Nino's aunt remembers that on March 28, 1944, four "long-tailed" aircraft (Lockheed P-38s, I presume) were chasing one Veltro in the sky over Dogato. Later she was told that Nino had been shot down and killed. The actual circumstances surrounding Nino's last flight were the following. On March 28, 1944, the C.205s of the 1o Gruppo Caccia and the Bf.109s of the I./JG 53 and I./JG 77 of the Luftwaffe intercepted a bombing mission of the 15th Air Force with target Verona. The USAAF bombers were escorted at high altitude by the P-47s of the 325th Fighter Group and at middle altitude by the P-38s of the 96th and 97th Squadron of the 82nd Fighter Group. They were intercepted at 30Km NW of Ferrara and the first to get involved were the German Messerschmitts, which engaged the P-47s. Later the C.205s and some Bf.109s were attacked by the P-38s. From USAAF documents it appears that Lt. Arthur Larkin (96th FS) claimed a "C.202" shot down at low altitude and declared to have seen the pilot bailing out. Besides Nino, on that day Ten. Pittini was also shot down, he was gravely injured in his leg but actually managed to bail out. Also Lt. Merrill Adelson (96th FS) claimed he had damaged and probably shot down a "C.202", which was later identified as the same shot down by Larkin. However, it is very likely that the two pilots attacked two different C.205s and confusion arouse because Adelson could not follow the fall of his enemy. This was almost certainly Nino. Nino is buried in the Capatti family's tomb at Dogato.
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Ironically, Mar. 28, 1944, was the 21st anniversary of the Regia Aeronautica, of which the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana claimed to be the rightful heir. On that day the first issue of Ali (Wings), the propaganda magazine of the ANR, appeared. The front cover features Nino and his comrades of the 2a Squadriglia (Nino is third from left).

Nino crashed in this desolate countryside spot. It is situated in the ``Bonifica del Mantello''--reclaimed land in the municipality of Argenta, province of Ferrara. Approximate coordinates are 44 degrees 40' N, 11 degrees 45' E. To get there go from Argenta to La Fiorana, which is just a group of a few houses. Then turn left onto Via Argine Pioppa. Take the first road on your left (Via Rosolo). After a while you will have to turn right. When you see a small bridge on your left, cross it. The land there is divided into small units separated by shallow ditches. Nino crashed in the fifth or sixth unit from the bridge. Walk for about 100 meters in the direction shown by the photo to reach the spot, which is at the boundary of the units, close to a canal.

Nino's wings. They were returned to the Capatti family after his fatal crash.

A propeller blade of Nino's Macchi C.205V Veltro is preserved in the Capatti family's tomb. The propeller tip is green (similar to Federal Standard 595b 34151), but note also that there are yellow streaks. Perhaps a chemical reaction turned the yellow into green.

The propeller base shows the Macchi factory brand and inscriptions.

On October 2, 2004 the Romagna Air Finders, an association devoted to recovering WWII aircraft, excavated the crash site and recovered parts of Nino's aircraft and his mortal remains. May he finally rest in peace.
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Next chapter: Acknoledgements and Bibliography

Roberto Lionello's Leisure Home Page / roberto.lionello@gmail.com