Biplane fighter aces


Capitano Carlo Miani

27 August 1914 –

Date Decoration Note
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) 1940-43
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/43 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (3rd) 1940-43
??/??/43 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (4th) 1940-43
??/??/40 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (1st) O.M.S.
??/??/40 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (2nd) O.M.S.
??/??/?? Croce al merito di guerra 1940-43
??/??/?? Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Spagna (1936-1939) O.M.S.
??/??/?? Medaglia di benemerenza per i volontari della guerra Spagna O.M.S.

Carlo Miani was born on 27 August 1914 and was from Trieste.

Carlo Miani was born on 27 August 1914.

On 1 December 1936, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

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.

Miani was promoted to Capitano on 17 August 1941.

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.

Between 21-24 May 1942, the 4o Stormo was transferred from Sicily to North Africa as the Regia Aeronautica strengthened its force in Libya. The 51o Stormo soon took its place, with 33 brand new MC.202s of the 155o Gruppo being deployed from Rome-Ciampino to Gela at the end of May. The 155o Gruppo was commanded by Maggiore Duilio Fanali and consisted of:
351a Squadriglia commanded by Capitano Riccardo Spagnolini
360a Squadriglia commanded by Capitano Miani
378a Squadriglia commanded by Capitano Bruno Tattanelli

During the early morning on 2 June, an Axis raid was reported forming up over Sicily, and at 09:10 Squadron Leader K. A. Lawrence led off six 185 Squadron aircraft, followed by 14 more drawn equally from 249 and 601 Squadrons. They all climbed out to sea and encountering the incoming force 24km east off Kalafrana. The raiders were three S.84s escorted by almost two dozen Re.2001s, with 32 MC.202s as indirect escort; their target was Safi.
Flight Sergeant Don ‘Shorty’ Reid (Spitfire V GL-D), a newly arrived Canadian in 185 Squadron, claimed damage to one of the bombers, which he identified as a Z.1007, and then claimed a Reggiane probably shot down. 2nd Lieutenant ‘Archie’ Bartleman (BR125/P) of 601 Squadron reported:

“Macchis flying top cover for bombing raid - scrambled in time and at 25,000 feet up sun, saw bombers about 5000 feet below, with top cover above and behind; attacked from quarter line astern out of sun - Macchis flying straight and level (at least 12 in formation). Selected victim performed rolls as I closed in - saw shells strike; fell out of control and believed burst into flames and disintegrated; no chute seen.”
Bartleman’s opponent was undoubtedly a 2o Gruppo Reggiane and he had probably hit Sergente Giovanni Dringoli’s aircraft (MM7216), which was severely damaged in the wing and subsequently belly-landed at Comiso. Tenente Giulio Bartolozzi’s 150a Squadriglia Reggiane was also damaged (possibly by Reid) although two more were claimed damaged by Pilot Officer W. J. E. Hagger of 601 Squadron and Sergeant E. D. Moye of 185 Squadron. A further Re.2001 was badly damaged when Maresciallo Patriarca, who had suffered a severe bout of air sickness, force-landed MM7252 on return. However, there is no evidence to suggest that his aircraft had been hit in combat.
The Italians reported being attacked by ten Spitfires, the 2o Gruppo claiming two shot down (one each by Maresciallo Luigi Jellici and Sergente Dringoli) and three more damaged, whilst Capitano Miani of the 360a Squadriglia made the first claim for the new Macchis of the 155o Gruppo.
One Spitfire actually fell in this action, Pilot Officer J. R. Halford from 185 Squadron ditching BR285 in Kalafrana Bay beside the sunken supply ship Breconshire, from which supplies were being salvaged. He was swiftly rescued by a seaplane tender, following which the wreck of the Spitfire was dragged from the channel before it could sink and was deposited near a sunken Ju 87 which had ditched in five fathoms late in April.

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).

At 18:00 on 26 June, six Spitfires of 126 and 601 Squadron scrambled, followed shortly by ten of 603 Squadron and then by eight more from 185 Squadron some 20 minutes later. They were up to intercept a raid comprising five Z.1007bis from the 33o Gruppo, escorted by 29 MC.202s from the 155o Gruppo, and 18 Re.2001s from the 2o Gruppo (the Reggianes were apparently misidentified by the RAF pilots as Bf 109s).
Two Macchis were claimed shot down, one by American Pilot Officer John Curry (BR301/S) of 601 Squadron (”down in flames”) and the other by Flight Sergeant P. A. Schade (126 Squadron). Sergeant C. P. J. Taylor’s aircraft was badly shot up, the pilot being wounded in the leg by splinters. He managed to land with a dead engine.
The 603 Squadron pilots reported meeting Bf 109s. Pilot Officer Arthur Glen claimed one of these shot down and then damaged a second and gained strikes on one of the Cants. Another bomber was damaged by the combined fire of Pilot Officer Geoffrey Northcott (Spitfire V ‘Z’) and Sergeant J. A. H. Pinney, while Sergeant W. R. Irwin claimed strikes on one of the escorts, also identified as a Bf 109. One Spitfire was slightly damaged in return.
By the time 185 Squadron entered the fray, the raiders had turned for home and only the escort were engaged; one of these, a Reggiane, was claimed shot down by Flight Lieutenant Ron West (GL-J) for his eighth and last victory.
None of the Re.2001s was lost, but Maresciallo Gino Runci’s 378a Squadriglia Macchi was shot down, the pilot being seen to bale out; he was not subsequently found. Two Spitfires were claimed by the 360a Squadriglia, one each by Capitano Miani and Maresciallo Remo Zedda, while two of the Reggiane pilots, Capitano Salvatore Teia and Sergente Maggiore Rino Ricci (both 152a Squadriglia), jointly claimed one more. Other pilots believed they had probably shot down one more and damaged two others.
Although Luqa was the target, where an airman was killed when handling an unexploded bomb, nearby Pieta was also badly hit; here ten civilians were killed and at least another nine seriously injured.

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.

On 10 July, the pilots from the 51o Stormo first encountered the vibration phenomenon caused by compressibility on their MC.202s when diving away from, or after, Spitfires. This was to plague them in coming weeks and was first manifested when Capitano Miani suffered such violent vibration that he believed his Macchi had been critical hit in the tail. He baled out over the Sicilian coast, ending up in Scicli hospital, Ragusa, as a result.

During the campaign over Malta, prominent Sicily-based Regia Aeronautica fighter leaders used radio code names. Capitano Miani used the code name ‘Tigre’ (Tiger).

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.

The Spitfire Vcs from 81 Squadron was engaged in a confused combat over their airfield at Bône during the late morning on 14 November 1942, during which Flying Officer P. G. Anson, Flight Sergeant J. Friar and Flight Sergeant D. F. Husband claimed a fighter shot down between them which they identified as a Bf 109 E. This was probably a G version of 7./JG 53, reported shot down in flames by Spitfires 3km south-east of Bône, in which Leutnant Dieter Hirsch (Bf 109 G-4/Trop WNr. 16004 White 3 + 1) was killed. A second Bf 109 was claimed as a probable by Flight Lieutenant L. G. Bedford, who was himself shot down, baling out into the sea, suffering burns, but managing to swim ashore. A second Spitfire was hit and crash-landed with Flying Officer H. E. Fenwick WiA. It is probable that both these aircraft fell to Oberleutnant Wilfried Pufahl of 7./JG 53 who claimed two Spitfires, the first at 1500 meters altitude 30km south-east of Bône at 09:20 and the second at 800 meters altitude 10km south-east of Bône at 09:25.
Meanwhile, two more of 81 Squadron's pilots (Sergeant J. R. Baker and Flying Officer Roberts) claimed a BR.20, identified as a ”Breda 20”, which aircraft they had claimed has not been identified. However, during this same engagement Flight Sergeant J. Friar shot down a Fiat CR.42 of the 24o Gruppo which had been undertaking a reconnaissance over Bône from Sardinia. This CR.42 was flown by Tenente Ernani Loddo (370a Squadriglia), who became MiA (later reported as KiA). This may have been associated with an attack on Bône made by ten MC.202s of the 17o Gruppo which had departed from the same island. These Italian pilots, led by the Gruppo’s commander Capitano Pericle Baruffi, reported strafing ten twin-engined aircraft on the ground there. These were probably C-47s, but none of these aircraft suffered any damage on this date. One Macchi flown by Tenente Pietro Maurichi (80a Squadriglia) was damaged by AA, a second suffering engine trouble which caused Tenente Emilio Marchi (80a Squadriglia) to force-land at El Aouina, Tunisia.
At 15:25, seven 272 Squadron Beaufighter Ics took off from Malta to strafe El Aouina, but as they approached the airfield a signal rocket was fired, and a tremendous barrage of Flak was put up. Squadron Leader Anthony Watson fired at a Ju 52/3m, but his aircraft (Beaufighter Ic T5079/G) was hit in the starboard engine and he force-landed on a beach 42km north-east of the airfield at 17:02; after setting light to his Beaufighter, he and his navigator, Pilot Officer C. F. Cutting, began walking towards the Allied lines, eventually reaching them safely. Sergeant W. Russell claimed to have set two Ju 52/3ms on fire, but his own aircraft was damaged. Sergeant G. A. Tuckwell claimed to have set fire to a third and a twin-engined aircraft, and to have probably destroyed a single-engined type. During this attack two MC.202s from the 155o Gruppo were destroyed by fire (including MM9095 from the 378a Squadriglia). While trying to move some drums of fuel clear of others already on fire, Capitano Miani, commander of 360a Squadriglia, was severely burned on his right leg and was removed to hospital. Tenente Marchi was also wounded during this attack.

In 1943, he was still serving in the 51o Stormo CT.

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

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.

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

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 8 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) Claimed in combat with Spitfire Vs from 185, 249 and 601 Squadrons, which claimed 1 destroyed enemy fighter, 1 probable and 2 damaged (and 1 damaged bomber) while losing 1 Spitfire (from 185 Squadron. 2o and 155o Gruppi claimed 3 Spitfires and 3 damaged while getting 2 damaged Re.2001s.
(b) 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.
(c) Claimed in combat with Spitfire Vs from 126, 185, 601 and 603 Squadrons, which claimed 4 destroyed enemy fighters and 2 damaged (and 2 damaged bombers) while getting 2 Spitfires damaged. 2o and 155o Gruppi claimed 3 Spitfires, 1 probable and 2 damaged while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot KiA).
(d) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 126 and 185 Squadron.
(e) 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.

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
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Last modified 21 November 2023