This F-104S of AMI, Italian
Military Aviation, is the occasion to give some short elements
about the 21° Gruppo to which it belongs. The unit became part
of the 51° Stormo on 1st October 1939 with Fiat G-50 fighters as
equipement and Maggiore Vezzio Mezzetti as commanding officer.
When war broke the Gruppo was devoted to the Roma defence and so
it had no opportunities to engage ennemy aircraft. With a
transfer to 52° Stormo in September 1940, 21° Gruppo went to
Campania airfield with task to defend the Napoli skies. First
victories were recorded here, including some at night.
When the Baltic theater of operations opened, two Squadriglie, the 354 and 355° moved with the Gruppo Headquarters to the Albanian sector, while third flight was assigned to the Palese Machie airfield.
Later all the Gruppo received Macchi MC 200 fighters and was sent to Russia where it assumed air defence as so as ground support missions. After receiving new Macchi 202 S fighters the unit moved during 1943 to Sicilia to oppose to the Anglo-American invasion. Installed at various airfields in the Puglia Area, pilots were advised on 8th September 43 that an armistice agreement had been signed and so, continued war with Allies over Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece.
After war, the unit continued to fly and assume interceptions of aircraft illegaly flying over Italia. Under 51° Stormo, in 1948, the 21° moved to Treviso-San Angelo having P-47s as material and then was assigned to 56th TAF. It was during 1952 than the unit converted to jet fighters and got F-84G Thunderjets to move to Aviano where, in 1956, they established the Italian Aerobatic Team under name of " White Tigers ".
They distinguished after having changed 84Gs for 84Fs when winning in 1957 the famous Trophy of 5th ATAF. 1959 saw 21° Gruppo receiving North American F-86K Sabres license-manufactured by the Italian Fiat Works. In the Sixties it was among the first unit to receive F-104Gs when Italy radically modernised its Air Force. Moving at Cameri, the 21° became, in 1967, part of the 53° Stormo specialised in the interception role. Always with 53° at the time of the 1972 Tiger Meet edition the unit was fully converted to F-104S interceptors since less than a year and contributed to the North Italy Air Defence.