Biplane fighter aces


Sottotenente Alfonso Notari

When Italy declared war on the Great Britain and France on 10 June 1940, Sottotenent Alfonso Notari served in the 92a Squadriglia of the 8o Gruppo, 2o Stormo C.T. in Libya.
The 8o Gruppo (92a, 93a and 94a Squadriglie) was commanded by Maggiore Vincenzo La Carruba and started the war based at Tobruk T2 airfield with a full complement of 25 Fiat CR.32Qs.
Pilots in the 92a Squadriglia on 11 June were: Capitano Martino “Nino” Zannier (CO), Tenente Riccardo Marcovich (Gruppo Adjutant), Tenente Ranieri Piccolomini, Tenente Giorgio Savoia, Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Gorgone, Sergente Vito Copersino, Sergente Nadio Monti, Sergente Ernesto Pavan and Sergente Bruno Salvi. These pilots had nine CR.32quaters (including Maggiore La Carruba’s) and one S.81 (piloted by Savini during the transfer) available on 11 June. On strength, there was also Sergente Giovanni Sessa but he hadn’t left Tripoli. A number of pilots had been assigned to the squadriglia before the start of the hostilities; Sottotenente Notari (from the 4o Stormo on 8 June), Sergente Augusto Mannu (from 53o Stormo on 8 June), Sergente Guido Piazza (from 53o Stormo on 10 June) and Sergente Clemente Bonfanti (from 53o Stormo on 10 June); these pilots however remained at Tripoli.

On 4 September, the 92a Squadriglia flew four protective patrols and made four scrambles over and around Derna. Twice they met British bombers, which attacked Derna six times with formations of two aircraft without causing casualties among the personnel but were able to hit and damage some aircraft of the 10o Stormo.
The first engagement happened at around 09:20, when a covering patrol composed by Sottotenente Notari and Sergente Nadio Monti intercepted two British bombers coming back from a raid on Derna. The two bombers were followed 30 kilometres inside their own lines and finally left in a cloudbank.
Sottotenente Notari claimed one Blenheim probably shot down and one heavily damaged with the use of 1000 rounds of ammunition. One the British bomber was reported as having one engine on fire.
Even if records of 113 Squadron for this day is completely lost it is known that the Squadron was ordered to raid Derna with four pairs of bombers and an Mk.I nicknamed “the old un” was hit by fighters that killed the pilot, 24-year-old Pilot Officer John Harry Reynolds (RAF no. 41803). With the aircraft in a shallow dive and its wings rocking, the two Leading Aircraftmen that made up the rest of the crew hauled the dead pilot out of his seat, and took command of the aircraft. They were LAC Hutchinson and LAC Ian “Jock” Blair. Blair, who was an armourer/air gunner, flew the Blenheim 350 miles back to Maaten Bagush and made a very good landing, earning the DFM. Later he became a pilot and would survive the war as a Flight Lieutenant. It seems that this was one of the bombers attacked by Sottotenente Notari.

Notari ended the war with 1 probable biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  04/09/40 09:20 1 Blenheim (a) Probable Fiat CR.42   Derna area 92a Squadriglia
  04/09/40 09:20 1 Blenheim (a) Damaged Fiat CR.42   Derna area 92a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) No corresponding RAF losses are reported but it is possible that this engagement was against Blenheims from 113 Squadron, which suffered one damaged bomber.

2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Diario Storico 92a Squadriglia C.T. kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Fiat CR.42 Aces of World War 2 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-427-5
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring kindly provided by Santiago Flores
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X Additional information kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 25 September 2010