Aerei & Elicotteri Militari – Edizione 2001

Aviation-related Magazines Guide

Subtitled ‘La Storia dell’Aviazione Militare Moderna: Le Grandi Imprese, L’Evoluzione Tecnologica, Modelli Mitici’. A series similar to ‘Aerei Militari’ (described below) and published at almost the same time. Published very two weeks, it comprises a series of 1:100 scale diecast aircraft models, each accompanied by a number of cards giving historical and technical details of the aircraft type modelled and of other types. The cards are divided into three categories: Protagonists, Helicopters and Aerobatic Teams. The series was first released in 2001 with the F-4J Phantom as the first model, and again from September 2002 (‘Edizione 2002’) in revised form – see below. The models were produced by the Italeri model company. The number of editions (or models) in the 2001 series is not known.

Further information: website: Fabbri Editori


Aviation-related Magazines Guide

Originally a monthly publication launched in October 1973 as Edizione Italiana di Air Enthusiast, with the majority of features translated from the UK magazine plus extra articles on Italian subjects. In the first few issues it even included the Fighters A-Z series which ‘Air International’ later concluded. ‘Aerei’ soon evolved into a genuinely Italian magazine, dropping the ‘Air Enthusiast’ originated features and introducing more local features on Italian and other aircraft types. The colour profiles, line and cutaway drawings were all locally produced to a high standard – although some of the cutaway drawings of Soviet types may have owed more than a little to the artists imagination.
In 1976 the publisher changed from Ermanno Albertelli Editore to the present publisher. Each issue contained 60 pages, on good quality paper, with many colour and b+w photos, cutaway and 3-view line drawings, colour profiles etc. The selection of feature articles was usually military biased, and was complemented by aviation news and modelling columns.
In 2001 it was extensively redesigned (including a new cover layout) and changed to a bi-monthly publication. It now comprises circa 78 pages in each issue, and concentrates almost exclusively on military aviation.

Further information: DELTA editrice s.n.c., Casella Postale 273, 43100 Parma, Italia. website: Aerei


Country Profile

The Country


Italy forms a ‘boot-shaped’ peninsula stretching 800 km (496 miles) into the Mediterranean, in southern Europe. It’s land borders are with France to the north west, Switzerland to the north, and Austria and Slovenia to the north east. To the east lies the Adriatic Sea, to the south the Ionian Sea and to the west the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. Italy also includes Sicily, Sardinia and about 70 smaller islands.

More than 75% of the land is hilly or mountainous. The northern borders are defined by the Italian Alps, where Monta Rosa reaches 4,634 m (15,203 ft). To the south of this lies a broad plain which features the water courses of several majors rivers, including the River Po and a number of ribbon-shaped lakes. A further mountain range called the Appennines rises in north west Italy and curves down the spine of the country to the tip of the Italian ‘boot’ and then continues in Sicily. Some points on this mountain chain are still actively volcanic. The total land area is 294,060 sq km (113,504 sq miles).
The Population of 57.2 million (2000 figure) comprises 94% of Italian origin, 2% Sardinian and 4% other ethnic groups. Some 83% of the people are Roman Catholic and 17% other faiths or non-religious. The capital city is Rome.

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National History

Summary Narrative History

Timeline – Key Dates in Italian History

Further National Information

BBC News Profile: Italy
Yahoo Italy page
wikipedia: Italy
wikipedia: History of Italy


Text to be added on the development of aviation in Italy.


Civil Aircraft Registrations

Italian civil aircraft have been registered in the series I-AAAA onwards since 1919. A historical I- register listing.

All-time Italy – civil aircraft register (I-aaaa) [TO BE ADDED].
[Get involved with the Aeroflight Cloud.]

Aircraft Operators

Military Air Arms

Current military air arms-
Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana)
Naval Aviation (Aviazione per la Marina Militare)
Army Aviation (Aviazione dell’Esercito)

Historical military air arms-
Army Aviation (Aeronautica del Regio Esercito) [1911-1923]
Naval Aviation (Aviazione della Marina) [1912-1923]
National Republic Aviation (Aviazione Nazionale Repubblicana) [1943-1945]

Central Government Agencies

Coast Guard Aviation (Guardia Costeria)
Customs Aviation (Guardia di Finanza)
Forestry Service (Corpo Forestale dello Stato)
Paramilitary Police (Arma dei Carabinieri)

Public Service Aviation

Medical Aviation (118 Soccorso)
Civil Defence Aviation (Servizio Nazionale Portezione Civile)
Fire Service Aviation (Vigili di Fuoco)
Police Aviation (Polizia di Stato)

Commercial Aviation

Air Dolomiti
Air Italy
Air One
Alpi Eagles [1996-2008]
Club Air
Eurofly [1989-2008]
ItAli Airlines

wikipedia: Airlines of Italy
The World’s Airlines: Italy

Private Aviation

To be added.


Aircraft Manufacturers

Italian Aircrafts 1939-1945
Aircraft Manufactured by Italy

Aircraft Maintenance/Repair Depots

None known.


Civil Airports & Airfields

Airports in Italy

Military Air Bases & Airfields

Military Air Bases Listing – to be added.

On Show

Aviation Museums

Deltaland – Parco Velivoli Storici
Museo Agusta
Museo Dell’Aria ‘Nido Delle Aquile’
Museo Dell’Aviazione
Museo Dell’Aeronautica Gianni Gaproni
Museo Nazionale Della Scienza e Della Tecnica
Museo Storico Dell’Aeronautica Militare Italiana

Airshow Dates

Key Airshow Dates

More Information

Aviation-Related Magazines

Magazines Guide for Italy

Aviation Bibliography

Italian Aviation Bibliography – to be added

Web Links

Aviation in Italy

Aviation Museums Italy

David Cenciotti’s Weblog

Italian Aviation

Italy National History

1861 re-unification of Italy. Aquires mall number of colonies, including Libya and Italian Somaliland. 1911 war with Ottoman Empire (Italy). 24 May 1915 Italy enters First World War on the side of the Allies, but with little success. 4 November 1918 end of war. 1922 Fascists take power. 1923 Greek island of Corfu invaded. 3 October 1935 invasion of Ethiopia – 7 month campaign. Economic sanctions applied by League of Nations. 1936 Axis agreement with Germany. April 1939 invasion of Albania. 10 June 1940 Italy enters Second World War on Germany’s side. Operations in North Africa and Somalia. 28 October 1941 invasion of Greece, but German assistance soon essential. 1942 occupation of southern France and Corsica. 1943 Allies invade Sicily and then Italy. 8 Sept 1943 Italy surrenders. Allied controlled territory switches sides to Allied cause, declares war on Germany 13 October 1943. German occupied Northern Italy becomes Repubblica Sociale Italiana. April 1945 RSI surrenders. 1946 abdication of Royal family. Founder member of Western European Union. 4 April 1949 founder member of NATO. Member of European Community.

[To be rewritten]

The Italian Front: The Air Battle

When Italy entered the Great War on May 1915, she found herself on the ropes almost immediately. The country’s vaunted army, although poorly trained and even worse stocked, (at the time of war Italy could muster thirty five frontline divisions) were suppose to overwhelm their main opponent, Austria-Hungary which only had twenty five deployed divisions along their common border. If a battle will to take place, the Italian Alps will most likely be the battle ground, so went the Italian military thinking at the time. The largely Italian Alpine frontier was manned by four army groups deployed on the Cadore, Carnia, Isonzo and Trentino sectors. All of the sectors, it was on the Isonzo combat area were the Italian deployed the bulk of its armed forces, fourteen divisions strong plus seven more on tactical reserve. Although the Italians possessed a clear man power superiority over the Austrians, they did lagged behind their opponents in the number of field artilleries deployed. A critical aspect on those days. Meanwhile, in the air, Italy’s Aeronautica del Regio Eserciti (Royal Army Air Service) RAAS; was better prepare than its army counterpart to take on their new task. Equipped with fourteen fully maned and equipped squadriglie fitted with Nieuports, Bleriots and Murice Farmans; they could more than hold their own against a perceived undermanned and under-equipped Austrian-Hungary air force.

When the Italians finally marched on toward war, it was their reconnaissance squadrons that paved the way for their initial success on the field. As the fight began to settled in, most of it on the eastern flank of the Isonzo River, the RAAS not only provided the army with much needed information on enemy troop and equipment movements, but it also commenced to assert itself on the air. At this time of the battle, the Italians meet little, if any at all, organized resistance from the Austrians. They controlled the air from day one. After achieving air dominance, Italian planes began to bomb and harass their enemy on the ground at regular bases. Its not coincident that it was in this sector of the front that the Italians made their biggest gains during the first months of fighting. Unfortunately for the them, the series of major defeats suffered by the embattle Russian army at Galicia, left the door open for the Austrian to redistribute their forces towards the Isonzo thus commencing the what is viewed as the second battle for that important river bank. This time around, the Austrian air force was augmented by newly received German Rumplers and Aviatik C-1s planes, which provided their field artillery batteries with excellent spotting and targeting information. Meanwhile, the Italian air force had been reorganized to, not only provide valuable reconnaissance data, but to interdict more directly on the ground with concentrating bombing and strafing missions. For this types of missions, the Italians depended heavily on their inventory of Macchis, Caudrons and Farmans. By the spring of 1916, the Italians had reduce the strength of their scout or fighting squadrons and concentrated their efforts on developing dedicated bombing units. In the accordance with the important of the Isonzo front, only two squadriglie of Nieuport 11s were deployed to defend the Santa Caterina and Aquileia sectors, while the rest were assigned to the Isonzo theater of operations. It was on this, the beginning of the second Isonzo Battle, that the Italians first encountered real Austrian opposition in the air. The Austrians, embolden by the arrival of a few number of Fokker E-I monoplanes and a growing number of Lohner and Lloyds reconnaissance platforms, began to challenge Italian air dominance. Those planes were supplemented by an infusion of Fokker B-II, D-I and D-II. The D-I, known simply as the “Star-Strutter” by its pilots, would become the symbol of the whole Austrian air effort over the Isonzo. Their main squadron, Fliegerkompanie Number 12, lead by the charismatic Austrian ace Godwin Brumowski; was assigned the task of preparing the Austrians to engage the Italians on an even base for the first time. A task he took with pride. In just a few months, Brumowski had develop the tactics that would serve the Austrians and some Germans pilots, for the rest of the war on the Italian theater. His Italian strategic counterpart, Francesco Baracca, also had develop a series of formations and tactics that enable him to lead all Italian pilots with thirty four confirm air victories. His efforts paved the way for Italy’s bombing campaign along the river bank. He died while flying a mission on June 18th 1918. For his brilliant exploits the RAAS employed his combat emblem after his death. In fact, the Cavallino Rampante, Baracca’s pride symbol, is still in use by the Italian air force today. A testament to Baracca’s contribution, not only to the war effort, but to Italy’s overall air force structure.

During the winter of 1916-17, the morale of the Italian ground troops plumed to an all time low. That particular winter brought with it one of the most unforgiven and coldest seasons ever experienced in Italy. Hundreds of troops died of frost bites, pneumonia and other weather-related illnesses. Adding to this misery was the sad state of the Italian army. Troops were exhausted, supplies were running short and the much needed equipment was constantly beaking up. In sum, the Italians were on the brink of collapsing. The Austrians were not fearing that well either. Their major operation at Bainsizza took a heavy toll on their now overextended army. The end result of the battle for the strategic Plateau not only decimated the ranks of the Austrian army but prompted the introduction of German combat troops into the Italian sector. As a direct result, a massive German buildup all along the Isonzo front caused the defeat of the Italian army at Caporetto on October 1917. The defeat at Caporetto brought the entire Italian-held front to the brink of collapsing. The situation was so critical that the situation forced the Allies to sent precious resources, both human and materials, to bolster the front. Eleven British and French first line divisions were rushed to Italy. Their air assets combined four British Royal Air Force squadrons with three French escadrilles. They arrived just in time. Their combine might, added to the extraordinary bravery of the Italian troops, help the Allies to fend off the Germans and Austrians at Piave. Meanwhile on the, air the fighting turned from tough to brutal. By this time the Italians had again reorganized its forces around the scout squadriglie. Eight Hanriot HD-1, four SPAD S.VII and three Nieuports not fully manned squadrons were forced into the battle. The Italians also deployed fourteen squadriglie fitted with Caproni bombers. In January 1918, what was probably Italy’s best light bomber platform of the war, the much anticipated Ansaldo bomber; began to arrive to the front in large numbers. Italian pilots, most noticeable, Baracca, made a career taking up their Austrians counterparts above the Isonzo during the later stages of 1917. On the other side of the front, Brumowski had changed his Fliegerkompanie’s aircraft from D-I to the more robust and better armed Albatross D-III. He and fellow Austrian ace, Julius Arigi, who would rack up thirty two kills before the war ended; were also engaging the numerical superior Italians with somewhat of a lesser success ratio. All of them scored the majority of their victories during the Caporetto offensive.

After Caporetto, the Italians, now embolden by an ever increasing number of Allied troops and aircraft; began a series of major offensive attacks that finally broke the back of the Austrian army at Isonzo. It took eleven major battles to decide the outcome of Isonzo, but in the end, the Italians and their Allies proved their worth. After August 1917, no Austrian major attempt was ever orchestrated against Italy’s Isonzo flank, freezing up Italian troops to be re-deployed to other war fronts. The end of Caporetto also marked the end of the bulk of the air battles over Isonzo. Several minor actions did take place, but they paled in comparison to other previous encounters. The battle toll for the Italians was enormous. Nearly 40,000 were killed, 108,000 wounded and 18,000 more taken prisoners. The Austrians lost 10,000 killed, 45,000 wounded and 30,000 were taken prisoners. A high toll for both side, but a bigger number for the already stretched thin Austrians.

– Raul Colon

More information:
Battles of World War I, Martin Marix Evans, The Crowood Press 2004
The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Air Warfare, Editor Chris Bishop, Amber Books 2001
World War I, Ian Westwell, Hermes House 2005

Newsflash: Italy Bombs the Turks!

The first decade of the Twenty Century saw the birth of the heavier than air machine, or aeroplane, as not only a transport vehicle but also as a military reconnaissance platform. In the years that followed the Wright Brother’s amazing feat at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903; the aircraft evolved from a primitive looking machine, to a more efficient platform. By the end of 1909, advances in aircraft design had fermented a different military vision of the aircraft. Aviation pioneers frequently postulated possible uses for this new dimension of warfare. An obscure Italian Army officer named Giulio Douhet, who today is considered the father of the current strategic bombing concept, wrote in 1909 that: “At present we are fully conscious of the importance of the sea. In the near future, it will be no less vital to achieve the same kind of supremacy on the air”. Prophetic words that hold true today.

In 1910, a series of test were performed that seemed to confirm what Douhet had stated a year before. On the morning of January 19th, United States Army Lieutenant Paul Beck, dropped dummy bombs in the form of sandbags over a remote area of Los Angeles, CA from a rudimentary aircraft flown by Louis Paulhan. On June 30th, American aviation pioneer Glenn H. Curtiss dropped dummy bombs from an altitude of 50′ on a buoy silhouette in Lake Keuka. This exercise was followed on August 20th by another performed by US Army Lieutenant, Jacob E. Fickel, who fired a rifle round at a ground target while flying his aircraft near Sheepshead Bay, NY. These types of experiment made headlines around, not only the US but the rest of the world. They sparked the aviation community to tinker with devices aimed at dropping grenades or bombs from an aircraft. Again, another US Army officer took the lead when Lieutenant Myron Crissy, flying in San Francisco, CA; became the first man to drop a live ordinance from an airplane. All these experiments proved that the dropping of live bombs from an aircraft was feasible, but as it is the case with so many innovative ideas, perception, not reality, carried the early torch for the proponents of massive bombing campaigns.

Bomb dropping had been a constant topic among aviation pioneers and military leaders since early 1910. Even the respected Scientific American magazine ran cover stories about it. They all imagined cities reduced to rubble, fortifications destroyed, entire battle fleets sunk; all by the perceived power of this new dimension of warfare. They failed to notice, that while early test results were promising, they were conducted in a controlled environment. Their attack altitude was no more than three hundred feet. No gun was fired at them and their targets were stationary. Added to this was the fact that by the start of 1909, no armed force in the world possessed an operational airplane. The situation improved in 1910, when around fifty aircraft were operational in the entire world. But by mid 1911, the situation was different. The aircraft was used in combat for the first time. The occasion was a little known colonial dispute that erupted in a larger conflict pitting the Italians against the Ottoman Empire for the control of Libya. The Italians, aware of the fact that they would be fighting in territory the Turks considered a home area and in need of an edge, decided to deploy their infant air component. Their air assets consisted of nine of the early Taube airplanes and two observation balloons. The Taube was the brainchild of a brilliant Austrian engineer named Igo Etrich. The Taube, meaning Dove in German, was an all wooden, canvas covered aircraft. It had a fuselage length of 33′-5″ and a height of 10′-5″. Its wingspan covered 45.8 sq ft. Its air-form frame allowed the aircraft to become nearly invisible to the people on the ground when it flew at altitudes above 1,200′. The plane was powered by a primitive piston engine that gave it a top speed of just under 60 mph. Controlling the Taube was a relative easy task by those day’s standards. Control in flight was achieved by warping or twisting the wings and tail, very similar to what the Wright Brothers did with their Flyer airplane. The first Taube prototype flew in early July 1910, and by late that year, the German company Rumpler bought the license to manufacture the aircraft. The aircraft went on to serve in the Great War. One sample even flew over the French capital in late September 1914 dropping propaganda leaflets. On the Eastern Front, the Taube played an important role in the Battle of Tannenberg, providing German commanders with accurate information regarding the Russian army movements and troop dispositions. Badly outclassed when the War began, by early 1915, the plane was delegated to training duties. But in November, 1911; the Taube was destined to make history. On the early hours of November 1st, 1911, a lone Taube aircraft took-off from a desert strip en route to the main Turkish line. At the controls was Italian Army Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti. Passing at around three to four hundred feet, Gavotti made a fleeting impression on the Turks just below. After two passes, the Italian pilot commenced what we now call a bomb run. Once in position, Gavotti proceeded to drop four 4.5lb Cipelli grenades. He literally pulled their pins out with his teeth before lobbing them out of the plane’s rudimentary cockpit.

Aviator Lt. Gavotti Throws Bomb on Enemy Camp. Terrorized Turks Scatter upon Unexpected Celestial Assault was the headline on all the wire services. A tremendous exaggeration to put it mildly. But an exaggeration that would in the future hold true. The astonish Turks response to the world’s first aerial raid was even more exaggerated. They claimed that the Italian’s bombs had hit a civilian hospital outside the contested area and that the damage had caused “great lost of life”. A fact that was vigorously denied by the Italian government. A post-conflict inquiry found that an artillery shell was the culprit for the hospital’s damage and that no civilian or military personnel were injured in the attack. In the aftermath of the raid, with both sides claiming major damages resulting from the use of this new kind of “indiscriminate” attack, outside observers were brought in by the governments of Great Britain, France, Germany, Imperial Russia, and even the United States. After carefully analyzing the data collected, many of them subscribed to the idea that the raid was less positive than originally reported. Many of the Italian grenades failed to detonate at all, the ones that did exploded harmlessly over the vast desert sand. But the most significant find was that of the attitude of the Turks to the raid. Contrary to common belief, the Turks had not been scared by the small Italian raid. On the other hand, when the first Italian Taube appeared in the sky, Turkish ground forces tried to zero in on it with their machine guns. A tactic they had perfected while targeting the slow moving Italian balloons that flew once in a while over the battlefield.

Again, the reality was different from perception, and once again, perception gathered the biggest press. Time and time again, newspapers across Europe would report the exploits of this obscure Italian army officer and proclaimed the death of the navy and army, while ascending the aircraft to almost mythical levels.


1 Air Power, Stephen Budiansky, Penguin Books 2004
2 World War I, HP Willmott, Covent Gardens Books 2003
3 The Myth of The Great War: A New Military History of WW I, John Mosier, Perennial 2001
4 The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, Edt Paul Eden, Amber Books 2007

– Raul Colon