Biplane fighter aces


Colonnello Pio Tomaselli

30 March 1914 –

Capitano Pio Tomaselli (left) and Maresciallo Mario Veronesi (right),

Date Decoration Note
??/??/40 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (1st) O.M.S.
??/??/41 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (2nd) 1940-43
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (3rd) 1940-43
??/??/42 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare (4th) 1940-43
??/??/?? 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.

Pio Tomaselli was born on 30 March 1914 and was from Pergine (Trento).

He was commissioned in (Servizio Permanente Effettivo) on 1 February 1936.

He served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, where he served in the 19a Squadriglia, XXIII Gruppo.

During the day, the VI Gruppo lost a good part of numerical, considering that part of the 31a Squadriglia had previously been detached to Córdoba. Therefore, immediately the same morning, the Comando dell’Aviazione Legionaria ordered the XXIII Gruppo to transfer to Sanjurio (Zaragoza).
At 10.30, 29 CR.32s led by Maggiore Andrea Zotti, took off from Almaluèz and arrived over Sanjurio around noon. However, before landing, Maggiore Zotti decided to lead his pilots to explore the area between Villafranca and Fuentes del Ebro. Here they spotted four Polikarpov RZ “Natachas” escorted by nine I-16s “Ratas” (above them) and 15 I-15 “Curtiss” (below them). The Italian fighters attacked the Republican aircraft and at the end of the dogfight, that lasted about fifteen minutes, the Italians claimed seven (eleven according to other sources) fighters destroyed for no losses, although several CR.32s were hit and damaged. Combat was very hard for the Italians because their fighters were weighted by pilots’ personal luggage. Pilots that scored, either individually or jointly, were Maggiore Zotti (1 I-15), Sergente Giuseppe Mottet (20a Squadriglia) (1 I-16), Sottotenente Giampiero Del Prete, Capitano Antonio Larsimont Pergameni (CO of the 20a Squadriglia), Sergente Francesco Penna, Sottotenente Aldo Felici, Capitano Enrico Degli Incerti (CO of the 19a Squadriglia) (1 I-16), Sottotenente Tomaselli (19a Squadriglia), Sottotenente Franco Lucchini (19a Squadriglia), Capitano Guido Nobili (CO of the 18a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Giovanni Carmello, Sergente Carlo Dentis, Sottotenente Giuseppe Enrico Zuffi, Sergente Federico Tassinari (19a Squadriglia), Sergente Maggiore Alfonso Mattei and Sottotenente Bruno Trevisan (19a Squadriglia). It seems that Lucchini’s, Tassinari’s and Mattei’s claims was a shared between these three pilots.

During the Spanish Civil War, he totally claimed 2 victories.

1 November 1940 was the blackest day of war for 228 Squadron when Sunderland N9020/W was intercepted and shot down off Sicily by a couple of Macchi MC.200s from the 88a Squadriglia, 6o Gruppo C.T. piloted by Tenente Luigi Armanino and Sergente Maggiore Natalino Stabile. The experienced crew of the Sunderland disappeared with it (Squadron leader Guy Lambton Menzies, Flying Officer Stuart Maxwell Farries, Sergeant Elias Dawes, Sergeant Frederick Harris, Sergeant George Arthur Stamp, Sergeant Edward Louis Setterfield, Leading Aircraftman Benjamin Edwin Nicholas, Leading Aircraftman Leslie Charles Major Hale and Leading Aircraftman Ronald Fletcher).
At 15:30 on the same afternoon, Sunderland L5806/Q piloted by Flight Lieutenant E. M. Ware was intercepted when only 32 miles from Malta by two more 6o Gruppo Macchis piloted by Tenente Pesaola and Tenente Tomaselli and a couple of CR.42s of the 75a Squadriglia, 23o Gruppo piloted by Tenente Ezio Monti and Sergente Francesco Cuscuna. Two men of the Sunderland’s crew were wounded. Mattresses and clothing in aircraft were set on fire by the Italian’s explosive bullets and burning articles were thrown out from the rear door. Flame floats and practise bombs (four of each) were set off by explosive bullets and caused the aircraft to fill with smoke, hindering the amidships gunners in their firing. The rear turret was put partially out of action by having the starboard control handle shot away. The Sunderland was badly holed below waterline and was taken up slip immediately on return to Kalafrana to avoid its sinking. Despite all this damaged the aircraft was back in action on 22 November. The Italian pilots came back reporting that the big flying boat had adsorbed hundreds of rounds apparently without suffering particular problems even if Tenente Tomaselli in one of his attacks had gone so close to it that had almost collided with its empennages. The Sunderland was finally seen to land in Marsaxlokk Bay, without particular problems. Back at base, the Italian pilots argued that the plane had been fitted with some sort of special armour.
Flight Lieutenant Ware later received the DFC for this and other sorties, whilst one of the air gunners, L. A. C. Barton received the DFM. Although wounded in the leg, Barton had continued to operate his gun throughout. With these two losses 228 Squadron practically ceased to exist having no operational plane left. Reinforcement were on their way however and would soon taken to full strength the Squadron.

The British offensive Operation Crusader was launched in North Africa on 18 November 1941. Italian reinforcements were rushed to Libya including the 17o Gruppo, which arrived at Martuba on 25 November with their MC.202s and Capitano Tomaselli as CO of the 72a Squadriglia.

At 09:10 on 4 December, 16 German Ju 87s and six Italian of the 239a Squadriglia took off to bomb concentrations of about 150 motor vehicles 20 km north-east of Bir El Gobi, with the top cover of ten Bf 109Fs and close cover of ten MC.200s of the 153o Gruppo, which had taken off at 09:30, and six of the 157o Gruppo. The targets were scattered but nevertheless the bombs were well aimed and a good result was expected.
Ten Tomahawks of 112 Squadron, led by Squadron Leader Morello, with ten Tomahawks of 250 Squadron, took off at 09:30 for a wing sweep over the El Adem and Sidi Rezegh area. Flying at 10,000 feet, with 250 Squadron as top cover, ahead and below was seen a mixed force of about 30 enemy machines.

“…On sighting the enemy, the C.O. ordered one section down to attack about 15 Ju.87s flying in three batches of 4 or 5 at approx. 6,000 ft. At the same time, the C.O. and the second section attacked a mixed bag of about 10 G.50 and Macchi C.200. However, these went down to level of the 87s and top section were attacked by about 5 Me 109E and F. 3 Macchi C.202 were seen but must have been attacked by No. 250 Sqn., who had climbed above us.
A general dogfight developed in the top section as a result of which Sgt. Christie claims a Me 109F probably destroyed and F.O. Humphreys a Me 109F damaged, whilst Sgt. Ferguson was badly shot up and it was a sterling effort to bring his machine back to base. F.Lt.
Westenra, P.O. Bowker and P.O. Duke chased their quarries to the West, the latter finishing off a good show by driving a C.200 to earth inside the Tobruk defences, finally landing there before returning to base.
Enemy casualties:
2 G.50s destroyed by F.Lt. Westenra (AN 303)
1 G.50 and 1 Ju.87 destroyed by P.O. Bowker (AN372)
1 C.200 and 1 Ju.87 probably destroyed by P.O. Duke (AN337/F)
1 Me 109F probably destroyed by Sgt. Christie (AK354)
1 Me 109F damaged by P.O. Peter Humphreys (AK415)
Own casualties:
1 Tomahawk (Sgt Ferguson) damaged-airframe beyond repair, engine repairable by RSU.
1 Tomahawk (P.O. Bowker) damaged, but repaired at unit and flying same day.”
The claims of 112 Squadron was later somewhat updated when Flight Lieutenant Gerald Westenra claimed two G.50s, Pilot Officer Neville Bowker claimed a G.50 and a Ju 87, Pilot Officer Neville Duke claimed a MC.200, a probable Ju 87 and another damaged while a Bf 109F and a probable were claimed by Sergeant Ronald Christie and a damaged Bf 109F was claimed by Flying Officer Peter Humphreys.
Sergeant Christie reported:
“Type of attack delivered on enemy: dead astern climbing on one 109F. Enemy was attacking one of our sections in usual dive and away tactics. Heavy bursts into enemy at 100 yards. Saw shots entering the fuselage. Consider he was severely hit and as he broke away into a steep dive without further evasive action he was almost definitely destroyed. If destroyed, this aircraft should have landed at Point 420, 390, 300. I claim 1 109F probably destroyed. I also saw a Tomahawk going down in flames but do not think it was one of our Sqn.”
Pilot Officer Duke wrote:
“Oh, Boy, another! Encountered the Hun Circus of Ju 87s, 109s, Macchi 200s and G.50s. Got stuck into them. Came across five Ju 87s flying in close formation and sprayed them all. One broke away and went down in a gentle dive, smoking a bit. Couldn’t watch him as some 109s appeared and I don’t like them!
Pounced on a Macchi 200 and had a pretty good dog-fight. He started beetling off home and I chased him. Once he did a complete roll in front of me. My guns were all haywire and in the end only one cannon was going and I had to keep cocking that. Finally that stopped just as we came roaring over Tobruk at nought feet. The Macchi was still showing fight however, but he suddenly spun in off a steep turn and crashed. I was hoping he would land on the aerodrome as he had put up a good fight - nearly always at ground level, and once we went chasing out to sea. I was making dummy attacks on him as my guns had packed up.
I landed at Tobruk and had lunch. It had bucked the boys up no end to see the fight.”
The information relating to 250 Squadron is rather meagre; this unit together with 112 Squadron was carrying out an escort mission for reconnaissance Hurricanes between El Adem and Tobruk. Ten Tomahawks acting as the top cover of 112 Squadron were flying at an altitude of 13,000 feet, when they spotted a formation of enemy fighters at 10:30. They were crossing them at more or less the same altitude. Bf 109s, G.50s (obviously MC.200s) and Ju 87s were recognized. They were in an open or irregular formation. Finally also MC.202s were recognized.
Flight Lieutenant Ronald Bary attacked a Bf 109 from below hitting it with short bursts; therefore the Messerschmitt turned over losing altitude, with smoke coming from the wings and fuselage; it was claimed probable. Flight Lieutenant I. F. Rose also claimed a probable Bf 109. Pilot Officer Kenneth Hart got right near the tail of a MC.200 that strangely, even if the pilot was aware of coming under attack, limited itself to a slight turn to the right. Then the Macchi was seen to dive towards the ground with the pilot probably dead, in view of the rounds that had been fired into the cockpit. Hart also was credited with a damaged Bf 109.
The Messerschmitt pilots reported to have sighted 40 P-40s, declaring to have shot three down in the Bir El Gobi area between 10:16 and 10:20. There were no losses among the German planes. The victories were credited to Oberfeldwebel Otto Schultz (10:16 in the Bir el Gubi area), Oberleutnant Gustav Rödel (10:18 north-east of Bir el Gubi) and Unteroffizier Alfred Heidel (10:20 in the Bir el Gubi area), all of 4./JG27.
AIR 22.401 reported the loss of three Hurricanes, one of them a reconnaissance plane, and three Tomahawks during the day; in its turn AIR 22.364 in reporting the clashes at 09:00 mentions the loss of two Hurricanes and a P-40, but doesn't mention the damaged planes.
Taking into account the report given by Christie it seems that a Tomahawk was shot down in this action, presumably one of 250 Squadron, even if Form 540 doesn’t report it. Therefore the German claims had probably referred to this, as well as the bad damage done to Ferguson’s plane (that seems to have crash-landed on return). Finally the third could well have referred to the second Hurricane shot down; there is no trace of this in the 1 SAAF and 274 Squadron’s diaries but the reconnaissance Hurricane could have been lost in the same clash.
The diary of the 153o Gruppo reported that MC.200s had clashed with the Tomahawks and was hard hit; Tenente Mezzetti, who was slightly wounded on the right heel, landed at Gazala, while another four Macchis had been hit; nevertheless they had managed to protect the Stukas so that they could return to base undamaged. In fact it seems that the Stukas not even had been attacked. In any case they hadn’t lost any of their aircraft. Even if it is not reported in the diary of the 153o Gruppo, Sottotenente Arrigo Zancristofaro didn’t return to base (KIA). In the end also Tenente Vittorio Conti of the 157o Gruppo was shot down, he parachuted but he also didn’t return to base (PoW). The 153o Gruppo didn’t claim anything in this combat.
Eleven MC.202s of the 17o Gruppo (six of the 71a Squadriglia, three of the 72a Squadriglia, and two of the 80a Squadriglia), under the command of Tenente Colonnello Bruno Brambilla, took off at 09:45. They were also the top cover for the formation of attack of 09:30. Subsequently they had probably carried out a free sweep over Bir El Gobi. A pilot of the 80a Squadriglia returned to base early because his fighter developed engine trouble. The formation clashed with an enemy estimated to have been about thirty fighters divided between Curtiss P-40s and Hurricanes in poor weather over the target at an altitude of 4,000 metres at 10:20. The Italian pilots claimed eight victories; Capitano Tomaselli (72a Squadriglia, one Hurricane), Sergente Maggiore Gabriele Romagna (72a Squadriglia, one Tomahawk), Sottotenante Renato Bagnoli (80a Squadriglia, one Hurricane), Tenente Colonnello Brambilla (one Hurricane), Capitano Pericle Baruffi (71a Squadriglia, one Tomahawk), Tenente Pierfrancesco Conti (71a Squadriglia one Tomahawk), Tenente Ottorino Cappellini (71a Squadriglia one Tomahawk) and Sergente Egidio Buogo (71a Squadriglia, one Tomahawk). Sergente Carlo Ermo(71a Squadriglia) claimed a probable Tomahawk.
Sottotenente Lorenzo Chellini's (72a Squadriglia) MC.202 MM7864/72-3, was hit in the water radiator after machine gunning an enemy plane and was forced to make an emergency landing near El Duda, about 8 km south east of El Adem. The destruction of the fighter was reported even if from a photo it would seem that the Macchi made a good emergency landing. Maresciallo Marcello Lui (71a Squadriglia) (MM7874) had to land away from the airfield because of engine trouble Another two aircraft had been hit; Brambilla’s in the empennages and Conti’s in the control panel..
Altogether 2,195 rounds were fired, 387 of them by Tomaselli and Romagna. The Macchis returned to base at 11:00.
The action involved the Hurricane lIs of 1 SAAF and 274 Squadrons, which belonged to the same Wing. Ten of the former took off at 09:15 (one of them returned early because of engine trouble), and twelve of the latter at 09:20.
The ORB of the first unit reported making a free sweep above El Adem, while the second refers to a defence patrol for its own armoured vehicles above Trigh Capuzzo. 1 SAAF Squadron, which was flying as top cover at a higher altitude when it encountered a loose formation of MC 202s at 10:20, 12 km south-west of El Adem. It appeared to be a decoy formation for when Captain C. A. van Vliet climbed to attack, the Italians attacked the flanks of the formation; only now above them were seen six more and above these were some 16 Macchis and Messerschmitts, the former dark-green, the latter identifiable by their square wingtips. The returning pilots claimed two destroyed, three probable and three damaged. All of the claims were MC.202s; Lieutenant Robert Kershaw (one probable and one damaged), 2nd Lieutenant Alan Maclean (one damaged), Lieutenant Vivian Penberthy (one destroyed in DG626), 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Waugh (one destroyed, one probable and one damaged) and 2nd Lieutenant Charles Willson (one probable). 2nd Lieutenant Waugh caught one pulling out of its attack, half-rolled and sent it down smoking. Another pulling up in front of him went into a spiral and he saw it crash and finally he fired a long head-on burst on a third, which sent debris flying from it. 2nd Lieutenant Willson saw his victim stop a burst, flick onto its back and go down in a trail of black smoke. 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Albert Meek’s Hurricane was shot down 40 miles from base and he returned to base on foot next day.
“No 1 Sqn., SAAF, received instructions from 258 Wing RAF to carry out a wing sweep with No.274 Sqn., RAF, over our troops in area 4237, 4736 and 4533 (Purple grid map: 250.000 Egypt and Cyrenaica Sollum-Tobruk Sheet 3). The leaders of the formation of No. 1 and 274 Squadrons agreed that No. 1 should provide the top cover for the sweep. The Hurricane Mk.lls of No. 1 took off from L.G. 124 at 9.15 hrs. flying in formation, i.e. pairs in line abreast. They flew at 10.000 feet, and above No. 274 Squadron’s formation. Owing to engine (oil pressure dropping) one Hurricane returned at 9.45 hrs.
After approx. one hour ten minutes flying the leader of No. 1 (which was then flying in a northerly direction) observed about 8 E/A approaching. The E/A were to the left (about 10 O’clock) and slightly above our formation. The 8 E/A, which were in no particular formation, dived towards the rear of our formation and shot down a straggler
[2nd Lieutenant Meek]. Then they appeared to break up on either side of No. 1 and climbed into the base of the clouds, at 12000 feet, where they joined other E/A. Another large group of E/A (about 16) were seen to the right and slightly above.
These aircraft did not take part in the general dogfight for several minutes, but remained milling about on their own, while No. 1 was attacked on both flanks by single aircraft. Pilots estimated between 20 and 30 E/A. Most of them were C.202s, but some pilots identified Me109Es with their square wing tips.
Own Tactics.
The leader of No. 1 turned into the 8 E/A that attacked by a climbing turn to the left. But single E/A made attacks from both sides almost at the same time as the climbing turn was begun, and the formation broke up and general dog fighting took place.
Enemy tactics.
The attacks were made generally by single aircraft diving out the base of the clouds, between 12000 and 13000 feet. No enemy aircraft attempted a head-on attack.
The presence of a large group of E/A that remained for several minutes slightly above and to the right of our formation without taking part in the fight worried our pilots. This group of aircraft frequently distracted their attention from the single aircraft that were making repeated attacks from out of the clouds.
Several pilots commented on the astonishing aerobatics that the enemy pilots carried out during the dogfight. Several of them were seen to loop, stall turn, and roll off the top for no apparent reason. One C.202 was attacked when it was inverted at the top of a loop and the tail plane was shot to pieces
[possibly Brambilla claimed by Lieutenant Penberthy]. Another C.202 was shot down when it was in a stall turn. It is presumed, because of the aerobatics, that the enemy aircraft were flown by Italians. If they were Italians they had learned from the Germans how to take advantage of the clouds and to pounce immediately on any stragglers in a formation.
Description of the Macchi C.202.
The Macchis encountered were painted in a dark green livery and they had a wide broad white band round the fuselage towards the tail. The wings have rounded tips and the end of wings appears to be as broad as it is at the base. The cockpit is not set well back as on the Me 109 or Tomahawk, and has not therefore a pronounced nose.
The C.202 is a highly manoeuvrable aircraft, but the general opinion of the pilots of No. 1 Sqn. who dog fought with them was that the Hurricane Mk. II could outturn them. One pilot dog fought one for several minutes, but neither aircraft fired because at no time could one of the pilots get the other in his sights. Three Hurricanes that chased a Macchi which had a start in a 5000 feet dive, failed to catch up with it. The A.I.S. of the Hurricane was 340 mph, but in the level chase at 2000 ft above the deck, the C.202 pulled away from it.
Pilots saw lines of self-explosive cannon fire, which could have been fired through the spindle of the Macchi. This aircraft carries guns its wings, but not many, as the fire seen coming from the wings was not nearly as dense as that when an 8 gun Hurricane fires. One Hurricane of No. 1 which was hit and returned to base was damaged in the starboard wing by machine gun fire. Bullets similar to our new .303 were found in the wing.
Total number of rounds fired pilots of No. 1: 7595 (armour piercing, ball and tracer).”
274 Squadron reported having clashed with Bf 109s and MC.200s and to have claimed one MC.202 damaged (MacDonnell in BD821).
The South Africans, who were particularly pleased with the outcome, returned at 10:45 while 274 Squadron landed between 10:50 and 11:05.
Moreover it is likely that the MC.202s had also clashed with the Tomahawks of 250 Squadron, so that the 30 enemy fighters divided between Hurricanes and P-40s can be accounted for. The Macchis had almost certainly shot down 2nd Lieutenant Meek, but it can’t be counted out that they had shot down at least one of the other aircraft declared lost by 22.364 and 22.401.

On 22 May, six MC.202s of 17o Gruppo (four of them from 72a Squadriglia) took off at 07:45 led by Capitano Tomaselli, to intercept a bomber formation heading for Martuba 5. Only Tomaselli was able to reach and engage an enemy bomber identified as a Boston at the height of 5000 meters firing 160 rounds of ammunition on it. He landed back at 08:25. The bomber had probably been part of a formation of nine Bostons from 24 SAAF Squadron that raided Martuba. Four of them were reportedly slightly damaged by AA fire.

As of 8 November 1942 (on the launch of Operation Torch in North Africa), Capitano Tomaselli still served as CO of the 72a Squadriglia, 17o Gruppo CT. The unit was based at Decimomannu, Sardinia, and equipped with MC.202s.

Nine S.81s of 18o Stormo Trasporti carrying troops and fuel and took off from Sciacca at 11:30 on 15 December 1942 to fly to Lampedusa, escorted by six MC.202s of the 72a Squadriglia from the 17o Gruppo led by Capitano Tomaselli. They had reached a point between Lampione and Lampedusa when they were attacked by Beaufighters. Two S.81s ditched into the sea in flames and five more landed on Lampedusa having suffered severe damage. Only two of the transports were landed safely, and all seven now on this island were forced to remain there due to bad weather.
The lost and damaged S.81s were:
S.81 MM20271/225-6 from the 225a Squadriglia lost near Lampedusa with pilot Capitano Salvatore Salaris, co-pilot Sergente Maggiore Francesco Anadone, three crewmembers and 15 soldiers aboard MiA.
S.81 MM20516/225-8 from the 225a Squadriglia lost near Lampedusa with pilot Maresciallo Plinio Todini (224a Squadriglia), co-pilot Sergente Maggiore Emilio Turolla, three crewmembers and 15 soldiers aboard MiA.
S.81 MM20258/222-3 from the 222a Squadriglia badly damaged near Lampedusa with pilot Capitano Gian Francesco Nicolis di Robilant, co-pilot Sergente Maggiore Enrico Gaudenzi and crew safe.
S.81 MM20177/222-12 from the 222a Squadriglia badly damaged near Lampedusa with pilot Sottotenente Augusto Pacciani and crew safe.
S.81 MM20644/223-1 from the 223a Squadriglia badly damaged near Lampedusa with pilot Sottotenente Carlo Penna and crew safe.
S.81 MM20596/223-10 from the 223a Squadriglia badly damaged near Lampedusa with pilot Tenente Amabile Carenzo and crew safe.
S.81 MM20259/223-4 from the 223a Squadriglia damaged near Lampedusa with pilot Tenente Angelo Dionisi and crew safe.
The Beaufighter VIfs from 227 Squadron had taken off from Malta at 11:35 on 15 December to patrol over Lampedusa, bringing with them an escort of four Spitfires of 126 Squadron. At 13:24 a formation of tri-motor transports identified as Ju 52/3ms with a top cover of 16 fighters was seen north of the island and these were attacked. In quick succession three of the Beaufighter crews claimed four shot down, two more probably and four damaged. Sergeant F. J. Franklin (Beaufighter VIf ‘Q’ with radar operator Flight Sergeant C. C. McColl) claimed one destroyed and one damaged, Pilot Officer J. R. S. Modera (X8137/W with radar operator Pilot Officer A. K. Hodge) claimed one destroyed, one probable and one damaged and Flight Lieutenant Dallas W. Schmidt (X8165/G with radar operator Flight Sergeant A. B. Campbell) claimed one destroyed, one probable and one damaged. The fourth Ju 52/3m was claimed destroyed by Pilot Officer Modera’s radar operator Pilot Officer A. K. Hodge with his Vickers K gun. Flight Sergeant Campbell, the radar operator of Flight Lieutenant Schmidt claimed a damaged Bf 110 according to some sources.
The escort, which was identified as comprising Bf 109s, but in fact made up of MC.202s of 17o Gruppo, was held off by the Spitfires, Pilot Officer J. F. Yeatman (Spitfire Vc EP870/S) claiming one probably shot down 24 km north-west of Lampedusa.
None of the Spitfires were lost although two of the Beaufighters suffered some damage.
The pilots from the 72a Squadriglia claimed five Spitfires and two Beaufighters shot down 15 km of Lampedusa without loss. One Beaufighter was claimed by Sergente Maggiore Gabriele Romagna and the second by Sottotenente Andrea Stella. One Spitfire was claimed by Sergente Bruno Pellizzari and one by Capitanp Tomaselli. Three additional Spitfires was claimed a shared among the six pilots (Sergente Pellizzari, Sergente Maggiore Romagna, Sottotenente Stella, Capitano Tomaselli, Sottotenente Lorenzo Chellini and Sottotenente Guido Modiano).

On 22 January 1943, the 14th FG P-38s escorted five B-26Bs of the 319th BG to attack a small Axis convoy north of Bône at midday, the bombers obtaining hits on two freighters. At 11:10, many escorting aircraft were encountered over the area and the B-26s became separated from their fighter escorts, being attacked by Bf 109s of II./JG 53 and Bf 110s of III./ZG 26, the US gunners claiming two of the former, three of the latter, and an Me 210 shot down. Claiming gunners from 437th BS were Staff Sergeant Keith F. Colpitts (1 Bf 110), Staff Sergeant Edward L. Savoy (1 Bf 109 F) and Sergeant A. Simonowitz (1 Bf 110). Claiming gunners from 438th BS were Staff Sergeant Thomas P. Meluskey (1 Me 210) and William A. Mohler (1 Bf 109 F). Claiming gunners from 439th BS were Staff Sergeant Ray V. Davilla and Herbert L. Fleishman, which shared a Bf 110.
Leutnant Max Strauch of 7./JG 53 was killed when he tried to ditch his Bf 109 G-4 trop. (WNr. 16087 White 6 + ), which had been hit in the cooling system, in the sea about 100km west-north-east of Bizerta.
Two of the B-26s from 439th BS were badly damaged and crash-landed on firm ground in the Bône area. B-26B 41-17762 was badly damaged by Flak with the navigator Captain Richard E. Miller (a Tokyo raider) being fatally wounded with the remaining crew safe. B-26B 41-17802 was badly damaged by the ships’ Flak and fighters and crash-landed with the pilot 1st Lieutenant William F. Erwin and his crew safe.
Capitano Tomaselli of the 72a Squadriglia, witnessed the sinking of the German merchant vessel Ruhr (5,955 tons) and the damaging of the Italian freighter Chisone (6,168 tons) by a formation of bombers, identified as Bostons, but they actually were B-26s of the 319th BG. Tomaselli, together with some German fighters, chased the attackers and claimed a bomber damaged.
Chisone was later towed to Bizerta. The P-38 pilots meanwhile had met another formation comprising two Ju 88s, four-six Bf 109s, two- four He 111s and two unidentified four-engined aircraft. The two Ju 88s were claimed shot down by Lieutenant Colonel Troy Keith and Captain Paulette Spivey 40km west of Egadi Island at 11:10. Ju 88 A-4 (Wnr. 140487 FI+GH) from 3./KG 76 had taken-off from Catania and was shot down by fighters near Bizerta with the loss of the crew (pilot Oberfeldwebel Fritz Kloss, observer Unteroffizier Karl-Heinz Wurst, radio operator Gefreiter Rudolf Schurig and air gunner Feldwebel Oskar Bölke).

After the Italian surrender on 8 September 1943, he joined the Italiana Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR).

Capitano Tomaselli served as CO of the 3a Squadriglia ”Arciere” of the Io Gruppo Caccia.

On 30 April 1944, the Italian fighters of the Io Gruppo was involved in combat with P-38s at 9,000 meters altitude. Tomaselli claimed a P-38 south-east of Forli at 11:13, Sergente Maggiore Domenico Lajolo of the 1a Squadriglia claimed another over Forli-Ravenna at 11:10 and a third was claimed by the Gruppo CO Maggiore Adriano Visconti over Forli at 11:10.
It is possible that they were involved in combat with P-38s from the 14th FG, which lost P-38 42-104043 during the day (MACR nr. 4642).

Tomaselli ended the war with 2 biplane victories and a total of 6.

Tomaselli continued to server in the Air Force after the war.

Between 12 July 1961 and 20 July 1964, Colonnello Tomaselli served as CO of the 5a Aerobrigata.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  12/10/37 10:30- 1/? Enemy fighter Shared destroyed Fiat CR.32   Villafranca-Fuentes del Ebro 18a Squadriglia
1 ??/??/3?   1 Enemy fighter Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Spain XXIII Gruppo
2 ??/??/3?   1 Enemy fighter Destroyed Fiat CR.32   Spain XXIII Gruppo
  01/11/40 15:30 1 Sunderland (a) Shared damaged MC.200   off Malta 6o Gruppo
3 04/12/41 10:20 1 Tomahawk (b) Destroyed MC.202   Bir el Gobi area 72a Squadriglia
  22/05/42 07:45-08:25 1 Boston (c) Damaged MC.202   Martuba area 72a Squadriglia
4 15/12/42 12:40-13:40 1 Spitfire (d) Destroyerd MC.202   15km off Lampedusa 72a Squadriglia
  15/12/42 12:40-13:40 1/6 Spitfire (d) Shared destroyerd MC.202   15km off Lampedusa 72a Squadriglia
  15/12/42 12:40-13:40 1/6 Spitfire (d) Shared destroyerd MC.202   15km off Lampedusa 72a Squadriglia
  15/12/42 12:40-13:40 1/6 Spitfire (d) Shared destroyerd MC.202   15km off Lampedusa 72a Squadriglia
  22/01/43 10:30-11:55 1 Boston (e) Damaged MC.202   N Zembra 72a Squadriglia
5 25/05/43 11:30- 1 B-17 Destroyed MC.205V   Eolie Islands 72a Squadriglia
6 30/04/44 11:13 1 P-38 (f) Destroyed MC.205V   SE Forli 3a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 2 and 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 6 and 4 shared destroyed, 2 and 1 shared damaged.
(a) Sunderland L5806/Q of 228 Squadron, flown by Flight Lieutenant E. M. Ware damaged.
(b) Claimed in combat with Hurricanes from 1 SAAF and 274 Squadrons, which claimed 2 destroyed, 3 probables and 4 damaged while losing 1 Hurricane from 1 SAAF Squadron. 17o Gruppo claimed 8 destroyed and 1 probable while losing two MC.202s and getting 2 damaged.
(c) Probably claimed in combat with Bostons from 24 SAAF Squadron, which suffered 4 damaged by AA fire.
(d) Claimed in combat with Spitfire Vcs from 126 Squadron and Beaufighters from 227 Squadron, which claimed 1 Bf 109, 4 Ju 52/3m, 2 probable and 3 damaged and 1 damaged Bf 110 while suffering 2 damaged Beaufighters. 72a Squadriglia claimed 5 Spitfires and 2 Beaufighters destroyed without losses. 18o Stormo Trasporti lost 2 S.81s and got 5 more damaged.
(e) Claimed in combat with B-26s from 319th BG, which claimed 2 destroyed Bf 109s, 2 destroyed Bf 110s and 1 destroyed Me 210 while getting 2 B-26s damaged. The Axis fighters (72o Squadriglia, II./JG 53 and III./ZG 26) claimed 1 damaged bomber while losing 1 Bf 109 (pilot KiA).
(f) Possibly claimed in combat with P-38s from the 14th FG, which lost P-38 42-104043 during the day (MACR nr. 4642). Io Gruppo claimed three P-38s.

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 Three – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2016 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781910690000
Air War Italy 1944-45 - Nick Beale, Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini, 1996 Airlife Publishing, Shrewbury, ISBN 1-85310-252-0
Ali in Spagna - Giuseppe Federico Ghergo and Angelo Emiliani, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Ali nella tragedia - Giulio Lazzati, 1970 Mursia, Milan, ISBN 88-425-2132-9, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Army Air Forces
Aviatori Italiani - Franco Pagliano, 1964 Longanesi Milano, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Aviobrigada X - Alfredo Lagoluso, 2001 no. 97, 98 and 99 of Storia Militare (October-December 2001), kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Eagles Strike - James Ambrose Brown kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo.
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell' A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
Guerra di Spagna e Aviazione Italiana - Ferdinando Pedriali, 1992 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il 5o Stormo - Giuseppe Pesce and Nicola Malizia, 1984 STEM Mucchi, Modena
Il 23o Gruppo Caccia - Nicola Malizia, 1974 Bizzarri, Roma, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
La Battaglie Aeree In Africa Settentrionale: Novembre-Dicembre 1941 – Michele Palermo, IBN, ISBN 88-7565-102-7
Le giovani aquile – Antonio Trizzino, 1972 Longanesi Milano, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Luftwaffe Claims Lists - Tony Wood
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro, Michele Palermo and Ludovico Slongo.

Last modified 09 February 2024