Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Sergente Maggiore Italo Petrelli

In November 1941, Sergente Maggiore Italo Petrelli served in the 154a Squadriglia, 3o Gruppo CT. This unit was at the time equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

On 5 November 1941, the 3o Gruppo C.T. still had 33 efficient CR.42s on charge.
From 21:50 to 02:30 the 154a Squadriglia of this Gruppo carried out five scrambles above Tripoli, each one involving a CR.42 and the sky was cloudy at the altitude of the clash, 1,500 m.
Six Wellingtons were machine-gunned and three were thought to have probably been shot down. During the battle, Sergente Maggiore Petrelli was badly wounded in the right hand and had to land under bombardment at Castel Benito. Petrelli was credited with one of the probable bombers and the other two were credited to Tenente Elio Broganelli and Sottotenente Cesare Ciapetti.
The three CR.42s returned from these actions having been hit by return fire from the enemy. 1068 rounds from 7.7 mm machine guns and 867 from 12.7 mm ones were expended.
On the night of 5/6th November, 18 Wellingtons (eight from 40 Squadron and ten from 104 Squadron) attacked Castel Benito dropping 22 tons of H.E. and over 3 tons of incendiaries.

”Heavy AA was fairly accurate, the shells forming black puffs. The Tripoli defences were firing a green tracer changing to red, the last round in the clip appearing white. The smoke screen was ineffective.
B saw 4 fighters and was attacked by one of them without any effect. G was attacked from astern and starboard by a CR.42, fire was returned and the enemy broke off the engagement. S was attacked by 4 fighters on separate occasions. J claims hits on a CR.42 which passed by without attacking.
Weather good over target. 10/10 clouds over Tripoli at 10.000 feet. All aircraft returned safely.”
The Italian pilots complained that the guns of the CR.42 were not powerful enough and proposed reducing the tracer bullets to one every fifteen to reduce the glare.

Petrelli ended the war with one probable biplane victory.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1941                
  05/11/41 21:50-02:30 1 Wellington (a) Probably destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tripoli area 154a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 probably destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 probably destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Wellingtons from 40 and 104 Squadrons, which didn’t suffer any losses.

Sources:
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
La Battaglie Aeree In Africa Settentrionale: Novembre-Dicembre 1941 – Michele Palermo, IBN, ISBN 88-7565-102-7




Last modified 07 July 2016