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" Corpo Aereo Spedizione in Russia" Topic

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Robert Kennedy28 Dec 2013 2:19 p.m. PST

In addition to my thread on the Corpo Aereo Italiano in Belgium for the battle of Britain on the other site I would like to highlight the Regia Aeronautica's contribution to the German's efforts in Russia. Robert

"In August 1941 the Regia Aeronautica sent an Air Corps of 1,900 personnel to the Eastern Front as an attachment to the "Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia" (Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia, or CSIR) and then the "Italian Army in Russia" (Armata Italiana in Russia, or ARMIR) were known as the "Italian Air Force Expeditionary Corps in Russia" (Corpo Aereo Spedizione in Russia). These squadrons, initially consisting of 22 Gruppo CT with 51 Macchi C.200 fighters and 61 Gruppo with the Caproni Ca 31 bomber, supported the Italian armed forces from 1941 to 1943. They were initially based in the Ukraine and ultimately supported operations in the Stalingrad area. In mid 1942 the more modern Macchi C. 202 was introduced to operations in Russia. The CSIR was subsumed by the ARMIR in 1942 and the ARMIR was disbanded in early 1943 after disaster during the Battle of Stalingrad. The Air Corps pulled out of operations in January 1943, transferring to Odessa.

From 1944 to 1945, Italian personnel operated from the Baltic area and in the northern part of the Eastern Front under the direct command of the Luftwaffe under the name Air Transport Group 1 (Italian: 1 Gruppo Aerotrasporti "Terracciano" , German: 1 Staffel Transportfliegergruppe 10 (Ital)). This group was part of the National Republican Air Force of the Italian Social Republic."


Saetta on the Eastern Front

"In August 1941, the Italian air force command sent one air corps, formed of 22 Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre with four squadrons and 51 C.200s to the Eastern Front with the Italian Air Force Expeditionary Corps in Russia (Corpo Italiano di Spedizione in Russia). Together with C.202s, they claimed 88 to 15 victory/loss ratio. The first Macchis arrived in Tudora, near Odessa, on 13 August 1941, commanded by Major (Maggiore) Giovanni Borzoni and deployed in 359a, 362a, 369a and 371a Flights (Squadriglias). Macchi pilots carried out their first operations from Krivoi Rog, on 27 August 1941, achieving eight aerial victories over Soviet bombers and fighters. For a short time the 22 Gruppo was subordinated to Luftwaffe V.Fliegerkorps. Subsequently, they took part in the September offensive on Dnjepr River, as the offensive went on, they operated sporadically from airstrips in Zaporozhye, Stalino, Borvenkovo, Voroshilovgrad, Makiivka, Oblivskaja, Millerovo and the most eastern location, Kantemirovka. The Italians moved to Zaporozhye late in October 1941. In December 371a Squadriglia was transferred to Stalino but replaced two days later by 359a with 11 Macchis. On 25 December, the C.200s flew low-level attacks against Soviet troops that had beleguered the Black Shirt (Camicie Nere)Legion Tagliamento, at Novo Orlowka. And on 28 December, pilots of 359a claimed nive Soviet aircraft, including six I-16 fighters, in the Timofeyevka and Polskaya area, without loss.

During February 1942, the C.200 was employed in attacking Russian airfields at Kranyi Liman, Luskotova and Leninski Bomdardir. On 4 May 1942, the 22 Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre, that had reached its operational limit, was replaced by the newly formed 21 Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre, composed of 356ma, 382ma, 361ma and 386ma Squadriglia. This unit, commanded by Maggiore (Major) Ettore Foschini, brought new C.202s and 18 new Macchi C.200 fighters. During the second Battle for Kharkov (1230 May), the Italians flew escort for the German bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. In May, the Macchi's pilots received praise from the commander of the German 17th Army, mostly for their daring and effective attacks in the Slavyansk area.[34] During the German advance, in summer 1942, 21 Gruppo Autonomo C.T. transferred to Makeyevka airfield, and then to Voroshilovgrad and Oblivskaya. Increasingly, the Macchis were tasked to escort German aircraft and on 25 and 26 July 1942, five C.200s were lost in aerial combat.

The following winter, the Soviet counter-offensive resulted in a retreat of the Axis forces. By early-December, only 32 Saettas were still operating, along with 11 Macchi C.202s. The losses grew in the face of a more aggressive enemy flying newer aircraft. The last major action was on 17 January 1943: 25 Macchis strafed enemy troops in the Millerovo area. The aviation of the ARMIR was withdrawn on 18 January, bringing 30 Macchi C.200 and nine C.202 fighters back to Italy and leaving 15 unserviceable aircraft behind. A total of 66 Italian aircraft had been lost on Eastern Front – against, according to official figures, 88 victories claimed during 17 months of action in that theater.

The summary of Corpo Italiano di Spedizione in Russia operations included: 2,557 offensive flights (of which 511 with bombs dropping), 1.310 strafing attacks, 1.938 escort missions, 15 Saettas lost in combat. The top scoring unit was 362a Squadriglia commanded by Captain (Capitano) Germano La Ferla, that claimed 30 Soviet aircraft shot down and 13 destroyed on the ground."


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2013 3:13 p.m. PST

Quite interesting Robert.
Thanks for share!.


Phil Gray28 Dec 2013 3:30 p.m. PST


Fatman30 Dec 2013 12:13 p.m. PST

This is a subject I have covered from other sources but more info is always good. The Axis air forces on the eastern front is a bit of an obsession with Phil Grey and I. The mix of Second rate equipment and ,often, first rate pilots is fascinating.


Robert Kennedy30 Dec 2013 12:46 p.m. PST

I feel the same Fatman. The minor air forces and volunteers have always fascinated and been a draw to me. The Italians,Slovaks,Rumanians,Hungarians,Croats,Spanish. Robert

Fatman30 Dec 2013 5:54 p.m. PST

OK so I should start at the bottom and work my up rather than start at the top and work my way down please ignore my last two posts.


Robert Kennedy30 Dec 2013 6:19 p.m. PST

No prob my friend grin. Robert

Robert Kennedy30 Dec 2013 6:22 p.m. PST

On another discussion site that I moderate on its hard to show some that there were others that fought in the war besides just the Germans LOL. Robert

Phil Gray03 Jan 2014 5:45 p.m. PST

Tis a pity…

My personal favourites are the FARR… As I tend to focus on the initial Barbarossa/ Fall Blau period of the Ostfront so they get to play with a very varied deck of kit… Older Allied types (Hurricanes/ Potez 63s, Blenheims) plus unwanted Axis gear (He 113 anyone, a twin motor SM79 perhaps) az well as their own homebrewed stuff (IAR 80/81)
Oh, and OF COURSE, it really has to be the FARR because they get to actively defend Ploesti against the mighty Zveno…
And there's Bernad's nice books on the Odessa campaign to give extra source material for scenarios :-)

Robert Kennedy04 Jan 2014 11:44 a.m. PST

I find the use by the Rumanians of the PZL-37 Los,PZL-24E and PZL P-23 Karas .Then there was the Slovaks use of the Avia B.534. Robert

Robert Kennedy04 Jan 2014 6:33 p.m. PST

Welcome Phil and Tango grin. Robert

tuscaloosa07 Jan 2014 5:41 p.m. PST

Not to mention the Romanian Hurricanes, valiantly intercepting B-24's…. And didn't the FARR have the only pilot of WW2 to achieve Ace status by shooting down Germans, Russians, and Americans?

Robert Kennedy13 Jan 2014 6:32 a.m. PST

The mixes there have always made for some good possibilities grin. Robert

Robert Kennedy14 Jan 2014 5:11 p.m. PST

And I think so tuscaloosa. I'll have to check my sources. Robert

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