Sunday, November 24, 2013

Italian Air Offensive in the Middle East

Many may not be aware of this (I have an entire shelf full of books on Italian military history in my library and I was unaware of it) but in the early days of World War II, planes of the Regia Aeronautica carried out a record-breaking, long-range bombing raid on British installations on the east side of the Arabian peninsula in the Persian Gulf. Stripped down and loaded with extra fuel and launched from the Italian-held island of Rhodes in the eastern Mediterranean, on October 19, 1940 a force of four Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.82 bombers attacked the British Protectorate of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, damaging the local American-operated oil refineries. The bombers also hit Dhahran, Saudi Arabia but that had very little impact. These areas were taken by complete surprise as the British certainly never expected an attack to come so far from the front-lines. The planes made their bombing run and were able to return successfully to land in Italian East Africa, setting down in Eritrea. It was not an extremely crucial attack as there was not much damage that only four bombers could do and those stripped down to be flying fuel cans, however, in did cause a panic and sent the message to the British high command that there were no safe areas and that the armed forces of Italy could reach out over incredible distances to strike at them wherever they were. Because of this, Allied forces had to divert resources to defend areas that they never would have thought would have been in any danger -and most honestly were not, but still, because of the raid on Bahrain, the Italians had proven that they could reach the British in some of their most vulnerable areas so that action had to be taken.


  1. Always glad to help highlight the exploits of the underdog. :)

  2. I would say no other Axis nation was able to do such long range bombing raids. There is also the story of long range flights from Italy to Japan via Manchuria. The Germans were never able to do this.