Biography of Italo César Balbo (1896-1940)

General and Italian Aviator, born in Ferrara on June 5, 1896 and died in Tobruk (Libya) in 1940.

He studied at the University of Florence and later at the Institute of social sciences of Rome. During the first world war he/she participated in the conflict as the Italian army in the campaign in the Alps against Austro-Hungarian army officer, was awarded for merit the rank of Captain and attained in addition three medals by its value after the Treaty of Versailles and in view of the little benefit that was its signature for Italy, Italian barbel started his collaboration with the fascist movement of Benito Mussolini. In 1922 took part in the so-called March on Rome, in front of the same and next to Mussolini, obtaining the fascist party the Government of Italy from the hands of the King Victor Emmanuel III after this test of strength. In the progressive introduction of the fascist regime in all facets of Italian life, Italo Balbo participated significantly in positions of responsibility which Mussolini appointed him, as part of the so-called cuadrumvirato. It was important to their role in the military of the black shirts, but above all in the Italian air force and the Air Ministry. In this last development work between 1927 and 1933; first as Undersecretary of State for Aeronautics and later as Minister from September 12, 1930. Replaced in the post of Minister to the own Mussolini who, along with the Government Headquarters had also assumed that Ministry and who saw in Italo Balbo his man of trust for such position. However, with the passage of time was realizing the damage that the fascist regime caused to Italy (see fascism). It gradually changed position until you almost reach a total opposition to the fascist regime and knew how to anticipate, but oppose the decision of Mussolini, the disaster posed to Italy to intervene, since 1940, in the second world war, such as the Count Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs left reflected in his personal diary.


As aviation, planned and carried out a series of flights to long distance, raids, which were in vogue at the time. The Government of Mussolini saw in this type of expeditions a propagandistic way to present the world the human value and technological Italian of the era, which were presented as well as achievements of fascism, as he/she presented in several speeches in the Chamber of Deputies fascist and other writings. In the practical application of such ideas, the Regia Aeronautica developed a strong impulse for reasons of prestige. In 1925 and 1927 were a single airplane flights to Japan and then to North America, and South. Contribution to Aviation of Italo Balbo was the Organization and development of such flights, but in complete squadrons instead of planes alone; He/She oversaw and organized three of these raids that were the culmination of the contribution of Italian in this type of flight.

The first flight was which made a squadron of 61 seaplanes of various types and that it carried out a cruise through the Western Mediterranean, in total 2804 km of flight made between May 26 on June 2, 1928, two years before his appointment as Minister. In 1929, the experience in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a smaller Squad of 35 seaplanes, of which most was the SIAI house model S 55 was repeated between 5 and 19 June. On December 17, 1930, after a very planned preparation of aircrews in the the town of Orbetello seaplane base, start flying from this base 14 seaplane model SIAI S 55 TA (Atlantic crossing) bound to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. On January 15 they amerizaban on the beaches of the city 11 of 15 devices, after a flight of 61 hours divided into seven stages. The President of Brazil at the time, Getulio Vargas, received the members of the expedition. This was considered a success despite the loss of 4 units, one in the Portuguese Guinea, and three others with severe damage in different landings. There were a total of 5 crew members dead, four on the first unit and the fifth in one of the landings.

The culmination of this expedition was carried out years later, although the idea was born in Italo Balbo in 1928 to a trip to the United States. In 1933, after a preparation even more completely than the one made for the previous expedition, and also from Orbetello split 25 seaplane SIAI S 55 X. It was on July 1, when starting the Italy-United States-Italy flight. The flight had Chicago destination. The first stage was Amsterdam and from there, after losing a seaplane in an accident, approached Squadron Ireland to begin the crossing of the Atlantic, carried out in two stages. Londonderry (Northern Ireland) - Reykjavik (Iceland, then Danish territory) and thence to Cartwright, Labrador peninsula. Despite the inclement weather, the preparation of crews for the instrument flight training in Orbetello, allowed arrival divided into squads of three devices. From Cartwright they headed to New York, where they had a great reception, and from there to Chicago in the other two stages to reach the city on July 15, after anchor in Lake Michigan. 19, started the return to Italy, via Newfoundland, thence to the Portuguese Azores Islands, Lisbon, where lost another appliance and finally the Italian town of Ostia, where they arrived on August 19. 20, Benito Mussolini appointed Air Marshal Italo Balbo.

After the glory of the great aerial expeditions, Italo Balbo is sent to Libya as Governor in 1934 and made numerous flights between Libya and Italy. With Italy already stuck in the second world war, Italo Balbo performs routine inspections of the front, return by plane to Tobruk from one of these inspections, the Italian anti-air defense confused his plane with one British and knocks it, which caused the death of Italo Balbo.


CIANO, Galeazzo (prologue and Fabio Congost notes): daily. Barcelona, 1952.

Aviation ACEs VV. AA. Barcelona, Delta publishing, 1984, 25-27.