Photo Report : Cervia F-16 Farewell, 5° Stormo Disbands
Cervia air base bid farewell to the F-16 of 23° Gruppo, as 5° Stormo disbands, Claudio Toselli provides the pictures was there to witness the event.
F-16 leaving Cervia, 5° Stormo disbanding
On April 16, 2010, Cervia air base bid farewell to the F-16s as the 23° Gruppo officially ceased their flying operations at Cervia air base, signaling the start of the disbanding of 5° Stormo. The Frecce Tricolori national demonstration team also was there to fly its aerobatics routine, which also was the final practice display before the official May 1st start of the team’s display season. From June 2010 onwards, Cervia's F-16 ADF Fighting Falcons are now taken on charge by Trapani based 37° Stormo, joining the rest of the Italian Air Force’s F-16 fleet at the Scilian base, until the end of their lease. The last F-16 is scheduled to depart Cervia today, June 4, 2010. For more information on the F-16 in Italian Air Force service, read our previous report here.
F-16 special schemes
Two specially colored aircraft were presented at the "Farewell Falcon" event to commemorate the end of 5° Stormo and tribute to the F-16. The aircraft M.M.7236 received the Stormo’s insignia on its tail, the hunting goddess Diana. A second aircraft M.M.7244 received artwork in the form of a Viper snake wrapping around the fuselage with its head depicted on the aircraft’s tailfin, of course using the colors of 23° Gruppo. Viper is the nickname for the F-16 among operators all over the world, Vipera for the Italian air force F-16 crews. On the day of the farewell flight on April 16 the weather was poor, fortunately on April 20 more photos could be taken of the specials with beautiful weather.
History of 5° Stormo
The 5° Stormo was formed on 1 January 1934 based on Ciampino Sud, under the command of Col. pil. Amedeo Mecozzi, equipped with AC.3 aircraft. Subsequently it operated the CR.20, CR Asso (Ace), CR.32, AP.1 and BA.64, BA.65 and BA.88 "Lince".
During the Second World War, the wing’s role changed several times using the Junkers Ju87 Stuka (called the "Picchiatelli") dive bombers, CR.42, Re.2002, Re.2001 "Falco" and MC 202. From May 5, 1941, to 8 September, 1943, the wing flew 553 combat missions totalling 6,093 combat sorties on the French, Greek-Albanian, Mediterranean, North Africa and Sicily fronts. The operational commitment was at its peak in the summer of 1943 during the Allied landing in Sicily. From 8 September 1943 to August 5, 1945, another 291 missions for a total of 1537 sorties were flown against Allied forces in the Balkan region.
When the war ended, the wing had nearly exhausted its resources. Despite the few available aircraft, fatigue and redeployment of the men, flying was soon resumed with MC.205 aircraft, followed by the Spitfire Mk.IXC. The 5° Stormo then equipped with American fighters, the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt.
In 1952, the wing entered the jet era by replacing its propellor-driven aircraft for the F-84G Thunderjet. As in many other NATO air forces, the F-84G was superceded by the F-84F Thunderstreak swept-wing derivative. These classic jets were soon replaced by the Fiat G.91 and F-86K radar-equipped Sabre. In 1964, 5° Stormo received the first F-104G Starfighter, assigned to the 102° Fighter Bomber Group. In 1967 the wing’s 101° Gruppo also equipped with the F-104G, 101° became the 23° Gruppo. In 1973, the improved F-104S (S for Sparrow) developed to meet the Italian needs and built by Fiat began to replace the F-104G. Upgraded with the ASA weapon systems update and Aspide missile, the 5° Stormo continued to fly the Starfighters with 102° Gruppo until 1993 and with 23° Gruppo until January 9, 2003, having been further updated to ASA-M standard. 23° Gruppo pilots went to the United States for F-16 conversion trainng. While Cervia air base was prepared for the F-16 and 5° Stormo restructured, the 23° Gruppo first flew the new type at Trapani. With the first F-16s arriving at Cervia in November 2003, the 23° Fighter Interceptor Group was back with 5° Stormo. Quick reaction alert with the F-16 had started on January 1, 2004. See also our Italian Air Force F-16 40,000hrs report.
Cervia to become CSAR base
Cervia air base will now become home to the HH-3F ‘Pelican’ helicopters of 15° Stormo, which will transfer its headquarters from Pratica di Mare (Rome) and the 83° Gruppo CSAR from its present site in Rimini-Miramare.
Photos copyright Claudio Toselli
Report and photos by Claudio Toselli ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 30 March 2013
03/30/13 Minor layout edit