Italian Patch Air Force Aeronautica Militare AM Stormo 51 FB AMX
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Italian Patch Air Force Aeronautica Militare AM Stormo 51 FB AMX

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Italian Patch Air Force Aeronautica Militare AM 51 Stormo Wing Gatto Nero Black Cat Badge 1990s AMX Fighter Bomber Embroidered on twill cut edge 113mm by 82mm four and seven sixteenth inches by three and one quarter inches.

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Following Axis offensive fighter operations in North Africa Malta and southern Italy equiped with Macchi MC202 and MC205 fighter aircraft 51 Stormo Caccia Terrestre Wing was reformed at Lecce Air Base in January 1944 following the Armistice with the Allies to operate under Allied command as part of the Italian CoBelligerent Air Force. 51 Stormo CT controlled 20 21 and 155 Gruppo undertaking fighter air defence and fighter operations over the Balkans with 20 Gruppo reequipping with Spitfire Mk VB fighters. 

51 Stormo remained active after the War and relocated to Treviso Air Base in 1947 and reequipped with Spitfire Mk IX fighter aircraft tasked with air defence interception and smuggling operations with the Italian Navy and training for close air support with Italian Army units and for fighter bomber operations as part of the Italian Air Force contribution to NATO.  

With the requirement to reduce the number of Gruppo within a Stormo from three to two 155 Gruppo was reassigned from 51 Stormo to 6 Stormo at Ghedi Air Base in January 1951 and the Wing was redesignated 51 Stormo Caccia Bombardieri CB Fighter Bomber with 20 and 21 Gruppo reequipped with P 47D Thunderbolt fighter bomber aircraft. On 1 November 1951 51 Stormo joined 5 and 6 Stormos as part of newly formed Italian Air Force 56 Tactical Air Force 56 TAF and received its first jet fighters F 84G Thunderjet aircraft in 1952 requiring 20 and 21 Gruppo to  relocate to Aviano Air Base for the transition. At the same time 51 Stormo was assigned newly activated 22 Gruppo equipped with P 47D Thunderbolt fighters which then temporarily relocated to Grottaglie AB leaving 51 Stormo command units at Treviso AB. 

As part of the Italian Air Force reorganisation 51 Stormo was redesignated 51 Aerobrigata on 1 February 1953 when Wings were reconfigured to Air Brigades which allowed for the increase from two to three flying Gruppo. 22 Gruppo was reequipped with F 84G Thunderjets relocating to join 21 and 23 Gruppo at Aviano AB. 51 Aerobrigata relocated from Treviso AB to the newly constructed Istrana Air Base in March 1954 with 20 21 and 22 Gruppo relocating from Aviano AB to rejoin 51 Aerobrigata CB at Istrana AB. 51 Aerobrigata formed the Gatti Neri Black Cats Aerobatic Team with its first display during a presentation ceremony at Istrana AB on 20 June 1954. The Gatti Neri Aerobatic Team was renamed Tiger White and was chosen as the primary Italian Air Force Aerobatic Display Team in 1956.   

20 Gruppo was inactivated in October 1955 with 6 Gruppo Caccia Intercettori Ognitempo COT all weather fighter interceptor activated November 1955 to operate the new F 86K Sabre fighter aircraft being delivered to 51 Aerobrigata  at Istrana AB assigned to the newly formed 1 Stormo COT. 17 Gruppo was activated under 1 Stormo in May 1956 with the next batch of F 86K Sabres and 23 Gruppo joined 1 Stormo in December 1956 when it reequipped with Sabres but detached to Pisa AB to ease operations at Istarna AB. At the same time 21 and 22 Gruppo were reequipped with F 84F Thunderstreak fighter bombers. 

1 Stormo COT was rerolled and reorganised for surface to air missile SAM anti aircraft operations and redesignated as 1 Aerobrigata Intercettori Teleguidati guided interceptor on 1 May 1959 retaining 6 and 17 Gruppo as its operational groups with their F 86K Sabre fighters pilots and personnel absorbed by 21 and 22 Gruppo COT while 23 Gruppo COT with their Sabres remained under 51 Aerobrigata at Pisa AB.  

Reparto Volo Tattici Leggeri Tactical Light Fighter Department Flight equipped with Fiat G 91R1 fighters was reassigned to 51 Aerobrigata on 1 September 1961 but remained at Treviso AB. 

21 Gruppo COT from 51 Aerobrigata was the second Italian Air Force Gruppo to convert to F 104G Starfighter aircraft leaving its F 84F Thunderstreaks and deploying to Centro di Qualificazione F 104 at Grosseto AB for training on 1 September 1963 redesignated as 21 Gruppo CI before relocating to Cameri AB in 1964. 22 and 23 Gruppo COT continued to operate F 86K Sabres with 23 Gruppo relocating to Rimini Miramare AB on 1 July 1964 continuing to stand QRA Alert at home air bases or on deployment to southern bases. Reparto Volo Tattici Leggeri Tactical Light Fighter Department Flight at Treviso AB was reassigned to 2 Stormo in 1964. 51 Aerobrigata lost 21 Gruppo CI with its F 104 Starfighters when it became independent in 1965 and reassigned to 53 Stormo in 1967. 

On 12 September 1967 51 Aerobrigata was redesignated back to 51 Stormo when it was reorganised reducing its flying Gruppo from three to two. 22 Gruppo passed its F 86F Sabres to 23 Gruppo at Rimini AB and relocated to Cameri AB on 9 June 1969 to convert to the new F 104S Starfighter aircraft and was renamed 22 Gruppo Caccia Intercettori CI.  

In line with Italian Air Force order to name each Stormo after a hero from the Wings history 51 Stormo chose the name Ferruccio Serafini a Medaglia dOro al VM winner killed in combat in 1943. 23 Gruppo COT at Rimini AB retired its F 86F Sabre aircraft and converted F 104S Starfighters in March 1973 and was reassigned from 51 Stormo to 5 Stormo on 23 March 1973. 155 Gruppo CBOS Panthers with F 104S Starfighter fighter bombers was reassigned to 51 Stormo from 50 Stormo on 10 September 1973 relocating to Veneto AB on 24 September 1973 to provide fighter bomber capability with 22 Gruppo CI retaining the fighter interceptor role. 

155 Gruppo CBOS was reassigned to 6 Stormo and relocated to Ghedi AB on 1 January 1985 to transition to Tornado fighter bomber aircraft. 51 Stormo was assigned 103 Gruppo from 2 Stormo on 1 January 1989 to transition to the new AMX Ghibli fighter bomber at Istrana AB. 22 Gruppo CI upgraded to F 104ASA Starfighter interceptors in 1989. 51 Stormo deployed to the Gulf in late 1990 for UN coalition combat operations for the liberation of Kuwait and in 1993 deployed 22 Gruppo CI with its F 104ASA fighters for Combat Air Patrols for Operation Deny Flight over Yugoslavia while 103 Gruppo deployed to the United Arab Emirates to participate in the exercise Arabian Stallion. 

22 Gruppo was inactivated on 25 February 1999 as part of the retirement of the F 104 Starfighter and 132 Gruppo CBR fighter bomber reconnaissance equipped with AMX aircraft was reassigned to 51 Stormo from 3 Stormo at Villafranca AB in July 1999 adding a recce capability to the Wing. 103 and 132 Gruppo participated in Operation Allied Force conducting combat missions over Bosnia in support of NATO operations. 101 Gruppo OCU CB Operational Conversion Unit equipped with AMX T two seat training aircraft providing pilot conversion training to the AMX and standardisation was reassigned to 51 Stormo on 29 July 2014. 

This patch dates from 1990s


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