Formed in May 1936, 53° Stormo was initially equipped with the iconic Fiat CR.32 biplane fighter. These were replaced by CR.42s three years later, and upon Italy's declaration of war on the Allies in June 1940, the unit saw action against French and British aircraft that same month. With France defeated, the Regia Aeronautica turned its attention to Greece, and 53° Stormo's 150° Gruppo was again in the forefront of the action against RAF Gladiators - the unit also operated over Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, 53° Stormo's 151° Gruppo had been sent to Libya in July 1940, and it saw considerable action in North Africa until returning to Italy in January 1942. 150° Gruppo had also been sent to North Africa in early 1941, the unit having by then re-equipped with Macchi C.200s. Operations against Malta followed during the summer of 1942, when 53° Stormo was issued with Macchi C.202s.
As the Allies gained ground in North Africa in late 1942, and then launched a series of offensives in the Mediterranean, numerous Italian fighter units were pulled back to defend the homeland, and amongst these was 53° Stormo, which was issued with 50+ Bf 109Gs sourced from Jagdgeschwader 53 in early 1943. After flying defensive operations over Sicily and Pantellaria, 53° Stormo fought its final actions over Rome, Torino and Milan. 150° Gruppo claimed its final kill on 8 September 1943, and this also proved to be the last victory credited to the Regia Aeronautica prior to Italy's surrender the following day.
With firsthand accounts sourced from the archives, numerous period photos and colorful artwork, this books further broadens the coverage of Osprey's Elite Units series.
"Author Marco Mattioli covers the history of the unit from its inception until the end of the war. This includes not only log entries, but stories from the pilots themselves. All of this is further enhanced by some excellent period photos of planes and pilots..." -Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness
"For history-oriented readers, the book describes the involvement of different Gruppi from 53 Stormo in the Battle of France, Greece and the Balkans, North Africa, the Central Mediterranean (Malta and Pedestal and Sicily), plus Home Defense roles. It includes very detailed descriptions of the Squadriglie and Gruppi movements and actions, often including tail numbers/pilot names of the aircraft involved in combat whenever possible. I highly recommend this book to modelers based on the reference pictures and profiles and to aviation history aficionados based on the detailed research on the detailed Gruppi and Squadriglie movements and activities." - Pablo Bauleo, IPMS/USA
"...makes for a key set of aviation victory insights of World War II and is illustrated throughout with period photos, plane profiles and full-color illustrations. Recently revealed archival material sets this apart from any other consideration -- none of which offer the depth of detail of this survey." - The Midwest Book Review
" This fully-illustrated with black-and-white photographs book offers invaluable information on the 53 Stormo and the historical facts related to it." -NeoPopRealism Journal