Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Capitano Giulio Torresi

6 February 1915 – 1 July 1944

Giulio Torresi was born in Ancona on 6 February 1915.

He graduated as a Sottotenente pilota in the Regia Aeronautica on 4 November 1935.
After graduation he was posted to 2o Stormo Caccia on 16 January 1936. On 1 April 1936 he was posted to 19o Stormo Osservazione Aerea (Reconnaissance) before being posted to 1o Stormo Caccia on 16 June 1936.

On 1 December 1938, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

Later he was posted to the 77a Squadriglia.

He was promoted to Tenente on 10 June 1940.

The 13o Gruppo (77a, 78a and 82a Squadriglie) of the 2o Stormo C.T. was commanded by Maggiore Secondo Revetria and started the war based at Tripoli Castelbenito airfield with twenty-five CR.42s and eleven CR.32s on hand (the CR.32s, kept as a reserve, were later passed on to the 50o Stormo Assalto) to guard against a possible French attach from the west.
Pilots in the 77a Squadriglia were: Capitano Mario Fedele (CO), Tenente Eduardo Sorvillo (recently arrived from 4o Stormo), Tenente Torresi, Sottotenente Gianmario Zuccarini, Sottotenente Mario Fabbricatore, Sergente Maggiore Ernesto Scalet, Sergente Maggiore Leone Basso, Sergente Maggiore Agostino Fausti, Sergente Raoul Scodellari, Sergente Ernesto Paolini, Sergente Enrico Botti (recently arrived from 53o Stormo), Sergente Amedeo Benati and Sergente Vincenzo Campolo. These pilots had twelve CR.42s (including Maggiore Revetria’s and Colonnello Federici’s) (eight combat ready and three still under assembly) and four CR.32quaters.

On 18 June the 77a Squadriglia moved to Tobruk T2.

At dawn on 29 June, Blenheims again bombed the airfield of Tobruk T2. Ten fighters from the alarm patrol of the 2o Stormo took off at 06:40 following the air alarm given by the Navy with two cannon shots and intercepted the Blenheims over the airfield. The intercepting fighters were four CR.42s from the 94a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lavelli, Sottotenente Nunzio De Fraia, Sergente Maggiore Alessandro Ruzzene and Sergente Maggiore Arturo Cardano), two CR.42s from the 92a Squadriglia (Maggiore Vincenzo La Carruba and Tenente Riccardo Marcovich, who possibly was using a borrowed aircraft from the 93a Squadriglia together with one of the pilots from the 94a Squadriglia) and four CR.42s of the 77a Squadriglia (Capitano Mario Fedele, Sottotenente Torresi, Sottotenente Gianmario Zuccarini, Sergente Maggiore Agostino Fausti). Fedele was slow in taking off because of engine problems and arrived when the combat was already finished but the others attacked the British formation, which was estimated to nine Blenheims.
Sottotenente Torresi reached the bombers at six-o'-clock and attacked the last Blenheim, which, after three strafes, caught fire and fell. Then, avoiding defensive fire, he attacked another bomber and shot it down. In the meantime, Sottotenente Zuccarini claimed a bomber with a second as a probable while Sergente Maggiore Fausti continued to attack two stragglers that he finally caught over the open sea, shooting down both. Zuccarini, wounded in the knee and with the aircraft damaged in the oil tank by return fire, succeeded to return and force landed at the top of a cliff close to the sea, 25 kilometres from Tobruk, damaging also the landing gear in the process. Sottotenente De Fraia claimed a sixth bomber. Totally, the pilots from the 77a Squadriglia used 2200 rounds of ammunition while those of 94a Squadriglia used 500 rounds.
It seems that they had been involved in combat with Blenheims from 113 Squadron, which lost three aircraft. Blenheim Mk.IV L8436 flown by Pilot Officer D. Pike was reportedly damaged by flak and ditched; Pike, Sergeant R. Lidstone and Sergeant J. Taylor were rescued and taken PoWs. Blenheim Mk.I L8447 flown by 31-year-old Flying Officer Walter Ronald Price Knight Mason (RAF no. 70450) was shot down in flames by fighters and Mason, 28-year-old Sergeant James George Juggins (RAF no. 562162) and 21-year-old Sergeant George Kenneth Biggins (RAF no. 550227) were all killed. Enemy fighters also shot down Blenheim Mk.I L8522 flown by 27-year-old Flight Sergeant Ralph Harry Knott (RAF no. 590277) in flames and Knott, 22-year-old Sergeant James Douglas Barber (RAF no. 745841) and Leading Aircraftman James Patrick Toner (RAF no. 610188) were all killed.
Torresi, Zuccarini and Fausti (in the 77a Squadriglia’s and 13o Gruppo’s Diaries, Fausti is credited with two individual victories while the proposal of the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare speaks of a first plane shot down in cooperation with two unknown pilots and a second one individual) were all proposed to be awarded with the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare after this combat.
Zuccarini was recovered from the sea by a Navy team from a minesweeper but his aircraft was too far from whatever road and the coast was too high so it was probably abandoned. In fact it seems likely that the aviation historian Franco Pagliano, then an officer of the Air Force was charged with the recovery of this particular plane and told the story of this operation inside the short novel “The Abyss” in his 1969’s book “In cielo ed in terra”. According with this novel his mission that day was only to recover the most precious instruments, to asses the damage suffered by the plane and to destroy its guns. The recovery of the complete plane was judged too difficult. Pagliano was astonished by the skill demonstrated by the pilot that was able to land a plane in that position. Without deliberately crashing the landing gear the plane would probably had fallen down the escarpment that was only ten metres apart, causing the death of its occupant.

At around 16:20 on 23 July, nine CR.42s from the 13o Gruppo (Maggiore Secondo Revetria (CO of the 13o Gruppo in a 77a Squadriglia CR.42), Tenente Torresi and Sergente Ernesto Paolini (77a Squadriglia), Capitano Guglielmo Arrabito, Tenente Guglielmo Chiarini and Sergente Franco Porta (82a Squadriglia), Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore Mechelli and Sergente Rovero Abbarchi (78a Squadriglia)) and nine from the 10o Gruppo (Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Giuseppe Aurili and Tenente Vincenzo Vanni (84a Squadriglia), Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sergente Bruno Bortoletti (90a Squadriglia),Tenente Enzo Martissa, Sergente Elio Miotto, Sergente Alessandro Bladelli (91a Squadriglia)) took off from El Adem to make a fighter sweep in the Bir El Gobi – Sollum – Bardia area.
At around 17:40, between Sidi Azeiz and Bardia, they intercepted a group of Blenheims escorted by Gladiators.
The 13o Gruppo attacked the Gladiators with height advantage and Tenente Chiarini and the other pilots of the 82a Squadriglia attacked a group of three Gladiators, which were flying in a wide formation. After ten minutes of combat Chiarini shot down one of these fighters. The enemy plane burned when crashing on the ground while the pilot parachuted near Sidi Azeiz and was seen to be rescued by British armoured cars. Tenente Torresi in the meantime claimed another Gladiator shot down using 150 rounds of ammunition. Post war Italian studies claimed that two additional bombers fell burning after the attack of other pilots from the 13o Gruppo, but the official records do not confirm this.
The 10o Gruppo formation in the meantime joined the combat. While Capitano Monti with five other pilots remained high to cover the other fighters (and estimating the enemy strength to only three fighters), Tenente Martissa, Sergente Miotto and Sergente Bladelli joined the combat and claimed a single Gloster shared with the 13o Gruppo pilots.
It looks as if this shared victory was one of the two previously claimed by Torresi and Chiarini because there are no shared victories claims in the records of 2o Stormo. An incongruity of this type, in the claims of Regia Aeronautica, during combined actions of different units is not unusual at all.
No Italian aircraft were lost but four CR.42s of the 13o Gruppo were damaged and especially Chiarini’s and Capitano Arrabito’s CR.42s were so damaged that they were not flyable when back at base at 18:20; Arrabito’s CR.42, in particular had suffered many hits in the wings and behind the pilot’s seat.
Presumably the Gladiator claims were made in combat with Gladiators from 33 Squadron. During the day Pilot Officer Preston (Gladiator N5774), flying one of three Gladiators of 33 Squadron, briefed to escort the bomb-carrying Lysander of Flight Lieutenant Legge, was shot down by three attacking CR.42s and forced to bale out south of Bardia. Preston suffered a slight concussion and once rescued he was sent to hospital in Alexandria. The 33 Squadron ORB is lacking the times of this combat but that of 208 Squadron recorded that Legge took off at 18:00 and landed at 19:40 and that one of the escorting fighters was shot down by CR.42s and the pilot escaped by parachute, so it seems highly likely that Preston’s Gladiator fell victim of Chiarini.
It seems that the British records are incomplete on this date since there are no claims for the damaged Italian fighters.

At 16:00 on 24 July, a formation of eleven CR.42s from the 10o Gruppo, backed by six more from the 13o Gruppo took off to patrol the Bir el Gobi – Sidi Omar – Sollum – Bardia area. Leading the 10o Gruppo formation was Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli (using an aircraft from the 91a Squadriglia) and with him were Tenente Franco Lucchini, Maresciallo Omero Alesi and Tenente Giovanni Guiducci of the 90a Squadriglia, Capitano Luigi Monti, Capitano Aldo Lanfranco, Tenente Vincenzo Vanni and Tenente Giuseppe Aurili of the 84a Squadriglia, Tenente Enzo Martissa, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato and Sergente Luigi Ferrario of the 91a Squadriglia. Pilots from the 13o Gruppo were Tenente Torresi, Tenente Eduardo Sorvillo and Sergente Maggiore Ernesto Scalet of the 77a Squadriglia, Sergente Francesco Nanin of the 82a Squadriglia and Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio with Sottotenente Dario Magnabosco of the 78a Squadriglia.
During the patrol they met a British formation estimated to nine Blenheims, which was attacking Bardia, escorted by 15 Gladiators. The CR.42s attacked the bombers and were in turn attacked by the British escort. Tenente Lucchini was the first to enter combat and damaged three of the British bombers by using 510 rounds of ammunition while the others were dispersed. Tenente Guiducci claimed a Gladiator using 90 rounds of ammunition. The CR.42s of the 84a Squadriglia remained manoeuvring in close formation until a 90a Squadriglia aircraft (Lucchini?) drove them against the enemies breaking their formation. Three aircraft from the Squadriglia returned to base one by one. Tenente Giuseppe Aurili met three Gladiators and damaged one. Capitano Lanfranco became isolated and, attacked by a reported three enemy fighters, was shot down and obliged to bale out in the Sidi Azeiz area. A British patrol took him prisoner a little later. Lanfranco was one of the oldest pilots of the 4o and a few days later a British message was thrown down near Tobruk, telling that he was wounded in Alexandria hospital. Tenente Martissa forced an enemy fighter to force-land then, coming back to base, saw his wingman in difficulties against the determined attack of an enemy fighter and, even with his guns jammed, attacked it, forcing the Gladiator to break away. Sergente Ferrario returned to base with a damaged fighter. According to some sources Tenente Lucchini is credited with an additional Gladiator during the day, but this can’t be verified with the Squadriglie’s Diaries.
Tenente Torresi claimed another Gladiator with 250 rounds of ammunition. No losses were suffered by the 13o Gruppo formation, which landed back at base between 17:25 and 18:05.
It seems that the Italian formation had been involved in combat with eight Blenheims from 55 Squadron tasked to attack targets in the Bardia area and five Gladiators from ‘B’ Flight of the 33 Squadron flown by Flying Officer Ernest Dean (Gladiator L9046), Pilot Officer Alfred Costello (N5776), Pilot Officer Vernon Woodward (N5768), Sergeant Ronald Slater (N5783) and Sergeant Shaw (N5775), which had taken off from Sidi Barrani at 17:40 and met a reported 18 CR.42s over Sollum at 18:30. In the combat Woodward claimed one of the enemy aircraft shot down and a second as a probable. Slater claimed a second CR.42 destroyed while Costello claimed a third. One more CR.42 was claimed by the other pilots and since Dean doesn’t seems to have claimed anything during the day it is possible that this was claimed by Shaw but it haven’t been possible to verify this. During the return flight Shaw was forced to land east of Buq-Buq with engine trouble probably caused by combat damage (probably the aircraft claimed by Martissa). Enemy bombing the day after destroyed his aircraft on the ground, although he rejoined his unit unharmed after a long walk across the desert. The other pilots from 33 Squadron landed back at base between 18:55 and 19:35.
Returning crews from 55 Squadron reported that after releasing their bomb load at 18:20, ‘A’ Flight was attacked by a single CR.42, which was part of a very open formation that didn’t attack. The Italian biplane attacked from out of the sun, damaging slightly Blenheim L8667 flown by Sergeant Vignaux. The British bomber was hit by two bullets (one explosive), one in each mainplane. At 18:35, ‘B’ Flight was also attacked by a single CR.42. The attack was made from above and astern twice but none of the British aircraft were hit. It seems that one or both of these attacks were made by Tenente Lucchini.

At around 08:55 on 9 December, six CR.42s from the 82a Squadriglia (Capitano Guglielmo Arrabito, Sottotenente Giuseppe Bottà, Sottotenente Giuseppe Timolina, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Sergente Francesco Nanin and Sergente Filippo Baldin) took off from Gambut to escort six S.79s, which were out to attack the Bir Mella area (around Nibeiwa). Four CR.42s from the 77a Squadriglia (Tenente Colonnello Secondo Revetria, Sergente Vincenzo Campolo, Sottotenente Carmelo Catania and Sottotenente Mario Nicoloso) took off with them together with six CR.42s of the 78a Squadriglia (Sottotenente Natale Cima, Sottotenente Dario Magnabosco, Tenente Giovanni Beduz, Sergente Ernesto Taddia, Sergente Teresio Martinoli and Sottotenente Luigi Canneppele).
While the formation was gaining height, two Blenheims arrived over the airfield and released 20 bombs without causing damage. The Blenheims were then intercepted by Tenente Torresi of the 77a Squadriglia. He had taken off at 08:30 for a protective patrol and after 20 minutes of flight discovered the Blenheims heading towards the airfield. The British bombers tried to escape towards the sea but Torresi was able to claim the trailing one of them shot down “in flames” over the sea close to the shore. After a ten-minute chase, he closed in on the last one, hitting it many times and he witnessed it overturning while trying to ditch in open sea.
Torresi was back at base at 09:30 and he had only used 90 7,7mm rounds and 70 12,7 rounds.
Meanwhile over Bir Mella, while the S.79s were releasing their bombs, a single Hurricane attacked the CR.42s formation from the 82a Squadriglia that was covering the bombers at higher altitude. Sergente Nanin’s aircraft was hit and shot down with the loss of the pilot while the Hurricane, attacked by Arrabito, Bottà and Timolina succeeded in disengaging thanks to its superior speed. The surviving CR.42s were back at base at 10:55.
The 77a Squadriglia didn’t even notice any enemy aircraft during the mission while the 78a Squadriglia saw enemy aircraft heading towards their formation only to escape quickly when they tried to react.
The S.79s was a formation of the 62a Squadriglia, 29o Gruppo led by the Gruppo Commander Tenente Colonnello Guglielmo Grandjacquet. They reportedly released their bomb load at around 10:00 and all bombers returned to Gambut without suffering any losses. This was their first of a totally six missions by the 13a Divisione Aerea Pegaso flown during the day.
At 06:15, two aircraft from 45 Squadron set out to bomb Gambut piloted by Flight Lieutenant Haines and Pilot Officer Dennis. The bombing was made from 13,000 feet and no results were observed. Four CR.42s were seen taking off to try to intercept but another CR.42 appeared out of the clouds and first attacked the leader then the second aircraft for about 10 minutes without success. Both aircraft returned to base reportedly undamaged. This situation matches almost perfectly (apart from the outcome) that of the interception of Tenente Torresi over Gambut. 39 Squadron’s duo (Pilot Officer Hunter and Flight Lieutenant Milward) attacked Sollum from 16.000 feet and although all the bombs were seen to fall on the aerodrome no aircraft were seen dispersed in it.

At 16:10 on the same day, three CR.42s from the 77a Squadriglia (Tenente Torresi, Sottotenente Gianmario Zuccarini and Tenente Eduardo Sorvillo) together with six more from the 78a Squadriglia (Capitano Giuseppe Dall’Aglio, Sottotenente Dario Magnabosco, Sergente Ernesto Taddia, Tenente Giovanni Beduz, Sottotenente Natale Cima and Sottotenente Canneppele) took off to strafe enemy armoured vehicles on the road between Sidi El Barrani and Bir Enba. The attack was done under heavy AA fire and lasted 30 minutes. The attackers used 3000 rounds of ammunition and reportedly caused heavy damage.
Sorvillo was back at Gambut at 17:45 together with the 78a Squadriglia, while Torresi and Zuccarini landed at Menastir because of the growing darkness.

Seven CR.42s from the 13o Gruppo took off at 06:50 on 12 December, for a free sweep in the Ogerin Bir El Kreighat, Halfaya area. Six fighters were from the 77a Squadriglia (Tenente Colonnello Secondo Revetria, Tenente Torresi, Sottotenente Gianmario Zuccarini, Sottotenente Carmelo Catania, Sottotenente Mario Nicoloso and Sergente Ernesto Paolini), and one from 82a (Sottotenente Giuseppe Bottà). The fighters intercepted a Hurricane, which was ground strafing Italian troops near Bardia and claimed it damaged. This Hurricane was probably from 274 Squadron even if this unit didn’t report any clash with Fiat CR.42s during the day.
At 08:50, four of the 77a Squadriglia machines landed back at T2. The other two and Sottotenente Bottà returned to Gambut.

In December, the 2o Stormo left their few surviving CR.42s to 4o Stormo and returned to Italy.
The 2o Stormo had in the period 11 June - 19 December totally claimed 45 enemy aircraft during 2403 missions. They had lost 13 aircraft, ten pilots KIA and two pilots POW.

After temporarily passing to 150o Gruppo Autonomo Caccia on 29 April 1941, the following August Torresi went to Russia with 362a Squadriglia, 22o Gruppo Autonomo, which was equipped with Macchi MC.200s.

In the afternoon on 24 February 1942, six Macchis from 362a (Torresi and Tenente Frank Passerini), 369a (Tenente Renato Gori) and 359a Squadriglie (Capitano Vittorio Minguzzi, Tenente Giovanni Bonet and Sottotenente Arrigo Pederzoli), went for a patrol mission over the front. Over Alexandrowka they encountered a group of Soviet fighters (identified in the Squadriglie’s logbooks as not-well-specified "J-200s", but probably LaGGs or MiGs). At the end of the dogfight the Italians claimed jointly two fighters destroyed for no losses.
According to some sources they claimed one shared damaged and one shared probable.

On 28 February, a mixed formation from the 362a Squadriglia (Capitano Germano La Ferla, Tenente Giovanni Beduz, Tenente Oberdan Militano, Tenente Torresi and Tenenente Frank Passerini), 369a Squadriglia (Capitano Giovanni Cervellin, Tenente Walter Benedetti, Sottotenente Giuseppe Biron and Maresciallo Romano Pesavento) and 359a Squadriglia (Capitano Vittorio Minguzzi) led by the 22o Gruppo’s CO, Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis (on his first mission over the Eastern front) flew a fighter sweep. At 15:00, they intercept ten Soviet fighters identified as "I-26s" (probably Yak-1s) and "I-27s" (probably Yak-7s at 4,500 meters over Alexandrowka. Two "I-26s" were claimed as shared by the pilots from 362a and 369a Squadriglie together with Maggiore D’Agostinis. Capitano Minguzzi claimed one and one probable "I-27". Two C.200s were damaged in the combat but managed to return to Stalino airfield.

On 9 March, six C.200s of the 362a Squadriglia (Capitano Germano La Ferla, Tenente Torresi, Sottotenente Edgardo Vaghi, Tenente Giovanni Beduz, Sergente Maggiore Attilio Sanson and Tenente Gianfranco Montagnani) plus Sottotenente Giuseppe Biron of the 369a Squadriglia escorted Luftwaffe Stukas. Over Mikhailowka they met a formation of about twenty enemy aircraft composed of Soviet bombers escorted by fighters (the latter identified as "I-18s"). The returning Italian pilots clamed three shared fighters shot down and two more probables, for no losses.

At 09:45 on 17 March, 14 C.200s of the 22o Gruppo took off from Stalino for a strafing mission on Luskotowa airfield, escorted by two Luftwaffe Bf 109F-4s from 1./JG 77. Among the participating pilots were Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis, Capitano Germano La Ferla, Tenente Edgardo Vaghi, Tenente Torresi, Tenenente Frank Passerini, Sergente Maggiore Fausto Fornaci (362a Squadriglia, 9 victories in WWII) and Sergente Attilio Sanson (362a Squadriglia, 12 victories in WWII). According to D’Agostinis were no less than ten I-16s destroyed on the ground.

From 12 March, the 22o Gruppo was gradually withdrawn to Italy leaving their worn-out C.200s in Russia and being replaced by the 21o Gruppo (356a, 361a, 382a and 386a Squadriglie) from early May.
The 22o Gruppo flew 68 missions, took part in 19 air combats and flew 11 ground attack missions in Russia.
The Gruppo was credited with 66 destroyed, 16 probables and 45 damaged and awarded a Medaglia d’argento al valor militare.

During nine months in Russia he flew 44 missions, took part in six aerial combats and nine ground strafings. He claimed at least five fighters shared destroyed and two shared probable. Note that, by order of the Comando Aeronautica, on the Russian front kills were not officially allowed to individual pilots, but to the unit they belonged.

In July 1942 the 22o Gruppo, now back in Italy, was re-equipped with Re.2001s to operate from Sardinia and Sicily. Torresi participated in six aerial combats, apparently without individual claims.

January 1943 Vittorio Minguzzi retook command of the 22o Gruppo at Napoli-Capodichino, where the Gruppo had the task of defending the city and the port.
The Gruppo was organised into four Squadriglias operating a mixed complement of aircraft; Macchi C.202s, Re.2001s, MC.200s and CR.42s for night flying.
In the end of February the Gruppo also received eight Dewoitine D.520s

The Gruppo also received the prototype of the Re.2005 (MM494) and Vittorio Minguzzi made the first flight with this aircraft on 7 March 1943.
He then brought it to Napoli-Capodichino where it was incorporated into 362a Squadriglia.

During April 362a Squadriglia received three more Re.2005s from the “0-serie” (MM092344 (362-1?), MM092345 (362-2) and MM092346 (362-3)).
Torresi made his first flight with this type on 9 April.

On 10 April a mixed formation of Re.2005s, MC.202s and MC.205s attacked a group of B-24s. During this combat Torresi claimed one destroyed and three shared.

At 13:30 on 28 April 22o Gruppo scrambled four Re.2005s, eleven MC.202s and one Dewoitine D.520 from Capodichino to intercept a large group of Liberators, escorted by thirty fighters, which were out to bomb Naples. The Re.2005s were flown by Maggiore Vittorio Minguzzi (Re.2005 "362" MM494), Capitano La Ferla ("362-1" MM092344), Tenente Torresi ("362-2" MM092345) and Sergente Donati, ("362-3" MM092346).
At 7000 metres they intercepted a reported 30 B-24s flying in two sections each composed of three flights of five bombers. The 22o Gruppo claimed one B-24 (by Minguzzi) and 4 probables, (one was later confirmed by ground observer and credited to Donati). Ten more was claimed as shared damaged by the whole Gruppo.
Minguzzi’s aircraft was subsequently hit in the cooling system and he had to make an emergency landing at Capodichino without further damage on his aircraft.
They returned to base at 14.45.

Torresi was promoted to Capitano on 22 June.

On 2 July the 362a Squadriglia was transferred to Catania-Sigonella with all ten of their Re.2005s.

In the evening on 11 July ten Spitfires of 111 Squadron were patrolling the beaches between Syracuse and Cape Passero when they saw an air fight and sighted a further eight enemy fighters high above this combat. Squadron Leader Hill (Spitfire EN518) led six of his pilot to assist 243 Squadron, which was involved in the combat probably against five MC.205Vs from the 96a Squadriglia and five Re.2005s from the 362a Squadriglia. Four of the 111 Squadron Spitfires engaged the high flying enemy formation (identified as Re.2001s and MC.202s). Two Re.2001s were claimed destroyed by Sergeant Hughie Eccelston RAAF (Spitfire JK728) and one MC.202 was claimed by Flying Officer Fred Mellors (Spitfire (JK217) while Sergeant K. R. Allen (Spitfire EN252) claimed a damaged Reggiane. It seems that they had been involved in combat with more Re.2005s from the 362a Squadriglia and Torresi claimed a Spitfire and another as a probable between Syracuse and Cape Passero.

On the evening on 12 July two reconnaissance Spitfires from 40 SAAF Squadron were bounced by three Re.2005s while patrolling over Lentini and Pozzallo. Torresi led the Italian fighters and the other two pilots were Tenente Enrico Salvi and Tenente Edoardo Vaghi. 23-year-old Lieutenant K. Robinson (SAAF no. 206657V) was shot down and killed by Torresi while Lieutenant B. V. Clarence, who’s Spitfire was damaged, was able to return to Malta.

In the morning on 13 July ten Spitfires of 93 Squadron were patrolling the Augusta area, led by Group Captain Gilroy. Several enemy aircraft – mainly He 111s of I/LLG 2 and KGrzbV.25 – were seen landing at Catania and Gilroy led four aircraft to attack these, as recalled by Flight Lieutenant Jim Gray:

“We attacked an He 111 just touching down; pulled up and then went after a Ju 88 just north of Catania. I observed the Ju 88 in flames as I departed the scene and proceeded south. As I withdrew I was attacked by four 109s; one of them succeeded in poking holes in my fuselage. Luckily, Sergeant Andrew had climbed into the sun and attacked the rearmost 109, leaving it in flames. This manoeuvre certainly discouraged the remaining 109s that were on my tail. Sergeant Bridger was shot down near the aerodrome, as I recall, but escaped capture.”
It seems that it was Torresi that claimed Sergeant Frank W. Bridger (Spitfire Mk.V ES282) when he claimed a Spitfire attacking Tenente Edoardo Vaghi. It is also possible that Bridger was shot down by Oberleutnant Erhard Niese of 7./JG 77 who claimed a Spitfire at 07:35.
Bridger reported damaging a Bf 109 on the ground before he was shot down by another. He was captured, managed to escape that night but after two days without food he gave himself up; however, he was able to escape again and eventually reached Allied lines and was back with the Squadron by 24 July. He was later commissioned and awarded a DFC.

In August Torresi passed to the FIAT-Aeritalia as a test pilot.

Following the Armistice, after hearing Ernesto Botto’s "call to arms", he joined the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana on 14 October 1943, and was assigned to Squadriglia Complementare "Montefusco", which was equipped with Fiat G.55s and Macchi MC.205s, in the defence of Turin.

After the death in combat of Capitano Giovanni Bonet on 29 March 1944, Torresi led the Squadriglia (which now was called "Montefusco-Bonet")

On 25 April, 117 B-24s of the 304th Wing USAAF, escorted by 45 P-47s of the 325th FG, attacked the Aeritalia aircraft factory in Turin.
24 MC.205s from 1o Gruppo ANR intercepted them and Sergente Maggiore Francesco Cuscuna claimed a P-47 at 12:15 at 4.500 meters over Monte Cimone. Maggiore Adriano Visconti and Maresciallo Carlo Cucchi from the same unit claimed a P-38 each over La Spezia at the same time.
Seven G.55s and two MC.205s of the “Montefusco-Bonet” Gruppo scrambled at 12:40 from Venaria Reale to intercept the US bombers. They were led by Capitano Torresi> and included Sergente Maggiore Lucio Biagini, Biron, Celentano,
Franco Sarasino and Maresciallo Ennio Tarantola. Comoni and Morettin probably also took part in this scramble. Biron was forced to abort the scramble after technical problems on his MC.205.
At 13:05, while attacking the bombers at 22,000 feet over Turin, the ANR fighters were jumped by the escorting P-47s. Three G.55s were shot down and Biagini (G.55 serie 0 “Yellow 13” MM91074) was killed after having spent at least eighty 20mm and one hundred-twenty 12.7mm rounds claiming a B-17 over Turin while Torresi (G.55 serie I “Yellow 1”? MM91100) parachuted from his burning aircraft at 13:20, lightly wounded in the head after having been attacked by enemy fighters. Tarantola (G.55 serie I “Yellow 8” MM91101) also parachuted badly wounded.
Franco Sarasino (G.55 “Yellow 5” MM91087) scrambled late due to engine troubles and arrived on the scene when his companions were attacked by Thunderbolts. He tried to help them (spending twenty 20mm and thirty 12.7mm rounds), but was soon chased by two P-47s that forced him to escape westwards; he was left by them in the Val di Susa area, so he could return to his base at Venaria Reale.
In his logbook Torresi claimed two Liberators, one Boeing and one Thunderbolt probably shot down.
Totally it seems, however, that only two B-24s from the 304th Wing were lost during the day; one B-24 (42-52214) from 744th BS of the 456th BG (MACR 5640) and one B-24 (42-52195) from 453th BG (MACR 4632). The 325th FG didn’t sustain any losses.
Of the 45 P-47s from 325th FG only 17 reached Turin (4 aborted and 24 released their drop tanks when engaged with the ANR fighters over Genova). They claimed two G.55s and one damaged. Torresi was probably shot down by Second Lieutenant Donald J. McDonald (P-47 42-75823) of the 318th FS, who claimed a G.55 at 13:05 over Turin. The other claims were made by First Lieutenant Benjamin H. Emmert Jr. of the 318th FS (P-47D-15RE 42-75671), who claimed a G.55 south of Turin at 13:05 and Second Lieutenant Joseph W. Harper (P-47 42-75803/#90) of the 318th FS, who claimed a damaged G.55 at 13:00.
The three Fiat wrecks were recovered respectively on 30 March 2000 (MM91074), 5 August 2000 (MM91100) and 22 February 2003 (MM91101).

On 23 June, after recovery, Torresi became leader of the 3a Squadriglia, 1o Gruppo Caccia (where aircraft and pilots of the meanwhile disbanded Montefusco-Bonet were assigned).

On 1 July, Capitano Torresi on his first mission in his new unit led five MC.205s and six G.55s from Io Gruppo Caccia in a scramble from Reggio Emilia. While climbing, they were attacked by eleven P-47s of the 66th FS of the 57th FG eight miles to the south at 11:15.
The P-47s first attacked the four MC.205s on top-cover patrol and shot down two, killing Sergente Maggiore Luigi Boscaro (2a Squadriglia). Sottotenente Elio Pezzi managed, although wounded, to crash land his aircraft with 80% damage. Next aircraft to be shot down was the G.55 of Torresi, which crashed near Via Emilia, killing him. Maresciallo Romano Spazzoli (3a Squadriglia) baled out wounded. The last to fall was the MC.205 of Tenente Alessandro Beretta who parachuted safely.
The Italians claimed two enemy aircraft shot down, one of these being claimed by Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi at 11:16 at 600 meters height south-west of Reggio Emilia.
They had clashed with P-47s from the 66th FS, which claimed six destroyed 8 miles south of Reggio Landing Ground in the morning between 09:25 and 12:05 – two by Lieutenant Cleveland and one by Lieutenants Bettinger, Johnson, Davis and Rahn – and two damaged (both by Johnson). The Americans identified their opponents as ‘clipped-wing Bf 109s’.The Americans suffered just one Cat. 1 damage and two Cat. 2.

During the war Torresi was awarded with four Medaglie d’argento al valor militare (two in North Africa, one in Russia and one for the actions over South Italy). He was also decorated with a German Iron Cross, 2nd Class.

At the time of his death Torresi was credited with 6 biplane victories and a total of 10 in nineteen combats.
According to some sources he is only credited with 8 victories.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
1 29/06/40 06:40- 1 Blenheim (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tobruk 77a Squadriglia
2 29/06/40 06:40- 1 Blenheim (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tobruk 77a Squadriglia
3 23/07/40 17:40-18:20 1 Gladiator (b) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sidi Azeiz - Bardia 77a Squadriglia
4 24/07/40 16:00-18:05 1 Gladiator (c) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Bardia area 77a Squadriglia
5 09/12/40 08:30-09:30 1 Blenheim (d) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tobruk area 77a Squadriglia
6 09/12/40 08:30-09:30 1 Blenheim (d) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tobruk area 77a Squadriglia
  12/12/40 06:50-08:50 1/7 Hurricane (e) Shared damaged Fiat CR.42   Bardia area 77a Squadriglia
  1942                
  24/02/42 Afternoon 1/6 Soviet fighter Shared destroyed MC.200   Alexandrowka 362a Squadriglia
  24/02/42 Afternoon 1/6 Soviet fighter Shared destroyed MC.200   Alexandrowka 362a Squadriglia
  28/02/42 15:00 1/10 I-26 (f) Shared destroyed MC.200   Alexandrowka 362a Squadriglia
  28/02/42 15:00 1/10 I-26 (f) Shared destroyed MC.200   Alexandrowka 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (g) Shared destroyed MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (g) Shared destroyed MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (g) Shared destroyed MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (g) Shared probable MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  09/03/42   1/7 Soviet fighter (g) Shared probable MC.200   Mikhailowka area 362a Squadriglia
  1943                
7 10/04/43   1 B-24 Destroyed       362a Squadriglia
  10/04/43   1 B-24 Shared destroyed       362a Squadriglia
  10/04/43   1 B-24 Shared destroyed       362a Squadriglia
  10/04/43   1 B-24 Shared destroyed       362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
  28/04/43 13:30-14:45 1 B-24 Shared damaged Re.2005 "362-2" MM092345 off Naples 362a Squadriglia
8 11/07/43   1 Spitfire (h) Destroyed Re.2005   Syracuse - Cape Passero 362a Squadriglia
  11/07/43   1 Spitfire (h) Probable Re.2005   Syracuse - Cape Passero 362a Squadriglia
9 12/07/43 Evening 1 Spitfire (i) Destroyed Re.2005   Lentini - Pozzallo 362a Squadriglia
10 13/07/43   1 Spitfire (j) Destroyed Re.2005   Catania 362a Squadriglia
  1944                
  25/04/44   1 B-24 (k) Probable Fiat G.55 MM91100 ‘Yellow 1’ Turin area “Montefusco-Bonet” Gruppo
  25/04/44   1 B-24 (k) Probable Fiat G.55 MM91100 ‘Yellow 1’ Turin area “Montefusco-Bonet” Gruppo
  25/04/44   1 B-17 (k) Probable Fiat G.55 MM91100 ‘Yellow 1’ Turin area “Montefusco-Bonet” Gruppo
  25/04/44   1 P-47 (l) Probable Fiat G.55 MM91100 ‘Yellow 1’ Turin area “Montefusco-Bonet” Gruppo

Biplane victories: 6 destroyed and 1 shared damaged.
TOTAL: 10 and 10 shared destroyed, 5 and 2 shared probably destroyed, 11 shared damaged.
(a) Probably claimed in combat with Blenheims from 113 Squadron. Italian fighters claimed six and one probable. 113 Squadron lost three aircraft. L8436 flown by Pilot Officer Pike was damaged by flak and ditched; the crew became PoWs. L8447 flown by Flying Officer W. R. P. K. Mason was shot down in flames by fighters and the crew was killed. L8522 flown by Flight Sergeant R. H. Knott was shot down in flames by fighters and the crew was killed.
(b) Probably claimed in combat with Gladiators from 33 Squadron, which lost one when Pilot Officer Preston baled out. The 13a Gruppo claimed two Gladiators while getting four CR.42s damaged. The 10a Gruppo claimed one shared Gladiator without losses.
(c) Claimed in combat with Gladiators from 33 Squadron, which claimed four and one probably destroyed while losing one Gladiator. The 10o Gruppo claimed two or three destroyed and one damaged for the loss of one CR.42 and one damaged while the 13o Gruppo claimed one without losses.
(d) Possibly claimed in combat with Blenheims from 45 Squadron, which returned without damage.
(e) Probably Hurricane from 274 Squadron even if this unit didn’t report any clash with Fiat CR.42s during the day.
(f) I-26 = Yak-1.
(g) Identified as “I-18s”.
(h) Claimed in combat with Spitfires from 111 Squadron.
(i) Lieutenant K. Robinson of 40 SAAF Squadron shot down and killed.
(j) Possibly Sergeant Fran W. Bridger (Spitfire Mk.V ES282) of 93 Squadron shot down.
(k) Claimed in combat with B-24s from the 304th Wing. German and Italian fighters totally claimed at least eight B-24s, one B-17s, six P-38s and one P-47. Totally the 304th Wing lost two B-24s during the day; one B-24 (42-52214) from 744th BS of the 456th BG (MACR 5640) and one B-24 (42-52195) from 459th BG (MACR 4632).
(l) Claimed in combat with P-47s from the 325th FG, which didn’t suffer any losses.

Sources:
2o Stormo - Note storiche dal 1925 al 1975 - Gino Strada, 1975 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
25 Aprile 1944 – Ferdinando Pedriali, 2004 Storia Militare no. 129 (XII) June 2004 kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro.
33 Squadron Operations Record Book kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Air War Italy 1944-45 - Nick Beale, Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini, 1996 Airlife Publishing, Shrewbury, ISBN 1-85310-252-0
Ali Sulla Steppa: La Regia Aeronautica nella campagna di Russia – Nicola Malizia, 2008 IBN Editore, Roma, ISBN 88-7565-049-7
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
Army Air Forces
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Centauri su Torino - Giancarlo Garello, 1998 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
Dal Reggiane 2002 al 2005 - Sergio Govi, 1984 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan 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
Diario Storico 77a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Diario Storico 78a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Diario Storico 82a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Diario Storico 84a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Diario Storico 90a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Diario Storico 91a Squadriglia kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
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
G 55 e MC 205 a difesa di Torino - Ferdinando Pedriali, 2003 Storia Militare no. 116 (XI) May 2003 kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Gloster Gladiator – Bartlomiej Belcarz and Robert Peczowski, 1996 Monografie Lotnicze no. 24, AJ press, Gdynia
Gloster Gladiator Aces - Andrew Thomas, 2002 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-84176-289-X
Gloster Gladiator Home Page - Alexander Crawford.
Gloster Gladiator in action - W. A. Harrison, 2003 Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, ISBN 0-89747-450-3
GORIZIA ed il QUARTO STORMO
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
Il caccia RE 2001 - Sergio Govi, 1982 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Il Carmagnolese
Le giovani aquile – Antonio Trizzino, 1972 Longanesi Milano, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
La Regia Aeronautica - volume I: Dalla non belligeranza all'intervento – Nino Arena, 1981 USSMA, Rome kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Luftwaffe Claims Lists - Tony Wood
L'ultimo volo del mitico "Banana" – Roberto Ferrarese, 2003 Aerofan no. 87 Oct-Dec 2003, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma, kindly provided by Ludovico Slongo
Quelli del Gatto Nero - I 60 anni del 51o Stormo 1939-1999 - Nicola Malizia, 1998, Rimini, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Reggiane RE 2005 - Gregory Alegi, 2001 Ali d'Italia no. 16, La Bancarella Aeronautica, Turin, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario - Maurizio Di Terlizzi, 2001 IBN Editore Aviolibri No. 4, Roma, ISBN 88-86815-38-7
Reggiane RE 2005 "Sagittario" - Aldo Curti kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
Regia Aeronautica
Service record and log book of Generale S. A. Vittorio Minguzzi kindly provided by Carlo Minguzzi.
Spitfires over Sicily - Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia and Frederick Galea, 2000 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-32-2
Stars & Bars - Frank Olynyk, 1995 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-17-5
The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history – Graham Warner, 2002 Crécy Publishing Limited, Manchester, ISBN 0-947554-92-0
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Gloster Gladiator - Francis K. Mason, 1964 Macdonald & Co. Ltd. London
Those Other Eagles – Christopher Shores, 2004 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904010-88-1
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, Stefano Mencarelli, Carlo Minguzzi, Ondrej Repka and Ludovico Slongo.




Last modified 28 October 2013