Battle of Britain at 80: Italian Misadventure

The Italian FIAT CR.42 biplane made brief combat appearances during the final days of the Battle of Britain and beyond. In the fifth of our mini-series on BoB aircraft, Malcolm V Lowe describes the type’s largely abortive frontline activities over Britain

It is often forgotten that the Battle of Britain was not simply an aerial conflict between British airmen in the RAF and German aircrews of the Luftwaffe. The former organisation was a truly international entity during that period, comprising personnel from many countries that opposed the Nazis. Similarly, on the German side, there was an additional protagonist, which for a brief time was embroiled in aerial activity over the UK. This was Germany’s Axis ally Italy, ruled by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Italy’s air arm, the Regia Aeronautica (RA), became involved late in the battle during October 1940, duly performing several weeks of largely fruitless combat alongside Luftwaffe units.

FIAT CR.42 Falco MM4326 of the 85a Squadriglia, 56° Stormo - part of the Corpo Aereo Italiano operating from Belgium, late in 1940.

Italian intentions

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