Biplane fighter aces


Tenente Piero Vodret

30 March 1918 -

Date Decoration Note
??/??/55 Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare 1940-43
??/??/?? Croce di guerra al valor militare 1940-43

Piero Vodret was born on 30 March 1918 and was from Cagliari.

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

He was promoted to Tenente on 6 February 1941.

Between 15:50-17:50 on 4 June 1942, nine CR.42s of the 50o Stormo; five from the 388a Squadriglia and four from the 390a Squadriglia, 159o Gruppo (Capitano Cerutti, (CO of the 158o Gruppo), Baino, Sandroni, D’Alanno, Sergente Maggiore Pietro Bartolozzi, Tenente Vodret, Ferraro, Rigetti and Sergente Maggiore Francesco Marcati) took off from Derna El Ftheiah and attacked enemy armoured and motorized forces in the immediate vicinity of Bir Hacheim.
Nine MC.202s from the 17o Gruppo (four from the 72a Squadriglia and five from the 80a Squadriglia) provided the cover (16:00-17:25) and were led by Capitano Clizio Nioi. Once the bombs had been dropped and the strafing completed at 17:05, the Fiats of the 388a Squadriglia that were coming out of the dive were attacked by enemy fighters. Six Spitfires and eight P-40s were seen (exactly the number of the counterpart). Sergente Maggiore Francesco Marcati (390a Squadriglia, MM8527) and Sergente Maggiore Pietro Bartolozzi (388a Squadriglia, MM5059) were shot down; the former did not bale out and lost his life, but the latter baled safely and was taken prisoner. Another two were hit by anti-aircraft fire. The 17o Gruppo in their turn intervened to protect the CR.42s and the pilots of the 72a Squadriglia returned claiming damaged to three enemy aircraft (250 rounds) while Capitano Nioi (80a Squadriglia, 150 rounds) and Maresciallo Bruno Castellani (80a Squadriglia, 60 rounds) fired at three aircraft, observing hits on one of them (credited as a shared damaged). Additional MC.202s of 96a Squadriglia were present in the area on a free sweep (16:10-17:45) but they seem not have run into the enemy.
The whole of 233 Wing scrambled for another Stuka party over Bir Hacheim between 17:20-18:40. Six Kittyhawks of 260 Squadron clashed with four CR.42s protected by six Bf l09s or Macchi MC.202s and claimed one CR.42 (Flying Officer John Waddy in AL198).
Eight Tomahawks of 5 SAAF Squadron came across six CR.42s and two Bf l09s at 18:00.

“Capt. Botha [AN448/GL-H] was after a CR.42 when he was forced to avoid four of own AC all filling the atmosphere with lead. The CR 42 did a slow roll off the top of the four and Capt. Botha shot him down in flames.”
4 SAAF Squadron was covering 5 SAAF Squadron with four Tomahawks. Lieutenant Malcom Peter Ironside (AN452KJ-M) reported three CR.42s and a Bf l09 jettisoning their bombs. He observed a CR.42 but while attempting to turn into it he was attacked by a Bf l09 F. On out-turning this, he then saw a CR.42 being attacked by three other fighters. As they broke away, he fired a two-second burst and then a three-second burst at it from quarter astern, ”and a red flash was seen in the cockpit, it had the appearance of a red Very Light.” Part of the right side of the engine cowling broke off. On banking round, he saw an aircraft burning on the ground. Lieutenant Abraham Chad Paterson (AN462/KJ-K?) reported:
“…Met up with 3+ CR.42s which jettisoned their bombs. At least 5 of us fired at one of these. I was last to fire and saw it go down afterwards. In own opinion, I must have killed the pilot. I was rather discouraged by others when I said that, so I made no claim”

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.

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.

A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume Two – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, Frank Olynyk & Winfried Bock, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN-13: 9781909166127
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
Eagles over Gazala: Air Battles in North Africa May-June 1942 – Michele Palermo, IBN Editore, ISBN (10) 88-7565-168-X
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell' A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
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 18 August 2021