Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

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Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 jan 2010, 19:49

The two separate Italian air forces which came into being after the 8 September 1943 Armistice gradually structured themselves along the lines of their respective allies, the Luftwaffe in the North, and the USAAF and RAF in the South.

The northern air force under German control was named Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR), and while struggling to remain autonomous from the Germans, quickly adopted the Luftwaffe as a model. It incorporated paratroopers and anti-aircraft artillery, adopted German tactical formations (Rotte/Schwarme). Radar vectoring and improved air-to-air gunnery training. Finally, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repuhblicana (ANR) restructured its Gruppi Caccia (Fighter Groups) along the lines of the Luftwaffe’s Gruppen containing three Squadriglie (Squadrons) and a staff squadron. The number of aircraft in a Squadriglia was increased to correspond with the German Staffel, 15 to 20 aircraft versus an average of 10 to 12 in the old Regia Aeronautica. Torpedo-bomber and transport units were similarly re-organized, dependent upon aircraft availability.

Since the Italian Co-belligerent Air Force was mainly used in ground support operations, only ANR pilots reached ace status. The following list is largely based on unofficial data and the victories are those claimed only. Confirmed ones may be less.

Maggiore Mario Bellagambi – II Gruppo Caccia – 10 victories

Capitano Ugo Drago – II Gruppo Caccia – 9 victories

Maggiore Adriano Visconti – I Gruppo Caccia – 7 victories

Sottotenente Carlo Cucchi – I Gruppo Caccia – 5 victories

Sottotenente Giovanni Sajeva – I Gruppo Caccia - 5 victories

Serg. Magg. Attilio Sanson – II Gruppo Caccia – 5 victories

The Armistice brought about a collapse in morale that broke much of the will to fight. However, many of the Regia Aeronautica pilots in the north took a different attitude towards the new military situation, perceiving the Armistice as a betrayal of those who had died fighting their former enemy. Many pilots refused to fly to the Allied controlled airfields in Southern Italy due to an unwillingness to accept an Armistice signed which they felt had been signed ‘over their heads’. To some this feeling of ‘betrayal’ was conscious and to others it was unconscious. A large number of Italian pilots, while they might otherwise agree with the armistice, could not accept the way the surrender had been carried out, while others simply wanted to oppose the Allied fighters and bombers which were relentlessly tormenting Italian cities and population.

On 12 September 1943, in an operation directed by General Kurt Student, a commando of German paratroopers freed Benito Mussolini from his Gran Sasso prison. On 23 September Il Duce announced the formation of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) in the Italian territory under German control. This was followed on 10 October by the formation of an Army, Navy, and Air Force (Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana).

The choice of Tenente Colonnello Ernesto Botto, a famous fighter pilot and hero of the Spanish Civil War, as Under-Secretary of Aeronautics contributed heavily toward attracting Regia Aeronautica personnel to the Aeronautica NazionaleRepubblicana (ANR), many of whom had dispersed after the Armistice, especially men belonging to fighter units. Personal allegiance to the RSI, a German puppet state, was never popular and joining the ANR was often impulsive rather than rational. However, this enthusiasm and impulsiveness which characterized the airmen of the ANR, contributed heavily toward allowing the ANR to maintain its independence in the face of increasing German political pressure to which both the Army and Navy eventually succumbed. As a result, the ANR was the only RSI armed force which operated regularly and with success against the Anglo-American forces, gaining respect not only from their German allies, but even from the Resistance. The Resistance, recognizing the ANR’s value in protecting the Italian population from the heavy American bomber raids, often concluded local mutual non-aggression pacts with individual ANR units.

Immediately after the 8 September Armistice groups of airmen resisting the order to switch enemies began forming into units. One group led by Generale Tessari, Colonnello Tondi, and Colonnello Castellani was formed in Rome, and another, led by Colonnello Falconi, consisted mainly of fighter pilots. During the immediate post-Armistice confusion, there were many individual exploits. In one such case, Capitano Adriano Visconti (later commander of I Gruppo Caccia) led a flight of Macchi C.205Vs to Guidonia airport near Rome to escape the German encirclement of Italian airfields on Sardinia. His three C.205V fighters carried eight ground crewmen in addition to the three pilots!

On 12 October, Tenente Colonnello Botto issued a proclamation which succeeded in rallying dozens of pilots to Northern Italian airfields, followed on 15 October with the formation of reporting centers which gathered pilots and aircraft according to their respective branch. Milan’s Bresso airport became the fighter and reconnaissance reporting center, Varese gathered torpedo-bombers on its Venegono airfield, seaplanes went to the Sesto Calende facility, and Bergamo collected transports.

101° Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre was one of the first units which formed spontaneously during the weeks immediately following the Armistice. Formed in Florence, it transferred to Mirafiori near Turin during early 1944, but was later disbanded due to a shortage of serviceable aircraft. In April of 1944 part of the personnel went to Germany with their Gruppo commander Magg. Micheli, for an operational conversion course on the Messerschmitt Bf 109. On completing the course a number of the pilots were assigned to II Gruppo Caccia in August of 1944.

Another spontaneously born unit was the Squadriglia Complementare Caccia ‘Montefusco’ formed at Venaria Reale, near Turin, during late 1943 and subsequently equipped with a mixture of Fiat G.55s and Macchi C.205s.

One of the most important results of gathering these fighter pilots in the North was the creation of I° Gruppo Caccia on 15 November 1943, and made official on 1 January 1944. During November and December of 1943, the Gruppo under the command of Maggiore Borgogno, took delivery of some Macchi C.205s at Lonate Pozzolo, near Varese. Many of the C.205s had been confiscated and used by the Luftwaffe’s II./JG 77 following the Armistice. In December the Gruppo was divided into three Squadrighe and transferred to Lagnasco, near Cuneo to learn German fighter tactics and receive the rest of the C.205s still equipping the German unit.

Meanwhile, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana had begun reforming its torpedo-bomber branch. After the Armistice Capitano Faggioni, a gallant Regia Aeronautica torpedo-bomber pilot, managed to gather together some ten Savoia Marchetti S.79 three-engined torpedo- bombers and their crews in Florence. After overhauling their aircraft between 26 October and early December the aircraft were transferred to Venegono, where the firm SIAI was building a batch of twelve improved S.79s. The older aircraft were brought up to the new standards. One of the S.79s was lost near Piacenza on 15 November during the transfer flight, with its two pilots becoming the first ANR casualties. Named Gruppo Autonomo Aerosituranti ‘Buscaglia’ (after Carlo Emanuele Buscaglia, MOVM, the Regia Aeronautica torpedo-bomber ace posted missing in action after a November 1942 raid on Bougie harbor in Algeria), the Gruppo became operational under Capitano Faggioni’s command on 14 December, just as its three Squadriglie began their final training.

The I° Gruppo Aerotrasporti ‘Terracciano’ was formed at Orio al Serio airfield near Bergamo in November of 1943. Commanded by Maggiore Pellizzari, the unit gathered many veterans of the Regia Aeronautica’s bomber and transport units, units which had often suffered far heavier losses than other Italian units. Terracciano’ was formed without aircraft since the SIAI Marchetti S.81s which the Luftwaffe had promised were still being used in Germany. However, because of the limited need for air transport in a territory as small as the RSI, it was decided to use the Italian transport unit for logistical support of VI Luftflotte on the Eastern front. On 21 January 1944 ‘Terracciano’ personnel left by train for Goslar, the German airport where the Luftwaffe had concentrated all of the S.81s requisitioned after the Armistice. On 23 January. the Gruppo took delivery of twenty-four S.81 transports at Goslar, which were soon followed by ten more from Italian sources.

On 1 January 1944, the following ANR units were officially formed:
I Gruppo Caccia Macchi C.205 Squadriglia Complementare’Montefusco’ Macchi C.205 – Fiat G.55
I° Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Buscaglia’ Savoia Marchetti S.79 Reparto Addestramento Aerosiluranti Savoia Marchetti S.79
I° Gruppo Aerotrasporti ‘Terracciano’ Savoia Marchetti S.81 Reparto Aerocollegamento Sottosegretariato Miscellaneous types

The Reparto Aerocollegamento Sottosegretariato was formed at Milan’s Bresso airfield in December of 1943, under the direct control of the office of the RSI Undersecretary of Air. Under the command of Maggiore Quattrociocchi. the unit operated its motley collection of aircraft until the very last day of the war. Its numerous tasks included liaison flights for the RSI government, ferrying personnel and recovering damaged aircraft.

The preponderance of fighter and torpedo-bomber elements within the ANR stemmed not only from practical considerations, i.e. that the majority of pilots who answered Botto’s appeals belonged to these branches, but also reflected the RSI’s defensive posture, and a desire to avoid using the ANR over Allied-occupied Italy, a role similar to that dictated by the Allies for the Co-Belligerent Air Force in the south.

To better understand why, in spite of its depleted ranks, the ANR’s initial operational capabilities were much greater than that of the Co-Belligerent Air Force’s, it is important to realize that nearly all of the Italian aeronautical industry was concentrated in the industrial North. Also, because of Allied strategic priorities the Macchi, Fiat, and SIAI Marchetti factories had suffered only marginal bombing damage until 1944. Consequently, in late 1943 new production batches of Macchi C.205 and Fiat G.55 fighters and Savoia Marchetti S.79 torpedo-bombers were added to the ANR inventory, besides those turned over by the Germans who had requisitioned everything they could find when Italy signed the Armistice. This ready supply of aircraft provided a high level of operational strength until mid-1944. and allowed a continued presence of the ANR in Northern Italian skies. Properly equipped and with improved training the Germans found the ANR to be a highly effective air arm that allowed them to withdraw Luftwaffe fighter units to Germany.

This was the birth of the ANR which set out to fight a battle that, although lost from the beginning, would last some sixteen months and would see many men die – seldom to defend political ideas – but more simply for themselves, their families, their land, their comrades, and their honor – all of which demands respect by both sides.
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Re: Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 jan 2010, 19:51

The First Battles

Operations began on 3 January 1944, when ten I° Gruppo Caccia Macchi C.205s scrambled from Lagnasco to intercept a formation of B-17 Flying Fortresses and their P-38 Lightning escorts. I Gruppo Caccia claimed three victories, one each by Capitano Visconti, Sottotenente Lugari, and Sergente Maggiore Cuscunà. These were the ANR’s first victories to be claimed.

Between 12 and 24 January, I Gruppo Caccia transferred from Lagnasco to Campoformido, near Udine from where, along with the Luftwaffe’s JG 77, it would be employed against 15th Air Force bombers. By 28 January the thirteen Macchi C.205s of I Gruppo Caccia had claimed two bombers, but three days later the group lost three aircraft while claiming two B-24 Liberators and three P-47 Thunderbolts. A steady stream of missions with JG 77 followed, leading to mass take-offs of almost one hundred Italian and German aircraft. The problems involved in handling such large numbers of fighters, complicated by linguistic problems, proved particularly difficult in the heat of combat. Six missions were carried out between 31 January and 23 February and in the last action Maggiore Borgogno was forced to bale out after being erroneously attacked and wounded by a Bf 109. Capitano Visconti succeeded Borgogno as I Gruppo Caccia commander.

In the meantime two important events had taken place, the formation of II Gruppo Caccia at Bresso in February-March of 1944, and Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Buscaglia’ began carrying out operations.

II Gruppo Caccia, the second ANR fighter Gruppo had been authorized in late 1943 and was made up of many veterans from Regia Aeronautica’s 3° and 150° Gruppo Autonomo which had flown Messerschmitt Bf 109Gs from April to July of 1943 in the face of the massive Allied offensive against Sicily. Initially commanded by Tenente Colonello Vizzotto, later succeeded by Tenente Colonello Alessandrini, II° Gruppo Caccia had three Squadriglie and a Nucleo Comando (Staff Flight) made up of higher-ranking officers and the group commander. II° Gruppo Caccia began operational training after taking delivery of forty Fiat G.55 Centauro at Bresso in early March.

Based at Gorizia, the ‘Buscaglia’ torpedo-bomber Gruppo began operations in early March when it was ordered to attack Allied ships moored in the Anzio area. On 8 March six S.79s deployed to the Perugia advanced airfield, carrying out their missions on 10 March. A 7000t ship was hit but an S.79 was lost to Allied night fighters. The five remaining aircraft made another attack in the Nettuno area on the night of 13/14 March with no visible results. During the return flight to Gorizia two more S.79s were lost to British night fighters operating along the Adriatic coast.

A few days earlier I° Gruppo Caccia had fought a violent battle in which it claimed four B-24s and eight P-47s against the loss of four Macchi C.205s. A patrol from the Squadriglia Complementare Caccia carried out the unit’s first mission on 13 March, scrambling from Mirafiori near Turin.

On 18 March, the Allies reacted against the ‘Fascist’ Air Force’s growing opposition with a violent bombing attack on the airfields in the Friuli region, where both I° Gruppo Caccia and Gruppo ‘Buscaglia’ were based. The bombers were intercepted by Luftwaffe Bf 109Gs and thirty ANR C.205s, which claimed four B-24s and three P-38s, with two B-24s and a Lightning as probables, against the loss of two C.205s. On the ground at Udine two C.205s were destroyed and twelve were damaged, while one S.79 was destroyed and three damaged in Gorizia.

While the surviving S.79s were dispersed between Lonate Pozzolo and Venegono, I Gruppo Caccia began a week of intense combat, resulting in ten claimed victories for the loss of two aircraft, culminating on 29 March in the almost simultaneous scramble of all three ANR fighter units. Twenty C.205s of I Gruppo Caccia tangled with thirty P-38s, claiming one confirmed and four probables for the loss of two C.205s. Gruppo Complementare Caccia ‘Montefusco’ scrambled six G.55s from Venaria Reale, claiming two B-24s and a probable, with a fourth B-24 force landing at Venegono, for the loss of two G.55s and its Commanding Officer, Capitano Bonet. Finally, II Gruppo Caccia made its operational debut with four G.55s scrambling from Bresso, without results.

In early April of 1944, I Gruppo Trasporti Terracciano, having already spent several months at Goslar overhauling its S.81’s, began operating over Central and Northern Europe under the German designation Transport Gruppe 10 (Italian) as part of the Luftwaffe’s XIV Fliegerkorps. From its Schaulyay base the unit flew to Finland, East Prussia, the Baltic states, and Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, II Gruppo Trasporti ‘Trabucchi’ was formed at Orio al Serio with three Squadriglie under Maggiore Zanardi. Receiving their first Savoia Marchetti S.82s, the Gruppo’s training continued well into the Spring of 1944, since more S.82s were required before the unit could transfer to Goslar.
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Re: Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 jan 2010, 19:53

In the Air and Over the Sea

For both I Gruppo Caccia and Gruppo Aerosiluranti Buscaglia April of 1944 was a busy month, although the latter suffered far heavier losses. On 6 April Gr. Aerosiluranti Buscaglia was ambushed by eight P-47s during a transfer flight from Venegono to Perugia. Four of the twelve S.79s were shot down and a fifth one force-landed. Despite these losses, on 10 April four S.79s attacked Allied ships in Nettuno bay, claiming three sunk. Two aircraft were lost, one being that of the group C.O. Capitano Faggioni. A third aircraft was damaged and force-landed during the return flight to Lonate. A few days later Capitano Marini took over as Gruppo commander.

I Gruppo Caccia’s operations included nine sorties, with six engagements over Friuli, Southern Austria, and Croatia. Four Allied bombers and four fighters were claimed, against a loss of five Macchi C.205s.

While the Allied armies were bogged down on the Anzio-Cassino line, ANR operations were carried out well behind the front lines, due in large measure to the RSI’s defensive stance. Both tactically and strategically the ANR’s mission was to counter 12th and 15th Air Force medium and heavy bomber attacks against the logistical and communication lines between Germany and the Italian industrial base.

After their initial skepticism the Germans came to regard the ANR as an efficient RSI armed force and came to depend heavily on the ANRs support in facing the ever increasing Allied air superiority. However, the problems of using mixed ANR-Luftwaffe formations was further demonstrated on 29 April, when Bf 109s of JG 77 jumped a I Gruppo Caccia formation. Mistaking the Macchi C.205s for Mustangs, two C.205s were shot down and their pilots were killed.

On the next day twenty II Gruppo Caccia Fiat G.55s had their first combat, claiming one B-24 probably shot down, but losing their first pilot during the action. By mid-May I Gruppo had scrambled eighteen times, claiming two P-51s, a P-38, and four bombers, for the loss of three Macchi C.205s. On 12 May two C.205s were destroyed on the ground in a surprise P-38 attack on Reggio Emilia airfield. Six more fighters were badly damaged on the ground two days later when the airfield was again attacked. Only one further combat took place in May, on the 25th, when ten I Gruppo C.205s and sixteen II Gruppo G.55s claimed a bomber and three probable P-38s, but losing one plane each.

I Gruppo was briefly withdrawn from operations because of its heavy losses in both aircraft and personnel and also for an open rebellion to the Government of several of its pilots, tired of seeing their efforts mainly aimed at easing the task of the German fighters instead of defending their home towns. Meanwhile II Gruppo, plagued by spare parts and engine problems (Fiat had been bombed again on 24 April), began converting to Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6s, mainly brand-new machines with some received from II./JG 53 and I./JG 77. Pilot training on the German fighter began in June. II° Gruppos G.55s were turned over to I° Gruppo to make good their losses.

Meanwhile, Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Buscaglia’ had been preparing for a spectacular operational re-entry – an attack on Gibraltar. To carry out the mission ten S.79s were deployed to the French base of Istres on 3 June. This bold operation took place during the night of 4/5 June and was made easier by the floodlighting of the crowded harbor. The Italians claimed four ships sunk, for a total of 30,000t, with two more being hit. Since the attack lasted for a while, British night fighters were able to intervene, and while no torpedo-bombers were shot down, two were forced to land in Spanish territory. The attack got little publicity, being overshadowed the next day by news of OPERATION OVERLORD – the Allied landings in Normandy. Still, the Gibraltar raid testified to the spirit and gallantry which made the ‘Northern’ Air Force the effective air arm that it was.

On 7 June II Gruppo Trasporti ‘Trabucchi’ left for Germany with forty-eight S.82s ‘loaned’ to them by the Germans.

I Gruppo Caccia returned to operations with a number of Squadriglia ‘Bonet’ aircraft and personnel attached to it. Between 4 and 20 June, nine scrambles were made leading to three engagements, with two B-24s claimed for the loss of four G.55s and a C.205. However, as we have seen, battle fatigue and continuous casualties, had caused I Gruppo Caccia’s morale to decay rapidly, leading the ANR to relieve a number of pilots from operational duties. Capitano Arrabito replaced Capitano Visconti as C.O., and one of the three Squadriglie was disbanded and replaced by the permanent incorporation of Squadriglia ‘Bonet’.

Having virtually completed its training on the Bf 109G-6, II Gruppo Caccia returned to combat on 24 June, claiming two P-47s of the French “Lafeyette” Group shot down, without a loss.

July and August were hot months for both the fighters and the torpedo-bombers. I° Gruppo Caccia engaged in combat seven times, claiming three P-47s and a Spitfire against the loss of eleven C.205s and seven pilots. The Gruppo lost four aircraft on both 1 and 20 July. Capitano Arrabito was among the 20 July casualties and command reverted to Capitano Visconti. During the same period, II Gruppo obtained impressive results operating Bf 109G-6s from its new Villafranca base, near Verona. Twelve Messerschmitts were lost in seventeen combats, with ten A-20s, six P-47s, four Spitfires, three B-24s and a P-38 being claimed shot down.

After sinking a ship and damaging another off Bari on 6 July, Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Buscaglia’ transferred to Athens with eight S.79s for operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Three missions were flown between 9 July and 12 July, two S.79s ditching after running out of fuel. The unit then temporarily returned to Italy, where six aircraft were destroyed on the ground at Lonate on 29 July. In spite of this, fourteen S.79s returned to Greece on 31 July for a second tour of operations, which ended on 11 August with a score of ten ships claimed sunk and two damaged, for a loss of four aircraft, two of which were shot down by German Flak during the transfer flights.
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Re: Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 jan 2010, 19:54

OPERATION PHOENIX and its Consequences

III Gruppo was officially formed during the first half of August by merging two Macchi C.202 equipped Squadriglie Autonome Caccia, which had spontaneously formed during the first half of 1944 with a miscellaneous collection of aircraft, but had never reached operational status. The Squadiglia Addestramento Caccia’s staff operated with the Gruppo Complementare Caccia. Placed under Capitano Malvezzi’s command, the Gruppo’s heterogeneous aircraft complement prevented it from becoming operational before mid-August. It was planned that III Gruppo would inherit the Macchi C.205s and Fiat G.55s of I Gruppo, who in turn was scheduled to receive the Bf 109G-6s which JG 77 would leave behind when it returned to Germany.

The plan fell through, however, as ANR operations began clashing with decisions made by the Luftwaffe Italian command. The Germans had never willingly accepted the political and operational autonomy which ANR units had exercised during the months following the Armistice. Moreover, not only was the ANR the most effective of the RSI armed forces, but the ANR was the least influenced by politics and the most distant from the government’s positions. After failing to recruit ANR personnel en masse into the Luftwaffe when the RSI was born, the Germans attempted another take-over in August of 1944 under the code-named “Operation PHOENIX”.

General Wolfram von Richtofen, Luftwaffe Italian commander, on 25 August 1944 sent to all ANR units Luftwaffe officers, whose armed escorts in some cases blocked airfield exits and took over telephone exchanges. ANR personnel were informed that the ANR had been dissolved and they were ordered to choose between joining a Luftwaffe ‘Italian Legion’ or going into German Flak Divisions.

The bland reaction of many offices and support units contrasted sharply with the violent and determined opposition of operational units, which led to the risk of armed conflict. I Gruppo Caccia set fire to its aircraft rather than surrender them, and II Gruppo Caccia drove the Germans out at gun point. Informed of the situation, Mussolini immediately protested to Hitler. Richtofen and his staff were recalled to Germany and replaced by General von Pohl.

The Germans repossessed II Gruppo Caccia’s Messerschmitts, and both fighter Gruppo’s were without aircraft, while the Gruppo ‘Buscaglia’ was still reorganizing after its heavy Aegean operational cycle. The net results of “Operation PHOENIX” was to paralyze ANR operations for over two months.

Realizing that an efficient Italian fighter force would release Luftwaffe fighters for the defense of the Reich, General von Pohl offered the ANR his complete co-operation and support. It was decided that I Gruppo Caccia would go to Germany for transition training on the Messerschmitt Bf 109G, with which it would re-equip, and that III Gruppo would soon follow. While this was going on II Gruppo would be the only fighter unit operating over Northern Italy after the last Jagdgeschwader returned to Germany in late September. II Gruppo would also be re-equipped with Bf 109Gs.

An ANR reorganization had meanwhile taken place in September. The Gruppo Complementare Caccia, Comando Aerosiluranti and Squadriglia Bombardamento ‘Ettore Muti’ (which never became operational), together with a number of lesser units were disbanded. I Gruppo Caccia dissolved its Squadriglie and reformed on three Squadriglie and a Sezione di Gruppo (Staff Flight) under the name ‘Asso di Bastoni’ (Ace of Clubs). When it became known that Maggiore Buscaglia, presumed to have died in combat over Bougie Bay, had instead survived and, upon being released from captivity, had joined the Co-belligerent Air Force, an embarrassed ANR changed the name of Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Buscaglia’ to Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Faggioni’ in honor of the commander who had died in action.

ANR operations resumed on 19 October, when II Gruppo Messerschmitts fought 319th BG B-26s, with eight B-26s being claimed (three effectively shot down) for the loss of a single Bf 109G. Two more combats took place in October, with three Allied aircraft being claimed for the loss of three Bf 109s.

“Terracciano’and ‘Trabucchi’, the two Italian transport groups operating in support of German troops, were continually forced to retire west as the Eastern Front was relentlessly pushed back by the Russians. Because of continual retreat and growing difficulties with German peripheral commands, the personnel of both groups were ordered back to Italy without aircraft on 28 October. However, because of the lack of aircraft in Italy, the units’ personnel were formed into anti-parachutist battalions. Terracciano’s operational cycle had spanned some six months and 2500 flying hours, the two transport units together having ferried some 3000 troops and 2300 tons of equipment.

In November of 1944 the Mediterranean Army Air Force (MAAF) was forced to take measures against II Gruppo Caccia which, in the five combat missions flown between 4 and 16 November from its new Aviano base, had claimed seven B-17s, five B-26s, two P47s and two P-51s against the loss of four Bf 109Gs. Between 17 and 22 November MAAF carried out a series of heavy raids against the airfields at Ghedi, Villafranca, and Aviano. Seven Bf 109Gs were destroyed on the ground. Aircraft losses, however, were not as worrisome as pilot loss, since the Germans, willingly supplied replacement aircraft.

Since early November, I Gruppo had been training in Germany, at Holzkirchen, where it was converting to the Bf 109G. III Gruppo followed in mid-December with training being carried out at Furth. A number of I Gruppo pilots were also given the opportunity to train on the revolutionary Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet rocket interceptor, but a combination of poor weather and advancing Russians prevented the Italian pilots from completing the course.
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Re: Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 08 jan 2010, 19:58

The Last Winter of War

On the Italian front, the frigid 1944/45 winter severely curtailed operations, with II Gruppo making only three combats in December, but claiming five B-25s. three P-51s, and a Spitfire for the loss of a single Bf 109. Fourteen Bf 109G-10s, however, were destroyed on the ground by marauding P-47s of 350th FG on Thiene airfield.

On 26 December Gruppo Aerosiluranti ‘Faggioni’ returned to operations with four S.79s hitting a 7000t ship off Ancona. The group flew its final mission on 5 January 1945, when two S.79s claimed to have sunk a 5000t ship in the Adriatic. To help alleviate fuel shortages which was seriously curtailing operations of the big three-engined torpedo-bomber, it was proposed to re-equip Gruppo ‘Faggioni’ with the single-engine, single-seated Fiat G.55S torpedo-bomber, a prototype conversion of which was flown successfully in March of 1945. The proposal, however, never bore fruit and Gruppo ‘Faggioni’ ceased operations claiming a score of thirteen merchant vessels and a destroyer for a total of 115,000t. Twelve crews (60 men) had been lost in action.

By early 1945 ANR Fighter forces over northern Italy consisted only of II Gruppo Caccia. And even for these few fighters fuel shortages and the lack of spare parts brought about severe cutbacks in flights. In light of the tremendous Allied air superiority, ANR fighters represented little more than a nuisance to their opponents

By February the numbering system of the Squadrighe within the three Gruppi Caecia was changed to the following:

I Gruppo Caccia II Gruppo Caccia III Gruppo Caccia*

1a Squadriglia 4a Squadriglia 7a Squadriglia

2a Squadriglia 5a Squadriglia 8a Squadriglia

3a Squadriglia 6a Squadriglia 9a Squadriglia

*not operational

In January flying was hampered by poor weather, but in February operations resumed at an intense level, partially because by late January I Gruppo had returned from Germany equipped with fifty-two of the Luftwaffe’s latest DB 605AS and DB 605D powered Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10s. And while III Gruppo continued its training at Furth, Maggiore Visconti’s I’ Gruppo completed its operational re-organization at Malpensa and Lonate Pozzolo airfields.

Under the command of Maggiore Miani, who had replaced Tenente Colonnello Alessandrini in late 1944, II Gruppo engaged in combat four times during February, intercepting MAAF bombers attacking the Brenner Pass lines of communication. Ten B-25s and a Spitfire were claimed, against the loss of six Messerschmitts.

To reinforce its tactical reconnaissance organization in order to gain information which would enable German ground forces to counteract Allied preparations for an anticipated attack on the Gothic line, the OKL decided to deploy a reconnaissance unit to Italy equipped with jet aircraft. In mid-March three Arado Ar 234s belonging to the Kommando Sommer were deployed to Campoformido, from which they operated until the end of the war. Two Squadrighe of II Gruppo were assigned to cover the jet aircraft’s take-offs and landings. That the Germans entrusted the protection of their Arado Ar 234 jets to an Italian Squadriglia testified to the confidence and respect which the Luftwaffe had in the ANR.

The Scuola di Volo a Vela (Gliding School), the last ANR unit to be organized, was officially formed in early March of 1945, but had in fact been operating for some months, complementing the training of new pilots
NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.


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