FINDING OF AN “AVIAZIONE NAZIONALE
REPUBBLICANA” MESSERSCHMITT ME
Bf 109 G 6 NEAR THE GARDA LAKE
Last Saturday, October the 10h, 2015, the remains of a Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 G-6 fighter have been brought to light close to Desenzano del Garda, south of the Garda Lake, near Mantua.
The aircraft was shot down in aerial combat on April 19, 1945 by a P-51 of the 325th Fighter Group.
At about 11:40 on that day, 26 Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 G and K of the II° Gruppo Caccia ( 2nd Fighter Group) took off from Aviano A/D for a ferry flight to Villafranca A/D. Seven (7) of the fighters quickly developed engine trouble and were forced to abort mission, increasing suspicions of sabotage among the Italian airmen.
At the same time, 270 kilometers farther south, 16 P-51 Mustangs of the 317th FS / 325th FG rendezvoused with a formation of B-25s of the 340th BG directed to bomb a RR bridge at Ora, along the Brenner line.
At 12.30 the American bombers and fighters, after the bombing missions had been accomplished, made a wide turn on their return route and at the manwhile the leader of the Italian formation, Magg. Miani, was informed by the ground control that enemy bombers would be crossing his path.
The presence of enemy fighters was a matter of conjecture. Tactical conditions seemed favorable and Magg. Miani, although another Messerschmitt had just left the formation due to engine trouble, decided to attack.
Ten Messerschmitt dived to attack while nine were left as top cover.
But the unexpected appearance of the 16 P-51s caused chaos among the Italian airmen.
Conversely, the Americans' reaction was near automatic:
Eight P-51s were left as top cover and the other eight, led by 1st Lt. Schaefer, headed for the enemy fighters.
In the ensuing melee, the 325th FG claimed six enemy a/c as destroyed without loss.
Lt. W. B. Bagley shot down the Messerschmitt G-6 flown by Ten. Betti who bailed out successfully and the Me Bf 109 K-4 flown by Serg. Patton, which was developing engine trouble.
Serg. Patton abandoned his aircraft but was KIA.
Lt. F.M. Bolek destroyed the Me Bf 109 K-4 flown by Serg, Magg. Zanardi who bailed out to safety; this Messerschmitt, too, had its engine in bad conditions.
Lt. Schaefer shot down the Me Bf 109G-6 flown by Serg. Magg. Bianchini who bailed out.
Finally, Lt. Baldwin dispatched the Me Bf 109 G-6 flown by M.llo Covre, who successfully abandoned his personal mount.
The Italian lost five Messerschmitts and one pilot.
Thanks to old eyewitnesses of the aerial clash and to an article published in the local daily, the researchers have been able to locate the exact crash-point of one of the Messerschmitt.
A joint venture between the archaeological group EXPLORA and the group Air Crash Po led to two digging operations, the first one in August, 2015 and the second one last October, the 10th.
Several fragments, debris and pieces of the frontal section of the Messerschmitt were dug out but the operation had to be interrupted due to flooding.
It turned out that the plane was a Me Bf 109 G-6 but, as there are no info and data about the serials and codes of the three aircraft of that type shot down on that day, it is still impossible to determine who was the pilot aboard the plane.
Members of the expedition were:
Aldo Turra, Luca Ceriani, Gabriele Barraco, Luca Merli, Diego Vezzoli, Matteo Pietro Leoni,
Emanuele Pasquino, Lorenzo Prandoni.