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Italian Raid on Manama 1940

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On October 19, 1940, four Savoia Marchetti SM82 special bombers of the Regia Aeronautica Italiana hit the English oil refineries in the Persian Gulf carrying out a long, hard and brilliant war mission.

A SM82 preparing for take off

During World War Two, the Regia Aereonautica Italiana, although lacking in a consistent numbers of strategic bombers, managed to transform several SM82 and SM75 three-engined transport planes into aircraft’s able to hit enemy target (airports and industrial plants) which were too far away to be reached by the normal bombers generally employed by the Italian Air Force, such as the Savoia Marchetti SM79, Fiat Br20 and CantZ 1007. Thanks to their first rate reliability and long range, a handful of the modified SM82 and SM75 succeeded in carrying out several missions.

These missions were remarkable, not only because of the damage caused to the enemy, but especially for their strictly technical importance.

The SM82 Bomber

From June 1940 to July 1943, the SM82 and SM75 bombers delivered attacks on Gibraltar, Suez, Port Sudan and Bahrain. This also gave an effective propagandistic value.

They replaced the four-engine Piaggio P108s, which although were more suitable, were not always available due to their scant numbers.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ettore Muti

Among the brilliant actions carried out by the three-engine Savoia-Marchetti was in late spring 1942, when a special SM75 established a new link with a non-stop flight from Rome to Tokyo. But also the successful raid in mid-October 1940 on the oil refinery of Manama holds a particular interest and meaning.

The English refineries in the Persian Gulf were chosen as the first strategic target at the beginning of summer 1940 when the first models of Savoia-Marchetti were produced by the assembly line. They were transport planes converted into bombers.

The craft belonging to this series were provided with forward/ventral laying devices, a bomb release gear and three Breda-Safat machine-guns. The first SM82 bombers started their activity on July 17, when three aircrafts took off from Rome-Guidonia to raid the English stronghold of Gibraltar (100 and 250 kilogram bombs were dropped during this action).

Similar attacks were carried out again on Gibraltar on July 25 (this time the planes took off from the base of Alghero in Sardinia) and on August 20. The results were good (the target was hit, although with a small quantity of explosives and some of the planes were lost or damaged during the mission). At the beginning of October 1940, the command of the Regia Aeronautica decided that five SM82 bombers belonging to the 41st Group led by lieutenant-colonel Ettore Muti should be transferred from Rome-Ciampino to the airport of GadurrĂ  (Isle of Rhodes).

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