Biplane fighter aces


Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini Clementini Adami

26 November 1912 -

© Renato Zavattini

Date Decoration Note
??/??/39 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) O.M.S.
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/43 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (3rd) 1940-43
??/??/42 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (1st) 1940-43
??/??/46 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (2nd) 1943-45
??/??/?? 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.

Ranieri Piccolomini Clementini Adami was born on 26 November 1912 and was from Siena.

He belonged to an ancient family of the so called "Roman Nobility" (one of his ancestors was Pope of the Catholic Church - Pius II Piccolomini, 1458 to 1464).

On 19 August 1936, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

From September 1937, with the rank of Sottotenente, he took part in the Spanish Civil War, flying in the 65a Squadriglia Assalto, which was commanded by Capitano Duilio Fanali (commander of the 65a Squadriglia from 13 October 1937 to 1 July 1938) and equipped with Breda Ba.65s.
During this period, his personal aircraft was coded "16-7", and he flew it until he crashed it after an aborted take-off due to a propeller failure on 18 June 1938.

His first mission was flown on the Teruel front on 30 December 1937. During the mission, he attacked Republican tanks and troops with bombs and machine-guns. In return, his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft gunfire.

On 26 July 1938, he destroyed the Ascò Bridge over the Ebro with 100 kg bombs together with Capitano Miotto (who at this time was the new Squadriglia commander) and Maresciallo Marinelli.
Two hours later he and five other Ba.65s were back to strafe roads around the bridge, but his aircraft was hit by AA fire. With the engine out of order, Piccolomini crash-landed near Gandesa, destroying Ba.65 "16-16", but suffering only minor wounds.
This was probably his last combat mission in Spain.

Soria, October 1937. From left to right:
Sottotenente Piccolomini, Tenente Leopoldo Sartirana, Capitano Desiderio, Capitano Duilio Fanali and Sottotenente Torquato Testerini.

When Italy declared war on the Great Britain and France on 10 June 1940 Tenente Ranieri Piccolomini 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 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 Alfonso 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.

Reconnaissance sorties by 113 Squadron had revealed Tobruk harbour to be crowded and a combined action by the RAF and the Royal Navy was planned at dawn on 12 June against the shipping in the harbour.
The light cruiser HSM Gloucester and the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney were to carry out a sweep against Tobruk while the RAF bombed the harbour to drive shipping out of it and into the guns of the waiting fleet and to destroy at their moorings those vessels that did not flee.
Twenty-nine Blenheims from four squadrons were briefed to be over Tobruk at sunrise.
Six Blenheim Mk.Is from 45 Squadron took off but Sergeant Grant in L6664 aborted with an engine failure, while the other five failed to find the target and four returned with the bombs still aboard. Flying Officer Rixson in the fifth Blenheim (L8524) bombed some troops near Bardia but had to force-land at Mersa Matruh during the return journey (unknown reason).
Only two of the five from 55 Squadron reached Tobruk – an engine of one would not start, the observer of another was struck by a propeller so it too did not take off, while a third had to turn back with engine trouble. Over the target they met a reported fifty CR.42s, which did not attack, so they returned to base unharmed.
Two of the nine from 211 Squadron crashed on take-off while a third suffered a slight ground collision with a Bombay; the remaining six were engaged by (reportedly) Fiat CR.42s defending Tobruk and claimed to have shot down two of them, (first claims by the Royal Air Force in the desert).
Finally nine Blenheim Mk.IVs of 113 Squadron did manage to find and bomb the harbour and reporting hits on the old cruiser San Giorgio.
There were not any CR.42s operational over Tobruk on the morning of 12 June, only the CR.32 of the 8o Gruppo. The Gruppo reported that two different formations of British bombers were intercepted before they were able to reach their target and obliged to jettison their bombs and turn back suffering heavy damage. The intercepting fighters were from three sections drawn from the three Squadriglie of the Gruppo. The section of the 92a Squadriglia was commanded by Tenente Piccolomini, the 93a Squadriglia section was commanded by Sergente Maggiore Italo Bertinelli and the 94a Squadriglia section was commanded by Sottotenente Giacomo Maggi. The Italian fighters didn’t claim victories (only damage; according to some sources one damaged was claimed by Tenente Piccolomini) and didn’t suffer any losses.
It seems that some bombs fell on T2 but didn’t cause any damage. The air attack on the harbour was similarly devoid of concrete results.
According with the war diary of the cruiser San Giorgio, at dawn, two British cruisers with their escort of destroyers shelled the base, sinking the minesweeper Giovanni Berta, which was caught 3,5 miles out of the harbour. In the meantime, between 04:52 and 05:02, the Navy base was under air attacks that didn’t cause damage; San Giorgio was not damaged.

14 June saw the first combats between opposing RAF and Regia Aeronautica fighters over North Africa. This was caused because the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own), joined by elements of 4th Armoured Brigade and 1st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, assaulted Fort Capuzzo and Fort Maddalena (the two most important Italian frontier posts). The offensive was supported by attacks by Blenheims from 45, 55, 113 and 211 Squadrons. To protect both bombers and ground forces, 33 Squadron flew offensive sweeps as far as Bardia, meeting the Regia Aeronautica two times in the morning and Piccolomini took part in the second engagement.
At 10:00, after refuelling the Gladiators,
Dean (Gladiator L9046) and Woodward (Gladiator N5783) were off again, followed a few minutes later by Sergeant J. Craig (Gladiator N5768). Near Fort Capuzzo they intercepted two Caproni Ca.310Bs escorted by CR.32s. Dean shot down one of the CR.32s while Woodward and Craig jointly attacked one Caproni, setting one of the engines on fire. The Italian bomber crash-landed among British tanks near Fort Capuzzo. Woodward also attacked and claimed a second CR.32 (this claim is unconfirmed and no more Italian losses has been possible to verify) before returning to base with a single bullet hole in one of the wings. Dean later told:

“Soon after being promoted to Flying Officer, I was posted to No 33 Squadron at Mersa Matruh. I had a good flight with Verne Woodward, Peter Wickham and Sergeant Craig. It wasn’t long after Italy declared war that we were moved to Sidi Barrani. We had no warning system at all of aircraft movement by the enemy, and only very sketchy and vague locations of both ours and their positions from the Army. We carried out the old traditions of patrolling along and over the border in the beginning in “vics” and pairs. Later, we flew bigger sweeps with more aircraft. The combat of 14 June near Fort Capuzzo was our very first encounter with the enemy. An inoffensive-looking light bomber was seen, and I detached Woodward and Sergeant Craig to attack, whilst I stayed aloft to cover. Within a short spell, I saw six aircraft in line astern heading from the west. I recognised them as CR 32s. I remember being quite calm, and wondering what the heck to do. I flew towards them, keeping them well to my right – with the thought of getting behind them (and shooting them down one by one – silly boy!).
Before I got close enough to them, they split in all directions and formed a ring around me – the sitting duck! I remembered somewhere about flying extraordinarily badly to present a very bad target. I throttled back, yawed and waffled up and down and around, and could hear the thump of their half-inch cannon at each pass, and as each came into my sights having a rapid squirt at them. This seemed to go on for ages, and eventually one of them dropped away and suddenly the remainder disappeared, and I was thankfully alone in the sky and flew back.
I heard upon my return to base that one CR 32 had been destroyed, apparently by me, whilst Woodward and Craig had shared the bomber. I did hear later that the pilot of the CR 32 had been struck by a single bullet through the heart.”

They had clashed with six CR.32s from the 8o Gruppo flown by Capitano Martino Zannier (CO 92a Squadriglia), Tenente Piccolomini (92a Squadriglia), Tenente Gioacchino Bissoli (93a Squadriglia), Sergente Ernesto Pavan (92a Squadriglia), Sergente Edoardo Azzarone (92a Squadriglia) and Sergente Roberto Lendaro (93a Squadriglia), which had been escorting three Caproni Ca.310s of the 159a Squadriglia, 12o Gruppo, 50o Stormo that had taken of at 09:30 to attack British armoured cars that were surrounding Amseat (Fort Capuzzo). The Italian fighters reported that they had chased seven (or nine) Gladiators and three of them were claimed shot down by Piccolomini, Pavan and Azzarone before Azzarone was shot down and killed (probably by Dean) over the British lines (according to some sources the Italian fighters only claimed two victories; one by Piccolomini and the second shared between Pavan and Azzarone). The Caproni shot down was flown by Sergente Maggiore Stefano Garrisi who parachuted together with Primo Aviere Montatore Alfio Ubaldi while gunner Aviere Scelto Armiere Giuseppe Pascali jumped too low and was killed (his body was recovered near Amseat on 26 December 1940). 130 rounds hit the Caproni of Tenente Mario Virgilio Corda and Sergente Maggiore Giovanbattista Trevisan was wounded. This was the second mission during the war for the 12o Gruppo and it revealed the unreliability of Ca.310s in this role. Breda Ba.65s soon replaced them.

Tenente Piccolomini in North Africa in 1940.
© Renato Zavattini

At 07:45 on 19 June, four Gladiators from 33 Squadron flown by Squadron Leader D. V. Johnson (N5782), Flight Lieutenant G. E. Hawkins (N5765), Flying Officer A. H. Lynch (N5764), and Sergeant Roy Leslie Green (L9043) accompanied by Flying Officer Peter Wykeham-Barnes (Hurricane Mk.I P2639) of 80 Squadron and two Blenheim IFs from 30 Squadron took off from Mersa Matruh to patrol between Bug Bug and Sollum.
At 09:40, they sighted a formation of nine Fiat CR.42s (in other sources it is stated that it was five CR.42s and either seven CR.32s or Ro.37s). The Fiats were slightly below and to the port side of the British fighters, who were in an ideal position to make an attack.
Wykeham-Barnes shot down the leader of the Italian fighters whilst he was doing a vertical turn, with a short burst at full deflection. The Gladiators claimed two more CR.42s, but lost 24-year-old Sergeant Green (RAF No. 44754) when he was shot down despite some violent aerobatics.
The returning RAF pilots reported that although the enemy was superior in numbers, they lacked the aggression of the Gladiator pilots and gradually retreated towards the Libyan border. Wykeham-Barnes found it difficult to get his sights on the Fiats, because they were so very manoeuvrable, but eventually one of them made a mistake and he was able to get in a good burst of shells, which caused the CR.42 to dive away with smoke trailing behind it. He did not actually see it crash, but it was later confirmed as being destroyed by the ground forces. The Gladiators and the Hurricane were then forced to break off the combat by lack of petrol and ammunition. On their way, back to Mersa Matruh they had to land at Sidi Barrani to refuel and rearm. The Gladiators were back at 10:10 and Wykeham-Barnes at 10:30.
The Italian aircraft had been from the Tobruk T2 based 10o Gruppo C.T. At 08:40, five aircraft of the 84a Squadriglia took off to escort a formation of five Breda Ba.65/A80s of the 159a Squadriglia, 12o Gruppo Assalto and nine CR.32s from the 8o Gruppo, heading to attack enemy vehicles between Sollum and Sidi El Barrani. The Bredas took off at 07:20, commanded by Capitano Duilio Fanali. The Italian fighters of the 84a Squadriglia were flown by Tenente Colonnello Armando Piragino, Capitano Luigi Monti, Sergente Maggiore Ugo Corsi, Sergente Giuseppe Scaglioni and Sergente Narciso Pillepich (almost certain MM5552). Monti, who was the pilot with the longer war experience insisted with his commander to increase the number of aircraft participating in the escort, but without avail. The assault planes were out in a search-and-destroy mission and firstly they had to find targets. In doing so they started with a pass between Amseat and Bardia, then a second one going beyond Sollum then a third one. In this way, a lot of time was lost and the RAF could scramble its aircraft. The Fiats were over the Bredas, turning at 2000 metres when a number of Glosters and Hurricanes (the Blenheims were not seen at all while the Hurricane was, as usual, misidentified as a Spitfire) suddenly attacked them. After a sharp engagement, three pilots came back to T2. The missing pilots were Corsi and Piragino. A CR.42s (Corsi, who was killed) was clearly seen to fall into the sea after being hit by a Hurricane, while nothing was known of the second CR.42. The Ba.65s came back safely, without seeing enemy planes that were obviously too busy with the 4o Stormo planes and didn’t engage them. However, returning to T2, the Breda flown by Sergente Maggiore Pietro Scaramucci suffered an engine breakdown and crash-landed, being written-off as a consequence.
Sergente Giuseppe Scaglioni returned claiming a Gladiator (probably Green) and a damaged Spitfire, Sergente Pillepich claimed two damaged Gladiators and Capitano Monti claimed a damaged Gladiator. The same evening a “British communiqué” advised that six (!) British fighters were lost in exchange for two Italians. So all participating pilots in this combat were credited with six shared victories because this was the only combat of the day for Italian units. Some days after, a British message dropped on Bardia informed that Piragino was wounded in a leg after crashing at Sollum and prisoner. Scaglioni described the combat:

“Over Bir el Gib we were surprised by a number of Glosters and a Hurricane that attacked with height advantage giving us a lot of trouble. I saw the commander doing a violent overturning while I was doing a break on the left, this manoeuvre put me behind a Gloster that I shot down with my 12,7 mm guns.
I lost sight of the commander immediately and after landing I knew he was missing. In the same combat, we lost Sergente Maggiore Corsi shot down by a Hurricane that I attacked trying to distract it from its action but in vain. For sure Corsi was taken by surprise because he was considered a pilot of exceptional skill and the very best aerobatic pilot of the Stormo.”

The nine CR.32s from the 8o Gruppo had taken off at 08:25. The formation included six CR.32s of the 92a Squadriglia (Capitano Martino Zannier, Tenente Piccolomini, Tenente Giorgio Savoia, Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Gorgone, Sergente Nadio Monti and Sergente Ernesto Pavan) and three from the 94a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lavelli, Sottotenente Giacomo Maggi and Sottotenente Nunzio De Fraia), which took off loaded with two-kilo bombs with the dual role of escorting the Bredas from the 159a Squadriglia and ground attack.
The formation of the 92a Squadriglia was back at 10:35 claiming the destructions of many trucks (left in flames) with the use of 2765 rounds of ammunition and 96 two-kilo bombs. Tenente Savoia’s aircraft was damaged by AA fire but no enemy planes were noted. Lavelli’s group was back at 10:55 without suffering losses. They claimed the destruction of Sollum’s electrical station by the use of 36 two-kilo bombs but noted enemy fighters that had attacked them. It seems that they also had been engaged by the Gladiators from 33 Squadron, the 80 Squadron Hurricane and the two Blenheims from 30 Squadron.
This was 80 Squadron's first action during the Second World War.

At dawn on 21 June, a Short Sunderland appeared over Tobruk harbour. Sergente Roberto Steppi of the 84a Squadriglia took off immediately and intercepted the seaplane 20 kilometres north of Tobruk were it already was under attack of two CR.32s flown by Tenente Piccolomini and Tenente Giorgio Savoia of the 92a Squadriglia, which had scrambled from Tobruk T2 at 04:30. Diving on the Sunderland, Steppi opened fire aiming at the cockpit but after two bursts of fire, his guns jammed and he was obliged to leave the pursuit.
Tenente Franco Lucchini of the 90a Squadriglia took off after Steppi and joined the fight, following the Sunderland far out over open sea and leaving it off coast with two engines smoking.
Neither Lucchini nor Steppi claimed any victory but, two days later, on 23 June, news arrived from the Navy base at Bardia, that the Sunderland, heavily damaged, had been forced to ditch in the sea off the coast and had been captured with all the crew dead except from the pilot, who was wounded. The victory was assigned to the four pilots collectively although it should be attributed to Lucchini.
This was the first reported Italian meeting with the lumbering Sunderland and its overall dimensions made a strong impression on them. Asked about his feelings during the combat, the “Archduke”, as Piccolomini was playfully nicknamed by his comrades, stated graphically – “That was not a plane, that was a tram”.
According to British records, the intruder on the evening on 20 June was a 228 Squadron Sunderland (N9025/Y) piloted by Acting Flight Lieutenant T. M. W. Smith DFC and Flying Officer D. R. S. Bevan-John. The British crew reported heavy AA during an evening reconnaissance of Tobruk’s harbour and landed at Alexandria by night, undamaged.
Then the attack of the Bombay followed and finally at 02:20, Sunderland L2160/X of 230 Squadron piloted by Wing Commander G. Francis and Flight Lieutenant Garside, took off from Alexandria for a reconnaissance of Tobruk’s harbour. Over Tobruk they were intercepted by a reportedly four CR.32s or CR.42s claiming one of them shot down while the others broke off after a 15 minutes engagement. L2160 was however heavily damaged by explosive bullets (0.52’’ diameter), principal damage being a large hole in hull (6’’ x 8’’). The fuel tanks were also extensively holed but these were stopped in air with plasticize.
From Alexandria L2166/U took off at 08:05 piloted by Flight Lieutenant Alington to escort L2160 as a safety aircraft in case it was unable to make it back. It was however unable to join with “X”, which in turn landed in Alexandria at 08:30 and was immediately put on the slipway of Imperial Airways for repairs (the aircraft was back in action on 9 July).
L2160 was undoubtedly the plane attacked by Piccolomini, Savoia, Steppi and Lucchini while there is the strong possibility that the aircraft ditched off Bardia was in fact the 216 Squadron’s Bombay (perhaps previously hit by AA fire and in fact the AA defences of Tobruk was credited with a victory during the day) that was incorrectly reported as a Sunderland and originated the Italian fighter’s claim.

At 09:40 on the same morning, six CR.32s of the 92a Squadriglia (Capitano Martino Zannier, Tenente Piccolomini, Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Gorgone, Sergente Vito Copersino, Sergente Nadio Monti and Sergente Ernesto Pavan) and three from the 93a Squadriglia (Tenente Alberto Argenton, Sergente Italo Bertinelli and Sergente Roberto Lendaro) took off and attacked enemy vehicles south of Bir El Gobi, escorted by CR.42s from the 13o Gruppo. The fire from the CR.32s, which attacked in single file, stopped an enemy armoured car and forced two other armoured cars of the same formation, less seriously damaged, to flee.
They were back at base at 11:00, where Copersino’s fighter was found damaged in the fuel tank by AA. The 92a Squadriglia formation expended 1756 rounds and 96 two-kilo bombs.

In the beginning of July the 8o Gruppo re-equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

At 18:00 on 8 October, Piccolomini alone attacked a formation composed by reportedly three Wellingtons until he was out of ammunition. He returned with his damaged fighter, which had been hit in the wings and in the fuselage, claiming damage to all three Wellingtons with the use of 618 rounds.
He had met a couple of Blenheims from 55 Squadron that had taken off at 17:00 from Fuka to attack targets in Bardia with small calibre bombs. The returning British pilots reported that after the bomb drop they were unable to see their results because they were immediately attacked by a CR.42, which stayed behind them firing alternatively at both from about 400 yards. After around five minutes, the fighter disengaged having caused no damage and apparently having suffered none. The British crew noted that the heavy but inaccurate AA burst mainly around the pursuing fighter 400 yards behind (probably the damage suffered by Piccolomini was caused by Italian AA).
However, when the British bombers landed at 19:10, Blenheim L8391 hit a lorry after landing, slightly bending one airscrew and the Vokes filter.

While on a patrol between 10:50 and 13:25 on 15 October over Sollum and Giarabub together with Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Gorgone and Sergente Nadio Monti, Tenente Piccolomini of the 92a Squadriglia spotted and shot down a Lysander with the use of 2284 rounds of ammunition.
This was Pilot Officer David Mervyn Boughey Druce (RAF no. 72022) of 208 Squadron flying a reconnaissance over Giarabub in a lone Lysander (L4714), who reportedly was attacked by the CR.42s and shot down, his aircraft blowing-up on hitting the ground killing him and his Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sergeant John Felix Muldowney (RAF no. 537426). Before being shot down however, the Lysander fought back tenaciously discharging four pans of rear gun ammunition and damaging both Gorgone’s and Monti’s fighters.
Egyptian soldiers from a frontier post witnessed the action and later recovered the bodies of the two British pilots. Lysander L4720 was allotted as replacement for L4714.

On 8 December, the 92a Squadriglia (CO Capitano Martino Zannier) had three combat ready CR.42s, four inefficient at Menastir and one inefficient at Benghazi waiting for an engine. During the morning on 8 December the three combat ready CR.42s were passed to the 13o Gruppo at Gambut while two of the inefficient machines were flown to Benina. During the morning on 10 December one CR.42 of the Squadriglia piloted by Sergente Orsi made a standing patrol over Menastir (obviously one of the planes that was inefficient on the 8th), while on 11 December another inefficient machine was taken to El Adem for a general revision.
Regarding the Commanding Officer it is noteworthy that Zannier (who wrote down the Squadriglia’s Diary) didn’t take part in any of the missions of his Squadriglia after 5 October and during the following months it appears that the Squadriglia was led in the air directly by Maggiore La Carruba (Gruppo CO) or Tenente Piccolomini and on one occasion (28 November) one of its CR.42s was flown by Capitano Travaglini, a pilot of the 77a Squadriglia.

In December 1940, the 2o Stormo returned to Italy. During the African tour from 11 June to 19 December, it had flown 2403 missions, destroyed 45 enemy aircraft and lost 13, with ten pilots KIA or MIA and two POW.

Pilots of the 92a Squadriglia in North Africa in 1940. Tenente Ranieri Piccolomini holds the mascot of the Squadriglia.
© Renato Zavattini

Back in Italy Piccolomini was transferred to the 4o Stormo. In 1941 and with the rank of Capitano, he was in the Comando staff of the Stormo.

He was promoted to Capitano on 17 August 1941.

At 14.00 on 20 April 1942 19 MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo undertook their first mission – a fighter sweep over Malta. They were led by Capitano Giovanni Guiducci, leader of the 90a Squadriglia. Half an hour into their flight Guiducci and his No. 2, Sergente Maggiore Giambattista Ceoletta, collided, both aircraft falling into the sea off Porto Empedocle. Although Ceoletta managed to bale out and was picked up by a fishing boat, Guiducci’s aircraft fell in flames and he was killed; the mission was at once aborted.
Two days later Capitano Piccolomini was posted in to take over the 90a Squadriglia.

In early May, the 4o Stormo (equipped with Macchi MC.202 Folgores) was in Sicily with the duty of bomber escort over Malta.

On 24 May 1942, the 54 MC.202s of the 4o Stormo C, which had been operating over Malta, arrived at Martuba, led by Tenente Colonnello Armando François.
They joined 1o Stormo (CO Colonnello Alfredo Reglieri), forming a force of more than 100 MC.202s, the largest concentration of these fighters ever to be achieved in Libya.
Next day a Comando Caccia (Fighter Command) was established at Martuba under the 1o Stormo commander, to co-ordinate the activities of the four MC.202-equipped units:
6o Gruppo (1o Stormo); CO Maggiore Mario Larcher
17o Gruppo (1o Stormo); CO Maggiore Domenico Sciaudone
9o Gruppo (4o Stormo); CO Maggiore Antonio Larsimont Pergameni
10o Gruppo (4o Stormo); CO Maggiore Paolo Maddalena
The three squadriglie of the newly arrived 9o Gruppo were led by Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia), Capitano Ezio Viglione Borghese (96a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Jacopo Frigerio (97a Squadriglia), who would be replaced by Tenente Fernando Malvezzi on 1 June. The commanders of the three squadriglie of 10o Gruppo were Capitano Franco Lucchini (84a Squadriglia), Capitano Piccolomini (90a Squadriglia) and Tenente Orlando Mandolini (91a Squadriglia).

It is believed that Piccolomini's personal aircraft during this tour was Macchi MC.202 serie III "90-1" (MM unknown).

On 4 June, twelve Ju 87s of I. and II./StG 3 attacked to the north of Bir Hacheim (07:05-08:45) in the mornings second attack escorted by the I./JG 27 (take off 07:48). One of the Ju 87s was shot down by AA over the fortress (Ju 87D-1 WNr 2465 S7+KM; one was seen to bale out but both Leutnant Robert Hübel and Unteroffizier Fritz Müller were killed).
Seven Tomahawks each from 4 SAAF and 5 SAAF Squadrons with Kittyhawks of 2 SAAF Squadron, were ordered to patrol over Bir Hacheim where the South African pilots got in a good attack on the Stukas before the escort could interfere, claiming eight shot down.
The 5 SAAF Squadron claimed four Ju 87s when at 08:55, Lieutenant Basil Thornhill-Cook (Tomahawk IIb AK380/GL-R) claimed one shared with Lieutenant Kenneth Whyte (AN313/GL-X) north-west of Bir Hacheim while Major ‘Jack’ Frost (AM385/GL-W) claimed three over Bir Hacheim at 09:00.
Major Frost reported:

“…Stukas were seen diving. They released their bombs and carried on the dive right down to ground level. We followed the 4 Sqn. to the attack. I fired at and hit a 109 just above the Stukas without result. I then closed on a Ju.87 from the rear, gave one burst and he burst into flames and crashed. I then closed on another from the starboard quarter. He then turned towards me and I got in a burst with deflection. I then got very close to him, gave him another burst and he went down to the ground. I gave him another burst and set the AC alight. I then closed on another Stuka, gave him a good burst from astern and he went down and crash landed. Three Ju.87s destroyed.”
Major F. J. M. Meaker (AN388/GL-N), who was flying with 5 SAAF Squadron, had to force-land 16km south-east of Bir Hacheim at 09:25 when his aircraft was hit by the gunner in the Ju 87 he was attacking. He was picked up by Lieutenant C. J. C. Horne (AK415/I), and was flown back to base two-up in the Tomahawk.
Meanwhile, during the return flight, 5 SAAF Squadron flew through a heavy concentration of Flak, Lieutenant Thornhill-Cook being shot down and killed 15km south of Bir Hacheim. Lieutenant Whyte’s aircraft was shot-up although he was able to nurse it back to base.
The 4 SAAF Squadron claimed the other four when Captain Gordon Bayly (AM418/S) claimed one and one damaged over Bir Hacheim at 09:10, Major John Hewitson (AN452/KJ-M) claimed one 15m south-west of El Adem at 09:15, Captain Jeffrey Morphew (AN393) claimed one over Bir Hacheim at 09:15 and Lieutenant William John Wheeler (AN428/KJ-K) claimed one south-west of Bir Hacheim at 09:15. A second damaged was claimed over Bir Hacheim at 09:15 by Lieutenant Sydney Cohen (KJ-N).
Captain Bayly reported:
“…Attacked from out of the sun and caught up with the Stukas at about 1000’ heading west. I attacked one Stuka from above and behind which was lagging and saw my shots splinter his canopy. He appeared to lose control and fell back considerably. Stuka was seen to be badly damaged. My next attack was across the formation from the north. I made a full deflection attack fired early and saw the latter shots strike the engine which emitted flames and black smoke. Then the airscrew slowed down jerkily as 1 passed over him. …the AC appeared to be losing height. I turned west again caught up with the fight got a number of bursts but saw no convincing results.”
Major Hewitson reported:
“...Caught up with the Stukas about 15 miles west of Bir Hakeim and delivered attacks on two near Stukas one of which was hit in the engine and force-landed. I was then attacked by one 109F which I avoided. He flew past me and I delivered an attack from dead astern. No results observed. At end of fight only 4 or 5 Stukas were left in the formation. On the way home two of us fought a running fight with two 109s which eventually left us as we crossed into our territory.”
Lieutenant Cohen (KJ-N) stated:
“…Pulled off with rest of section into 12+ Stukas heading north-west after releasing bombs. Got in a long burst on one aircraft from ¼ astern and then overshot him. I did a steep turn and attacked the same ac again from ¼ frontal and then saw wisps of black smoke coming from underneath the fuselage. At this stage one of my cannons jammed and I did a few beam attacks on several other Stukas without observing any direct result. 1 then had to wrath off as my ammunition supply was exhausted. I made for home in the company of three ac of 5 SAAF. We were attacked by two Me.109s and in trying to evade them I lost the other three ac. I was then attacked continuously for 10 mins by one Me.109 but was not able to return his fire although I was able to outmanoeuvre him every time he attacked. He eventually broke away…”
Lieutenant Wheeler reported:
“…Got on the tail of one Stuka and gave him about four bursts. In the final attack I saw something break off which I thought came off the tail unit. At the same time black smoke started coming from below the root of the wings…”
During this fight 4 SAAF Squadron lost four aircraft. Captain Morphew (AN393) was shot down in combat with four Bf 109s to become a PoW (he escaped in 1943). 2nd Lieutenant K. H. Lawler (AN461) was also shot down by Bf 109s to become a POW. Lieutenant J. de la H. Lane (AN460) was shot down by the rear gunner of a Ju 87 south of Tobruk; he was later picked up by a Hurricane from 274 Squadron, flown by Pilot Officer George Keefer. A fourth Tomahawk (AK509) was lost over Bir Hacheim but without details.
Four of the Ju 87s went down, including that flown by the Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Heinrich Eppen (I./StG 3, Ju 87R-2 WNr 6146, S7+AB, combat with P-40s 15km WNW of Bir Hacheim), who lost his life with his gunner Oberfeldwebel Adalbert Betzler. The other three were Ju 87R-2 WNr 6163, S7+NH from l./StG 3, which was lost in combat with P-40s 15km WNW of Bir Hacheim (Unteroffizier Michael safe and gunner Heinz Schellenberg WIA), Ju 87R-4/Trop WNr 6306 S7+GK of 2./StG 3, which was lost in combat with P-40s 20km NW of Bir Hacheim (Leutnant Horst Heritsch and Gefreiter Beck both WIA) and Ju 87R-4 WNr 6205 S7+JK of 2./StG 3, which was lost in combat with P-40s 20km WNW of Bir Hacheim (gunner Obergefreiter Heinz Kaufold killed but the pilot safe; aircraft 60% damaged and crash-landed at Derna South).
The Tomahaks were then attacked by three Bf 109F trops of II./JG 27, which were out on a Freie Jagd. The German pilots claimed two shot down; one each by Oberleutnant Gustav Rödel (Stab II./JG 27), 3 km south-east of Bir Hacheim at 4500m (08:15) and Oberfähnrich Willy Kientsch (Stab II./JG 27), 10 km south-west of Mteifel Chebir (08:20).
Maggiore Paolo Maddalena (MC.202 MM7805/84-2) led a formation of nine Macchis of the 10o Gruppo (three from each Squadriglie) on a free sweep over Bir Hacheim (07:45-08:50). The formation consisted of two sections; one at 3500 metres led by Maddalena himself and one as top cover at 4000 metres, led by Tenente Orlando Mandolini (CO 91a Squadriglia). At 08:05, they were over the target when they spotted about 15 P-40s 200 metres below and the Macchis dived on them, surprising them south of Bir Hacheim. The pilots of the 91a Squadriglia reportedly clashed with seven P-40s and in total the Italian pilots were credited with five destroyed and two probables. The victories were claimed by Maresciallo Luigi Bignami (84a Squadriglia, MM7928/84-9), Maresciallo Leonardo Ferrulli (91a Squadriglia) (two P-40s), Maggiore Maddalena (CO 10o Gruppo; possibly shared destroyed) and Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini (90a Squadriglia). The two probabels were claimed by Sergente Livio Barbere (84a Squadriglia, MM7814/84-5) and Capitano Piccolomini (CO 90a Squadriglia).
2 SAAF Squadron, led by Major Human and flying top cover to the Tomahawks, became engaged with four Bf 109s at 09:10, Lieutenant ‘Porky’de Waal (Kittyhawk Ia AL126/DB-R) claiming one shot down 6m south-east of Bir Hacheim and damaging one south-east of Bir Hacheim, with a second claimed damaged by Lieutenant ‘Dingle’ Burdon (AK392/R) 2m south-east of Bir Hacheim. Burdon was then shot down and crash-landed south-west of Bir Hacheim at 09:25; he got clear before his aircraft exploded in flames, returning safely next day.
Lieutenant de Waal reported:
“I saw a 109F to port about 1000 feet below me and climbing. I peeled off, and got up speed, and started climbing after him. I closed rapidly and gave him a short burst at about 250 yards. He heeled over and I watched him go down. I looked away for a brief while and when I looked again I saw him go straight in and burst into flames.”
Lieutenant Burdon reported:
“I saw two Kittyhawks attacked to port. I peeled off to port and as the 109 climbed up I managed to get m a full deflection shot, a burst of about three seconds, the result of which was white smoke pouring from the 109. This being confirmed (damaged) later. After my first burst another 109 climbed up to attack. We engaged head on; I pulled the tit and not one gun fired. The 109 must have realized this, so gave me all he had. My engine burst into flames. I eventually slipped down, and crash-landed, my under cart would not function. I did not bale out as I was approximately 800/1000’ and thought this too low.”
260 Squadron claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and one damaged at 09:10, the latter aircraft crash-landing (unidentified pilots).

Between 08:35-10:10 on 7 June, eight MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo (two from the 84a Squadriglia, three from the 90a Squadriglia and three from the 91a Squadriglia) were on a free sweep in the Sidi Muftach area led by Maggiore Paolo Maddalena. The Italian formation was divided into two sections; one at an altitude of 3,500m with Maggiore Maddalena and one covering at 4,000m with Capitano Piccolomini (90a Squadriglia).
At 09:10, an enemy formation of about ten aircraft was spotted heading east, 10 km to the west of Acroma. Maddalena informed the pilots by radio and headed towards them. It was then that he saw another formation of about 20 P-40s at almost the same altitude. He led the attack which lasted over 20 minutes and came to an end at a very low altitude. Five enemy aircraft were credited shot down along with one probable and 14 machine-gunned (2658 rounds). Maddalena (10o Gruppo) claimed two P-40s, Capitano Piccolomini claimed one P-40 and fired on two, Sottotenente Mario Squarcina (90a Squadriglia) claimed one P-40 while the pilots of the 91a Squadriglia claimed the fifth P-40 as a shared. Sergente Piero Buttazzi (84a Squadriglia) fired on four P-40s. They all returned to base without losses.
73 Squadron (09:30-10:50) and 213 Squadron (09:40-10:45) were on patrol over Acroma and Gazala, each with twelve Hurricane IIcs. One aircraft of 73 Squadron returned earlier because of an oil leak. 73 Squadron was top cover at 11,000ft and flying south-east (from Acroma towards Gazala) when, at 10:04, six Bf 109s were sighted at 12,000ft. While the Wing was manoeuvring to keep the enemy away from the sun, 73 Squadron was jumped by a further enemy formation of six Bf 109s that coming away from the sun. A dogfight ensued and the RAF formation broke up. Altogether twelve Bf 109s were met with some MC.202s (total rounds: 204 ball, 87 HE/Inc.). There was no knowledge of any casualties inflicted on the enemy.
The Canadian and 22-years old Flight Lieutenant Charles Tom Cantrill (RCAF no. C/1210) in Hurricane BH330 went missing (KIA), Sergeant D. R. Wiseman (BN375) made an emergency landing after losing the Hurricane’s propeller following the hits made on it by an unidentified plane while Sergeant A. S. Wilson (BL279) baled out. The rest of the Squadron then returned in groups of two or three.
South of Acroma at 10:05 and at an altitude of 10,000ft, 213 Squadron reported:

“...Enemy formation sighted from W... 1 flight of 73 500 ft above and behind, 1 flight 600 yds to port. EA formation consisted of 6 Me.109Fs 5000 ft above. EAs dived and whole formation went into tight defensive circles. Some Macchi 202s also appeared on the scene. Individual combats resulted. ... Combat broken off owing to shortage of petrol. All returned safely. … 5 EA were attacked ... from 5000 to 15000 ft.... Me.s generally attacked by steep dives, opening fire as they pulled straight out. The 202s dived down to the deck and pulled up on anybody who wasn’t looking. No visible results. 1 AC received a strike in starboard mainplane.”
It seems that the damaged Hurricane (pilot unknown) made a forced landing at Gambut-Acroma between 10:15-10:25.
Squadron Leader Young (BN286):
“... I saw a 109 diving down on the tail of a Hurricane. I followed it down and when I was within 300 yds, it pulled out of its dive and straight up. I stuck to its tail and at 250 yds gave it a short burst, but with no results. … The dog fight lasted about 20 minutes. 60 Ball, 60 He/inc.”
Flight Sergeant Lack (BE340):
“...after been warned, I saw one of them diving past me to starboard. It then pulled straight in front I of me. I pulled my nose up and gave him a short burst of 30 rounds but with no luck. I saw a Macchi 202 slightly below me and heading in the opposite direction and prepared to attack it but then saw a 109 coming at me from starboard beam. I avoided this attack. Previously … I saw 2 Hurricanes flying in line astern. The rear one pulled straight across to starboard, breaking off the tail of the leading Hurricane which spun down and crashed in flames. I saw nobody bale out. The other plane crash landed in the same area S of Acroma… 62 Ball, 63 He/Inc.”
Flight Lieutenant C. M. Temlett (BM981):
“... I saw them diving down through our formation, almost down to the deck, then pulling up straight. I dived down after one of them to 3000 feet but it pulled up and got above me. I climbed after it almost vertically, got within 250 yds range, gave it a short burst but with no visible result. 50-Ball, 50-He/Inc.”
73 Squadron probably spotted Maddalena’s section but it had then been surprised by Piccolomini emerging from a higher altitude. The formation of two echelons stepped at different heights, which was standard for 4o Stormo, appeared to be effective. The action appears to have been well led by Maddalena, helped, at long last, by the radio working well. The quoted collision does not match perfectly with the 73 Squadron report; in accepting it as good, it seems that Wiseman ran into Cantrill.

In the morning on 12 June, 14 MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo (six from the 84a Squadriglia (09:20-10:40), four from the 90a Squadriglia (take-off 09:15) and four from the 91a Squadriglia) led by the Gruppo commander Maggiore Paolo Maddalena, together with German Bf 109s were escorting Luftwaffe Ju 87s to attack targets south-east of Acroma.
The Italian formation, which acted as indirect escort, was divied into two groups, one at an altitude of 4,500 metres with Capitano Franco Lucchini and the other at an altitude of 4,000 metres with Capitano Piccolomini. The MC.202 reached and went beyond the Ju 87s and their direct escort of Bf 109s over Menelao. Halfway between Gazala and Acroma, the patrol of the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Paolo Berti, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi, Sergente Roberto Ugazio and Sergente Piero Buttazzi) was surprised by two Spitfires and broke up formation even if there was no damage. Only Sergente Maggiore Veronesi managed to fire at an attacking fighter.
The two attacking Spitfires belonged to 145 Squadron on a patrol (10:00-11:00) during which Flight Lieutenant J. J. P. Sabourin (Spitfire Vb AB339/ZX-M) claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and a second damaged.
Capitano Lucchini, who remained alone with Sergente Maggiore Veronesi and Sergente Buttazzi, continued the mission and came up against an enemy formation of about twelve fighters divided between Spitfires and P-40s north-east El Adem. These were attacked and one P-40 was shared destroyed while some others were machine-gunned.
Eleven Hurricanes from 73 Squadron (10:15-11:25, one had returned early) were on a sweep south-east of El Adem. Three Bf 109s attacked but made off quickly but not before Pilot Officer G. R. Wolston (Hurricane IIc BN363) managed to claime two damaged Bf 109s 10 miles west of Gambut. It seems that it was these fighters that was attacked by Lucchini’s section.
The formation from the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan and Sergente Gregorio Taverna) counter-attacked and twarted the attacking Spitfires but the formations were scattered. Soon after this, Capitano Piccolomini spotted a lone P-40 and his section gave chase. It was hit several times but continued it flight heading towards, the east. Piccolomini followed the P-40 up to Gambut where it made a wheels-up landing. The P-40 claimed as a shared victory (reported as south-east of Acroma). During the chase over Tobruk, Sottotenente Vanzan (MM7906/90-8) suddenly noticed that Sergente Taverna (MM7397) wasn’t with them anymore. Taverna had been shot down by the South African Bofors guns at Gambut. He baled out at 100ft but was badly injured and did not survive. Vanzan was also hit by anti-aircraft fire but managed to get back to Martuba.

Between 16:15-17:45 on 15 June, the 10o Gruppo flew a free sweep. Capitano Piccolomini’s section (four MC.202s from the 90a Squadriglia) sighted what seemed to be enemy planes and moved away from the leading patrol. Therefore, south-west of Tobruk, they came up against a formation of enemy bombers covered by about 30 P-40s at an altitude of 2000 metres. The Macchis attacked and a P-40 was claimed shot down, credited to Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici. Four bombers were machine-gunned, two of them by Capitano Piccolomini.
The other two pilots who participated were Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi and Tenente Italo Alessandrini. Strangely enough, it was reported that only 150 rounds were expended.
They had met a formation of nine Bostons of 12 SAAF Squadron (17:35-18:40) out to attack motor transports and tanks from 7000 feet. Top cover was provided by eight Kittyhawks (four each from 2 SAAF Squadron and 260 Squadron) while four Tomahawks of 4 SAAF Squadron were close cover.
The faint-hearted attack of at least two MC.202s, which were easily driven off, was reported by 2 SAAF Squadron flying at 7000 feet 4 miles west of El Adem. 260 Squadron engaged a single Bf 109 with no positive results. 4 SAAF Squadron noted that three MC.202s jumped on the bombers from out of the sun, and then the Tomahawks closed in. And so, the enemy aircraft went up and were engaged by 2 SAAF Squadron acting as top cover. 12 SAAF Squadron did not report any attack.

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

Next day, on 2 July whilst leading the 90a Squadriglia, Capitano Piccolomini encountered nine Bostons from 12 SAAF Squadron escorted by twenty P-40s north of Fuka. The Italian fighters attacked and Piccolomini claimed a Boston while the other bombers hid in a cast of clouds.
The escorting fighters engaged the Italians and Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan claimed one and one probable P-40s while Sergente Amleto Monterumici claimed a second P-40. A third P-40 was claimed as a shared by all the pilots of the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Piccolomini, Sottotenente Vanzan, Sergente Monterumici, Sergente Elio Trevisan and Tenente Italo Alessandrini). Several more aircraft were claimed machine-gunned by Vanzan, Monterumici, Trevisan and Alessandrini (MC.202 MM7792/90-12). The latter was subsequently hit by P-40s, made an emergency landing on the desert, and was captured to become a POW.
At the same time five Bf 109F-4 trops from III./JG 27 were on an early Freie Jagd and reported meeting 20 bombers and 30 fighters west of El Daba. They encountered what the identified as 11 Wellingtons (highly unlikely), nine Bostons and 20 fighters south-east of El Alamein, claiming three escorting fighters shot down; two by Leutnant Werner Schroer (one at 07:00 SE El Alamein and one at 07:05 E El Alamein) and one by Unteroffizier Hans Fahrenberger (one at 07:03 SE El Alamein).
The Boston hit by Capitano Piccolomini was Boston III Z2198 (take-off 09:19), which crash-landed on return to LG 99 with Captain Bernieux (Belgian) and crew safe.
It seems that the pilots engaged Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, shooting down the Hurricane flown by Flight Lieutenant ‘Jim’ Hayter. The MC.202 flown by Tenente Alessandrini then overshot Hayter’s stricken Hurricane, allowing the New Zealander to shoot down one of his attackers in turn and both aircraft crash-landed within Allied territory. Hayter was wounded in this engagement.

Between 09:30-10:30 on 4 July, Capitano Franco Lucchini led five MC.202s of the 84a Squadriglia and six of the 90a Squadriglia on a free sweep over the El Alamein area. At 4,500 metres, they met 20 Bostons escorted by many P-40 and Spitfires; at a lower level flew a formation of Hurribombers (around 20 enemy fighters were reported). Led by Capitano Lucchini, the Italians attacked both formations with success. After a 30-minutes fight, claims for one Boston and a probable, one Hurricane, one P-40 and two Spitfires (plus two probables) were submitted by the Italian pilots. Many fighters were also claimed damaged. The claims were made by:
Maresciallo Angelo Savini (90a Squadriglia) one Boston destroyed
Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi (90a Squadriglia in MC.202 MM7789/84-5) one Boston probably destroyed and one Spitfire destroyed
Maresciallo Pietro Del Turco (90a Squadriglia) one Hurricane destroyed
Tenente Luigi Giannella (84a Squadriglia in MM7815/84-6) one Spitfire destroyed
Capitano Piccolomini (90a Squadriglia) one Spitfire probably destroyed
Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan (90a Squadriglia) one Spitfire probably destroyed
The P-40 was claimed as a shared between all twelve pilots.
Additional damaged fighters were claimed by Sergente Livio Barbera (84a Squadriglia), Tenente Paolo Berti (90a Squadriglia), Capitano Lucchini (temporarily CO 10o Gruppo) and Sottotenente Sforza Libera (90a Squadriglia), who in his first combat mission, damaged a Spitfire.
The Italian pilots returned without losses.
It seems that they at least had encountered Hurricane IIcs from 33 Squadron, which reported combat with MC.202 at 09:15 in the El Alamein area. Flight Lieutenant F. J. Aldrige (Hurricane IIc BE134/Y) claimed one MC.202 destroyed and two more were claimed as shared probably destroyed by five pilots of the flight. However, Hurricane IIc BE469 was shot down and 19-year-old Pilot Officer Anthony George Merritt (RAF No. 108955) was KiA. Three more Hurricanes were damaged but the pilots Pilot Officer K. C. Rolls (BN348/E), Pilot Officer H. S. Woods (BN473) and Sergeant Wilson (BN358) were safe.
No Bostons were lost during the day.

On 8 July, nine MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo (five MC.202s of the 90a Squadriglia and four of the 91a Squadriglia) took off from Fuka at 09:00, led by Capitano Piccolomini, on a free sweep over the lines. Twelve Hurribombers were encountered, escorted by 20 P-40s and 25 Spitfires. They attacked the escort while the Hurricanes escaped eastward and a short clash occurred where one P-40 was claimed shot down by Piccolomini (according to some sources it was only claimed as a probable). All MC.202s landed safely at 10:25.

At 18:00 on the same day Piccolomini, Sottotenente Luigi Giannella (84a Squadriglia) and other pilots from the 9o Gruppo strafed four enemy trucks towing cannons, about 30 km south-west and south-east of Fuka.

On 10 July, the 9th Australian Division launched an attack in the northern sector of the El Alamein line. This was backed by all the Commonwealth Wings that targeted ground targets and the airfields of LG 20, LG 21 and LG 102, which resulted in heavy aerial fighting.
Twelve MC.202s of 10o Gruppo led by Capitano Piccolomini (CO 90a Squadriglia) took off at 18:00 for a free sweep over El Alamien. At 6,000 meters over El Alamein, they met eight Hurribombers covered by 15 P-40s and four Spitfires, which they engaged. They claimed two confirmed victories, one by Sergente Maggiore Alessandro Bladelli (91a Squadriglia) and the second by Maresciallo Angelo Savini (90a Squadriglia) and one probable by Capitano Piccolomini. After around 20 minutes the combat ended due to lack of ammunitions and impending dark. The Macchis landed back at 19:30.
It seems that 10o Gruppo met 274 and 80 Squadrons. Nine Hurricane IIs of the former had taken off at 19:10 to cover eight Hurribombers of 80 Squadron over the frontline (19:05-20:10). Ten miles west of Alamein at the height of 10,000ft they discovered a mixed patrol of Bf 109s and Macchis and the two formations charged frontally. The Macchis opened fire from long distance damaging the left wing of Hurricane II Z5337/D of Sergeant R MacFarlane from 274 Squadron. The 274 Squadron then assumed a defensive position regaining its territory and coming back at 20:15. 80 Squadron according with Form 541, wasn’t apparently engaged and just recorded eight Spitfires clashing against Bf 109s.

On 14 July, Capitano Piccolomini led six aircraft of the 84a Squadriglia and six of the 90a Squadriglia on a free sweep over El Alamein between 12:30-14:10. They reported meeting a formation of twelve Hurribombers escorted by 20 P-40s, which they engaged in a 15-minute dogfight. As a result of the combat the pilots of the 90a Squadriglia claimed a shared P-40 while a Hurribomber was credited to all pilots.
It seems that they had been in combat with eight Kittyhawks from 4 SAAF Squadron, which were top cover to Bostons in the early afternoon. They reported being jumped by a mixed force of Messerschmitts and Macchis, two Kittyhawks being slightly damaged.

4o Stormo MC.202s were on patrol in the early morning period on 15 July. Capitano Luigi Mariotti led twelve MC.202s of both 9o and 10o Gruppi on an escort to four Ju 88s over the front, between 09:05-10:25. They engaged a formation of a reported 15 P-40s covered by ten Spitfires patrolling at higher altitude, claiming two P-40s shot down (one by Tenente Vittorio Squarcia from the 73 Squadriglia) plus three probables.
Just as they landed, twelve more MC.202s, led by Capitano Carlo Ruspoli, took off at 10:30 to carry on the escort. Ruspoli had to make an early return due to engine trouble and the experienced Maresciallo Luigi Bignami (84a Squadriglia) took his place as formation leader. They too encountered a formation of P-40s, this time estimated to be 48 strong, and claimed two shot down after a 15-minute combat by Sergente Maggiore Piero Buttazzi (84a Squadriglia in MM7919/84-12) and Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici (90a Squadriglia) with a third claimed as a probable by Maresciallo Dante Labanti (96a Squadriglia).
Sergente Maggiore Elio Trevisan was hit and forced to land near El Daba in MM7900/90-11. Sergente Maggiore Monterumici saw him getting out of the cockpit and sitting down, leaning against his aircraft. On return to Fuka at 11:40, Monterumici took off in the Ca.133 ‘hack’ to recover Trevisan. He landed nearby but discovered that his comrade who had appeared to be asleep was actually dead. Trevisan’s aircraft was later recovered by Capitano Piccolomini, who flew it back to Fuka.
Hurricane IIbs from 238 Squadron reported intercepting the Ju 88s during a mission between 11:20-12:30, one being claimed as a damaged by Pilot Officer B. Nordon (Hurricane KC-V) and a second shared as a damaged between Sergeant W. E. G. Cordwell (KC-P) and Flight Lieutenant Peter Olver (KC-U). Hurricane KC-F flown by Squadron Leader R. G. A. Barclay was damaged.
Some at least of the Macchis were engaged with Hurricane IIcs of 33 and 213 Squadron between 10:25-11:30, the pilots of the latter unit reporting meeting six MC.202s and four Bf 109s in the northern sector of the El Alamein line. They claimed one Macchi shot down by Warrant Officer R. J. ‘Wally’ Wallace (Hurricane IIc BP338), who also claimed a second as a damaged. Sergeant H. A. Aitken (BN357) claimed a damaged MC.202 and Pilot Officer L. J. Barnes (BP197) claimed a damaged Bf 109E. Flying Officer James Wooler (BE172/T) from 33 Squadron claimed a damaged Bf 109E. 213 Squadron suffered two Hurricanes damaged by the MC.202s when Sergeant J. D. Newick force-landed slightly wounded with BP189 and Pilot Officer Barnes returned with Barnes returned with BP197 damaged (Cat. I).
Ten Bf 109F-4 trops of I./JG 27 were also in the area at this time, providing top cover to Ju 87s. The pilots of this unit reported meeting 18 Hurricanes, Leutnant Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt of 2./JG 27 attacking one which crash-landed a 17km miles west of El Hammam. This was possibly Sergeant Newick.

Between 10:35-12:00 on 16 July, Capitano Franco Lucchini (84a Squadriglia) led ten MC.202s of the 84a Squadriglia (Sottotenente Luigi Giannella (MM7805/84-2), Sottotenente Paolo Berti, Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi (MM7928/84-9), Maresciallo Luigi Bignami and Sergente Corrado Patrizi), the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Piccolomini, Sottotenente Renato Baroni, Sottotenente Sforza Libera, Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici and Sergente Giambattista Ceoletta) and the 91a Squadriglia (Tenente Paolo Benedicti) to escort CR.42s from the 50o Gruppo.
With their mission carried out, they intercepted ten Hurribombers over Deir el Qattara flying at 500 m, covered by ten P-40s at 2000 m, 15 P-40s at 5000 m and six Spitfires at 6000 m. A 20-minute running fight followed and the returning Italians claimed four P-40s; Sottotenente Berti and Sergente Maggiore Veronesi one each, one shared by Capitano Lucchini, Sottotenente Giannella, Sottotenente Berti and Tenente Benedicti while the fourth was claimed as a shared by Maresciallo Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Capitano Piccolomini, Sottotenente Baroni and Sergente Maggiore Monterumici. Many others were damaged. Four MC.202s returned damaged and Baroni was wounded in the combat and with his MC.202 damaged, made an emergency landing at El Daba (MM7906/90-8 was later recovered). Bignami (MM7896/84-8) was hit in the wings and on the windscreen. Berti (MM7803/84-1) was attacked by P-40s while returning home, but escaped. Lucchini’s aircraft was hit by five bullets, one of them piercing a fuel tank in left wing root but he was able to land at Qotaifiya, although stunned by fuel vapour (MM7901/84-3 was later recovered). He returned to Fuka in the afternoon in a car.
At 11:10 eight Hurribombers and four fighters of 274 Squadron took off to strafe vehicles, but during this attack two were shot down by Flak. At the same time, other Hurricanes of 213 Squadron took off on a sweep. 33 Squadron was supposed to provide top cover, together with some Spitfires of 601 Squadron, but on take-off from LG 154 Hurricane BP179 and Spitfire V BR479 collided. 19-year-old Canadian Pilot Officer Erle Walter Ollen-Bittle (RCAF no. J/6495) from 33 Squadron and 22-year-old Canadian Flight Sergeant Querino Di Persio (RCAF no. R/76376) from 601 Squadron were both killed. The wreckage then blocked the runway, preventing any further aircraft taking off. Consequently, 213 Squadron was bounced by one MC.202 and one Bf 109, one Hurricane BN378 being shot down at 11:35 and Flight Sergeant John Fernie Cullen Ballantyne (RAF no. 777890) being killed.
At 11:50 1 SAAF and 238 Squadrons took off with 238 Squadron as top cover. At 12:15, four Bf 109s and two MC.202s were seen below but were deemed by the South Africans to be decoys, and were left alone by them. 238 Squadron’s pilots also spotted them, “tally-ho”-ed, and dived straight through 1 SAAF Squadron’s formation to get at them. Several South Africans then peeled off and followed them. “Shambles! ” recorded the squadron diary. 238 Squadron reported that west of El Alamein, Squadron Leader R. G. A. Barclay claimed a Bf 109 and Flight Sergeant G. H. Borham (Hurricane IIb ‘X’) a Macchi probable, but during the return flight Barclay’s Hurricane (‘F’) was attacked and damaged. L. R. S. Waugh (BG764/AX-W) from 1 SAAF Squadron claimed a probable Bf 109F north-west of El Alamein.
Eight Kittyhawks of 250 Squadron on a mission at 11:45 were jumped by four MC.202s at 12:15, one of the British fighters being shot-up when Kittyhawk Ia AK824 was badly damaged south-west of El Alamein but Pilot Officer J. E. Collier returned safely. Sergeant D. W. Cairns (Kittyhawk Ia ET513/A) claimed to have shot down one of the attackers north-west El Mreir.

Between 06:45-08:15 on 18 July, eight MC.202s; four of the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Luigi Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi and Sergente Piero Buttazzi) and four of the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini and Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici), led by Lucchini, flew a “free hunt” mission off from Bu Amud. Over the front at 12,000 feet, they spotted nine P-40s escorted by eleven Hurricanes. The P-40s jettisoned their bombs over the El Qasaba area and tried to escape home eastward. The Italian fighters caught the Allied aircraft over Burg el Arab, 50 km east of El Alamein. After a 15-minute combat a P-40 was claimed as a shared destroyed by Lucchini (MC.202 MM7803/84-1) and Buttazzi (MM7896/84-8), a second was claimed as a shared by Giannella (MC.202 MM7805/84-2) and Veronesi (MM7928/84-9), a third was claimed by Savini and a fourth was claimed jointly by Piccolomini, Vanzan and Monterumici. All Italian fighters returned safely to base.
It seems that they had been in combat with Hurricane IIcs from 274 and 80 Squadrons, which reported that between 07:21-09:45 twelve Hurricanes of 274 Squadron, covered by others of 80 Squadron, patrolled north and south over El Alamein. Two Bf 109s jumped the top cover, followed by six more and some MC.202s. Claims for five fighters damaged were submitted by the two RAF units:
Squadron Leader James Hayter (Hurricane IIc BE487/F) from 274 Squadron claimed one damaged Bf 109E
Pilot Officer R. H. Hunter (BE229/S) from 274 Squadron claimed one damaged MC.202
Sergeant S. Lerche (BE683/O) from 274 Squadron claimed one damaged Bf 109
Flight Lieutenant Russell Foskett (BP235/J) from 80 Squadron claimed two damaged Bf 109s at 08:00.
Hurricane Z5064/Z from 274 Squadron was shot down by a Macchi but Flight Sergeant T. B. Hamilton was safe while BN348 from 80 Squadron received a bullet in the cooling system which caused the pilot to crash-land.

1 SAAF Squadron took off at 10:05 on 5 August as top cover to 127 Squadron, followed 50 minutes later by 80 Squadron, which provided top cover for the whole formation. Eight Bf 109s reportedly attacked the latter unit near El Alamein, which lost one aircraft which crash-landed; 29-year-old Pilot Officer Peter Douglas Keeping (RAF No. 134508) in Hurricane IIc BP187 was badly wounded and died later in the l8th Field Hospital. Pilot Officer E. Hill (BN870) attacked one fighter, but this turned on him and he was shot down also, carrying out a force-landing. Sergeant Christopher House (BE350) was cut off from the squadron and forced out over the sea by four fighters but managed to return safely, claiming one shot down and one damaged. His Hurricane received Cat. I damaged in the wing during the combat. The South Africans reported that near the end of the patrol a lone MC.202 dived on the squadron and this was claimed to have been damaged by Lieutenant Barry Haynes (Hurricane BP350/Z). It seems that there was some confusion during this engagement as to whether the Axis fighters were Messerschmitts or Macchis - or both. A Kittyhawk Ia was also badly damaged by reportedly MC.202s over El Alamein during the day but Pilot Officer E. G. Aitchison was safe.
After an alarm from the Freya radar in the morning, Capitano Franco Lucchini (CO 84a Squadriglia) and Capitano Piccolomini (CO 90a Squadriglia) scrambled at 09:40 with twelve MC.202s to intercept bombers. The fighters were radio-guided eastward over the sea, until 20 km from Alexandria, without having found any aircraft. On the way home, they met fifteen Hurricanes and P-40s at 4000 meters in the El Hammam - El Amirya area and attacked them. Capitano Lucchini (MC.202 MM7905), Capitano Piccolomini and Sottotenente Paolo Berti (84a Squadriglia in MM7803/84-1) claimed a P-40 each. A fourth was claimed as a shared between Sergente Natale Molteni (90a Squadriglia in MM7803), Tenente Luigi Giannella (84a Squadriglia in MM7815), Sergente Maggiore Domenico Santonocito (84a Squadriglia in MM7805/84-2), Sergente Maggiore Corrado Patrizi (84a Squadriglia in MM7919) and Sergente Livio Barbera (84a Squadriglia in MM7789). Tenente Luigi Giannella also claimed a P-40 as a probable. 10o Gruppo landed back at 11:20 without suffer any losses in this combat.
Meantime, two Bf 109s of 4./JG 27 had scrambled to intercept 12 bombers and 20 fighters near Alam el Halfa, Oberfeldwebel Karl-Heinz Bendert claiming one P-40 shot down at 10:08.

Four Bf 109s of III./JG 53 were scrambled mid-morning on 11 August, joined by twelve MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo (six from the 84a and six from the 90a Squadriglie), led by the Gruppo’s commander Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis (new CO of the 10o Gruppo after the death of Maggiore Maddalena). Directed by Freya radar. At 10:32, they intercepted ten Curtiss fighters at 5000 meters between Hammam and Burg el Arab. The Germans made no claims but Capitano Piccolomini claimed one P-40 and Capitano Franco Lucchini one probable.
It seems likely that they had intercepted nine Tomahawk IIbs of 5 SAAF Squadron which reported being jumped by Bf 109s and MC.202s 15 miles south-west of Burg el Arab; 2nd Lieutenant B. A. Kearns (AK559/S) claimed a MC.202 during this engagement.
Neither side suffered any losses in this combat.

Early in the morning on 2 September, the 4o Stormo was back in action. At 06:10, Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis led 18 MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo over Bir Mseilik area. A formation of twelve Spitfires was intercepted and subsequently two large formations of Bostons, Spitfires and P-40s were met. The combat developed into many individual dogfights, lasting about 15 minutes. Six Spitfires and one Boston were claimed for the loss of Maresciallo Pietro Del Turco (MM7785) from 90a Squadriglia. Claiming pilots were Capitano Franco Lucchini (84a Squadriglia; MC.202 MM7901/84-3), who claimed one Spitfire and one Boston, Capitano Carlo Ruspoli (91a Squadriglia) one Spitfire, Maggiore D’Agostinis (flying an MC.202 from 91a Squadriglia) one Spitfire, Sottotenente Luciano Barsotti (91a Squadriglia) one Spitfire, Maresciallo Leonardo Ferrulli (91a Squadriglia) one Spitfire and finally Capitano Piccolomini and Tenente Luigi Padovani (both 91a Squadriglia), which claimed one Spitfire as a shared. The Italian fighters were back at base at 07:45.
Ten Spitfire Vcs of 92 Squadron took off on an offensive sweep at 07:20, meeting MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo in the El Alamein area. Lieutenants “Bill” Rabie (BR475/QJ-A) and J. M. Faure (BR479/QJ-E), both on attachment from 1 SAAF Squadron, claimed an MC.202 and a Bf 109F respectively. Rabie was then shot down, baling out from 15,000 feet; Rabie arrived back with the squadron during the afternoon. Flight Sergeant R. Hempstead (BR573/QJ-T) claimed one Bf 109 damaged while Flight Lieutenant John Morgan (BR525/QJ-S) claimed two more Bf 109s as damaged. The Canadian, Pilot Officer Louis Bavincourt (RCAF no. J/15767) was killed in combat when he failed to return (Spitfire Vc BR515/QJ-D).
The Italian pilots were clearly delighted with their success, claiming six Spitfires shot down as well as a Boston; there is no record of a Boston being lost on this date, however.
The combat appears to have been witnessed by eight Messerschmitt pilots of III./JG 53, who were escorting Stukas and reported seeing a British bomber formation with a strong escort, including four Spitfires as top cover. They recorded that as they watched, one Spitfire crashed

At 09:30 on 11 September, twelve MC.202s from the 90a and the 91a Squadriglie (six from each squadriglia), led respectively by Capitano Piccolomini and Capitano Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, were scrambled and vectored to the El Imayid area. They intercepted 15 bomb-laden P-40s at 2000 m, covered by ten Spitfires at 4000 m over El Alamein-El Hammam. While the 91a Squadriglia attacked the P-40s (which jettisoned their bombs in the sea) and the 90a Squadriglia attacked the Spitfires, eight other Spitfires dived unseen on them from 6000 m. A hard fight began and lasted for over twenty minutes until 60 km east of El Alamein. Piccolomini, Sergente Maggiore Guerriero Silvestri (91a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Luciano Barsotti (91a Squadriglia) claimed a P-40 each, while Sottotenente Orlando Mandolini (91a Squadriglia) claimed a Spitfire. Another Spitfire was claimed as a shared probable by Tenente Luigi Padovani, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini, Sottotenente Sforza Libera and Sergente Maggiore Bruno Bortoletti (all from the 90a Squadriglia). Many others were claimed damaged. Five Macchis were hit, but returned back to base; Savini’s and Libera’s (MM7801/90-10) aircraft were damaged, as was Barsotti’s (MM7907/91-7), who also was lightly wounded, as was Padovani (MM7894), who received a bullet in his left leg. Bortoletti, with his Folgore riddled by a Spitfire, made an emergency landing near Hisiyet Busata. The Italian fighters were back at base at 10:45.
At 10:05 eight Spitfire Vbs of 601 Squadron and four of 145 Squadron again provided cover to 33 Squadron, this time the unit’s Hurricanes escorting a TacR aircraft over the front. The formation was attacked by Axis fighters south of El Alamein, Squadron Leader ‘Pete’ Matthews and Flight Lieutenant C. H. Saunders of 145 Squadron each claiming an MC.202, while Flying Officer R. G. Bates (BP847/Z) and Flying Officer P. B. Laing-Meason (AB186) each claiming damage to two Macchis. 601 Squadron’s Flight Lieutenant J. H. Curry (BR481/K) claimed a Bf 109 as a probable and a Macchi damaged, with a further claim for a Macchi damaged also submitted by Flight Sergeant E. G. Shea (BP988/N). The WDAF formation appears to have been engaged with the Macchis of the 10o Gruppo. Amongst the Allied units, Sergeant W. E. Douglas of 33 Squadron crash-landed in flames with BP474/N and he was wounded, whereas Flight Sergeant R. Downing’s 601 Squadron Spitfire Vc (BR113) was damaged as was Flight Lieutenant Lance Wade’s Hurricane (HL661/J).

Between 10:20 and 11:05 on 22 October, 15 MC.202s of the 9o and the 10o Gruppi, led respectively by Capitano Giulio Reiner and Capitano Piccolomini, scrambled to intercept 18 Bostons, escorted by 25 Spitfires, that were going to bomb the airfield of Fuka. The bombers were scattered, jettisoned their bombs 20 km south of Bir Sarahat and tried to get home. The escorting Spitfires dived on the Macchis. In the ensuing combat three Spitfires were claimed shot down, one each by Tenente Mario Mecatti (73a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, (90a Squadriglia) and one shared by four pilots from the 90a Squadriglia: Piccolomini, Tenente Pietro Dell'Antonio, Sergente Maggiore Natale Molteni and Sottotenente Sforza Libera. Reiner and four other pilots of his 73a Squadriglia damaged three Bostons. Two Macchis returned lightly damaged.

As of 8 November 1942 (on the launch of Operation Torch in North Africa), Capitano Piccolomini served as CO of the 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo CT. The unit was based at Martuba, Libya, and equipped with MC.202s.

On 18 November, during a reconnaissance mission over Msus, Piccolomini, who flew a MC.202 from the 96a Squadriglia, met two Hurricanes and attacked them, damaging one.

After the battle of El Alamein, the Axis forces gradually retreated. In early December, the 10o Gruppo was at Castelbenito to be sent back to Italy; the last pilots to leave, on 12 December, were Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis, Tenente Luigi Giannella and Capitano Piccolomini (CO 90a Squadriglia).
During the period January 1942 – January 1943, the 4o Stormo flew 7202 hours on missions, took part in 133 combats, claimed 289 aircraft destroyed (totally 501 from the beginning of the war) and lost 24 pilots KIA or MIA with 29 wounded and 2 POWs.

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 Luciano Perdoni and Sergente Livio Barbera.
Pilots in the 90a Squadriglia were Capitano 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 Terrabuio, Sergente Ambrogio Rusconi and Sergente Giulio Fornalé.
On 20 April, the Gruppo transferred to Ciampino Sud for the defence of Rome.

In June, the Gruppo was transferred to Catania, for the defence of Sicily. At this time the 90a Squadriglia operated together with the 84a Squadriglia at S. Salvatore, near Catania.

On the eve of the Allied invasion of Sicily in the beginning of July 1943, Capitano Piccolomini was the CO of the 10o Gruppo Autonomo CT. based on Sicily and equipped with 20 MC.202s/MC.205Vs. Squadriglia commanders were:
84a Squadriglia – Capitano Luigi Gianella
90a Squadriglia – Capitano Piccolomini
91a Squadriglia – Tenente Mario Mecatti

On 4 July sixty USAAF bombers, escorted by thirty-six P-38s and Spitfires, attacked the airfield of Gerbini Sud and the railway stations of Catania and Misterbianco.
Twenty-one MC.202s and MC.205s were scrambled and intercepted the bombers and their escort between Catania, Syracuse and Cape Passero. Capitano Piccolomini and Sottotenente Renato Baroni (90 a Squadriglia) claimed a shared P-38 in this combat while Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi, Sottotenente Mario Squarcina (90 a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli claimed a P-38 each. Many other Allied aircraft were claimed damaged. No losses were suffered by the Italian fighters.

After the death of Franco Lucchini on 5 July, Piccolomini took command of the 10o Gruppo and held this until the Armistice on 8 September 1943.
During the last period he flew MC.205 serie III MM 92211 (possibly "90-1" again).

After the Armistice, Piccolomini, as most pilots of the 4o Stormo, joined to Aeronautica Cobelligerante, or Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force (ICAF).

On 6 October he should have participated together with Capitano Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa (MC.205 serie III MM92214, later coded “21-5”) and Capitano Luigi Mariotti (MC.205 serie III MM 92176) in a leaflet dropping sortie over Rome, but his Macchi had a brake failure and did not take off.

In the ICAF he commanded the 90a Squadriglia until 30 January 1944, when, with the rank of Maggiore, was appointed CO of the 10o Gruppo.

In September 1944 the 4o Stormo was re-equipped with Bell P-39 Airacobras.

From 31 December to the end of the war he commanded the 4o Stormo.

During his service with the ICAF, Piccolomini performed several escort, recon and attack missions over the Balkans.

On 8 February 1944 he was lightly wounded by ground fire during an action over Dubrownik.
In fact, he used to strafe at a very low level and was known by his companions to be an "aircraft smasher" for this reason.

Piccolomini ended the war with 2 biplane victories and a total of 7.

After the war Piccolomini remained in the Aeronautica Militare Italiana.

With the rank of Colonnello he was CO of the 1o Stormo from 1 May 1956. This unit was at this time equipped with FIAT/North American F-86Ks.

From 1959 to 1960 he commanded the 51a Aerobrigata, which was equipped with Republic F-84Fs.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  12/06/40 morning 1 Blenheim (a) Damaged Fiat CR.32   Tobruk area 92a Squadriglia
1 14/06/40 09:30- 1 Gladiator (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.32   near Fort Capuzzo 92a Squadriglia
  21/06/40 04:30- 1/4 Sunderland (c) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.32   Bardia area 92a Squadriglia
  08/10/40 18:00 1 Wellington (d) Damaged Fiat CR.42   Fuka area 92a Squadriglia
  08/10/40 18:00 1 Wellington (d) Damaged Fiat CR.42   Fuka area 92a Squadriglia
  08/10/40 18:00 1 Wellington (d) Damaged Fiat CR.42   Fuka area 92a Squadriglia
2 15/10/40 10:50-13:25 1 Lysander (e) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum - Giarabub 92a Squadriglia
  04/06/42 08:05-08:50 1 P-40 (f) Probably destroyed MC.202   S Bir Hacheim 90a Squadriglia
3 07/06/42 09:10-10:10 1 P-40 (g) Destroyed MC.202   10km W Acroma 90a Squadriglia
  12/06/42 09:15- 1/3 P-40 (h) Shared destroyed MC.202   Gambut area 90a Squadriglia
4 02/07/42 08:10-09:40 1 Boston (i) Destroyed MC.202   N Fuka 90a Squadriglia
  02/07/42 08:10-09:40 1/5 P-40 (j) Shared destroyed MC.202   N Fuka 90a Squadriglia
  04/07/42 09:30-10:30 1 Spitfire (k) Probably destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 90a Squadriglia
  04/07/42 09:30-10:30 1/12 P-40 (k) Shared destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 90a Squadriglia
5 08/07/42 09:00-10:25 1 P-40 (l) Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein 90a Squadriglia
  10/07/42 18:00-19:30 1 P-40 (m) Probably destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 90a Squadriglia
  14/07/42 12:30-14:10 1/6 P-40 (n) Shared destroyed MC.202     90a Squadriglia
  14/07/42 12:30-14:10 1/12 Hurricane (n) Shared destroyed MC.202     90a Squadriglia
  16/07/42 10:35-12:00 1/5 P-40 (o) Shared destroyed MC.202   Deir el Qattara area 90a Squadriglia
  18/07/42 06:45-08:15 1/3 P-40 (p) Shared destroyed MC.202   Burg el Arab area 90a Squadriglia
6 05/08/42 09:40-11:20 1 P-40 (q) Destroyed MC.202   El Hammam - El Amirya 90a Squadriglia
7 11/08/42 10:32 1 P-40 (r) Destroyed MC.202   El Hammam – Burg el Arab 90a Squadriglia
  02/09/42 06:10-07:45 1/2 Spitfire (s) Shared destroyed MC.202   Bir Mseilikh area 90a Squadriglia
8 11/09/42 09:30-10:45 1 P-40 (t) Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein – El Hammam 90a Squadriglia
  22/10/42 10:20-11:05 1/4 Spitfire Shared destroyed MC.202   E Fuka 90a Squadriglia
  18/11/42   1 Hurricane Damaged MC.202   Msus area 90a Squadriglia
  04/07/43   1/2 P-38 Shared destroyed Macchi   Catania - Syracuse - Cape Passero 90a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 2 and 1 shared destroyed, 4 damaged.
TOTAL: 8 and 11 shared destroyed, 3 probably destroyed, 5 damaged.
(a) Blenheim of 107 Squadron damaged.
(b) Claimed in combat with three Gladiators from 33 Squadron. 33 Squadron claimed one and one unconfirmed CR.32s and one Ca.310 without losses. The 8o Gruppo claimed three victories (or two) for the loss of one CR.32 (Sergente Edoardo Azzarone, 93a Squadriglia, killed).
(c) Sunderland L2160/X of 230 Squadron, which returned to base damaged.
(d) Actually Blenheims from 55 Squadron, which didn’t suffer any damage.
(e) Lysander L4714 of 208 Squadron. Pilot Officer David Mervyn Boughey Druce and Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sergeant John Felix Muldowney KIA.
(f) Claimed in combat with fighters from 2, 4 and 5 SAAF Squadrons and 260 Squadron, which claimed 2 and 3 damaged Bf 109s, while losing 7 P-40s (2 by Ju 87s and 1 by AA). Fighters from 10o Gruppo and II./JG 27 claimed 7 P-40s and 2 probables without losses.
(g) Claimed in combat with Hurricane from 73 and 213 Squadrons, which lost 2 Hurricanes (1 pilot KIA) and got 2 damaged without claiming anything. The 10o Gruppo claimed 5 P-40s destroyed and 1 probable without losses.
(h) Claimed in combat with 145 and 73 Squadrons which claimed 1 destroyed and 2 damaged without losses. 10o Gruppo claimed 2 P-40s without losses.
(i) Boston III Z2198 from 12 SAAF Squadron, which crash-landed on return (crew safe).
(j) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed 1 MC.202 while losing 1 fighters (pilot WIA). The 10o Gruppo claimed 3 P-40s while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot PoW).
(k) Claimed in combat with at least Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed 1 and 2 probable MC.202s while losing 1 Hurricane (pilot KiA) and getting 3 more damaged. 10o Gruppo claimed 4 fighters, 2 probables and at least 4 damaged without losses.
(l) This claim can’t be verified with Allied records.
(m) Probably claimed in combat with 80 and 274 Squadrons, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(n) Claimed in combat with Kittyhawk Ias from 4 SAAF Squadron, which suffered 2 slightly damaged fighters.
(o) Claimed in combat with fighters from 213, 238, 250 and 1 SAAF Squadrons, which claimed 2 destroyed and 2 probables while losing 1 Hurricane (pilot KIA) and getting 2 fighters damaged. 10o Gruppo claimed 4 fighters destroyed while suffering 4 damaged MC.202s.
(p) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 80 and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 5 damaged fighters while losing 2 Hurricanes. 10o Gruppo claimed 4 fighters destroyed without losses.
(q) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 1 SAAF and 80 Squadrons and Kittyhawks from 260 Squadron, which lost 2 Hurricanes and got 1 more Hurricane and 1 Kittyhawk damaged while claiming 1 enemy fighter destroyed, 1 probably and 4 damaged. 10o Gruppo and 4./JG 27 claimed 5 P-40s and 1 probably without losses.
(r) Claimed in combat with Tomahawks from 5 SAAF Squadron, which claimed 1 MC.202 without losses. 10o Gruppo claimed 1 P-40 and 1 probable without losses.
(s) Probably claimed in combat with Spitfire Vcs from 92 Squadron, which claimed 1 MC.202 and 1 Bf 109 destroyed and 3 Bf 109s damaged while losing 2 Spitfires (1 pilot KIA). 10o Gruppo claimed 6 Spitfires and 1 Boston while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot KIA).
(t) Probably claimed in combat with Spitfires from 601 and 145 Squadrons and Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed 2 fighters destroyed, 1 probable and 7 damaged while losing 1 Hurricane (pilot safe) and getting 2 fighters damaged. 10o Gruppo claimed 4 and 1 probable fighters while getting 5 MC.202s damaged.

2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
50o Stormo d'Assalto - Nino Arena, 1979 STEM Mucchi, Modena kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Adriano Visconti Asso di Guerra - Giuseppe Pesce and Giovanni Massimello, 1997 Albertelli Edizioni Speciali, Parma, ISBN 88-85909-80-9, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
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
Ali d’Africa - Michele Palermo and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 IBN Editore, ISBN 88-7565-060-8
Ali nella tragedia - Giulio Lazzati, 1970 Mursia, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - Giovanni Massimello, 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan
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.
Diario Storico 93a Squadriglia C.T. kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Diario Storico 94a Squadriglia C.T. kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Eagles over Gazala: Air Battles in North Africa May-June 1942 – Michele Palermo, IBN Editore, ISBN (10) 88-7565-168-X
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell' A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
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
Gli Assi Italiani Della Caccia - Santi Corvaja kindly provided by Santiago Flores
Gloster Gladiator - Alex Crawford, 2002 Mushroom Model Publications, ISBN 83-916327-0-9
Gloster Gladiator Aces - Andrew Thomas, 2002 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-84176-289-X
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
Il Breda 65 e l'Aviazione d'Assalto - Giancarlo Garello, 1980 Ed. dell'Ateneo & Bizzarri, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Fiat CR 32 poesia del volo - Nicola Malizia, 1981 Edizioni dell’Ateneo, Roma, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
L'8o Gruppo Caccia in due conflitti mondiali - Giuseppe Pesce, 1974 STEM Mucchi, Modena kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
La Battaglie Aeree In Africa Settentrionale: Novembre-Dicembre 1941 – Michele Palermo, IBN, ISBN 88-7565-102-7
La Regia Aeronautica - volume I: Dalla non belligeranza all'intervento – Nino Arena, 1981 USSMA, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
La Regia Aeronautica 1939-1943, vol. III - Nino Arena, 1984 USSMA, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
La Regia Aeronautica 1943-1946, parte prima - Dall'Armistizio alla Cobelligeranza - Nino Arena, 1977 USSMA/STEM Mucchi, Modena kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
La Regia Aeronautica 1943-1946, parte seconda - Dalla Guerra di Liberazione alla Repubblica - Nino Arena, 1977 USSMA/STEM Mucchi, Modena kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Macchi MC 205 Veltro - Maurizio Di Terlizzi, 1997 IBN Editore, Rome, ISBN 88-86815-55-7, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-16-X
Operation Compass 1940 - Jon Latimer, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-85532-967-0, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma, kindly provided by Stefan Lazzaro
Spitfires over Sicily - Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia and Frederick Galea, 2000 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-32-2
Storia di 10.000 aeroplani – Franco Pagliano, 2003 Ugo Mursia, Milano kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Stormi d'Italia - Giulio Lazzati, 1975 Mursia, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2 – Jon Lake, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-024-2 kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history – Graham Warner, 2002 Crécy Publishing Limited, Manchester, ISBN 0-947554-92-0
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Desert Air Force - Roderick Owen, 1948 Hutchinson, London, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
The Desert Air War 1939 – 1945 – Richard Townshend Bickers, 1991 Leo Cooper, London, ISBN 0-85052-216-1, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
The Gloster Gladiator - Francis K. Mason, 1964 Macdonald & Co. Ltd. London
Additional information kindly provided by Ferdinando D’Amico, Stefano Lazzaro, Ludovico Slongo and Renato Zavattini.

Last modified 08 September 2022