Monthly Archives: March 2009

More about F-104 patches

Giorgio Catellani, one of the greatest Italian Air Force heraldry expert, recently sent me a few images of patches belonging to Squadrons equipped with the F-104 or whose badge contained (or still contains) a Starfighter. Some of these pictures are extremely rare and provide and interesting view of the type and feature of the patches the Italian pilots and personnel wore on their flight suits in the ’60s or ’70s, at the beginning of the F-104 career in the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force). Following are the images that Giorgio sent me; all these patches will be soon added to my Italian Air Force F-104 patches.

A day in the life of the 36° Stormo of Gioia del Colle

After publishing the photostory named “A day in the life of the 9° Stormo of Grazzanise“, an article to provide a snapshot about the 9° Stormo and Grazzanise airbase in a day of 2003, and “A day in the life of the 5° Stormo of Cervia“, with all the pictures shot in the home of the Italian Vipers of the 23° Gruppo in Feb. 2004, I publish a new “A day in …..” photostory, with the pictures were taken at Gioia del Colle in Sept. 2004 during a 2 day visit I made to prepare an article that was published on Rivista Aeronautica (that you can read here in Italian). They are interesting because in that period, the local based 36° Stormo was made of 2 Gruppi on 3 aircraft types: the 156° Gruppo, equipped with the Tornado IDS, and the 12° Gruppo, that was returning the Tornado F.3 leased by the Royal Air Force (but was still flying them) and was converting to the SMI (Slow Movers Interceptor) role with the MB-339CD, “on loan” from the 61° Stormo (212° Gruppo).

Here just a selection of the about 250 pictures you will find in the gallery by clicking here:

A day in the life of the 5° Stormo of Cervia

A few months ago, I published a photostory, named “A day in the life of the 9° Stormo of Grazzanise“, an article to provide a snapshot about the 9° Stormo and Grazzanise airbase in a day of 2003. The story contained almost all the pics I shot on that day, not just a selection of the most significant ones. The following one is a day spent in Cervia at the beginning of 2004, a few months after the first F-16 of the 23° Gruppo / 5° Stormo arrived in Italy, for a report that was published by Rivista Aeronautica (that, you can read in Italian, here: “Il 5° Stormo….la tana delle Vipere”).
Here just a selection of the +220 pictures you will find in the gallery by clicking here:

Parachute jumping from inside a C-130J

Stefano Romito (who I met for the first time during a flight inside a P-180 of the 71° Gruppo – his previous unit), a C-130J pilot of the 46^ Brigata Aerea of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) based in Pisa, sent me the following pictures he took during a paradropping mission with the Folgore. The picture show the parachute jumping from a different perspective: not, as usual, from the outside, but from the inside of the aircraft fuselage. The Folgore Parachute Brigade is the largest paratroopers unit of the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army, ItAy) made of 6 battalion-sized Regiments based in Livorno and stationed in Livorno, Pistoia, Siena, Pisa and Legnago (Verona), including also the Pisa Parachute Training Centre. Being on the same place of the C-130J and C-27J of the 46^ Air Brigade, the Folgore often trains together with the Italian transport aircraft jumping inside one of the dropping zones next to Pisa.
The Folgore, is also the most famous Italian paratroopers unit. During the WWII, in the second battle of El Alamein, the Folgore Division resisted the attack of the British 131st (Queen’s) Infantry Brigade: London Radio, at the end of the battle reported: “The remnants of the Folgore division put up a resistance beyond every limit of human possibility“. The remnants of the Folgore Division surrendered without being defeated, after having exhausted all the ammunitions, without showing the white flag or raising their hands.

Tornado ECR’s aggressive take off with ultra-low level turn

Des Barker recently sent me the above picture.

It depicts a Tornado, in a clean configuration, perfoming an aggressive left turn at ultra low level, most probably immediately after take-off.

If you look closely to the picture (whose author is unknown), you’ll notice the aircraft wears the typical sharkmouth of the 155° Gruppo of the 50° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), based in Piacenza.

Look at the following image I took on Mar. 11 at Pratica di Mare, where a Tornado ECR is currently involved in a testing campaign with the ItAF Flight Test Center, the RSV (Reparto Sperimentale Volo).

Tornado ECR mouth

Therefore, the aircraft is Tornado ECR, completely clean and without the refueling probe.

That maneuver resembles the typical John Derry turn to the left performed at the beginning of each Tornado display by the 311° Gruppo Volo of the RSV.

I analysed the EXIF of the image and I found that it was taken on Dec 18, 2008, at 14.09 LT, with a Canon EOS 350D, 234mm focal length, ISO400.

On that day, Piacenza airbase was still closed (it reopened on Dec. 19) and the 155° was still operating from Cameri airbase (the deployment started at the beginning of Sept. 2008, even if the aircraft flew the first operative mission on Sept. 16, and ended on Feb 3, 2009, with a ceremony for the farewell to the Tonkas).

Here’s a video of the same takeoff.

Maybe the maneuver was performed at Cameri, perhaps by a test pilot of the RSV involved in some kind of testing activity, or simply by a pilot of the 50° Stormo during a test/acceptance sortie.

For sure, it is not a normal take off or flyby.

If you have more info or ideas, just let me know.