The Italian aces of World War 1 have gone down in history as the irrefutable masters of the skies in the battle against their Austro-Hungarian enemies. In this often forgotten theater of warfare these remarkable pilots gave the Italian forces an undisputed air superiority and left an enduring legacy as extraordinary men. Having interviewed the descendants of almost every Italian ace from the Great War, Paolo Varriale uncovers these fighters' incredible and sometimes tragic histories. Years of painstaking research has culminated in this truly groundbreaking study which brings to life the exploits of such famous aces as Baracca, Ruffo and Piccio, and the lesser known Riva, Sabelli and Nardini. Letters, diaries and unpublished photographs shed light on previously unknown personal and unit insignia, exposing many myths and making this a commanding addition to the aviation history of World War 1.
Flying aircraft such as the Macchi 200-202, Fiat G.50 and biplane Fiat CR.42, the Italian fighter pilots were recognised by their Allied counterparts as brave opponents blessed with sound flying abilities, but employing under-gunned and underpowered equipment. Following the Italian surrender in September 1943, a number of aces continued to take the fight to the Allies as part of the Luftwaffe-run ANR, which was equipped with far more potent equipment such as the Bf 109G, Macchi 205V and Fiat G.55. Flying these types, the handful of ANR squadrons continued to oppose Allied bombing raids on northern Italy until VE-Day.
The CR.32 Falco was a handsome and highly maneuverable bi-plane fighter. During General Franco's fight with the Republicans for the control of Spain from 1936 – 39, no fewer than 477 CR.32s were involved, with an astounding 709 confirmed aerial victories, and an additional 320 kills claimed, against just 62 losses. As these statistics reveal, the CR.32 was the unrivaled master of the skies over Spain. By the war's end, the five leading aces of the conflict were all Spanish CR.32 pilots. Their exploits, and those of the other leading CR.32 aces, are examined for the first time in English in this exciting volume.