Biplane fighter aces


Maresciallo Massimo Salvatore

Gorizia in the spring of 1940.
From left: Sergente Maggiore Salvatore, Capitano Antonio Larsimont and Galvino.
Image kindly provided by Fulvio Chianese at GORIZIA ed il QUARTO STORMO.

Date Decoration Note
??/??/43 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/41 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (1st) 1940-43
??/??/42 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/42 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (3rd) 1940-43
??/??/45 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare (4th) 1940-43

Massimo Salvatore was from Ortadi Atella (Caserta).

In the spring of 1940 Sergente Maggiore Salvatore served in the 97a Squadriglia of the 9o Gruppo, which was equipped with CR.42s

In the beginning of July 1940, the 9o Gruppo was sent to Comiso, Sicily, to fly missions in the assault on Malta.

At dawn on 4 July, 24 CR.42s led by Maggiore Ernesto Botto took off from Comiso and headed south-east. When they reached the 36th Parallel, they headed towards Malta, thus having the rising sun at their backs. Approaching Hal Far airfield, Botto, Sergente Guglielmo Biffani, Sergente Maggiore Sergio Stauble, Capitano Giuseppe Mauriello (97a Squadriglia), Tenente Riccardo Vaccari and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore dived to attack.
The escort was composed by six CR.42s of the 73a Squadriglia led by Tenente Vittorio Pezzè 600 m above, six of the 97a Squadriglia led by Capitano Antonio Larsimont at 2000 m and finally by six of the 96a Squadriglia led by Capitano Roberto Fassi at 4000 meters.
Botto and his pilots attacked Hal Far by grazing the ground, and strafed a bomber and seven Gladiators that however did not burn. Intense anti-aircraft fire damaged two aircraft of the 96a Squadriglai; Salvatore’s, which had the ailerons shot out of use and Vaccari’s, which was hit at the leading edge of left wing. Two British fighters were spotted at 2000 m but these didn't attack the Italians. After the strafe, Botto’s flight hid in a cast of clouds and all the CR.42s returned home.
The Italian War Bulletin no. 25 reported:

"A formation of fighters, defying bad weather and intense AA fire, performed a brilliant strafing attack on the airfield of Hal Far (Malta), disabling eight aircraft parked there. All our aircraft came back home."
According RAF records the actual result from the attack was two damaged Swordfishes from 830 Squadron of which both were repairable.

On 12 July 1940, the 9o Gruppo C.T. arrived at Tripoli from Comiso with thirty-three Fiat CR.42s under the command of Maggiore Ernesto Botto. The Gruppo consisted of 73a, 96a and 97a Squadriglie. The 97a Squadriglia included Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni (CO), Capitano Giuseppe Mauriello, Tenente Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sottotenente Jacopo Frigerio, Sottotenente Riccardo Vaccari, Sottotenente Giovanni Barcaro, Maresciallo Vanni Zuliani, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli, Sergente Maggiore Otello Perotti, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore, Sergente Francesco Putzu, Sergente Franco Sarasino, Sergente Alcide Leoni and Sergente Angelo Golino (assigned on 22 July).
Together with the 10o Gruppo they formed the 4o Stormo C.T.
The Gruppo’s Fiat CR.42s was wisely retrofitted with tropical kits for guns and engines, to avoid the problems suffered by the other Gruppi.

In the afternoon on 9 December, SM 79s were out to bomb British troops at the Sidi Barrani - Bir Enba area. They were to be escorted by 19 CR.42s of the 9o Gruppo led by Maggiore Ernesto Botto, which had taken off from El Adem at 14:55. The fighters included seven from the 73a Squadriglia (Tenente Valerio De Campo (CO), Tenente Giulio Reiner, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, Sergente Maggiore Guglielmo Biffani, Sergente Maggiore Enrico Dallari, Sergente Maggiore Antonio Valle and Sergente Santo Gino) seven from the 97a Squadriglia (Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni (CO), Tenente Ezio Viglione Borghese, Sottotenente Riccardo Vaccari, Sergente Maggiore Otello Perotti, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore, Sergente Angelo Golino and Sergente Alcide Leoni) and four from the 96a Squadriglia (Tenente Aldo Gon and Sergente Giuseppe Tomasi together with two unknown pilots).
More Italian fighters were up to escort the bombers and at 15:10, Sergente Maggiore Fiorenzo Milella of the 366a, 151o Gruppo, attached to a formation of nine CR.42s of the 368a Squadriglia (Capitano Bruno Locatelli, Sergente Maggiore Davide Colauzzi, Sergente Ernesto De Bellis, Sottotenente Furio Lauri, Sergente Maggiore Annibale Ricotti, Tenente Orfeo Paroli, Sergente Piero Hosquet, Sergente Stefano Fiore, Sergente Ottorino Ambrosi) were out to escorted Italian bombers in the Bir Enba area.
The rendezvous with the bombers over A3 failed and after 20 minutes, the fighters of the 9o Gruppo arrived and together they proceeded towards the front on a free sweep. Three SM 79s were discovered and escorted for a while. Over Buq-Buq, a Hurricane strafing along the coastal road was discovered and the SM 79s were left to the 9o Gruppo while the CR.42s of the 151o Gruppo attacked the British fighter. The Hurricane was claimed shot down in flames and credited to the formation (but in fact only Locatelli, Lauri, Paroli and De Bellis fired their guns).
The 151a Gruppo fighters returned to base at 16:50.
Meanwhile the fighters from the 9o Gruppo continued and 30 km south of Bir Enba they spotted some Gladiators at a lower level and dived on them, but suddenly the CR.42s were jumped by a reported two Squadrons of Hurricanes or Spitfires, attacking respectively the 73a Squadriglia and the 96a Squadriglia with the 97a Squadriglia. A large dogfight started and after 20 minutes of combat many claims were submitted by the Italian pilots
Tenente Vaccari fought alone against four Hurricanes, claiming one destroyed (as a Spitfire) and damaging the others before his Fiat was hit in the fuel tank and in the engine. He crash-landed near Sollum, the aircraft turning over and caught fire; he was burned in the face and hands. Sergente Maggiore Salvatore claimed a Spitfire and several damaged before being wounded in his left arm. He managed however to return to base. Sergente Golino was hit in his back, but managed to claim his attacker before being compelled to evade and land at Amseat A3. Sergente Maggiore Biffani (Fiat CR.42 MM5599/73-9) claimed a Hurricane but was at the same shot down by his victim and was captured. He recalled:

"In the afternoon of 9 December we were flying between Mersa Matruh and Buq-Buq, when my wingman, Sottotenente Alvaro Querci, warned me that we had enemies behind us. I alerted Botto by shooting a burst [Note that the CR.42 had no radio during this period], then I realized they were near my tail, so I made a 180-degree turn and I saw them pass: they were three Hurricanes. I climbed almost vertically and saw the 73a Squadriglia in front, the three Hurricanes behind it and 96a and 97a Squadriglia behind them, all in a vertical line that went down to the ground. Then I discovered a Hurricane that was breaking off from the combat, clearly he had seen the other Italian fighters on its tail. I continued to climb, now I was the highest fighter of them all, then I dived down at full throttle [towards the escaping Hurricane]. I arrived near it and then I reduced speed and put the revolutions between 1850 and 2250 because otherwise I would had cut my propeller as happened to Gon and others, because the airscrew went out of gear and the round was fired when it passed in front of the gun (…) . When I closed to it, I opened fire. I aimed and saw the explosive bullets that exploded on the wing. Why didn’t anything happen? Was there no fuel at all? I fired at the other wing but it was the same, the bullets exploded but nothing happened. I fired into the engine, nothing happened. I saw the tracers very well, and after all, it wasn’t the first time I was shooting. At Gorizia I used to hit the target balloon with ten rounds only. In the meantime, I was losing speed and falling behind, O.K. Goodbye! It passed and turned towards me again -so I hadn’t caused any damage to it- , and I did the same. We found ourselves face to face at a distance of around 500-600 metres. I started firing and saw my tracers hitting it, then its wings lit up and in the same moment my plane caught fire, it was just an instant. My plane was severely damaged and while I was trying to land I saw the Hurricane that dived into the ground and exploded. I saw no parachute. I force-landed among British MTs and was immediately taken prisoner. I went back home after 63 months of POW!"
Additional Hurricanes were claimed by Botto, Sergente Dallari, Sergente Valle and an unknown pilot of the 73a Squadriglia (it is possible that this was a shared claim). It seems possible that also Sergente Maggiore Perotti claimed a victory (this claim is disallowed in the 97a Squadriglia diary, who only credits him with some Spitfires damaged).
Sergente Gino claimed a probable before his aircraft was badly damaged and he made an emergency landing near the frontline. Additional probables were claimed by Sottotenente De Campo and Reiner. Sergente Alcide Leoni together with other pilots claimed several damaged fighters. Capitano Larsimont Pergameni was attacked but was able to evade without claiming any hits on any enemy aircraft. Tenente Viglione was soon hit by a Hurricane, but manoeuvred to shoot at and damage it; however he was hit again in the engine by another enemy fighter, so he had to made an emergency landing near Buq-Buq.
Totally the Italian pilots claimed seven shot down (
Biffani’s claim was not initially credited since he was taken POW) and three probables (it’s possible that some of the probables were claimed as shared). The Gruppo’s Diary reduced these claims to four confirmed and three probables.
Totally during the combat one Fiat was shot down (Biffani POW) and three CR.42s carried out emergency landings (Viglione, Vaccari and Gino). Three pilots were wounded; Vaccari, Golino and Salvatore. Both Reiner’s and Valle’s aircraft returned lightly damaged while Tenente Aldo Gon and Sergente Giuseppe Tomasi landed at Amseat due to lack of fuel.
It seems that they had clashed with fighter from at least two RAF Squadrons. 12 Hurricanes from 33 Squadron had taken off with 10 minutes intervals to ground strafe the enemy’s rear areas, concentrating on troops and motor transports. They reportedly caused much damage before they were intercepted by three formations of CR.42s. During the day, 33 Squadron’s pilots claimed three Italian fighters and reported another going down out of control. One of the Squadron’s Hurricanes had to force-land but the pilot was saved (this was probably claimed by the 151o Gruppo pilots). Considering that one of the claims should relate to the loss of Sergente Francesco Nanin in the morning then the other two are probably connected with this specific engagement. It is also known that Flying Officer Vernon Woodward shot down two of the Fiats claimed by his unit, one of them in flames, and damaged a third.
The second Squadron was five Hurricanes (Squadron Leader Patrick Dunn (P3723), Flight Lieutenant John Lapsley (V7293), Flying Officer Thomas Patterson (P3720), Flight Lieutenant Peter Wykeham-Barnes (V7300) and Pilot Officer Ernest ‘Imshi’ Mason (P3722)) from 274 Squadron, which had taken off at 15:00. They were flying in two vics at 15,000 feet when they spotted 27 CR.42s in tight vics (four main formations of 8, 7, 6 and 6 aircraft) over the Sidi Barrani-Sofafi area at 16:08. The Italian fighters were discovered at 9 o’clock, 10-12 miles away and stepped so that they were slightly above and 2000 feet below. The RAF pilots succeeded in approaching unobserved and then delivered a multiple direction attack followed by a general dogfight. The Hurricane pilots reporting five confirmed victories and three probables for one Hurricane damaged. In the unit’s ORBs Form 541 victories were claimed by Flight Lieutenant Wykeham-Barnes (plus one probable), Squadron Leader Dunn (plus two probables), Flying Officer Patterson, Flight Lieutenant Lapsley and Pilot Officer Mason. However, in the unit’s ORB Form 540, the number of confirmed victories raises to six with three more CR 42s severely damaged; the identity of the claimant of this last victory, however remained unknown even if the CFRs of the action would suggest Squadron Leader Dunn.
Squadron Leader Dunn (he delivered an aster attack) reported:
“The enemy engaged in dogfight. Claim one E a/c for certain (saw it hit the ground). Attacked two in tight vic and was at 200 yards point blank range and fell certain must have killed pilots. Got another good and point blank deflection shot at another. Closed from optimum to point blank range at first. Must (?) have shot down the first two but could not spare time to confirm. 3rd point blank deflection shot likely and fourth adversary saw it hit the ground (claim 1 confirmed and 2 others which I feel certain about but must go down as unconfirmed).”
Flight Lieutenant Lapsley (he delivered a head-on attack) reported:
“The enemy fired back. 1 CR 42 shot down and seen to hit the ground without burning. Several other machines were shot at individually. They can out manoeuvre a Hurricane but one can get away and then come back.”
Pilot Officer Mason (he was discovered during the approach and had to dogfight from the beginning) reported:
“The enemy tried to turn inside me. 1 CR 42 shot at short range from above into cockpit. Aircraft turned (unreadable) with sparks from it. Followed it down until attacked by others CR 42s. Using 15o flap climb (unreadable) but not quite equal to 42. Speed on level far superior. Possible when attacked from above to turn and deliver short head on burst.”
Flight Lieutenant Wykeham-Barnes reported:
“The enemy dog fought, during dogfight damaged two enemy and sent one down out of control but could not see it crash as another was in my tail. The enemy fairly aggressive.”
Flying Officer Patterson (he delivered a quarter attack from port side) reported:
“The enemy started a general dogfight. 1 CR 42 shot down and seen to burn out on the ground”.
The 274 Squadron Hurricanes all had landed at 17:00.
It is also highly likely that 112 Squadron’s Gladiators were present. They were up, patrolling the Bir Enba area, and were noted and attacked by 9o Gruppo’s pilots. The Squadron flew at least two patrols during the day but the unit’s ORB don’t report any engagement.
The escorted bombers were three SM 79s of the 29o Gruppo (one of 11a Squadriglia and two of 63a Squadriglia) commanded by Colonnello Mario Aramu that attacked at around 16:40 while the RAF fighters were busy with the CR.42s of 9o Gruppo. Aramu noted the combat between Italian and Commonwealth fighters and claime an effective bombing from 3000 metres coming back at Gambut at 17:50 while the other formation were four SM 79s of the 6a Squadriglia, 44o Gruppo, commanded by Maggiore Andrea Bosi who had taken off at 14:25 from Tmini M2. Before the mission Bosi had received order not to press home his attack (but to turn back) in case he failed the rendezvous with the escorting fighters over Sollum, so when the rendezvous with the escort failed he turned back and landed at Tmini M2 at 16:40. His were the bombers that were discovered by 9o Gruppo flying back towards Libya.

The 9o Gruppo returned from the desert and was re-equipped with Macchi MC.200s. In July they re-equipped again with MC.202s and they were sent to Sicily, arriving in the end of September 1941, to take part in the operations against Malta

In the morning of 12 November 1941, four Hurricanes from 249 Squadron strafed Gela airfield on Sicily. This raid was soon followed by eleven bomb-carrying Hurricanes out for the same airfield. Six of the Hurricanes were drawn from 249 Squadron, the other five from 126 Squadron, while an additional four and six respectively provided escort. As the twenty-one Hurricanes approached they were met by three MC.202s of the 9o Gruppo, which had been scrambled from Comiso during the previous raid. Tenente Jacopo Frigerio attacked one Hurricane without result, but this was then attacked by Sottotenente Giovanni Deanna and Sergente Salvatore who shot it down into the sea near the coast. This was one of the Hurribombers (Z3158/HA-K), flown by Australian Sergeant Peter Simpson of 126 Squadron.
Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan of the 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo took off in a CR.42 to search for the downed pilot, who he spotted, and who was then picked up by a launch and taken prisoner.
During the raid, one MC.202 was claimed shot down by Flight Lieutenant J. M. V. Carpenter, but no Italian loss was recorded.

At 07:15 on 21 November 1941, five MC.200s of 54o Stormo and ten 9o Gruppo MC.202s strafed Hal Far, presumably attracted by the presence of 242 and 605 Squadron’s Hurricanes based there. Seven Hurricanes from 185 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Pike were scrambled to intercept. They attacked five Macchis initially (probably the MC.200s), five more then jumping the British fighters (probably some of the MC.202s). No firm claims were made by the Hurricane pilots, but it was believed that three of the Italian fighters had been damaged. Sergeant Bill Nurse’s Hurricane was badly hit in return.
The Italians reported fighting twelve Hurricanes and ‘Spitfires’, and claimed two ‘Spitfires’ shot down, one by Sottotenente Jacopo Frigerio, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Novelli and Sergente Angelo Golino, and one by Sottotenente Giovanni Barcaro and Sergente Salvatore (all of them from the 97a Squadriglia), while two more were claimed as probables. Four were claimed destroyed on the ground plus a Blenheim, damage to the latter being credited to Maresciallo Rinaldo Damiani. Two Macchis returned damaged.

On 26 November, the MC.202s of the 9o Gruppo made their combat debut in the Gruppo’s second African tour. At 11:00, a formation of 10 MC.202s took off, led by Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni, for a free sweep over the Sidi Rezegh-Gambut area. They were split into two patrols of five aircraft each (one patrol from the 96a Squadriglia and one from the 97a Squadriglia).
After about 25 minutes of flight and at an altitude of about 5,000m, two enemy formations were seen; one composed of 12 Hurricanes at altitude of 3,500m and a second of P-40s (in fact Hurricanes also) at an altitude higher than 5,000m, which escorted the former. Both Macchi patrols attacked the lower formation, breaking it up. The higher formation intervened in the battle, which lasted about 10 minutes.
Capitano Larsimont got on the tail of an enemy aircraft and attacked it (firing 94 rounds) but was immediately set upon by another enemy fighter which hit him from behind. He managed to get away and bring home his damaged fighter. Maresciallo Raffaele Novelli (97a Squadriglia) fired on some enemy fighters in successive actions and claimed one shot down using a total of 675 rounds. Sottotenente Giovanni Barcaro (97a Squadriglia) fired on eight enemy aircraft in successive action. He got on the tail of a P-40 and hit it with a long burst. The aircraft came down and crashed into the ground. His MC.202 was shot on fuel so he landed at Tmimi to refuel before returning to base. He had used 275 rounds in the combat. Sottotenente Jacopo Frigerio (97a Squadriglia) fired on three enemy fighters over several clashes without being able to notice any visible effects, using 102 rounds. Sergente Maggiore Salvatore (97a Squadriglia) got on the tail on an enemy aircraft and shot it down after hitting it with a long burst. Then he fired on a second one, shooting this down as well. Totally he used 575 rounds before returning to base with the windshield of his fighter smeared with oil from the oil tank of one of the Hurricanes, he had shot down.
In the end of the combat, the Italian pilots claimed eight enemy fighters destroyed and an additional as probably destroyed using 3000 rounds of ammunition with two MC.202s damaged (Capitano Larsimont and Capitano Ezio Viglione Borghese). Four P-40s and a probable Hurricane were credited to the 96a Squadriglia; Capitano Viglione, Tenente Emanuele Annoni, Tenente Fernando Malvezzi, Maresciallo Manlio Olivetti and Maresciallo Dante Labanti (1 probable Hurricane).
Four enemy fighters were credited to the 97a Squadriglia; Sottotenente
Barcaro (1 P-40), Maresciallo Novelli and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore (2 enemy fighters).
They had been in combat with Hurricanes from 229 and 238 Squadrons. The higher formation seems to have been 229 Squadron, which was carrying out a defensive patrol for the ground forces with 12 Hurricanes over Sidi Rezegh. They had taken off at 11:45 (landing 13:30). They encountered a reportedly 12 enemy fighters, thought to be Bf 109s, without losing any Hurricanes but claiming to have shot down two of the enemies; Pilot Officer J. H. Penny (Hurricane Z5302) and Sergeant Warminger (Z3146). Presumably they thought that they had shot down Capitano Larsimont and Capitano Viglione.
The lower formation seem to have been 238 Squadron (take off 11:45 and landing 13:15), which reported being attacked by 6-7 enemy fighters and suffering losses when 21-years-old Australian Sergeant Robert Arthur Knappett (RAAF no. 400146) (Hurricane Z2355/L) was KIA at 13:15, Flying Officer Kings (G) crash-landed (King removed the overcoat from a dead Italian soldier and then drove an abandoned tank all through the night to reach Tobruk!) while Sergeant Kay (BV170/N) was shot down (Kay returned on foot). Pilot Officer H. G. Currie’s Hurricane (Z5222/Y) was wrecked on landing at Tobruk while Sergeant Fairbairn landed at Tobruk wounded and with his Hurricane (E) badly damaged.
It is possible that the RAF units also claimed two additional aircraft damaged in this combat.

During a free sweep by the 9o Gruppo in the El Adem – Gambut – Bir El Gobi area that lasted 14:10-15:30 on 5 December, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore sighted a formation of Hurricanes at a lower altitude among the clouds, he broke away from the formation, without being able to warn his companions, and launched into the attack firing 281 rounds at an enemy aircraft, which he declared shot down. Then he had to disengage itself from the other enemy planes. This was another significant example of the lack of radio contact.
Five Bf 109Fs took off for a free sweep at 14:35; according to the bulletin they claimed two victories and a Hurricane as a probable. The victories were claimed by Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille (3./JG 27) at 15.25 and Oberleutnant Gerhard Homuth (3./JG 27) at 15:35.
Ten Hurricanes of 1 SAAF Squadron were the cover for 274 Squadron on an offensive action above Bir El Gobi between 14:15 and 16:25. They had taken off from LG 124 and reported encountering Bf 109s and MC.202s. 2nd Lieutenant “Ray” Connell claimed two damaged Bf 109Fs in the El Adem area at 15:10 while Pilot Officer J. H. Galyer claimed a damaged MC.202 10 mile east of El Adem at the same time. Lieutenant “Billy” Herbert claimed one probable Bf 109F and one damaged in the El Adem area at 15:15.
2nd Lieutenant Noel Milne Sandiland’s (SAAF No. 103602V) Hurricane (Z5119) was shot down and Sandiland was KIA.
According to the unit’s diary 274 Squadron hadn't been involved, nevertheless AIR 22.364 reported the loss of a second Hurricane. This makes us think of a Hurricane of 274 Squadron that was surprise attacked by Salvatore, even if he was isolated from his companion’s. What is certain is that the number of rounds fired by Salvatore indicates a prolonged attack. It is likely that the two Axis formations participated in the same mission.

In the winter of 1941-42 the 9o Gruppo enjoyed a brief rest from fighting, before returning to operations over Malta in the spring and early summer of 1942.

At 18.10 on 10 May 1942, five Z.1007bis again were out to attack Malta. The Italian bombers, which came from 50o Gruppo B.T., were escorted by twenty MC.202s from 4o Stormo and ten Re.2001s from 2o Gruppo (making their combat debut over Malta). Twenty Ju 87s of III/StG3 and Ju 88s followed the Italian aircraft with a large escort of Bf 109s.
At 17.40 ten Spitfires from 601 Squadron had been scrambled to intercept the incoming raid and these aircraft attacked the Italian aircraft.
In the ensuing melee, Squadron Leader Bisdee leading an attack on Tenente Domenico Robillotta’s 211a Squadriglia bomber (MM23417), which blew up, the wreckage crashing into a field near Kalkara; three of the crew were killed and one injured, whilst a fifth was seen to bale out and fall into Grand Harbour when his parachute failed to open properly. Sergeant Farfan claimed a second bomber as probably destroyed, and Sergeant Jim Innes damaged a third; one of these, MM23400, was hit hard and landed at Gela airfield with two members of the crew wounded, one dying later in hospital. One of the Macchis was shot down by Pilot Officer Wally Caldwell (BR344/4-H), in which Capitano Roberto Dagasso, commander of 97a Squadriglia lost his life. Two Re.2001s sustained combat damage but were able to return to Sicily. 601 Squadron suffered no losses despite claims by the Italian pilots for six enemy fighters shot down.
The Italian aircraft claimed six fighters, two probables and two damaged as well as one Beaufighter. Pilots of 4o Stormo claimed three, one by Sergente
Teresio Martinoli, another by Tenente Mario Massa (identified as a Defiant!), the third (also identified as a Defiant) jointly by Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia), Tenente Emanuele Annoni (96a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Leo Boselli (97a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore (97a Squadriglia). According to some sources is Capitano Dagasso also included in this shared. 2o Gruppo pilots claimed the remainder. Tenente Remo Cazzolli and Maresciallo Olindo Simionato each claimed one, while a third was shared by Capitano Roberto Fassi and Maresciallo Antonio Patriarca, the latter also claiming a probable; Tenente Carlo Seganti claimed the Beaufighter (probably a transit aircraft encountered over the sea) while two Spitfires were reported damaged by Capitano Salvatore Teja and Sergente Giuseppe Baraldi, and another pilot was awarded a probable.

On 16 May, five Cant Z.1007bis of 210a Squadriglia raided Takali under the cover of 30 Macchis and 15 Messerschmitts, including a number of Jabos. One the airfield one Spitfire was destroyed and another slightly damaged, while two airmen were killed; nonetheless 16 Spitfires succeeded in getting airborne to intercept. At their head was Flight Lieutenant Denis Barnham of 601 Squadron, although he was suffering from ‘Malta Dog’ and had been ordered not to fly; however, with Squadron Leader John Bisdee and Flight Lieutenant H. Parry still ill, he decided he should lead. He ordered Blue Section to take on the bombers while he led his section up to great height to engage the fighter escort, but at 34,000 feet the cold was so intense that one pilot, the South African A. Bartleman, suffered frostbite to his fingers!
Although given a clear run at the bombers, Blue Section failed to gain any significant success; Flying Officer C. M. Hone (BR125/3-P) and Pilot Officer W. J. E. Hagger jointly claimed one of the Cants probably destroyed, and Sergeant McConnell a Macchi probable. Four 603 Squadron aircraft engaged Bf 109s, Squadron Leader D. Douglas-Hamilton and Pilot Officer G. W. Northcott each claiming one damaged, but Sergeant F. R. Johnson’s aircraft was shot up and the Australian crash-landed at Takali. 4o Stormo Macchi pilots claimed four Spitfires shot down, two by Sergente Maggiore Salvatore – one reportedly as it was landing – and one each by Sottotenente Mario Squarcina (73a Squadriglia) and Maresciallo Rinaldo Damiani (97a Squadriglia). Gunners in the bombers claimed one more.
It seems that no Italian losses were suffered in this combat.

On 20 May, the 9o Gruppo, with twenty-eight MC.202s, took off for a third tour of duty in North Africa. After a call in Pantelleria, they reached Castel Benito.
The following day, after intermediate landings at Tamet and Benghasi K3, they reached their new base at Martuba 4.

Between 14:40 and 16:05 on 29 May, Maggiore Antonio Larsimont Pergameni (CO 9o Gruppo) was leading eight MC.202s from the 4o Stormo on a free sweep. The visibility was much reduced because of the sand swept up by the wind. While the formation was crossing over Acroma at an altitude of 4,000m at 15:15, a patrol of about a dozen P-40s was spotted at a lower altitude; its pilots noticed the presence and tried to increase altitude by turning towards the Macchis, which launched the attack. Three enemy fighters were claimed shot down with two more as probables with seven additionally machine-gunned (with the total use of 2773 rounds of ammunition). Sergente Maggiore Teresio Martinoli (73a Squadriglia), Sergente Mario Guerci (73a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore (97a Squadriglia) claimed the destroyed while the probables were claimed by Sergente Maggiore Salvatore and Sottotenente Alvaro Querci (73a Squadriglia) while two of the machine-gunned were claimed by Sergente Maggiore Martinoli. Sottotenente Mario Massa (73a Squadriglia) in MM7824/73-5 was killed; he had only been with the unit for three months.
Nine Tomahawks IIbs from 5 SAAF Squadron (15:40-16:55) together with eleven Hurricane IIcs from 274 Squadron (15:40-17:20) were on a wing sweep over Bir Hacheim and they reported meeting a mixed force of Bf 109s and MC.202s. The 5 SAAF Squadron reported combat at 16:10 and Major John Frost (AN523/GL-R) claimed a destroyed MC.202 10 miles east of Gazala while Captain John Hewitson (AN448/GL-H) claimed a damaged Bf 109 and two more MC.202s were claimed damaged by Lieutenant John Lindbergh (AN366/GL-O) and Lieutenant Peter Harold Saunders (AM495/GL-T, combat reported 16:15); the three damaged fighters were claimed near Gazala. Lieutenant John Slater (AN433/GL-B) suffered engine failure after combat (he reported being attacked three times from behind by a Bf 109) and belly-landed south of Tobruk at 16:40. Slater was safe but the Tomahawk was struck off charge.
Major Frost reported:

“16.00 10000 8 or 9 EA were seen diving out of the sun. They were 109E, F and 202. Turned to face them and a general dogfight followed. 109 staying above and doing dive attacks, while Macchis came down and fought. Good burst with little deflection at a Macchi which climbed past me. EA turned over and started burning. Was seen to crash by other pilots. .50 20, 303 40.
At 16.20, the enemy broke off and headed west.”
Lieutenant Lindberg reported:
“At 10000 feet… When I observed the EA I attempted a head on attack on one below me, but overshot. I then went into a steep turn and saw a Me.109 climbing steeply to the north from below me with a Tomahawk close behind. I approached and the 109 pulled over on its back giving the impression of being out of control. While he was at the top of the stall turn he presented a deflection target well within range, so I opened fire. I lost him as he went down, but saw an AC burst into flames as it hit the ground as few seconds later. Shortly after this I saw a Macchi 202 on the tail of a Tomahawk about 1500’ below, I dived and the Macchi pulled away from his target into a gentle climbing turn to the left. When I got within range I allowed plenty of deflection and opened fire. I saw incendiary ammo, bursting in his airscrew disc and on the port wing. At about 50 yards range I saw an AC coming up on my wing right towards me, so I broke off the attack. One Macchi damaged (.50-400, .303-1200)”
Captain Hewitson reported:
“At 10000 feet…Saw bombs bursting in sea near Gazala and when approaching to investigate 8 or 9 EA attacked out of the sun. General dogfight followed and while diving down to escape a Bf 109 I noticed another Bf 109 F on the tail of a Tomahawk at 50 ft. I came in and attacked the Bf 109 F from above astern, pulled away and delivered another attack after which the 109 pulled away and climbed to about 1500 ft. during which time I was firing from astern at about 200 yards. Black smoke was seen coming out from behind the Me.109 and it seems to stall at that height. I was then attacked by another Me.109 and the result of the first combat was not observed. One Me.109F damaged (.50-100, .303-150)”
Lieutenant Saunders reported:
“…I dived very fast on the tail of a Macchi 202 and opened fire holding it to very short range. I saw pieces coming off and pulled up over the top of him and turned but saw him diving very fast going west… One Macchi damaged (.50-100, .303-400)”
The 274 Squadron did not see any enemy aircraft, but Sergeant James Dodds, who returned early, came across four Bf 109s and claimed one damaged over Bir Hacheim at 15:40. Totally the Allied fighters claimed one destroyed and four damaged for the loss of one Tomahawk.

Between 17:15 and 18:25 on 31 May, Capitano Ezio Viglione Borghese (96a Squadriglia) led nine MC.202s from the 9o Gruppo (seven of the 96a Squadriglia and two of the 97a Squadriglia) on a free sweep over Bir El Harmat-Bir Hacheim. Over Bir El Harmat around 17:40 about twenty enemy aircraft split between Spitfires, Hurricanes, and P-40s were spotted. They were attacking Stukas after they had dropped their bombs. The Macchis intervened and engaged the enemy in a violent air combat so that the Stukas could disengage. The Italian pilots were credited with the destruction of a Spitfire, a P-40, and two Hurricanes in addition to two P-40s and two Hurricanes as probables with others fired at. Tenente Emanuele Annoni (96a Squadriglia) claimed a P-40, as did Sergente Maggiore Salvatore (97a Squadriglia) while Capitano Viglione claimed a probable Hurricane and fired at two more. Totsal use of ammunition was 1050 rounds.
Information from the German side are very scarce: three Ju 87s attacked motor vehicles over Acroma between 17:05-18:30 and one was lost (possibly Ju 87R-2 WNr 5995 S7+GL from 3./StG 3 shot down by P-40s 25km south-west of Acroma. Unteroffizier Johann Krieger WIA and Gefreiter Josef Jennen PoW). 18 Ju 87s and ten Bf 110s attacked concentrations of enemy vehicles between Acroma-Tobruk-Bir Hacheim. 2./JG 27 escorted Stukas over Acroma between 17:47-19:00.
Ten Hurricane IIcs of 33 Squadron (probably top cover) together with five others of 274 Squadron were on a free sweep between Acroma, El Adem, and Bir Hacheim between 18:00-19:25. They came across a formation of 15 Ju 87s and at least twelve Bf l09s. 274 Squadron attacked the Stukas and the Hurricanes were in their turn attacked by Bf l09s. Sergeant M. M. Bruckshaw damaged a Stuka while Pilot Officer Wilfred Herbert Ismay (RCAF No. J/6816) was shot down and lost his life. In his turn, 33 Squadron was attacked by the escort and Sergeant W. H. Swan claimed a damaged Bf l09 damaged while Pilot Officer Woods’ Hurricane was slightly damaged. It is not clear if the Stuka had been shot down by Sergeant Bruckshaw or by anti-aircraft fire.

He was transferred to the 90a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo, in the beginning of June.

Between 09:05-10:30 on 8 June, seven MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo (including three from 91a Squadriglia) with Maggiore Paolo Maddalena (CO 10o Gruppo) in the lead were in action over Bir Hacheim.
At 09:35, they were at an altitude of 4,500m when the pilots spotted a formation of a reported 20 P-40s 500m below on the left. They attacked and an air combat for about 15 minutes followed. It ended at low altitude a little to the east of Bir el Harmat. There had probably also been another mixed formation of Hurricanes and P-40s at around 500m that also were attacked.
The Italian pilots claimed three P-40s and one probable while returning without losses. These where claimed by Maggiore Maddalena, Maresciallo
Leonardo Ferrulli (91a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Salvatore (90a Squadriglia) and Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini (90a Squadriglia) (one probably destroyed).
Many RAF, RAAF and SAAF fighters were in the air in the cauldron of Bir Hacheim at the time but no losses seems to match these claims.

Between 12:10-13:20 on 26 June, Tenente Fernando Malvezzi led eight MC.202s from the 97a Squadriglia on a free sweep over the Bir el Astas area. As usual, the Macchis were in two sections; one at 6,000m. and the other at 4,000m. A formation of six Marylands was spotted and immediately attacked at an altitude of 4,500m. One was declared to have been shot down as a shared between Tenente Malvezzi, Tenente Jacopo Frigerio and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore while five others were machine-gunned (2507 rounds fired).
At 13:15, six Baltimores of 223 Squadron had taken off to attack Mtat. At 13:45, the formation was at 16700ft, 8 miles north-west of Bir el Gallas when it was attacked by fighters shortly before reaching the target. The bombers jettisoned their bombs and headed home. The fighters attacked in the usual way, sweeping under the rear of the formation from the quarter halfway up and coming up on the other quarter. After ten minutes, the fighters broke away. At 14:02, the fighters were again reported well out of range. Sergeant H. Hewitt’s Baltimore II (No.6, AG748) was badly damaged with the port propeller coming off. He therefore had to force-land it 25 miles west of base (crew safe). AG774 (Pilot Officer D. G. W. Leake) crash-landed at the base (LG 116); the crew was safe. Both bombers were struck off charge.

On 7 July, four ground-attack missions were undertaken by the 50o Stormo CR.42s in the Wadi Kalakh area, the first between 11:50-13:35 during which one aircraft force-landed, the pilot (Sergente Gino Facchini) returning safely.
This mission was escorted by MC.202s and at 10:35 on 7 July, Capitano Carlo Ruspoli took off leading 11 MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo (five from the 84a Squadriglia and six from the 91a Squadriglia on an escort mission to CR.42s attacking enemy vehicles over the front. At 15,000ft over El Alamein they engaged a formation reportedly composed of 12 Bostons, ten P-40s and ten Spitfires and after a 30-minute combat they claimed a Boston (by an unknown pilot) and a Spitfire (Sergente Ferruccio Terrabuio of 91a Squadriglia) destroyed and one Boston as a probable (Capitano Ruspoli). They landed without losses at 12:00.
At about noon Tenente Virgilio Vanzan led four MC.202s of the 90a Squadriglia to cover CR.42s of the 50o Stormo in the same area. They clashed with 15 P-40s and ten Spitfires, claiming one P-40 shot down by Sergente Maggiore Salvatore and four P-40s claimed damaged. The Italian fighter returned with out losses.
At midday 12 Tomahawks of 5 SAAF Squadron and eight Kittyhawks of 4 SAAF Squadron escorted 11 Bostons of 12 SAAF Squadron to bomb west of El Daba - the first of three raids on this date. The formation was attacked by the MC.202s of the 10o Gruppo, which broke through the various layers of escorts and attacked the bombers. The lead Boston (AL735/R), flown by Major S. A. Pharoah, was attacked repeatedly by Capitano Ruspoli, who closed to 50 yards. His fire seriously wounded Pharoah, punctured the starboard fuel tank, the engine and the oil tank, also shooting away the elevator on that side of the aircraft. Close to unconsciousness, Pharoah turned out to sea, jettisoned the bombs, and just managed to crash-land in the forward infantry positions at El Alamein as he passed out. Medical help was fortunately close at hand, and he was removed to hospital. His victor only claimed a probable due, it seems, to the 10/10ths cloud cover which prevented him seeing the Boston go down. Tomahawk IIb AN365/M of 5 SAAF Squadron was shot down and abandoned 5 miles west of Daba at 12:45 when 2nd Lieutenant B. J. Grove baled out safely.

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.
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 Ranieri Piccolomini (CO), Sottotenente Sforza Libera, Sottotenente Renato Baroni, Sottotenente Luigi Cima, Sergente Maggiore 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, they were transferred to Sicily.

The 5 July 1943 was to become a tough day for the Macchis of 9o and 10o Gruppi with heavy combat and serious losses.
From 07:15 to 09:25 Tenente Giorgio Bertolaso and Sergente Ambrogio Rusconi of the 91a Squadriglia flew a reconnaissance mission from Sigonella over the sea, searching enemy shipping or signs of sunken ships.
At 10:25, 27 MC.202s and MC.205s of the 4o Stormo scrambled to intercept 52 bombers escorted by about 20 Spitfires, that were heading to bomb the airfields around Catania. The 9o Gruppo was led by Capitano Giulio Reiner, while Capitano Franco Lucchini was leading the 10o Gruppo. The 10o Gruppo consisted of the 84a Squadriglia (Lucchini, Sottotenente Francesco Palma, Sottotenente Enzo Dall'Asta and Capitano Luigi Giannella (CO of the 84a Squadriglia) flying MC.202s and Tenente Alessandro Mettimano, Sergente Maggiore Piero Buttazzi and Sergente Livio Barbera flying MC.205s), the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Luigi Cima, Maresciallo Salvatore and Sergente Maggiore Giambattista Ceoletta flying MC.202s) and 91a Squadriglia (Tenente Mario Mecatti (CO), Sottotenente Giovanni Silvestri and Sottotenente Elio Miotto).
Giannella and Palma was a few minutes late to take-off because the ground crew were checking their weapons.
The Italian fighters made a frontal attack over Gerbini ignoring the escorting Spitfires. Two B-17s were claimed by Salvatore and Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) together with some Bf 109s. Lucchini claimed a Spitfire while Reiner, Salvatore and Mecatti claimed a probable bomber each. Three bombers were claimed damaged by Lucchini, Giannella, Mettimano, Dall’Asta and Buttazzi. Additional damaged bombers were claimed by Reiner, Salvatore, Mecatti (who also claimed a damaged Spitfire), Sergente Ettore Chimeri (73a Squadriglia), Sergente Bruno Biagini (96a Squadriglia), Cima and Ceoletta.
When the Italian fighters landed again at 11:55, Lucchini was missing. He had been seen by Dall’Asta attacking the bombers against heavy defensive fire and then diving into the ground east of Catania. During the alarm, some of the ground crew also reported to have seen a MC.202 falling with the canopy closed, some kilometres east of the airfield. A car from the unit tried to reach the place, but it couldn't go on due to the bombing of the area. Lucchini’s body wasn’t found until two days later.
Taking part in this interception were also more than 100 Bf 109Gs from I, II and III/JG 53 and I and II/JG 77. They claimed twelve bombers for the loss of four Bf 109s including Major Johannes Steinhoff, Kommodore of JG 77, who force-landed his stricken aircraft.
It seems that the Italian fighters had been in combat with USAAF B-17s from 99th Bomber Group, which were out to attack Gerbini. They were intercepted near Ragusa at 23,000 feet but the escorting Spitfires from 72 and 243 Squadrons intervened. The Spitfires claimed one and one damaged Bf 109 while the bombers gunner claimed 45 enemy fighters shot down! According to American records, three B-17s from the 99th BG (42-29486 and 42-29483 of the 348th BS and 42-29492) were lost during the day.
After this combat, an American pilot of a shot down bomber was brought to San Salvatore airfield.
At 11:55, four aircraft from the 91a Squadriglia scrambled. Tenente Vittorino Daffara damaged two four-engined bombers, claimed a P-38 shot down and hits on two Spitfires. Maresciallo Lamberto Martelli damaged two four-engined bombers while Tenente Giuseppe Ferazzani damaged a P-38.
At 13:00, Tenente Renato Baroni of the 90a Squadriglia scrambled from San Salvatore and had an in-conclusive contact with enemy fighters, returning to land at 15:00.
At 13:25 there was a new alarm and three MC.202s and two MC.205s of the 84a Squadriglia took off flown by Capitano Luigi Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Corrado Patrizi, Segente Maggiore Mario Veronesi, Tenente Alessandro Mettimano and Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi. At least three additional Macchis flown by Sottotenente Sforza Libera (90 a Squadriglia), Tenente Vittorio Squarcia (73a Squadriglia) and Maresciallo Lamberto Martelli (91a Squadriglia) also scrambles.
During the alarm an enemy formation released bombs on San Salvatore airfield; luckily, only a few bombs hit the strip but many others exploded around it and the tent of the 90a Squadriglia became surrounded by large craters. The American pilot quivered during the bombing and showed a little fear; to excuse himself, he stated that he was unaccustomed to be at the receiving end of bombers. More huge formations passed over the heads and bombed the other airfields.
The eight Macchis intercepted a reported 70 four-engined bombers escorted by 30 P-38s in the area between Gela, Enna and Caltagirone. The Allied aircraft were returning from a bombing mission over Catania.
Sottotenente Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Sottotenente Libera and Tenente Mettimano each claimed a P-38 in this in combat. Two probables were claimed by Mettimano and Sergente Patrizi. Mettimano, Patrizi, Squarcia and Martelli damaged several bombers. Libera was subsequently shot down and killed in this combat while Veronesi, after receiving hits in the engine and in the water cooler, made a gear-up emergency landing near Comiso.
The Italian fighters landed back at 13:55.
It is possible that they had been involved in combat with P-38Gs from 96th and 97th Fighter Squadrons, which returned claiming five enemy fighters at 13:30. First Lieutenant Gerald Lynn Rounds and Second Lieutenant Russell C. Williams from 97th FS claimed one Bf 109 each. First Lieutenant William Judson Sloan of 96th FS claimed one Bf 109 and one Re.2001 while Second Lieutenant James V. O’Brien from the same unit claimed a second Re.2001.
While the aircraft were refurbished with fuel and ammunition, a MC.202 flown by Sergente Maggiore Patrizi, scrambled. He took off at 14:15 and didn’t return.
At 14:20, three MC.202s from 91a Squadriglia flown by Tenente Bertolaso, Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli and Sergente Giulio Fornalé took off for another scramble. It seems that they became involved in combat with B-17s, which were out to bomb Gebrini in the afternoon with a close escort of P-38s while 20 Spitfires from 126 and 1435 Squadrons provided top cover. Bf 109s and Macchis tried to intercept over Gerbini. A Bf 109 was claimed damaged by Flight Sergeant F. K. Halcombe (JK368/V-J) of 1435 Squadron, Pilot Officer Chandler (JK139/V-X) similarly claimed a Macchi damaged, while Flying Officer Geoff White (JK611/MK-M) of 126 Squadron shot down a Macchi. His victim was possibly Sergente Patrizi of the 84a Squadriglia who baled out of his disabled MC.205V near Gibrini. In the combat Leonardo Ferrulli was seen to shoot one of the bombers down, from which three men baled out, along with an escorting P-38 before he was in turn jumped by a flight of Spitfires that had been patrolling over the B-17s. Ferrulli baled out of his damaged MC.202 but was to low, his parachute failing to deploy before he hit the ground near Scordia, killing him. Tenente Bertolaso returned claiming damage to four four-engined bombers while Sergente Fornalé claimed hit on a bomber.
At 15:35 there was a new scramble with Capitano Giannella in a MC.202 and Sergente Maggiore Buttazzi in a MC.205. They returned after 30 minutes with no news.
At 17:35, there was again a new scramble by a MC.202 (pilot unknown) and Sottotenente Ugo Picchiottini in a MC.205. These two fighters returned at 18:00.
In the late afternoon, a German car arrived at San Salvatore airfield, and Sergente Maggiore Patrizi got out of it, aching all over and with scratches on many parts of his body; the pilot was welcomed with happiness by the personnel that crowded round him to listen to his adventure. He told that he chased a formation of Spitfires; while he was shooting at one of them, another one attacked him at six-o'-clock, and did not let him go, forcing him to jump from his burning aircraft and parachute. He touched down near Gerbini and was picked up by the Germans.
Towards the evening an aircraft from Comiso landed, carrying Sergente Maggiore Veronesi.
From 17:30 to 17:55, Tenente Fabio Clauser of the 90a Squadriglia flew a sortie together with Marescialo Salvatore but they didn’t encounter any enemy aircraft.
Tenente Clauser flew another sortie from 20:00 to 20:15 over San Salvatore.

At 15.00 on 14 August 1943, Squadron Leader Duke Arthur (MA295) took off with three other Spitfires from 232 Squadron to escort 3 RAAF Squadron Kittyhawks in an anti-shipping mission to the Milazzo area. Just north-west of the target an estimated 25 Macchis appeared. These were in fact 16 MC.205Vs of 4o Stormo led by Capitano Luigi Mariotti, in two flights of eight, escorting Re.2002s, which were attacking M/T on the road leading to Randazzo near Catania. The Italian pilots reported meeting 20 Spitfires at about 14,000 feet, which were engaged by one formation of Macchis. Five Spitfires were claimed shot down by Capitano Mariotti, Tenente Paolo Voltan, Tenente Giuseppe Ferrazzani, Sottotenente Renato Baroni and Sergente Maggiore Giulio Fornalé. Three more were claimed as probables by Sottotenente Enrico Dallari, Sergente Maggiore Fornalé and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore. Tenente Voltan returned with his aircraft damaged, presumably as a result of combat with Squadron Leader Arthur and his wingman, Sergeant S. J. Davison (JK656), who jointly claimed a Macchi damaged when canon strikes were observed on its fuselage and wing root. Another Macchi came back with its wings having suffered severe distortion during its dive to escape the attention of a Spitfire. Two of the Kittyhawk pilots also reported successes against the Macchis, Flight Lieutenant Ron Susans claiming one destroyed, and Squadron Leader Brian Eaton two damaged.

At 17:50 on 16 August, four Spitfires from 92 Squadron led by Flying Officer Brendan Baker (EN449) set off to escort to US Warhawks of the 65th FS on an armed reconnaissance north of Messina; two of the Spitfires returned early, one escorting the other which had developed engine problems.
Flying Officer Barker and his Canadian companion Flying Officer Gordon Wilson (JF354) remained with the Warhawks and, five miles south-west of Palmi, sighted five MC.202s or MC.205Vs, which attempted to attack the American fighter-bombers. Wilson diced with three for several minutes until they dived away and were lost in the haze. Meanwhile, Baker was fighting for his life:

"Almost immediately I saw a 205 dive to attack a Warhawk. I closed on this enemy aircraft and after a chase got in bursts which sent it into a spiral dive. It crashed about two miles inland near Rosarno. Three MC205s then made a determined attack on me, one staying 500 feet above all the time, so that I was prevented from climbing, whilst the other two made individual attacks from astern and full beam simultaneously. In one head-on attack my Spitfire was hit, whilst I was wounded in the right leg. I flicked onto the tail of a Macchi and gave it my remaining ammunition. The enemy aircraft burst into flames and disintegrated. During all this time the other two Macchis had clung to my tail, shooting away pieces from behind the cockpit and wings. The engine then threw out glycol and explosions started in the cockpit. I could do nothing but bale out. I was down to 1,000 feet and though my parachute did not open until I was at 300 feet, I landed safely in the sea, two miles off Gioia Tauro..."
Flying Officer Baker was subsequently captured and became a PoW.
Italian records reveal that a dozen MC.205Vs of the 4o Stormo from Castrovillari led by Capitano Mario Mecatti were involved in this action. At 18:30, the pilots reported meeting 15 Spitfires in two sections - obviously mistaking the Warhawks for Spitfires - strafing targets over the Gioia Tauro plain. Four Spitfires were claimed shot down by Capitano Mecatti, Sottotenente Renato Baroni, Tenente Vittorino Daffara and one jointly by Sottotenente Fabio Clauser and Sergente Maggiore Salvatore, the latter also claiming a probable. On returning to base, the nose of Clauser's aircraft was found to be covered in oil from his victim, which he reported crashed near the Stromboli volcano. No Macchi losses were recorded.

He claimed an additional 3 over Sicily and Italy during 1943.

Salvatore ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 10.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 09/12/40 14:55- 1 Hurricane (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   30 km S Bir Enba 97a Squadriglia
  09/12/40 14:55- ”several” Hurricane (a) Damaged Fiat CR.42   30 km S Bir Enba 97a Squadriglia
  12/11/41   ½ Hurricane (b) Shared destroyed MC.202   off Sicily 97a Squadriglia
  21/11/41   ½ ’Spitfire’ (c) Shared destroyed MC.202   Hal Far area 97a Squadriglia
2 21/11/41 11:25- 1 P-40 (d) Destroyed MC.202   Sidi Rezegh 97a Squadriglia
3 21/11/41 11:25- 1 P-40 (d) Destroyed MC.202   Sidi Rezegh 97a Squadriglia
4 05/12/41 14:10 1 Hurricane (e) Destroyed MC.202   El Adem-Gambut-Bir el Gubi 97a Squadriglia
  10/05/42   1/4 Spitfire (f) Shared destroyed MC.202   Malta area 97a Squadriglia
5 16/05/42   1 Spitfire (g) Destroyed MC.202   Takali 97a Squadriglia
6 16/05/42   1 Spitfire (g) Destroyed MC.202   Takali 97a Squadriglia
7 29/05/42 15:15- 1 P-40 (h) Destroyed MC.202   Acroma 97a Squadriglia
  29/05/42 15:15- 1 P-40 (h) Probably destroyed MC.202   Acroma 97a Squadriglia
8 31/05/42 17:40- 1 P-40 (i) Destroyed MC.202   SW Acroma 97a Squadriglia
9 08/06/42 09:35-10:10 1 P-40 (j) Destroyed MC.202   E Bir el Harmat 90a Squadriglia
  26/06/42 12:10- 1/3 Maryland (k) Destroyed MC.202   Bir el Astas 97a Squadriglia
10 07/07/42 10:35-12:00 1 P-40 (l) Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein 90a Squadriglia
  05/07/43   1 B-17 (m) Shared destroyed MC.202   Gerbini area 90a Squadriglia
  05/07/43   1 B-17 (m) Shared destroyed MC.202   Gerbini area 90a Squadriglia
  05/07/43   1 Enemy bomber (m) Probably destroyed MC.202   Gerbini area 90a Squadriglia
  05/07/43   1 Enemy bomber (m) Damaged MC.202   Gerbini area 90a Squadriglia
  14/08/43   1 Spitfire (n) Probably destroyed MC.205V   NW Milazzo 90a Squadriglia
  16/08/43 18:30 ½ Spitfire (o) Shared destroyed MC.205V   Gioia Tauro plain 90a Squadriglia
  16/08/43 18:30 1 Spitfire (o) Probably destroyed MC.205V   Gioia Tauro plain 90a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed, “several” damaged.
TOTAL: 10 and 7 shared destroyed, 4 probably destroyed, “several” damaged.
(a) Probably claimed in combat between 9o and 151o Gruppi and 33 and 274 Squadrons. 9o Gruppo claimed eight shot down, three probables and several damaged while losing two CR.42s and four force-landed. The 151o Gruppo claimed one Hurricane without losses. 33 and 274 Squadrons claimed seven or eight CR.42s and three probables while one Hurricane (33 Squadron) had to force-land and a second (274 Squadron) was damaged.
(b) Sergeant Peter Simpson (Hurricane Z3158/HA-K) of 126 Squadron shot down and taken POW.
(c) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 185 Squadron. The 97a Squadriglia claimed two ‘Spitfires’ and two probables while two Macchis were damaged. 185 Squadron claimed three damaged Macchis while Sergeant Bill Nurse’s Hurricane was badly hit in return.
(d) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 229 and 238 Squadrons, which claimed 2 destroyed enemy fighters (and perhaps 2 more damaged) while losing 4 Hurricanes. 9o Gruppo claimed 8 enemy fighters and 1 probable while suffering 2 damaged MC.202s.
(e) Probably claimed in combat with 1 SAAF and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 1 probable and 4 damaged enemy fighters while losing 1 or 2 Hurricanes. 9o Gruppo and 3./JG 27 claimed 3 Hurricanes and 1 probable without losses.
(f) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 601 Squadron, which claimed one Italian fighter withour suffering any losses. The 4o Stormo and the 2o Gruppo claimed six fighters, two probables and two damaged for the loss of one MC.202.
(g) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 601 and 603 Squadrons. 4o Stormo C.T. claimed four Spitfires shot down and 210a Squadriglia B.T. claimed one without any Italian losses. RAF claimed one probably destroyed Z.1007bis , one probable MC.202 and two damaged Bf 109s while getting one Spitfire damaged (603 Squadron).
(h) Claimed in combat with Tomahawk IIbs from 5 SAAF Squadron, which claimed 1 MC.202 destroyed and 3 damaged while losing 1 Tomahawk IIb (pilot safe). The MC.202 from 4o Stormo claimed 3 P-40s destroyed and 2 probably destroyed while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot KIA).
(i) Possibly claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 33 and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 1 damaged Bf 109 and 1 damaged Ju 87 while losing 1 Hurricane (pilot KIA). The 9o Gruppo claimed 4 destroyed and 4 probables without losses.
(j) Not verified with Allied records.
(k) Claimed in combat with Baltimores from 223 Squadrons, which lost 2 bombers. The 97o Squadriglia claimed 1 bombers without losses.
(l) Claimed in combat with P-40s from 4 and 5 SAAF Squadrons, which lost one Tomahawk (pilot baled out safely). 10o Gruppo claimed 2 fighters and 4 damaged without losses.
(m) Possibly claimed in combat with B-17s from 99th Bomber Group, which seems to have lost three B-17s during the day.
(n) Claimed in combat with four Spitfires from 232 Squadron and Kittyhawks from 3 RAAF Squadron. 4o Stormo claimed five and three probable Spitfires while getting two MC.205Vs damaged (one in combat). 232 Squadron claimed one Macchi damaged and 3 RAAF Squadron claimed one destroyed and two damaged. No Allied aircraft were lost.
(o) Claimed in combat with P-40s from 65th FS and 2 Spitfires from 92 Squadron, which lost 1 Spitfire (US losses unknown) while claiming two Macchis. The 4o Stormo claimed 4 Spitfires without losses.

3o Stormo, storia fotografica - Dai biplani agli aviogetti - Carlo Lucchini and Leproni Enrico, 1990 Gino Rossato Editore
9o Stormo da Bombardamento Terrestre (1934-1943) - Giovanni Tonicchi, 1997, Tarquinia kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
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
Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Aces High Volume 2 - Christopher Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-03-9
Buscaglia e gli Aerosiluranti - Orazio Giuffrida, 1994 Ufficio Storico Aeronautica Militare, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Dai Biplani agli Aviogetti - Carlo Lucchini and Enrico Leproni, 1990 Gino Rossato Editore, Valdagno kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Desert Prelude: Early clashes June-November 1940 - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2010 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-89450-52-4
Desert Prelude: Operation Compass - Håkan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo, 2011 MMP books, ISBN 978-83-61421-18-4
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
Ernesto Botto, Gamba di Ferro - Ferdinando Pedriali, Storia Militare no. 96 (IX), September 2001 kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
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, 1969 Neville Spearman Limited, London
Hurricanes over Malta - Brian Cull and Frederick Galea, 2001 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-91-8
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
Il 5o Stormo - Giuseppe Pesce and Nicola Malizia, 1984 STEM Mucchi, Modena kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il 23o Gruppo Caccia - Nicola Malizia, 1974 Bizzarri, Roma kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il 101o Gruppo Tuffatori - Giuseppe Pesce, 1975 STEM Mucchi, Modena kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Caccia Re 2000 e la storia delle "Reggiane" - Sergio Govi, 1983 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il caccia RE 2001 - Sergio Govi, 1982 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Fiat CR 42 l’ultimo biplano da caccia Italiano – Nicola Malizia, 2003 Editrice Innocenti, Grosseto, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Il Walzer del 102o Gruppo - Giuseppe Pesce, 1976 STEM Mucchi, Modena, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
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
Malta: The Hurricane Years 1940-41 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-89747-207-1
Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-16-X
Messerschmitt Bf 109 - Gregory Alegi and Marco Gueli, 2002 Ali Straniere in Italia no. 1, La Bancarella Aeronautica, Turin, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma
Spitfires over Malta – Brian Cull with Frederick Galea, 2005 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904943-30-6
Spitfires over Sicily - Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia and Frederick Galea, 2000 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-32-2
Storia degli Aerosiluranti Italiani - Carlo Unia, 1974 Edizioni Bizzarri, Rome, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Stormi d'Italia - Giulio Lazzati, 1975 Mursia, Milan kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
The Messerschmitt 109 in Italian service 1943-1945 - Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini, 1989 Monogram Aviation Publication, Boylston, ISBN 0-914144-30-8, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
USAAF (Mediterranean Theater) Credits For The Destruction Of Enemy Aircraft In Air-To-Air Combat World War 2 - Frank Olynyk, 1987 Victory List No.6
Woody - A Fighter Pilot's Album - Hugh A. Halliday, 1987 Canav Books, Toronto, ISBN 0-9690703-8-1
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro and Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 02 March 2022