Jump to content

Italian Military Police Pilots in World War One


Recommended Posts

Like may members of this site my modelling interests can appear both 'regular' and (depending on whose looking) a little 'eclectic' and/or 'unusual'. I served for 12 tears in the British Army's Military Police and have retained a particular interest in the history, organisation, equipment and weapons systems (including aviation assets), associated with similar units around the world ever since.

 

Whilst recently conducting research into such units operating across Europe and beyond during WW1 (for a book I am working on), I came across a fascinating article which I would like to share. Like most European Countries Italy operates a 'duel' policing system; consisting of a 'Civilian' Police Service, answering to the civil authorities and a 'Paramilitary' force answering to the Military. This force is also responsible for policing the military in both peace and war. As many of you will be aware, in Italy this force is the 'Arma dei Carabinieri'.

 

What you may not be aware of however, is that on the entry of Italy into WW1 there was a need to rapidly increase the size of the nascent Italian Air Arm. The result was that large numbers of volunteers (between 173 - 184) for service as pilots, gunners and observers came from the Carabinieri. On joining the Air Arm however, they did not become members of it but remained, first and foremost, military policemen, albeit working in the field of aviation, until the war ended, when many of them returned to their police barracks to continue their police duties.

 

The most famous of these pilots (and well known within Italy) is Lt. Ernesto Cabruna, who started the war as a Carabinieri Corporal and ended it as a Lieutenant, due to successive promotions which he received by refusing one of Italy's highest military awards for valour preferring to take a commission in the Carabinieri instead. He finished war with a total of 8 kills, having served with four Squadriglia (39a, 80a, 84a and the famous 77a). His most famous exploit was attacking and taking on 11 enemy aircraft whilst conducting a solo patrol, shooting down one of the enemy in the ensuing melee, before escaping.

 

One of his aircraft (a SPAD VII C1), which he flew with 77a Squadriglia, has survived and is currently on display at the Italian Air Force Museum (see link below). I am hoping to model this aircraft in the near future, once I get better images of the specific markings involved.

 

If this has spiked an interest for any of you there is an excellent 160+ page monograph titled 'The Carabinieri Aviators in Turin' by Francesco Golini available as a free pdf document on the web, which covers both Cabruna and other Carabinieri pilots of the period.     

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.key.aero%2Farticle%2Fitalian-air-force-museum-vigna-di-valle&psig=AOvVaw0OFs1nCw2BoM-1oUNsyRIQ&ust=1619987060000000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCPDspZyoqfACFQAAAAAdAAAAABAT 

 

Stay safe and good modelling.        

Link to post
Share on other sites

 Fascinating story re. the Carabinieri and Lt. Cabruna. His Spad is really a treasure, amazing it survived the Second War.

 

Beautiful setting for the museum, very interesting collection - thanks for posting.

 

Cheers,

Damian

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, D.B. Andrus said:

 Fascinating story re. the Carabinieri and Lt. Cabruna. His Spad is really a treasure, amazing it survived the Second War.

 

Beautiful setting for the museum, very interesting collection - thanks for posting.

 

Cheers,

Damian

Thanks Damien, the comment is appreciated. You are correct it is a surprise the aircraft survived as after an initial flirtation with Fascism in the 1920’s, Carbruna was very active as an anti-fascist to the extent that Allied Intelligence had him tagged as such had him on their radar and he was even provided with a code name for his work in that field during WW2.

 

The more I look into this man’s life the more fascinating it becomes. Undoubtably brave, he was always volunteering and  heading where the action was, earning multiple bravery awards both prior to and during WW1 and this was before he volunteered to be a pilot. 

 

Good modelling.

 

Gary.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Hi Gary

 

18 hours ago, Redcap1960 said:

 

 

One of his aircraft (a SPAD VII C1), which he flew with 77a Squadriglia, has survived and is currently on display at the Italian Air Force Museum (see link below). I am hoping to model this aircraft in the near future, once I get better images of the specific markings involved.

 

 

 

Here is a photo for you if you don't have one yet. I would recommend everyone to take a trip to the Italian Air Force Museum on a visit to Rome.

I still regret only budgeting two and a half hours during my visit in 2014.

 

  

Spad.jpg

 

Cheers

 

Nick

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Greetings Nick,

 

Many thanks for posting the photo. I already had that actual photo plus another three of four previously posted on the web, including a couple of contemporary ones taken at the front with Lt. Cabruna stood next to his personal aircraft. What I am trying to get hold of is close ups of his personal markings (the second of the two shown on your image) to see if I can replicate it as a decal. 

 

Regards,

 

Gary.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy,

 

Spot on matey, your are an absolute star. Just need to get hold of a descent SPAD now and butter up an old friend who has a laser printer and far greater CADS skills than I possess.

 

Hefty discount on the next buy.

 

Regards and good modelling,

 

Gary 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...