Frist operations (Juin 1940)

First Operations (June 1940)

The period from June to August 1940 (invasion of British Somalia) will see a relatively small air activity, but during which the belligerents will gradually implement the air policy that will characterize them during the rest of the campaign.

Thus, the Commonwealth air forces (Royal Air Force and South African Air Force), despite still relatively small numbers of Squadrons and aicrafts, are ordered to conduct an active air offensive against the main targets (aerodromes, fuel depots, radio station) over Eritrea and north Ethiopia. The goal : to lead the Regia Aeronautica in an attrition campaign that it can not win due to the impossibility of bringing massive reinforcements. In addition, it is also a misinformation campaign designed to make Italian officials believe in a massive air force to dissuade them from any operation in Allied territory.

The policy of Regia Aeronautica is more wait-and-see. Thus, on 5 June General Badoglio gives the Duc d’Aosta instructions to remain in a strictly defensive position. When asked if this order could be interpreted as allowing the air force to conduct raids against opposing air and naval bases, the answer is clear: no alternative is possible, Regia Aeronautica must remain a defensive force.

On 10 June 1940 Italy entered the war. Immediately, the situation ignites in the Horn of Africa between the new belligerents. If, at first, the ground troops on both sides are relatively inactive, the airmen are very quickly put to contribution.