'Spring Flag 2007'
May 15-27, 2007
Since 2003 the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana or AMI) have organised the multi-national day and night 'Spring Flag' exercise. Most attending aircraft operate out of Decimomannu air base on Sardinia. This year's event was attended by several aircraft painted in some special paint schemes.
Tornado IDS (serial MM7006 and coded '6-31') of 6° Stormo, 154° Gruppo.
154° Gruppo of 6° Stormo 'Diavoli Rossi' (Red Devils) attended with six Panavia PA200 Tornado IDS aircraft. Tornado IDS (serial MM7006 and coded '6-31'), has been painted with a black tail and a red devil holding a bomb, whilst flying towards the target. The aircraft with its special scheme was first presented at the 154° Gruppo reunion held at Ghedi on April 26, 2007. On the aircraft's nose is the inscription; '25th ANNI DI TORNADO' celebrating 25 years of the Tornado in service in the AMI. The first operational Tornado was flown to Ghedi air base home of 6° Stormo on August 27, 1982. Since delivery 18 Tornado, including this one, were selected for Mid-Life Upgrades (MLU) to improve their capabilities and employ advanced weapons including 'Storm Shadow'.
|Flying over Mediterranean en-route to Trapani for a simulated air field attack, as part of the 'Spring Flag' exercise, is Italian Air Force Tornado IDS (serial MM7006 and coded '6-31') with 154° Gruppo of 6° Stormo from Ghedi. It is fitted with a Thomson TRT-Defence CLDP (Convertible Laser Designator Pod) and used for day and night reconnaissance and target identification.|
|AMI Tornado IDS (serial MM7006 and coded '6-31') operating out of Decimomannu.|
|6° Stormo, 154° Gruppo special at Spring Flag 2008.|
AMX coded '32-01' of 32° Stormo
32° Stormo based at Amendola air base attended 'Spring Flag' with an Alenia-Aermacchi-EMBRAER AMX resplendent in a remarkable paint scheme. 32° Stormo are named after pilot Capt. Armando Boetto. He was shot down with his Savoia Marchetti SM79 torpedo bomber on May 8, 1941 during a mission over the Western Mediterranean against Allied fleet. For this, Capt Boetto was awarded Gold Medal of Military Valor.
The paint scheme of the SM79 flown by Capt. Boetto has been studied by 32° Stormo Lt. Col Balzano. Using what little documentation was available applied it to the Stormo's current fighter-bomber, the AMX with a few changes. The original code '49-01' (49 is the number of Boetto's Squadron that belonged to the 32° Stormo during World War II) has been changed to '32-01', but the same red and black colours have been retained. The white cross on the tail fin belongs to the former Savoia's Royal Family, and was worn by nearly all aircraft during the World War Two. A small badge in the middle of the cross has been removed and replaced with a 'Mosquito' which was the original symbol of the 32° Stormo, when based at Cagliari-Elmas. Today the 32° Stormo insignia is a black crow. AMI national roundels have also been applied of course.
Under the cockpit, Boetto's name has been applied along with 'Medaglia d'Oro al V.M.' (Gold Medal of Military Valor). The fuel tanks on both sides have the inscription '70 Anni per la Patria' (70 years for the native land). The scheme was first presented on December 3, 2006 on the 70th anniversary of the 32° Stormo. In the past an F-104 Starfighter had been painted in a World War Two camouflage, but this is the first time a complete scheme has been applied to a modern aircraft.
|A 32° Stormo AMX (MM7147 '32-01) from Amendola has been painted to represent a Marchetti SM.79 torpedo bomber as flown by decorated pilot Capt. Armando Boetto when with 32° Stormo. The authentic World War Two mottled green camouflage has replaced the normal grey of its wing man.|
|Left to right: 32° Stormo AMX (MM7147 coded '32-01') operating out of Decimomannu.|
|AMX (MM7133 coded '51-32') of 132° Gruppo of 51° Stormo
132° Gruppo of 51° Stormo 'Ferruccio Serafini' from Istrana were not quite so extravagant when they painted up their AMX (serial MM7133 coded appropriately '51-32') in 'low-vis' markings on the tail only, for this their 65th anniversary year. Painted on both sides of the tail is, 'Buscaglia', after Carlo Emanuele Buscaglia, a famous Italian pilot from World War Two, who flew the Savoia Marchetti SM.79. In 1942 he was shot down by a British Spitfire and declared dead and awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor 'posthumously'. In fact he was rescued by the Allies and held a prisoner of war in the United States. Persuaded later to fight for the Allies, he was given the command of the 28th Bomber Wing on July 15, 1944, flying Martin Baltimores from Campio Vesuvio near Naples. Sadly just five weeks later, on August 23, his plane crashed on take-off and he died in hospital.
On the right side only of the AMX tail, is their Squadron emblem dating back to 1944, of a world with four black puma walking over the top with their inscription; 'Sempre I soliti.!' (Always the usual!).
During the two week day and night exercise AMX from 32° (Amendola) and 51° Stormo (Istrana) flew combined sorties.
|Left to right: AMX (serial MM7133 and coded '51-32') of 132° Gruppo of 51° Stormo from Istrana (Italian Air Force) recovers to Decimomannu air base after completing a sortie as part of the 'Spring Flag' exercise.|