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First aerial sightings

094109 hours

The German reconnaissance officers made the first sighting of the FF.NN.BB. The German plane, a twin-engine “Junker JU 88”, informed his command that the Italian naval force consisted of three battleships, six cruisers and six destroyers with a route outside Corsica towards the Gulf of Asinara.

The sighting was immediately communicated to Field Marshal von Richthofen, who was the commander of the 2nd Luftflotte, located in Italy, who, despite not having received particular provisions on the matter, deemed it appropriate to immediately activate the "Achse" plan, prepared by the High Command of the Luftwaffe, which, among other things, specified:

"Italian warships that flee or try to pass over to the enemy's side must be forced to return to port or destroyed"

The German air command that was closest to the area where the FF.NN.BB. was the 2a Fliegerdivision   commanded by General Peter Fink, who was directly under the jurisdiction of Sperrotte general, who was directly under the jurisdiction of Sperr France and the Netherlands. It was therefore arranged that the 100 ° Stormo da Bombardamento (KG100), commanded by the major pilot Fritz Auffhammer who was temporarily dependent on the 2nd Luftflotte, was kept ready to attack the Italian fleet.

The 100 ° Stormo destined, for the ready employment against the FF.NN.BB., the 2nd Group (II KG100) based in Cognac and commanded by the pilot captain Franz Hollweck and the 3rd group (III KG100) based in Istres and commanded by major pilot Bernard Jope; furthermore, II KG100 was instructed to move from Cognac to Istres.

Admiral Bergamini, considering that his ships were not protected by any air escort, and in any case to react to a possible air attack, at least with the aircraft supplied to the FF.NN.BB., gave the following provision to the battleships Italia and Vittorio Veneto:  

095509 hours


get ready to catapult RE2000 

The FF.NN.BB. in fact they had on board the three battleships of four "Reggiane RE2000" fighter planes distributed as follows: one over Rome, two over Vittorio Veneto and one over Italy

Another sighting: it was a German scout. The airborne alarm was raised and the units zigzagged on. At the same time the Command in Chief of the FF.NN.BB. ordered to increase the speed to 27 knots.

103009 hours.

Supermarina, having intercepted the various discovery messages relating to the FF.NN.BB., transmitted by both the British and German reconnaissance, asked Superaereo the possibility of providing an adequate air escort, with fighter aircraft, to protect our ships. General Giuseppe Santoro, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force, however, was able to take off from Venafiorita (Olbia) only four fighters

which were part of the Aereo Fighter Group, commanded by Colonel Duilio Fanali.

In fact, the twenty-two efficient aircraft of the 8th Group had been transferred from Sarzana to Guidonia, due to the need to concentrate maximum support in the area of the capital, while, for the same reason, the ten efficient aircraft of the 160th Group had been sent from Venafiorita in Littoria. Therefore it was possible to fly only the squadron of the four fighters, under the command of the pilot captain Remo Dezzani, who searched in vain for the squad in the area indicated to him, that is, the one between Corsica and Tuscany. In fact, it seems that due to a misunderstanding with Supermarina, the new route of the Fleet was not reported, which was instead the one outside Corsica.

Macchi "MC202"

103009 hours.

Supermarina, in consideration of the fact that the Alti Personaggi mission had been canceled, communicated to the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi and Antonio Da Noli and for information to the CC.FF.NN.BB. “Change my previous order, direct Isola La Maddalena immediately”.

103809 hours.

Ugolino Vivaldi and Antonio Da Noli and for information to the CC.FF.NN.BB. “Change my previous order, direct Isola La Maddalena immediately”.

103809 hours

104609 hours.

An aircraft recognized as Allied was sighted from Rome: the air alarm was given and the units continued zigzagging. At 11.00 some units opened fire with the main anti-aircraft artillery and machine guns. The Command in Chief immediately intervened and sent the following message to all units

105609 hours.

Another aerial sighting. It was a British scout.

“DO NOT say DO NOT fire at recognized British or American aircraft“.

110009 hours

The following message was received from Supermarina with PAPA ranking issued to all units at sea: “PAPA n. 85982 - Do not execute any hijacking orders if the conventional word Milano alt does not appear in the text. For other commands, separate orders will be given 092609 ”.

112 409 hours

120009 hours.

Approaching the Sardinian coasts, the CC.FF.NN.BB. he ordered the Libra torpedo boat to join the formation of the Pegaso Group and this unit to pass, with the Group, in close escort.

Near the minefields, the CC.FF.NN.BB. he ordered everyone “Assume the GE11 gearbox“.

120409 hours.

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