Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Piero Vodret

30 March 1918 -

Piero Vodret was born on 30 March 1918.

On 1 October 1939, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

He was promoted to Tenente on 6 February 1941.

On 4 June 1942, the 17o Gruppo was tasked with the close cover of CR.42s of the 50o Stormo out to dive bomb enemy armoured troops in the Bir Hakeim area. At 16:00 nine planes took off (four from the 72a Squadriglia and five from the 80a Squadriglia) led by Capitano Clizio Nioi. Many P-40s and Spitfires attacked the CR 42s and the Macchis counterattacked, claiming to have damaged six with the use of 210 rounds of ammunition. It seems that Macchis from the 96a Squadriglia, 9o Gruppo were also present and they also claimed to have engaged around 20 P-40s, damaging many of them. The Italian escort formation was back at 17:25.
This was the second mission of the day for the 50o Stormo, when eight pilots (Capitano Cerutti, (CO of the 158o Gruppo), Baino, Sandroni, D’Alanno, Sergente Maggiore Pietro Bartolozzi, Tenente Vodret, Ferraro, Rigetti and Sergente Maggiore Francesco Marcati), who had taken off at 15:50 from Derna El Ftheiah, were surprised by RAF fighters at 17:05 over the Commonwealth stronghold. Two CR.42s were shot down; MM5059 of the 388a Squadriglia piloted by Sergente Maggiore Bartolozzi (POW) and MM8572 of the 390a Squadriglia piloted by Sergente Maggiore Marcati, (KIA). The CR.42 were unaware of the presence of the escort and believed they had operated alone.
At 17:20, six Kittyhawks of 260 Squadron scrambled to intercept enemy planes over Bir Hakeim. Here they met four CR.42s escorted by six Bf 109s or Macchi 202s and claimed a CR.42 shot down (Flying Officer John Lloyd Waddy in AL198) and a second damaged. They landed back at 18:40.
The three South-African Squadrons (2, 4 and 5) scrambled also at 17:20 against axis planes over Bir Hakeim. Eight Tomahawks of 2 SAAF Squadron led by Major Human offered intermediate cover to the other units and were jumped by four Bf 109s while they were observing the attack of some Stukas. A dogfight followed and Lieutenant De Waal claimed to have shot down an enemy fighter and damaged a second. The three surviving Bf 109s continued to attack all the way back to base, Lieutenant Burdon (AK611/DB-B) was hit and forced to crash-land but was able to abandon the plane before it burst into flames; he also claimed an enemy plane damaged. The unit was back at 18:40.
5 SAAF Squadron reported the presence of six CR.42s and two Bf 109s (clearly misidentified Macchis), but didn’t note anything else. 4 SAAF Squadron didn’t record anything. Considering the timing and the fact that they belonged to the same Wing it is probable that 260 Squadron and the South Africans took part in the same action.
33 Squadron took part in the second afternoon action together with 274 Squadron and recorded an engagement with four Bf 109s and two Macchis. Many pilots hit enemy fighters without claiming any victories, one Hurricane was slightly damaged. Strangely, the ORB of 274 Squadron only recorded a single action during the day at 19:10 that should had been the last action for the day, without reporting the presence of 33 Squadron nor any combat.
Between 17:35 and 18:35, four Kittyhawks of 112 Squadron were out on a ground attack mission, presumably over the same area, Pilot Officer Eric Atkinson failed to return but it seems that he fell victim of AA fire. Considering the complete lack of claims from the Luftwaffe in the afternoon it seems that the loss of Burdon was caused by the Macchis, even if it is not possible to establish by which unit (17o or 9o Gruppi).
Anyway, it seems that the Macchis were not able to adequately cover the CR 42s.

Tenente Piero Vodret became CO of the 391a Squadriglia of 159o Gruppo, 50o Stormo Assalto after the death of Tenente Eugenio Antonelli. This unit was equipped with Fiat CR.42s and operating over North Africa in the ground attack role.

Between 14.10 and 15.05 on 27 October 1942 a formation of five CR.42s from the Squadriglia (equipped with three aircraft of their own and two borrowed from 389a and 390a Squadriglie) attacked armoured vehicles in the Tell el Tisa area. In this area the 9th Australian Division with support from 51st British Division and 1st British Armoured Division was attacked by the 164th German division at the Kidney Ridge. The 15th Panzer Division and the Littorio Division supported the German division.
The Squadriglia became heavily engaged by enemy fighters and in the ensuing combat one P-40 was claimed by Tenente Vodret who also claimed a second as a damaged. His aircraft was then hit in the oil cooler and he was forced to make an emergency landing at El Ostegia. Tenente Jadanza claimed a P-40 and a second as a damaged while Sottotenente Marini claimed a damaged.

This was the last successful combat of the Squadriglia, which was withdrawn to Italy on 15 January 1943 to be re-equipped with Fiat G.50bis

In 1943, he still served in the 50o Stormo.

Tenente Piero Vodret remained as CO of the 391a Squadriglia until the Armistice.
During the war, he was decorated with the Croce di Guerra al valor militare.

Vodret ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 27/10/42 14:10-15:05 1 P-40 Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Tell el Tisa area 391a Squadriglia
  27/10/42 14:10-15:05 1 P-40 Damaged Fiat CR.42   Tell el Tisa area 391a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed, 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed, 1 damaged.

Ali d'Africa - Michele Palermo and Ludovico Slongo, 2009 IBN Editore, ISBN 88-7565-060-8
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma
La 391a Squadriglia Assalto da Bir Hacheim ad Augusta (1942-1943) - Ferdinando Pedriali, 1980 Aerofan Lug./Set. 1980.
Additional information kindly provided by Stefano Lazzaro.

Last modified 08 April 2015