Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Maresciallo Mario Veronesi

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

In October 1940, Veronesi served in 13o Gruppo, 2o Stomo CT in Cirenaica. The unit was this time equipped with Fiat CR.42s.

After some days of inactivity due to the incessantly blowing Ghibli wind, a big coordinated Italian action against Mersa Matruh was planned for 31 October. It was planned to use at least 50 SM 79s from the 9o Stormo, 14o Stormo and 33o Gruppo with an escort of 40 CR.42s from the 2o Stormo and 151o Gruppo to attack the British base and its different targets.
At 10:10, Menastir M was attacked by British bombers reported as ten Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys (in fact seven Blenheims from 55 Squadron and three from 84 Squadron). The bombers arrived from a northerly direction completely undetected and hit the parking area of the 93a Squadriglia with many small and medium calibre bombs launched from 3000 metres. The Squadriglia HQ hut was completely destroyed by a direct hit while four CR.42s were lightly damaged by splinters (RS) and one was heavily damaged (RD). The heavy damaged CR.42 was immediately taken to the S.R.A.M. of El Adem (according to other sources the RD Fiats were three and the RS Fiats were two). Luckily no losses were suffered by the personnel of 8o Gruppo.
At 10:15 (09:40 according with other sources), while the 9o Stormo formation was taxiing on Gambut airstrip, a formation of seven Blenheims from 211 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Gordon-Finlayson and two others from 84 Squadron suddenly appeared overhead. The British bombers had managed to approach undetected by gliding down from 3000 metres with turned off engines and bombed with extreme precision, destroying three bombers while three others remained RD and many others were less seriously damaged. Heavy were also the losses among 9o Stormo’s personnel, with two dead among 63a Squadriglia (Sergente Armiere Carlo Marchi and Primo Aviere Radiotelegrafista Eugenio Bonino).
Three fighters of the resident 82a Squadriglia scrambled after the bombers had turned on their Mercury engines. They were flown by Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Sergente Maggiore Dante Davico and Sergente Nino Campanini but they were unable to intercept.
Three fighters of the 78a Squadriglia also scrambled at 10:00. These were flown by Tenente Ippolito Lalatta, Sottotenente Luigi Cannepele and Sergente Ernesto Taddia. These were also unsuccessful and they landed back at base at 10:45.
Sergente Maggiore Roberto Marchi and Sottotenente Carlo Albertini of the 366a Squadriglia scrambled from the nearby Amseat A3 for the British bombers. While in pursuit an enemy fighter, identified as a Hurricane, crossed the path of Albertini, who spent 420 rounds on it. The aircraft escaped smoking heavily and Albertini, who landed at 10:45, was credited with a probable victory.
At 10:25, three CR.42s from 92a Squadriglia, 8o Gruppo, scrambled from Menastir M. The three fighters were flown by Sottotenente Luigi Uguccioni Sergente, Veronesi and Sergente Marcello Mosele. Veronesi intercepted a Hurricane which he claimed damaged with 150 rounds of ammunition. The three aircraft returned to base at 10:45.
It seems that both scrambles from 366a and 92a Squadriglie had been involved in combat with Hurricanes escorting the British bombers and in fact, 80 Squadron had put up eight Gladiators and two Hurricanes between 09:00 and 11:00 to patrol off Bardia at 15,000 feet and to cover bombers attacking Menastir and a target 38 miles west of Bardia (Gambut). The returning pilots didn’t report any encounter with Italian aircraft while returning 211 Squadron crews reported that an Italian CR.42 tried to follow them but after firing two bursts from 500 yards was set upon by a Gladiator and a Hurricane and last seen diving towards the ground with smoke trailing from it.

On 23 December, Sergente Maggiore Salvatore Mechelli and Sergente Veronesi were assigned to the 84a Squadriglia, 10o Gruppo.

At 09:15 on 26 December, eight Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron took off from the LG south-west of Sollum to escort a Lysander doing artillery reconnaissance over Bardia. The Lysander failed to appear. At approximately 14:05 (obviously during a third patrol) two flights of five SM 79s escorted by a number of CR.42s were observed a few miles north-east of Sollum Bay. A separate formation of 18 CR.42s was following the bomber formation and escort 2,000 feet higher as top cover. Two Gladiators attacked the bomber formation whilst the remainder climbed to meet the higher formation. The attack on the bombers was broken off when the higher formation attacked the Gladiators. In the ensuing combat, Flight Lieutenant Gordon Steege and Flying Officer Wilfred Arthur each claimed a destroyed (seen to fall into the sea) and a damaged CR.42. Flying Officer Peter Turnbull, Flying Officer John Perrin and Flying Officer Alan Rawlinson each claimed one probable.
The CR.42s were 14 fighters from the newly arrived 23o Gruppo led by the CO, Maggiore Tito Falconi and 22 CR.42s from the 10o Gruppo. The CR.42s from the 23o Gruppo included three from the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Claudio Solaro, Sergente Pardino Pardini and Tenente Gino Battaggion), five from the 74a Squadriglia (Capitano Guido Bobba, Tenente Lorenzo Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Sante Schiroli, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Marzocca (forced to return early due to a sudden illness) and Sergente Manlio Tarantino) and five from the 75a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Monti, Sottotenente Renato Villa, Sottotenente Leopoldo Marangoni and Maresciallo Carlo Dentis). The fighters from the the 10o Gruppo included seven from the 91a Squadriglia (Maggiore Carlo Romagnoli, Capitano Vincenzo Vanni, Capitano Mario Pluda, Sottotenente Andrea Dalla Pasqua, Sottotenente Ruggero Caporali, Sergente Maggiore Lorenzo Migliorato and Sergente Elio Miotto), nine from the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Luigi Monti, Tenente Antonio Angeloni, Sottotenente Luigi Prati, Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Domenico Santonocito, Sergente Corrado Patrizi, Sergente Piero Buttazzi, Sergente Luciano Perdoni and Sergente Veronesi) and six from the 90a Squadriglia (Tenente Giovanni Guiducci, Tenente Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Alessandro Rusconi, Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sergente Luigi Contarini and Sergente Giovanni Battista Ceoletta), which had taken off at 13:00.
They were escorting ten SM 79s from the 41o Stormo under Tenente Colonnello Draghelli and five SM 79s 216a Squadriglia, 53o Gruppo, 34o Stormo, led by Tenente Stringa. The SM 79s had taken off from M2 at 12:25 and attacked Sollum harbour’s jetty (reportedly hit) and two destroyers inside Sollum Bay (with poor results because of the heavy AA fire). AA from the ships hit four bombers from the 34o Stormo; one of them, piloted by Sottotenente Bellini had to force land close to Ain El Gazala with the central engine out of action. Returning pilots reported an attempt to intercept by some Gladiators but the escort repulsed the British fighters. They landed without further problems at 15:15.
Over the target, immediately after the bombing, the Italian fighters reported the interception of “enemy aircraft” alternatively “many Glosters” or “Hurricanes and Glosters”. The 70a Squadrigli pilots claimed a shared Hurricane, this was possibly an aircraft from 33 Squadron. This unit’s ORB reported that during the day’s patrols many SM 79s and CR.42s were intercepted with one CR.42 believed damaged. Two Gladiators confirmed and two probables were shared between the whole 10o Gruppo. Another Gladiator was assigned to the 23o Gruppo (in the documents of 75a Squadriglia but this is not confirmed by the other two Squadriglie). Many Glosters were claimed damaged by Tenente Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Schiroli, Sergente Tarantino, Sottotenente Marangoni, Tenente Calistri, Tenente Monti and Sottotenente Villa. The CR.42s were back between 14:30 and 15:05.
No Gladiators were lost even if three of them were damaged (all repairable within the unit). The Australians had done a very good job indeed, facing a formation four times more numerous (even if it seem improbable that all the Italian fighters were able to join the combat). From the Italian reports it seems that only the front sections of the escort (including the 74a, 75a and the 84a Squadriglie) were engaged in a sharp dogfight with the Gladiators. The Australians were able to shot down the CO of the 74a Squadriglia, Capitano Guido Bobba, who was killed when his fighter fell in flames into the sea and damaged Tenente Lorenzoni’s fighter, who landed at T2 (and came back to Z1 the day after). Three more CR.42s were damaged when Tenente Angeloni was forced to land at T5 before reaching Z1, Sergente Veronesi’s fighter was damaged and Sottotenente Prati was forced to make an emergency landing short of T2 (his fighter was reportedly undamaged and only suffering for a slight engine breakdown). Maggiore Falconi’s fighter was also heavily damaged but managed to return. The morning after Angeloni was able to return to Z1 with his aircraft.
Capitano Guido Bobba was awarded a posthumously Medaglia d’Argento al valor militare. He was replaced as CO of the 74a Squadriglia by Tenente Mario Pinna.

Raids on Gazala were carried out by 45 Squadron on 3 January 1941. During a morning raid, Sergente Veronesi was able to scramble from Z1 and intercept a couple of Blenheims, which he both claimed shot down (one into the sea) before landing in a damaged fighter.
These were two Blenheims from 45 Squadron, which were attacked at about 07:50 by a lone CR.42, which shot down one of them in flames into the sea. The returning crew (Flight Lieutenant Paine, Sergeant Holmans and Sergeant Edwards in aircraft no. 81) reported that the enemy was a "most persistent and first class pilot".
The lost Blenheim was L8479 (aircraft no. 79), which fell into the sea 10 miles from the coast with the complete loss of the crew; Flying Officer Peter James Bingham Griffiths (RAF no. 41016), 27-year-old Sergeant Arthur Charles Tadhunter (RAF no. 747976) and 19-year-old Sergeant Colin Blackshaw (RAF no. 612284).
Flight Lieutenant Paine’s Blenheim landed unserviceable owing to a large bullet hole through the centre of the main spar.

At 15:00 on 3 January, Maggiore Tito Falconi led four CR.42s of the 70a Squadriglia (Tenente Claudio Solaro, Tenente Gino Battaggion, Sergente Maggiore Balilla Albani and Sergente Cesare Sironi), five of the 74a Squadriglia (Tenente Mario Pinna, Tenente Lorenzo Lorenzoni, Sottotenente Sante Schiroli, Sergente Maggiore Raffaele Marzocca and Sergente Giuseppe Sanguettoli) and seven of the 75a Squadriglia (Tenente Pietro Calistri, Tenente Ezio Maria Monti, Sottotenente Giuseppe De Angelis, Sottotenente Renato Villa, Maresciallo Giovanni Carmello, Maresciallo Luigi Pasquetti and Sergente Leo Mannucci) in an escort mission for SM 79s attacking mechanized vehicles around Bardia. Fighters from the 10o Gruppo were also present including Sottotenente Bruno Devoto, Sergente Veronesi, Sergente Piero Buttazzi and Sergente Luciano Perdoni of the 84a Squadriglia and Sottotenente Neri De Benedetti, Sottotenente Orlando Mandolini, Sergente Luigi Contarini and Sergente Alfredo Sclavo of the 90a Squadriglia. Hurricanes were intercepted and two of them were claimed damaged by the 70a Squadriglia’s pilots. During the return journey, the CR.42s went down to strafe, claiming three armoured vehicles.
They landed back at 17:20.

On 16 July 1941, the 10o Gruppo moved to Trapani, Sicily to take part in the attacks on Malta. The unit was at this time operating MC.200s. In December 1941 they re-equipped with MC.202s.

In the afternoon on 12 May 1942, fifteen MC.202s from 4o Stormo and fifteen Re.2001s from 2o Gruppo provided escort for S.84s of 4o Gruppo Autonomo AS, which were out to bomb Takali were two Spitfires were damaged and two airmen wounded.
36 Spitfires and six Hurricanes were scrambled. During the ensuing combat Veronesi attacked a Spitfire, which was following a damaged Savoia and reported that it force-landed at Luqa. This was possibly Sergeant C. F. Bush of 126 Squadron in Spitfire Mk.Vc BR346, who was wounded in both legs and belly-landed at Luqa, crashing through some stonewalls at the perimeter of the airfield. Sergente Teresio Martinoli’s Macchi was hit in the tail by a Spitfire, although he was able to claim another shot down (this claim isn’t included in his logbook).
Italian fighters claimed five Spitfires, three probables and two damaged. RAF seems to have lost only two Spitfires in this combat.

On 19 May 10o Gruppo flew their last mission over Malta.

Having tested their MC.202s in action they returned to Italy to modify the fighters with sand filters, and on 26 May 1942 they left for a second tour of desert operations in North Africa.

In the morning on 12 June, 14 MC.202s from the 10o Gruppo led by the Gruppo commander Maggiore Paolo Tito Maddalena, together with German Bf 109s were escorting Luftwaffe Ju 87s to attack targets south-east of Acroma. At 3500 meters halfway between Ain el Gazala and Acroma the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Paolo Berti, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Sergente Roberto Ugazio and Sergente Piero Buttazzi) was attacked by three diving Spitfires. The formation broke up, while the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan and Sergente Gregorio Taverna) counter-attacked and scattered the Spitfires. Soon after this, these three pilots spotted a lone P-40, which was hit several times. The P-40 made a wheels-up landing at Gambut and was claimed as a shared victory. After this was, Taverna shot down by ground fire. Vanzan was also hit over Tobruk, but was able to return at Martuba. Meanwhile Lucchini, Buttazzi and Veronesi had met eleven RAF fighters (Spitfires and P-40s) north-east of El Adem. In the combat, they claimed a shared Spitfire and damaged many others.

On 3 July, 14 MC.202s of the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Luigi Giannella, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Sergente Luciano Perdoni, Sergente Piero Buttazzi and Sergente Livio Barbera) and the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Maresciallo Pietro Del Turco, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini, Sergente Maggiore Bruno Bortoletti, Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici and Sergente Maggiore Elio Trevisan) led by the 10o Gruppo commander Maggiore Paolo Tito Maddalena, were escorting 15 CR.42s of the 50o Stormo to attack trucks and troop-rests in the El Qasimija-El Ruweisat area.
During the attack, the Italians were jumped by 19 P-40s. After the dogfight, four P-40s were claimed; one each by Bignami, Veronesi, Barbera and Savini, and many others were damaged. During the action, Maddalena was MIA, probably shot down.

In the morning on the following day Capitano Franco Lucchini led six MC.202s of the 84a Squadriglia and six of the 90a Squadriglia over El Alamein. At 4500 m they met twenty Bostons escorted by many P-40 and Spitfires; at a lower level flew a formation of Hurribombers. Led by Lucchini, the Italians attacked both formations with success. Lucchini claimed a P-40, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini a Boston, Maresciallo Pietro Del Turco a Hurricane, Sottotenente Luigi Giannella a Spitfire, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi another Spitfire and a probable Boston, while a P-40 was shared by all in the Gruppo. In addition Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini and Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan claimed a fighter probable each while Lucchini, Sottotenente Paolo Berti and Sergente Livio Barbera damaged many others. Sottotenente Sforza Libera (90a Squadriglia) in his first combat mission, damaged a Spitfire.

On 16 July, Capitano Franco Lucchini led MC.202s of the 84a Squadriglia (Sottotenente Luigi Giannella, Sottotenente Paolo Berti, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Maresciallo Luigi Bignami and Sergente Corrado Patrizi), of the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini, Sottotenente Renalto Baroni, Sottotenente Sforza Libera, Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici and Sergente Sergente Giambattista Ceoletta) and of the 91a Squadriglia (Tenente Paolo Benedicti) to escort CR.42s. Over Deir el Qattara they intercepted ten Hurribombers flying at 500 m, escorted by ten P-40s at 2000 m, with fifteen of the same type at 5000 m and six Spitfires at 6000 m. The returning Italians claimed four P-40s; Berti and Veronesi one each, one shared by Lucchini, Giannella, Berti and Benedicti while the fourth also was claimed as a shared by Bignami, Veronesi, Piccolomini, Baroni and Monterumici. Many others were damaged. Baroni was wounded in the combat and with his MC.202 damaged, made an emergency landing at El Daba. Bignami was hit in the wings and on the windscreen. Berti was attacked by P-40s while returning home, but escaped. Lucchini’s aircraft was hit by five bullets, one of them piercing a fuel tank in left wing root but he was able to land at El Quteifiya, although stunned by fuel vapour.

At 06:45 on 18 July, eight MC.202s; four of the 84a Squadriglia (Capitano Franco Lucchini, Sottotenente Luigi Giannella, Sergente Maggiore Veronesi and Sergente Piero Buttazzi) and four of the 90a Squadriglia (Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini, Sottotenente Virgilio Vanzan, Sergente Maggiore Angelo Savini and Sergente Maggiore Amleto Monterumici), led by Lucchini, took off from Bu Amud for a "free hunt" mission. Over the front, they spotted nine P-40s escorted by eleven Hurricanes. The P-40s jettisoned their bombs over the El Qasaba area and tried to escape home eastward. The Italian fighters caught the Allied aircraft over Burg el Arab, 50 km east of El Alamein. A P-40 was claimed as a shared destroyed by Lucchini and Buttazzi, a second was claimed as a shared by Giannella and Veronesi, a third was claimed by Savini and a fourth was claimed jointly by Piccolomini, Vanzan and Monterumici.

In the afternoon on 22 July four MC.202 from the 84a Squadriglia and four from the 91a Squadriglia, led by Capitano Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa (commander of the 91a Squadriglia), were escorting some CR.42s towards El Ruweisat area. After the attack the Fiats were attacked by two formations of totally about thirty P-40s. The Italian fighters intercepted the P-40s but apparently no claims were made or any losses suffered.
Soon after, the MC.202s met eighteen Hurribombers escorted by 20 P-40s. In the combat one P-40 was claimed by Veronesi and a second was claimed as a shared by the 91a Squadriglia.

In the afternoon on 24 July eleven MC.202 of the 9o Gruppo (six from 96a Squadriglia and five from 97a Squadriglia) led by Maggiore Roberto Fassi and ten of the 10o Gruppo led by Maggiore Giuseppe D’Agostinis intercepted a reported twelve P-40s and twelve Spitfires at 6000 meters. Capitano Franco Lucchini and Sergente Maggiore Veronesi claimed a probable P-40 each. One more P-40 was claimed by the 9o Gruppo. Several others were claimed as damaged.

In August Veronesi probably returned to Italy and was assigned to training Gruppo "C" at Udine.

In March 1943 he returned to the 84a Squadriglia, which now were based at Bresso-Lonate Pozzolo, where 10o Gruppo was to reorganize after the withdrawal from North Africa.
In April, the Gruppo was transferred to Ciampino Sud and Furbara, for the defence of Rome.
In June the Gruppo was transferred to Catania, for the defence of Sicily.

The 84a Squadriglia, based at S. Salvatore airfield, received its first MC.205 Veltros on 29 June.

At the beginning of July Allied forces started to attack Sicily.

On 4 July sixty USAAF bombers, escorted by thirty-six P-38s and Spitfires, attacked the airfield of Gerbini Sud and the railway stations of Catania and Misterbianco.
Twenty-one MC.202s and MC.205s were scrambled and intercepted the bombers and their escort between Catania, Syracuse and Cape Passero. Capitano Ranieri Piccolomini and Sottotenente Renalto Baroni (90 a Squadriglia) claimed a shared P-38 in this combat while Sergente Maggiore Veronesi, Sottotenente Mario Squarcina (90 a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli claimed a P-38 each. Many other Allied aircraft were claimed damaged. No losses were suffered by the Italian fighters.

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 Massimo 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 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.

On 10 July, Allied troops landed in Sicily.

On 14 July the 10o Gruppo was ordered to retreat to Ciampino Sud. While flying there Sergente Maggiore Veronesi and Sottotenente Francesco Palma, flying in two MC.205s, met some P-38s in the Finocchiara area. After a brief dogfight, Palma claimed a Lightning probable destroyed.
This was the last recorded action for Veronesi in the Regia Aeronautica.

After the Armistice in September 1943 Veronesi enrolled the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, where he was assigned to the 1a Squadriglia of the Io Gruppo Caccia.

On 28 March 1944, B-24s from the 15th AF attacked Maestre and Verona rail-yards and railroad and highway bridges at Fano and Cassano while B-17s attacked Verona rail-yards. They are escorted by P-47s from the 325 FG and P-38s from the 1st and 82nd FG.
At 11:35, the whole Io Gruppo (53 MC.205s in two groups), led by Maggiore Adriano Visconti, scrambled from Campoformido to intercept B-17s and B-24s over the Polesine area.
The bombers are intercepted over valli di Comacchio and since the bombers were separated into two distinct formations, a direct north and one north-west, the Macchis attacked in two groups. The 1a (Capitano Giuseppe Robetto), 2a (Capitano Amedeo Guidi) and 3a Squadriglie (Tenente Renato Talamini) Squadriglie attacked the escorting P-38s while the Nucleo Comando (Visconti) attacked the bombers.
In the ensuing intercept Sergente Maggiore Veronesi (12:15 at 7000-1000m in the Polesine area) and Sergente Maggiore Giuseppe Marconcini (12:20 at 5500m) each claimed a B-24. The fighters clashed violently with the escorting fighters and six P-38s were claimed by Tenente Talamini (12:20 at 5000m), Tenente Gianni Levrini (12:20 at 6000m), Tenente Giuseppe Rosati (12:18 at 7600m), Sottotenente Remo Lugari (12:15 at 9000m), Sottotenente Giovanni Sajeva (12:10 at 6000-200m) and Tenente Giovanni Pittini (12:20 at 3000m). A seventh P-38 was claimed by Francesco Tonello of the 2a Squadriglia but this one was claimed at 10:30.
Two MC.205s were lost when Sergente Maggiore Alverino ‘Nino’ Capatti and Tenente Giovanni Pittini were shot down. Capatti was killed when his MC.205 crashed at Argenta, not far from Dogato (his birth-place) while Pattini managed to parachute with a severely wounded right foot. He landed in a ploughed field where managed to stop the bleeding before he was taken to Codigoro Hospital where his foot was amputated. Pittini took up flying again post-war.
During the battle at 8000 meters, Sajeva had some troubles with his Drager Auer oxygen delivering system, so he had to descend to 4000 meters. At 5000 meters, however he intercepted a P-38, which probably had some troubles and was heading south to return home. The P-38 didn’t take any evasive action and Sajeva hit the right engine, which caught fire. The American made an emergency landing in a field near Massalombarda over-watched by Sajeva, who then returned home. The Germans took prisoner the pilot, a 20-years-old Canadian (?) Lieutenant.
Two P-38s were in fact lost when 2nd Lieutenant James L. Rodolff (42-67067/MACR3642) and 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth E. Hartwig (42-67035/MACR3580) of 27th FS, 1st FG, were shot down and taken PoWs. A third P-38 was also lost during this mission but this was probably due to engine problems when 2nd Lieutenant David V. Weber (O-753766) of 97th FS, 82nd FG crashed into water and drowned when returning on one engine.
20 miles north-west of Ferrara between 09:30-14:20, one MC.202 was claimed by 1st Lieutenant Arthur Larkin of 96th FS, 82nd FG, one Bf 109 was claimed by Captain John S. Litchfield of 97th FS, 82nd FG and one Bf 109 was claimed as a damaged by Lieutenant Alphonse J. Mikes of the 97th FS.

On 1 July, Capitano Giulio Torresi on his first mission as commander of the 3a Squadriglia 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 the pilot. 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.

In November 1944, Italian pilots were training on Bf 109s. During this time Maggiore Adriano Visconti was contacted by the OKL, which proposed the training of a group of Italian pilots on the Me 163 Komet in preparation for the probable allocation of this rocket-powered interceptor to the Italians. This was an irresistible offer and Visconti asked for volunteers. Only single men were allowed since the training was so hazardous and seventeen pilots were chosen.
The pilots involved were: Capitano Giuseppe Robetto, Tenente Gian Mario Zuccarini, Tenente Lucio Stramese, Tenente Giuseppe Biron, Sottotenente Aurelio Morandi, Sottotenente Raffaele Marzocca, Sottotenente Franco Storchi, Sottotenente Roberto Di Lollo, Maresciallo Luigi Jellici, Maresciallo Silvio Girolami, Maresciallo Danilo Billi, Maresciallo Romano Spazzoli, Sergente Maggiore Gino Pizzati, Sergente Maggiore Mario Veronesi, Sergente Maggiore Giampiero Svanini, Sergente Maggiore Isonzo Baccarini and Sergente Dante Toselli.
Under the command of Capitano Giuseppe Robetto, Second-in-Command of Io Gruppo Caccia, they transferred during early December to Rangsdorf (Berlin) where they were to train on gliders between 5 to 30 December. The gliders used were the two-seater Kranich, the single-seater Grunau and the Habicht 14, 8 and 6 (the number indicates the wing-span in meters). The Habicht 6 was similar in handling to the Me163 during un-powered flight.
After almost three hours of gliding, the Italians were transferred from Rangsdorf to Liegnitz were they finally saw the Komet for the first time. However bad weather and the Russian advance didn't allow any of the Italian pilots to ever fly the Me163 and the pilots returned to Italy at the beginning of February 1945.

On 10 April 1945 he took of together with two more pilots from Io Gruppo Caccia Gallarate in three Bf 109Gs. In the Milan-Lake Como area they intercepted four weather reconnaissance P-47s from the 65th FS, 57th FG. In the short engagement that followed, the Americans damaged Maresciallo Veronesi's Bf 109G-14/AS (Werk. Nr. 785990, '1-7') and Sottenente Gallori's Bf 109K-4 (Werk. Nr. 333878, '3-14'). Maresciallo Forlani claimed a P-47 damaged in return.

Veronesi ended the war with 2 biplane victories and a total of 11.
During the war he flew about 700 hours during the war and took part in 40 combats.
He was decorated with the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare, the Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare and a German Iron Cross, 2nd Class.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940                
  31/10/40 10:25-10:45 1 Hurricane (a) Damaged Fiat CR.42   Mersa Matruh 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared destroyed Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  26/12/40 13:00-15:05 1/22 Gladiator (b) Shared probable Fiat CR.42   Sollum area 84a Squadriglia
  1941                
1 03/01/41   1 Blenheim (c) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Gazala area 84a Squadriglia
2 03/01/41   1 Blenheim (c) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Gazala area 84a Squadriglia
  1942                
3 12/05/42   1 Spitfire (d) Destroyed MC.202   Luqa 84a Squadriglia
  12/06/42   1/3 Spitfire Shared destroyed MC.202   NE El Adem 84a Squadriglia
4 03/07/42   1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   El Qasimija-El Ruweisat area 84a Squadriglia
5 04/07/42 morning 1 Spitfire Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 84a Squadriglia
  04/07/42 morning 1 Boston Probable MC.202   El Alamein area 84a Squadriglia
  04/07/42 morning 1/12 P-40 (e) Shared destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 84a Squadriglia
6 16/07/42   1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   Deir el Qattara area 84a Squadriglia
  16/07/42   1/5 P-40 Shared destroyed MC.202   Deir el Qattara area 84a Squadriglia
  18/07/42   ½ P-40 Shared destroyed MC.202   Burg el Arab area 84a Squadriglia
7 22/07/42   1 P-40 Destroyed MC.202   El Alamein area 84a Squadriglia
  24/07/42   1 P-40 Probable MC.202   North Africa 84a Squadriglia
  1943                
8 04/07/43   1 P-38 Destroyed Macchi   Catania - Syracuse - Cape Passero 84a Squadriglia
9 05/07/43   1 P-38 (f) Destroyed Macchi   Gela - Enna - Caltagirone 84a Squadriglia
  1944                
10 28/03/44 12:15 1 B-24 (g) Destroyed MC.205   Polesine area 1a Squadriglia
11 01/07/44   1 P-47 (h) Destroyed MC.205   SW Reggio Emilia 1a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 2 and 2 shared destroyed, 2 shared probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 11 and 6 shared destroyed, 2 and 2 shared probably destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) Probably claimed in combat with Hurricane from 80 Squadron, which didn’t report any losses.
(b) Claimed in combat with Gladiators from 3 RAAF Squadron, which claimed 2 and 3 probables without any losses, and possibly Hurricanes from 33 Squadron, which claimed a damaged CR.42 during the day. The 23o Gruppo claimed 1 Hurricane and 1 Gladiator and the 10o Gruppo claimed 2 and 2 probable Gladiators while losing one CR.42 and getting five more damaged.
(c) Probably claimed in combat with two Blenheims of 45 Squadron. Blenhiem L8479 shot down and the crew of Flying Officer Peter James Bingham Griffiths, Sergeant A. C. Tadhunter and Sergeant C. Blackshaw, were all KIA.
(d) Possibly Sergeant C. F. Bush of 126 Squadron in Spitfire Mk. Vc BR346, who was wounded in both legs and belly-landed at Luqa, crashing through some stone walls at the perimeter of the airfield.
(e) Claimed as a shared by the whole 10o Gruppo.
(f) This claim can’t be verified with USAAF records.
(g) Claimed in combat with bombers from the 15th AF, which didn’t suffer any losses.
(h) This claim can’t be verified with USAAF records.

Sources:
Air War Italy 1944-45 - Nick Beale, Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini, 1996 Airlife Publishing, Shrewbury, ISBN 1-85310-252-0
Aprile 1945 - Gli ultimi giorni del I Gruppo Caccia - Giancarlo Garello, 1998 Aerofan no. 66, Jul-Sep 1998 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan, kindly provided by Stefan Lazzaro
Assi Italiani Della Caccia 1936-1945 - Giovanni Massimello, 1999 Aerofan no. 69 apr.-giu. 1999, Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milan
Courage Alone - Chris Dunning, 1998 Hikoki Publications, Aldershot, ISBN 1-902109-02-3
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
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring, 1969 Neville Spearman Limited, London
Hurricanes over Tobruk - Brian Cull with Don Minterne, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-11-X
Il Savoia Marchetti S.M. 79 nel Secondo Conflitto Mondiale - Bombardamento Terrestre - Ricognizione Strategica - Aviazione Sahariana – Cesare Gori, 2003 USSMA, Rome, kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro
L'Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana - Nino Arena, 1996 Ermanno Albertelli Editore, Parma, 1996, ISBN 88-85909-49-3, kindly provided by Stefan Lazzaro
Luftwaffe Claims Lists - Tony Wood
Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-16-X
Quelli del Cavallino Rampante - Antonio Duma, 1981 Editore Dell'Ateneo, Roma
Shark Squadron - The history of 112 Squadron 1917-1975 - Robin Brown, 1994 Crécy Books, ISBN 0-947554-33-5
The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history – Graham Warner, 2002 Crécy Publishing Limited, Manchester, ISBN 0-947554-92-0
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Messerschmitt 109 in Italian service 1943-1945 - Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini, 1989 Monogram Aviation Publication kindly provided by Jean Michel Cala
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 Ian Acworth, Ferdinando D’Amico, Russell Guest, Ian Hodkinson, Stefano Lazzaro, Laurent Rizzotti, Flavio Silvestri and Ludovico Slongo.




Last modified 17 December 2013