A great deal of nonsense has been written about the Italian participation in the Battle of Britain, mostly that it was of no consequence and that the Italians in their antique-looking planes were easily dealt with. In fact, they proved quite capable of holding their own and gave as good as they got. Of course, it was a modest contribution and no one was under any illusions as to the disadvantages Italy faced. However, because of that, their mission was a limited one and within the confines of that mission they were successful, overall, in accomplishing their goals. The aim of the Italian Air Corps was simply to bomb the harbor and port installations at Folkstone, Harwich, Foulness, Ramsgate, Margate and other areas on the south coast of England because it was clear from the start that the naval war effort was what kept Britain in the fight. In damaging these areas there was also the secondary goal of attracting British air resources away from the major cities and airfields that were under attack by the Luftwaffe.
After being prepared for action on October 22, Air Marshal Corso-Fougier launched the first Italian air attack three days later with eighteen Cicogna (Stork) bombers being sent to raid Felixtowne and Harwich just after dark. All the planes returned without suffering any losses and Italian newspapers trumpeted the success of their aircraft over Britain. A more serious attack was launched on October 29 in a daylight raid on Ramsgate. Fifteen BR.20 Cicogna bombers with fighter escort carried out the bombing attack successfully with only five Italian planes suffering damage from anti-aircraft fire. They flew very low in a tightly packed formation that amazed observers, especially as their Mediterranean paint jobs made them stand out against the dull sky of an English autumn. Later, on November 8, 22 G.50s on a patrol between Dungeness, Folkstone, Canterbury and Margate clashed with RAF fighters, putting up a spirited fight against veteran professionals so that neither side was able to claim any victories. However, that same day a flight of Hurricanes took a heavy toll on a group of Storks they picked up on radar approaching the coast.
|Air Marshal Corso-Fougier|