Biplane fighter aces

Italy

Tenente Colonnello Fernando Zanni

19 July 1902 –

Fernando Zanni was born on 19 July 1902.

On 29 September 1927, he was commissioned (in Servizio Permanente Effettivo).

He served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War.

He was promoted to Tenente Colonnello on 1 July 1940.

In October 1940, Tenente Colonnello Zanni was commander of 160o Gruppo Autonomo C.T., which was equipped with Fiat CR.42s and Fiat G.50bis. The unit was at this time operating over Greece.

On 30 October five CR.42s from 393a Squadriglia led by the 160o Gruppo commander Tenente Colonnello Zanni intercepted a pair of Greek Henschel Hs126s from 3 Mira as they were making for the lines. Sergente Maggiore Walter Ratticchieri at once attacked and shot down one, while Tenente Colonello Zanni gained hits on the other before it escaped into cloud, obviously heavily damaged.
Both Greek aircraft were lost. The one flown by Hiposminagos Evangelos Yiannaris crashed near the village of Vassiliada, where the pilot was killed. This was the Elleniki Vassiliki Aeroporia's (Royal Hellenic Air Force's) first official casualty of the war. The other Henschel also failed to return and Anthyposminagos Lazaros Papamichael and Corporal Constantinos Gemenetris being posted missing, fate unknown.
Several of the Fiats were damaged by return fire from the Henschel gunners.

In the beginning of November 1941 and at the eve of the British offensive Operation Crusader, Tenente Colonnello Fernando Zanni still served as CO of the 160o Gruppo C.T. This unit was still equipped with CR.42s and Fiat G.50s and based at Benghazi K2.

Zanni ended the war with 1 biplane victory.
During the war, he was decorated with the Medaglia d’argento al valor militare, the Croce al merito di guerra, the Medaglia a ricordo dell’ Unità d’Italia, the Medaglia commemorativa della campagna di Spagna and the Medaglia di benemerenza per i volontari della guerra Spagna.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1940              
1 30/10/40 1 Hs 126 (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Greece 393a Squadriglia

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Italian pilots claimed one destroyed and one damaged Henschel Hs126. 3 Mira lost two aircraft when one Hs126 flown by Hiposminagos Evangelos Yiannaris crashed near the village of Vassiliada, where the pilot was killed and the other Hs126 also failed to return with Anthyposminagos Lazaros Papamichael and Corporal Constantinos Gemenetris being posted missing, fate unknown.

Sources:
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-07-0
Annuario Ufficiale Delle Forze Armate Del Regno D’Italia Anno 1943. Part III Regia Aeronautica – 1943 Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, Roma




Last modified 29 August 2013