Regia Aeronatutica in Operation Battleaxe

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ivanmoe
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Regia Aeronatutica in Operation Battleaxe

Post by ivanmoe » Sat May 15, 2010 10:09 am

I'm doing some research on Operation Battleaxe , June 15-17, but have been unable to find a source that cites RA North Africa-based squadrons which helped blunt the Commonwealth offensive. I would really appreciate any help that STORMO! members might be able to extend me in this regard. Gentlemen?

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Vincent Biondi
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Post by Vincent Biondi » Sat May 15, 2010 12:53 pm

Ivanmoe,
The new book that was just released by Hakan Gustavsson and Ludovico Slongo; DESTER PRELUDE EARLY CLASHES June-November 1940, might have what you are looking for.
I know that it is availabvle in the UK and soon to be released here in North America, sometime this summer.
Hope that this helps you,
Vincent.

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Post by ivanmoe » Sat May 15, 2010 1:09 pm

I've actually looked at that volume, but its going to be released in two parts. The author has indicated that the publisher divided it into two releases to keep the size down. Regrettably, I need the second half!

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Ludovico Slongo
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Post by Ludovico Slongo » Sun May 16, 2010 1:46 am

Dear Ivanmoe,
I wish to warmly thank Vincent Biondi for the advice he gave you, however, the second volume of Desert Prelude, covers only the air was during the Compass offensive period, from December 1940 to beginning of February 1941, so it is out of scope for your research.
Nevertheless I can give you some pieces of information.
Italian fighter units present in Libya during June 1941 were:

18° gruppo caccia terrestre on Fiat CR 42 (based in Benghazi and Derna) on three squadriglie : 83, 85 and 95.

151° gruppo caccia terrestre on Fiat CR 42 (based in Tripolitania)
on three squadriglie: 366, 367 and 368.

376 squadriglia autonoma caccia terrestre on Fiat CR 42 (based in Tripolitania)
The CR42s of 18° Gruppo saw sporadically action over the front line, mainly as fighter-bombers while the other units were chiefly employed in convoy escort and point defence duties far from the front line.

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Ludovico Slongo
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Post by Ludovico Slongo » Sun May 16, 2010 1:54 am

For some reason connected with the PC I wasn't able to continue to write my message so I continue here.

There were also three fighter gruppi on Fiat G50/G50bis
.
2° gruppo operated over the front line in escort duties for the benefit of German and Italian Stukas. It was formed by 150, 152 and 358 squadriglia.

155° gruppo was in Tripolitania recovering after the spring tour of duty over Tobruk and had been just reached by the sister gruppo 20° coming from Belgium where it had operated with the C.A.I.
Both gruppi would later see extensive action during summer autumn and the Crusader offensive and were equipped with G50bis.
Finally 374 squadriglia, momentarily detached from 153° gruppo, that was to rejoing in July, operated from Benghazi in point defence and convoy escort duties, flying on Macchi C200.

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Ludovico Slongo
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Post by Ludovico Slongo » Sun May 16, 2010 2:09 am

Again I wasn't able to continue in the same message... Sorry for the inconvenience

Squadriglie of 155° gruppo were: 351,360 and 378 while squadriglie of 20° gruppo were: 151, 352 and 353. These units didn't see service over the front line during "Battleaxe".

Regarding ground attack forces, the depleted 50° stormo had been retreated from the front line in February,and replaced by 96 gruppo bombardamento a tuffo on Ju 87 Stuka (not tropicalized). The gruppo had been retreated in May with almost all the planes in need of revamping and had been rplaced by 239 squadriglia autonoma bombardamento a tuffo, on JU 87 R-5, previously part of 97° gruppo. This Stuka unit operated frequently over Tobruk, during the months of June and July 1941.
There were for sure also bombing, torpedo bombing and reconaissance units. I'll see later if I'm able to find anything on them.
ciao
Ludovico

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Post by ivanmoe » Sun May 16, 2010 9:14 am

First, let me extend sincerest thanks to you for helping out with this. I regard the slack treatment of the Regia Aeronautica by English-language historians to be nothing short of scandalous. Because of it, there really is something of a void regarding the factual details that I've inquired about.

I've tried to summarize your comments regarding units of the RA that were available to participate in Operation Battleaxe:

18° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat CR 42 - Derna & Benghazi
83 Squadriglie
85 Squadriglie
95 Squadriglie
_____________________________________________________
151° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat CR 42 - Tripoltania
366 Squadriglie
367 Squadriglie
368 Squadriglie
_____________________________________________________
376 Squadriglie Autonoma Caccia Terrestre - Fiat CR 42 - Tripoltania
_____________________________________________________
2° Gruppo - Caccia Terrestre - Fiat G50/G50bis -
150 Squadriglie
152 Squadriglie
358 Squadriglie
_____________________________________________________
374 Squadriglie (detached from 151° Gruppo ) - Macchi C200 - Benghazi
_____________________________________________________
239 Squadriglia Autonoma Bombardamento a Tuffo - JU87 R-5 -
_____________________________________________________

First, feel free to correct me if I've failed in my interpretation of your comments, or in transcribing them.

Second, I have some questions:

Are you aware of the number of aircraft that were available to the different organizations that you cite above?

Are you aware of the location of 2° Gruppo? I believe that most of the German fighters were based at Gazala. Could they have been located there? Likewise, I believe that the Luftwaffe based its Stukas at Tmimi during this period. Could 239 Squadriglia have been based there?

Again, I'm profoundly grateful to you for the information that you've provided. Any further details that you can add would be terrific, including any information about bombers and such.

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Ludovico Slongo
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Post by Ludovico Slongo » Sun May 16, 2010 9:37 am

Dear ivanmoe.
first some small corrections.
Not squadriglie but squadriglia.
Squadriglia is singular while squadriglie is plural.
Not Tripoltania but Tripolitania, that was the western part of Libya.
You've forgiven 20° gruppo caccia terrestre equipped with Fiat G50bis and formed by 151 squadriglia, 352 squadriglia and 353 squadriglia.
This unit was based in Tripolitania too, so not available over the front line.
Finally 374 squadriglia was previously part of 153° gruppo not 151° gruppo.
I'll add for sure more details as airbase of the different units and (if I'll be able) combat strenght, plus something more on bombers.
Regards
Ludovico

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Post by Ludovico Slongo » Sun May 16, 2010 9:40 am

Dear ivanmoe,
you've also forgiven 155° Gruppo on Fiat G50bis
351 squadriglia
360 squadriglia
378 squadriglia

Regards

Ludovico

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Post by ivanmoe » Sun May 16, 2010 11:48 am

Ludovico,

Thank you for looking over my work so carefully. I've attempted to make the corrections as follows:

18° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat CR 42 - Derna & Benghazi
83 Squadriglia
85 Squadriglia
95 Squadriglia
_____________________________________________________
151° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat CR 42 - Tripolitania
366 Squadriglia
367 Squadriglia
368 Squadriglia
_____________________________________________________
376 Squadriglia Autonoma Caccia Terrestre - Fiat CR 42 - Tripolitania
_____________________________________________________
2° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat G50/G50bis -
150 Squadriglia
152 Squadriglia
358 Squadriglia
_____________________________________________________
374 Squadriglia (detached from 153° Gruppo ) - Macchi C200 - Benghazi
_____________________________________________________
239 Squadriglia Autonoma Bombardamento a Tuffo - JU87 R-5 -
_____________________________________________________
155° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat G50/G50bis - Tripolitania
351 Squadriglia
360 Squadriglia
378 Squadriglia
______________________________________________________
20° Gruppo Caccia Terrestre - Fiat G50bis - Tripolitania
151 Squadriglia
352 Squadriglia
353 Squadriglia

This is coming along very nicely. Suffice it to say, I'd likely have never figured this all out on my own.

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Post by ivanmoe » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:15 am

Hi Ludovico,

Do you have any more order of battle information for the Regia Aeronautica in Libya during Operation Battleaxe?

As always, sincerest thanks,

Moe

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