Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Luigi Torchio

10 December 1917 – 30 January 1944

Date Decoration Note
??/??/43 Medaglia d’argento al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/42 Croce di guerra al valor militare 1940-43

Luigi Torchio was born on 10 December 1917 in Voghera.

In the beginning of the war, Torchio served in the 75a Squadriglia.

In 1942 he served in the 377a Squadriglia Autonoma.

During a patrol over Tunis between 11:30 and 13:30 on 14 December 1942, Sottotenente Torchio, of the 377a Squadriglia Autonomo CT (MC.200) claimed an aircraft, which he identified as a Hurricane, shot down.

By February 1942, the unit was based at Palermo and also equipped with some Fiat CR.42 nightfighters.

On 3 February 1943, nine B-24s of the 376th BG set out to attack Palermo harbour, (three of which returned early).
The Regia Aeronautica recorded that a raid by heavy bombers was made on Sicily. At Palermo three MC.202s of the 377a Squadriglia were scrambled, Sottotenente Torchio (MC.202 MM7712/377-1) reporting to have engaged three P-38, claiming one shot down (17:10-18:15) and one probable (17:30). Sergente Leonzio Bicego then attacked three four-engine bombers, claiming hits on the leading aircraft, between the cockpit and the inner left engine, noting this as probably shot down at 17:30. Finally, Sergente Maggiore Giordano Migliavacca made repeated attacks on an aircraft on the left of the formation which he claimed to have shot down at 17:45, reportedly two members of the crew being seen to bale out. However, it seems that this claim only was credited as a probable.
Sottotenente Torchio was wounded in this combat and his aircraft being damaged, forcing him to belly-land at Palermo.
No Allied losses seems to have been recorded at this time.

31 Wellingtons and six Halifaxes attacked Palermo during the night between 22 and 23 February 1943. Wellington DV569/F from 37 Squadron (att. 40 Squadron) took off at 21:00 and failed to return after having been shot down by Tenente Torchio in a CR.42.
Killed in the Wellington were Canadian Warrant Officer James Dickinson Massey (RCAF No. R/77245), Flight Sergeant Joseph Thom Lindsay (RAF No. 1378705), 20-years-old Sergeant Robert Scott (RAF No. 1217259), 21-years-old Flying Officer Peter Radcliffe Ward (RAF No. 106073) and 30-years old Australian Flight Sergeant Joseph Herbert Graham Nash (RAAF No. 403647).

14 P-38s of the 27th FS, 1st FG, escorted 38 B-17s from the 97th BG and 301st BG to attack Palermo docks in the early afternoon on 1 March 1943, where the Italian destroyer Geniere was sunk. Some smaller vessels were also lost in this raid including the ferry barge MZ 741, the tug Porto Adriano (230 tons) and the ferry Lampedusa (505 tons).
Seven MC.202s of the 377a and 372a Squadriglie were scrambled to intercept, their pilots claiming two B-17s shot down and a third probable (reportedly at 16:30). From 377a Squadriglia Tenente Torchio claimed one destroyed B-17 and Sergente Maggiore Mario Mocchiuti claimed the probable. Sergente Maggiore Mario Sandini (372a Squadriglia) claimed the second B-17 but his MC.202 was hit and he was wounded. Sergente Maggiore Giordano Migliavacca (377a Squadriglia) was also wounded when his MC.202 was damaged while Sergente Leonzio Bicego (377a Squadriglia) was killed when his MC.202 (MM7793) was shot down.
Between 14:05-15:13, one Italian fighter, identified as an MC.200, was claimed shot down over Palermo by 1st Lieutenant John L. Wolford of 27th FS. The gunners of 97th BG claimed two Bf 109s over Palermo at 13:30 while gunners from 301st BG claimed one probable and three damaged at the same place and time. The claims from 301st BG were made against a mixture of Bf 109s, FW 190s, MC.200s and Re.2001s and made by:
Gunner in pilot Medeley’s B-17F 41-24348 from 352nd BS, who claimed one damaged
Gunner in pilot Larkin’s B-17F 42-5068 from 353rd BS, who claimed one probable
Gunner in pilot Lundell’s B-17F 42-5134 from 353rd BS, who claimed one damaged
Gunner in pilot Rolf’s B-17F 41-24364 from 353rd BS, who claimed one damaged
No US aircraft were lost.

After the Italian surrender he joined the Italiana Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) where he was assigned to 3a Squadriglia.

On 30 January 1944, heavy bombers from the 15th AF attacked targets in the Udine area. B-17s hit airfields and landing grounds at Villaorba, Maniago, and Lavariano. B-24s bombed Udine airfield and Fier radar station. P-38s escorted the B-17s on the Villaorba and Maniago missions, and P-38s and some RAF Spitfires escorted the B-24s on the Udine mission. Additional P-47s from 325th FG carried out sweep over the Villaorba area. The bombers and the fighters claimed over 60 airplanes shot down and a number destroyed on the ground (the US fighters alone claimed 45 destroyed, 11 probables and 2 damaged). It seems that the 15th AF losses were 9 aircraft (2 B-17s, 3 B-24s, 1 P-38 and 2 P-47s).
This heavy raid was intercepted by a mix of German and Italian fighters. The German fighters from JG 53 and JG 77 claimed at least 14 heavy bombers (9 B-24s and 5 B-17s) and three fighters (2 P-38s and 1 P-47) between 11:56 and 12:44.
Around 12:30, the 1o Gruppo ANR was involved in this combat and the 1a Squadriglia claimed five enemy aircraft when Sergente Maggiore Also Burei claimed one B-24, Sergente Maggiore Luigi Gorrini claimed a P-47, Tenente Giuseppe Re claimed a P-47 and Maresciallo Carlo Magnaghi claimed two P-47s. These were claimed over Grado with the exception for one of Magnaghi’s claims, which was made over Palmanova. Natalino Stabile of the 3a Squadriglia claimed a B-24 over Udine during the day.
However, the Italian fighters suffered hard and the MC.205 of Tenente Re was shot down and the pilot bailed out. At the end of the fighting three more MC.205s had been shot down with the pilots KIA; Capitano Marco Marinone (born 31 August 1914 in Vercelli), Tenente Torchio (3a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Luciano Cipiciani (born 23 September 1918 in Gubbio).

At the time of his death, Torchio was credited with 1 biplane victory and a total of 5 destroyed.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  06/06/42   1 Enemy aircraft Probably destroyed Macchi MC.200   Sicily 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
1 14/12/42 11:30-13:30 1 Hurricane Destroyed Macchi MC.200   Tunis 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
2 03/02/43 17:10-18:15 1 P-38 (a) Destroyed Macchi MC.202 MM7712/377-1 E Cap Zafferano 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
  03/02/43 17:30 1 P-38 (a) Probably destroyed Macchi MC.202 MM7712/377-1 E Cap Zafferano 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
3 22/02/43 21:00- 1 Wellington (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Palermo 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
4 01/03/43 16:30 1 B-17 (c) Destroyed Macchi MC.202   Palermo 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
  05/04/43 13:00 1/3 B-24 Shared destroyed Macchi MC.202   Palermo area 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
  09/05/43 12:50 1 B-17 Damaged Macchi MC.202   Palermo 377a Squadriglia Autonomo
5 14/08/43   1 P-38 Destroyed Macchi MC.202   Italy 377a Squadriglia Autonomo

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 and 1 shared destroyed, 2 probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) Can’t be verified with any Allied losses.
(b) Wellington DV569/F from 37 Squadron (att. 40 Squadron) shot down (crew KiA).
(c) Claimed in combat with P-38s from the 27th FG and B-17s from the 97th BG and 301st BG, which totally claimed 3 fighters, 1 probable and 3 damaged without losses. 377a and 372a Squadriglie claimed 2 B-17s and 1 probable while losing 1 MC.202 (pilot KiA) and 2 damaged.

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
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell' A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
Italian Aces of World War 2 - Giovanni Massimello and Giorgio Apostolo, 2000 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 1-84176-078-1
Ministero della Difesa
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Mencarelli.

Last modified 14 May 2024