Italian ACES WW II
 

Robert Cunningham

Italian Regia Aeronautica pilots fought in World War" campaigns throughout the Mediterranean area, in Africa, and, of course, in defense of Italy itself. Some even supported the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

After the Armistice in September 1943, the new Italian government formed the Co-Belligerent Air Force to aid the Allies; thus, some of the ex-Regia Aeronautica pilots had the remarkable experience of fighting both against and for the Western Allies. Others made their way to northern Italy, where the Republica Sociale Italiana, a new Fascist state, was rapidly building an air force to carryon the resistance.

Capitano FRANCO LUCCHINI

One of Italy's top-scoring aces of World War II, Franco Lucchini became an ace in Spain while fighting with the Asso di Bastoni (Ace of Clubs) Cruppo. When the war broke out in Africa, he was flying a biplane Fiat C.R.42 with the 4° Stormo and took part in the first aerial engagement with the British in June1940. Fighting throughout the next three years in the desert and over Malta and Sicily, he downed 20 aircraft and was credited with damaging or destroying 52 additional aircraft, most in strafing raids. He was killed while flying a Macchi 202 against an American B-17 raid. He was credited with downing one of the escort fighters before falling prey to the heavy fire of the B-17s.

Maggiore ADRIANO VISCONTI


Adriano Visconti, who flew Macchi 202s in Libya and Tunisia and 205s in Sicily, earned 19 victories while flying with the Regia Aeronautica before the 1943 Armistice. Afterwards, he joined the newly formed RSI air force's 1° Cruppo and, in 1945, became the commander. He claimed another seven victories, tying Lucchini's score of 26. Visconti was murdered in 1945 by Italian anti-Fascist partisans in Milan.

Capitano FRANCO BORDONI-BISLERI


Franco Bordoni-Bisleri's first operations were flown, without success, over the English Channel in a C.R.42 biplane. He began to score after he was sent to support the hard-pressed Italian units in Libya. By early 1941, he had downed four British Blenheim bombers and a fighter. Posted back to Italy, he saw no action until late 1942, when he was returned to Africa. Then during the Axis retreat from EI Alamein, he shot down six fighters and a light bomber.

Shortly afterward he was badly injured in an auto accident and saw no further combat until 1943. Then, he was assigned to Cerveteri, where he flew the new Macchi 205 fighter in defense of Rome against U.S. heavy-bomber attacks. He shot down seven U.S. aircraft, six of which were B-17 Flying Fortresses. His last claim, made less than a week before the armistice, brought his score to 19. Bordoni-Bisleri was the highest scoring Italian ace to survive the war.

Capitano MARIO VISENTINI


The most successful Italian ace in the East African campaign, Mario Visentini, is best known for rescuing his commander, who was forced down after strafing a British airfield. Landing his C.R.42 in British territory beside his commander's aircraft, he quickly threw off his parachute to make room for the commander in the Fiat's cockpit. With the commander safely aboard, Visentini sat in his lap and flew the aircraft back to their base.

Capitano Franco Lucchini (5 in Spain) ……………..

Maggiore Adriano Visconti (7 with RSI) ……………

Sottotenente Leonardo Ferrulli (1 in Spain) ……….

Sergente Maggiore Teresio Martinoli ………………

Capitano Franco Bordoni-Bisleri ……………………

Sergente Luigi Gorrini (4 with RSI) …………………

Capitano Mario Visentini …………………………….

Colonello Mario Bonzano (all in Spain) ……………

Colonello Duilio Fanali ………………………………

Tenente Luigi ………………………………………...

Tenente Adriano Mantelli (all in Spain) ……………

Capitano Mario Bellagambi (all with RSI) ….……..

Capitano Ugo Drago (all with RSI) ………………...

Capitano Vasco Magrini …………………………….

Capitano Angelo Mastrogostino ……………………

The leading Italian aces

26

26

22

22

19

19

17

15

15

12

12

11

11

11

11

Fiat C.R. 42

Macchi M.C. 205 v