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Air raid results, late June 1940

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:01 am
When Italy declared war, the French air force was very active and launched a number of raids against Italian targets. Not particularly impressive, of course, the only reason why I call it "aggressive" is because of the parlous state of the French bomber command by that state.

I was wondering if Italian sources provide information about the result of these raids. Here's a list. When there are two figures provided for the number of bombers, the figure in parenthesis corresponds to bombers effectively attacking, the others turning back or not finding the target.

1. Raids from metropolitan France:

12 June (evening): 4(2) LeO 451 attack Novi Ligure airfield.
13/14 June (night): 8(1) Bloch 210 attack Valdo Ligure fuel depot (one aircraft lost on landing)
14 June (evening): 3 LeO 451 attack the Turin Fiat factories (one lost on landing)
15 June: 6(3) Bloch 210 attack Novi Ligure. Only one finds the airfield, another bombs the Savone port, the third a railroad near Varazze (probably empty countryside).
17 June: 10 LeO 451 & Bloch 210 bomb 5 (!) different targets: the Fiat and Aeritalia factories in Turin, the airfield and fuel depot in Coni, as well as Novi-Ligure.

A total of 26 sorties was ordered, 18 aircraft attacked, losing 2 Bloch 210 and 1 LeO 451. The results were probably insignificant but I'd like confirmation.

2. Raids from French North Africa

15 June: 6 Martin 167F (Marylands, in RAF parlance) bomb Tripoli
16 June: 6 Martin 167F bomb the Cagliari seaplane base
19 June: 6 Martin 167F bomb the Zuara airfield (near Tripoli)
22 June: 27(25) DB-7 (A-20's for the USAAF, Boston I's for the RAF) attack various targets in Trapani (port, fuel tanks, barracks). Flak is nonexistant and the handful of defending CR-42's don't come close (probably can't), so the attack is described as going on "exactly by the book" at 3,500m.
23 June(1): 4(3)+1 LeO451 attack Palermo and Massala, one is lost on landing.
23 June(2): 9(3) Martin 167F attack the port of Zuara and claim one freighter and one fuel depot left burning.
23 June(3): 7 DB-7 bomb Palermo
24 June: 3 Martin 167F attack Zuara, 9 DB-7 attack Cagliari.

I would be particularly interested in the results of the Zuara attacks, as well as that of the big attack against Trapani (Sicily).

Thanks in advance
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by Håkan » Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:33 am

Hello.

A very interesting post!
I have a slightly different info on the French raids from North Africa…

15 June
Six French Glenn Martin GM 167s of GB I/61 attacked Tripoli harbour causing slight damage (the city was hit by one bomb) and suffering no losses.

16 June
Six Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs of GR I/61 attacked Elmas airbase near Cagliari, Sardinia, in the afternoon. A bomb hit a hangar where seven Z.501s were assembled to change the national insignias. Six aircraft went up in flames: four from the 183a Squadriglia (MM32254, MM32269, MM32282 and MM32197) and two from the 188a Squadriglia (MM35174 and MM35226) while the seventh (MM35271) was heavily damaged. Six personnel and a pilot died and the airbase was heavily damaged.
The 85o Gruppo R.M. of the Regia Aeronautica remained out of action for the duration of the campaign. A S.79 of the 32o Stormo, was surprised on the base and heavily damaged while Sergente Luigi Moretti of the 50a Squadriglia was killed.

19 June
French bombers attacked Zuara and Bir El Bhera without inflicting damage.
Comment: I don’t have numbers or type on this attack.

22 June
French bombers attacked Trapani where military installations didn’t suffer any damage but twenty civilians where killed.
The attack was conducted with 10 and 50 kilos bombs dropped by 27 Martin GM 167F from Groupement no1 (one from the Groupement HQ, six from GB I/62, five from GB II/62, six from GB I/63 and nine from GB II/63) in its first mission after the redeployment to AFN. Italian fighters, identified as CR.42s were seen but were unable to intercept.
Comment: According to my sources it was 27 GM 167Fs not DB-7s. What’s your source?

23 June
The French again bombed Zuara, this time by nine Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs from GB II/62, GB I/63 and GB II/63. No damage was suffered even if the French pilots claimed the destruction of a fuel storage.

In the afternoon Palermo was bombed by four Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs from GB I/62 and three from GB II/62, which killed many civilians.
Italian fighters claimed one of the raiders shot down. The returning French crews didn’t report any presence of Italian fighters but one Glenn crashed before coming back to base and another crash-landed at Canrobert without losses among the crews, reportedly suffering mechanical breakdowns.
Another bombing of Palermo was made by five LeO 451s from GB II/11 at Youks-les-Bains (aircraft no200 commanded by Colonel Chopin, no 201 commanded by Lieutenant Calmel, no 213 commanded by Lieutenant Zimmermann, no 144 commanded by Lieutenant Drougue and no 3005 commanded by Capitaine Bouyer). In fact, only Zimmermann and Calmel hit the intended target; Chopin returned early because of a breakdown, Bouyer attacked Marsala, Drougue’s aircraft, forced to take off late, returned at night and short of fuel; trying to force land on a beach near Cap Bon it exploded, killing the crew.
Comment: Again my sources says different numbers and types.


24 June
The French attacked Cagliari in Sardinia (small damages suffered after a raid by 13 Douglas DB 7s from Groupement no2) and Olivetti Village in Tripolitania (three GM 167Fs from GB II/63). Italian fighters, although scrambled immediately, were unable to intercept.
Comment: According to my sources, more Martins

I would be very interested to hear if you have any additional info on these raids and what sources you’re using.

Best wishes/Håkan
 

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Fri Jan 13, 2006 2:51 am

Håkan wrote:I would be very interested to hear if you have any additional info on these raids and what sources you’re using.
I'm looking for additional information, particularly the results of these raids - which I assume were slight to nonexistant. The list of raids was drawn from:

Le bombardement français, Tome I 1939/1940, Aérojournal Hors-Série n°5 (June 2003) - the author is Christian-Jacques Ehrengardt

I'm also using

La campagne de France (4ème partie): Les combats franco-italiens, 10 juin-25 juin, Batailles aériennes n°11, Jan-Mar 2000.

And various notes taken from unit histories during a trip to archives years ago (though my purpose at the time wasn't to research this particular topic, so some of the information is relevant here but most is not).

What is your source ? What you write is very close to the "Batailles Aériennes" account.

Håkan wrote:16 June
Six Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs of GR I/61 attacked Elmas airbase near Cagliari, Sardinia, in the afternoon. A bomb hit a hangar where seven Z.501s were assembled to change the national insignias. Six aircraft went up in flames: four from the 183a Squadriglia (MM32254, MM32269, MM32282 and MM32197) and two from the 188a Squadriglia (MM35174 and MM35226) while the seventh (MM35271) was heavily damaged. Six personnel and a pilot died and the airbase was heavily damaged.
The 85o Gruppo R.M. of the Regia Aeronautica remained out of action for the duration of the campaign. A S.79 of the 32o Stormo, was surprised on the base and heavily damaged while Sergente Luigi Moretti of the 50a Squadriglia was killed.
Thanks, I had received additional information since my query: first Supermarina told me of a half-dozen Cant Z.501's destroyed, then someone else in another forum told me of 7 being destroyed (with numbers and rest of the story), now you're saying it was actually 6 destroyed + 1 heavily damaged + 1 S.79. We're getting there...
:-)


Small nitpick, the bombers were coming from GB I/61, i.e. the same unit that had attacked the day before and would attack again on the 19th. GB = groupe de bombardement, GR = groupe de reconnaissance. Theoretically, the GM-167F's were supposed to be recon planes, but in practice they were shifted to bombing groups in the general emergency. Under Vichy, they mostly reverted to their originally intended rôle. That's why some sources mention it as GR I/61.

Håkan wrote:19 June
French bombers attacked Zuara and Bir El Bhera without inflicting damage.
Comment: I don’t have numbers or type on this attack.
The usual suspects: 6 GM-167F's from GB I/61
:-)


Håkan wrote:22 June
French bombers attacked Trapani where military installations didn’t suffer any damage but twenty civilians where killed.
The attack was conducted with 10 and 50 kilos bombs dropped by 27 Martin GM 167F from Groupement no1 (one from the Groupement HQ, six from GB I/62, five from GB II/62, six from GB I/63 and nine from GB II/63) in its first mission after the redeployment to AFN. Italian fighters, identified as CR.42s were seen but were unable to intercept.
Comment: According to my sources it was 27 GM 167Fs not DB-7s. What’s your source?
The Ehrengardt one, though looking it up I find that it says GM-167F's and I just copied it wrong. Also, only 25 planes attacked, 2 had to abort before reaching the target.

Håkan wrote:23 June
The French again bombed Zuara, this time by nine Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs from GB II/62, GB I/63 and GB II/63. No damage was suffered even if the French pilots claimed the destruction of a fuel storage.
6 abort above Gabes due to bad weather, the remaining 3 (which for the first time carry a 4-man crew)drop 800kg of bombs and claim that a cargo and a fuel depot were left on fire. The Italians record the loss of one 440 GRT ship from air attack around that time, which I tentatively attributed to the French for that reason: overstating the size of the target is common, but a burning ship is hard to misreport...

Håkan wrote:In the afternoon Palermo was bombed by four Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs from GB I/62 and three from GB II/62, which killed many civilians.
Italian fighters claimed one of the raiders shot down. The returning French crews didn’t report any presence of Italian fighters but one Glenn crashed before coming back to base and another crash-landed at Canrobert without losses among the crews, reportedly suffering mechanical breakdowns.
What were the Italian fighters involved ?

On the one hand, French statistics routinely count as "accidents" aircraft lost on landing, which means some combat losses (i.e. the aircraft made a bad landing because it was damaged and not the other way around) are swept in the "lost from accidents" category, but on the other hand unit diaries usually mention enemy fighters when encountered. If this was a case of "enemy fighters attacked us, no air combat losses, 2 accidents (crews missing)" I would give the Italians the benefit of doubt, but in that case, I'm not sure.

Incidentally, this is another case of my writing DB-7 for GM-167F. I ave been veree sloppee eet seems...

Håkan wrote:Another bombing of Palermo was made by five LeO 451s from GB II/11 at Youks-les-Bains (aircraft no200 commanded by Colonel Chopin, no 201 commanded by Lieutenant Calmel, no 213 commanded by Lieutenant Zimmermann, no 144 commanded by Lieutenant Drougue and no 3005 commanded by Capitaine Bouyer). In fact, only Zimmermann and Calmel hit the intended target; Chopin returned early because of a breakdown, Bouyer attacked Marsala, Drougue’s aircraft, forced to take off late, returned at night and short of fuel; trying to force land on a beach near Cap Bon it exploded, killing the crew.
Yes, this matches what I have. Now since they bombed at the altitude that the LeO was designed to be using - 5,000m - I assume that they didn't hit much (also, the raid took off around 18:00 so it must have been dusk when they arrived), but I'd like to be sure. Also, minor spelling nitpick: the dead aircraft commander's name was Drogue, not Drougue.

Håkan wrote:24 June
The French attacked Cagliari in Sardinia (small damages suffered after a raid by 13 Douglas DB 7s from Groupement no2) and Olivetti Village in Tripolitania (three GM 167Fs from GB II/63). Italian fighters, although scrambled immediately, were unable to intercept.
No difference for Tripolitania - except that they hit near Olivetti instead of Zuara, guess I should look up a map to see how close that is - but regarding Cagliari, 15 DB-7's are assigned to the mission. II/19 prepares 5 aircraft of which one fails to take off and the other 4 abort due to mechanical trouble (lack of logistical facilities = engine revision backlog, plus the fact that the planes had not been adapted for use in Africa), so in the end only 9 DB-7's from II/61 carry out the mission.
 

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by Franco » Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:07 am

"la regia aeronautica 1939-1943" report this attacks (maybe best write allarm)
night 12/13th june
Roma, Gaeta, Livorno, La Spezia, Genova, Piacenza, Milano.
13th june
Albenga, Finalmarina, San Remo
night 13/14th jun
Novi Ligure (with LeO)
14th june
Cagliari/Elmas (idroscalo) 6 dead and 30 wounded, 7 idro damaged
15th june
Tripoli 3 dead 22 wounded (Maryland)
16th june
Savona (railways bridge) 1 dead 1 wounded, Livorno, Cagliari/Elmas 7 dead 12 wounded, 6 Z501 destroyed
night 16/17th
San Remo, Cuneo, Alba, Mondovì
night 17/18th
Albenga 5 dead 11 wounded, Genova, Villanova
18th june
Cagliari, Livorno, Savona, La Maddalena, Albenga, Cuneo, Fosssano, Mellea, Ospedaletti, Borgioverezzi. Some wounded
19th june
Bir el Bhera, Zuara, Punta Albaro, Castel d'Appio, Finalmarina, Bordighera, Alghero 2 fighter damaged
night 21/22nd june
Aosta, Imperia, Fiano torinese
22nd june
Cagliari
23rd june
Zuara, Sassari, Savona, Livorno, Finalmarina
24th june
Palermo, Trapani, Zuara (in violation of armistice), and a airport in Sardinia (not specified the town)

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by Håkan » Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:10 pm

Hello Inspecteur Clouzot,

Some of my sources on the French attack are indeed from “Batailles Aériennes” but also various Italian sources (thanks to great contributions from a colleague).

Do you have any info on Italian raids on French targets in North Africa?

Best wishes/Håkan
 

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:49 am

Franco wrote:"la regia aeronautica 1939-1943" report this attacks (maybe best write allarm)
Thanks for the list. I tried to match these reports with what I knew of French & British attacks, and so far, numerous alerts were _not_ bombing raids (even counting the aircraft missing their targets), likely candidates being in that order:

1. Italian airplanes wrongly identified as enemy,
2. Allied non-bombing flights, e.g. recon, or bombers en route to some other location.

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Mon Jan 16, 2006 3:51 am

Håkan wrote:Some of my sources on the French attack are indeed from “Batailles Aériennes” but also various Italian sources (thanks to great contributions from a colleague).

Do you have any info on Italian raids on French targets in North Africa?
There are quite a few listed in the "Batailles Aériennes" issue, but other than that, no. The Italians made numerous attacks on Bizerte, I remember one effective raid and the rest was fairly ineffective. Also a couple of raids on Algeria if I remember well.

What Italian sources were you using ? It seems that the official history doesn't provide much in the way of details beyond the list of alerts mentioned by Franco.

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by Franco » Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:35 am

Inspecteur Clouzot wrote:
Franco wrote:"la regia aeronautica 1939-1943" report this attacks (maybe best write allarm)
1. Italian airplanes wrongly identified as enemy,
2. Allied non-bombing flights, e.g. recon, or bombers en route to some other location.
and also English flights.

Italians attack:

12th June

S.M.79 (32° Stormo) on Biserta, Kairouan, Karouba, Sidi Ahmed
B.R.20 (13°) on Tolone

13th June
C.R.42 (23° and 151° Gruppo) Fayence, Hyeres
B.R.20 (13° Stormo) Tolone (2 bombers down and 1 lost in sea, one from 172a rec. flight)
S.M.79 (from Sicily) Tunisi airports

15th June
C.R.42 (150°. 23°. 18° gruppo) Airports in Provenza
S.M.79 (46° Stormo) Ajaccio, Calvu, Alesan, Ghisonaccia airports
(losts, incidents included 10 C.R.42 1 S.M.79 1 B.R.20 (172a rec. flight)

16th June
Bombers on Menzel Tmir and Campo dell'Oro airports
Ba.88 (7° gruppo) on Corsica airports
Z.506 on Biserta

17th June
attacks on Tunisia and Corsica
(losts 1 C.R.42, 1 G.50, 1 Z.506, 3 M.C.200)

19th June
S.M.79 (36° Stormo) on Biserta
(9° Stormo) on Corsica airports with escort of G.50 (22° stormo)
Ba.88 (7° gruppo) pm Bonifacio and Portovecchio

20th June
Z.506 (86° gruppo) on Biserta, 1 idro lost

21st June
tactical attacks on Alpi
bombers (from 3a Squadra) attacks Corsica, Tolone, Marsiglia
(losts 2 M.C.200, 1 B.R.20)

22nd June
tactical attacks on Alpi
S.M.79 (46° Stormo) on Marsiglia
(30° and 36° Stormo) on Biserta

23rd June
tactical attacks on Alpi
S.M. 79 on Biserta
 

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Thu Jan 19, 2006 10:17 am

Thanks again for the numbers, Franco.

May I ask what your source is ?

I am going to consolidate all this information in a single document to see if it makes more sense. This may imply making choices, e.g. the 12th June Italian raids against French North Africa are described as recon missions in French sources but as "attacks" in yours.

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Thu Jan 26, 2006 3:15 am

Ok, sorry it took me longer than I thought, but as promised I finally got around to consolidating all this information into one single narrative. Comments are welcome. This is part 1 of 3. Apologies for the lack of formatting, the whole document is available online (see url in the third post) along with some tables.

11 June:

1 BR 20 from 8 Squadriglia (25 Gruppo, based in Ghemme) flies a reconnaissance mission over Toulon, but has to abort after 4 hours of flight due to bad weather. Another aircraft will be sent at the end of the day and complete the mission.

1 SM 79 from 11 Squadriglia (26 Gruppo, Viterbo) overflies Bastia and the di Borgo airfield in Corsica.

Seaplanes of the Regia Marina (RM) and the Regia Aeronautica (RA), plus some SM 79's, fly reconnaissance missions over French North Africa (AFN), two planes each being sent over Oran, Bizerte, Karouba, Sidi Ahmed and Algiers. No French reaction.

French aircraft also fly reconnaissance missions (e.g. GR I/61 from Voulas-les-Bains) particularly over Italian airfields.

One Italian raid mentioned against Malta from British sources.(2)


11/12 June:

36 RAF Whitleys (from 10, 51, 77 and 102 squadrons) take off from Britain to bomb Turin, refueling on the Channel islands. Most don't manage to find their target due to bad weather and poor night flying skills, but 9 bomb Turin and 2 Genoa. (3) Neither city was blacked out and Genoa's lights stayed on. 15 civilians are killed and 30 wounded in Turin and the Fiat factory is hit.

Apparently, some Italian sources claim that there were some Wellingtons from 99th squadron based at Salon (southern France) which the French prevented from taking off out of fear of reprisals. I don't know whether it's true or not.


12 June:

S.M.79 (32° Stormo) on Biserta, Kairouan, Karouba, Sidi Ahmed (5) - 21 SM-79's from gruppi 27 & 28 based in Sardinia attack Bizerte (Tunisia). These are veteran crews from the Spanish Civil War, and they obliterate a French seaplane reconnaissance squadron (Out of the 6 Loire 70 seaplanes of the E7 flight of the French Naval air service (AN), 4 are destroyed and another damaged. The pilots will be transferred to the French Air Force (AdA) bomber group GB II/25), while a fuel depot is set afire at Sidi Ahmed. French AA fire claims 7 aircraft damaged. 6 MS 406 from GC III/5 are scrambled but arrive too late. However, Moranes continue providing CAP until they end of the day so that when a lone SM-79 comes to assess the results of the raid it is forced to turn back, though it manages to escape. One Morane crash lands due to lack of fuel. This was one of the most successful Italian bombing raids.

B.R.20 (13°) on Tolone - Over France, the Italians send 5 reconnaissance missions toward Toulon. The first one with one BR20 (S/Lt de Michelis) from 14 esquadriglia of Gruppo 4 (Lonate Pozzolo) overflies Camps des Maures, Cuers, Hyères and Toulon, before being intercepted by French fighters and having to make an emergency landing near Bergame. Sufficient information is gathered to prepare next day's bombing attack against Toulon. Four more reconnaissance missions against Toulon are launched but all abort due to bad weather.

In the evening, 4 LeO 451 from 2e escadrille of GB I/25 – these are the few crews from I/25 that have been transitioned to the new aircraft - are sent against Novi Ligure airfield of which 2 reach the target, the other 2 abort. (4)


12/13 June: Air alerts mentioned in Italian sources (5) (all further locations in italics from now on will be from the same source): Roma, Gaeta, Livorno, La Spezia, Genova, Piacenza, Milano.

8 BR20's of gruppi 11 & 43 attack Toulon (5.6 tons of bombs) with no great effect, the raid is broken up by heavy AA fire.


13 June: Albenga, Finalmarina, San Remo

C.R.42 (23° and 151° Gruppo) Fayence, Hyeres (5) - At 11:00 am, the CR-42 fighters from Gruppo 23 attack the Fayence airfield, followed by others from Gruppo 151 that make a strafing attack against the Hyères one (both airfields in the Toulon area). French AA is heavy and the biplanes eventually withdraw, but not before shooting down a Vought 156 from AB3 that was coming back to land after a training flight.

B.R.20 (13° Stormo) Tolone (2 bombers down and 1 lost in sea, one from 172a rec. flight) (5) - Then 19 BR-20's from the Gruppi 11 and 43 attack local airfields, but they are a few minutes behind the fighters, and they are intercepted by GC III/6 and AC3 that had been scrambled after the initial attack. These fighters will miss the Fiats which had been their original target, but find the bombers. At 11:00, 3 D.520's from GC III/6 (which only received these machines 2-3 days before) take off, led by Adj Le Gloan, with Lt Martin and Adj Goujon. They fly towards Hyères when at 11:30 they spot 4 BR 20's from Gruppo 43. The Fiats jettison their bomb load over the sea and turn back, but are quickly overtaken. A first bomber is shot down (MM2105, crashing at Agay 8km west of St-Raphael) in a combined attack, the other two scatter and try to escape individually in clouds while Lt. Martin turns back as his weapons are inoperative. The remaining two pilots shoot down another bomber (MM21503 – crashing at sea 15 miles off Cap Camarat) after multiple firing runs with their machine-gun (cannon ammunition having been exhausted).

Another B.R.20 manages to land thanks to the exertion of its pilot (mar. Bruni), the aircraft commander is dead and three other crew members (including the pilot) wounded, probably from the heavy AA fire (the fleet fired most of its onboard AA ammunition). Other bombers land with lighter damage, one of these from Esquadriglia 15 probably damaged by a Bloch 151 from AC3.

All in all, this attack against the Toulon area is an Italian failure. The main reason is that all that the Italian fighters achieved was getting French interceptors to take off in time to intercept the Italian bombers rather than suppressing French air defenses. The Italians would have been better off making just one escorted raid instead of sending the fighters and the bombers separately. It is unclear whether the Regia Aeronautica deliberately sent its fighters ahead of the bombers in a fighter sweep or whether this was the result of coordination problems. In the former case, this was a tactic which backfired because it was too subtle for the primitive French air warning system and because Italian fighters had neither the autonomy nor the technical ability to maintain air superiority ahead of the bombers. Coordination problems are, however, the more likely explanation given both sides' track record in the campaign.

S.M.79 (from Sicily) Tunisi airports (5)


13/14 June : Novi Ligure (with LeO)

NC 223.4 "Jules Vernes" from the B5 (AN) bombing flight leaves Bordeaux for a 12h35 mission during which it attacks Rome as well as the Porto-Marghera airfield near Venice. On that latter target, a stick of 8 bombs is dropped and the crew reports a fuel tank hit and burning, providing "formidable lighting" of the target.

8 Bloch 210 (4 GB I/23, 4 GB II/11) attack the Vado Ligure fuel depot (n°143 from II/11 is lost on the return leg, the crew surviving). Visibility is poor and only Captain Meiffren, commanding 1st flight of I/23, attacks the target. The rest of I/23 aborts and the others bomb a railroad north of Savona (probably empty countryside). One aircraft is lost from GB II/11 (6).


14 June: - Elmas, Genova, Milano, Firenze, Marghera, Livorno, Albenga, Savona, Roma

Operation Samoyede : the 3rd French squadron (cruisers Foch, Algérie, Dupleix, Colbert plus DD escorts) bombs Genoa with the French Naval Air Arm in support: AC3 provides fighter cover, AB2 and AB4 with Loire-Nieuports provide anti-surface cover, while AB3 deploys its 8 Vought 156's - one of which attacks Italian submarine Gondar with no results – later replaced by HS5.

In the evening, 3 LeO 451 attack the Turin Fiat factories. The weather is very poor and one crashes on the return leg from engine trouble, the gunner is killed (4). Another source (1) has this raid going on June 15th.
 

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Thu Jan 26, 2006 3:17 am

Part 2/3

15 June:

C.R.42 (150°. 23°. 18° gruppo) Airports in Provenza – C.R.42's from 150° Gruppo attack Cuers airfield where 6 of AB3's Vought 156's are destroyed on the ground.
Three 3-plane sections of Bloch 151's from AC3 scramble. The first one engages 15 C.R.42's over Le Luc, with no results on either side (though the French are credited for 2 victories), following which it patrols over Toulon.
The second section is caught while still climbing for altitude. One aircraft (section leader Lt de Vaisseau Ziegler, Bloch n°77) is damaged and crash lands, another (2nd Maître Briet) is damaged but manages to disengage and join the first section over Toulon, the third (2nd Maître Miramont, Bloch n°69) is also damaged but manages to shoot down a Fiat (MM 5579, Cap Nino Caselli) from 365a Sq. (150° Gruppo) before having to land in Hyères, and flying back to Cuers 30 minutes later.
The last section is massacred: AC3.15 (Mb 151 n°51, a/c Hourcade) is shot down and killed shortly after takeoff. AC3.8 (n°348, Soulimont) has barely the time to engage in combat when it is forced to crash land. AC3.9 (n°37, SM Le Bihan) is also shot down and crash lands, the pilot dying from his wounds. He will be credited with a victory for an aircraft rammed, though that is most doubtful.
The Italians have lost one aircraft (Caselli's) in combat. Another was forced to land due to engine trouble at Cuers, and was therefore captured by the French. The Italians claim 4 victories which is correct.

Around 11:45, two 3-plane patrols from GC III/6 (D.520) take off from Le Luc to intercept the Italian attack. The first one is led by Le Gloan, with Cne Assolant and Cne Jacobi (the latter aborts due to engine trouble). The second patrol includes Cne Guerrier, S/lt Capdeviol and Adj Japiot. Le Gloan and Assolant are ordered over St-Tropez where they intercept a dozen C.R.42's from 23° Gruppo. They "down" a first one together (in fact, this is likely one of 2 fighters from 23° Gruppo which are seriously damaged but manage to come back to base. Presumably, the aircraft dived for the sea and the French pilots believed it had crashed), then a second (the pilot, Cap. Filippi 75a Sq. bails out, that one is definitely a kill) and Assolant chases the last one until his guns jam and he turns back.
He then attacks another group of C.R.42's over Hyères (spotted by looking at AA fire), shooting down one and diving out of range of the remaining 8.
Meanwhile, yet another formation of C.R.42's makes a straffing attack over Le Luc airfield (destroying 3 D.520's) so Le Gloan and the second patrol are called over by radio, with the French ace shooting down another C.R.42 that crashes near the airfield. Regaining altitude, he spots a B.R.20 from 172a Sq. which he shoots down in 5 passes. Le Gloan is credited with 5 victories though the Italians only lost 3 C.R.42's (one from 23° Gruppo and 2 from 18° Gruppo) with 2 more from 23° Gr. heavily damaged.

S.M.79 (46° Stormo) Ajaccio, Calvu, Alesan, Ghisonaccia airports - Meanwhile, the Regia Aeronautica launches a series of attacks against Corsican airfields (where no French fighters are based): Calvi is hit by the SM 79's of 46° Stormo escorted by G.50's, Ghisonaccia is attacked by 6 S.M.79's (one shot down by AA), Campo dell Oro (near Ajaccio) is targeted by 10a Sq. but not hit due to bad weather, and various reconnaissance flights are staged in which another SM 79 is lost (according to Italian records below, this was probably a BR 20 instead).

Losses, including accidents: 10 C.R.42 1 S.M.79 1 B.R.20 172a sq. (5)

From North Africa, GB I/61 attacks Tripoli with 6 Glenn Martin 167F (Marylands, in RAF parlance). One bomb hits the city, 3 dead and 22 wounded.

Around 21:00, in very poor weather, 4 Bloch 210's from GB II/11 take off with 8x50kg and 20x10kg bombs each to attack the Novi Ligure airfield. Only one (n°138, Lt Zimmermann) manages to attack the target, n°205 (a/c Boissier) attacks the port of Savona, n°138 (Lt Vandeven) hits a railway track near Varazze (Varazzo ? probably empty countryside) and n°221 (Lt Drogue) has to turn back with engine trouble. (1) Four more Blochs from GB I/23 are assigned to the target, but only two manage to take off and they come back with their bomb load after having failed to find the target (4).


15/16 June:
Small Bomber Command detachment at Salon, near Toulon, operating Wellingtons: 8 sent to Genoa, 1 bombed. This detachment, at various times, consisted of aircraft from 99 Squadron which arrived in September 1939, 37 Squadron which arrived in October 1939, 149 Squadron, which had arrived in March 1940 and 75 Squadron with arrived in May 1940. Not sure whether the later arrivals reinforced or relieved the earlier detachments or for how long the various aircraft stayed. (3)

The "Jules Vernes" flies its last mission of the war. As it had done two days before, it takes off for a 12 hours mission over Livourne - where it remains over the target for an hour, dropping its bombs one by one until a tank is hit to provide illumination, Italian AA fire being ineffective - and Rome – where only leaflets are dropped.


16 June: Savona (railway bridge 1 killed, 1 wounded), Livorno, Elmas, Sanremo, Cuno, Alba, Mondovì

Bombers on Menzel Tmir and Campo dell'Oro airports - At 6:40, 6 SM 79 from 10a Sq attack the Campo dell Oro airfield in Corsica, dropping 22 bombs of which 19 miss the airfield.

Ba.88 (7° gruppo) on Corsica airports - The Bonifacio harbor (Corsica) is attacked by Breda 88's of 101a Sq.

From Africa, 6 Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs of GB I/61 attack the Elmas airbase near Cagliari, Sardinia, in the afternoon. A bomb hits a hangar underneath which were 7 Z.501s. Since the beginning of the war, Italian air units had been under strict orders to disperse while on the ground but the day before, an urgent order had had the planes temporarily gathered together in order to paint the new national markings: a white cross over the rudder.
Six aircraft go up in flames: four from the 183a Squadriglia (MM32254, MM32269, MM32282 and MM32197) and two from the 188a Squadriglia (MM35174 and MM35226) while the seventh (MM35271) is heavily damaged. Six ground crews and a pilot die, 30 are wounded.
Other aircraft, including some Cant.Z.506's are damaged as well as a S.79 of the 32o Stormo, surprised on the base and heavily damaged (his pilot, Sergente Luigi Moretti of the 50a Squadriglia is killed). The airbase itself sustains serious damage, putting 85o Gruppo R.M. of the Regia Aeronautica (146a, 188a, 183a squadriglie) out of action for the remainder of the campaign.

Apparently, this is the more destructive French raid of the campaign.

Z.506 on Biserta - The rest of the activity for that day consists of reconnaissance missions in bad weather. The Farman 10 E.2 "L'Arcturus" bombs Rossignano from Oran.


16/17 June : San Remo, Cuneo, Alba, Mondovì (RAF ?)


17 June:

Attacks on Tunisia and Corsica (losses 1 C.R.42, 1 G.50, 1 Z.506, 3 M.C.200) (5)

2 S.M.79's are sent on a reconnaissance mission over Tunisia. The first flies over El Djen but returns back with his bomb load, having failed to find a target. The other one returns with a series of photographs of Bizerte. As usual, GC III/5 tries to intercept but is warned to late. On the other hand, around 11:00 am a Czech patrol led by Lt Vezely from 2nd Escadrille of GC II/9 attacks the 1st Savoia. However, after firing 8 x 20mm and 80 rifle rounds, it is ordered to break off the attack and vectored towards the second bomber, which it doesn't find. The first S.M.79 is claimed "probably destroyed" though it lands without a problem.

(From Casablanca, GC III/4 flies its one mission of the campaign with its D.510's, to intercept an aircraft that remains unfound).

During the day, GB II/11 is in readiness with orders to launch a maximum effort (10 aircraft) against Turin. In the end, only 1 LeO 451 (n°82) from GB II/11 is sent against the Fiat and Aeritalia factories, bombing from 5,000m without a hitch (1) along with 2 more from GB I/23 (4).

2 Bloch 210's from GB II/11 and 3 more from GB I/23 attack the Coni airfield and fuel dumps. Two more LeO 451 from GB I/23, including that of the group commander (Cdt Bordes), are readied but don't take off.


17/18 June: Albenga 5 dead 11 wounded, Genova, Villanova

2 LeO 451's (n°253 & 337) attack Novi Ligure, though only one attacks the other having technical troubles.

4 Latécoère 298's from T4, under LV Camard, take off from Berre (near Marseilles) to attack Finale Ligure. Despite strong Italian AA defenses, they return to base at dawn with no loss.

18 June: Cagliari, Livorno, Savona, La Maddalena, Albenga, Cuneo, Fosssano, Mellea, Ospedaletti, Borgioverezzi. Some wounded.

GC III/6 which was the mainstay of fighter defense against Italy, is evacuated to AFN. GB II/11 prepares to attack German motorised columns but is then ordered to evacuate to Blida.

The Regia Aeronautica flies several reconnaissance missions: 1 B.R.20 flies toward Grenoble but aborts due to bad weather. 1 S.M.79 spots several French ships in the Bizerte harbour as well as seaplanes in Karouba. A Cant Z.506 from Sardinia takes pictures of the Algiers harbour and reports 3 French fighters trying to intercept it though this is unconfirmed from French records.

From Montserrato, a Fiat C.R.32 of 154a Squadriglia (ten. Broganelli) attempts to intercept what is believed to be a Potez 63.11 flying a reconnaissance mission. It turns out to be a Glenn-Martin of GR I/61 which has no trouble escaping due to its superior speed.


18/19 June:
AB2 & AB4, which had been gathered since the 16th to attack Novi Ligure, take off with 6 and 7 Loire-Nieuports respectively at 01:30am from Palyvestre in clear weather. However, the LV Lorenzi (formation leader) and his wingman turn back, and weather turns to storm at the Italian border. One pilot jettison his bomb, the others attack individually and make their way back. Two are missing (Mt Billien and SM Ricquier).

4 Laté 298's from the T3 flight take off from Berre to attack Finale Ligure, Italian flak is heavy but all come back.
AB3 sends 3 Vought 156's to bomb the Porto San Stefano railroad (still in the Ligure area), no losses.

19 June: Bir el Bhera, Zuara, Punta Albaro, Ventimiglia, Finalmarina, Diano Marina, Bordighera, Ventimiglia, Alghero (2 CR.32 damaged), Torralba

GB II/11 crosses the Mediterranean with 14 aircraft, will rebase to Youks-les-bains on 06/21. GB I/23 crosses with 5 LeO 451 to Blida.

All French raids from now on will be from North Africa.

6 GB I/61 GM-167F bomb the Zuara airfield (near Tripoli).

S.M.79 (36° Stormo) on Biserta – 6 SM 79's are sent against Bizerte, though 3 abort due to bad weather. The others drop their bombs at random amid violent French AA fire. None of the French fighter groups in the area are scrambled.
(9° Stormo) on Corsica airports with escort of G.50 (22° stormo) – At 09:40, 5 SM 79's from 19a Squadriglia drop some 20 bombs on Campo del Oro airfield (Corsica) from an altitude of 3,500m. Only 2 bombs hit the field, damaging a fuel cistern, no losses. AA fire is similarly ineffective. Other SM's from 13a and 63a Squadriglie attack Bordo in two waves, 6 at 9h40 and 2 at 10:00, scattering 50kg bombs none of which hit the Corsican airfield. At 10:30, 4 SM 79's from 18a Sq. attack Ste Catherine Est (Calvi airfield), dropping 15 200kg bombs of which 10 hit, destroying a photographic vehicle and cratering the runway. Again, no losses which isn't surprising as the airfields are practically empty.

Ba.88 (7° gruppo) pm Bonifacio and Portovecchio


20 June:

Cant Z.506's from 190° Sq (86° Gruppo) attack Bizerte, one lost from unknown causes.

No French action that day, first skirmishes between Italian and French troops in the Alps.
 

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by Inspecteur Clouzot » Thu Jan 26, 2006 3:33 am

And now the last part:

21 June:

La 1a Squadra has been reinforced (7° GC – Ba.88, 22° GC – G.50/C.R.42, 9° GC - ?, 31° GB – B.R.20, 59° GB – S.M.79) to a strength of 186 fighters and 95 bombers and flies in support of the Italian offensive in the Alps.

At 6:40, 6 BR 20's from 13° Stormo (11° et 43° Gruppi) attack fort Malgovert near Bourg-Saint-Maurice while 12 BR 20's from 25° Gruppo attack fortifications on the other side of the town. Over 50 bombs are dropped from 1,500m (i.e. above the cloud base) which miss the forts but hit the city itself. One soldier from 215th Infantry Regiment is killed.
A little later, 43 B.R.20's of 7°, 43° and 13° Stormi (Gruppi 4°, 11°, 25°, 43°, 98°, 99°) drop 170 bombs in Haute Tarentaise, followed by another 17 attacking the petit ouvrage "La Redoute Ruinée", guarding the pass through which the Italians try to move to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The fort will block these assaults and will fight on, even though surrounded, until the armistice.
5 B.R.20's from 31° Gruppo pay a new visit to the Bourg-Saint-Maurice forts, followed by another 11 from 25° attacking the Plate-Truc forts NW of the city. There again, weather prevents all but two of the bombers to identify their target.
8 B.R.20's from Gruppi 25 & 4 (7° Stormo) attack French artillery positions west of the city in Vulmis as well as the Aime / Moutiers railroad, without success.
Several other raids are aborted due to bad weather. Generally speaking, all the forts have remained impervious to even those bombs (100 & 200kg) that were close hits.

(losses: 2 M.C.200, 1 B.R.20)

At 6:40, the 172a Sq. sends a B.R.20 for a reconnaissance flight over Cannes, Toulon, Lyon and the Savoy valleys.

Bombers (from 3a Squadra) attacks Corsica, Tolone, Marsiglia – 10 S.M.79's from 104° Gruppo drop 80 contact-fused bombs over the Marseilles port. The port itself isn't hit, but 122 civilians are killed and others are wounded. Various French fighter units (including patrols of DAT, French air defense) try to intercept but the confusion is such that they don't even spot the Italian bombers.

Bizerte is attacked by SM 79's from 2a Squadra. In the afternoon, a lone SM 79 comes to assess the results, but for once GC III/5 has been alerted on time and Lt. Moran pursues it until the Cani island, putting one of the engines on fire. The French pilot eventually turns back due to lack of fuel, to be credited with a probable victory although the Savoia manages to land at its base with several wounded on board.

5 Laté 298's from the T2 flight attack a submarine sailing on the surface with 150kg bombs, only two of which explode, missing their target.


21/22 June: Aosta, Imperia, Fiano torinese

B.R.20's from 43° Gruppo drop 4.2 tons of bombs over Marseilles, though bad weather prevents visual bombing.


22 June: Cagliari

B.R.20's attack again – and again unsuccessfully – the Briançon forts. The Mont Ours fort is attacked by 9 B.R.20's whose 100kg and 250kg bombs are ineffective. At Menton, the Mont Agel fort is attacked by 9 B.R.20's from 43° Stormo. Other attacks are again cancelled due to bad weather.

The French air force is completely unable to react, only the FIC from the French Naval Air Arm is gathered in Hyères (near Toulon) although as it is being reequipped with D.520's it is not operational yet.

S.M.79 (46° Stormo) on Marsiglia

27 GM-167F's from Groupement no1 (one from the Groupement HQ, six from GB I/62, five from GB II/62, six from GB I/63 and nine from GB II/63) in its first mission after the redeployment to AFN attack various targets in Trapani (port, fuel tanks, barracks) with 10kg and 50kg bombs. 2 bombers turn back before reaching the target. Flak is nonexistent and the handful of defending CR-42's don't come close (probably can't), so the attack is described as going on "exactly by the book" at 3,500m. Military installations only receive light damage and 20 civilians are killed.

Off Karouba, one MS-406 from GC III/5 attacks 2 French CAMS 55 seaplanes from the 4S1 Squadron (AN), damaging one which eventually belly lands with two wounded aircrews.

(30° and 36° Stormo) on Biserta – Several SM 79's launch isolated raids against Bizerte without being intercepted, though damage is light.

During one of the innumerable naval patrols staged by the French Fleet Air Arm, one LeO H-470 (LV Guilloux) from flight E11 spots an Italian submarine escorted by a Cant Z.506. The large French seaplane drops two bombs on the submarine which miss it, and trade machine-gun fire with the Cant with no result, the Italian seaplane heading back to base.

A new submarine is spotted off Bougie. One Laté (M Chauby) from the T2 flight takes off and drops a 150kg bomb just alongside it, though the bomb fails to explode.


23 June: Zuara, Sassari, Savona, Livorno, Finalmarina (Piaggio factory hit)

In the Alps, bad weather makes follow-up attacks difficult, B.R.20's scatter a few bombs near French forts with no result.

Some Catane-based S.M. 79's attack Bizerte.

9 Martin 167F (3 each from GB II/62, GB I/63 and GB II/63) attack the port of Zuara. 6 abort above Gabes due to bad weather, the remaining 3 (which for the first time carry a 4-man crew) drop 800kg of bombs and claim a cargo and a fuel depot left burning. The Italians record the loss of one 440 GRT ship from air attack around that time.

In the afternoon Palermo is bombed by four Glenn-Martin GM 167Fs from GB I/62 and three from GB II/62, killing civilians. Italian fighters claim one of the raiders shot down. The returning French crews didn’t report any presence of Italian fighters but one Glenn crashes on the return leg with another being damaged on landing at Canrobert. No losses to the crews, French records attribute the losses to mechanical causes.

Another attack against Palermo is flown from 5,000m by five LeO 451s from GB II/11, just arrived to Youks-les-Bains from France: aircraft no200 commanded by Colonel Chopin, no 201 commanded by Lieutenant Calmel, no 213 commanded by Lieutenant Zimmermann, no 144 commanded by Lieutenant Drogue and no 3005 commanded by Capitaine Bouyer taking off at 18:00. Only Zimmermann and Calmel hit the target; Chopin aborts due to a mechanical problem, Bouyer attacks Marsala and Drogue’s aircraft, forced to take off late, returns at night. Short of fuel, it tries to land on a beach near Cap Bon and explodes, killing the crew.

A LeO H-470 (11.3) from the 11 E flight (AN) spots the 2nd Squadron of the Regia Marina, and keeps the contact despite AA fire. It finally turns back to Karouba when its fuel is exhausted, but by then the attack planes are en route. 10 Laté 298's from HB1 take off from Oubeïra though in the bad weather only their leader, LV Baron, manages to attack a cruiser (his bomb misses). 3 more Latés from T1 (Karouba) also took off but can't find the Italian squadron. 2 C.R.32's from Sardinia had been assigned as protection by the Italians but are not spotted.

During the night, 3S4 flight (AN) sends a LeO 258 and a LeO H257bis from St. Raphaël to Finale Ligure and Imperia. Flak is very heavy, but both aircraft come back unscathed.


24 June: Palermo, Trapani, Zuara (in violation of armistice), and a airport in Sardinia (unspecified location)

The armistice is signed at 19:15, becoming effective on June 25th at 00:35.

In the morning, 3 Glenns from GB II/63 attack Zuara (Olivetti village), with no losses. Italian fighters, although scrambled immediately, were unable to intercept.

The groupement n°2 with the DB-7's from GB I/19, II/19 and II/61 is finally operational in Soul-el-Arba. From a total of 23 available aircraft; 15 are assigned to an attack against Cagliari. II/19 prepares 5 aircraft of which one fails to take off and the other 4 abort due to mechanical trouble, so in the end only 9 DB-7's from II/61 carry out the mission.

French LeO H-470 seaplane E11.2, back to its base of Karouba from Toulon, encounters a Cant Z 506 and both large seaplanes engage in air combat. Gunners trade a few burst with no visible effect before each aircraft goes back its own way. This is probably the last air combat of the campaign.

Loire 130 n°16 crashes at sea on returning from a naval patrol mission, all 3 aircrews being killed.
 

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by orlando lorenzini » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:26 am

Dear Sirs hello!.
I haven´t the correct words to express my admiration for your excellent, nice, and instructive work.Dear friends Inspecteur Clouzot, Hakan and Franco my wholehearted thanks!!.One great salute from Ciudad Real, yours:

Pedro-Manuel Ruíz
 
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