41st Wing - 41º Stormo

Ensign of the 41º Stormo Antisom of the Italian Air Force.png
P-72A (ATR 72MP), 41st Wing
Coat of arms of the 41st squadron until 1943

41º Stormo “Athos Ammannato” is the name of the 41st Squadron [1] of the Italian Air Force . This relatively small maritime reconnaissance group is under the operational control of the Italian Navy . The 41st Squadron is stationed at the Sigonella military airfield in Sicily .

Organization and equipment

The squadron consists of a flying squadron (88º Gruppo) , which is equipped with ATR 72MP (P-72A) maritime patrols . These aircraft were procured as an interim solution for the Breguet Atlantic , which was retired in September 2017 . There is also a training squadron (86º Gruppo) , in which the mixed aircraft crews coming from the Air Force and Navy are trained and advanced, as well as technical and logistical support units. Stationed in Sigonella drones of 61 ° Gruppo include troops on duty is not the 41st, but the 32nd squadron in Amendola.


In World War II

The 41st Squadron was set up on July 1, 1939 in Reggio Emilia as a bomber squadron (41º Stormo bombardamento terrestre) . It had two flying groups, the 59º Gruppo with the 232ª and the 233ª Squadriglia , and the 60º Gruppo initially stationed in Jesi with the 234ª and the 235ª Squadriglia . The few Fiat BR.20 assigned at the time of installation were replaced by 36 Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s from September 1939 .

At the beginning of June 1940 the squadron moved to Gela in Sicily, where it was subordinated to the 3ª Divisione aerea ("3rd Air Division") of the 2ª Squadra aerea ("2nd Air Corps"). From there it flew several attacks on Malta and on British Malta convoys . It also intervened in the naval battle at Punta Stilo and took part in the unsuccessful pursuit of the British Naval Union . At the end of October 1940 the squadron came to Benghazi in Libya , where it formed the 9ª Brigata Aerea ("9th Air Brigade") together with the 15º Stormo and against targets in Egyptwas used. On November 8, 1940, it was withdrawn to Castelbeito and Tmini near Tripoli , and then to Aviano in northern Italy between February 19 and March 2, 1941 . There it converted to lighter Caproni Ca.313 and moved to Treviso on December 23, 1941 . By April 1942 it received around 50 Fiat CR.42s , then a few used Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Dornier Do 217 in summer and autumn . With these aircraft it operated in a new role as a night fighter squadronagainst allied bomber formations in northern Italy. In the summer and autumn of 1942, the 41st Squadron gradually moved to the Venegono , Caselle and Tradate airfields , from where, together with other units, it defended the cities of Milan and Turin against air raids until September 1943 . With the armistice of Cassibile it was then dissolved. In the course of the war, the 41st Squadron was awarded two silver medals for bravery .

After the armistice, some units, which were later taken over by the 41st Squadron, remained in service with the Aeronautica Cobelligerante Italiana and thus the Allies. These were the two units 86º and 88º Gruppo with their CRDA Cant Z.501 and CRDA Cant Z.1007 as well as the 87º Gruppo , which was part of the 30º Stormo set up in Fasana d'Istria in 1931 by Sciacca until 1941 and then was deployed from Rhodes-Maritsa .

Reconstruction with Helldivers

The history of the 41st Squadron and its flying units after the Second World War is related to the disputes between the Navy and the Air Force over the Italian naval aviators and their equipment with land and carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft . After the war, a legal regulation from the time of fascism remained in force, which assigned all aircraft exclusively to the Italian air force and thus hindered the reconstruction of the army and naval aviation.

The Italian Air Force therefore took on the task of rebuilding a flying sea reconnaissance and anti-submarine component. On September 16, 1950, the first of a total of 40 Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldivers arrived at the Grottaglie military airfield near Taranto , which Italy received from the USA thanks to the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). The first machines went to the 86º Gruppo in Grottaglie, from July 15, 1952, the 87º Gruppo in Catania-Fontanarossa in Sicily also flew this type.

In 1950 the Italian Navy sent a delegation to the USA to examine the possibility of taking over a used, light aircraft carrier, including aircraft on board . Shortly afterwards, the training of pilots and aircraft mechanics from the Marina Militare began there . After the first naval pilots had completed their training on the Helldiver, including carrier qualification, in the summer of 1952 , the USS Midway brought the first two aircraft of this type to Italy. Immediately after landing in Naples-Capodichino , the Italian Air Force had them confiscated due to the current legal situation and then defeated them86º Gruppo in Grottaglie too. 46 other Helldivers intended for the Navy were stored and later scrapped.

After the new army aviators got into conflicts with the air force because of their planned expansion, the so-called "1,500 kilo law" clarified in 1956. All fixed-wing aircraft above this weight limit remained with the Air Force, whereas there were no limits for the helicopters for the army and navy. With Law No. 968 of October 7, 1957, an unconventional solution was finally achieved that was also acceptable for the Navy: maritime patrols and other fixed-wing aircraft intended for naval purposes [2]remained the property of the Air Force, which should take care of their operational readiness and maintenance, but the operational control of these aircraft was taken over by the Navy. It was also unusual that the maritime patrols have mixed crews and should therefore also be flown by naval pilots. In order to deal with all related matters of principle, an office led by an Air Force general (Marinavia) was set up at the Admiralty's staff . [3]

Harpoon and tracker

Between February and May 1953 22 of 48 planned Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon arrived for the 86º Gruppo in Grottaglie and the 87º Gruppo in Fontanarossa. However, these aircraft did not meet expectations, which is why the rest of the machines were abandoned. Instead, Aeronautica Militare took over a total of 45 Grumman S-2F-1 trackers between March 6, 1957 and May 15, 1964 .

The 86º Gruppo moved from Grottaglie to Naples-Capodichino on July 20, 1957 and flew the trackers from there until the end of 1972. The 87º Gruppo moved between December 22, 1959 and January 9, 1960 from Fontanarossa to the nearby one Sigonella military airfield. The 88º Gruppo was set up on March 1, 1960 with trackers in Fontanarossa and flew them temporarily from Trapani-Chinisia , Sigonella and Comiso . Comiso served as an advanced base for the trackers until 1973 .

With the two flying squadrons 87º Gruppo in Sigonella and 88º Gruppo in Fontanarossa, the 41º Stormo was rebuilt on October 1, 1965 in Catania-Fontanarossa . In November 1971 the 88º Gruppo moved to Sigonella, while the squadron staff and some support units remained in Fontanarossa until August 31, 1978.


Atlantic in alter Lackierung 1987 in Fairford
Breguet Atlantic des 41. in Sonderlackierung 2006 in Pratica di Mare

From June 27, 1972, the Aeronautica Militare received 18 maritime patrol aircraft of the type Breguet Atlantic . Nine aircraft went to the 88º Gruppo in Sigonella, the other nine aircraft to the 86º Gruppo , which had moved from Naples-Capodichino to Cagliari-Elmas in Sardinia at the end of 1972 and placed under the reactivated 30º Stormo on January 1, 1973. After the 87º Gruppo in Sigonella was decommissioned on August 31, 1978, the 18 Atlantic formed the new maritime reconnaissance component, with the 86º Gruppo operating primarily in the western Mediterranean, the 88º Gruppomainly in the eastern. Usually they took part in NATO's annual anti-submarine exercises off the east coast of Sicily ( Dogfish , later Noble Manta and Proud Manta ). [4]

On July 31, 2002, the 30º Stormo in Cagliari-Elmas was dissolved, the Atlantic was concentrated in Sigonella and gradually decommissioned there. In Elmas there was an airfield command with a maintenance unit that took over the maintenance of the remaining Atlantic and the transport aircraft of the 46ª Brigata Aerea in Pisa and ensured the continued use of Cagliari-Elmas as an advanced Atlantic and air transport base. The 86º Gruppo moved to Sigonella, where it was converted into a training unit for Atlantic crews of the 41º Stormo .

After the turn of the millennium, the Italian Air Force and Navy searched in vain for a suitable successor for the aging Atlantic. From an operational perspective, the Boeing P-8 and also the Kawasaki P-1 seemed ideal, but not from a financial perspective . Finally, a military version of the ATR 72 was used as an interim solution, which was introduced from the end of 2016 and which completely replaced the Atlantic on September 21, 2017 after a total of 45 years of service. Since at least 2007 there have been plans to convert the squadron in Sigonella into a so-called Joint Surveillance Wingto make that should function across the armed forces according to a tried and tested pattern. Maritime reconnaissance and submarine hunting are only to become two of the various other tasks of the surveillance and reconnaissance squadron, for which an ISTAR role is generally intended, possibly also with drones .


  • Claudio Maugeri: The 41st Stormo. Past, present and future of the antisom component of the Air Force . MLV Editions, Catania 2009.


See also


  1. Stormo literally means "swarm" and originally only referred to flocks of birds. The small circle at 41º stands for an o and thus for the ordinal number (41.) and its shape corresponds to the English 41st (41ª, if followed by a feminine noun). Athos Ammannato, a squadron 's squadron commander, fell on February 20, 1941. On May 1, 1971, the 41st squadron was named after him. Athos and his two brothers Aramis and Porthos (all three air force officers) were named after the three musketeers Alexandre Dumas'.
  2. It was not until Act No. 36 of February 1, 1989 that the Navy received the right to operate carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft itself.
  3. The Aviazione Navale , i.e. the naval aviators in the narrower sense, emerged again in 1956, but initially only with helicopters due to the legal situation. This is to be distinguished from the Aviazione per la Marina , the "Air Force (Air Force) for the Navy", ie air force units serving the Navy. Marinavia is the abbreviation for the Ispettore dell'Aviazione per la Marina , the aforementioned Air Force General and his post at the Admiralty staff. The Luftwaffe's submarine squadrons were initially grouped under the name Aviazione Antisommergibile (hence the addition "antisom" in the squadron's coat of arms). Details on icsm.it and onmarina.difesa.it
  4. Details on globalsecurity.org