Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Capitano Carlo Miani

Carlo Miani took part in the Spanish Civil War where he claimed one victory while flying the Fiat CR.32

In July 1941, the 22o Gruppo was sent to operate in Russia under the control of the CSIR.
The Gruppo was transferred on 9 August with a force of 51 MC.200s, 3 C.133s and 2 S.81s. All aircraft transferred through Tirana, Belgrade, Bucharest and Tudora arriving on 12 August without losses. Especially remarkable was the take-off from Belgrade in rain and with all the 51 Macchis of the four Squadriglie lined up in a right echelon.

On 27 August 1941, the 22o Gruppo fought their first engagement in Russia when 17 Macchis covered the Italian Pasubio division of the CSIR in a mission between 15:00-18:30 over Dnjpropetrovsk-Nowomoskow.
Participating pilots were Capitano Enrico Meille, Maggiore Giovanni Borzoni, Capitano Vittorio Minguzzi, Tenente Giovanni Cervellin, Tenente Miani, Tenente Giovanni Bonet, Tenente Pietro Durando, Tenente Michele Omicini, Tenente Dino Signorini, Tenente Giovanni Bond, Tenente Carlo Marchetto, Tenente Mario Longoni, Maresciallo Marcello Baracca, Maresciallo Rodolfo Stoppani, Maresciallo Marcello Lui, Sergente Lucio Biagin and Sergente Attilio Sanson.
At 17:15, they engaged Soviet fighters and bombers over Dnjpropetrovsk. Six SBs (reported as SB-2s) and two I-16s were claimed shot down with additional two SBs and two I-16s claimed as probably shot down. One of the SBs claimed as shot down was claimed by Capitano Minguzzi of 359a Squadriglia.

On 25 October 1941, the 301a Squadriglia was formed (the 302a Squadriglia remained virtual), with Capitano Miani as CO from 19 November.
These units formed the 171o Gruppo Caccia Notturna (Night Fighters) based on Malta and equipped with CR.42s

Miani later transferred to the 360a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo CT.

At 11:00 on 15 June 1942, 25 MC.202s from the 155o Gruppo CT (six of the 351a Squadriglia, ten of the 360a Squadriglia and nine of the 378a Squadriglia) led by Maggiore Duilio Fanali, took-off to escort ten Italian Ju 87s of the 102o Gruppo (led by Capitano Giuseppe Cenni), which out to attack the ‘Harpoon’ convoy bound for Malta. They found the convoy 70 km south of Pantelleria. At 12:10, while the Junkers were diving with their 500 kg bombs, escorting Spitfires from 601 Squadron attacked them. The 360a Squadriglia attacked the British fighters and Capitano Carlo Miani (CO of the 360a Squadriglia), Tenente Tullio Martinelli, Sottotenente Francesco Fagiolo and Maresciallo Pasquale Bartolucci claimed a Spitfire each while Sottottenente Romano Biasiol, Tenente Giambattista Caracciolo, Sottottenente Nicola Longano and Sergente Maggiore Mario Varacca claimed a shared "Hurricane". Another "Hurricane" was claimed by 1o Aviere Motorista Enrico Boerci, gunner of a Stuka flown by Sergente Maggiore Gastone Converso (209a Squadriglia).
One Ju 87R-2 (“239-8” MM7084; previous Werknr. 5792) of the 239a Squadriglia was damaged by enemy fire and made an emergency landing in the water 50 km south-east of Pantelleria Island; the crew (pilot Maresciallo Antonio Marchetti and gunner Aviere Scelto Montatore Luigi Grosso) became MIAs. Two other Ju 87s (flown by Capitano Aldo Stringa – CO of the 209a Squadriglia – and Maresciallo Zaccaria Perozzi of the 239a Squadriglia) suffered heavy damage at wings and rudders but landed safely at base, while two more suffered light damages. None of the escorting MC.202s were damaged.
The Spitfires claimed two Ju 87s destroyed, two probable Ju 87s and one damaged. 21-year-old Sergeant Jack Nock McConnell (RAF no. 405293) was killed when he dived into the sea with his Spitfire (BR306). Two more Spitfires were damaged while Sergeant G. Allen-Rowlandson (BR360) had to ditch when he run out of fuel on the return journey.
In some sources Fanali is credited with one victory in this combat but it’s not sure that he even participated in this combat since it seems that only the 360a Squadriglia was involved in combat. However, according to other sources, Miani and Martinelli only shared an aircraft, the other being shot down jointly by Fanali, Maresciallo Remo Zedda (360a Squadrigla) and Sergente Maggiore Roberto Gaucci (378a Squadriglia).

In the early afternoon of 7 July, twenty-three MC.202s of 155o Gruppo (seven of 351a Squadriglia, nine of 360a Squadriglia and seven of 378a Squadriglia; one from 378a Squadriglia returned however due to technical problems) and twelve of 20o Gruppo, led by Duilio Fanali, and twelve Re 2001s of 2o Gruppo (two turned back), escorted nine Cant Z.1007bis of 9o Stormo, which were out to attack Luqa.
Twenty-two Spitfires Mk.Vs of 126 and 185 Squadrons were scrambled and attacked, diving in two groups; one group attacking the bombers and the other the escort.
Two Spitfires of 185 Squadron were shot down when 20-year-old Flight Sergeant Peter Terry (RAF no. 1257673) crashed on land with BR317 and 21-year-old Flight Sergeant Haydn Haggas (RAF no. 1282139) crashed into the sea in BR283. Both pilots were killed. One of the Spitfires was claimed by Maresciallo Olindo Simionato (150a Squadriglia, 2o Gruppo) and one was shared by pilots of the 20o Gruppo (including possibly also by Fanali). The 20o Gruppo also claimed damaged five Spitfires; two of them by Capitano Miani (CO of the 360a Squadriglia) and Sottottenente Romano Biasiol (360a Squadriglia) on the way home. One of the damaged Spitfires crashed during landing.
Flight Sergeant J. W. Yarra (BR387 “W”) of 185 Squadron shot down the MC.202 (MM9033) of Tenente Fabrizio Cherubini (353a Squadriglia, 20o Gruppo) and he became MIA. Yarra claimed one more fighter as a Re.2001. Flight Sergeant J. E. MacNamara of 185 Squadron claimed two Z.1007 damaged and Pilot Officer W. L. Miller of 126 Squadron claimed a third damaged while another Z.1007 (MM23243) of 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo, flown by Tenente Francesco Antonelli was shot down by AA fire; five of the crew jumped but three were KIA.

As of 8 November 1942 (on the launch of Operation Torch in North Africa), Capitano Miani still served as CO of the 360a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo CT. The unit was based at Gela and equipped with MC.202s.

After the Italian capitulation in September 1943 he served in the Italiana Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR).

In the afternoon on 26 July 1944, the IIo Gruppo scrambled eleven Bf 109s against a dozen P-47s of the 86th FS, 79th FG bombing a bridge north-west of Brescia. The opposing formations apparently met south of Piacenza at 17:30, the Americans reporting an attack by eleven ‘blue-nosed’ Bf 109s and both sides’ ensuing claims were wildly exaggerated.
The Italians credited themselves with three P-47s shot down (by Capitano Miani, Tenente Ugo Drago and Sergente Maggiore Rolando Ancillotti) for the loss of Ancillotti’s aircraft (2a Squadriglia) – he parachuted safely.
The 86th FS reported the mission from 15:10 to 18:00 with combat in the Brescia area and claimed six destroyed Bf 109s and two more damaged without losses. Claimants were 1st Lieutenant Charles Hancock (two and one damaged), 1st Lieutenant Billy Head (two destroyed), 2nd Lieutenant Richard Hilgard (one destroyed), Lieutenant Robert Steiner (one destroyed) and Lieutenant Warren Tallent (one damaged).

Miani ended the war with one biplane victory and a total of 8.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  193?                
1 ??/??/3?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Spain  
  1942                
2 02/06/42 09:10- 1 Spitfire Destroyed MC.202   Malta area 360a Squadriglia
3 15/06/42 12:10 1 Spitfire (a) Destroyed MC.202   70km S Pantelleria 360a Squadriglia
  15/06/42 12:10 1 Spitfire (a) Probably destroyed MC.202   70km S Pantelleria 360a Squadriglia
4 26/06/42 18:00- 1 Spitfire Destroyed MC.202   Malta area 360a Squadriglia
  07/07/42 p.m. 1 Spitfire (b) Damaged MC.202   Malta area 360a Squadriglia
  07/07/42 p.m. 1 Spitfire Damaged MC.202   Malta area 360a Squadriglia
  1944                
5 26/07/44 17:30 1 P-47 (c) Destroyed Bf 109G   S Piacenza IIo Gruppo
6 ??/??/4?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Italy ANR
7 ??/??/4?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Italy ANR
8 ??/??/4?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed     Italy ANR

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 8 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 601 Squadron, which lost 2 and got 2 damaged while claiming 2 Ju 87s, 2 probables and 1 damaged. 155o Gruppo claimed 5 Spitfires. The Ju 87s from 102o Gruppo claimed 1 ‘Hurricane’ while losing 1 Ju 87s and got 4 more damaged.
(b) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 126 and 185 Squadron.
(c) Claimed in combat with P-47s from 86th FS, which claimed 6 Bf 109s and 2 damaged without losses. The IIo Gruppo claimed 3 P-47s while losing one Bf 109.

Sources:
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Three – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2016 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781910690000
Air War Italy 1944-45 - Nick Beale, Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini, 1996 Airlife Publishing, Shrewbury, ISBN 1-85310-252-0
Ali Sulla Steppa: La Regia Aeronautica nella campagna di Russia – Nicola Malizia, 2008 IBN Editore, Roma, ISBN 88-7565-049-7
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - Giovanni Massimello, 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan
La Caccia Notturna nella Regia Aeronautica (part I) - Umberto Postiglioni and Riccardo Rovere, 1977 Aerei, 7/8 (V) July-August 1977, Delta Editrice, Parma, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro.
Malta: The Spitfire year 1942 - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London.




Last modified 28 September 2016