Infantrymen of the Air
An Operational History of the Royal Italian Airborne Forces in the Second World War, 1936-1943
Imprint: Helion and Company
542 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 65 b/w photos, 10 color photos, 54 color maps
- June 2023
- Temporarily out of stock. Ships in 2-3 weeks.
Infantrymen of the Air is the first detailed account of one speciality within the Italian military: the paracadutisti (paratroopers). Many readers are aware of the exploits of the divisione paracadutisti «Folgore» at El Alamein, but few are aware that the paracadutisti were involved in all the major fighting in North Africa. There was the I battaglione paracadutisti libici that fought at Derna and Beda Fomm during Operation Compass. Then the Carabinieri dell’Aria stopped a pursuing infantry brigade during Operation Crusader. The remains of the «Folgore» continued to fight at Mareth and as the 285º battaglione «Folgore» at Takrouna. The divisione aviotrasportabile «La Spezia» is also addressed as part of an Italian airborne corps.
Infantrymen of the Air also addresses the Regia Aeronautica’s and the Regina Marina’s airborne units. The Regina Aeronautica (Royal Air Force) created the I battaglione paracadutisti d’assalto and battaglione «Loreto» both for use on the planned invasion of Malta, yet found themselves fighting bravely in Tunisia. The battaglione Arditi Distruttori della Regia Aeronautica (A.D.R.A.) conducted raids in North Africa and Sicily. Paratroopers require transport aircraft and the ability of the Servizi Aerei Speciali to support airborne operations is examined.
The parachutists of the Regina Marina (Royal Navy) are detailed as well in Infantrymen of the Air. The battaglioni P(aracadutisti) and N(uotatori) del reggimento «San Marco» were raised for special operations and the planned invasion of Malta. Both would see action in Tunisia in 1943.
Infantrymen of the Air presents the history of these units from their authorization to their final actions in September 1943. The book discusses the doctrinal underpinnings for the creation and employment of these units. Organizational charts and equipment authorizations are provided to explore their evolution. The training, both the failures and successes, are explained for the reader. Operations that were planned but never executed are also included in their story.
The combat history of many of these units are presented to English readers for the first time. Battles and actions are addressed based mainly Italian sources supplemented by Allied histories. Numerous maps accompany each account, allowing the reader to visually follow the ebb and flow of the events presented. In many cases these accounts go beyond what is offered in Italian language works, integrating Allied sources to a greater degree to present a more complete picture.
Infantrymen of the Air offers an excellent resource to the student of World War 2. It is hope that this book is the ‘must have’ work for anyone studying the history of the Italian paracadutisti during the war.