German Stuka Pilot's views of the Italian Air Force

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Vincent Biondi
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German Stuka Pilot's views of the Italian Air Force

Post by Vincent Biondi » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:20 pm

Hello All,
I just found these two clips on YouTube.
It is so refreshing to here positive and great things about Italian airmen and the units by a veteran Luftwaffe Stuka pilot.
Enjoy!
Vincent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA9OJRzA ... re=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk6QHXdR ... re=related

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Post by Editor » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:40 pm

Thanks Vince, great investigative work as always. I'll try to get these videos put into the Videos page. Nice to see something accurately portrayed for a change.
Vince Tassone

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Post by Vincent Biondi » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:26 am

Hi Vince,
I was happy to find them!
I particularly like his comment in the Pedestal video when he said that... the Italian airman were very brave and the SM79 torpedo pilots were brilliant...
Vincent.

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Post by Arditi1961 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:09 am

These are great videos. I'd like to read the British version of events:

either:
1. The Italians were all shot down
2. None of the Italian torpedoes hit
3. The Italians turned around
4. What was hit was due to German bombs

Its great to see what we already know, that the battle in the Mediterranean in mid 1942 was being won by the Italians.

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Post by Editor » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:18 am

One thing I'd add to this discussion is that the German bomber crews in the Mediterranean preferred Italian fighter escorts since German fighters tended to allow an attack to develop, surprising Allied fighters from above (ie., favoring the tactics used by German fighter pilots and the machinery they used; in a sense using the bombers as bait) while Italian escort fighters would attempt to prevent the attack from developing in the first place. This was seen for example when Italian fighters flew next to the bombers they escorted while German fighters would generally fly far above. This is why the German pilot in the video says he could see the Italian fighters. The video is instructive since it confirms that Italian pilots were in general well trained, "percise" or good shots and didn't require allot of smaller caliber weapons for point defense. I'd like to see a list or a table of German bomber losses when escorted by Italians and Germans :)
Vince Tassone

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Post by Vincent Biondi » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:14 pm

Another thing that I like is that Heinz Migeod refers to the Fighter and Torpedo Squadrons as "OUTSTANDING UNITS".
I have read some Allied books where RAF and USAAC would reluctantly say positive things about Italian pilots, but not really mean it.
Funny how almost 70 years later, the truth starts to come out.
Time for some of the Italian Historians to put away their politics and start taking advantage of such positive statements as these.
Italian airmen were very brave and credit is long, long overdue!
Vincent.

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Post by Bernhard_1978 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:04 pm

Very interesting statement indeed. But I don't agree on that point "German fighter pilots used bombers as a bait". Experiences made in the Battle of Britain showed the Jagdwaffe that close escort didn't work out very well. It left the initiative to the intercepting fighters - and in the end bombers as well as fighters were easy prey for Spitfires and Hurricanes.

German fighter pilots learned from that experience and preferred to fly in a position above (and often ahead) the bomber so that they could meet the interceptors on equal terms. To protect the bombers nevertheless remained the main goal of any escort mission and not to chalk up victories.

It's true that the bomber crews actually wanted to see the fighters close to them all the time so from their point of view a close escort probably looked more comforting.

Does anybody have information about changes in Italian fighter doctrines during the war? I couldn't find much about this issue...

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Post by Editor » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:58 pm

The tactics used by German fighter pilots, flying the Bf.109 for example, required that they fly at higher altitude in order to dive down on their oppoents. A correction to this tactic might have been to fly the bombers at even higher altitude, but again this would have negated the advantage of height - so it would appear though as if the bombers were used in some sense to lure or attract the enemy. btw these are the words of the German bomber pilots themselves - correctly or incorrrectly used. Whatever the fact, German bomber pilots did prefer Italian fighter escort in the Mediterranean when they could get it.

I'm not aware of a change in tactics used by CT units during WWII and as far as I know US FGs stuck to their bombers.
Vince Tassone

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Post by Bernhard_1978 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:22 pm

From the bombers' point of view it really could appear like they were used as baits - while from the fighters' point of view things looked possibiy quite different IMHO. Actually there were bitter and harsh arguments between bomber crews (plus Goering) on the one hand and the fighter pilots on the other hand about that during the BoB.

Escort tactics during WW II is really a highly interesting and controversial topic, isn't it? ;)

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Post by Editor » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:25 pm

Bernhard_1978 wrote: Escort tactics during WW II is really a highly interesting and controversial topic, isn't it? ;)
:) yes indeed, a very interesting and controversial topic!
Vince Tassone

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Post by Vincent Biondi » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:18 pm

.....Does anybody have information about changes in Italian fighter doctrines during the war?....

Hi Bernard,
The only thing that I am aware of is that certain pilots developed their own tactics within their own units, as the war progressed.
An example of this is the 3rd Stormo pilots like Gorrini and Bordon Bisleri, just to name a couple, had come up with a tactic for shooting down heavy bombers. Usually, a squadron of nine or less, depending on supply, MC 205s would be flying way above the on coming bombers, then coming in head on , one by one, Indian style shooting at the front of the bomber and at the last second turn upside down up right past them and fly up as the second fighter would do the same , then the third and so on.
This tactic was used against USAAF heavies and is described by Gorrini in the book: Ali d'Italia. La storia di Luigi Gorrini, «Vespa 2 by Giacomo Manfredi. .. Also, if the plane they were shooting at was a B17, the pilots would aim just above the bombardier and cockpit's position; if it was a B24, they would aim between the fuselage and closest engine on either side. These apparently, where the Achilles' heels of both bombers.
They were quite successful using this technique in the defense of Rome in 1943 with Macchi 205s.
Vincent.

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Post by Bernhard_1978 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:05 am

Hi Vincent,

thanks a lot for sharing this information with me, it's very interesting.

Is the book about Luigi Gorrini available in English?

Bernhard

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Post by Vincent Biondi » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:30 am

Hi,
As far I know, its in Italian only.
Vincent.

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Post by Stefano » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:56 pm

Bernhard,
You can find a description in English of this kind of attack here: http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_reiner.htm , towards the end of the file (but I suggest you to read it all, as it's extremely interesting).
It seems that this kind of head-on attack was used also by Luftwaffe fighters.

Stefano
Last edited by Stefano on Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Bernhard_1978 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:56 pm

Mille grazie, Stefano.

I will check it out soon. :)

saluti

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