The legend of the Battle of Britain tells the story of a handful of RAF pilots battling swarms of German aircraft and fighters. A little known part of the story however is that Mussolini’s air force also contributed aircraft to the campaign albeit briefly and with limited success.
On the 11th November 1940, Fiat CR.42 “MM5701/95-13” flown by Sergente Pietro Salvadori of 95a Squadriglia force-landed near the Orfordness lighthouse after he developed engine troubles. He was subsequently captured by the local Home Guard and interrogated by British intelligence. The interrogation revealed some startling facts about the Italian pilots operating in the Battle of Britain from bases in Belgium. There seemed to be very little will to fight amongst their ranks with Salvadori apparently pleased he had been taken prisoner. He also revealed that there was a strong dissatisfaction among the lower officer ranks with the Italian officer-elite and a strong dislike for the Germans.
This aircraft was made serviceable by the RAF and flown on evaluation trails as BT474 and is now on exhibition in the Battle of Britain Museum, Hendon.