Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Tenente Aldo Meoli

22 April 1914 -

Aldo Meoli was born on 22 April 1914.

On 1 June 1937, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

Meoli was promoted to Tenente on 1 December 1938.

In the beginning of the East African campaign of 1940-41 Tenente Aldo Meoli served with the 411a Squadriglia, equipped with Fiat CR.32s.

At dawn on 19 June 1940 two Hurricanes of 1 SAAF Squadron escorted three Ju86s of 12 SAAF Squadron to attack Yavello on their first operational mission. A flight of CR.32 of the 411a Squadriglia had recently moved to the airfield, and two of these scrambled on the approach of the South African formation. Unaware of this, the South Africans made straight for the Ca.133s of the 66a Squadriglia, which were parked on the airfield, the Hurricanes diving down to strafe these at 09:00.
At this point the Italian fighters, flown by Tenente Meoli and Maresciallo Bossi, dived out of the sun to attack, hitting one Ju86 (they identified the bombers as Blenheims on this occasion, claiming one probably shot down) and damaged it badly, a fuel tank being holed and the gunner and observer both slightly wounded. Hurricane ‘271’ (ex. L1708) flown by Second Lieutenant Brian Llewellyn Griffiths (SAAF No. 102663) was then attacked and shot down in flames, the 23-year-old pilot from George, Cape Province, South Africa being killed. The second Hurricane, flown by Captain St. Elmo ‘Saint’ Truter (Hurricane ‘274’) became involved in a strenuous dogfight with one fighter, which Truter took to be a CR.42, and at last it reeled away, pouring smoke, landed and turned over on its back. The pilot, Tenente Meoli, was slightly wounded and the CR.32 was a complete write-off.
Throughout the combat Air Sergeant Charles Jeffries, the dorsal gunner in one of the Ju86s, had been firing at the CR.32, and he claimed that his bullets were still hitting the aircraft as it went down; his squadron subsequently maintained that he was responsible for its destruction, but the victory was credited to Truter. The two undamaged Ju86s and the remaining Hurricane returned to base, the damaged third bomber following somewhat later. Jeffries, the gunner, was later to be awarded a DFM, and was later commissioned; he would be killed in action over the Western Desert on 23 December 1941.

On 26 March 1941 six Ju86s dive-bombed trains at Miesso, causing a series of violent explosions, but one bomber was hit in the tail by AA fire. As they returned to Jijiga, they were followed at a distance by three CR.42s led by Tenente Meoli, intent upon strafing their base. As the Italians approached the area they saw communications aircraft on the main airfield, where three Ju 52/3ms were just coming in to land, carrying AAHQ personnel. Making an engineless glide out of the Sun, the Fiats strafed the transports as they rolled to a halt. All three Ju 52s were badly damaged, as were a Rapide and a Vega Gull. Fighters from 3 SAAF Squadron were rapidly scrambled and chased off the attackers.

Meoli ended the war with 1 shared biplane victory.
During his career, he was decorated with three Medaglie d’argento al valor militare, one Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare, the Croce al merito di guerra, the Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Spagna, the Medaglia di benemerenza per i volontari della guerra Spagna and the Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Albania.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940              
  19/06/40 ½ Ju86 (a) Shared probable Fiat CR.32   Yavello 411a Squadriglia
  19/06/40 ½ Hurricane (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.32   Yavello 411a Squadriglia
  1941              
  26/03/41 1/3 Ju 52/3m Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Jijiga 411a Squadriglia
  26/03/41 1/3 Ju 52/3m Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Jijiga 411a Squadriglia
  26/03/41 1/3 Ju 52/3m Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Jijiga 411a Squadriglia
  26/03/41 1/3 Rapide Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Jijiga 411a Squadriglia
  26/03/41 1/3 Vega Gull Shared damaged on the ground Fiat CR.42   Jijiga 411a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared probable, 5 shared damaged on the ground.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared probable, 5 shared damaged on the ground.
(a) Ju86 of 12 SAAF Squadron damaged with the gunner and observer both slightly wounded.
(b) Hurricane ‘271’ (ex. L1708) from 1 SAAF Squadron shot down. The pilot Second Lieutenant Brian Llewellyn Griffiths was killed.

Sources:
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Dust Clouds in the Middle East - Christopher Shores, 1996 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-37-X
Regia Aeronautica 1935-1943 - M.Wawrzynski and Z. Lalak, 1998 kindly provided by Ondrej Repka
Springbok Fighter Victory: East Africa Volume 1 1940 – 1941 – Michael Shoeman, 2002 African Aviation Series No. 11, Freeworld Publications CC, ISBN 0-958-4388-5-4
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission




Last modified 07 February 2011