By Pierre Kosmidis
Underwater photos by Asim Karsçakar
The aircraft wreck close to the coast of Turkey, located at sea between the city of Kas and the Greek island of Kastellorizo is not a SM79 “Sparviero” (hawk), as previously thought, but a SM81 “Pipistrello” (bat), with the code 223-4.
Details emerged as to its identity from Italian historians who researched the archives and found out the fate of this specific aircraft wreck, which was documented photographically by Turkish scuba diver and underwater explorer Asim Karsçakar.
According to Italian researcher Corrado Ferrari, who pointed out the details, on the night of 25 February 1941, a British commando unit invaded the island of Kastellorizo, held at the time by Italians.
At 11:25 of the next morning, 4 SM81 “Pipistrello” bombers of 223a Squadriglia took off from Cattavia air base in Rodos Island, in order to bomb the commando and to provide air support to the Italian garrison.
At 12:00 a lone SM81 took off from the same air base to check the results of the bombing.
As it was flying at a very low altitude it was hit by ground fire and was forced to ditch at sea, just 1 mile west of Kastellorizo.
The plane was coded 223-4 – m.m. 20452 or 20492.
The pilot was tenente Oscar Pegna from Livorno.
All the crew was later rescued by a Cant Z506 after refusing help from a Turkish boat.
For this mission tenente Pegna was awarded the Italian silver medal and this fact is described in the explanatory statement of the medal (you can read it in the website www.istitutonastroazzurro.org).
With special thanks to Asım Karsçakar for the underwater photos and Corrado Ferrari for the updated information on the identity of the aircraft wreck.