Formed in May 1936, 53° Stormo was initially equipped with the iconic Fiat CR.32 biplane fighter. These were replaced by CR.42s three years later, and upon Italy's declaration of war on the Allies in June 1940, the unit saw action against French and British aircraft that same month. With France defeated, the Regia Aeronautica turned its attention to Greece, and 53° Stormo's 150° Gruppo was again in the forefront of the action against RAF Gladiators – the unit also operated over Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, 53° Stormo's 151° Gruppo had been sent to Libya in July 1940, and it saw considerable action in North Africa until returning to Italy in January 1942. 150° Gruppo had also been sent to North Africa in early 1941, the unit having by then re-equipped with Macchi C.200s. Operations against Malta followed during the summer of 1942, when 53° Stormo was issued with Macchi C.202s.
As the Allies gained ground in North Africa in late 1942, and then launched a series of offensives in the Mediterranean, numerous Italian fighter units were pulled back to defend the homeland, and amongst these was 53° Stormo, which was issued with 50+ Bf 109Gs sourced from Jagdgeschwader 53 in early 1943. After flying defensive operations over Sicily and Pantellaria, 53° Stormo fought its final actions over Rome, Torino and Milan. 150° Gruppo claimed its final kill on 8 September 1943, and this also proved to be the last victory credited to the Regia Aeronautica prior to Italy's surrender the following day.
With firsthand accounts sourced from the archives, numerous period photos and colorful artwork, this books further broadens the coverage of Osprey's Elite Units series.
- Series: Aviation Elite Units (Book 38)
- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Osprey Publishing; First Edition edition (December 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846039770
- ISBN-13: 978-1846039775
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces