Text: Philippe Decock - Pictures: Philippe Decock & Jacques Vincent - Archives: Italian Air Force, Serge Van Heerum & SBAP Collection  © sbap 2015
2015 marked the 55th anniversary of the Frecce Tricolory, the Italian Air Force display team. To mark the event, an international air show was organized in Rivolto air base, home of the Frecce Tricolori. 

Many foreign display teams were present at the show : 
Patrulla Águila, from Spain, flying the CASA C-101 Aviojet, 
Breitling Wingwalkers, from the UK, flying the Boeing Kaydet, 
Bialo-Czerwone Iskry, from Poland, flying the PZL TS-11 Iskra, 
Royal Jordanian Falcons, from Jordania, flying the Extra 300L, 
Midnight Hawks, from Finland, flying the Bae Hawk Mk51, 
Patrouille de France, from France, flying the Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet, 
Patrouille Suisse, from Switzerland, flying the Northrop F-5E Tiger II, 
Red Devils, from Belgium, flying the SIAI SF-260 Marchetti, 
Saudi Hawks, from Saudi Arabia, flying the Bae Hawk Mk65, 
Turkish Stars, from Turkey, flying the Northrop NF-5A/B, 
We Fly, from Italy, flying the FlySynthesis Texan microlight aircraft, 
Frecce Tricolori, from Italy, flying the Aermacchi MB.339 PAN MLU.

In addition to the display teams, several solo displays were also present : 
The Austrian Air Force SAAB 105 OE, 
The Belgian Air Force F-16 solo display, 
The Italian Air Force AW139, 
Typhoon and M346, 
The Polish Air Force Mig-29 solo display. 
The RNLAF AH-64D Apache.

A " Legend Flight " was also flown as a formation of one T-6, one Fiat G59, one MB326, one MB339A, one MB339CD and one M346.
Real intersting formation from past to present of the Italian Air Force

SBAP team would like to thanks the Aeronautica Militare Italiana and the Rivolto organizers for the wonderful organisation, the warm welcome during the press day and all the facilities granded during our rest in the Frecce Tricolori home

Rivolto - Udine homebase of the 2° Stormo Caccia
The passage of the 2nd Wing, named after Captain pilot Mario D'Agostini, Gold Medal for Military Valor in memoriam, into an actor of the air missile defense system is just the latest of a long series of transformations that have accompanied the history of the Wing, adapted from time to time to changes in policy driven by continuous changes in the historical and geopolitical world. The 2nd Wing was born on December 25th 1925 in Turin and was initially organized into three Squadrons. During the World War II, the Wing was deployed in Africa, where heroic deeds of his men held the silver medal for bravery to the war flag of the Wing. Subsequently, the Wing then Air Brigade, was relocated first in Vicenza (1951) and then in Cameri (Novara - 1957), where was commissioned to build, on F86 Sabre aircraft, the first embryo of the National Aerobatic Team: the "Black Lancers". The year 1962 marked the return of the Wing, with its relocation at the airport of Treviso, with two Squadrons equipped with Fiat G.91. In 1980, the help of the men of the 2nd Wing to the victims of the earthquake in Irpinia (Campania Region) was rewarded with the bronze medal for the civic services assignment to the war flag of the Wing. With the beginning of the '90s, the 14th Group (now the only squadron of the Wing) received, in replacement of the G.91, the most modern aircraft AMX, and in 1993 the Wing was transferred to the military airport in Rivolto, where it operates today. The second half of the '90s saw the 14th Group engaged with the international contingents of NATO in peacekeeping missions in the former Yugoslavia, such as the NATO-led missions "Allied Force" and "Operation Joint Guardian Force", which have seen the AMX of 14th Group engaged daily over the skies of Kosovo and Serbia. Then, in 2002, further needs to rationalize the military organization driven by changes in geo-strategic context dictated again a re-organization, the aircrafts of the Group were redistributed among the bases of Amendola (Foggia) and Istrana (Treviso). During the same year the National Aerobatic Team was put under the responsibility of the 2nd Wing, until 2007. Since then, the 2nd Wing began the process of transformation in missile center, with the incorporation of Missile guided interceptor's Groups from Cordovado (Pordenone), Bovolone (Verona) and Bagnoli di Sopra (Padova), equipped with the missile system "Nike Hercules", now no longer in use. At the same time, it continued to provide technical support to the activities of the "Frecce Tricolori" both in daily operations and during annual events with a large numbers of visitors. 
From the second half of 2008, the operational component of the new missile segment of the Wing began its relocation from the military airport of Villafranca (Verona) to Rivolto, with the transfer of two missile batteries "Spada" (short-haul, for point-defense), along with specialized personnel in such weapon system and its logistical resources.

The 2nd Wing is the entity identified by the Armed Forces to act as a point of reference for missile air defense systems nationwide. 
The Wing performs both training and operational readiness special exercises for both personnel and equipment of the missile batteries "Spada". Such mission is performed through a continuous training, required to maintain the operational readiness of the Armed Forces and of the international organizations which the country belongs. The Wing also ensures smooth functioning of airport services and maintenance of both infrastructure and equipment, also in favor of 313rd Aerobatic Training Group operating on the Rivolto airport. It performs also cross services for other aircraft and contributes, under directives from superior command, to the Air Defense service.

Equipment: Missile system "Spada". 
The "Spada" is a missile system for an anti-aircraft defense of a point, such as airports. The system consists of a sighting center and 3 or more fire sections equipped with "Aspide" missiles that have a range of about 10 km. Very effective at low and very low altitudes, the "Spada" is integrated into the National Air Defense. The "Spada" is a versatile system whose mobility has allowed its effective use even outside the usual array of bases, such as the first Libyan crisis, the G8 summit in Genova in 2001, or at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005. A "Spada" Group form the 2nd Wing was also deployed, with short notice, at Trapani Birgi airport for the Libyan crisis of 2011, thus taking part in the operations "Odyssey Dawn" and "Unified Protector".

Fiat G91R as gate guard in Codroipo village near Rivolto
(Jacques Vincent)
Lockheed F-104G as gate guard near Istrana city 
(Jacques Vincent)
Bell 205 at Cassara in memory of a crew 
shooted down in 1992 by a Yugoslav Mig above Croatia
(Jacques Vincent)
Aeronautica Militare Italiana Static Display
North American T-6 "Havard"  (Philippe Decock) North American F-86D "Dog Sabre"  (Philippe Decock)
Republic RF-84F "Thunderflash"  (Philippe Decock) Lockheed T-33A "Shooting Star"  (Philippe Decock)
Fiat G-91 "Gina"  (Philippe Decock) Fairchild C-119G "Flying Boxcar"  (Philippe Decock)
Lockheed F-104S "ASA"  (Jacques Vincent) Siai Marchetti S208M  (Philippe Decock)
Siai Marchetti SF.260EA  (Philippe Decock) Aermacchi MB-339A  (Philippe Decock)
T-344 V.E.S.P.A. (Philippe Decock) AMX-T  (Philippe Decock)
Panavia Tornado IDS  (Philippe Decock) Eurofighter Typhoon A  (Philippe Decock)
Alenia Aermacchi T-346A "Master"  (Philippe Decock) Piaggio P-1HH "Hammer Head" unmaned aerial vehicle  (Philippe Decock)
Nardi-Hughes NH 500E  (Philippe Decock) Agusta Westland AW 139  (Philippe Decock)
Agusta Westland AW609  (Philippe Decock) RQ-1A/MQ-1 Predator UAV  (Philippe Decock)
Anti aircraft missile launcher Spada for Aspide missiles
(Philippe Decock)
Bell-Douglas MIM-14 Nike-Hercules
(Philippe Decock)
The first Italian aerobatic team created after the World War II were the “Cavallini Rampanti” (Prancing Horses). The team was first created in 1950 and flew De Havilland Vampire MB Mk.51 fighters until 1952, when the team was disbanded. In 1956, the team was established again under the name “Cavallino Rampante” (Prancing Horse), but this time they flew Canadair-built F-86 Sabre Mk.4 aircraft. This later team existed only until 1957.
From 1953 until 1954, the aerobatic team “Guizzo” flew from the Villafranca air base with four F-84G “Thunderjet” fighters. The team participated at Soesterberg in the Netherlands in 1953, “stealing” the entire airshow with their low level passes and dramatic maneuvers.
The “Tigri Bianche” (White Tigers) aerobatic team also flew F-84G “Thunderjet” fighters from 1955 until 1956. They were the first Italian team to visit both Canada and the USA.
In 1959, another aerobatic team with the name “Getti Tonanti” (Thunder Jet) was created at Rimini air base. This team flew F-84F Thunderstreak fighters and lasted until 1960. This team also took part in the opening of the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960 and for this reason the team’s color scheme incorporated the Olympic Games rings and colors on the tails of their aircraft.
The “Diavoli Rossi” (Red Devils) were another Italian Air Force aerobatic display team. The team was established in 1957 from the 6th Aerobrigata at Ghedi air base and also flew F-84F “Thunderstreak” aircraft. In April 1959, “Diavoli Rossi” performed in USA at the “First World Congress of Flight” in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the end of 1959, the team was disbanded.
The “Lanceri Neri” (Black Lancers) were established in 1958 from the Italian Air Force 2nd Aerobrigata at Cameri Montichiari air base. The “Lanceri Neri” flew six Canadair-built F-86 Sabre Mk.4 aircraft. This team was also disbanded in 1959.

Frecce Tricolori History

The “Frecce Tricolori” aerobatic display team was created on 1 March 1961, as part of the 313th aerobatic training group 
(313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico) in Rivolto air base. 
The team's official name is: 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN) Frecce Tricolori.
Initially the team used Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.4 (F-86E) aircraft.

In 1964, the team transitioned to Italian-made Fiat G-91 fighters and continued to fly with them until 1981, when they received new Italian Aermacchi MB-339 trainers.
On July 12th, 1978, two aircraft collided in mid-air during a practice over Rivolto, killing one of the pilot, Capt. Graziano Carrer.
On May 27th, 1979, Capt. Pier Gianni Petri also crashed and died at the Mildenhall Airshow. This incident occurred during a “Bomb Burst” maneuver. Capt. Petri was flying a Fiat G91 which failed to recover from its dive and crashed near Beck Row. No one on the ground was injured during the accident.

The team transited to Aermacchi MB339A jet trainer aircraft in 1980. The MB339A which Frecce Tricolori fly is also known as MB339PAN (Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale) - a specially modified version for the team.
Another of the Frecce Tricolori pilots, Capt. Antonio Gallus, lost his life on September 2nd, 1981 during a routine training flight at Rivolto.
The worst accident in the aerobatic team’s history occurred on August 28th, 1988 at the Ramstein airbase in West Germany. 
During a "heart-shaped" maneuver, at the top of a loop, the mass formation of ten airplanes separated into three smaller formations: one with five planes, another with four planes and the solo pilot. The first two formations separated from each other in opposite directions, while the solo pilot separated perpendicularly from these other two formations. They each continued this maneuver until they crossed at the
bottom of the loop. The inaccurate execution of this maneuver by the solo pilot, Lt. Col. Ivo Naturelli, then caused a collision with the first formation. The solo pilot’s N°10 plane first collided with the upper surface of N°2’s fuselage, and then crashed into the rear fuselage section of the N°1 aircraft. The N°1 aircraft spun and crashed onto N°2. Then both N°1 and N°2 aircraft crashed onto the taxiway. One of these aircraft collided with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on the ground killing its pilot who was in the cockpit. The solo aircraft hit the ground in front of spectators. All three of the team’s pilots died. 
The other seven team aircraft diverted to the closest alternate airfield and landed safely at the Sembach airbase.
On September 5th, 1999, two of the team's planes simultaneously experienced bird strikes in their engines during a display at Bratislava, Slovakia. Fortunately both planes landed safely but their demonstration had to be cancelled.
In 2000 they reached 50,000 flying hours on the Aermacchi MB-339.
On October 27th, 2002, the team's N°10 MBB-339 aircraft, was involved in another bird-strike incident while landing at their home base of Rivolto, following a fly-past display. The bird was ingested into the plane's engine about 200 meters from end of the runaway aborting the landing, but both pilot ejected safely.
In 2005 they won the award for best exhibition at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, England. 
They were also the first non-Russian unit to receive the Russian Silver Medal for Aeronautical Merit.
On 8 September 2007 the "Frecce Tricolori" took part at the funeral of Luciano Pavarotti in Modena and honoured him with a fly-past leaving green-white-red smoke trails.
In September 2013 it was announced that the team will stop using MB-339's for the 2017 season and instead will use Aermacchi M-345 HET trainers, which will replace the MB-339 in the Italian air force.

Cavallino Rampante (4°Stormo - DH-100 Vampire - 1952)
(Philippe Decock & Italian Air Force)
Guizzo (5° Aerobrigata - F-84G Thunderjet - 1953 to 1955) & Tigri Bianche (51° Aerobrigata - F-84G Thunderjet - 1955 to 1956)
(Italian Air Force & Coll SBAP)

Cavallino Rampante (4°Aerobrigata - Canadair CL13 Mk4 Sabre - 1956 to 1957)
(Philippe Decock & Italian Air Force)

Diavoli Rossi (6° Aerobrigata - F-84F Thunderstreak - 1957 to 1958)
(Philippe Decock, Coll SBAP & Italian Air Force)

Lanceri Neri (2° Aerobrigata - Canadair CL13 Mk4 Sabre - 1958 to 1959)
(Philippe Decock & Italian Air Force)

Getti Tonanti (5° Aerobrigata - F-84F Thunderstreak - 1959 to 1960)
(Philippe Decock, Coll SBAP & Italian Air Force)

Frecce Tricolori (313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico)
Canadair CL13 Mk4 Sabre - 1961 to 1963
FIAT G-91 PAN - 1964 to 1981
Aermacchi MB-339 PAN - 1982 to 2015
Aermacchi M345 HET - as from 2017
(Philippe Decock, Serge Van Heertum Fiat G-91 in demo, Italian Air Force & Coll SBAP)
The 55 years Airshow
Lockheed C-130J  (Jacques Vincent)
"We Fly" civilian aerobatic team  (Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) FlySynthesis Texan microlight  (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
SPAD XII Francesco Baracca replica  (Philippe Decock)
(Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
Agusta Westland AW149  (Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)

Italian Air Force legend formation:
North American T-6 Harvard, Fiat G-59, Aeramacchi MB 326
Aermacchi MB 339A, Aermacchi MB 339CD & Aermacchi M346A Master
(Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
Agusta Westland HH-101A "Caesar"  (Jacques Vincent)
Air refueling fly pass  (Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
Boeing KC-767J  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
Agusta Westland AW139  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
Eurofighter Typhoon's with 4° Stormo Caccia special paint
(Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) Cavalino Rampante (Philippe Decock)
Eurofighter Typhoon A  (Philippe Decock) Eurofighter Typhoon T  (Philippe Decock)
Panavia Tornado IDS  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
Aermacchi M346A "Master"  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
Eurofighter Typhoon A solo display  (Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
The "Frecci Tricolori and their Aermacchi MB339A (PAN)  (Philippe Decock)
Preparing the planes for the show  (Jacques Vincent) All have to be perfect  (Philippe Decock)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) Waiting the pilots  (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) Go for the show  (Philippe Decock)
Turn around  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
Ready for start up  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) And taxi to join the runway  (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) 55 years of excellence  (Philippe Decock)

(Philippe Decock)

(Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) The commentator will give the demonstration explanaitions
(Philippe Decock)
Take off for the 55 years demo  (Jacques Vincent) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) Beautiful 10 ship formation  (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) Amazing crossing  (Jacques Vincent)
The solo  (Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) Viva Italia!  (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Jacques Vincent) Back to the parking  (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) The last years of the MB339 PAN...to be continued  (Jacques Vincent)
The other participating Nations

Austrian Air Force Saab 105OË (Jacques Vincent)

Belgian Air Force "Red Devils" and F-16AM Solo display  (Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock)

Finish Air Force "Night Hawks"  (Jacques Vincent)

French Air Force "Patrouille de France"  (Philippe Decock)

Netherland Air Force AH-64 "Apache" solo display  (Jacques Vincent)

Jordanian Air Force "Royal Jordanian Falcons"  (Jacques Vincent)

Polish Air Force "Bialo-Czerwone Iskry"  and MIG-29 solo display  (Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock)

Saudi Air Force "Saudi Hawks"  (Jacques Vincent)

Spannish Air Force "Aguila"  (Jacques Vincent)

Swiss Air Force "Patrouille Suisse"  (Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock)

Turkish Air Force "Turkish Stars"  (Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock)

Breitling Wingwalkers team and their charming ladies  (Jacques Vincent & Philippe Decock)

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