Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Giuseppe Oblach Garolla Medaglia d’oro al valor militare

2 February 1916 – 1 December 1942

Date Decoration Note
01/12/42 Medaglia d’oro al valor militare (Posthumous) 1940-43
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) 1940-43
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43

Giuseppe Oblach was born in Cadoneghe on 2 February 1916.

Sottotenente Giuseppe Oblach was assigned to the 73a Squadriglia, IX Gruppo, 4o Stormo in July 1939.
He didn’t come from an Officers’ Academy Course but was enrolled at the beginning of the war as an Ufficiale di Complemento (Reserve Officer).

Tenente Vittorio Pezzè and Giuseppe Oblach of the 73a Squadriglia, 9o Gruppo, at Goriza pre-war.
Image kindly provided by Fulvio Chianese at Associazione Culturale 4o Stormo di Gorizia.

On 12 July 1940, the 9o Gruppo C.T. arrived at Tripoli from Comiso with 33 Fiat CR.42s under the command of Maggiore Ernesto Botto. The Gruppo consisted of 73a, 96a and 97a Squadriglie.
The 73a Squadriglia included Tenente Vittorio Pezzè (CO), Tenente Valerio De Campo, Tenente Giulio Reiner, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti (assigned in the end of July), Sottotenente Oblach, Sottotenente Carlo Battaglia, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, Maresciallo Mario Ruffilli, Maresciallo Alberto Montanari, Maresciallo Norino Renzi, Maresciallo Corrado Ranieri, Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Biffani, Sergente Maggiore Enrico Dallari, Sergente Maggiore Sergio Stauble, Sergente Maggiore Antonio Valle, Sergente Santo Gino, Sergente Lido Poli, Sergente Pasquale Rossi, Sergente Mario Guerci (still in training) and Sergente Armando Matacena (still in training).
Together with the 10o Gruppo they formed the 4o Stormo C.T.
The Gruppo’s Fiat CR.42s was wisely retrofitted with tropical kits for guns and engines, to avoid the problems suffered by the other Gruppi.

On 29 November Oblach flew a photoreconnaissance sortie at 400 meters height on the road Sidi el Barrani - Marsa Matruh together with Tenente Pietro Bonfatti (73a Squadriglia). On their way back to base they strafed some enemy AAA sites.
During the sortie Oblach flew CR.42 MM4383/96-11, which was field-modified with an additional fuel tank behind the pilot's seat. The tank was installed through a door in the right side of the fuselage (45 cm wide). Later the tank was removed and an AC 81 vertical camera was installed.

At 09:00 on 11 December, a formation of eight CR.42s from the 73a Squadriglia carried out a strafing mission. It is reported that during the day, Giulio Reiner, Antonio Valle and Tenente Oblach, escorted three SM 79s to bomb enemy troops near Bir Enba. On the return flight, with the bombers safely on their way home, the fighters returned to Sidi Omar and strafed a group of armoured cars, burning four and stopping three of them. Reiner’s and Valle’s aircraft returned to base damaged by return fire. It is possible that they were involved in this morning mission.

At 14:10 on 12 December, a formation of fighters from the 9o Gruppo (14 CR.42s) led by Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni took off to escort SM 79s and during the return journey ground strafed British vehicles on the Sollum-Buq-Buq road claiming four destroyed and four damaged.
Six CR.42s from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Valerio De Campo, Tenente Giulio Reiner, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Oblach, Sergente Maggiore Sergio Stauble and Sergente Pasquale Rossi) took part. It seems one aircraft from the 96a Squadriglia was lost after the action when Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gallerani nosed over on landing and his fighters was written off during a clumsy recovery.

On an early morning patrol on 13 December, six Gladiators (Flight Lieutenant Gordon Steege, Flight Lieutenant Charles Gaden, Flying Officers Lex D. Winten, Flying Officer Alan Boyd, Flying Officer Wilfred Arthur and Flying Officer Alan Gatward) from the Advanced Detached Flight of 3 RAAF Squadron took off at 08:00 to fly an offensive fighter patrol over Sollum – Fort Capuzzo – Halfaya area. They came across five SM 79s bombing troops at Sollum escorted by a reported eight CR.42s. Diving in to attack Flight Lieutenant Steege shot down one of the bombers and claimed a second as a probable. Before the Gladiators could reform for a second attack, the escorting CR.42s intervened. Flight Lieutenant Gaden (Gladiator N5765) was killed when his aircraft was shot down and crashed into the desert. It was believed that Gaden was shot down by rear gunners of the SM 79s. Flying Officer Winten was hit in the right hand by an explosive bullet and baled out. Flying Officer Boyd claimed two CR.42s before his aircraft had its port flying wire shot away causing him to force land. Flying Officer Gatward was also forced down. Flying Officer Arthur's Gladiator (N5752) was shot to pieces and he decided to bale out. As he clambered out of the cockpit, he became entangled in his oxygen tube. He managed to break free only to be caught up in the interplane bracing wires. Unable to free himself he waited for the inevitable, when at about 1,000 feet he was thrown clear and parachuted to the ground. Later back in the mess he produced from his pocket the ripcord of his parachute, which meant that he did not have to buy drinks all round. Flight Lieutenant Steege was separated from the remainder of the flight, ran out of ammunition and returned to base at 10:30.
The Italians seems to have consisted of five SM 79s from the 60a Squadriglia, 33o Gruppo Autonomo BT, which had taken off from Z1 at 07:30. The formation was led by Tenente Colonnello Ferri Forte, who flew as second pilot in Capitano Loris Bulgarelli’s (CO of the 60a Squadriglia) SM 79 and they had been briefed to attack British troop concentrations in a desert area south of Sollum. The pilot of another bomber was Tenente Pastorelli and among his crew of five was Aviere Scelto Armiere Guido Reggiani. The bombers were escorted by ten CR.42s from the 9o Gruppo. The SM 79s were the first bombing effort of the day by the 5a Squadra and attacked a group of 30 British vehicles along the road Sollum-Buq-Buq at 08:45 and immediately after this, another group of 60 armoured vehicles south-east of Halfaya. The escort was led by Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni (temporary CO of the 9o Gruppo since 10 December) and included the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Valerio De Campo, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Tenente Oblach, Sottotenente Giulio Reiner, Sergente Maggiore Sergio Stauble and Sergente Enrico Dallari) and the 97a Squadriglia (Capitano Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sergente Franco Sarasino and Sergente Maggiore Otello Perotti). After 45 minutes of flight, between Sidi Omar and Sollum, they spotted a formation of Gladiators that soon attacked the SM 79s. Aviere Scelto Armiere Reggiani recorded that after the bombing the formation was attacked by a group of ten Gloster Gladiators. The gunners of the Savoias claimed the shooting down of two of them before they were dispersed by a squadriglia of the 4o Stormo’s fighters. Capitano Larsimont chased the leader but, while shooting at him from a short distance, he collided with a British wingman that was trying to avoid his bursts. In the collision, the Gladiator lost its wings and fell. Larsimont, whose aircraft was badly damaged in the fuselage and rudders, made an emergency landing on the Menastir M airfield; unfortunately the airstrip was already abandoned by the Italians due to the proximity of the British infantry so Larsimont had to abandon his damaged plane, which became a total loss. It seems possible that Larsimont’s victim (the Gladiator surprised while chasing the Savoias and observed to fall minus its wings) was Flying Officer Arthur who later recalled:

”(...) I was chasing some Italian bombers, Savoia-Marchettis I think they were. They were quite a lot faster than our aircraft were which meant you only chance of really catching them was to cut the corner if they were foolish enough to turn very much. In...also, if you’re chasing somebody like that you’re concentrating very much on that and you are a sitting duck for somebody else. And, in fact, that’s what happened to me. Chasing these Savoias I suddenly realised I was being attacked by an Italian aircraft which almost immediately ... a shell went into the top mainplane – do you know what I mean by the top mainplane where it was a biplane - the top main plane tore straight away and swung back towards the tail and the bottom main plane sort of followed it but a bit behind and I had no control at all, just completely loose control column. So I got out quickly (...)
Arthur remembered that the whole affair lasted a short time:
”Probably only fifty seconds or seventy or something like that. I got out of the cockpit quite quickly but by that time the thing was nearly vertically downwards and I got stuck underneath one of the main planes that had folded back against the fuselage and I couldn’t get out of that. I was kicking and trying to get myself free when I was very close to the ground and finally did get free but hit the ground very hard because...well, because I hadn’t had enough time to slow up, I suppose (...)”.
Wilfred Arthur hit the ground facing the wrong way and got dragged for quite a while with the parachute because there was heavy wind. After collapsing the parachute and freeing himself again, he was circled by two Italian aircraft, which he thought would shoot at him but in fact they didn’t. After the two Italian left the area, he started walking and after only a couple of hours was found and picked up by a long-range desert patrol.
Viglione fired at several Glosters and claimed one of them (the British pilot was seen parachuting by Bonfatti) while Perotti claimed another in a head-to-head attack (not verified with the Squadriglia diaries). Sarasino claimed damage to several Gladiators. Meanwhile, another formation of Gladiators jumped the 73a Squadriglia from above but these had been alerted and could react properly and a long and harsh dogfight began. Bonfatti, Oblach and Stauble claimed one each, while De Campo, Reiner and Dallari claimed one probable each. Several other Glosters were claimed damaged. Reiner’s, Bonfatti’s and Oblach’s aircraft were slightly damaged in combat but returned to base safely.
The 60a Squadriglia suffered no losses but Capitano Bulgarelli was hit in the head and killed by a burst of fire from one of the Gladiators. The same burst of fire also wounded Tenente Colonnello Forte. The dead Bulgarelli fell over the controls and only after the help of Tenente Pier Luigi Meroni, who managed to rise Bulgarelli body, thus keeping it clear from the controls, was Ferri Forte able to nurse back the damaged Savoia. Meroni remained all the time in front of the broken skull of Bulgarelli with blood and pieces of brain close to his face. (After the war, Meroni became a pilot in civil aviation and was the pilot of the plane in which the then famous football team of Turin (winner of many Italian championships) crashed against the hill of Superga on 4 May 1949; the greatest tragedy in the history of Italian sport). Bulgarelli was a highly regarded leader and during the last days was always at the head of the 33o formations attacking the advancing British troops. He was awarded a posthumous Medaglia d’Oro al valor militare for bravery in this and previous actions. During the landing, back at base Bulgarelli’s SM 79 and another one suffered additional damage and were classified RD.
Boyd’s force-landed Gladiator was possible to repair on site and he returned to Gerawla at 11:10 with Gatward sitting on his knee.
Out of the six Gladiators that took part in the combat, four were lost and the remaining two were damaged but repairable in the unit.
Flight Lieutenant Gaden was found dead in the cockpit of his Gladiator by the 7th Hussars while they were on the march. He was buried by Lieutenant J. Napier.
It was one of the hardest day of the war for the Australians and Flight Lieutenant Peter Jeffrey, then the Signals Officer of the unit but later to became its CO remembered it this way:
“(…) we had a very bad day on 13th December, it was over Salum (…) we had an extraordinary bad day – ran into a very big lot of CR42s and Flight Lieutenant Gaiden [Gaden] was killed but Arthur, “Wilf” Arthur was shot down (…). Lex Witton [Winten] had an explosive round in one hand and he bailed out. Gatwood [Gatward] and Boyd both crash-landed. So we had five, and that was a really very bad day for the Squadron (…) It was a very traumatic sort of experience but the Squadron was very resilient and picked up very quickly and the people who’d – apart from Witton who was a casualty because of his hand - the others were back flying again next day or in a few days’ time. To a certain extent, you know, you expected these things but that was just a bit bigger than we normally expected. And seeing as we’d had so much success prior with virtually no casualties it hit us a bit hard for a start. But it was only a few days later on the 26th when we got our revenge back (…)”.
In the meantime Larsimont, finding Menastir deserted, reached the nearby Balbia road and while waiting for a passing truck to stop, was shot at by a low flying Hurricane and had a narrow escape. After the collision, he was presumed dead by his pilots and so on the evening a message of condolences arrived from the HQ in Rome. In fact, he rejoined his unit the same day and at 15:05 was again at the head of his men.
It seems that another Italian fighter took part in this mission since Sottotenente Giuseppe Bottà of the 82a Squadriglia, 13o Gruppo, who was out on a “solo” reconnaissance over the front, discovered four Gladiators. These were attacking a patrol of SM 79s and he claimed to have forced the British fighter to disengage from the bombers with his intervention.

Oblach was subsequently awarded with a Medaglia d'argento al valor militare for the mission on 13 December.

Following the morning’s adventure on 13 December, at 15:05, Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni again led a patrol with four CR.42s from the 97a Squadriglia (Tenente Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli and Sergente Alcide Leoni), eight from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Valerio De Campo, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Oblach, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, Sergente Maggiore Enrico Dallari, Sergente Maggiore Sergio Stauble, Sergente Maggiore Antonio Valle and Sergente Santo Gino) and eight from the 96a Squadriglia to make a ground strafing against a British convoy in the Sollum-Buq-Buq area. While returning one Hurricane was attacked and claimed damaged, apparently by a 73a Squadriglia pilot. They returned to T3 at 17:05 claiming nine armoured vehicles (five in flames and four damaged).

On 14 December, El Adem T3 was abandoned by the two Gruppi of the 4o Stormo because of the presence of British armoured cars in the surroundings of the airfield. The new base for the 9o and the 10o Gruppo was Derna N1.
During the day, the whole 4o Stormo was employed to attack the advancing British forces of Operation Compass. In several attacks more than 123 trucks, 31 armoured cars and 31 other vehicles were destroyed in this single day!
At least seven CR.42s from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Valerio De Campo, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Oblach, Sergente Maggiore Enrico Dallari, Sergente Maggiore Antonio Valle and Sergente Maggiore Sergio Stauble), four from the 97a Squadriglia (Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni, Tenente Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sergente Maggiore Otello Perotti, Sergente Franco Sarasino) and four from the 96a Squadriglia taking part. They attacked between 13:10 and 15:00 and the 73a Squadriglia pilots claimed five armoured vehicles burned and four stopped. From this period Aldo Gon recorded:

“the period of the retreat was very hard and sad; very few of us were left with very few planes. Our most important task was ground strafing of enemy’s armoured vehicles and during one of these missions, I suffered my sixth flying accident. We had to take off from El Adem and land west of it, at Derna. After the ground strafing, while coming back and gaining height I discovered a Hurricane that was aiming at our Squadriglia from superior height and from the left. I was, as often happened to me, the leader of the last vic of three planes; I did immediately a sharp turn zooming and we shot at each other frontally, then I reversed course violently and started following it. In doing so I left behind my wingmen (as usual) that were unable to follow such a sharp manoeuvre and landed back at Derna claiming that I had shot down the enemy; I’ve never known if this was true, but I didn’t want to have the victory credited because the stresses inflicted to my body during the sharp action left me in a state of semi-consciousness.
My wingmen claimed the victory because from distance they saw my plane doing strange aerobatics, turnings and zooming as if I was celebrating a victory in fact I was half unconscious and when I saw the ground closing I pulled the stick to gain height. (…) Feeling I was near to loose consciousness I force land close to El Adem”.
The plane was only lightly damaged and Gon was later able to return to Derna, taking off directly from the place where he landed. The main reason for his accident was discovered to be the bad alimentation of the last period that left him in quite bad shape.

On 19 December, the 9o Gruppo flew its last mission before retirement from North Africa. Taking off from Ain El Gazala T4 at 15:00, Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni led ten other aircraft from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Oblach, Sergente Mario Guerci and Sergente Pasquale Rossi), 96a Squadriglia (Sergente Maggiore Dante Labanti, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gallerani and an unknown pilot) and 97a Squadriglia (Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli and Sergente Alcide Leoni) to an escort mission together with 14 CR.42s of the 10o Gruppo. These had taken off from the Z1 landing ground (ten kilometres south-east of T4 on the opposite side of the “litoranea” road) where they had transferred the same morning. The 10o Gruppo pilots were led by Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli and included five fighters from the 91a Squadriglia (Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sergente Maggiore Leonardo Ferrulli, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato, Sergente Maggiore Natale Fiorito and Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Casero), six from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sergente Luigi Contarini, Sergente Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Alfredo Sclavo and Sergente Giovanni Battista Ceoletta) and two from the 84a Squadriglia (Sergente Domenico Santonocito and Sergente Piero Buttazzi).
They escorted twelve SM 79s of the 41o Stormo, which took off at 14:45 from Martuba M2 with Tenente Colonnello Draghelli and Tenente Colonnello d’Ippolito at their head. They were to attack Sollum harbour and then to proceed to attack vehicles 10 km off Ridotta Capuzzo aimed against the British supply system.
Some minutes after 15:45, above the Sollum area, they were surprised by a number of Hurricanes; Tenente Guiducci reported five of them, the 73a Squadriglia recorded the attack of about ten while some the 235a Squadriglia crews spoke of eight “Spitfires”. It seems that the Hurricanes were somewhat lately intercepted by the CR.42s from 73a and 96a Squadriglie and 10o Gruppo while the 97a Squadriglia stayed with the bombers. According to Guiducci, the reaction of the CR.42s saved the bombers, avoiding the interception but this was not the case.
In the following combat, the Italian claims were extremely confused. Sergente Maggiore Ferrulli was credited with a Hurricane destroyed (in one of the rare individual victories assigned by his unit) and another damaged, but his aircraft was hit in the engine and he had to make an emergency landing near Bardia (he was unhurt and returned to his unit on 22 December). The 90a Squadriglia claimed two shared victories and two Hurricanes forced to flee with the use of 1328 rounds of ammo. The 84a Squadriglia claimed one individual and one probable victory shared with the whole 10o Gruppo. The 97a Squadriglia also claimed one Hurricane confirmed and one probable shared with the 10o Gruppo. The 73a Squadriglia claimed two shared individual and two probables. Post-war studies stated that one of the shared victories of 73a Squadriglia was in fact an individual of Tenente Bonfatti while Sergente Rossi got a damaged and Sottotenente Oblach one probable and one damaged. In fact, the Italian Bulletin of 20 December claimed that in a savage battle two Hurricanes were shot down in exchange for an Italian fighter that failed to return This suggests that all the Squadriglia Commanders at the end claimed the same two victories, from the original documents we can see that in fact one was an individual achievement of Ferrulli while the other was most probably a shared or possibly an individual of Bonfatti. The CR.42 reported as lost was obviously Ferrulli’s.
Sergente Buttazzi had to land at T5 because of an engine breakdown, while a fighter from the 73a Squadriglia was heavily damaged. The Italian formation landed back at 17:05.
At least seven of the bombers were hit. Capitano Meille (CO of the 233a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Bresciani were wounded and the co-pilot Sergente Maggiore Musiani was forced to make an emergency landing at Tobruk T5. The SM 79 of Sottotenente Trolla force-landed (and was most probably lost) after being hit by 543 bullets; Primo Avieri Luigi Favale was killed while Primo Avieri De Pasquale and Primo Avieri Palmieri were wounded. Tenente Stancanelli’s (233a Squadriglia) aircraft received 162 hits and also made an emergency landing. Sergente Maggiore armiere Antonio Carta (part of Tenente Stancanelli’s crew), in the confusion of combat, erroneously believed that his aircraft was falling out of control, jumped with his parachute and became MIA. Tenente Colonnello Draghelli made an emergency landing at Tobruk T2bis with his co-pilot Tenente Premurù, Maresciallo motorista Scagliarini, Sergente Maggiore armiere Della Ciana and Sergente RT Maurelli injured. In addition, the SM 79 of Tenente Persico, which was the last to land at 16:45, was damaged. The bomber’s gunners spent about two thousand rounds of 7.7mm ammunition and five thousands of 12.7mm, claiming three British fighters and one probable.
They had been intercepted by Hurricanes from 274 and 33 Squadrons. The former unit was employed in patrols in the Sollum-Bardia-Gambut area. At 15:50, Flight Lieutenant John Lapsley (V7293) was alone but another Hurricane was in the vicinity when, at 11,000 feet over Sollum, he discovered a mixed formation of 18 SM 79s plus CR.42s 12 miles ahead and slightly to starboard. He attacked the escort that engaged him mainly head on. He reported:

“one CR 42 dived into the ground about 30 miles west of Sollum. Being a bit late arriving after the bombing I found it impossible to engage the S79 due to the attentions of the CR 42s, about 30 CR 42s in vics of three making vics of nine both sides of the bombers and 3000 feet above them. The main force carried on being attacked by Flying Officer Weller 274 Squadron.”
As a special comment, he remarked: “Enemy attacked in a most determined manner.”
Flying Officer Arthur Weller (V7300) reported being up with another Hurricane later engaged by CR.42s (obviously Lapsley) and possibly another behind him (33 Squadron aircraft?). He was flying at 18,000 feet over the Sollum – Bardia road at 15:45 when he discovered SM 79s with CR.42 escort. He saw the fighters wheeling towards him while the bombers didn’t take any action. He reported:
“7 S79s fired at and damaged at least one engine on fire, one or two undercarriages fell out. Only noticed one formation of fighters to starboard of bombers [obviously Lapsley had drawn the attention of the rest of the escort] so attacked from port to line astern with plenty of extra speed. Took each sub leader in turn then his no 2. 7 aircraft altogether when work finished. Part of formation I had attacked was disorganized and impossible to see any missing. Owing to approach of CR 42s and no ammunition, I had to leave the fight. I noticed part of formation I had attacked to be in difficulties. Two a/c pulled up practically vertically and probably collided, impossible to see if any went down.”
He didn’t reported suffering damage of any kind but back at base his machine was found riddled with bullets. Weller was subsequently credited with one damaged SM 79.
33 Squadron also flew an offensive patrol over the Sollum-Gambut area where they met SM 79s and CR.42s and there is little doubt that they engaged this Italian formation. The British pilots claimed three SM 79s and four CR.42s. Two of the fighters falling to Flying Officer Vernon Woodward, who attacked and shot them down apparently without the knowledge of the other Italians and two to Flying Officer Charles Dyson (P2499). It is not known who claimed the bombers. Considering the high level of accuracy of 151o Gruppo’s reports that recorded being attacked by six to seven British monoplanes earlier on the day it is possible that some of the claims of 33 Squadron (which also patrolled over the Gambut area) where in fact against them.

The 9o Gruppo was sent back to Italy on Christmas Day 1940 in order to commence its re-equipment with MC.200s.

On 4 April 1941 the 73a Squadriglia (Capitano Mario Pluda (CO), Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Oblach, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, Maresciallo Mario Ruffilli, Sergente Antonio Valle, Sergente Santo Gino, Sergente Rossi, Sergente Mario Guerci, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Gallerani (96a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli (97a Squadriglia)) was transferred to Alture di Pola.

On 9 April Capitano Mario Pluda, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti, Sottotenente Oblach, Maresciallo Mario Ruffilli and Sergente Santo Gino, protected by MC.200s of the 84a Squadriglia, attacked thirteen seaplanes at Slosella harbour (now Pirovac). Eight seaplanes were claimed as sunk and two more on the ground were damaged. AA fire damaged Pluda’s aircraft in the right wing and Bonfatti’s in the tail.

The mission was repeated two days later when Pluda led eight aircraft. Bonfatti, Oblach and Gino attacked the seaplanes while Pluda and the rest of the squadriglia strafed AA sites. Three seaplanes were burned and two were severely damaged.

On 13 April, while escorting a Fiat BR.20 on a reconnaissance mission at 1500 m over Zara (now Zadar), Sebenico and Divulje, Tenente Pietro Bonfatti spotted a flying boat riding at anchor at Divulje. Capitano Mario Pluda ordered him, Sottotenente Oblach and Sergente Antonio Valle to dive and strafe it, while Pluda, Alvaro Querci, Tenente Giulio Reiner and Sergente Santo Gino stayed beside the Fiat. The flying boat was sunk.
During the return flight the BR.20 lowered to 500 m while the escort remained at 1500m. Over Sebenico the BR.20 was shot down by AA fire but the escort returned unhurt.

In July 1941, they re-equipped again with MC.202s.

On 27 September the whole 9o Gruppo 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 Oblach, Sottotenente Felice Bussolin, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, Sergente Maggiore Enrico Dallari, Sergente Santo Gino, Sergente Rossi, Sergente Mario Guerci, Sergente Maggiore Teresio Martinoli and Sergente Armando Angelini.

In the morning of 10 October, Oblach flew a solo reconnaissance mission over Malta.

With daylight on 17 October, six Blenheims of the on Malta newly-arrived 18 Squadron flew their first mission, an attack on Syracuse seaplane base, which they bombed from 12,500 feet shortly before 10:00.
Sottotenente Giuseppe Oblach, Sergente Santo Gino and Sergente Mario Guerci were on readiness and scrambled. They were shortly after followed by Sottotenente Felice Bussolin and Sergente Maggiore Teresio Martinoli.
Once in air, they separate to better search for the enemy. 40 km off Malta, Oblach spotted six Blenheims that were flying low over the sea, heading south. He soon attacked one until its right engine caught fire and it crashed into the sea. When he was aiming on another, his MC.202 (MM7721) was hit by return fire in an oil pipe. He was forced to head home, but, some 40 km off the Sicilian coast, the engine stopped and he had to ditch his aircraft suffering a fractured nose, some wounds and bruises.
He took to his dinghy and rowed northbound with his hands for twenty-seven hours, until he was rescued the following day, at 13:00, a few nautical miles off Cape Scaramia by a Regia Marina torpedo-boat.
He was hospitalized at Sciacca; his conditions were fairly good, but the nose fracture compelled him to rest for a period. He was awarded his second Medaglia d’argento al valor militare for this mission.
No Blenheims were actually lost during this attack. The Blenheims had been escorted by Hurricanes from 249 Squadron and these reportedly engaged three MC.202s inconclusively.

On 22 November the 9o Gruppo’s 96a and 97a Squadriglie (eighteen fighters in all) were hurriedly ordered to transfer to Martuba, North Africa, to counter the British advance. The 73a Squadriglia remained at Comiso to perform photo reconnaissance missions over Malta.

On 3 December the 73a flew to Udine to re-equip with brand new MC.202s.
They were joined by the 96a and 97a Squadriglie in the last days of December.

Around this period, Oblach was promoted to Tenente. The career of a Reserve Officer was considerably slower than that of an Academy Officer.

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

On 23 April 1942 the 9o Gruppo was back on Sicily and based at Sciacca, for a third tour against Malta.

On 29 April 1942 the new CO of 73a, Capitano Aldo Gon made an emergency landing near Agrigento after a mission over Malta during which his MC.202 was damaged and he was badly injured.
Tenente Oblach temporarily held the command of the Squadriglia until 11 May, when he had to leave it to Sottotenente Alvaro Querci due to illness.

On 20 May the 9o Gruppo, with twenty-eight 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.

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.

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 Teresio 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 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 Teresio Martinoli (73a Squadriglia) claimed a Spitfire. Tenente 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 Oblach, Sergente Armando, Tenente Mario Mecatti (73a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Antonio Canfora (97a Squadriglia), Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi (73a Squadriglia), Sergente Teresio 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.

The high number of aircraft flying in the area during these days caused such confusion that the German Freya radar personnel had troubles to identify friend or foe aircraft. So, many times the alarm was delayed, and Axis fighters scrambled late.
This happened on 20 October when at 10:55, 14 MC.202s of the 4o Stormo hurriedly scrambled to intercept 24 Bostons and Hudsons above Fuka, escorted by 30 P-40s and 20 Spitfires. The bombers were still releasing their cargo over the airfield when the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Oblach, Tenente Vittorio Squarcia, Sergente Armando Angelini and Sergente Leonardo Rinaldi), 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Tenente Alessandro Mettimano and Sergente Maggiore Piero Buttazzi), 91a Squadriglia (Capitano Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, Sergente Maggiore Leonardo Ferrulli and Sergente Maggiore Alessandro Bladelli), and 97a Squadriglia (Tenente Jacopo Frigerio, Tenente Giovanni Barcaro, Sottotenente Leo Boselli and Maresciallo Giovanni Bianchelli), attacked them. The escort intercepted the Italian fighters, and a number of claims were made. Ruspoli, Oblach and Ferrulli claimed two P-40s each, Bladelli, Frigerio, Barcaro and Boselli claimed one P-40 each while Bianchelli claimed one Spitfire. Another Spitfire was claimed as a probable by Bladelli. Mettimano, in his first combat mission, damaged four Hudsons and a P-40 while Angelini, Rinaldi and Squarcia jointly claimed four damaged P-40s. Buttazzi claimed three damaged P-40s and Lucchini claimed a Hudson as a damaged. Lucchini’s MC.202 (MM7905/84-4) was hit when a 20mm shell tore off the aircraft’s spinner and he was forced to make an emergency landing at 11:30.
Totally the 4o Stormo claimed 25 enemy aircraft shot down during the day, but of the 57 fighters (43 of which were combat-ready) on charge in the morning, only eleven were serviceable in the evening. The 9o Gruppo reported the mission as between 10:55 and 12:20 while the 10o Gruppo reported it as between 11:00 and 12:30
The 23o Gruppo also scrambled (11:00-12:30) and they also made a number of claims. From 70a Squadriglia, Sottotenente Luigi Bandini and Sergente Maggiore Celso Zemella each claimed a P-40 over El Daba while Tenente Antonio Maccanti claimed a probable P-40 in the same area. 74a Squadriglia was in combat south of El Alamein, and Sergente Maggiore Felice Papini claimed a Boston and Sergente Maggiore Emilio Stafano claimed a Spitfire while Tenente Giorgio Solaroli claimed a shared Spitfire together with Sergente Maurizio Mandolesi (75a Squadriglia). Tenente Carlo Moruzzi claimed a probable P-40.

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 Teresio 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 Oblach and his three wingmen. The fight moved over El Daba and Reiner and Squarcia claimed a Spitfire each while Sergente Teresio 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.

Between 12:10-13:40 on 25 October, Capitano Ruspoli led a patrol of the 10o Gruppo to intercept some raiders. Shortly after (12:30-13:40), five MC.202 from 73a Squadriglia scrambled from Fuka led by Tenente Giulio Reiner and including Tenente Oblach, Tenente Vittorio Squarcia, Tenente Mario Mecatti and Sergente Armando Angelini scrambled from Fuka, under the falling bombs.
They intercepted a reported 21 Bostons, that were escorted by 25 P-40s and ten Spitfires. They hit the enemy 15 kilometers south-east of Fuka. Reiner led the attack on the bombers and damaged four plus the bombers’ leader, which was hit in the left engine. Realizing that he had a Spitfire at his six-o’-clock, Reiner maneuvered and opened fire on it, hitting it in the cockpit and seeing it falling away. Oblach claimed a P-40 and Tenente Mecatti claimed another P-40 while some MC.202s from the 91a Squadriglia arrived to help. Reiner, Squarcia and Angelini jointly claimed a Spitfire (not credited to them), while Mecatti, Sergente Ferruccio Terrabuio (91a Squadriglia in MM7933), Sergente Maggiore Alessandro Bladelli (91a Squadriglia) and Oblach shared a Spitfire. During the return flight Reiner spotted a Spitfire below, heading opposite, that seemed to have some trouble. He dived and fired at it with the few remaining rounds in his SAFATs. The Spitfire made an emergency wheels-up landing 60 kilometers south-east of Fuka. No losses were suffered by the Italians.
Once back at base Reiner and Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini hurriedly took off with the Stormo's Storch and went to the rescue, but when they arrived, they found to their surprised another Storch, this time a Luftwaffe machine, with the British pilot still aboard. In a brief conversation the RAF pilot, Sergeant A. F. Richardson, admitted that he’d been shot down by a Macchi. Notwithstanding this Piccolomini didn’t press to obtain back the prisoner from the Germans.
RAF records shows that twelve Kittyhawks of 3 RAAF Squadron were up escorting 21 bombers at 13:30. They were attacked by four fighters that shot down the Kittyhawk (EV319/X) of Sergeant A. J. Richardson, who became a PoW. Pilot Officer B. H. Harris (Kittyhawk I AL205/S) claimed to have damaged a MC.202 over Fuka at 14:20. Obviously, Reiner had mistaken his opponent for a Spitfire. For the Italian pilots the misidentification of P-40s and even Hurricanes for Spitfires was as frequent as the misidentification of Macchis for Bf 109s made by their opponents.

On 1 December, four MC.202s of the 73a Squadriglia and four of the 96a Squadriglia, led respectively by Capitano Giulio Reiner and Capitano Emanuele Annoni, were scheduled to escort four (or eight) MC.200s of the 8o Gruppo, 2o Stormo, led by Capitano Orfeo Cecchet (CO of the 94a Squadriglia) and armed with 50 kg and 15 kg bombs, to strike enemy vehicles south-west of El Ahmar.
The fighter-bombers took off around 06:50 and joined their escort at 3000 meters above Ara dei Fileni before heading east to El Gtafia, with the escort 500 m above the fighter-bombers. The MC.200s dive-bombed and then strafed the targets, destroying or damaging more than thirty vehicles, while the Folgores stayed at 800 m to cover. They then returned home, with the MC.200s at 2000 m and the escort 1000 m above. It seemed all quiet, but Reiner saw Tenente Oblach (MC.202 MM9085) and his wingman Sottotenente Omero Alesi climbing, without giving any sign of alarm. When they passed Marsa el Brega, Reiner realized that Tenente Oblach and Alesi were missing, so he waved the wings to alert his pilots and turned back, but he could not see any aircraft. When he returned at the base, around 08:30, he found Alesi, who told him that Tenente Oblach had spotted twelve P-40Fs that were going to attack the Macchis, and, having no time to give the alarm, immediately jumped them. The Curtiss counterattacked the two MC.202s, but while Alesi escaped and returned home, Oblach was surrounded, shot down and killed. Regio Esercito infantry troops watched the combat, and witnessed that a Macchi shot down an enemy aircraft before being overwhelmed.

In his last North Africa duty tour, Oblach had performed 67 missions, with ten combats.

He was awarded a posthumously Medaglia d’oro al valor militare.

At the time of his death, Oblach was credited with 1 biplane victory and a total of 7.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 13/12/40 08:45- 1 Gladiator (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sidi Omar - Sollum 73a Squadriglia
  19/12/40 15:45 1 Hurricane (b) Probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 73a Squadriglia
  19/12/40 15:45 1 Hurricane (b) Damaged Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 73a Squadriglia
  13/04/41   1/3 Flying boat Shared destroyed on the sea MC.200   Divulje 73a Squadriglia
2 17/10/41   1 Blenheim (c) Destroyed MC.202   Syracuse area 73a Squadriglia
  18/09/42 15:30-17:10 1/5 Spitfire (d) Shared destroyed MC.202   El Alamein 73a Squadriglia
3 09/10/42 09:15 1 P-40 (e) Destroyed MC.202   Qutaifiya 73a Squadriglia
  09/10/42 09:15 1 P-40 (e) Probable MC.202   Qutaifiya 73a Squadriglia
4 20/10/42 10:55-12:20 1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   Fuka 73a Squadriglia
5 20/10/42 10:55-12:20 1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   Fuka 73a Squadriglia
  23/10/42 mid-morning 1 Enemy fighter Damaged MC.202   El Daba area 73a Squadriglia
6 25/10/42 12:30-13:40 1 P-40 (f) Destroyed MC.202   15km SE Fuka 73a Squadriglia
  25/10/42 12:30-13:40 1/4 Spitfire (f) Shared destroyed MC.202   15km SE Fuka 73a Squadriglia
7 01/12/42 06:50-08:30 1 P-40 (g) Destroyed MC.202 MM9085 Marsa el Brega 73a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 7 and 2 shared destroyed, 2 probably destroyed, 2 damaged, 1 shared destroyed on the sea.
(a) Claimed combat with Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron, which claimed one S.79 and one probable and two CR.42s for the loss of four Gladiators destroyed and one force-landed. The 9o Gruppo claimed six Gladiators and three probables for four Fiats damaged (one of them was lost). The S.79s from the 60a Squadriglia claimed two Gladiators without losses (the CO was however killed).
(b) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33 and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 5 CR.42s while getting 1 Hurricane from 274 Squadron damaged. The 9o and 10o Gruppi claimed at least 2 Hurricanes, 1 probable and 2 damaged while suffering 2 damaged CR.42s.
(c) Claimed in combat with Blenheims from the 18 Squadron, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(d) 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.
(e) 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.
(f) Claimed in combat with Kittyhawk Is from 3 RAAF Squadron which claimed 1 damaged MC.202 and lost 1 Kittyhawk (Sergeant A. F. Richardsson PoW). The 73a and 91a Squadriglie claimed 4 fighters without losses.
(g) This claim can’t be verified with any Allied losses.

3o Stormo, storia fotografica - Dai biplani agli aviogetti - Carlo Lucchini and Leproni Enrico, 1990 Gino Rossato Editore
9o Stormo da Bombardamento Terrestre (1934-1943) - Giovanni Tonicchi, 1997, Tarquinia kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
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
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - Giovanni Massimello, 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan
Buscaglia e gli Aerosiluranti - Orazio Giuffrida, 1994 Ufficio Storico Aeronautica Militare, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Dai Biplani agli Aviogetti - Carlo Lucchini and Enrico Leproni, 1990 Gino Rossato Editore, Valdagno kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
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
Il 23o Gruppo Caccia - Nicola Malizia, 1974 Bizzarri, Roma kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il caccia RE 2001 - Sergio Govi, 1982 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Fiat CR 42 l’ultimo biplano da caccia Italiano – Nicola Malizia, 2003 Editrice Innocenti, Grosseto, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Il Savoia Marchetti S.M. 79 nel Secondo Conflitto Mondiale - Bombardamento Terrestre - Ricognizione Strategica - Aviazione Sahariana – Cesare Gori, 2003 USSMA, Rome
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
La Regia Aeronautica - volume I: Dalla non belligeranza all'intervento – Nino Arena, 1981 USSMA, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Stormi d'Italia - Giulio Lazzati, 1975 Mursia, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Additional information kindly provided by Russell Guest, Stefano Lazzaro and Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 24 February 2023