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8 years before the famous raid with Bruno Mussolini and the Socci Verdi another spectacular odyssey was in course acroos the south Atlantic. In the morning of 17 December 1930, in the Naval Base of Orbetello in the outskirts of Rome, fourteen aircrafts Savoia Marchetti S-55, took off for a historical raid destined for Rio de Janeiro with stops in the African coast.

Eleven hydroplanes reached the Bay of Guanabara, on January 15, 1931, since three of them crashed during the crossing. The fact, due to the scarcity of the navigation aids at that time, was marked by the courage and the unequaled spirit of leadership of Italo Balbo and his team. All the aircrafts were acquired for the Brazilian Government, and they operated in the Naval Aviation up to 1936.

Earlier in the previous months of December, a giant support operation was assembled by the Regia Marina to provide essential means of communication across the Atlantic with the deployment of several ships that served as floating workshops for replenishing and upkeep for the extenuated crews of the 14 aircrafts during the long crossing.

One of these ships was the Italian cruiser LEONE PANCALDO. Marino Miccoli the son of one crewmember Antonio Miccoli kindly sent me some pictures as well as information on his father which was Chief Petty Officer Director of Fire Control in the Italian Navy at the heavy Cruiser FIUME and took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan. In the occasion he was made prisoner by the British from 29/Mar/41 to 19/May/46 POW #123415 in Alexandria, Pretoria and Liverpool and after the war he joined the new Italian Navy where he served until 1962. He died in 1976.

Artistic rendition on the arrival of the Italian aviators at Rio Jan. 1931

The picture shows several Italian ships anchored somewhere in Africa

The young offficer Antonio Miccoli

Destroyer LEONE PANCALDO plying the waters of the south Atlantic.

LEONE PANCALDO moored at Recife harbor one of the ports of call for the Roma Rio Raid.

One of the 14 Savoya Marchetti SM-55 being assisted by one replenishing ship in the middle of the Atlantic



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