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Italians flyin the P-38 aircraft

#1 User is offline   quillin 

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 04:25 PM

In the Mediterranean Theatre, there is the story of the captured Italian-flown P-38 Lightning that would approach a crippled B-17 or B-24, wave to reassure the crew, then fall-back and shoot it down. It was discussed in Martin Caiden's book "Fork-Tailed Devil: The P-38


So, is this true or just another WW2 story without any thruth.
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#2 User is offline   missyd 

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 07:02 PM

The Story:
One of the more interesting stories in the MTO was of the phantom P-38, which was causing trouble for many crippled bombers. Beginning on June 4, 1943, a crippled bomber was coming back from a mission against the island of Pantelleria. The crew was considering bailing out of their bomber when they spotted a P-38 coming closer. They immediately relaxed knowing it was coming to their aid. The crew continued to dump extra weight from the aircraft, including the guns and ammunition. Before the crew realized what happened, the P-38 erupted in gunfire and destroyed the B-17. The only survivor was the pilot, Lt. Harold Fisher. Fisher was rescued and was the target of fury from the fighter pilots by suggesting it was a friendly P-38 that shot them down.
Several weeks before Lt. Fisher's ordeal, a P-38 pilot was low on fuel and was lost. He actually made an emergency landing just outside of Sardinia. The pilot was captured before he was able to destroy his aircraft. Italian pilot, Lt. Guido Rossi came up with the idea of using this P-38 against the American bombers. Rossi's strategy was to wait until the bombers made their attacks. Rossi would then take off and scout around for stragglers. He actually used this technique to shoot down several bombers. Until Lt. Fisher, no other crews survived to tell of the P-38 shooting them down. The American commanders were under the assumption that these missing bombers just did not make it back just as many before them. Nobody thought a friendly aircraft was the cause.
After Fisher told his story, bombers crews were alerted to look for a lone P-38, which was posing as a friendly. Fisher came up with the idea of using a decoy B-17 to attract Rossi. Fisher's idea was approved and he took off in the experimental YB-40 gunship. This was simply a modified B-17, which had more armor and guns. He flew several missions lagging behind the rest of the formations, but never encountered Rossi. Intelligence was being gathered and the Allies finally learned the identity of the pilot. They also learned that his wife was living in Allied occupied Constantine. An artist actually used a picture of his wife to paint a nose art picture on Fisher's bomber, and included her name, Gina. On August 31, a B-17 raid struck Pisa. Fisher was flying among the bombers, and was actually damaged by enemy fighters. He recovered at a low altitude and had to feather two engines. Before lone, a lone P-38 was approaching and the crew was on high alert. Rossi, using very good English, contacted Fisher, just as he did on previous occasions. Rossi immediately noticed the nose art on the aircraft and spoke with Fisher. Fisher was still uncertain the pilot was Rossi and was chatting with Rossi normally. Fisher decided to bait this pilot to see if it was Rossi or not, and began talking about Gine and her location in Constantine. When Fisher was describing intimate details of their "relationship", Rossi lost his cool. He peeled off and began his attack. Fisher ordered all guns to open up on this P-38, and Rossi had to peel off trailing smoke. Rossi intended to ram the bomber, but began breaking up and could not maintain flight. He was able to ditch in the water and survived. Rossi was later picked up and taken prisoner. Fisher was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his efforts. Fisher would survive the war, but was killed in a transport accident during the Berlin Airlift. Incidentally, Rossi was one of the mourners at his funeral.

Wikipedia (Italian) english text see below
Il primo Lighting venne in possesso degli italiani nel 1943, giunto per sbaglio in Sardegna dopo un errore di navigazione. Il velivolo venne provato in volo contro gli altri tipi italiani (purtroppo non se ne conoscono gli esiti) e poi usato in azioni belliche. E qui un "confronto" sembra possibile.

Se infatti un Macchi M.C.205 (o forse M.C.202), che attaccò assieme al P-38 dei quadrimotori, non ottenne risultati, il Lightning distrusse invece un B-24. I tedeschi avevano abbattuto altri 2 bombardieri con dei P-38 catturati, e questo contribuì a generare una vera "psicosi" da parte dei mitraglieri, che causò secondo alcune fonti l'abbattimento anche di un P-38 americano, il quale, in difficoltà e con la radio fuori uso, nell'avvicinarsi ai bombardieri per averne protezione finì invece abbattuto. Non c'è dubbio che il Lighting era una macchina temuta e temibile, che non lasciava molto tempo ai mitraglieri per un'eventuale reazione.

In English:
Italian pilots started to face P-38s from late 1942 and these fighters, with their long range, high speed and powerful weaponry, were quickly established as a more dangerous foe than the previously used Supermarine Spitfire. A few P-38s fallen in the hands of Germans and Italians and differently from captured Spitfires, these aircraft were tested and used in combat. P-38s were pitted against nearly all of the fighters in the Italian arsenal in tests at Guidonia and apparently, it fared well. Col. Tondi used a P-38, problably an 'E' version, that landed, because an navigation error, in Sardinia. Tondi then claimed at least 1 B-24 in his captured P-38, downed 11 August 1943. Shortly before Tondi attacked the bomber, an Italian Macchi MC.202 or 205 attacked, doing little damage. However, the heavy armament of P-38 proved devastating, indeed.

But Wikipedia do not tell the truth on all occasions ....

From The History Channel page ....
My favorite fictional story of his is the one in Fork-Tailed Devil about the captured Italian P-38. Except for the fact the Italians actually did fly a captured P-38 against US bombers, the rest of the story is completely made up!

As for the Italian P-38 story, there was a "Italian P-38 vs B-17 battle" that actually occurred during WW2, but as for the story recounted in Fork-Tailed Devil, that one's absolute 100% fiction. It never happened, at least as Caidin embellishes it. There was no Italian ace named Guido Rossi among the 123 Italian aces of WW2, the dates don't match up, I'm not aware of any YB-40 being sent to the MTO, the actual Italian P-38 was grounded, not shot down, etc... What actually happened to inspire Caidin's story is just as remarkable without the embellishments.

On June 12, 1943, a USAAF P-38G, while on a flight from Gibraltar to Malta, suffered compass problems and landed by mistake at Capoterra, Sardinia. The Lightning was painted in Italian markings, and transferred to the Italian Test Center at Guidonia. On August 11, 1943, chief test pilot Col. Angelo Tondi used the P-38 to intercept USAAF bombers on their way to attack targets in central Italy. Tondi shot down a B-17F, "Bonnie Sue", of the 419th BS, 301st BG. This was the only successful interception achieved by the P-38G, which was soon grounded due to the poor quality of Italian gasoline, which corroded the fuel tanks. I believe that this is the only documented example of a captured US fighter being used to shoot down a US aircraft during WW2.

I think the story with Col Tondi is true .... :roll:
Ci vediamo
Daniela

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#3 User is offline   Davide Pastore 

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 07:07 PM

A P-38 was really captured by Italians, and flew at least one combat mission and possibly more. The fact is well-known and any internet search will give you a large number of results. However the actual details of such missions, and how many enemy bombers were attacked and shot down, is still quite confused.

A book about aircraft captured by RA
Davide

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#4 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 12:54 PM

This Lightning story has been going on for ages...It is a very hard-to-kill piece of misinformation. By the way Tondi was chief test pilot at Guidonia airfield.
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#5 User is offline   inhocsignovinces 

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 02:00 PM

Read this old post:
http://www.comandosupremo.com/forum/vie ... php?t=4380


here is a little history of the P38:

http://www.1stfighter.org/photos/P38%20 ... lians.html
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#6 User is offline   Veltro 

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 02:21 PM

There should be a photo on the site as well as the liberator blonde bomber
Eddy
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#7

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:35 PM

missyd said:

Col. Tondi used a P-38, problably an 'E' version, that landed, because an navigation error, in Sardinia.


What kind of navigation error in the Mediterranean would put a plane in Sardinia instead of an Allied base? Where did he think he was...Malta? If this is true, he had to know he was landing on Sardinia, or at best, Corsica.
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#8 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 08:53 PM

Quote

What kind of navigation error in the Mediterranean would put a plane in Sardinia instead of an Allied base?
Well, one may not need to be experienced to fly as a ferry pilot. The Med has magnetic storms that cause compass errors. Add tail winds and perhaps overcast weather and there you go.
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#9 User is offline   quillin 

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 09:34 PM

I agree with Gian.
We also don't know at what time the P-38 landed. If it was already at night then the mistake of landing on an enemy base would seem logic as there's no way to orientate yourself with the landscape.

however, we assume that the plane landed during the day. as far as i recall there were no planes operation at night in the med.
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#10

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 09:50 PM

I would imagine basic geographic knowledge would have prevailed, though. I'm not aware of any Allied base in the Mediterranean that resembled Sardinia in size or landscape, perhaps even at night.
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#11 User is offline   Veltro 

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 01:39 AM

Actually the aircraft that landed was piloted by a Martin J Monti. The aircraft ws a P38 F5E ( recon) serial number 44-23725. He stole the airdraft from the 354th air service squadron a Pomigliano. He landed at Milan-Linate airfield.

The story is detailed in "Air War Italy"1944 - 45 Beale, D'amico & Valentini. p112

Eddy
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#12 User is offline   Gian 

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 07:59 PM

Quote

Actually the aircraft that landed was piloted by a Martin J Monti. The aircraft ws a P38 F5E ( recon) serial number 44-23725. He stole the aircraft from the 354th air service squadron a Pomigliano. He landed at Milan-Linate airfield.

That was an entirely different story, Veltro. Monti defected to the Germans and aircraft 44-23725 was taken into the Luftwaffe as T9+MK. There are pictures both of its capture and of its recapture at the end of the war.
The Italian P-38 vanished into thin air after the Armistice. But of course Lightnings would come up again, and in larger numbers, to fly with the Italian Air Force after the war.
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#13 User is offline   Jim H 

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:29 PM

I actually had the Guido Rossi story on this site. So I fell for the myth as well. It has since been removed.



#14 User is offline   R. Evans 

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 06:31 PM

View Postmissyd, on 09 March 2008 - 07:02 PM, said:

The Story:

One of the more interesting stories in the MTO was of the phantom P-38, which was causing trouble for many crippled bombers. Beginning on June 4, 1943, a crippled bomber was coming back from a mission against the island of Pantelleria. The crew was considering bailing out of their bomber when they spotted a P-38 coming closer. They immediately relaxed knowing it was coming to their aid. The crew continued to dump extra weight from the aircraft, including the guns and ammunition. Before the crew realized what happened, the P-38 erupted in gunfire and destroyed the B-17. The only survivor was the pilot, Lt. Harold Fisher. Fisher was rescued and was the target of fury from the fighter pilots by suggesting it was a friendly P-38 that shot them down.

Several weeks before Lt. Fisher's ordeal, a P-38 pilot was low on fuel and was lost. He actually made an emergency landing just outside of Sardinia. The pilot was captured before he was able to destroy his aircraft. Italian pilot, Lt. Guido Rossi came up with the idea of using this P-38 against the American bombers. Rossi's strategy was to wait until the bombers made their attacks. Rossi would then take off and scout around for stragglers. He actually used this technique to shoot down several bombers. Until Lt. Fisher, no other crews survived to tell of the P-38 shooting them down. The American commanders were under the assumption that these missing bombers just did not make it back just as many before them. Nobody thought a friendly aircraft was the cause.

After Fisher told his story, bombers crews were alerted to look for a lone P-38, which was posing as a friendly. Fisher came up with the idea of using a decoy B-17 to attract Rossi. Fisher's idea was approved and he took off in the experimental YB-40 gunship. This was simply a modified B-17, which had more armor and guns. He flew several missions lagging behind the rest of the formations, but never encountered Rossi. Intelligence was being gathered and the Allies finally learned the identity of the pilot. They also learned that his wife was living in Allied occupied Constantine. An artist actually used a picture of his wife to paint a nose art picture on Fisher's bomber, and included her name, Gina. On August 31, a B-17 raid struck Pisa. Fisher was flying among the bombers, and was actually damaged by enemy fighters. He recovered at a low altitude and had to feather two engines. Before lone, a lone P-38 was approaching and the crew was on high alert. Rossi, using very good English, contacted Fisher, just as he did on previous occasions. Rossi immediately noticed the nose art on the aircraft and spoke with Fisher. Fisher was still uncertain the pilot was Rossi and was chatting with Rossi normally. Fisher decided to bait this pilot to see if it was Rossi or not, and began talking about Gine and her location in Constantine. When Fisher was describing intimate details of their "relationship", Rossi lost his cool. He peeled off and began his attack. Fisher ordered all guns to open up on this P-38, and Rossi had to peel off trailing smoke. Rossi intended to ram the bomber, but began breaking up and could not maintain flight. He was able to ditch in the water and survived. Rossi was later picked up and taken prisoner. Fisher was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his efforts. Fisher would survive the war, but was killed in a transport accident during the Berlin Airlift. Incidentally, Rossi was one of the mourners at his funeral.


Wikipedia (Italian) english text see below

Il primo Lighting venne in possesso degli italiani nel 1943, giunto per sbaglio in Sardegna dopo un errore di navigazione. Il velivolo venne provato in volo contro gli altri tipi italiani (purtroppo non se ne conoscono gli esiti) e poi usato in azioni belliche. E qui un "confronto" sembra possibile.


Se infatti un Macchi M.C.205 (o forse M.C.202), che attaccò assieme al P-38 dei quadrimotori, non ottenne risultati, il Lightning distrusse invece un B-24. I tedeschi avevano abbattuto altri 2 bombardieri con dei P-38 catturati, e questo contribuì a generare una vera "psicosi" da parte dei mitraglieri, che causò secondo alcune fonti l'abbattimento anche di un P-38 americano, il quale, in difficoltà e con la radio fuori uso, nell'avvicinarsi ai bombardieri per averne protezione finì invece abbattuto. Non c'è dubbio che il Lighting era una macchina temuta e temibile, che non lasciava molto tempo ai mitraglieri per un'eventuale reazione.


In English:

Italian pilots started to face P-38s from late 1942 and these fighters, with their long range, high speed and powerful weaponry, were quickly established as a more dangerous foe than the previously used Supermarine Spitfire. A few P-38s fallen in the hands of Germans and Italians and differently from captured Spitfires, these aircraft were tested and used in combat. P-38s were pitted against nearly all of the fighters in the Italian arsenal in tests at Guidonia and apparently, it fared well. Col. Tondi used a P-38, problably an 'E' version, that landed, because an navigation error, in Sardinia. Tondi then claimed at least 1 B-24 in his captured P-38, downed 11 August 1943. Shortly before Tondi attacked the bomber, an Italian Macchi MC.202 or 205 attacked, doing little damage. However, the heavy armament of P-38 proved devastating, indeed.


But Wikipedia do not tell the truth on all occasions ....


From The History Channel page ....

My favorite fictional story of his is the one in Fork-Tailed Devil about the captured Italian P-38. Except for the fact the Italians actually did fly a captured P-38 against US bombers, the rest of the story is completely made up!


As for the Italian P-38 story, there was a "Italian P-38 vs B-17 battle" that actually occurred during WW2, but as for the story recounted in Fork-Tailed Devil, that one's absolute 100% fiction. It never happened, at least as Caidin embellishes it. There was no Italian ace named Guido Rossi among the 123 Italian aces of WW2, the dates don't match up, I'm not aware of any YB-40 being sent to the MTO, the actual Italian P-38 was grounded, not shot down, etc... What actually happened to inspire Caidin's story is just as remarkable without the embellishments.


On June 12, 1943, a USAAF P-38G, while on a flight from Gibraltar to Malta, suffered compass problems and landed by mistake at Capoterra, Sardinia. The Lightning was painted in Italian markings, and transferred to the Italian Test Center at Guidonia. On August 11, 1943, chief test pilot Col. Angelo Tondi used the P-38 to intercept USAAF bombers on their way to attack targets in central Italy. Tondi shot down a B-17F, "Bonnie Sue", of the 419th BS, 301st BG. This was the only successful interception achieved by the P-38G, which was soon grounded due to the poor quality of Italian gasoline, which corroded the fuel tanks. I believe that this is the only documented example of a captured US fighter being used to shoot down a US aircraft during WW2.


I think the story with Col Tondi is true .... :roll:


Thanks for the informative post.
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#15 User is offline   fraliefadia 

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:45 PM

Why these private charters are so expensive? What is included in their cost?
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