Monday, March 9, 2015

Corpo Aereo Italiano (CAI): HQ Brussels

Mussolini decided to join Hitler's subjugation of England and formed this expeditionary force on 10th September 1940. However, the units proved relatively ineffective in the aerial campaign due to outdated aircraft and tactics. They were withdrawn by 15 April 1941, having made a few coastal raids and local fighter patrols.

Another waste of Italian lives and equipment was the stay in Belgium by the CAI during the tail end of the Battle of Britain. The nonplussed Germans were polite allies, but really had little use for pilots who had had no bad weather flying training. It should have been obvious that even if little could be done in the short term about the equipment of the RA, then there was a desperate need for properly structured training. Those Italians fortunate enough to be trained by the Luftwaffe had their chances of survival greatly enhanced-and were more use as airmen. Here Fiat CR 42s of the 95° Squadriglia fly close escort to one of the five Cant Z.1007s of the 172° Squadriglia sent to the Channel. The aircraft with the white band is that of the Gruppo commander, Maggiore Ferruccio Vosilla.

An RAF airman shows where the arms of Savoy have been removed by victorious pilots (from 257 Squadron RAF from the Fiat BR20M, 243-2, (MM6976) of the 243° Squadriglia, 99° Gruppo, 43° Stormo, which crashed in Tangham Forest on Armistice Day 1940. It had been shot down by Hurricanes from 46 and 257 Squadrons RAF. Two of Tenente Affriani's crew were killed, the other four were taken prisoner.

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