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Old 22nd May 2006, 16:39
Andy Fletcher's Avatar
Andy Fletcher Andy Fletcher is offline
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41° Gruppo AS

Did 41° Gruppo AS fly ops against the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky). I believe the unit was based in Sardinia (base?) as of Apr43 (as stated in a recent thread), was it still based there in Jul43?

Where was 132° Gruppo AS based at the time of the invasion of Sicily (if it was still in existance)?

Regards

Andy Fletcher
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Old 22nd May 2006, 18:33
Gianandrea Bussi Gianandrea Bussi is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

41° Gruppo AS was probably based at Siena at that time, his 205a Squadriglia
beind detached in Sardinia (on 15 july it was at Decimomannu, one day later
it went to Pisa).
132° Gruppo was then at Littoria (it has been operating since 1942 in the Italian AF without being disbanded, now it's flying in the Fighter bomber/recce role with AMX in 51° Stormo).
132° Gruppo flew some sorties during Husky and I think that 41° Gruppo did it too.

Gianandrea
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Old 22nd May 2006, 21:40
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Andy Fletcher Andy Fletcher is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

Hi Gianandrea,

Great data. Thank you very much for the info, it's much appreciated.

Best Regards

Andy Fletcher
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Old 22nd May 2006, 22:20
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Ludovico Slongo Ludovico Slongo is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

Dear Mr. Fletcher,

it is still quite difficult to reconstruct with a fair degree of precision the operations of Italian torpedo bomber units during the months of July and August 1943. Not sure of this but I suppose that the biggest problem should be the lack of the original war diaries of these units.
However, regarding 41° Gruppo it is possible to add some little informations taken from the studies of Italian researchers such as Carlo Unia, Ferdinando Pedriali and Tullio Marcon.
According with Marcon, that is specialized in operations in the Mediterranean (and in my opininon is an extremely competent and accurate hystorian -moro or less as Mr. Bussi) at the beginning of Husky the Italian torpedo bomber force was by composed six Gruppi in Italy (41°, 89°, 108°, 130°, 131° and 132°) and one in the Aegean island of Rhodes (104°).
41° Gruppo -according with Unia- on August the 8th 1943 was commanded by torpedo ace Maggiore Massimiliano Erasi and it seems likely to me that Erasi was the CO even one month before. Its two Squadriglie were 204a -commanded on August the 8th by Capitano Giuseppe Cipelletti and 205a -commanded on the same date by Capitano Alberto Piacentino, even here it seems likely to me that the COs of the Squadriglie were the same at the beginning of Husky.
A torpedo bomber "Raggruppamento" had been formed in Central Italy and comprised, among the other units 204a Squadriglia based at Siena-Ampugnano while 205a Squadriglia was based in Sardinia in Milis airstrip and equipped with four SM79s. Total Italian torpedo bomber force was 61 SM 79s but only 22 of them were combat ready on July the 9th.
The activity of the torpedo bombers was quite unlucky. It seems probable that only one hit was achived during July in exchange for at least seven losses, the hit , however, was an important one because was scored on the carrier HMS Indomitable on the night between July the 15th and July the 16th. Responsible for this lucky strike was a 204a Squadriglia's SM 79 piloted by Capitano Carlo Capelli (co-pilot Sottotenente Ennio Caselli) that had taken off from Gioia Del Colle in Puglia. Indomitable restarted operations at the beginning of 1945 in the Pacific. This victory has been assigned by other hystorians to 284a Squadriglia of 131° Gruppo but from the very accurate research of Marcon -that made full use of Royal Navy documents- it seems almost sure that this success was obtained by 41° Gruppo.
Regarding 132° Gruppo it took part too in the night missions off the coast of Sicily suffering quite heavy losses without results during July and early August. According with Unia, on July the 9th, the Gruppo was based at Gorizia with five SM 79s -none combat ready- then it moved to Central Italy to operate against the Allied fleet. Unit commanders on August the 8th were Maggiore Gabriele Casini, Capitano Giuseppe Cimmichi (CO of 281a Squadriglia) and Capitano Carlo Faggioni (CO of 278a Squadriglia), it seems likely to me that these officiers were CO of their Units also on July the 9th. Then, in mid August, 132° Gruppo started operations against Allied shipping off the Tunisinian coast apparently with much greater success. According with Pedriali, the Unit, in four night attacks, was able to claim hits on four Allied merchant ships : night 14-15/08/43 off Bizerta LST-414; night 15-16/08/43 between Bougie and Algeri Empire Kestrel and off Bone Benjamin Contee;night 16-17/08/43 LCI -1 in Biserta harbour, all in exchange of a single SM 79 lost to rise to ten the toatl number of Savoia Marchetti SM 79s lost during the period of the Allied invasion. Not sure of the sources of Mr. Pedriali but -if real- this last seems not a bad performace, obtained in 1943 by the 1935 vintage Savoia...
Hope you find this useful.
Regards
Ludovico.
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Old 23rd May 2006, 02:11
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Andy Fletcher Andy Fletcher is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

Hi Ludovico,

Thank you very much for the very detailed data and for taking the time to post it. I never fail to be amazed by the level of knowledge possessed by members of this forum. Thanks again.

Best Regards

Andy Fletcher
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Old 23rd May 2006, 02:59
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

According to a French book built from French archives, on the night of 16 August 1943, 3 enemy AC were reported at 23h44 25 km NNE of cap de Fer, west of Bône, and two were shot down shortly later. The same source told of an Allied convoy attacked off Bône: Empire Ketrel sunk, Benjamin Contee damaged. The same book says that Italian sources reported two losses by 132° Gruppo AS, but I will rather believe you....

On the night of the 17th, an estimated 60 Ju 88s raided Bizerte so I don't know if the loss of the LCI can be attributed to Italian torpedo bombers.

In both case it is unclear if the book is considering respectivelythe night of 15-16 and 16-17, or the night of 16-17 and 17-18.

By the way, according to this site (http://www.galik.com/stanleygalik1922/lci/lci06.htm), the LCI-1 was lost in the evening of the 17th, and also to bombs.
I remember reading an article about the story of the LCI-1 a long time ago and I also had the rememberance it was bombed, not torpedoed.

Benjamin Contee was not a good target for Italian airmen, according to the USN official chronology:
"16 August 1943
U.S. freighter Benjamin Contee is hit by aerial torpedo 16 miles north of Bone, Algeria; while the explosion kills 264 and injures 142 of the 1,800 Italian POWs on board there are no casualties to the 43-man merchant complement, 27-man Armed Guard, 26 British guards and 7 Army security people. Italian-speaking crewmen reassure the anxious prisoners that the ship is in no danger of sinking; Benjamin Contee ultimately returns to service."

The British LST-414 is listed as being sunk on 15/8/43 N of Tunis by "German aircraft", that can be translated by "Axis aircraft".
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Old 23rd May 2006, 12:04
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Andy Fletcher Andy Fletcher is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

Thanks for the extra info Laurent.
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Old 23rd May 2006, 16:48
Gianandrea Bussi Gianandrea Bussi is offline
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

One addiction to the Mr. Slongo report.
Erasi was commander of the 41° Gruppo since 17 september 1942 (source: Mister Bridge, by Sponza-D'Agostino: it's the only existing Erasi's biography).

Even though Unia's book reports that 132° Gruppo was at Gorizia on 9 july 1943, according to the book "Il Gruppo Buscaglia alla vigilia e dopo l'armistizio"
by Gabriele Casini (who was the 132° Gruppo commander after Buscaglia was missing at Bougie in november 1942 and hold it until Buscaglia came back to Italy in the summer 1944) this unit was based at Littoria since 27 june 1943, coming from Istres, and stayed there until 10 september 1943.
I think that Casini's statement is more reliable because he was the unit commander at that time.

Gianandrea
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Old 23rd May 2006, 23:52
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Re: 41° Gruppo AS

Thanks again Gianandrea.

Best Regards

Andy Fletcher
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