Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Sergente Maggiore Luciano Perdoni

Image kindly provided by Fulvio Chianese at GORIZIA ed il QUARTO STORMO.

Sergente Luciano Perdoni was transferred to the 84a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo C.T., in North Africa on 25 October 1940. This unit was at the time equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

On 13 November, Sergente Perdoni of the 84a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, destroyed CR.42 MM4332 in a landing accident at Benina.

On 22 December, a formation of 23 fighters from the 10o Gruppo took off at 10:15 from Z1 to escort SM 79s bound to attack the usual British forces in the Sidi Omar-Sidi Azeiz area. The formation included six CR.42s from the 91a Squadriglia (Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli, Capitano Vincenzo Vanni, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato, Sergente Maggiore Natale Fiorito and Sergente Elio Miotto), seven from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Alessandro Rusconi, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sergente Alfredo Sclavo, Sergente Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Luigi Bagato and Sergente Luigi Contarini) and ten from the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Luigi Monti, Capitano Mario Pluda (from the 91a Squadriglia but attached to the 84a Squadriglia), Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Sottotenente Luigi Prati, Sergente Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Roberto Steppi, Sergente Corrado Patrizi, Sergente Giuseppe Scaglioni, Sergente Piero Buttazzi and Sergente Perdoni).
Capitano Monti, Sottotenente Prati and Sergente Scaglioni were forced to turn back due to engine problems.
During the return journey, a British aircraft, identified as a “Battle”, tried to attack the formation but was attacked and damaged by Sergente Perdoni, Sergente Steppi and Tenente Angeloni. The 91a Squadriglia formation attacked enemy aircraft (of unspecified type) over the front and claimed one of them confirmed. AA fire damaged Sergente Steppi’s CR.42. At 12:10, all the fighters landed back at Z1.
The bombers were part of the biggest operation by the Regia Aeronautica since the beginning of Operation Compass, consisting of ten bombers from the 41o Stormo under Colonnello Pezzi and ten more from the 15o Stormo under Capitano De Cecco. Enemy vehicles around the border area were attacked by Pezzi, who after releasing his bombs went down to strafe from 50 metres altitude using 6000 rounds of ammo. The only damage suffered was from light AA on Tenente Pandolfi’s aircraft. The bombers returned at 12:15.
The 15o Stormo attacked the Sidi Azeiz area with 90 100kg bombs but was intercepted by aircraft identified as Battles (!). The Italian didn’t have any escort, which had remained with the 41o Stormo and had to accept combat. Nine SM 79 landed normally at 12:05 but the tenth was shot down, being forced to crash-land 30 kilometres south-east of Tobruk with a dead and two wounded among its crew.
It seems that they “Battles” in fact were Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which reported that they flew offensive patrol together with 112 Squadron. During the day, they claimed two confirmed SM 79s shot down.

At 09:15 on 26 December, eight Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron took off from the LG south-west of Sollum to escort a Lysander doing artillery reconnaissance over Bardia. The Lysander failed to appear. At approximately 14:05 (obviously during a third patrol) two flights of five SM 79s escorted by a number of CR.42s were observed a few miles north-east of Sollum Bay. A separate formation of 18 CR.42s was following the bomber formation and escort 2,000 feet higher as top cover. Two Gladiators attacked the bomber formation whilst the remainder climbed to meet the higher formation. The attack on the bombers was broken off when the higher formation attacked the Gladiators. In the ensuing combat, Flight Lieutenant Gordon Steege and Flying Officer Wilfred Arthur each claimed a destroyed (seen to fall into the sea) and a damaged CR.42. Flying Officer Peter Turnbull, Flying Officer John Perrin and Flying Officer Alan Rawlinson each claimed one probable.
The CR.42s were 14 fighters from the newly arrived 23o Gruppo led by the CO, Maggiore Tito Falconi and 22 CR.42s from the 10o Gruppo. The CR.42s from the 23o Gruppo included three from the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Claudio Solaro, Sergente Pardino Pardini and Tenente Gino Battaggion), five from the 74a Squadriglia (Capitano Guido Bobba, Tenente Lorenzo Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Sante Schiroli, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Marzocca (forced to return early due to a sudden illness) and Sergente Manlio Tarantino) and five from the 75a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Monti, Sottotenente Renato Villa, Sottotenente Leopoldo Marangoni and Maresciallo Carlo Dentis). The fighters from the the 10o Gruppo included seven from the 91a Squadriglia (Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli, Capitano Vincenzo Vanni, Capitano Mario Pluda, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sottotenente Ruggero Caporali, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato and Sergente Elio Miotto), nine from the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Sottotenente Luigi Prati, Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Corrado Patrizi, Sergente Piero Buttazzi, Sergente Perdoni and Sergente Mario Veronesi) and six from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Alessandro Rusconi, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sergente Luigi Contarini and Sergente Giovanni Battista Ceoletta), which had taken off at 13:00.
They were escorting ten SM 79s from the 41o Stormo under Tenente Colonnello Draghelli and five SM 79s 216a Squadriglia, 53o Gruppo, 34o Stormo, led by Tenente Stringa. The SM 79s had taken off from M2 at 12:25 and attacked Sollum harbour’s jetty (reportedly hit) and two destroyers inside Sollum Bay (with poor results because of the heavy AA fire). AA from the ships hit four bombers from the 34o Stormo; one of them, piloted by Sottotenente Bellini had to force land close to Ain El Gazala with the central engine out of action. Returning pilots reported an attempt to intercept by some Gladiators but the escort repulsed the British fighters. They landed without further problems at 15:15.
Over the target, immediately after the bombing, the Italian fighters reported the interception of “enemy aircraft” alternatively “many Glosters” or “Hurricanes and Glosters”. The 70a Squadrigli pilots claimed a shared Hurricane, this was possibly an aircraft from 33 Squadron. This unit’s ORB reported that during the day’s patrols many SM 79s and CR.42s were intercepted with one CR.42 believed damaged. Two Gladiators confirmed and two probables were shared between the whole 10o Gruppo. Another Gladiator was assigned to the 23o Gruppo (in the documents of 75a Squadriglia but this is not confirmed by the other two Squadriglie). Many Glosters were claimed damaged by Tenente Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Schiroli, Sergente Tarantino, Sottotenente Marangoni, Tenente Calistri, Tenente Monti and Sottotenente Villa. The CR.42s were back between 14:30 and 15:05.
No Gladiators were lost even if three of them were damaged (all repairable within the unit). The Australians had done a very good job indeed, facing a formation four times more numerous (even if it seem improbable that all the Italian fighters were able to join the combat). From the Italian reports it seems that only the front sections of the escort (including the 74a, 75a and the 84a Squadriglie) were engaged in a sharp dogfight with the Gladiators. The Australians were able to shot down the CO of the 74a Squadriglia, Capitano Guido Bobba, who was killed when his fighter fell in flames into the sea and damaged Tenente Lorenzoni’s fighter, who landed at T2 (and came back to Z1 the day after). Three more CR.42s were damaged when Tenente Angeloni was forced to land at T5 before reaching Z1, Sergente Veronesi’s fighter was damaged and Sottotenente Prati was forced to make an emergency landing short of T2 (his fighter was reportedly undamaged and only suffering for a slight engine breakdown). Maggiore Falconi’s fighter was also heavily damaged but managed to return. The morning after Angeloni was able to return to Z1 with his aircraft.
Capitano Guido Bobba was awarded a posthumously Medaglia d’Argento al valor militare. He was replaced as CO of the 74a Squadriglia by Tenente Mario Pinna.

At 15:00 on 3 January 1941, Maggiore Tito Falconi led four CR.42s of the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Claudio Solaro, Tenente Gino Battaggion, Sergente Maggiore Balilla Albani and Sergente Cesare Sironi), five of the 74a Squadriglia (Tenente Mario Pinna, Tenente Lorenzo Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Sante Schiroli, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Marzocca and Sergente Giuseppe Sanguettoli) and seven of the 75a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Maria Monti, Sottotenente Giuseppe De Angelis, Sottotenente Renato Villa, Maresciallo Giovanni Carmello, Maresciallo Luigi Pasquetti and Sergente Leo Mannucci) in an escort mission for SM 79s attacking mechanized vehicles around Bardia. Fighters from the 10o Gruppo were also present including Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Mario Veronesi, Sergente Piero Buttazzi and Sergente Perdoni of the 84a Squadriglia and Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sottotenente Orlando Mandolini, Sergente Luigi Contarini and Sergente Alfredo Sclavo of the 90a Squadriglia. Hurricanes were intercepted and two of them were claimed damaged by the 70a Squadriglia’s pilots. During the return journey, the CR.42s went down to strafe, claiming three armoured vehicles.
They landed back at 17:20.

In January 1941, the 10o Gruppo was withdrawn to Italy to re-equip with the Macchi MC.200 and in April they operated from Ronchi with 23 MC.200s against Yugoslavia.

On 16 June 1941, 10o Gruppo moved to Trapani, Sicily to take part in the attacks on Malta.

During the late morning on 27 June, nine Hurricanes from 46 Squadron were scrambled, meeting one reconnaissance S.79 with an escort of an estimated 29 MC.200s between 20,000 and 25,000 feet over Takali. This seems to have been a formation composed of a S.79 from the 193a Squadriglia and 22 escorting Macchis. 20 MC.200s from the 10o Gruppo, 12 from the 7o Gruppo and nine from the 16o Gruppo had originally set out, but 19 had returned early.
Squadron Leader Sandy Rabagliati (Hurricane Z2593) led the Hurricanes in a stern chase of the formation, firing a two burst at the S.79, which he claimed damaged. He was then attacked by three MC.200s, turned into one head-on and fired a short burst from 100 yards. This aircraft burst into flames and crashed into the sea ten miles east of the island. He reported that he saw two more Macchis crash, one on the island and one in the sea nearby. Sergeant William Copp claimed:

“Engaged Macchi at 16,000 feet above Grand Harbour. Fired two two-second bursts (beam attack). Macchi went down in a dive. Engaged a second Macchi over the island at 12,000 feet. Fired a three second burst (beam attack). Macchi went down and pilot baled, chute did not open.”
The first was claimed as a probable while the second was Sergente Alfredo Sclavo of the 90a Squadriglia who’s body was found near Ta’Karach, not far from Ghaxaq. He had been wounded in the face, but killed by the fall in which his parachute had not opened. His aircraft fell near Birzebbugia.
Pilot Officer Albert Anderson, who was flying as No.2 to Squadron Leader Rabagliati, claimed a MC.200:
“I got on the tail of a Macchi and got in several bursts into the cockpit as the Macchi was doing a stall turn. It spun down with smoke coming out. Seen to crash by Sgt Hackston.”
Meanwhile Pilot Officer Leslie Barnes, who was acting as ‘weaver’ 4,000 feet above the rest of the squadron, climbed to 27,000 feet and attacked the high escort which was stepped up to 26,000 feet, with two aircraft at approximately 30,000 feet. Diving from the beam on one Macchi, he closed to quarter astern and saw the aircraft go down in an inverted dive, watching it go straight into the sea as he circled down. He then attacked another at 23,000 feet head-on, seeing the pilot of this carry out a forced-landing on the sea. Barnes radioed the position, and the pilot, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, was picked up by a Swordfish floatplane from the Kalafrana Rescue Flight; Barnes later met his victim. Sergeant Arnold Jolly, on attachment from 185 Squadron, also claimed one MC.200 shot down and one probable during this action.
The 10o Gruppo reported that Capitano Luigi Monti of the 84a Squadriglia led five aircraft from the Squadriglia in an escort to three BR.20 at mid-morning with the purpose of scramble Malta’s fighter defence. They returned halfway to Malta. With the hope that the fighter defence over the island now was reduced, Tenente Colonnello Carlo Romagnoli led a formation of fighters from the 90a and 91a Squadriglie, which was escorting a photo-reconnaissance S.79. Other Italian fighters flew as an indirect escort to this sortie. Romagnoli was forced to return after 45 minutes due to a faulty propeller and when they tested their guns, Ruffato, Sergente Maggiore Natale Fiorito and Capitano Vincenzo Vanni were forced to return due to faulty machineguns. Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Maresciallo Leonardo Ferrulli, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato and Sergente Alessandro Bladelli of the 91a Squadriglia remained together with the fighters from 90a Squadriglia and a patrol led by Capitano Franco Lucchini with Sergente Perdoni and Sergente Piero Buttazzi from the 84a Squadriglia.
The S.79 finished its mission over Valetta but when it turned to return the Italian aircraft were attacked from above by RAF fighters. The fighters from the 91a Squadriglia doesn’t got involved in the combat and escorted the S.79 unharmed back to its base while the fighters from the 90a Squadriglia and Lucchini’s patrol engaged the enemy in a violent dogfight. The Italian fighters claimed three victories, one shared and four probables. The individuals were claimed by Tenente Giovanni Guiducci (90a Squadriglia), Lucchini and Perdoni while the shared was claimed by Lucchini, Perdoni, Tenente Stefano Soprana (90a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan (90a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti (90a Squadriglia), Sergente Alfredo Sclavo and Sergente Luigi Contarini (90a Squadriglia).
When returning to base, Sclavo and De Benedetti were missing. Lucchini took-off in a Fiat CR.42 to look for the missing pilots but they couldn’t be found. Only later did they received through the International Red Cross information that De Benedetti was a PoW and that Sclavo had been killed.

By the end of 1941, the 4o Stormo re-equipped with Macchi MC.202s.

In early May 1942, the 4o Stormo was in Sicily with the duty of bomber escort over Malta.
On 22 May, the 10 Gruppo returned to North Africa and to Martuba 4 airfield for a second desert tour.

On 1 July 1942, the 10o Gruppo transferred to Fuka.

After a period of rest, on 24 February 1943, pilots of the 10o Gruppo rejoined to reorganize the unit at Bresso airfield, under the command of Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis.
Pilots in the 84a Squadriglia were Capitano Franco Lucchini (CO) (hospitalized), Tenente Luigi Giannella, Tenente Alessandro Mettimano, Sottotenente Francesco De Seta, Sottotenente Ugo Picchiottini, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Maggiore Corrado Patrizi, Sergente Maggiore Piero Buttazzi, Sergente Maggiore Perdoni and Sergente Livio Barbera.
Pilots in the 90a Squadriglia were Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini (CO), Sottotenente Sforza Libera, Sottotenente Renato Baroni, Sottotenente Luigi Cima, Sergente Maggiore Massimo Salvatore, Sergente Maggiore Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Battista Ceoletta, Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici and Sergente Maggiore Natale Molteni.
Pilots in the 91a Squadriglia were Capitano Luigi Mariotti (CO), Tenente Giuseppe Ferazzani, Tenente Alvaro Bondi, Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli, Sottotenente Elio Miotto, Sottotenente Guerriero Silvestri, Sottotenente Vittorino Daffara, Maresciallo Alessandro Bladelli, Maresciallo Lamberto Martelli, Sergente Maggiore Ferruccio Terrabujo, Sergente Ambrogio Rusconi and Sergente Giulio Fornalé.
On 20 April, the Gruppo transferred to Ciampino Sud for the defence of Rome.

Perdoni ended the war with 2 shared biplane victories and a total of 5.
During the war, he was decorated with the Medaglia d’aregento al valor militare, the Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (twice) and the Croce di Guerra al valor militare (three times).

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
  22/12/40 10:15-12:10 1/3 ”Battle” (a) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Sidi Omar-Sidi Azeiz area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  1941                
1 27/06/41 morning 1 Hurricane (c) Destroyed MC.200   Valetta area 84a Squadriglia
  27/06/41 morning 1/7 Hurricane (c) Shared destroyed MC.200   Valetta area 84a Squadriglia
  1942                
2 04/06/42   1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   Bir Hacheim 84a Squadriglia
3 08/06/42   1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   Bir Hacheim 84a Squadriglia
4 14/07/42   1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   North Africa 84a Squadriglia
5 21/10/42   1 Spitfire Destroyed MC.202   North Africa 84a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 2 shared destroyed, 2 shared probables, 1 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 5 and 3 shared destroyed, 2 shared probable, 1 shared damaged.
(a) Possibly claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which didn't suffer any losses.
(b) Claimed in combat with Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron, which claimed 2 and 3 probables without any losses, and possibly Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed a damaged CR.42 during the day. The 23o Gruppo claimed 1 Hurricane and 1 Gladiator and the 10o Gruppo claimed 2 and 2 probable Gladiators while losing one CR.42 and getting five more damaged.
(c) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 46 Squadron, which claimed five victories without losses. The 10o Gruppo claimed three and one shared Hurricanes and four probables while losing two MC.200s.

Sources:
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
Desert Prelude: Operation Compass - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2011 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-61421-18-4
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
Hurricanes over Malta - Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, 2001 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-91-8
Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-41 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-89747-207-1
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro and Ludovico Slongo




Last modified 01 April 2012