CONTENTS

Foreword 5

Chapter 1: Italian Job
Troubled Kingdom 7
Sparviero Comes to Yugoslavia 8
On the Doorstep of War 28

Chapter 2: The April War
Fighting the Axis 37
Getaway 44
Blame Games 63

Chapter 3: Under the Allied Banner
With Red Stars on the Eastern Front 65
Far and Away 67
Back in Egypt 73

Chapter 4: Fighting the Guerillas
The Lone Bird 75
Late Arrivals 80

Chapter 5: Settantanove Over Balkans
In Hostile Skies 81
Yugoslav Battleground 83
The Hijack 86

Chapter 6: Camouflage and Markings
Vazduhoplovstvo vojske Kraljevine Jugoslavije 89
Voyenno-vozdushnye sily 91
Royal Air Force 91
Zrakoplovstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske 92
Regia Aeronautica 92
Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana 94
Aeronautica Militare 94

Endnotes 95

Appendix 1: Commanding Officers of VVKJ SM.79I Units 96

Appendix 2: SM.79I Italian Military Serial Numbers & Production Numbers 96

Appendix 3: VVKJ SM.79I Escadrille Numbers & MIlitary Serial Numbers 96

Appendix 4: Reconstruction of VVKJ SM.79I Combat Log 97

Appendix 5: VVKJ SM.79I Losses 103

Appendix 6: Approximate Comparison of Ranks 104

Abbreviations 105
Selected Bibliography 106
Selected Archival Sources and Documents 106
Selected Internet Sources 106

Savoia Marchetti SM.79 in Color 107

INTRODUCTION

Beautiful and ugly, rugged and elegant, celebrated and underrated, Savoia Marchetti SM.79 was one of the greatest aircraft of it’s time. Sidelined by other, more famous and potent types, with a combat record unpretentious, it still left a colorful mark in Yugoslav military history. This book tells the story of the acquisition of the third modern bomber type in the inventory of the Royal Yugoslav Air Force, it’s peacetime service and the role it played during the April War in 1941. It uncovers in detail the fate of the Yugoslav tri-motors which escaped to the Soviet Union and Middle East, where they were pressed into service by their new owners and with new markings. It describes the operations of the few aircraft in the inventory of the air arm of the puppet Independent State of Croatia, used both as bombers against Partisans and transports in the final stages of the war. It chronicles the episodes played by the iconic aircraft with three different Italian air forces, beginning with incursions during the Greek campaign and the assault on Yugoslavia, long-range flights of torpedo bombers at the time of changed fortunes of war, and ending with bizarre defection in 1946. Illustrated with 22 aircraft profiles and 125 photographs, many of which are published for the first time, this book represents the result of decades of painstaking research. It is drawn from archival sources, interviews and personal recollections, as well as documents and artifacts from private collections in Serbia, Croatia, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia and United Kingdom.