History of the 2º Stormo

Deployment in North Africa

In June 1934 the 2º Stormo was reequipped with the Fiat CR 30 and, in September 1935, the 8º Gruppo and part of the 13º Gruppo were deployed to El Adem airfield (Tobruk) to take part in the Italian-Etiopic conflict.
The 2º Stormo is, among the Fighter Units, the one that operated for the longest period outside the Italian borders in peacetime and for this reason was known as "the African".

In December the 8º Gruppo deployed to Berka (Bengasi), but some Flights used the Am Seat and El Alamein forward airfields. On 24 May 1936 the Stormo Headquarters and what remained of 13º Gruppo left the Naples harbor aboard the transport ship "Città di Trieste" and disembarked in Bengasi three days later, thus rejoining the 8º Gruppo. Once completed in its ranks, the 2º Stormo began a hard training activity in North Africa.

By the way this wasn't the first time the 2º Stormo was called to fly war missions over North Africa: in 1928-29 pilots from 95ª Squadriglia flown their fighters against the rebel troops in Cyrenaica (Libya) and two of them were awarded with the Armed Forces Silver Medal for their courage in 160 war missions.

During 1937 the 2º Stormo was busy showing the flag on exercises and training missions, and participated to several flight exhibitions in honor of visiting personalities and brass-hats, including, on 15 March, Mussolini: for that occasion the Unit brought airborne thirty-four CR30.

The following year the Stormo received the brand-new Breda 65 light bomber: it replaced part of the CR 30, but the pilot didn't like it since it was difficult to fly and caused some serious accident; moreover the aircrew had to shift from the fighter to the bomber role, thus requiring a hard training cycle.

The aircrew had the chance to show their skills during the manoeuvres that took place on May 18-23, 1938, at the presence of King Vittorio Emanuele III: the aircraft flew bombing missions and fighter escort missions using both CR 30 and Breda 65.

At the beginning of 1939 the Unit phased out the problematic Breda 65 replaced by the Fiat CR 32. After scarcely a month of training on the new aircraft, the Wing organized an air display in honor of Herman Goering who was very impressed by the skill and bravery of the Italian aircrew. On September 9, 1939 the Unit finally moved to Castel Benito air base (Libya), a destination awaited since May 1936.

In 1940, the military mobilization brought the 8º Gruppo, equipped with CR-32 fighters, to the Tobruk airfield, while the 13º Gruppo remained in Castel Benito. At that time the 2º Stormo Commander, Colonel Angelo Federici, could count on forty five CR-32 and thirty five CR-42; the personnel consisted of 73 pilots, 147 maintenance crew, and 124 airmen. After years of training, the 2º Stormo was about to begin a dramatic and heroic wartime activity.

The origins (1925)
The "Stormo" at war (1940)