [It appears that the 9o Stormo was divided in two formations - one from the 26o Gruppo (11a and 13a Squadriglie), which started from Derna and the other from the 29o Gruppo (62a and 63a Squadriglie), which was surprised by the Blenheims at Gambut and was prevented to take part in the action] and after around an hour of flight we arrived over the airbase of Matruh.
Our section was composed by five planes disposed in arrow formation under command of Capitano Ruggero. We were almost on the target when a hand on my shoulder made me turning the head. It was the Motorista that told me that we were attacked by enemy fighters of which we had already shot down one
[the aircraft claimed by Mariotti], sadly the Hurricanes and Gloster Gladiators from a superior height continued to fire without respite and after a short while I saw the end wingman opposite to my position falling in flames; pilots were Tenente Fabiani from Rome and Sergente Bigliardi from Bologna. We succeeded in bombing the target but following another enemy’s burst of fire our plane started to burn and being made of wood and fabric it burned like a wax match.
I told the members of the crew to bale out but without avail because they tried to fight the fire. Enemy bullets continued to enter the plane and I saw the poor crewmembers hit by the bullets and reached by the flames. We decided to leave the plane, I opened the exit door on the top of the cockpit and immediately air suction threw me against the tail of the plane that was burning; I lost consciousness and I woke up when the parachute opened. I was descending under the area where our CR 42s and the Hurricanes were fighting. Moving my legs I tried to move towards the land to avoid falling into the sea but in that moment I lost consciousness again. When I woke up for the second time I was on a British vehicle between a bearded Shik driver and an English officer that pointed his gun on me. I was taken to the infirmary because I was burned in the face and in the hands and had a dislocated ankle; there I was left resting for a while. Subsequently I was examined by a General that told me that he was Canadian and that he had fought as our alley during the First World War
[Raymond Collishaw!]. He asked me, in an approximate Italian, if in Italy we thought that they killed the aviators that jumped with the parachute. […].”
An anonymous crewmember of a 13a Squadriglia SM 79 (the 13a Squadriglia composed the second arrow of the 9o Stormo) described the combat:
“Immediately after the bomb release a hard attack of Hurricanes […] immediately the plane took 116 hits […] one wing damaged, engines nacelles damaged, flaps and empennages damaged, bomb bay damaged, the three propellers hit, […] 1o Aviere Motorista Tommaso Giorgio, that was shooting back with the gun in the “hunk” died, […] his place was taken by Aviere Scelto Marconista Canaponi but after a short while he was wounded too […] finally Primo Aviere Fotografo Marcucci took the gun […].”
In the end the gunners of the SM 79 expended 1337 gun rounds, notwithstanding the damage suffered, the aircraft was back at base at around 15:00.
The first formation of five SM 79s from 33o Gruppo, led by Tenente Colonnello Ferri Forte was able to repel the attack of a reportedly three Gladiators. At 13:03 they hit with precision the new railway station of Mersa Matruh, built after the old one was definitely put out of action by the last months bombing attacks.
Totally the Italian War Bulletin reported that seven enemy planes were shot down by return fire from the bombers while in exchange for two bombers that failed to return. It is known that the 14o Stormo claimed two Hurricanes and a Gladiator plus another Gladiator as a probable. It seems that 33o Gruppo didn’t claim anything and so the other four claims should be credited to the 9o Stormo, one of them by the gunner Mariotti of the 11a Squadriglia (and following this deductive argument the other three were probably claimed by the gunners of the 13a Squadriglia).
The Italian escorting fighters arrived over Mersa Matruh at around 13:00 and immediately entered combat with enemy fighters that were already attacking the SM 79s.
The formation of the 368a Squadriglia first attacked three Hurricanes. One of them was claimed shot down in flames by Sergente Maggiore Davide Colauzzi while a second one was claimed by Sergente Mario Turchi. The third one, attacked by Capitano Bruno Locatelli was hit by a precise burst in the cockpit area and seen abandoning the fight (the pilot was reputedly wounded). Locatelli then headed towards the sea and encountered a lone Gladiator. He closed in on its tail and from close distance he hit it with a short burst. The Gladiator first emitted a cloud of black smoke and then exploded in mid air. The other section of the Squadriglia (Zuffi, Hosquet and Ambrosi) didn’t entered the combat since the fighters from the 13o Gruppo that were flying higher waded in and split the 368a formation, excluding Zuffi and his men from the ensuing combat. At 14:10, all the CR.42s were back at base.
The formation of the 367a Squadriglia didn’t obtain concrete results in the combat, which they described as started at 5500 metres of height. All its pilots were back at base at 14:10.
The 366a Squadriglia were more successful. Immediately after the arrival over Matruh at 13:00, Capitano Serafini attacked a Gladiator that, damaged, escaped by diving. Sergente Maggiore Marchi followed it shooting until they were down at 2000 metres and the British fighter was considered shot down. Then Serafini discovered an “arrow” of five SM 79s with a Hurricane that was following at close distance. He gave full throttle trying to cut the path of the Hurricane but had to witness one of the Savoias being hit and falling in flames. Finally, he managed to overtake the Hurricane and hit it in the side. The RAF fighter went down immediately. AA fire at this moment was extremely intense and Serafini saw another SM 79 of the same formation that suddenly was engulfed by flames and went down. He was unable to understand if the aircraft was previously hit by the Hurricane or if it was hit by flak. Another Hurricane tried to attack the SM 79s but this time Serafini was quick in reacting and hit the Hawker that dived away smoking; Sergente Maggiore Colauzzi also took part in this last attack. In the meantime, Tenente Ferrero hit and damaged three Hurricanes before being forced to disengage with the guns jammed. While coming back he was attacked by another enemy plane but was able to outmanoeuvre it and land safely at base. The 366a Squadriglia were back at 14:00. It also seems that the 151o Gruppo claimed a probable Gladiator (possibly recorded as a Gruppo claim).
The CR.42 of the 13o Gruppo following the road between Bir Kenayis and Mersa Matruh arrived over the target at 13:00 and discovered the 151o Gruppo some 500 metres higher and then at a distance of 4 to 5 kilometres to the west, two formations of Italian bombers heading towards the frontier. The 78a Squadriglia opened the formation followed by the 77a Squadriglia and the 82a Squadriglia. A Gloster Gladiator was seen to heading towards the 78a Squadrigla fighters and was immediately counter-attacked by Capitano Bevilacqua and his section. In the meantime, the 78a Squadriglia was crossing the path of the bombers and discovered a Hurricane that was following them, but this aircraft escaped diving before the arrival of the Fiats. Meanwhile more fighters from the 78a and 82a Squadriglie joined the fight. Those of the 78a Squadriglia endeavoured to protect their comrade Sottotenente Luigi Canneppele, who because of problems with his propeller only was able to fly straight and level. Sergente Taddia was damaged in the process but remained in fight being credited with a probable Gloster while Sergente Martinoli (claimed as a destroyed in his logbook), Tenente Ippolito Lalatta and Sergente Abbarchi claimed damaged Gladiators. Bevilacqua in the meantime fought down to ground level, claiming two Gladiators in the process and while pursuing a third British machine witnessed another CR.42 that while trying to close on the same aircraft collided with it. It was the Fiat of Tenente Perversi of the 82a Squadriglia, who was killed. Before leaving the area, Bevilacqua saw two British parachutes (bright white in colour and hemispherical in shape) so he argued that Perversi had possibly shot down another British aircraft before colliding with the other. The rest of the 77a Squadriglia under Tenente Sorvillo and the 82a Squadriglia under Tenente Chiarini remained high and attacked British Hurricanes that were attacking the SM 79s. Sergente Gori damaged a Hurricane and Sergente Paolini a Gloster, which he left to other Falcos to finish it off. Tenente Chiarini and Sergente Nanin claimed a shared Spitfire that was attacking the SM 79s while Sergente Maggiore Davico claimed a second as a damaged. All the pilots were back between 14:05 and 14:20.
The Italian aircraft had been in combat with at least nine Gladiators from 112 Squadron and twelve Hurricanes from 33 Squadron.
112 Squadron’s Gladiators from Sidi Haneish carried out many patrols over Mersa Matruh during the morning, participating pilots were: Flight Lieutenant R. J. Abrahams, Flying Officer Joseph Fraser (Gladiator K7973), Flying Officer Robert Hugh Clarke (L7608), Pilot Officer B. B. E. Duff (K7904) and Second Lieutenant E. R. Smith (SAAF).
At 13:00, Pilot Officer Duff sighted a reported ten SM 79 and gave chase However, he failed to see the escorting fighters; six CR.42s, which was part of an 18 strong escort formation, dived on him and shot him down. Fortunately, he managed to escape by parachute, suffering only slight burns. The fighters were engaged by Flying Officer Lloyd Schwab, Second Lieutenant Smith and Pilot Officer Richard Acworth (who had just joined the patrol scrambling from readiness). Schwab claimed two CR.42s shot down after which he reported that his engine failed and he force-landed, later returning to his unit by a N.Z. Staff car. Acworth claimed a third CR.42. Acworth and Smith then collided and both had to bale out. Acworth being unhurt and Smith suffering from a dislocated collarbone (possibly after having been engaged by Bevilacqua’s and Perversi’s sections). Flying Officers Fraser and Clarke (both also ordered on patrol from readiness) also engaged the bombers and Fraser managed to put one engine of an SM 79 out of action (from Fraser’s logbook it appears that this Savoia was credited to him as a “confirmed” victory). 24-year-old Clarke (RAF no. 40513) was posted missing at the end of this engagement. When last seen he was engaging three SM 79s and he was presumed killed by return fire coming from them. Squadron Leader Harry Brown, Flight Lieutenant R. J. Abrahams, and Flying Officer Edwin Banks also took off but were unable to intercept.
33 Squadron with its new Hurricanes, which had taken off at 13:15 from Fuka, also encountered the Italian aircraft over Mersa Matruh and they reported meeting SM 79s escorted by 12 CR.42s, which caused the Hurricanes some inconvenience since they were intercepted during the climb up. Three of the bombers were claimed shot down. Two of them were seen to be shot down (“witnessed and confirmed by land troops”) by the 26-year-old Canadian Flying Officer Edmond Kidder Leveille (RAF no. 40837) who was then attacked by a reportedly four CR.42s. Leveille was forced to bale out but was killed when his parachute failed to deploy completely. The third SM 79 was claimed by Flying Officer Perry St Quintin (Hurricane P3724), who claimed a second as a probable, reportedly with the starboard engine on fire. St Quintin was however also shot down by the escort and he was forced to make a forced landing at Qasaba with a holed fuel tank. These victories were the CR.42s first over Hurricanes in the Western Desert. Flying Officer Frank Holman (Hurricane P3725) claimed a CR.42 between Matruh and Barrani after a running fight (possibly Tenente Ferrero) and another probable SM 79 was claimed Flying Officer Henry Starrett (Hurricane P3729). Flying Officer Littler’s Hurricane was considerably shot up and forced to turn back during the combat.
The combat was the most important since many weeks and received the press honours. An Egyptian newspaper reported:
Eight Italian Planes Down – Air Battle over Mersa Matruh. Cairo, Saturday.

It was announced from Headquarters, RAF, Middle East on Friday, that a large force of enemy bombers (SM 79s) escorted by a dozen fighters (CR 42s) attempted an attack on targets in the Mersa Matruh area yesterday. Fighter aircraft of the RAF immediately engaged the enemy. In the ensuing battle, four SM 79s were shot down and four CR.42s were destroyed. In addition, four more enemy aircraft were so damaged that it is unlikely that they returned to their base. During the battle, two of our fighter aircraft collided, but the pilots landed safely by parachute. One of our fighters was shot down and one, which was last seen engaging three SM 79s making for home, has so far not returned to its base.

The Italian fighters totally claimed ten victories in this combat (Colauzzi, Turchi, Locatelli, Marchi, Serafini, Bevilacqua (2), Perversi (2) and Chiarini’s and Nanin’s shared) (post war studies raised this number to eleven considering the one claimed by Martinoli, which was not credited to him by his unit) while the bombers claimed seven for the loss of one CR.42 and two SM 79s (two more where write-offs after forced-landings). The British fighters claimed four CR.42s and three SM 79s (and one probable) for the loss of five Gladiators and two Hurricanes. 33 Squadron’s ORB in recording the presence of 112’s Gladiators claimed that they had shot down three CR.42s and two SM 79s.
The killed Tenente Di Frassineto was son of a senator, count Alfredo Di Frassineto, thus the notice of his loss required special cares. Therefore, on 21 November 1940 Generale Urbani, Chief of cabinet of the Air Ministry, wrote a personal letter to marquise Pierfranco Citterio, son in law of the father of the missing pilot:
“On 31 October, two S 79s of 11a Squadriglia failed to return from a bombing action done at 12.57 over enemy positions.
Crew chief of one of those planes was Tenente Di Frassineto.
It seems that coming back from the action the two planes were attacked by numerous enemy planes, together with them other eight planes of the same Gruppo; the two S 79s were seen to fall near Mersa Matruh, one of them presumably hit by the AA fire.
The other crewmembers were Sergente Maggiore Armando Zambelli, Aviere Scelto Motorista Camillo Caiazzo, Primo Aviere Armiere Alfredo Pacifici, Aviere Scelto Radiotelegrafista Giuseppe Costa.
All this personnel until now is considered missing in action.
We already started the procedures on the Red Cross, necessary to know the names of possible prisoners.”
The Italian fighters were rightly quite pleased with their performance, the 151o Gruppo started well and the 13o Gruppo confirmed that it was the best Italian unit in theatre. However, considering the ordeal of the SM 79s their Commander, Generale Matricardi, Commander in Chief of Va Squadra Aerea awaiting Felice Porro return from Italy, wasn’t satisfied. In a reserved note regarding the 31 October engagement Matriciardi commented:
“Indirect protection in the sky over the target was not reliable for the protection of big formations of S79s (…) so, it happened that the S79 had to fight hardly (…) while the fighters, in areas far from the fighting, (…) didn’t do nothing!”.
Looking at RAF losses the judgement of Matriciardi seems to be (undeservedly) too hard. But indeed, such were the losses of the bomber force that for some weeks after the 31 October daylight operations had to be curtailed.
This remarkable combat was remembered by Joseph Fraser and Richard Acworth with two short poems.
In the late 1960’s, Acworth wrote an unpublished short story about this combat as seen by him: The Unfinished Game by Richard Acworth DFC.

On 21 December, Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Marescaillo Italo Bertinelli and Sergente Martinoli were transferred from the 13o Gruppo to the 84a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo.

On 5 January 1941, it is reported that Sergente Maggiore Martinoli claimed his third individual victory when he claimed a Bristol Blenheim over Bardia at an unknown time. The identity of his opponent remains unknown.
This was the last claim by the 4o Stormo during the first North African Campaign.

He didn’t claim any more victories during his first African tour.

In early 1941, his unit returned to Italy for re-equipment with the Macchi MC.200.
He didn’t claim any victories with this type and in the autumn the 73a Squadriglia, 9o Gruppo, 4o Stormo, to which he had been transferred, converted to the MC.202.

On 27 September the whole 9o Gruppo, now equipped with brand new Macchi MC.202s, left Gorizia and flew to Rome-Ciampino, where they two days later met Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, which greeted them. Later the same day they went to Comiso (Sicily) for a new tour of duty, this time against Malta.
At this time the 73a Squadriglia was composed of Capitano
Mario Pluda (CO), Capitano Carlo Ivaldi, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Giuseppe Oblach, Sottotenente Felice Bussolin, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, Sergente Maggiore Enrico Dallari, Sergente Santo Gino, Sergente Rossi, Sergente Mario Guerci, Sergente Maggiore Martinoli and Sergente Armando Angelini.

During the afternoon on 19 October, five Hurribombers of 126 Squadron carried out a strike on Comiso. Escort was provided by 249 Squadron including Pilot Officer Bob Matthews (BV156/Q) and his No. 2 Sergeant Dave Owen. In his diary, Matthews wrote:

“We turned east when we were south of the aerodrome, over Vittoria, I was bottom weaver and had to flog along to keep up. We circled over the aerodrome and as we did so, I saw two aircraft going seawards which I thought were Hurricanes on their way home. We hung around a long time, too long. When we were about five miles out towards Malta, a single Macchi made a half-hearted head-on attack and raced overhead, turning hard. Another Macchi with an in-line engine joined and they followed us out, closing fairly rapidly.
The in-line Macchi
[in fact both were MC202s] shot at Owen and burst his radiator. I then saw him closing but I took it to be Owen catching up. I suddenly realised that it was a Macchi very close. He opened fire and at once hit my elevator. I skidded and banked left, put everything in one corner and I saw the tracer glowing and flashing over my starboard wing. I turned right sharply and called up on the R/T: ‘Pinto leader, I am being attacked.’ John [Beazley] turned left steeply with the rest of the formation. And the last I saw of the Macchi he was standing on his tail about two miles away to port.
I made for home, weaving and flying slowly as I knew I was damaged. I landed and inspected. One bullet went in the wing-root just near the trailing edge; it burst and made a hole about two inches long and half wide, with many splinter holes. The hard core went on and missed the petrol tank by half an inch. One bullet hit the port elevator a quarter inch from the outer bracket. It burst and split the elevator spar so that it was held by half an inch of aluminium. If this had broken I would have spun in. One bullet went through the starboard aileron and tore it badly. My lucky day!”
Despite the damage to his aircraft, Sergeant Owen also got back and landed safely. The Macchis were from 73a Squadriglia, Sergente Martinoli claiming two Hurricanes shot down while two more were claimed damaged by Tenente Felice Bussolin and Sergente Maggiore Pasquale Rossi.

At 17:55 on 22 October, six 73a Squadriglia MC.202s, escorted by eight more, strafed Luqa. Nine Hurricanes of 249 Squadron were sent off to intercepts, the Macchis diving on them as they were climbing up over St. Paul’s Island. Sergeant Dave Owen (Hurricane GN-R), was shot down in flames, but managed to bale out before the fighter hit the sea. Sergeant Alf Branch (Z4016) noted in his logbook:

“Sgt Owen shot down into sea – circled him until picked up. Gave two short bursts head-on at a 202 – did not claim anything.”
Owen had been acting as a weaver in company with Pilot Officer R. H. ‘Bob’ Matthews whose aircraft (Z3756) was again hit, as he recorded in his diary:
“Just over St Paul’s Bay, when we were at about 15,000 feet, we saw the enemy aircraft - seven down, six above coming in very fast and diving apparently towards Takali. They were quite near when they turned towards us, still diving. They crossed us to the left of the formation and, as they came up, I pulled up my nose and gave a long burst so that the whole of the formation flew through it. They went over and all turned steeply to the left, while we nosed down and turned to the left also, trying to get some speed on the clock. We broke as they turned to fight and the whole sky filled up with aircraft milling around, and a few firing. Several Macchis stayed up and played the dive and climb tactics. As I circled after one Macchi, another jumped me and put a burst over my wings, both sides, so I turned and skidded away. I began circling to gain height, edging towards Valetta, which was darker than the west And just as I was turning towards a couple of Macchis, another jumped me from above and got in a burst which hit me pretty badly. I could smell the incendiary and explosive as they hit. And again I turned violently. As I did so, I saw a Hurricane go down steeply in flames and eventually hit the water. I did not see anyone get out.
Again I began the circling climb racket with several other Hurricanes with me. One came up behind and I shied away in case it was a Macchi. Then suddenly the Macchis went and we were left at about 12,000 feet in the growing gloom. I came in and landed, just avoiding a wing dip on account of my damaged (leading) edge. Of course, there was an inquest on the battle. I had bullets all over the place. One went into my left wing and smashed two ammo tanks, exploding a lot of ammunition in them. One went down the semi-armour plate on the cowling and burst when it hit the glycol filler cap cones, and blew it open. Another hit my mainspar about one foot from the wing-root and almost blew it apart - the wing surface was blown open about six inches on either side of the strike, The last went through the trailing edge - a clean hole. So that was another day of near shaves. I admit that I felt pretty fagged when I landed, and very upset. I could easily have been sick. The day after that I caught sandfly fever and went up to M’tarfa
[Hospital] for a week.”
This was the second time in the last two outings that Matthews and Owen had been targeted by the Macchis from the 73a Squadriglia, causing Pilot Officer Harry Moon to comment laconically:
“Sgt Owen and P/O Matthews (weavers) consistently shot up and down!”
The 73a Squadriglia pilots claimed heavily; two Hurricanes were credited to Tenente Pietro Bonfatti and one each to Capitano Mario Pluda, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (according to some sources he was credited with two victories), Sergente Maggiore Martinoli and Sergente Mario Guerci, while probables went to Maggiore Antonio Larsimont and Capitano Carlo Ivaldi. One Macchi was damaged in the combat.

On 1 November, three Blenheims from 18 Squadron and three more from 107 Squadron attacked an Axis convoy. Twelve MC.202s of the 9o Gruppo, led by the 4o Stormo’s new temporary commander, Tenente Colonnello Marco Minio Paulello, intercepted the bombers, Sergente Martinoli claiming one shot down while Sergente Mario Guerci claimed a second, which he reported fell with one engine on fire.
The 107 Squadron reported that their three Blenheims were piloted by Sergeant H. R. Leven, Sergeant Anderson and Sergeant Kidby and were out on a shipping search in the Gulf of Sirte with three more Blenheims from 18 Squadron. Each aircraft carried four 250 lb bombs. They spotted a merchant vessel of 3,000 tons and a destroyer escorted by one three-engined aircraft and some Macchi fighters. All aircraft attacked the merchant vessel but failed to hit it with only near misses being claimed.
Sergeant Leven got two near misses and was fired at by both ships and the large escorting aircraft. He was hit in the cockpit and the observer Sergeant M. J. Nolan was wounded.
Sergeant Anderson claimed two near misses near the stern of the ship. Downward firing gun from the large escort aircraft hit his Blenheim’s starboard wing once. The rear gunner fired about 200 rounds into the aircraft at very close range from underneath and it was last seen circling the destroyer and losing height.
Sergeant Kidby overshot and machine-gunned the destroyer. The gunner also fired at the large escorting fighter.
About six Macchi 200 fighters, which had inlined engines appeared when the Blenheims attacked but only two of them came in close and their attack was not pressed home. Fire was encountered from the merchant vessel and the destroyer, and both were machine-gunned. All aircraft returned to base.
One of the gunners seems to have hit one of the attacking fighters and claimed it probably destroyed. His victim was Tenente Felice Bussolin, who did in fact failed to return.

9o Gruppo then enjoyed a brief winter rest from fighting, before returning to operations over Malta in the spring and early summer of 1942.

Campoformido in February - March 1942.
From left: Petrosellini, Giuseppe Oblach, Tenente Vittorio Squarcia, Aldo Gon, Generale Piacentini (who had flown S.79s in the Italian East Africa (A.O.I.)), Sergente Maggiore Rossi, Martinoli, Gino and Alvaro Querci.
Image kindly provided by Fulvio Chianese at GORIZIA ed il QUARTO STORMO.

Seeing action on a near daily basis, Martinoli was credited with three Spitfires and one probable between 4 and 12 May.

In the afternoon on 4 May 1942, five Cant Z.1007bis from the 211a Squadriglia, escorted by five 9o Gruppo MC.202s and ten Bf 109s, bombed Grand Harbour.
The Italians reported that three Spitfires attempted to attack the bombers, and that two of these were claimed shot down by Sottotenente Alvaro Querci and Sergente Martinoli of 73a Squadriglia, one of which they believed crashed into the sea. They may have attacked Sergeant J. N. McConnell’s BR187/O, one of four 601 Squadron Spitfires which had taken off. McConnell crash-landed at Luqa after the radiator of his aircraft sustained damage – though reportedly following an attack by a Messerschmitt.

At 17:45 on 9 May 1942, five Z.1007bis from the 210a Squadriglia B.T. were out to attack Malta. They were escorted by 16 MC.202s, eight from each 9o Gruppo and 10o Gruppo. To meet this threat, 33 Spitfires were scrambled, and eleven of these from 126 Squadron intercepted, led by Squadron Leader A. R. H. Barton. Barton’s single section engaged the escort while Pilot Officer Michael Graves (BP877) led the rest to attack the bombers. During the following combat Spitfires were claimed by Capitano Franco Lucchini (over Hal Far), Sergente Ambrogio Rusconi (91a Squadriglia) and Sergente Martinoli (73a Squadriglia), while Maggiore Antonio Larsimont (9o Gruppo) claimed one damaged.
Regia Aeronautica only got one Z.1007bis and one MC.202 damaged. In the Z.1007bis, one member of Sergente Giovanni Dal Ponte’s crew was killed and two slightly wounded. One of the wounded was the dorsal gunner Aviere Scelto Armiere Francesco Melpignano, who claimed one fighter (identified as a P-40) shot down and a second as a probable. Tenente Luigi Giannella’s (84o Squadriglia) Macchi was hit by a 20mm shell.
RAF claimed three Z.1007s (two by Flight Sergeant Patrick Schade and one by Sergeant A. P. ‘Tim’ Goldsmith (Spitfire Vc BP871)), one MC.202 (by Pilot Officer J. H. E. Bisley) and four damaged (claimed by Flight Sergeant Schade, Squadron Leader Barton, Pilot Officer R. F. Tilley and Pilot Officer Graves). Sergeant Goldsmith noted: ”Attacked one Cant, leaving him ablaze with pieces falling off.”
All Spitfires returned safely although Pilot Officer John Mejor’s aircraft (BP850) suffered slight damage: ”Got behind five Cants. Could not see to fire – good rear gunners. They bloody well hit me!”

At 18:10 on 10 May 1942, five Z.1007bis again were out to attack Malta. The Italian bombers, which came from 50o Gruppo B.T., were escorted by twenty MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo and ten Re.2001s from 2o Gruppo (making their combat debut over Malta). Twenty Ju 87s of III./StG3 and Ju 88s followed the Italian aircraft with a large escort of Bf 109s.
At 17:40, ten Spitfires from 601 Squadron had been scrambled to intercept the incoming raid and these aircraft attacked the Italian aircraft.
In the ensuing melee, Squadron Leader J. D. Bisdee leading an attack on Tenente Domenico Robillotta’s 211a Squadriglia bomber (MM23417), which blew up, the wreckage crashing into a field near Kalkara; three of the crew were killed and one injured, whilst a fifth was seen to bale out and fall into Grand Harbour when his parachute failed to open properly. Sergeant F. W. Farfan claimed a second bomber as probably destroyed, and Sergeant ‘Jim’ Innes damaged a third; one of these, MM23400, was hit hard and landed at Gela airfield with two members of the crew wounded, one dying later in hospital. One of the Macchis was shot down by Pilot Officer Walter ‘Wally’ Caldwell (BR344/4-H), in which Capitano Roberto Dagasso, commander of the 97a Squadriglia lost his life. Two Re.2001s sustained combat damage but were able to return to Sicily. 601 Squadron suffered no losses.
On board another of the Cant Z.1007bis was Antonio Ferri:

”I’ll never forget that mission. We were told at briefing to expect trouble; that the Germans had run into heavy opposition earlier in the day. There was anxiety as we put on our flying gear. None of the crew said much, but you could cut the tension with a knife. The squadron commander tried to relax us, pointing out we’d have dozens of fighters escorting us, but it did little good. I remember sitting on the grass under the wing of our plane, waiting for the signal to take off. It was so peaceful. The three engines had been tested, then turned off. The only sound was of the birds. You could see a donkey grazing nearby and you could smell the blossoms. It was about 5pm, so it wasn’t terribly hot. The tranquillity of the scene, and the knowledge of what lay ahead, made me ache for life, if I can put it that way.
We snapped on our parachutes and life jackets, the guns were checked, oxygen masks were hooked up and our pilot glanced over at Mount Etna to see which way the wind was blowing its smoke plume. At this point there was a nervous energy that was almost intoxicating. Then the engines roared into life and we taxied into position for take-off. You could see the grass being beaten down by the whirling propeller blades. Then we were off, with five other Cants coming just behind us. As we neared Malta we could see dust in the distance, where the British planes were taking off to intercept us. We looked around and could see our own fighters high above us in the sun. Flying over enemy territory always gave me a queer feeling. You knew they could see you, that people who hated you were running to their flak guns and planes, getting ready to try to kill you. Somebody suddenly shouted, ”There they are!” It never ceased to amaze me how quickly the Spitfires and Hurricanes would appear. One moment you were alone in the sky and the next second there they were, coming at you head-on, with guns blazing. When I first saw the guns winking on British fighters I thought they were turning their landing lights on. But by this time I was experienced enough to know better.”
Ferri saw Tenente Robillotta’s Z.1007bis about 100 metres ahead of him suddenly explode in an orange fireball:
”It went straight down; I didn’t see anyone get out. That got your attention very quickly. Another Cant was hit and fell away, but the rest of us pressed on. By this time our fighters were mixing it up with the English so we were left alone for the moment. That’s when the flak came up at us. You could see muzzle flashes all over Malta, or at least it seemed that way to me. Our plane was hit in the starboard wing and in the fuselage but none of the crew was hurt. We dropped our bombs and, as always, you could feel the old Cant rise up involuntarily as the extra weight of the bombs fell away. We turned for home, but half a dozen Spitfires were after us. I think there were so many that they got in each other’s way, because they only put one cannon shell into our rudder. Our rear gunner was firing back for all he was worth. You could smell the gunpowder all over the plane. Somehow, we got the hell out of there. I was OK while we were airborne but after I got into my quarters I was shaking like a leaf and started to cry. I swore I wouldn’t go to Malta again, but of course I did. None of us had any choice in the matter. If you refused to fly you could be shot.”
The Italian fighters claimed six fighters, two probables and two damaged as well as one Beaufighter. Pilots of 9o Gruppo claimed three, one by Sergente Martinoli (73a Squadriglia), another by Tenente Mario Massa (73a Squadriglia) (identified as a Defiant!), the third (also identified as a Defiant) jointly by Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia), Tenente Emanuele Annoni (96a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Leo Boselli (97a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Massimo Salvatore (97a Squadriglia). According to some sources is Capitano Dagasso also included in this shared. The 2o Gruppo pilots claimed the remainder. Tenente Remo Cazzolli (152a Squadriglia) and Maresciallo Olindo Simionato (150a Squadriglia) each claimed one, while a third was shared by Capitano Roberto Fassi (150a Squadriglia) and Maresciallo Antonio Patriarca (358a Squadriglia), the latter also claiming a probable. Tenente Carlo Seganti (358a Squadriglia) claimed the Beaufighter (probably a transit aircraft encountered over the sea) while two Spitfires were reported damaged by Capitano Salvatore Teja (152a Squadriglia) and Sergente Giuseppe Baraldi (152a Squadriglia), and another pilot was awarded a probable.

In late afternoon on 12 May 1942, a raid developed towards Malta. It was reported to comprise four Ju 88s and three Z.1007s escorted by two dozen Bf 109s and MC.202s. The Italian bombers were, in fact, three S.84s of the 4o Gruppo Aut AS, covered by 15 Re.2001s of the 2o Gruppo CT and 15 MC.202s of the 4o Stormo CT. Takali was attacked, where two Spitfires were damaged, and two airmen wounded. A total of 36 Spitfires and six Hurricanes were ordered off, as recalled by Pilot Officer F. J. ‘Johnny’ Sherlock (185 Squadron):

”Planes took off from different parts of the field in every direction, and what with the dust and the extreme hurry to get airborne, it was more dangerous at times of take-off than fighting the Jerries.”
In the mad scramble to get off BR136/3-C collided with BR350, but neither Pilot Officer J. R. Halford nor Pilot Officer A. A. McNaughton (both 185 Squadron) was hurt, although the latter’s aircraft was damaged beyond repair. In the confusion Flight Lieutenant D. W. Barnham was ordered to land, but in doing so found that his 601 Squadron flight had been left leaderless, so took-off again. On landing he was confronted by the two mangled Spitfires:
”As I went down on the runway, sweeping past the wreckage, I remembered the take-off fiasco. I don’t yet know who blundered the take-off. I have discovered that the Hal Far squadron [185 Squadron] usually take off on four red lights on their own aerodrome, the same as us, so someone ought to have changed the respective signals; of course, they may have done, but I was not informed about it.”
Meanwhile, the two units in the air had been heavily engaged. Pilot Officer M. A. ‘Mike’ Graves of 126 Squadron pursued a Ju 88 out to sea and claimed to have probably destroyed it, but the engine of his BP877 was hit by return fire and he was obliged to turn for base. As he crossed the coast at 275m, his engine caught fire and he baled out. Another 126 Squadron pilot, Flight Sergeant C. F. ‘Joe’ Bush, was wounded in both legs and belly-landed Spitfire Vc BR346 at Luqa, crashing through some stone walls at the perimeter of the airfield:
”I don’t know what hit me – Me109 or ack-ack shell – but a hole was blown in my port wing three feet [1m] from the cockpit. This blew off my flap and caused a spray of shrapnel through the unprotected side of the Spit. The petrol feeds were cut, the instrument panel smashed and about 30 pieces hit my legs. I switched off the engine and did a steep diving turn from 20,000 feet [6100m]. After deciding to try a landing, I put wheels down and came in fairly fast (about 120mph) [195km/h] because of no flaps, loss of lift from the wing and no air speed indicator. At the end of the runway was a pit where we kept crashed aircraft and, to avoid running into this, I put on a hard rudder and braked - wiping off the wheels! As I hit a small hill black smoke came out and I rapidly got out and tried to run but found that shrapnel had broken my right kneecap!”
Amongst the 601 Squadron pilots, Sergeant Jack McConnell claimed an MC.202 probably destroyed, and Sergeant K. J. ‘Ken’ Lusty a Bf l09 damaged, but Sergeant Charles ‘Ted’ Graysmark (BR196) was shot down into the sea and was badly wounded. He was probably shot down by Oberleutnant Franz Götz from 9./JG 53, who claimed a Spitfire at 15:06. Graysmark managed to get into his dinghy but had died by the time help arrived. Indeed, Flight Lieutenant Barnham and Sergeant F. S. Howard later took off to escort HSL 128 out to him and became engaged in holding at bay four Messerschmitts that attempted to strafe the craft. In consequence, it was believed at the time that Graysmark had been machine-gunned in his dinghy.
Three of the 2o Gruppo Reggianes had been hit – it would appear by McConnell and Lusty – Sergente Mario Marchio (358a Squadriglia) subsequently force-landing his burning aircraft near Noto (Syracuse) on the Sicilian coast; he had been seriously wounded and died a month later from his injuries. A second Reggiane (MM7342) force-landed near Ispica, its undercarriage having been damaged by a 20mm cannon shell. The pilot, Sergente Paolo Morcino, was unhurt and reported that he had shot down a Spitfire. Tenente Colonnello Aldo Quarantotti’s aircraft was also hit, and he belly-landed at Catania. A fourth Spitfire was claimed by Capitano Annibale Sterzi (CO 358a Squadriglia); three others were claimed as probables and two as damaged.
Half an hour behind the initial wave of Spitfires followed eight from 603 Squadron, just in time to catch the Italian bombers over the target area. Two were claimed shot down, one by Pilot Officer E. S. Dicks-Sherwood, the other jointly by Flight Lieutenant L. V. Sanders and Flying Officer R. A. ‘Mitch’ Mitchell.
The S.84 (MM23987) flown by Tenente Vinicio Vego Scocco went down before it had released its bombs, and crashed into a garden near Dingli, where one of the crew was found dead near the wreckage; four others were seen to bale out over the sea (only the second pilot Sergente Eugenio Rivolta survived).
The second S.84 (Tenente Panizzi’s MM23955) had been very badly damaged and several members of the crew wounded, but it managed to struggle back to Sicily.
The third S.84 was also damaged.
One of the escorting Macchi pilots, Sergente Mario Veronesi (84a Squadriglia), attacked a Spitfire that was following the damaged Savoia and reported that it force-landed at Luqa (possibly Flight Sergeant Bush of 126 Squadron). Sergente Martinoli’s Macchi was hit in the tail by a Spitfire, although he was able to claim another shot down (this claim isn’t included in his logbook).
Finally, at 17:45, eight 249 Squadron aircraft joined the fighting, Flight Sergeant J. W. Williams claiming a Ju 88 damaged and Flight Lieutenant N. W. Lee a Bf l09 damaged, while RAF ground defences at Takali reported strikes on another Messerschmitt. Oberleutnant Ernst Klager of 7./JG 53 claimed two Spitfires, one at 18:05 west of Malta at 5000m, and the other ten minutes later 10km west of Ta-Venezia (?) at 200m. A third Spitfire was credited to Leutnant Wolf Schaller of 9./JG 53 at 18:10.

On 16 May, Martinoli claimed a probable Spitfire over Malta.

On 20 May, the 9o Gruppo, with 28 MC.202s, took off for a third tour of duty in North Africa. After a call in Pantelleria, they reached Castel Benito.
The following day, after intermediate landings at Tamet and Benghasi K3, they reached their new base at Martuba 4.

Between 14:40 and 16:05 on 29 May, Maggiore Antonio Larsimont Pergameni (CO 9o Gruppo) was leading eight MC.202s from the 4o Stormo on a free sweep. The visibility was much reduced because of the sand swept up by the wind. While the formation was crossing over Acroma at an altitude of 4,000m at 15:15, a patrol of about a dozen P-40s was spotted at a lower altitude; its pilots noticed the presence and tried to increase altitude by turning towards the Macchis, which launched the attack. Three enemy fighters were claimed shot down with two more as probables with seven additionally machine-gunned (with the total use of 2773 rounds of ammunition). Sergente Maggiore Martinoli (73a Squadriglia), Sergente Mario Guerci (73a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Massimo Salvatore (97a Squadriglia) claimed the destroyed while the probables were claimed by Sergente Maggiore Salvatore and Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia) while two of the machine-gunned were claimed by Sergente Maggiore Martinoli. Sottotenente Mario Massa (73a Squadriglia) in MM7824/73-5 was killed; he had only been with the unit for three months.
Nine Tomahawks IIbs from 5 SAAF Squadron (15:40-16:55) together with eleven Hurricane IIcs from 274 Squadron (15:40-17:20) were on a wing sweep over Bir Hacheim and they reported meeting a mixed force of Bf 109s and MC.202s. The 5 SAAF Squadron reported combat at 16:10 and Major John Frost (AN523/GL-R) claimed a destroyed MC.202 10 miles east of Gazala while Captain John Hewitson (AN448/GL-H) claimed a damaged Bf 109 and two more MC.202s were claimed damaged by Lieutenant John Lindbergh (AN366/GL-O) and Lieutenant Peter Harold Saunders (AM495/GL-T, combat reported 16:15); the three damaged fighters were claimed near Gazala. Lieutenant John Slater (AN433/GL-B) suffered engine failure after combat (he reported being attacked three times from behind by a Bf 109) and belly-landed south of Tobruk at 16:40. Slater was safe but the Tomahawk was struck off charge.
Major Frost reported:

“16.00 10000 8 or 9 EA were seen diving out of the sun. They were 109E, F and 202. Turned to face them and a general dogfight followed. 109 staying above and doing dive attacks, while Macchis came down and fought. Good burst with little deflection at a Macchi which climbed past me. EA turned over and started burning. Was seen to crash by other pilots. .50 20, 303 40.
At 16.20, the enemy broke off and headed west.”
Lieutenant Lindberg reported:
“At 10000 feet… When I observed the EA I attempted a head on attack on one below me, but overshot. I then went into a steep turn and saw a Me.109 climbing steeply to the north from below me with a Tomahawk close behind. I approached and the 109 pulled over on its back giving the impression of being out of control. While he was at the top of the stall turn he presented a deflection target well within range, so I opened fire. I lost him as he went down, but saw an AC burst into flames as it hit the ground as few seconds later. Shortly after this I saw a Macchi 202 on the tail of a Tomahawk about 1500’ below, I dived and the Macchi pulled away from his target into a gentle climbing turn to the left. When I got within range I allowed plenty of deflection and opened fire. I saw incendiary ammo, bursting in his airscrew disc and on the port wing. At about 50 yards range I saw an AC coming up on my wing right towards me, so I broke off the attack. One Macchi damaged (.50-400, .303-1200)”
Captain Hewitson reported:
“At 10000 feet…Saw bombs bursting in sea near Gazala and when approaching to investigate 8 or 9 EA attacked out of the sun. General dogfight followed and while diving down to escape a Bf 109 I noticed another Bf 109 F on the tail of a Tomahawk at 50 ft. I came in and attacked the Bf 109 F from above astern, pulled away and delivered another attack after which the 109 pulled away and climbed to about 1500 ft. during which time I was firing from astern at about 200 yards. Black smoke was seen coming out from behind the Me.109 and it seems to stall at that height. I was then attacked by another Me.109 and the result of the first combat was not observed. One Me.109F damaged (.50-100, .303-150)”
Lieutenant Saunders reported:
“…I dived very fast on the tail of a Macchi 202 and opened fire holding it to very short range. I saw pieces coming off and pulled up over the top of him and turned but saw him diving very fast going west… One Macchi damaged (.50-100, .303-400)”
The 274 Squadron did not see any enemy aircraft, but Sergeant James Dodds, who returned early, came across four Bf 109s and claimed one damaged over Bir Hacheim at 15:40. Totally the Allied fighters claimed one destroyed and four damaged for the loss of one Tomahawk.

Between 16:00-17:30 on 9 June, Maggiore Antonio Larsimont Pergameni led 15 MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo (six from the 73a Squadriglia, six from the 96a Squadriglia and two from the 97a Squadriglia) on a free sweep over Bir Hacheim. At 16:30, they came up against three enemy formations at altitudes of 3000, 3500, and 4000 metres respectively over Bir Hacheim with a total of 30 fighters, split between P-40s and Hurricanes (a very precise estimate). After the ensuing air combat, the Italian pilots claimed five P-40s and one Hurricane destroyed with two P-40s and two Hurricanes probably shot down and 19 machine-gunned (3839 rounds).
It was reported that Sergente Maggiore Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) easily shot down two P-40s, setting them afire in addition to damaging a third one; his MC.202 was in turn hit and slightly damaged. As usual, he flew at the top of the formation because of his outstanding eyesight.
Sergente Mario Guerci (73a Squadriglia) shot down one P-40 and fired at a second from close distance. He saw a black smoke trail coming from it. He didn’t follow it (it was credited as a probable), engaged as he was in the midst of the dogfight. His MC.202 was also hit and slightly damaged.
Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) fired at the tail of an P-40 at very close range (credited as probably destroyed) but couldn’t finnish it off since his own aircraft was slightly damaged.
Sergente Maggiore Salvatore Mechelli (73a Squadriglia), who was following Tenente Squarcia, fired on two Hurricanes, hitting the cockpit of one; he saw it heel over and then assumed an anomalous trim with the nose pointing down. He then followed it, hitting it again. But then he had to desist because a P-40 was on his tail. Her was credited with one destroyed Hurricane and another as a probable.
Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia) claimed a P-40 and fired at a second (credited as damaged). His MC.202 was also hit but not badly.
Sergente Bruno Biagini (96a Squadriglia) claimed a destroyed P-40 and a probable Hurricane.
Tenente Emanuele Annoni (96a Squadriglia) fired at four planes.
21-year-old Sergente Maggiore Pasquale Rossi (MC.202 MM7831/’73-11’) failed to return and became MiA.
The enemy formations, on patrol over Bir Hacheim were ten Kittyhawks of 260 Squadron (16:55-18:35) with 2 and 4 SAAF Squadrons (but the first would break away from the other two), and twelve Hurricane IIcs of 213 Squadron (16:50-18:50) as top cover for another eleven of 73 Squadron (17:00-18:30), which also were on patrol over Bir Hacheim and searching for possible enemy bombers. Additionally, four Spitfires of 145 Squadron (17:00-18:30) were top cover for the Hurricanes but probably were separated because nothing was reported.
The first to meet with the Italians was 260 Squadron who lost 20-years-old Sergeant Harold Clark (RAF no. 1266027) who became MiA (and later KIA). Subsequently 213 and 73 Squadrons were engaged.
213 Squadron was at 15,000ft when it saw a formation of Kittyhawks (260 Squadron) returning east, which warned the Hurricanes that bandits were heading south-east 20 miles south-east of Gazala. Then ground control sent the warning that bandits were behind and to port 10 miles east of Bir Hacheim. The Commonwealth formation was at 15,000ft when it turned against a reportedly twelve Bf 109s and MC.202s in vic formation 500-1,000ft above. Six peeled off in line astern and dived to attack the Hurricanes. Individual combats followed with one Bf 109 claimed destroyed and a Bf 109 and a MC.202 damaged 10 miles north-west of Bir Hacheim. Only two Hurricanes were slightly damaged; one received a strike in the petrol tank and another in the aileron. One Bf 109 was seen going down in flames and hit the deck (probably Sergente Maggiore Rossi) but no Ju 88s were sighted. The Hurricanes formed into a defensive circle to the left, everyone weaving. The enemy aircraft practically attacked in a vertical dive and then pulled up. Four more enemy aircraft joined the fight. Pilot Officer W. R. Henderson (Hurricane IIc BN128/K) claimed a destroyed Bf 109F while Flight Lieutenant C. B. Temlett (BM981/G) (100 Ball, 100 HE/Inc) claimed a damaged Bf 109F and Flying Officer F. A. W. J. Wilson (BN136/S) claimed a damaged MC.202.
W. C. Fenton (BN157) led the eleven Hurricanes IIcs of 73 Squadron. At 17:50 they were flying at an altitude of 12,000ft 10 miles west of Bir Hacheim when they were jumped by five to six Bf 109s and Macchis coming down from 3000ft above. In the ensuing combat, they were credited with one probable MC.202 and one probable Bf 109F. The probable MC.202 was credited to Flight Lieutenant ‘Robin’ Johnston (BF272) 5 miles east of Bir Hacheim while the BF 109F (!) was credited to Flight Sergeant E. L. Joyce (BN156/QO-L) 12 miles west of Bir Hacheim. Joyce reported:

“…Our A flight was jumped by 5 Macchis and 109s. A mix up followed and I climbed to 14000 (from 10-11000). A Me l09 dived on a Hurricane. I half rolled, losing my No.2 and pulled up waiting for him (the 109) to pull up, which he did about 300 yards in front of me, climbing on an angle of 45o. I fired and as I did, he turned slightly left. I changed my aim and blew about 2 square feet off his left wing. He went down in a vertical dive, left hand, and I watched him for about 5000 feet, when I was attacked by a Macchi 202. …I then climbed to 15000 feet and made several attacks.... I took evasive action and evaded an attack by an Me.109, which was coming from the sun, about 400 yards behind me.... There was one Kittyhawk, which belly landed about 10-12 miles east of Bir Hakeim. I claimed one probably destroyed. 53 balls, 52 He total 147-145.”
The Italian formation was subdivided in two sections, one at 5,000m with 96a Squadriglia and another at 4,000m. It was 260 Squadron that was met first, separated as it was from the South Africans, and it was briefly engaged (it is not known why it was not pursued). The Macchis then came up against the Hurricanes that, being in difficulty, formed a defensive circle. There must have been two separated clashes of the two squadrons with the two sections of 9o Gruppo. Notwithstanding the big battle and the difficulties of the enemy formations, the Macchis did not manage to do much damage and indeed lost a pilot, despite the large number of rounds fired by their Bredas and the large number of victories claimed.

Following the Axis advance, the 9o Gruppo transferred to El Adem on 23 June, then to Sidi el Barrani two days later and finally to Fuka on 1 July.
The aces of the 4o Stormo - Franco Lucchini, Leonardo Ferrulli, Luigi Giannella, Mario Veronesi, Fernando Malvezzi, Giulio Reiner, Emanuele Annoni and Giovanni Barcaro, along with Martinoli - claimed the lion’s share of their victories during this period of near-constant retreat for the Allies.

On 26 June, Hurricane IIcs from 213 Squadron was heading north-west between 19,000 and 20,000 feet when at 16:00 enemy aircraft were sighted below heading eastwards in the ‘Charing Cross’ area south-west of LG 07. Their white wing-tips made them identifiable as eight Bf 109s which were flying in four pairs in an echelon right formation at 14,000ft. The Hurricanes jumped the enemy, which turned 180o and climbed up into the sun.
Pilot Officer W. H. Thomlinson (BN349) was credited with one Bf 109F destroyed and reported:

“…as the Flight Commander dived down I followed him…he was preparing to attack the right hand ac of the leading pair, so I concentrated on the enemy’s No.2 and closing to a very short range gave him a 2 second burst from dead astern. Just as I fired he pulled up almost vertically… I saw several explosions on the tail, one on the fuselage…lost control...spinning down until it hit the deck...
50 HE/I, 50 Balls.”
Sergeant J. D. Ritchie (BM972/B) was credited with one Bf 109F destroyed and reported:
“...saw 4 109s closing into a defensive circle. I closed on one that was attempting a climbing turn to the left and delivered a beam attack on him at 1000 yards closing to 50. I saw his tail unit disintegrate and drop off, and then he rolled over on his back and plunged down to the deck in a spiral dive.
58 HE/I, 59 Balls.”
Flight Lieutenant Peter Olver (BN141) was credited with one Bf 109F damaged and reported:
“...109s tried to evade by performing steep climbing turns to the left. I heard the CO say he was going down. I followed after him, pulling across the top of him and performing an aileron turn. I picked an Me109 out on the extreme left, just as it pulled up to get away from “A” flight attack. I out climbed him and gave him a short burst as a result of which I saw bits flying off. He put his nose down and dived away to the ground...”
Flight Lieutenant C. B. Temlett (BN349/D) was credited with one Bf 109F destroyed and reported:
“...5000’ above them... The 109s were flying in pairs in echelon right, and I selected the second from the end on the right. My sight wasn’t much good, but I closed in to 20 yards and gave him a 5 second burst from dead astern. I saw strikes along the right wing from tip to root, then the wing crumpled up and fell away, whilst the AC burst into flames…
50 Ball, 50 He/I.”
Pilot Officer ‘Ken’ Sissons (BN290/L) was credited with one Bf 109F destroyed and reported:
“...I selected a 109 on the extreme left of the formation. My approach must have been observed for when I was 600 yards behind him and 500’ above, he pulled into a steep climbing turn to the left. I turned with him and he ran through my line of sight at 200 yards. I put on deflection and from practically full beam, gave him a 2 second burst. I saw strikes along cockpit and bits breaking off, and then he went over on his back, barrelled out, and pulled up and again half rolled. ...I saw him hit the deck.”
Additionally, one Bf 109 was claimed destroyed by Pilot Officer W. R. Henderson (BN537/J). Warrant Officer R. J. Wallace’s plane was damaged (BE702, Cat.I) with two strikes outboard of the guns just behind the leading edge of the port main plane and the port aileron was smashed.
Between 14:00-15:30, Tenente Emanuele Annoni (96a Squadriglia) led eight MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo (six from the 96a Squadriglia and two from the 73a Squadriglia) on a free sweep over the Bir el Astas area. After 14:30, they were at an altitude of 4,000 metres when twelve P-40s attacked at the same altitude. In the ensuing combat one P-40 was claimed destroyed by Sergente Maggiore Salvatore Mechelli (73a Squadriglia) while Sergente Maggiore Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) and Tenente Annoni claimed a probable P-40 each. Seven more P-40s were machine-gunned (two by Tenente Annoni and one by Sergente Bruno Biagini from the 96a Squadriglia) (2080 rounds).
Sergente Maggiore Martinoli was hit and he force-landed in the desert. His fighter (MM7823) was badly damaged.
Despite the double misidentification it seems that the two formations had been combat with each other, both heavily overclaiming.

On 29 June, four MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo, led by Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia), were on ”caccia libera” (free sweep) to the south-east of Mersa Matruh between 10:15-11:30. They sighted twelve P-40s at an altitude of 3,500m and attacked them. They were credited with three victories and several planes machine-gunned. The victories were credited to Sottotenente Querci, Sergente Maggiore Teresio Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) and Sergente Bruno Biagini (96a Squadriglia; he also fired on four more P-40s). The MC.202s returned without losses.
They had been in combat with nine Hurricane IIcs of 213 Squadron that were on a free sweep over Mersa Matruh between 11:45-13:45. ‘A’ Flight was top cover at 10,000ft while ‘B’ Flight was at 6,000ft. At 12:40 an enemy formation was observed descending the escarpment five miles west of Fuka. Intense light anti-aircraft fire was experienced over Pin Point 782313. ‘B’ Flight was heading west at 12:45 when it observed two Bf 109s diving down onto the port section; their attention was probably drawn because the Hurricanes were being aimed at by anti-aircraft fire. Two more Bf 109s then joined in and individual combats resulted. After fifteen minutes the engagement was broken off.
Pilot Officer D. V. Beedham (BN359/V) reported the attack of three Bf l09s from an altitude of 10,000ft. He was attacked by one and went into a circle but the enemy aircraft gained on him, firing at a constant rate. He was down at 500ft when the enemy aircraft overshot him, coming in within a 50-yard range. Unfortunately, a gun began to fail after the first burst, shortly followed by two more. Still he continued firing with the remaining final gun (totally using 48 Ball, 47 He/I), seeing bits breaking off and the enemy aircraft diving straight to the deck, bursting into flames and blowing up (he was credited with one destroyed Bf 109F). Bedham’s Hurricane sustained severe damage (Cat. II). There was a bullet behind the port petrol tank and one in the gravity petrol tank. A bullet struck the ammunition in the starboard wing but did not cause it to explode. The mirror was shot away. The propeller was damaged by a bullet and needed to be replaced. Because of the damage, he had to land at LG 106. The Hurricane was subsequently lost on evacuation of the landing ground.
Flight Lieutenant Peter Olver (BN139/U) claimed a second Bf 109F damaged (40 Ball, 40 He/I).
BN117/X flown by Pilot Officer D. F. Chadwick was also damaged (Cat. I) after that an explosive bullet had struck the starboard tailplane. There was also damage to the trailing edge and stringers on the rudder as well as damage to the port main plane where a bullet had struck the cannon magazine. In this case the Hurricanes were armed with four cannons.

Twelve Hurricane IIcs of 73 Squadron with others of 33 Squadron, departed at 12:30 on 3 July to patrol over El Alamein. In a fight with fighters (identified as Bf 109s) over the El Alamein box, two Hurricanes of 73 Squadron (BN546 flown by Sergeant H. Hill (KiA) and BN538 flown by Flight Sergeant H. W. E. Packham (safe)) and one of 33 Squadron (BE643 flown by Sergeant B. O. Woollard (parachuted WiA)) were shot down. The 73 Squadron pilots claimed three Bf 109s shot down, one probable and four damaged. The five first claims were reported at 12:50:
1 destroyed Bf 109 by Sergeant Michael Jones (BE183)
1 damaged Bf 109F by Sergeant ‘Ron’ Baker (BN402)
1 destroyed Bf 109 and 1 damaged Bf 109 by Flight Sergeant E. L. Joyce (BP177/OQ-L)
1 destroyed Bf 109 by Flying Officer J. F. Pain (BN566)
The last three claims were made at 13:00:
1 Bf 109 damaged by Flight Lieutenant I. J. Badger (BN403)
1 Bf 109 damaged by Flight Lieutenant S. P. V. Bird (BP175)
1 Bf 109F probably destroyed by Sergeant H. W. E. Packham (BE372/OQ-H)
At much the same time four Bf 109F-4trops of III./JG 27 on a Freie Jagd reported intercepting two formations. One of eight and one of 12 British fighters – possibly the 73/33 Squadron aircraft – claiming three of them shot down by Leutnant Werner Schroer of 8./JG 27, who claimed one Hurricane at 14:40 south of El Imayid, a second Hurricane at 14:47 south-east of El Hammam and a P-40 at 14:50 also south-east of El Hammam.
However, 12 Hurricane IIcs of 274 Squadron were off again from 14:40 on a patrol over El Alamein, the pilots of these reporting that four MC.202s had attacked the top cover, two of which were claimed damaged including Hurricane IIc BG494/Y (Cat. II) flown by Sergeant S. Lerche (safe). Flight Sergeant J. W. Neil (BP326/T) claimed two MC.202 damaged south of Burg el Arab. The 274 Squadron returned to base at 16:00.
A free sweep was carried between 13:15-14:45 by 16 MC.202s of the 9o Gruppo, led by Capitano Luigi Mariotti. Over El Hammam the pilots of these engaged a reported 12 Bostons and 22 P-40s, claiming two P-40s and a Boston shot down as shared between Capitano Mariotti, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci and Sergente Martinoli. Several others were claimed damaged.

On 10 July, the 9th Australian Division launched an attack in the northern sector of the El Alamein line. This was backed by all the Commonwealth Wings that targeted ground targets and the airfields of LG 20, LG 21 and LG 102, which resulted in heavy aerial fighting.
Between 11:05-12:40, twelve MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo led by Maggiore Roberto Fassi escorted five CR.42s from the 50o Stormo out to attack enemy troops in the El Alamein area and 30km south of El Daba. The fighters were two from the 73a Squadriglia, four from the 96a Squadriglia and six from the 97a Squadriglia. In the target area, they spotted three stepped up enemy formations with eight P-40s at 2,000 meters altitude protected by 10 Hurricanes and 6 Spitfires at 5,000 meters.
Capitano Luigi Mariotti (96a Squadriglia) attacked and claimed one P-40 while Tenente Alvaro Querci and Maresciallo Rodolfo Stoppani (both from the 73a Squadriglia) claimed three shared damaged P-40s. The last duo couldn’t finish the attacks since they were attacked by more enemy fighters. The combat last for 20 minutes and the pilots from the 9o Gruppo returned claiming six enemy aircraft; four P-40s and two Hurricanes. The claims were made by Luigi Mariotti, two P-40s by Capitano Fernando Malvezzi (97a Squadriglia), one P-40 by Sergente Martinoli (73a Squadriglia), one Hurricane by Sergente Bruno Biagini (96a Squadriglia) and one Hurricane by Tenente Antonio Canfora (97a Squadriglia). One Hurricane and one P-40 were claimed as probables by unknown pilots. Five MC.202s were damaged but not seriously.
The five CR.42s of 50o Stormo had taken off from Abar Nimeir at 11.00 to attack Commonwealth troops between the coast road and El Alamein with 50T bombs. The 391a Squadriglia was down to one operational CR.42 (MM5046) and two more were borrowed from the 389a and 390a Squadriglie for the sortie, which was flown by Sottotenete Armando Marini (MM5046), Sottotenente Francesco Iadanza and Sergente Pasquale Rivolta (MM8847) and the target was motor vehicles east of El Alamein.
After the bomb release the Italian pilots reported being attacked by twenty enemy fighters over the railway station of Alamein and Sergente Rivolta was shot down and killed. In the combat Iadanza claimed one P-40, one probable and one shared damaged with Marini, who also claimed a probable. Another probable was claimed by Tenente Mariano Monaldi (390a Squadriglia). The four surviving fighter-bombers landed at 12:20.
At 11:55 eleven Hurricane IIcs from 73 Squadron had taken off for a free sweep over the front. The British fighters met five CR.42s at very low height (100 m) and Flight Sergeant Ernest Joyce (BP167/QO-L) and Flight Sergeant H. W. E. Packham (BN415) claimed one CR 42 each while Flying Officer John Pain (BN566) claimed to have damaged one more. It seems that, at 12:10, 73 Squadron in fact lost Hurricane BN557 piloted by the ace Flight Lieutenant John Selby, who was obliged to force land (CAT II), after having been hit by the CR.42s (it was reported that he had been shot down by some Bf 109s but there are no German claims of this).
It seems that the MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo had met six Kittyhawk Ias of 250 Squadron that had taken off at 12:20 to bomb an area north of the Gazala railway station. They reported being attacked two times by Macchi fighters at 12:20 and losing Sergeant Walter John Mortimer (AK962/E) and Sergeant John Alastair Seabrook (AK657/V), both KIA.

Between 12:00-13:30 on 13 July, Capitano Luigi Mariotti led eleven MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo to cover five CR.42s from the 159o Gruppo, led by Capitano Carlo Robboni, bound for an attack on El Alamein railway station. The Macchis engaged ten Hurricanes at 15,000 feet, claiming three probables by Sergente Martinoli, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci and Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi (all three from the 73a Squadriglia).

At 08:40 of 31 August, eleven MC.202s from the 4o Stormo (seven of the 9o Gruppo led by Tenente Giulio Reiner and four of the 10o Gruppo led by Maresciallo Del Turco) took off on a free sweep over the Qaret el Shirab area. Flying at 3,000ft they sighted and bounced a formation of about 25 Spitfires flying a thousand metres lower. They made a number of claims when Sergente Alessandro Bladelli (91a Squadriglia) and Sergente Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) claimed a Spitfire each while Tenente Mario Mecatti (73a Squadriglia) claimed a probable, Tenente Reiner (73a Squadriglia) claimed two damaged and Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia) claimed a third damaged. Two more Spitfires were claimed as damaged by two unspecified pilots of the 10o Gruppo.
The Italian pilots landed again at 10:10.
It seems that they had been in combat with Spitfire Vcs from 92 Squadron, which flew a mission 09:35-10:55. Lieutenant S. W. ‘Bill’ Rabie (BR390), on attachment from 1 SAAF Squadron to gain experience of the Spitfire, and Flight Sergeant R. Hempstead (BR522) each claimed an MC.202 shot down while Squadron Leader J. H. ‘Jeff’’ Wedgwood claimed a Bf 109 damaged.
In fact, neither side lost any aircraft in this combat.

Between 08:25-09:55 on 16 September, Maggiore Roberto Fassi led 16 MC.202s of the 9o Gruppo on a free sweep sortie over the area east of El Alamein. Flying at 19,500 feet the Italian fighters engaged a large formation of P-40s and were later jumped by about 20 Spitfires flying 1,500 feet higher east of El Alamein. In the ensuing combat, the 73a Squadriglia claimed one Spitfire by Maresciallo Salvatore Mechelli while Maresciallo Paolo Perno claimed a probable and Sergente Martinoli claimed a probable P-40 probable. Four MC.202s returned slightly damaged.
At 09:36 another Stuka attack was launched on the Allied lines, 15 Bf 109s of III./JG 27 providing close escort. Eight Spitfires of 145 Squadron and others from 601 Squadron, were scrambled, followed by Kittyhawks from 112, 450 and 3 RAAF Squadrons. Three of the six aircraft sent off by the last of these units, returned at once with various troubles, the other three covering those of 450 Squadron, while eight of 112 Squadron sat above the formation as high cover. The Spitfires attacked over 12 Bf 109s and MC.202s. The Spitfire Vbs from 145 Squadron claimed one Bf 109 and one MC.202 with three more Bf 109s damaged over El Alamein between 09:50-10:50. Claiming pilots were Flight Lieutenant J. J. P. Sabourin (BP986/ZX-X), who claimed the destroyed Bf 109 and Flight Sergeant E. A. Ker (AR287) claimed the MC.202 destroyed while the damaged Bf 109s were claimed by Flight Sergeant Ker, Sergeant F. R. Barker (AB339/ZX-M) and Sergeant J. A. Greaves (AB207). The Spitfire Vc from 601 Squadron reported one damaged Bf 109 claimed by Lieutenant A. Bartleman (BR132) over El Alamein between 10:00-10:45.
112 Squadron’s pilots saw two MC.202s diving on the Australians, the Italians pulling up in front of the squadron, allowing Flight Lieutenant G. W. Garton (Kittyhawk Ia EV136/GA-Q) to claim one as a probable in the Dir el Hima area between 10:00-10:45.
3 RAAF Squadron was twice attacked by Bf 109s, Sergeant T. W. Wood being shot-up and wounded; he returned to base straight away. Leutnant Erich Schöfböck (7./JG 27) and Leutnant Werner Schroer (8./JG 27) each claimed one Kittyhawk shot down south of El Alamein at 09:23 and 09:25 respectively. No German aircraft were lost.

In a mission between 15:30-17:10 on 18 September, Maggiore Simeone 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 Martinoli. The second was shared by Sergente Armando Angelini, Maresciallo Paolo Perno and Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi. The third was shared by Maggiore Simeone 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.

At 09:00 on 9 October 1942, ten MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo took off to escort a formation of German Ju 87s. Six of the MC.202s were from the 73a Squadriglia led by Tenente Giulio Reiner and four were from the 96a Squadriglia led by Tenente Emanuele Annoni.
Near Qotaifiya at 09:15, nine of the Italian fighters engaged a formation of Bostons, escorted by Kittyhawks and Spitfires. Tenente Reiner attacked the bombers whilst Tenente Annoni took care of the Kittyhawks. A 20-minute combat followed, reportedly very successful for the Italian pilots. Tenente Reiner (73a Squadriglia) claimed one Boston and one P-40 as destroyed, one probable P-40 and one damaged Boston. Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) claimed one Spitfire and a probable P-40. Sergente Maggiore Armando Angelini (73a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40 as did Maresciallo Paolo Perno (73a Squadriglia) while Sergente Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) claimed a Spitfire. Tenente Giuseppe Oblach (73a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40 and one as a probable. One probable P-40 was also claimed by an unknown pilot from (73a Squadriglia). Tenente Emanuele Annoni (96a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40 and one as a probable. Tenente Enrico Moretto (96a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40, Sergente Maggiore Bruno Biagini (96a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40 and Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Zardini (96a Squadriglia) claimed two P-40s. The combat seems to have been intense since four MC.202s from the 73a Squadriglia returned damaged but with the pilots safe; Tenente Reiner, Tenente Oblach, Sergente Maggiore Angelini and Sergente Martinoli.
Luftwaffe carried out their initial sorties at 09:00, when six Bf 109s of II./JG 27, 12 from III.Gruppe and eight from III./JG 53 took off to escort a Stuka raid. These units wee just forming up when 20 Allied fighters swept in to strafe, followed by a second, larger, formation. Five minutes later the bombers appeared. Ten Bf 109s of the Fuka Detachment had already taken off on a Freie Jagd and two more were at once scrambled so that all 38 Messerschmitts in the air were able to concentrate on the raiders, the Stuka mission being abandoned. The German pilots claimed heavily with Leutnant Jürgen Harder from 7./JG 53 claiming two P-40s at 0:15 and 09:25. Hauptmann Gustav Rödel of Stab II./JG 27 claimed one P-39 north of Turbiya at 09:23, a second P-39 north-north-east of El Daba 09:27 and a Spitfire north-west of Sanyet Qotaifiya at 09:35. Unteroffizier Otto Monska of 6./JG 27 claimed a P-40 north-west of El Daba at 09:25 and Hauptmann Erich Woitke of Stab II./JG 27 claimed a P-39 north-north-east of El Daba at 09:27. Finally, Leutnant Werner Schroer of 8./JG 27 claimed a Boston north-east of El Daba at 09:25. Luftwaffe losses in air combat for the day is difficult to examine as to when they occurred. Four Bf 109s were lost during the day:
Bf 109 F-4 trop WNr 8598 White 9 from 6./JG 27 was shot down by P-40s over Fuka – Qotaifiya. The aircraft was destroyed and Oberfeldwebel Hans Wurschunger was KiA.
Bf 109 F-4 trop WNr 8572 from 7./JG 27 crashed at Fuka due to combat with the pilot baling out safely.
Bf 109 F-4 trop WNr 13019 White 6 from 7./JG 27 was shot down in combat with P-40s 20-25km south-east of El Alamein. Feldwebel Werner Fingerhuth baled out to become a PoW.
Bf 109 F-4 trop WNr 8648 from 7./JG 27 crash-landed after combat at Bir el Abd and was destroyed. The pilot was safe.
Within few minutes 23 victories had been claimed, the German units seven fighters and one bomber, the Italians 11 fighters and one bomber, plus five more as probables.
Twelve Kittyhawks of 4 SAAF Squadron, seven of 2 SAAF Squadron, 12 of 112 Squadron, 12 of 250 Squadron and P-40Fs of the US 66th FS escorted 18 Bostons and six Baltimores to attack LG.104, nine Spitfires of 92 Squadron and seven of 601 Squadron providing top cover to these units and to Hurricanes strafing Daba. Receiving a report that the latter were under attack, the 601 Squadron pilots dived on Axis fighters so engaged and drove them off. Allied claims during this initial attack would amount to six shot down and five damaged.
92 Squadron claimed three Bf 109s between 09:40-11:00 without losses when Flight Lieutenant C. J. ‘Sammay Samouelle (Spitfire Vc BR479/QJ-E) claimed one Bf 109 E west of Fuka as did Squadron Leader J. H. ‘Jeff’ Wedgwood (BR476/QJ-J). Squadron Leader Wedgwood claimed a second Bf 109 5km east of Duba.
4 SAAF Squadron claimed one damaged when Lieutenant R. W. “Chummy” Rowan (Kittyhawk Ia ET864/KJ-C) claimed one MC.202 damaged over LG.104 at 10:35 but lost Kittyhawk EV321/KJ-G, which was shot down west of Daba, possibly by MC.202 with 2nd Lieutenant A. R. Schulz becoming a PoW.
250 and 2 SAAF Squadrons, operating together, claimed one and three damaged at 10:20. The three damaged were claimed over LG.104 by 2 SAAF Squadron, one Bf 109 F and one MC.202 by Captain J. E. “Jack” Parsonson (Kittyhawk Ia DB-R) and one Bf 109 by Lieutenant H. J. Lourens. Flight Sergeant A. E. Roberts (Kittyhawk III FR898) from 250 Squadron claimed one Bf 109 F destroyed over Fuka. Kittyhawks ET1019/Q and EV356 from 2 SAAF Squadron were badly damaged (pilots unknown) at 10:15 but reportedly by Flak.
Twelve Kittyhawks of 3 RAAF Squadron covered 12 more of 450 Squadron to strafe LG.21 after the airfield had been bombed. Pilot Officer Chisholm of 3 RAAF Squadron was attacked out of the sun by five Bf 109s, but Pilot Officer D. V. Ritchie (Kittyhawk Ia EV346/O) claimed one shot down which he reported fell into the sea off Daba after he had shot the tail off at 10:20.
The first official USAAF claim for a squadron operating in its own right, not as a part of a RAF unit, occurred when 13 aircraft of the 64th FS (P-40F) were attacked by ten Axis fighters after the American pilots had strafed LG.104 1st Lieutenant William J. Mount chased one of these out to sea, reporting that he had shot its tail off at 10:20. Since this claim is virtually identical to that submitted by Pilot Officer Ritchie, and since only one Bf 109 was reported lost over the sea, it is very likely that these pilots had double-claimed one the same aircraft. 1st Lieutenant George D. Mobbs meanwhile claimed one Bf 109 damaged.
450 Squadron, meanwhile, reported strafing four Bf 109s or Ju 87s, a Ju 88 and a Ju 52/3m, but lost one pilot when Sergeant R. O. Holloway (Kittyhawk III FR239) was shot down by Flak over LG.104 to become a PoW.
Although the Germans and Italians claimed Bostons shot down during this engagement, the only WDAF loss of such an aircraft did not occur until the late afternoon.

On 19 October the pilots of the 9o Gruppo scrambled to intercept a formation of eighteen Hudson escorted by 25 Spitfires. Having no time to join and plan an attack, Tenente Giuseppe Oblach, Sergente Armando, Tenente Mario Mecatti (73a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Antonio Canfora (97a Squadriglia), Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi (73a Squadriglia), Sergente Martinoli and others chased and scattered the bombers, which jettisoned their bombs and escaped home. The Spitfires intervened in a harsh melee, which was so confusing that no results were claimed but all the MC.202s returned to base even if Oblach’s and Angelini’s aircraft were slightly damaged.
Later in that same day, 16 fighters (eight from the 73a Squadriglia and eight from the 91a Squadriglia), led by Oblach, fought against four Spitfires over El Quteifiya. As a result, one Spitfire was hit and one MC.202 was badly damaged.

Between 11:40 and 12:30 on 22 October, Capitano Giulio Reiner and Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini scrambled with eleven MC.202s, to intercept 40 Spitfires flying in two formations at 5000 and 6000 meters south-east of Fuka. They spotted the enemy while only at 4000 meters, so they made a big turn and climbed unseen to 7000 meters. With the sun at 6 o’clock the Italians attacked the higher group of Spitfires. Maresciallo Antonio Sacchi (96a Squadriglia) claimed setting fire on one and Sergente Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) claimed a second Spitfire destroyed over Fuka. Capitano Reiner claimed one as a probable that fell leaving a smoke trail and a second damaged. Maresciallo Sacchi (MC.202 MM7786/97-2), who remained alone among a gang of ten Spitfires, was shot down, but parachuted, with slight wounds, behind Axis lines. Three other MC.202s were damaged in the combat.

During the morning on 23 October, after an uneventful scramble with six MC.202s, Tenente Giulio Reiner took off again with ten Macchis and, being radio-guided by Freya radar, met thirty P-40s heading west at 5500 meters north-east of Ras Gibeisa. The Italian fighters attacked them head-on and Sergente Armando Angelini (73a Squadriglia) and Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi (73a Squadriglia) claimed one each, which both exploded when hitting the ground north El Sawany el Samalus. Three more were claimed probably destroyed by Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) and Angelini (two). All MC.202s returned to Fuka, those of Sergente Martinoli and Rinaldi slightly damaged.
There was just time to refuel and rearm the fighters before Reiner scrambled again with twelve Macchis. This time they had the opportunity to surprise the enemy and attack them out of the sun from behind over El Daba. They surprised twenty P-40s and five P-39s (probably P-40Fs) heading west at 4000 meters, escorted by ten Spitfires, coming from Sidi Abd el Raman. When attacked the P-40s and P-39s scattered while the Spitfires tried to intervene but were chased by Tenente Giuseppe Oblach and his three wingmen. The fight moved over El Daba and Reiner and Squarcia claimed a Spitfire each while Sergente Martinoli claimed a P-39 and Tenente Mario Mecatti (91a Squadriglia) a P-40. Two Spitfires were claimed as probables by Reiner and Mecatti while a P-40 was claimed as a probable by Squarcia together with Rinaldi. Oblach, Rinaldi, Angelini, Sergente Maggiore Natale Molteni (90a Squadriglia) and others damaged several enemy fighters. Two of the MC.202s were damaged in this combat.
This was Martinoli’s final victory in North Africa.

During 1943, he took part in the defence of Sicily and Italy.

On 4 July, he claimed a P-38 and a shared B-17 over Sicily.

In the morning on 6 July, in spite of the intense activity and the losses of the previous days, a good number of Macchis from the 4o Stormo were combat ready. After some scrambles from the three airstrips without contact with the enemy, Capitano Luigi Giannella (CO of the 84a Squadriglia) together with five others pilots of the 84a and the 90a Squadriglie scrambled. One of the pilots had to return due to a failing engine but the remaining intercepted a formation of bombers, which they attacked. Capitano Giannella, Sottotenente Ugo Picchiottini and Sottotenente Francesco Palma (84a Squadriglia) together attacked a four-engined bomber and jointly claimed it probably shot down when they saw it leaving its formation streaming smoke. Another four-engined bomber was claimed as a probable shared victory by Tenente Fabio Clauser (90a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Battista Ceoletta.
While the Italian fighters were up, the airstrip at S. Salvatore was attacked.
Later in the morning, Capitano Giulio Reiner scrambled from Finocchiara with five MC.202s and four MC.205s from the 73a and the 96a Squadriglie and intercepted an estimated 60 aircraft (two formations of four-engined bombers and one of Marauders) over Scordia escorted by many Spitfires and P-38s.
The Macchis attacked and Reiner, while firing on a damaged four-engined bomber, was hit in an oil pipe by return fire and he was forced to return to base. Tenente Alvaro Querci claimed a four-engined bomber, Sottotenente Pier Ugo Gobbato (73a Squadriglia) and Sergente Ettore Chimeri (73a Squadriglia) damaged two others, while Sergente Martinoli and pilots of the 96a Squadriglia damaged two P-38s and two Spitfires.
When the Macchis from the 73a and 96a Squadriglie returned to base, it had been attacked by Marauders, which due to the strong wind fortunately hasn’t hit the centre of the airstrip at Finocchiara.
In the evening there was another scramble from Finocchiara and Tenente Querci, Sottotenente Bruno Paolazzi, Sottotenente Gabbato took off followed by Capitano Reiner, Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) and Sergente Martinoli. The fighters, however didn’t make contact with any enemy bombers and Reiner, Martinoli and Squarcia were first to return and land. They have just landed when the airfield was attacked again and Reiner and Martinoli dived into a trench together with the ground crew with bombs exploding nearby. Reiner’s Macchi was hit by falling debris from the bombers and the engine was torn away while two more Macchis also were damaged. Squarci managed to land clear of danger. The three remaining pilots returned after a few minutes and Paolazzi and Gobbato landed in the area hit during the morning’s raid but managed to stay away from any damage to the airstrip. Querci, however, hit a bomb crater in speed while landing and his aircraft turned over. Gobbato and Paolazzi extracted the unconscious Querci from the wreck and he was taken to hospital.

On 8 July the 73a Squadriglia was still at Finocchiara. At this time the pilots (Capitano Giulio Reiner, Sottotenente Pier Ugo Gobbato, Sottotenente Paolo Voltan, Sottotenente Armando Dal Molin, Sergente Martinoli, Sergente Ettore Chimeri, Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi, and Sottotenente Enrico Dallari) had just two Macchis serviceable!

Shortly after 09:00 on the morning of the invasion of Sicily, 10 July 1943, a flight of seven MC.202s from 73a Squadriglia led by Tenente Vittorio Squarcia took off from Finocchiara and reported meeting 40 Spitfires, of which two were claimed by the combined fire of Tenente Squarcia, Sottotenente Arnando Dal Molin and Sergente Martinoli. The Spitfires had also shortly before been engaged by more fighters from 4o Stormo. Three Macchis sustained damage in the combat.
It seems that 4o Stormo claimed four Spitfires in this combat while losing one MC.202. One Spitfire from 40 SAAF Squadron was lost while Spitfires from 93 Squadron claimed one MC.202.
The lost Spitfire (EP690) was flown by Captain G. C. le Roux DFC.

On 15 August, Capitano Emanuele Annoni led ten MC.205Vs from 4o Stormo to patrol over the Messina Straits. A mixed force identified as Spitfires, ‘P-46s’ and P-38s were sighted in company with two Beaufighters, and of these four Spitfires were claimed by Tenente Vittorio Squarcia, Sottotenente Dal Molin, Sergente Alfredo Bombardini and Sergente Martinoli. A fifth was claimed jointly by Capitano Annoni and Sottotenente Ferdinando Cima, and a sixth by Sottotenente Piero Gobbato, whose aircraft was damaged in the action and crash-landed near San Ferdinando. Three of the ‘P-46s’ were claimed as probably destroyed, two being credited to Annoni and the other to Squarcia. Despite the number of claims for Spitfires, this action was apparently fought with US P-40s.

After the Italian surrender in September 1943 he joined, together with most of the pilots from 4o Stormo, the Aeronautica Co-Belligerante.

On 1 November he claimed a German Ju 52/3m over Podgorcia, Yugoslavia, after a dogfight with two escorting Bf 109s. Involved in this combat was also nine-kill ace Emanuele Annoni.

On 25 August 1944, he was killed during a training accident while converting from the MC.205V to the P-39 Airacobra, which had been delivered to the Aeronautica Co-Belligerante.

He was posthumously decorated with the Medaglia d'oro al valor militare.

At the time of his death Martinoli was credited with 3 biplane victories and a total of 24 destroyed.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 13/06/40 a.m. 1 Twin-engined fighter (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tunis 384a Squadriglia
2 31/10/40 13:00-14:20 1 Gladiator (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Mersa Matruh area 78a Squadriglia
3 05/01/41   1 Blenheim Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Bardia area 84a Squadriglia
4 19/10/41   1 Hurricane (c) Destroyed MC.202   Malta channel 73a Squadriglia
5 19/10/41   1 Hurricane (c) Destroyed MC.202   Malta channel 73a Squadriglia
6 22/10/41 17:55 1 Hurricane (d) Destroyed MC.202   St. Paul’s Island 73a Squadriglia
7 01/11/41   1 Blenheim (e) Destroyed MC.202   Malta channel 73a Squadriglia
8 04/05/42 p.m. 1 Spitfire (f) Destroyed MC.202   Grand Harbour 73a Squadriglia
9 09/05/42 17:45 1 Spitfire (g) Destroyed MC.202   Malta 73a Squadriglia
10 10/05/42   1 Spitfire (h) Destroyed MC.202   Malta area 73a Squadriglia
11 (i) 12/05/42 afternoon 1 Spitfire (j) Destroyed MC.202   Malta area 73a Squadriglia
  16/05/42   1 Spitfire Probably destroyed MC.202   Malta area 73a Squadriglia
12 29/05/42 15:15- 1 P-40 (k) Destroyed MC.202   Acroma 73a Squadriglia
  29/05/42 15:15- 1 P-40 (k) Damaged MC.202   Acroma 73a Squadriglia
  29/05/42 15:15- 1 P-40 (k) Damaged MC.202   Acroma 73a Squadriglia
13 09/06/42 16:30-17:30 1 P-40 (l) Destroyed MC.202   Bir Hacheim 73a Squadriglia
14 09/06/42 16:30-17:30 1 P-40 (l) Destroyed MC.202   Bir Hacheim 73a Squadriglia
  09/06/42 16:30-17:30 1 P-40 (l) Damaged MC.202   Bir Hacheim 73a Squadriglia
  26/06/42 14:30-15:30 1 P-40 (m) Probably destroyed MC.202 MM7823 Bir el Astas 73a Squadriglia
15 29/06/42 10:15-11:30 1 P-40 (n) Destroyed MC.202   SE Mersa Matruh 73a Squadriglia
  03/07/42 13:15-14:45 1/3 P-40 (o) Shared destroyed MC.202   El Hammam 73a Squadriglia
  03/07/42 13:15-14:45 1/3 P-40 (o) Shared destroyed MC.202   El Hammam 73a Squadriglia
  03/07/42 13:15-14:45 1/3 Boston (p) Shared destroyed MC.202   El Hammam 73a Squadriglia
16 10/07/42 11:05-12:40 1 P-40 (q) Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 73a Squadriglia
  13/07/42 12:00-13:30 1 P-40 (r) Probably destroyed MC.202   El Alamein 73a Squadriglia
17 31/08/42 08:40-10:10 1 Spitfire (s) Destroyed MC.202   Qaret el Shirab 73a Squadriglia
  16/09/42 08:25-09:55 1 P-40 (t) Probably destroyed MC.202   E El Alamein 73a Squadriglia
18 18/09/42 15:30-17:10 1 P-40 (u) Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein 73a Squadriglia
19 09/10/42 09:15 1 Spitfire (v) Destroyed MC.202   Qutaifiya 73a Squadriglia
20 22/10/42 11:40-12:30 1 Spitfire Destroyed MC.202   Fuka 73a Squadriglia
21 23/10/42 mid-morning 1 P-39 Destroyed MC.202   El Daba area 73a Squadriglia
22 04/07/43   1 P-38 Destroyed MC.205V   Sicily 73a Squadriglia
  04/07/43   1 B-17 Shared destroyed MC.205V   Sicily 73a Squadriglia
  06/07/43   1 P-38 Shared damaged     Scordia area 73a Squadriglia
  06/07/43   1 P-38 Shared damaged     Scordia area 73a Squadriglia
  06/07/43   1 Spitfire Shared damaged     Scordia area 73a Squadriglia
  06/07/43   1 Spitfire Shared damaged     Scordia area 73a Squadriglia
  10/07/43   1/3 Spitfire (w) Shared destroyed MC.202   S Syracuse 73a Squadriglia
  10/07/43   1/3 Spitfire (w) Shared destroyed MC.202   S Syracuse 73a Squadriglia
23 15/08/43   1 Spitfire (x) Destroyed MC.205V   Messina Straits 73a Squadriglia
24 01/11/43   1 Ju 52/3m Destroyed MC.205V   Podgorcia  

Biplane victories: 3 destroyed.
TOTAL: 24 and 6 shared destroyed, 4 probably destroyed, 3 and 4 shared damaged.
(a) This claim is only confirmed in his own logbook. Probably claimed in combat with Morane MS.406s or Potez 630s from 2ème escadrille GC I/9, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(b) Claimed in combat with Gladiators from 112 Squadron and Hurricanes from 33 Squadron. 112 Squadron and 33 Squadron claimed 4 CR.42s, 3 S.79s, 2 probable S.79s and 1 damaged S.79 while losing 4 Gladiators and 2 Hurricanes. The Italian fighters totally claimed 11 victories while the bombers claimed 7, while losing 1 CR.42 and 2 S.79 (2 more S.79 being damaged beyond repair).
(c) Claimed in combat with 126 Squadron. 9o claimed two Hurricanes shot down and two more damaged. RAF only got two Hurricanes damaged.
(d) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 249 Squadron. 73a Squadriglia claimed 6 destroyed and 2 probables while 249 Squadron lost 1 aircraft and got a second damaged.
(e) Claimed in combat with Blenheims of 18 and 107 Squadrons. 9o Gruppo claimed 2 bombers while losing 1 MC.202. RAF got 1 Blenheim damaged while claiming 1 probably destroyed fighter.
(f) Possibly claimed in combat with 601 Squadron. 73a Squadriglia claimed 2 Spitfires while 601 Squadron lost 1 aircraft (Spitfire BR187/O) in a crash-landing. The pilot Sergeant J. N. McConnell was unharmed.
(g) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 126 Squadron which claimed 3 Z.1007s, 1 and 4 damaged MC.202s while suffering 1 slight damage Spitfire. The 4o Stormo claimed 3 Spitfires and 1 damaged while getting 1 MC.202 damaged. Z.1007s from the 210a Squadriglia B.T. claimed 1 and 1 probable damage P-40s while getting 1 damaged Z.1007bis.
(h) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 601 Squadron, which claimed 1 Italian fighter without suffering any losses. The 9o and 2o Gruppi claimed 6 fighters, 2 probables and 2 damaged for the loss of 1 MC.202.
(i) Not included in his logbook.
(j) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 126, 185, 249, 601 and 603 Squadrons, which claimed 2 bombers, 1 Ju 88 probably destroyed, 1 damaged, 1 probable MC.202 and 1 damaged Bf 109 while losing 5 Spitfires. The 2o Gruppo, 4o Stormo and JG 53 claimed 10 Spitfires, 3 probables and 2 damaged while losing 2 Re.2001s (1 pilot DoW).
(k) Claimed in combat with Tomahawk IIbs from 5 SAAF Squadron, which claimed 1 MC.202 destroyed and 3 damaged while losing 1 Tomahawk IIb (pilot safe). The MC.202 from 4o Stormo claimed 3 P-40s destroyed and 2 probably destroyed while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot KIA).
(l) Probably claimed in combat with P-40s and Hurricanes from 260, 213 and 74 Squadrons, which claimed 1 destroyed, 2 probably destroyed and 2 damaged while losing 1 Kittyhawk (pilot KIA) and getting 2 Hurricanes damaged. The 9o Gruppo claimed 6 destroyed, 4 probables and 2 damaged while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot KIA).
(m) Possibly claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 213 Squadron, which claimed 5 fighters and 1 damaged while suffering 1 damaged. The 9o Gruppo claimed 1 P-40s and 2 probables while suffering 1 damaged.
(n) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 213 Squadron, which claimed 1 fighter and 1 damaged while suffering 2 damaged (1 lost). The 9o Gruppo claimed 3 P-40s without losses.
(o) Probably claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33, 74 and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 3 destroyed fighters, 1 probable and 6 damaged while losing 3 Hurricanes (1 pilot KiA) and getting 2 damaged. The 9o Gruppo and 8./JG 27 claimed 5 fighters without losses.
(p) This claim can’t be verified with Allied records.
(q) Probably claimed in combat with Kittyhawk Ias from 250 Squadron, which lost 2 Kittyhawks (pilots KIA). The 9o Gruppo claimed 6 fighters, 2 probables and 3 damaged while suffering 5 damaged MC.202s.
(r) This claim can’t be verified with Commonwealth records.
(s) Probably claimed in combat with Spitfire Vcs from 92 Squadron, which claimed 2 MC.202s and 1 damaged Bf 109 without losses. 4o Stormo claimed 2 Spitfires and 1 probable and 5 damaged without losses.
(t) Probably claimed in combat with Spitfires from 601 and 145 Squadrons and Kittyhawks from 112, 450 and 3 RAAF Squadrons, which claimed 2 fighters destroyed, 1 probable and 4 damaged while getting 1 Kittyhawk damaged. 9o Gruppo and III./JG 27 claimed 3 and 2 probable fighters while getting 4 MC.202s damaged.
(u) 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.
(v) Claimed in combat with fighters from 92, 250, 450, 3 RAAF, 2 SAAF, 4 SAAF, 64th USAAF Squadrons, which claimed 6 destroyed and 5 damaged Axis fighters while losing 2 Kittyhawks (pilots PoW) and 2 damaged. JG 27 and 53 and 9o Gruppo claimed 18 destroyed, 5 probably destroyed and damaged enemy fighters with 4 MC.202s damaged. 4 Bf 109s were lost during the day but at unknown times.
(w) It seems that 4o Stormo claimed four Spitfires in this combat while losing one MC.202. One Spitfire from 40 SAAF Squadron was lost while Spitfires from 93 Squadron claimed one MC.202.
(x) No Spitfires was lost in this combat, but it is possible that the combat was fought against American P-40s.

30o Stormo A/S Note Storiche dal 1931 al 1974 – Maurizio Circi, 1974 Editore Bizzarri, Roma, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
53o Stormo - Marco Mattioli, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-977-5
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
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
Ali d’Africa - Michele Palermo and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 IBN Editore, ISBN 88-7565-060-8
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Eagles over Gazala: Air Battles in North Africa May-June 1942 – Michele Palermo, IBN Editore, ISBN (10) 88-7565-168-X
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell’ A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring, 1969 Neville Spearman Limited, London
Hurricanes over Malta - Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, 2001 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-91-8
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
Il Savoia Marchetti S.M. 79 nel Secondo Conflitto Mondiale - Bombardamento Terrestre - Ricognizione Strategica - Aviazione Sahariana – Cesare Gori, 2003 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
La Battaglie Aeree In Africa Settentrionale: Novembre-Dicembre 1941 – Michele Palermo, IBN, ISBN 88-7565-102-7
La campagne de France, les combars franco-italiens 10 juin-25 juin (Batailles Aeriennes nr. 11) - Matthieu Comas, January 2000 Le La Presse, Boulogne sur Mer, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Macchi C.202/C.205V Units In Combat – Marco Mattioli, 2022 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-4728-5068-3
Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-41 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-89747-207-1
Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-16-X
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma
Regia Aeronautica e Armée de l'Aire - Giancarlo Garello, 1975 Editore Bizzarri, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Spitfires over Malta – Brian Cull with Frederick Galea, 2005 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904943-30-6
Spitfires over Sicily - Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia and Frederick Galea, 2000 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-32-2
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Additional information kindly provided by Ian Acworth, Stefano Lazzaro, Tomáš Polák and Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 10 April 2024