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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 69108
Last updated: 18 August 2017
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Date:25-JAN-1941
Time:
Type:Gloster Gladiator Mk I
Owner/operator:3 Sqn RAAF
Registration: K8022
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Mechili aera -   Libya
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:
Destination airport:
Narrative:
On 25 January 1941, four Gladiators of 3 RAAF Squadron flown by Flight Lieutenant D. Campbell (N5857), Flight Lieutenant Alan Rawlinson (K7963), Flying Officer Peter Turnbull (L9044) and Pilot Officer J. C. Campbell (K8022) took off from Tmini at 07:30 to carry out a protective patrol over the Armoured Brigades operating in the Mechili area. Whilst flying at 2,000 feet, 8 miles south-east of Mechili, five G.50s, which were flying at 10,000 feet, attacked and broke the Gladiators formation. During the combat was 22-year-old Pilot Officer James Chippindall Campbell (RAAF no. 634) shot down and killed, while D. Campbell was forced to make an emergency landing in the desert and the other two biplanes were damaged. Flying Officer Turnbull recalled:

ďMy position in the flight was astern of the vic formation. Each time I was attacked from astern and above, to avoid being hit I made a side-slipping turn back underneath. As the E/A passed overhead, it made a climbing turn to the left, and I was able to get well within range by turning right. I was attacked nine times, and each time I carried out the above action, but three of my guns ceased to fire owing to stoppages during the first attack and the fourth after the fifth attack. I could see bullets hitting E/A during the third, fourth and fifth attacks, which were at close range. The E/A appeared to be similar to that of a Breda 65 but the pilots cockpit was well back near the trailing edge of the main planes. This being the only outstanding point which could be seen at the time. They were very fast, and by the dust made by their fire on the ground, they appeared to be armed with two.5ís."

Rawlinson claimed two more G.50s damaged. These three claims for damaged aircraft are, however, not officially credited in the unitís ORB. After the smooth force landing, D. Campbell was able to inspect the plane and assessing the damage suffered as light, took off again and landed back in Tmini. The Gladiators were all back by 08:45.

The Italians were in fact four Fiat G.50s from the 358a Squadriglia, which had taken off from Maraua at 07:30 to fly a protective patrol over El Mechili. Capitano Annibale Sterzi led the formation with Tenente Bruno Mondini, Tenente Giorgio Gasperoni and Maresciallo Marco Aicardi. Over Mechili they discovered four Glosters flying lower and bounced them claiming two by Tenente Mondini, one by Maresciallo Aicardi and one by Capitano Sterzi. The Italian fighters were back at 09:30 after having used 1130 rounds of ammunition. Damage suffered by the three surviving Gladiators should had been light indeed because they were repaired during the day and were able to flew to Martuba during the evening.

Sources:

http://www.3squadron.org.au/subpages/roll.htm
http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/commonwealth_turnbull.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechili
https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=32.166667,22.283333&spn=0.1,0.1&t=m&q=32.166667,22.283333


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
16-Oct-2009 14:06 JINX Added
18-Mar-2012 13:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Phase, Source, Narrative]
26-Jun-2012 14:52 Nepa Updated [Operator]
03-Aug-2013 23:05 JINX Updated [Operator]
20-Oct-2015 17:46 Jixn Updated [Operator]
25-Jan-2017 08:23 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]

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