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 February 1943 he served in the 377a Squadriglia Autonoma. This unit was at the time based at Palermo and equipped with some Fiat CR.42 nightfighters.

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).

He claimed one additional victory while flying a Macchi MC.200 and three more while flying Macchi MC.202 ‘377-1’.

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
3 22/02/43 21:00- 1 Wellington (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Palermo 377a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 destroyed.
(a) Wellington DV569/F from 37 Squadron (att. 40 Squadron) shot down (crew KiA).

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 06 October 2023