Dogfighting in the Phantom on detachment at Decimomannu

Former Phantom navigator Ian Black recalls his detachments to the ACMI ranges at Decimomannu, where he got the opportunity to push the Phantom against fighters from across NATO – including the undisputed king of air combat, the F-15 Eagle

For nearly two decades the vast air base of Decimomannu on the tiny Italian island of Sardinia was a regular haunt for the Royal Air Force’s Phantoms. Located just north of the town of Cagliari on the south of the island, ‘Deci’ is said to be NATO’s first superbase. Built for the Regia Aeronautica Italiana (Royal Italian Air Force) in 1940, the airfield was home to the numerous Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, SM.81 Pipistrello, SM.82 Marsupiale and SM.84 bomber-equipped squadrons assigned to 32 and 36 Stormo (wing) until it was overrun by the Allies in 1943. It then became home to United States Army Air Force Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, before the arrival of the Martin B-26 Marauders of the Twelfth Air Force’s 319th Bombardment Group in November that year.

But it wa

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