Initial Italian losses.

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Bronsky
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Initial Italian losses.

Postby Bronsky » 09 Jan 2006 18:53

When Italy declared war, the French air force was very active and launched a number of raids against Italian targets. Not particularly impressive, of course, the only reason why I call it "aggressive" is because of the parlous state of the French bomber command by that state.

I was wondering if Italian sources provide information about the result of these raids. Here's a list. When there are two figures provided for the number of bombers, the figure in parenthesis corresponds to bombers effectively attacking, the others turning back or not finding the target.

1. Raids from metropolitan France:

12 June (evening): 4(2) LeO 451 attack Novi Ligure airfield.
13/14 June (night): 8(1) Bloch 210 attack Valdo Ligure fuel depot (one aircraft lost on landing)
14 June (evening): 3 LeO 451 attack the Turin Fiat factories (one lost on landing)
15 June: 6(3) Bloch 210 attack Novi Ligure. Only one finds the airfield, another bombs the Savone port, the third a railroad near Varazze (probably empty countryside).
17 June: 10 LeO 451 & Bloch 210 bomb 5 (!) different targets: the Fiat and Aeritalia factories in Turin, the airfield and fuel depot in Coni, as well as Novi-Ligure.

A total of 26 sorties was ordered, 18 aircraft attacked, losing 2 Bloch 210 and 1 LeO 451. The results were probably insignificant but I'd like confirmation.

2. Raids from French North Africa

15 June: 6 Martin 167F (Marylands, in RAF parlance) bomb Tripoli
16 June: 6 Martin 167F bomb the Cagliari seaplane base
19 June: 6 Martin 167F bomb the Zuara airfield (near Tripoli)
22 June: 27(25) DB-7 (A-20's for the USAAF, Boston I's for the RAF) attack various targets in Trapani (port, fuel tanks, barracks). Flak is nonexistant and the handful of defending CR-42's don't come close (probably can't), so the attack is described as going on "exactly by the book" at 3,500m.
23 June(1): 4(3)+1 LeO451 attack Palermo and Massala, one is lost on landing.
23 June(2): 9(3) Martin 167F attack the port of Zuara and claim one freighter and one fuel depot left burning.
23 June(3): 7 DB-7 bomb Palermo
24 June: 3 Martin 167F attack Zuara, 9 DB-7 attack Cagliari.

I would be particularly interested in the results of the Zuara attacks, as well as that of the big attack against Trapani (Sicily). Someone on the comandosupremo.com forum told me that the French attacks on (can't remember if it was Cagliari or Trapani, I have that somewhere) destroyed a half-dozen Cant Z-501 seaplanes, and I know that the "freighter left burning" must have been a 440 ton ship (now that's a big one ! :-) ) from the Allied account of Axis losses in the British official history. But I would really like to know about the damage to installations - if any - and other results.

Thanks in advance

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Re: Initial Italian losses.

Postby Davide Pastore » 09 Jan 2006 19:14

Bronsky wrote:I would be particularly interested in the results of the Zuara attacks, as well as that of the big attack against Trapani (Sicily). Someone on the comandosupremo.com forum told me that the French attacks on (can't remember if it was Cagliari or Trapani, I have that somewhere) destroyed a half-dozen Cant Z-501 seaplanes


Starting from this one: a single bomb hit a hangar at Elmas, destroying seven planes (four of 183ª and three of 188ª) with 4 deads and 17 wounded. Actually all the air units had been since the very first day under rigorous orders of being decentered during parking, but the planes had been temporarily put together - just a few hours - for painting over the rudder the new white cross, as per an urgent order of the day before.

Davide

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Re: Initial Italian losses.

Postby Davide Pastore » 09 Jan 2006 19:57

Bronsky wrote:I was wondering if Italian sources provide information about the result of these raids.


Actually the official Italian Regia Aeronautica History (by Nino Arena) lists a bigger number of "French" (very probably including some RAF ones) "attacks" (very probably including also recon and strafing missions, if not simple false alarms):

12 June - Roma, Gaeta, Livorno, La Spezia, Genova, Piacenza, Milano (probably all RAF)
13 - Albenga, Finalmarina, Sanremo
14 - Elmas, Genova, Milano, Firenze, Marghera, Livorno, Albenga, Savona, Roma (probably most of them RAF)
15 - n/a
16 - Savona (1 killed, 1 wounded), Livorno, Elmas, Sanremo, Cuno, Alba, Mondovì
17 - Albenga (5 k, 11 w), Genova, Villanova
18 - Cagliari, Livorno, Savona, La Maddalena, Albenga, Cuneo, Fossano, Mellea, Ospedaletti, Borgioverezzi
19 - Bir el Bhera, Zuara, Punta Albaro, Ventimiglia, Finalmarina, Diano Marina, Bordighera, Ventimiglia, Alghero (2 CR.32 damaged), Torralba
20 - n/a
21 - Aosta, Imperia, Fiano
22 - Cagliari
23 - Zuara, Sassari, Savona, Livorno, Finalmarina (Piaggio factory hit)
24 - Palermo, Trapani, Zuara, and one unidentified target in Sardegna

Very few details, except the handful of losses listed above.

Actually the worst damage was caused on the very first day by 36 RAF Whitley on the night of 12/13 June, 15k and 30w at Torino (Fiat hit).

Davide

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Re: Initial Italian losses.

Postby Bronsky » 12 Jan 2006 16:13

Let's see if we can reconcile both lists. When a date is e.g. 1/2 June, it refers to a night mission. I copied material from a post on Usenet I made some years ago (can't get my hands on the source that I got it from, though I could have sworn that I didn't lend it ! Where has the stupid thing gone ?) so some of this isn't about Italian losses from French bombing raids, but it might add some "couleur locale" to the list :-)

11 June: both sides launch various recon missions. In a rather ominous beginning, the first is an Italian mission which is aborted after 4 hours of flight, due to bad weather (another plane was sent later and completed the mission).

11/12 June: 36 Whitleys sent from Britain (10,51,77 a,d 102 squadrons), refuelling on the channel islands, 9 bombed Turin, 2 Genoa, both cities with all lights on, and Genoa's stayed on. 14 civilians are killed in Turin, some buildings are destroyed. Your source says 15 killed and 30 wounded, plus target (Fiat factory) hit. The other bombers don't find their target, due to bad weather and poor night flying skills.

Apparently, some Italian sources claim that there were some 99 sq Wellingtons based at Salon (southern France) which the French prevented from taking off out of fear of reprisals. Don't know whether it's true or not.

Davide wrote:12 June - Roma, Gaeta, Livorno, La Spezia, Genova, Piacenza, Milano


For June 12th, the Italians decide that they have to do something, and send 21 SM-79's from gruppi 27 & 28 based in Sardinia to bomb Bizerte (Tunisia). These are veteran crews from the Spanish Civil War, and they obliterate a French seaplane reconnaissance squadron (4 out of 6 planes destroyed), while a fuel depot is set afire. French AA fire claims 7 aircraft damaged. 6 French fighters that had been scrambled to intercept arrive too late, but they stay around and when a lone SM-79 comes to assess the results of the raid it is forced to turn back.

Over France, the Italians send 5 recon missions toward Toulon, four of which abort and the 5th (one BR20) is intercepted by French fighters and crash-lands in Italy.

12 June (evening): 4(2) LeO 451 attack Novi Ligure airfield. Genova is the closest city from your list, though it's a good 50km away. I don't think that there were further RAF attacks that night, though. Not sure what all these targets refer to.

12/13 June: 8 BR20's of gruppi 11 & 43 attack Toulon (5.6 tons of bombs) with no great effect, probably due to heavy AA fire.

Davide wrote:13 - Albenga, Finalmarina, Sanremo


This time, by 11:00 am, the CR-42 fighters from Gruppo 23 are engaged and attack the Fayence airfield, followed by others from Gruppo 151 that straffe Hyères. They shoot down a Vought 156 that was returning from a training flight. Then 19 BR-20's from the Gruppi 11 and 43 attack local airfields, but since they come after the fighters they are intercepted.

At 11:00am, on receiving the report of the Italian fighter raids, 3 D.520's from GC III/6 have scrambled. On the one hand these are the best French fighters available, on the other hand they have only been received 2-3 days before, so the pilots have had very little time to
familiarize themselves with the new aircraft. At 11:30 they spot 4 Fiat BR-20's over Hyeres, which hasten to jettison their bombs and turn back. But they aren't fast enough, and two are shot down, at least one of which by Le Gloan.

This is a coordination problem, the fighters arriving on target first - which did no damage
triggered French interception - and turning back by the time that French interceptors were in the air. Given French weaknesses in detection and interception systems, the Italians might have been better off sending in their bombers unescorted instead of trying to do it the subtle way with first a fighter sweep and then bombers (of course, the fighters and the bombers attacking separately could be a case of the Italians having their own little coordination cockup).

Another bomber from 15 gruppo seems to have been damaged by a Bloch 151 from the AC3 (naval aviation) squadron, and yet another lands damaged (one dead, three wounded including the pilot), probably from AA fire.

13/14 June (night): 8(1) Bloch 210 attack Valdo Ligure fuel depot (one aircraft lost on landing). No idea where that is.

Davide wrote:14 - Elmas, Genova, Milano, Firenze, Marghera, Livorno, Albenga, Savona, Roma (probably most of them RAF)


No idea, though if that was RAF it must have been from the Middle East or carrier aviation, because I don't think that Bomber Command was responsible. Would have to check...

14 June (evening): 3 LeO 451 attack the Turin Fiat factories (one lost on landing). Another source says that was the night of 13/14 June.

Davide wrote:15 - n/a


15 June: 6(3) Bloch 210 attack Novi Ligure. Only one finds the airfield, another bombs the Savone port, the third a railroad near Varazze (probably empty countryside). Here again, we have the Italians reporting Savona hit the day before and the day after, but not that particular day :-)

15 June (from N. Africa): 6 Martin 167F (Marylands, in RAF parlance) bomb Tripoli

15/16 June: small Bomber Command detachment at Salon (This detachment, at various times, consisted of aircraft from 99 Squadron which arrived in September 1939, 37 Squadron which
arrived in October 1939, 149 Squadron, which had arrived in March 1940 and 75 Squadron with arrived in May 1940. I am unsure whether the later arrivals reinforced or relieved the earlier
detachments or for how long the various aircraft stayed. [this is a remark by Geoffrey Sinclair]), near Toulon, operating Wellingtons, 8 sent to Genoa, 1 bombed.

Davide wrote:16 - Savona (1 killed, 1 wounded), Livorno, Elmas, Sanremo, Cuno, Alba, Mondovì


16 June: 6 Martin 167F bomb the Cagliari seaplane base: a single bomb hit a hangar at Elmas, destroying seven Cant Z 501 seaplanes (four of 183ª and three of 188ª) with 4 deads and 17 wounded. Actually all the air units had been since the very first day under rigorous orders of being decentered during parking, but the planes had been temporarily put together - just a few hours - for painting over the rudder the new white cross, as per an urgent order of the day before. (end of the sentence by you, didn't attribute it properly for the sake of readability).

Apparently, this is the more destructive French raid.

Davide wrote:17 - Albenga (5 k, 11 w), Genova, Villanova


17 June: 10 LeO 451 & Bloch 210 bomb 5 (!) different targets: the Fiat and Aeritalia factories in Turin, the airfield and fuel depot in Coni, as well as Novi-Ligure. Here again, might have hit Genoa instead of Novi Ligure. Hard to think they'd miss Turin, but there you are...

Davide wrote:18 - Cagliari, Livorno, Savona, La Maddalena, Albenga, Cuneo, Fossano, Mellea, Ospedaletti, Borgioverezzi


No information, perhaps RAF ?

Davide wrote:19 - Bir el Bhera, Zuara, Punta Albaro, Ventimiglia, Finalmarina, Diano Marina, Bordighera, Ventimiglia, Alghero (2 CR.32 damaged), Torralba


All French raids from now on are from N-Africa-based units

Bordighera is on the border, could be ground support or even spotter planes + artillery ?

19 June: 6 Martin 167F bomb the Zuara airfield (near Tripoli)

Davide wrote:20 - n/a
21 - Aosta, Imperia, Fiano


No idea.

Davide wrote:22 - Cagliari


22 June: 27(25) DB-7 (A-20's for the USAAF, Boston I's for the RAF) attack various targets in Trapani (port, fuel tanks, barracks). Flak is nonexistant and the handful of defending CR-42's don't come close (probably can't), so the attack is described as going on "exactly by the book" at 3,500m. At least it seems both the French and Italians agree the raid took place at the same date and the same place, that's something... ;-) Doesn't seem to have had much effect, though.

Davide wrote:23 - Zuara, Sassari, Savona, Livorno, Finalmarina (Piaggio factory hit)


23 June(1): 4(3)+1 LeO451 attack Palermo and Massala, one is lost on landing.
23 June(3): 7 DB-7 bomb Palermo
23 June(2): 9(3) Martin 167F attack the port of Zuara and claim one freighter and one fuel depot left burning. That one was also noticed by the Italians, who lost a small (440t) ship.

Davide wrote:24 - Palermo, Trapani, Zuara, and one unidentified target in Sardegna


24 June: 3 Martin 167F attack Zuara, 9 DB-7 attack Cagliari.

Davide[/quote]

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Bronsky
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Postby Bronsky » 26 Jan 2006 14:31

Ok, I consolidated information from various sources and came up with the following narrative. I put a more complete article (same narrative but a few tables + sources + credit to people like Davide) online here. Sorry for it being in Word format, but Adobe refused to convert it to .pdf (I don't know why, it usually works) and I'm not going to have the patience to find out what's wrong in the near future. Comments and corrections welcome.

11 June:

1 BR 20 from 8 Squadriglia (25 Gruppo, based in Ghemme) flies a reconnaissance mission over Toulon, but has to abort after 4 hours of flight due to bad weather. Another aircraft will be sent at the end of the day and complete the mission.

1 SM 79 from 11 Squadriglia (26 Gruppo, Viterbo) overflies Bastia and the di Borgo airfield in Corsica.

Seaplanes of the Regia Marina (RM) and the Regia Aeronautica (RA), plus some SM 79's, fly reconnaissance missions over French North Africa (AFN), two planes each being sent over Oran, Bizerte, Karouba, Sidi Ahmed and Algiers. No French reaction.

French aircraft also fly reconnaissance missions (e.g. GR I/61 from Voulas-les-Bains) particularly over Italian airfields.

One Italian raid mentioned against Malta from British sources.(2)


11/12 June:

36 RAF Whitleys (from 10, 51, 77 and 102 squadrons) take off from Britain to bomb Turin, refueling on the Channel islands. Most don't manage to find their target due to bad weather and poor night flying skills, but 9 bomb Turin and 2 Genoa. (3) Neither city was blacked out and Genoa's lights stayed on. 15 civilians are killed and 30 wounded in Turin and the Fiat factory is hit.

Apparently, some Italian sources claim that there were some Wellingtons from 99th squadron based at Salon (southern France) which the French prevented from taking off out of fear of reprisals. I don't know whether it's true or not.


12 June:

S.M.79 (32° Stormo) on Biserta, Kairouan, Karouba, Sidi Ahmed (5) - 21 SM-79's from gruppi 27 & 28 based in Sardinia attack Bizerte (Tunisia). These are veteran crews from the Spanish Civil War, and they obliterate a French seaplane reconnaissance squadron (Out of the 6 Loire 70 seaplanes of the E7 flight of the French Naval air service (AN), 4 are destroyed and another damaged. The pilots will be transferred to the French Air Force (AdA) bomber group GB II/25), while a fuel depot is set afire at Sidi Ahmed. French AA fire claims 7 aircraft damaged. 6 MS 406 from GC III/5 are scrambled but arrive too late. However, Moranes continue providing CAP until they end of the day so that when a lone SM-79 comes to assess the results of the raid it is forced to turn back, though it manages to escape. One Morane crash lands due to lack of fuel. This was one of the most successful Italian bombing raids.

B.R.20 (13°) on Tolone - Over France, the Italians send 5 reconnaissance missions toward Toulon. The first one with one BR20 (S/Lt de Michelis) from 14 esquadriglia of Gruppo 4 (Lonate Pozzolo) overflies Camps des Maures, Cuers, Hyères and Toulon, before being intercepted by French fighters and having to make an emergency landing near Bergame. Sufficient information is gathered to prepare next day's bombing attack against Toulon. Four more reconnaissance missions against Toulon are launched but all abort due to bad weather.

In the evening, 4 LeO 451 from 2e escadrille of GB I/25 – these are the few crews from I/25 that have been transitioned to the new aircraft - are sent against Novi Ligure airfield of which 2 reach the target, the other 2 abort. (4)


12/13 June: Air alerts mentioned in Italian sources (5) (all further locations in italics from now on will be from the same source): Roma, Gaeta, Livorno, La Spezia, Genova, Piacenza, Milano.

8 BR20's of gruppi 11 & 43 attack Toulon (5.6 tons of bombs) with no great effect, the raid is broken up by heavy AA fire.


13 June: Albenga, Finalmarina, San Remo

C.R.42 (23° and 151° Gruppo) Fayence, Hyeres (5) - At 11:00 am, the CR-42 fighters from Gruppo 23 attack the Fayence airfield, followed by others from Gruppo 151 that make a strafing attack against the Hyères one (both airfields in the Toulon area). French AA is heavy and the biplanes eventually withdraw, but not before shooting down a Vought 156 from AB3 that was coming back to land after a training flight.

B.R.20 (13° Stormo) Tolone (2 bombers down and 1 lost in sea, one from 172a rec. flight) (5) - Then 19 BR-20's from the Gruppi 11 and 43 attack local airfields, but they are a few minutes behind the fighters, and they are intercepted by GC III/6 and AC3 that had been scrambled after the initial attack. These fighters will miss the Fiats which had been their original target, but find the bombers. At 11:00, 3 D.520's from GC III/6 (which only received these machines 2-3 days before) take off, led by Adj Le Gloan, with Lt Martin and Adj Goujon. They fly towards Hyères when at 11:30 they spot 4 BR 20's from Gruppo 43. The Fiats jettison their bomb load over the sea and turn back, but are quickly overtaken. A first bomber is shot down (MM2105, crashing at Agay 8km west of St-Raphael) in a combined attack, the other two scatter and try to escape individually in clouds while Lt. Martin turns back as his weapons are inoperative. The remaining two pilots shoot down another bomber (MM21503 – crashing at sea 15 miles off Cap Camarat) after multiple firing runs with their machine-gun (cannon ammunition having been exhausted).

Another B.R.20 manages to land thanks to the exertion of its pilot (mar. Bruni), the aircraft commander is dead and three other crew members (including the pilot) wounded, probably from the heavy AA fire (the fleet fired most of its onboard AA ammunition). Other bombers land with lighter damage, one of these from Esquadriglia 15 probably damaged by a Bloch 151 from AC3.

All in all, this attack against the Toulon area is an Italian failure. The main reason is that all that the Italian fighters achieved was getting French interceptors to take off in time to intercept the Italian bombers rather than suppressing French air defenses. The Italians would have been better off making just one escorted raid instead of sending the fighters and the bombers separately. It is unclear whether the Regia Aeronautica deliberately sent its fighters ahead of the bombers in a fighter sweep or whether this was the result of coordination problems. In the former case, this was a tactic which backfired because it was too subtle for the primitive French air warning system and because Italian fighters had neither the autonomy nor the technical ability to maintain air superiority ahead of the bombers. Coordination problems are, however, the more likely explanation given both sides' track record in the campaign.

S.M.79 (from Sicily) Tunisi airports (5)


13/14 June : Novi Ligure (with LeO)

NC 223.4 "Jules Vernes" from the B5 (AN) bombing flight leaves Bordeaux for a 12h35 mission during which it attacks Rome as well as the Porto-Marghera airfield near Venice. On that latter target, a stick of 8 bombs is dropped and the crew reports a fuel tank hit and burning, providing "formidable lighting" of the target.

8 Bloch 210 (4 GB I/23, 4 GB II/11) attack the Vado Ligure fuel depot (n°143 from II/11 is lost on the return leg, the crew surviving). Visibility is poor and only Captain Meiffren, commanding 1st flight of I/23, attacks the target. The rest of I/23 aborts and the others bomb a railroad north of Savona (probably empty countryside). One aircraft is lost from GB II/11 (6).


14 June: - Elmas, Genova, Milano, Firenze, Marghera, Livorno, Albenga, Savona, Roma

Operation Samoyede : the 3rd French squadron (cruisers Foch, Algérie, Dupleix, Colbert plus DD escorts) bombs Genoa with the French Naval Air Arm in support: AC3 provides fighter cover, AB2 and AB4 with Loire-Nieuports provide anti-surface cover, while AB3 deploys its 8 Vought 156's - one of which attacks Italian submarine Gondar with no results – later replaced by HS5.

In the evening, 3 LeO 451 attack the Turin Fiat factories. The weather is very poor and one crashes on the return leg from engine trouble, the gunner is killed (4). Another source (1) has this raid going on June 15th.


15 June:

C.R.42 (150°. 23°. 18° gruppo) Airports in Provenza – C.R.42's from 150° Gruppo attack Cuers airfield where 6 of AB3's Vought 156's are destroyed on the ground.
Three 3-plane sections of Bloch 151's from AC3 scramble. The first one engages 15 C.R.42's over Le Luc, with no results on either side (though the French are credited for 2 victories), following which it patrols over Toulon.
The second section is caught while still climbing for altitude. One aircraft (section leader Lt de Vaisseau Ziegler, Bloch n°77) is damaged and crash lands, another (2nd Maître Briet) is damaged but manages to disengage and join the first section over Toulon, the third (2nd Maître Miramont, Bloch n°69) is also damaged but manages to shoot down a Fiat (MM 5579, Cap Nino Caselli) from 365a Sq. (150° Gruppo) before having to land in Hyères, and flying back to Cuers 30 minutes later.
The last section is massacred: AC3.15 (Mb 151 n°51, a/c Hourcade) is shot down and killed shortly after takeoff. AC3.8 (n°348, Soulimont) has barely the time to engage in combat when it is forced to crash land. AC3.9 (n°37, SM Le Bihan) is also shot down and crash lands, the pilot dying from his wounds. He will be credited with a victory for an aircraft rammed, though that is most doubtful.
The Italians have lost one aircraft (Caselli's) in combat. Another was forced to land due to engine trouble at Cuers, and was therefore captured by the French. The Italians claim 4 victories which is correct.

Around 11:45, two 3-plane patrols from GC III/6 (D.520) take off from Le Luc to intercept the Italian attack. The first one is led by Le Gloan, with Cne Assolant and Cne Jacobi (the latter aborts due to engine trouble). The second patrol includes Cne Guerrier, S/lt Capdeviol and Adj Japiot. Le Gloan and Assolant are ordered over St-Tropez where they intercept a dozen C.R.42's from 23° Gruppo. They "down" a first one together (in fact, this is likely one of 2 fighters from 23° Gruppo which are seriously damaged but manage to come back to base. Presumably, the aircraft dived for the sea and the French pilots believed it had crashed), then a second (the pilot, Cap. Filippi 75a Sq. bails out, that one is definitely a kill) and Assolant chases the last one until his guns jam and he turns back.
He then attacks another group of C.R.42's over Hyères (spotted by looking at AA fire), shooting down one and diving out of range of the remaining 8.
Meanwhile, yet another formation of C.R.42's makes a straffing attack over Le Luc airfield (destroying 3 D.520's) so Le Gloan and the second patrol are called over by radio, with the French ace shooting down another C.R.42 that crashes near the airfield. Regaining altitude, he spots a B.R.20 from 172a Sq. which he shoots down in 5 passes. Le Gloan is credited with 5 victories though the Italians only lost 3 C.R.42's (one from 23° Gruppo and 2 from 18° Gruppo) with 2 more from 23° Gr. heavily damaged.

S.M.79 (46° Stormo) Ajaccio, Calvu, Alesan, Ghisonaccia airports - Meanwhile, the Regia Aeronautica launches a series of attacks against Corsican airfields (where no French fighters are based): Calvi is hit by the SM 79's of 46° Stormo escorted by G.50's, Ghisonaccia is attacked by 6 S.M.79's (one shot down by AA), Campo dell Oro (near Ajaccio) is targeted by 10a Sq. but not hit due to bad weather, and various reconnaissance flights are staged in which another SM 79 is lost (according to Italian records below, this was probably a BR 20 instead).

Losses, including accidents: 10 C.R.42 1 S.M.79 1 B.R.20 172a sq. (5)

From North Africa, GB I/61 attacks Tripoli with 6 Glenn Martin 167F (Marylands, in RAF parlance). One bomb hits the city, 3 dead and 22 wounded.

Around 21:00, in very poor weather, 4 Bloch 210's from GB II/11 take off with 8x50kg and 20x10kg bombs each to attack the Novi Ligure airfield. Only one (n°138, Lt Zimmermann) manages to attack the target, n°205 (a/c Boissier) attacks the port of Savona, n°138 (Lt Vandeven) hits a railway track near Varazze (Varazzo ? probably empty countryside) and n°221 (Lt Drogue) has to turn back with engine trouble. (1) Four more Blochs from GB I/23 are assigned to the target, but only two manage to take off and they come back with their bomb load after having failed to find the target (4).


15/16 June:
Small Bomber Command detachment at Salon, near Toulon, operating Wellingtons: 8 sent to Genoa, 1 bombed. This detachment, at various times, consisted of aircraft from 99 Squadron which arrived in September 1939, 37 Squadron which arrived in October 1939, 149 Squadron, which had arrived in March 1940 and 75 Squadron with arrived in May 1940. Not sure whether the later arrivals reinforced or relieved the earlier detachments or for how long the various aircraft stayed. (3)

The "Jules Vernes" flies its last mission of the war. As it had done two days before, it takes off for a 12 hours mission over Livourne - where it remains over the target for an hour, dropping its bombs one by one until a tank is hit to provide illumination, Italian AA fire being ineffective - and Rome – where only leaflets are dropped.


16 June: Savona (railway bridge 1 killed, 1 wounded), Livorno, Elmas, Sanremo, Cuno, Alba, Mondovì

Bombers on Menzel Tmir and Campo dell'Oro airports - At 6:40, 6 SM 79 from 10a Sq attack the Campo dell Oro airfield in Corsica, dropping 22 bombs of which 19 miss the airfield.

Ba.88 (7° gruppo) on Corsica airports - The Bonifacio harbor (Corsica) is attacked by Breda 88's of 101a Sq.

From Africa, 6 Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs of GB I/61 attack the Elmas airbase near Cagliari, Sardinia, in the afternoon. A bomb hits a hangar underneath which were 7 Z.501s. Since the beginning of the war, Italian air units had been under strict orders to disperse while on the ground but the day before, an urgent order had had the planes temporarily gathered together in order to paint the new national markings: a white cross over the rudder.
Six aircraft go up in flames: four from the 183a Squadriglia (MM32254, MM32269, MM32282 and MM32197) and two from the 188a Squadriglia (MM35174 and MM35226) while the seventh (MM35271) is heavily damaged. Six ground crews and a pilot die, 30 are wounded.
Other aircraft, including some Cant.Z.506's are damaged as well as a S.79 of the 32o Stormo, surprised on the base and heavily damaged (his pilot, Sergente Luigi Moretti of the 50a Squadriglia is killed). The airbase itself sustains serious damage, putting 85o Gruppo R.M. of the Regia Aeronautica (146a, 188a, 183a squadriglie) out of action for the remainder of the campaign.

Apparently, this is the more destructive French raid of the campaign.

Z.506 on Biserta - The rest of the activity for that day consists of reconnaissance missions in bad weather. The Farman 10 E.2 "L'Arcturus" bombs Rossignano from Oran.


16/17 June : San Remo, Cuneo, Alba, Mondovì (RAF ?)


17 June:

Attacks on Tunisia and Corsica (losses 1 C.R.42, 1 G.50, 1 Z.506, 3 M.C.200) (5)

2 S.M.79's are sent on a reconnaissance mission over Tunisia. The first flies over El Djen but returns back with his bomb load, having failed to find a target. The other one returns with a series of photographs of Bizerte. As usual, GC III/5 tries to intercept but is warned to late. On the other hand, around 11:00 am a Czech patrol led by Lt Vezely from 2nd Escadrille of GC II/9 attacks the 1st Savoia. However, after firing 8 x 20mm and 80 rifle rounds, it is ordered to break off the attack and vectored towards the second bomber, which it doesn't find. The first S.M.79 is claimed "probably destroyed" though it lands without a problem.

(From Casablanca, GC III/4 flies its one mission of the campaign with its D.510's, to intercept an aircraft that remains unfound).

During the day, GB II/11 is in readiness with orders to launch a maximum effort (10 aircraft) against Turin. In the end, only 1 LeO 451 (n°82) from GB II/11 is sent against the Fiat and Aeritalia factories, bombing from 5,000m without a hitch (1) along with 2 more from GB I/23 (4).

2 Bloch 210's from GB II/11 and 3 more from GB I/23 attack the Coni airfield and fuel dumps. Two more LeO 451 from GB I/23, including that of the group commander (Cdt Bordes), are readied but don't take off.


17/18 June: Albenga 5 dead 11 wounded, Genova, Villanova

2 LeO 451's (n°253 & 337) attack Novi Ligure, though only one attacks the other having technical troubles.

4 Latécoère 298's from T4, under LV Camard, take off from Berre (near Marseilles) to attack Finale Ligure. Despite strong Italian AA defenses, they return to base at dawn with no loss.

18 June: Cagliari, Livorno, Savona, La Maddalena, Albenga, Cuneo, Fosssano, Mellea, Ospedaletti, Borgioverezzi. Some wounded.

GC III/6 which was the mainstay of fighter defense against Italy, is evacuated to AFN. GB II/11 prepares to attack German motorised columns but is then ordered to evacuate to Blida.

The Regia Aeronautica flies several reconnaissance missions: 1 B.R.20 flies toward Grenoble but aborts due to bad weather. 1 S.M.79 spots several French ships in the Bizerte harbour as well as seaplanes in Karouba. A Cant Z.506 from Sardinia takes pictures of the Algiers harbour and reports 3 French fighters trying to intercept it though this is unconfirmed from French records.

From Montserrato, a Fiat C.R.32 of 154a Squadriglia (ten. Broganelli) attempts to intercept what is believed to be a Potez 63.11 flying a reconnaissance mission. It turns out to be a Glenn-Martin of GR I/61 which has no trouble escaping due to its superior speed.


18/19 June:
AB2 & AB4, which had been gathered since the 16th to attack Novi Ligure, take off with 6 and 7 Loire-Nieuports respectively at 01:30am from Palyvestre in clear weather. However, the LV Lorenzi (formation leader) and his wingman turn back, and weather turns to storm at the Italian border. One pilot jettison his bomb, the others attack individually and make their way back. Two are missing (Mt Billien and SM Ricquier).

4 Laté 298's from the T3 flight take off from Berre to attack Finale Ligure, Italian flak is heavy but all come back.
AB3 sends 3 Vought 156's to bomb the Porto San Stefano railroad (still in the Ligure area), no losses.

19 June: Bir el Bhera, Zuara, Punta Albaro, Ventimiglia, Finalmarina, Diano Marina, Bordighera, Ventimiglia, Alghero (2 CR.32 damaged), Torralba

GB II/11 crosses the Mediterranean with 14 aircraft, will rebase to Youks-les-bains on 06/21. GB I/23 crosses with 5 LeO 451 to Blida.

All French raids from now on will be from North Africa.

6 GB I/61 GM-167F bomb the Zuara airfield (near Tripoli).

S.M.79 (36° Stormo) on Biserta – 6 SM 79's are sent against Bizerte, though 3 abort due to bad weather. The others drop their bombs at random amid violent French AA fire. None of the French fighter groups in the area are scrambled.
(9° Stormo) on Corsica airports with escort of G.50 (22° stormo) – At 09:40, 5 SM 79's from 19a Squadriglia drop some 20 bombs on Campo del Oro airfield (Corsica) from an altitude of 3,500m. Only 2 bombs hit the field, damaging a fuel cistern, no losses. AA fire is similarly ineffective. Other SM's from 13a and 63a Squadriglie attack Bordo in two waves, 6 at 9h40 and 2 at 10:00, scattering 50kg bombs none of which hit the Corsican airfield. At 10:30, 4 SM 79's from 18a Sq. attack Ste Catherine Est (Calvi airfield), dropping 15 200kg bombs of which 10 hit, destroying a photographic vehicle and cratering the runway. Again, no losses which isn't surprising as the airfields are practically empty.

Ba.88 (7° gruppo) pm Bonifacio and Portovecchio


20 June:

Cant Z.506's from 190° Sq (86° Gruppo) attack Bizerte, one lost from unknown causes.

No French action that day, first skirmishes between Italian and French troops in the Alps.


21 June:

La 1a Squadra has been reinforced (7° GC – Ba.88, 22° GC – G.50/C.R.42, 9° GC - ?, 31° GB – B.R.20, 59° GB – S.M.79) to a strength of 186 fighters and 95 bombers and flies in support of the Italian offensive in the Alps.

At 6:40, 6 BR 20's from 13° Stormo (11° et 43° Gruppi) attack fort Malgovert near Bourg-Saint-Maurice while 12 BR 20's from 25° Gruppo attack fortifications on the other side of the town. Over 50 bombs are dropped from 1,500m (i.e. above the cloud base) which miss the forts but hit the city itself. One soldier from 215th Infantry Regiment is killed.
A little later, 43 B.R.20's of 7°, 43° and 13° Stormi (Gruppi 4°, 11°, 25°, 43°, 98°, 99°) drop 170 bombs in Haute Tarentaise, followed by another 17 attacking the petit ouvrage "La Redoute Ruinée", guarding the pass through which the Italians try to move to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The fort will block these assaults and will fight on, even though surrounded, until the armistice.
5 B.R.20's from 31° Gruppo pay a new visit to the Bourg-Saint-Maurice forts, followed by another 11 from 25° attacking the Plate-Truc forts NW of the city. There again, weather prevents all but two of the bombers to identify their target.
8 B.R.20's from Gruppi 25 & 4 (7° Stormo) attack French artillery positions west of the city in Vulmis as well as the Aime / Moutiers railroad, without success.
Several other raids are aborted due to bad weather. Generally speaking, all the forts have remained impervious to even those bombs (100 & 200kg) that were close hits.

(losses: 2 M.C.200, 1 B.R.20)

At 6:40, the 172a Sq. sends a B.R.20 for a reconnaissance flight over Cannes, Toulon, Lyon and the Savoy valleys.

Bombers (from 3a Squadra) attacks Corsica, Tolone, Marsiglia – 10 S.M.79's from 104° Gruppo drop 80 contact-fused bombs over the Marseilles port. The port itself isn't hit, but 122 civilians are killed and others are wounded. Various French fighter units (including patrols of DAT, French air defense) try to intercept but the confusion is such that they don't even spot the Italian bombers.

Bizerte is attacked by SM 79's from 2a Squadra. In the afternoon, a lone SM 79 comes to assess the results, but for once GC III/5 has been alerted on time and Lt. Moran pursues it until the Cani island, putting one of the engines on fire. The French pilot eventually turns back due to lack of fuel, to be credited with a probable victory although the Savoia manages to land at its base with several wounded on board.

5 Laté 298's from the T2 flight attack a submarine sailing on the surface with 150kg bombs, only two of which explode, missing their target.


21/22 June: Aosta, Imperia, Fiano torinese

B.R.20's from 43° Gruppo drop 4.2 tons of bombs over Marseilles, though bad weather prevents visual bombing.


22 June: Cagliari

B.R.20's attack again – and again unsuccessfully – the Briançon forts. The Mont Ours fort is attacked by 9 B.R.20's whose 100kg and 250kg bombs are ineffective. At Menton, the Mont Agel fort is attacked by 9 B.R.20's from 43° Stormo. Other attacks are again cancelled due to bad weather.

The French air force is completely unable to react, only the FIC from the French Naval Air Arm is gathered in Hyères (near Toulon) although as it is being reequipped with D.520's it is not operational yet.

S.M.79 (46° Stormo) on Marsiglia

27 GM-167F's from Groupement no1 (one from the Groupement HQ, six from GB I/62, five from GB II/62, six from GB I/63 and nine from GB II/63) in its first mission after the redeployment to AFN attack various targets in Trapani (port, fuel tanks, barracks) with 10kg and 50kg bombs. 2 bombers turn back before reaching the target. Flak is nonexistent and the handful of defending CR-42's don't come close (probably can't), so the attack is described as going on "exactly by the book" at 3,500m. Military installations only receive light damage and 20 civilians are killed.

Off Karouba, one MS-406 from GC III/5 attacks 2 French CAMS 55 seaplanes from the 4S1 Squadron (AN), damaging one which eventually belly lands with two wounded aircrews.

(30° and 36° Stormo) on Biserta – Several SM 79's launch isolated raids against Bizerte without being intercepted, though damage is light.

During one of the innumerable naval patrols staged by the French Fleet Air Arm, one LeO H-470 (LV Guilloux) from flight E11 spots an Italian submarine escorted by a Cant Z.506. The large French seaplane drops two bombs on the submarine which miss it, and trade machine-gun fire with the Cant with no result, the Italian seaplane heading back to base.

A new submarine is spotted off Bougie. One Laté (M Chauby) from the T2 flight takes off and drops a 150kg bomb just alongside it, though the bomb fails to explode.


23 June: Zuara, Sassari, Savona, Livorno, Finalmarina (Piaggio factory hit)

In the Alps, bad weather makes follow-up attacks difficult, B.R.20's scatter a few bombs near French forts with no result.

Some Catane-based S.M. 79's attack Bizerte.

9 Martin 167F (3 each from GB II/62, GB I/63 and GB II/63) attack the port of Zuara. 6 abort above Gabes due to bad weather, the remaining 3 (which for the first time carry a 4-man crew) drop 800kg of bombs and claim a cargo and a fuel depot left burning. The Italians record the loss of one 440 GRT ship from air attack around that time.

In the afternoon Palermo is bombed by four Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs from GB I/62 and three from GB II/62, killing civilians. Italian fighters claim one of the raiders shot down. The returning French crews didn’t report any presence of Italian fighters but one Glenn crashes on the return leg with another being damaged on landing at Canrobert. No losses to the crews, French records attribute the losses to mechanical causes.

Another attack against Palermo is flown from 5,000m by five LeO 451s from GB II/11, just arrived to Youks-les-Bains from France: aircraft no200 commanded by Colonel Chopin, no 201 commanded by Lieutenant Calmel, no 213 commanded by Lieutenant Zimmermann, no 144 commanded by Lieutenant Drogue and no 3005 commanded by Capitaine Bouyer taking off at 18:00. Only Zimmermann and Calmel hit the target; Chopin aborts due to a mechanical problem, Bouyer attacks Marsala and Drogue’s aircraft, forced to take off late, returns at night. Short of fuel, it tries to land on a beach near Cap Bon and explodes, killing the crew.

A LeO H-470 (11.3) from the 11 E flight (AN) spots the 2nd Squadron of the Regia Marina, and keeps the contact despite AA fire. It finally turns back to Karouba when its fuel is exhausted, but by then the attack planes are en route. 10 Laté 298's from HB1 take off from Oubeïra though in the bad weather only their leader, LV Baron, manages to attack a cruiser (his bomb misses). 3 more Latés from T1 (Karouba) also took off but can't find the Italian squadron. 2 C.R.32's from Sardinia had been assigned as protection by the Italians but are not spotted.

During the night, 3S4 flight (AN) sends a LeO 258 and a LeO H257bis from St. Raphaël to Finale Ligure and Imperia. Flak is very heavy, but both aircraft come back unscathed.


24 June: Palermo, Trapani, Zuara (in violation of armistice), and a airport in Sardinia (unspecified location)

The armistice is signed at 19:15, becoming effective on June 25th at 00:35.

In the morning, 3 Glenns from GB II/63 attack Zuara (Olivetti village), with no losses. Italian fighters, although scrambled immediately, were unable to intercept.

The groupement n°2 with the DB-7's from GB I/19, II/19 and II/61 is finally operational in Soul-el-Arba. From a total of 23 available aircraft; 15 are assigned to an attack against Cagliari. II/19 prepares 5 aircraft of which one fails to take off and the other 4 abort due to mechanical trouble, so in the end only 9 DB-7's from II/61 carry out the mission.

French LeO H-470 seaplane E11.2, back to its base of Karouba from Toulon, encounters a Cant Z 506 and both large seaplanes engage in air combat. Gunners trade a few burst with no visible effect before each aircraft goes back its own way. This is probably the last air combat of the campaign.

Loire 130 n°16 crashes at sea on returning from a naval patrol mission, all 3 aircrews being killed.

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Davide Pastore
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Postby Davide Pastore » 27 Jan 2006 21:07

Bronsky wrote:13 June
B.R.20 (13° Stormo) Tolone (2 bombers down


Note. The Italian source claims that the Italian personnel of these planes, descending by parachute, were first shot at from the ground, and then killed on the ground by a mob which included some gendarmes. It might be propaganda, of course. Do French sources say anything?

Davide

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Bronsky
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Postby Bronsky » 28 Jan 2006 09:03

Davide Pastore wrote:
Bronsky wrote:13 June
B.R.20 (13° Stormo) Tolone (2 bombers down


Note. The Italian source claims that the Italian personnel of these planes, descending by parachute, were first shot at from the ground, and then killed on the ground by a mob which included some gendarmes. It might be propaganda, of course. Do French sources say anything?


Not to my knowledge. Their being shot at I can believe, killed by an angry mob is always a possibility, gendarmes participating (as opposed to being trying to stop the killing, which would look very much like being part of the mob) I consider unlikely.

I think this is propaganda based on fact, i.e. they may have been shot at and some may have been attacked by a mob on landing (plenty of such incidents in all countries: parachuting into territory that you've just bombed usually doesn't earn you any friends), but all the crews being killed by a mob with the police participating I think is propaganda. But this is just opinion.

For the reason why I believe the "being shot at" part, there is a report drafted from the French commander of the fighter unit at the time complaining that the fighters were being shot at by ground troops as they were landing on their airfield, and asking that trigger-happy ground troops calm down in the future... :-)

Dili
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Re: Initial Italian losses.

Postby Dili » 18 May 2010 03:28

In my data MC.200 units were not combat ready due to accidents, so should be dubious it's employment in initial clashes.


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