Franco Lucchini




Franco Lucchini. Lucchini gained 5 individual victories during the Spanish Civil War, 21 individual and 52 shared victories during WW2. In February 1952 he was awarded with the highest italian honour the Medaglia d'oro al valor militare (M.O.V.M.)

Franco Lucchini was born in Rome on the  24th  December 1917. He entered into the Regia Aeronautica as a Reserve Officer in 1935 and obtained the military pilot licence at the Air School of Foggia in July 1936. He was assigned to the 91a Squadriglia of 4o Stormo Caccia C.T. In July 1937 he volunteered for the Spanish Civil War, fighting for almost one year in the 19a Squadriglia of XXIIIo Gruppo "Asso di Bastoni", flying Fiat CR.32s. His nom de guerre in Spain was ”Lunigiano”. During his tour he is reputed to have flown 122 missions claiming 5 victories. 
When Italy declared war on Great Britain and France in June 1940 he served with the unit in Libya on the Front of Marmarica. At the time the unit was equipped with the Fiat CR.42. The 14th of  June saw the first combats between opposing RAF and Regia Aeronautica fighters over North Africa. This was caused because the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own), joined by elements of 4th Armoured Brigade and 1st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, assaulted Fort Capuzzo and Fort Maddalena (the two most important Italian frontier posts). The offensive was supported by attacks by Blenheims from 45, 55, 113 and 211 Squadrons. During early morning on th 14th of  June, the 4o Stormo recorded its first victory and maybe this was the first clash between fighters from the Regia Aeronautica and the RAF.



During the first tour of operations in North Africa, in seven months he flew 94 missions with 13 air combats and three strafing attacks against enemy armoured vehicles. He claimed at least 3 victories and 15 shared victories. He was also awarded with one Medaglia d'argento al valore militare and two Medaglie di bronzo al valore militare. In early 1941 the 10o Gruppo moved back to Italy to re-equip with Macchi MC.200s. And then in June 1941 10o Gruppo moved to Trapani, Sicily to take part in the attacks on Malta. On the 27th of  June 1941 he claimed one Hawker Hurricane over Malta when 10o Gruppo totally, claimed three Hurricanes and five probables over the island> The  RAF in their turn claimed four destroyed and one damaged and Regia Aeronautica lost two MC.200s, both from 90a Squadriglia.
After 12 missions and three dogfights in which he had claimed 3 shared victories and 5 more probables, on the 11th of  July the Regia Aeronautica launched a big fighter sweep over Malta. Eleven MC.200s from the 54o Stormo attacked Hal Far airfield in three sections, while forty-two more gave cover. Twelve Hurricanes of 185 Squadron were scrambled, and possibly others from other units on the island, for the Italians reported thirty Hurricanes intercepting, four of which were claimed shot down by pilots of the 10o Gruppo. Capitano Lucchini was credited with one and one shared while Maresciallo Leonardo Ferrulli was credited with one shared. Lucchini claimed his Hurricanes with his wingmen, after that he and another pilot had been bounced at low level by eight Hurricanes from 185 Squadron. Either side in fact suffered no losses even if five MC.200s returned with damage. Lucchini also claimed five shared destroyed Wellingtons and 3 shared damaged Blenheims on the ground.  On the 19th of  May 10o Gruppo flew their last mission over Malta. Now equipped with  MC.202s  they returned to Italy to modify the fighters with sand filters, and on the 26th of  May 1942 they left for a second tour of desert operations in North Africa.

Nice Example of a Fiat CR.32s







Nice Example of a MC. 200s





 Macchi C. 202


From April to the  17th of  June 1942 he flew 47 missions over Malta, and then on the North African front, being awarded another Medaglia d'argento al valore militare for having scored three individual victories, one probable and three shared ones. On the  5th of July  Lucchini after being taken off on alarm with six pilots, intercepted a large formation of USAAF B-17s at the height of 5000 meters, escorted by 50 Spitfires; after having shot down a fighter, he launched himself against the formation of B-17s; it is the first time he faced these powerful four-engines, everyone armed with 10 machine guns, all tightened one to the other close so much to represent a real wall of fire. Lucchini with his small C 202 and his only two 12,7 guns succeeded in damaging 3 bombers, then surely stricken he fell down crashing to dead near Catania. He finished the War with 21 individual victories & 52 shared.  In February 1952 he was awarded with the highest italian honour the Medaglia d'oro al valor militare (M.O.V.M.).