MILAVIA > Specials > Cervia F-16 Farewell, 5° Stormo Disbands Last updated: 30 March 2013
MILAVIA Military Aviation Specials

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-16A ADF returning at Cervia AB on April 16, officially the last day of 23° Gruppo operations.
F-16A M.M.7236 with 5° Stormo 'Diana' tailart to commemorate the wing as it disbands.
5° Stormo commander Urban flew the 'Diana' aircraft on April 16.
F-16A M.M. 7244 with 23° Gruppo 'Vipera' special scheme, flown by Commander Mauro Gnutti.
The men of 23° Gruppo, 5° Stormo responsible for the F-16 Farewell.
One of 23° Gruppo F-16 ADF fighters in its normal colour scheme.
Seen here still counting its last days in one of Cervia's shelters, this F-16A will now be at Trapani.
Four F-16B two-seaters were leased, this example remained at Cervia until the end.
One final look at the 23° Gruppo F-16B.
The Frecce Tricolori performed its last practise display at the event before starting the 2010 season.
Close up of the Frecce Tricolori pilots in one of the MB-339s.
Bye Bye Falcon patch of the crew chiefs.

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.

F-16A M.M.7246 tailart of 5° Stormo's insignia, the hunting goddess Diana. Note the Lockheed logo.
On the other side of the tail, a slightly bigger image of Diana.
F-16A ADF serial M.M.7246 'Diana' 5° Stormo special.
F-16A ADF serial M.M.7246 'Diana' 5° Stormo special.
F-16A ADF serial M.M.7246 'Diana' 5° Stormo special.
23° Gruppo F-16A ADF serial M.M.7244 'Vipera' special.
23° Gruppo F-16A ADF serial M.M.7244 'Vipera' special.
23° Gruppo F-16A ADF serial M.M.7244 'Vipera' special.
23° Gruppo F-16A ADF serial M.M.7244 'Vipera' special.
23° Gruppo F-16A ADF serial M.M.7244 'Vipera' special.
23° Gruppo F-16A ADF serial M.M.7244 'Vipera' special.
Maybe the rollerons of this AIM-9 Sidewinder were already transferred to Trapani...

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.

Preserved at Cervia, this Fiat/Aeritalia G.91Y and F-104S Starfighter were also in the flight line.
Preserved Fiat/Aeritalia G.91Y of 8° Stormo. 5° Stormo was also equipped with the G.91 once.
Preserved F-104S-ASA-M of 5° Stormo / 23° Gruppo.
F-104S in special colors to celebrate 23° Gruppo's 75 year anniversary, seen here back in 1993.
F-104S in the 23° Gruppo colors for its 82nd anniversary in 2000.
The Starfighter's last upgrade, the F-104S-ASA-M, flew with 5° Stormo / 23° Gruppo until the end of 2002.

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.

Cervia Air Base will house HH-3F 'Pelican' helicopters of 83° Gruppo.
The HH-3F has received several upgrades to optimize it for the Combat Search and Rescue role.
The 83° Gruppo and its helicopters belong to the 15° Stormo, soon headquartered at Cervia too.
A look into the HH-3F cabin from its rear ramp, perfect for CSAR compared to most other Sea King variants.
HH-3F front view, dominated by the protruding radar dome.
Another HH-3F at an interesting angle, seen here undergoing maintenance.

Photos copyright Claudio Toselli

Report and photos by Claudio Toselli ( view portfolio )

First Published: 10 April 2010
Last Modified: 30 March 2013

Update log:
03/30/13 Minor layout edit