Drawing on rare, historical photography, Damned Hunchbacks: Italy’s Forgotten Torpedo Bomber Units of the Second World War (1940-1943) explores the heroic feats of Italy’s most successful wartime bomber, the Savoia Marchetti S.79 Sparrowhawk that fought the convoy war against the state-of-the-art British Royal Navy warships and merchant ships. Focusing on the technical specifications of the S.79 torpedo bomber, using original unit war diaries, and detailed armament and cockpit views, this book explores the emergence, the organizational growth and the combat record of Italy’s mighty torpedo-bombers units against Allied battleships, cruisers, destroyers and raiders. Torpedo bomber actions are described in the major sea battles in the Mediterranean, from the more famous attacks such as the strike on HMS Indomitable during Operation Husky, the dramatic events of Operational Pedestal and the battle for the control of Malta, Operation Harpoon, or the clash with the Royal Navy during the Axis invasion of Crete, to less covered sea fights such as the Battle of the Sirte.
Despite their advanced radar systems, effective weaponry and heavy armor protection, the Allied warships proved vulnerable to a skilfully and audaciously flown torpedo-bomber, thanks to bold pilots and their crews that pushed their trimotors to the limits of their endurance. Including rare personal recollections from the torpedo bomber aces and historical accounts from the Allied warship crews, this book describes the battle for control of the Mediterranean Sea and for the ultimate occupation of North Africa. The author not only details the technical specifications and weaponry of the S.79 but also recounts Italy’s attempts during the war to introduce technical innovation through more advanced warheads and faster torpedo bombers. In addition Italy’s torpedo bombers are compared with the records of other major powers ( Japan, Great Britain Germany and the USA) that fielded torpedo bomber units during the war.
Author(s): Paolo Morisi
First Publishment Date: 04 October 2023