Poster for Pomilio Industries
On the 9th of January 1916, Ottorino Pomilio founded the “Soc. Anonima Costruzioni Aeronautiche ing. O. Pomilio & C.”, located at No. 366 Corso Francia.
Pomilio was a highly appreciated Engineer of the DTAM (Direzione Tecnica Aviazione Militare), the military design bureau, where, together with Engineer Umberto Savoia, he had already designed the first of the “SP” aircraft (Savoia-Pomilio).
Engineer Corradino d’Ascanio, Pomilio Industries
In 1915 he resigned from the DTAM to start his own company, aimed at the design and development of the SP.2. Thus, in the midst of the First World War, he founded the company which would soon become an important part of the Torinese industrial scene, to the extent that by 1917 it already employed more than a 1,000 people.
Pomilio could count on many excellent collaborators, among which which was a man from Abruzzo like himself, Lt. Engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, later to become one of the great pioneers of Italian aviation.
Pomilio workshops: SP.3 in construction
Pomilio workshops: SP.2 fuselage assembly
22 ottobre 1917. Mineola airport (Usa), Baldioli welcomed by American fliers after his
trip from Langley (Virginia) to New York
D’Ascanio collaborated with Pomilio in the design of both fighter and bomber aircraft – machines which soon found themselves facing the Austrian pilots in the period following the disaster of Caporetto. He also ceded to Pomilio the rights of Patent No. 32,500 of 30th June 1916 for the “Universal automatic clinometer for aircraft and other flying machines. In particular, in aeroplanes, this instrument will automatically indicate the inclination at all times, both longitudinally in pitch and horizontally in roll”. It was the ancestor of the artificial horizon.
Pomilio had over 1000 workers and a production of more than 150 aeroplanes a month
D’Ascanio (who would beome world-famous as the designer of the “Vespa” scooter) is considered as the father of the helicopter, His studies on vertical flight led him, on April 27th 1925, to patent a twin-bladed contra-rotating helicopter built by the Camplone company of Pescara.
The design of the 2-seater fighter “C.1” began that same year, and by June 1917, when production ceased, some 80 examples had been built. Future Pomilio aircraft were identified by the letter “P”.
On the 10th of July 1916 to test fly his aircraft he inaugurated what today is known as the “Torino-Aeritalia” airfield in the vicinity of Corso Francia factory, with the maiden flight of the SP.2 reconnaissance-bomber piloted by Sgt. Almerigi.
Following the “C” version, production of the “P.D” and “P.E” versions began, and in 1917 some of these were sent to the United States for presentation to the military authorities. The p.e version achieved some particularly notable results which included setting up a new American speed record of 210 km/h round a 480 km circuit (piloted by Baldioli, accompanied by his mechanic, Zappa).
At the height of its wartime production, the factory in Corso Francia attained an output of more than 150 P.E aircrafts a month.
In 1918, Pomilio was ready to test an aircraft designed and built in total secrecy, This had been given the name “P. Gamma”, and was a single-seater biplane with superb aerobatic characteristics powered by an IF (Isotta Fraschini) engine. The P. Gamma was presented to the Military Commission at the Mirafiori airfield piloted by Mario De Bernardi, but did not achieve the expected success.
The last aircraft designed by Pomilio was the “P.F” version, completed in 1918. This, however, never went into production due to the sale of the factory to Ansaldo that summer (subsequently redesignated “sai – Gio-Ansaldo & Co. – Aircraft Factory No. 5”). Up until that time Pomilio had built over 1,200 aircraft.
Thus it was with the Pomilio factory that the long adventure of the airfield known as “Torino-Aeritalia” began. Between 1945 and 1953 it became Turin’s main airport, playing a large part then and continuing to do so even today in Turin’s aeronautical scene.
The Aeritalia airport also became an attraction that did not disdain worldly aeronautical events.
“La Domenica del Corriere” of July 14, 1929 gave, for example, ample space to the flight from Turin to Milan by the Duchess of Aosta, the Duchess Elena of France and her husband the Duke of Puglia in a FIAT AS.1 with the coordination of and piloted by Arturo Ferrarin at the controls.
Luglio 1929 - The Duchess of Aosta, the Duchess Elena of France and her husband the Duke of Puglia prepare to fly from the
Ottorino POMILIO was born in Chieti on the 8th of October 1887. He gained his degree in Engineering at the University of Naples in 1911 then attended the Higher School of Aeronautics in Paris, obtaining a degree in aeronautical construction.
Popoli (PE) 1° february 1891 – Pisa 5 august 1981
In the aeronautical world, D’Ascanio is well known as being the “father” of Italian helicopters, but more fortunately (economically speaking) he became world famous as the creator of the “Vespa” scooter.
In 1925, following his return to Italy, together with baron Pietro Trojani, he founded a company whose object was the construction of helicopters and on 7 April 1925, patented the D’AT.1 helicopter with two coaxial propellers. The parts were produced at the Camplone workshops in Pescara where the prototypes of both the D’AT.1 and the D’AT.2 helicopters were built.
The variable pitch propeller
Thanks to his experience with the helicopter, D’Ascanio became the leading Italian expert in variable pitch propellers and, luckily for him, the invention allowed him to recover his lost economic tranquility.
With the end of the Second World War, the conversion of the factories from war-time to peace-time production was a problem that needed to be solved.
Mario De Bernardi
De Bernardi (born in Venosa, province of Potenza in 1893) enlisted at 18 years of age in 1911 as a volunteer for the Libyan War. During the First World War he joined the 2nd Piedmont Regiment of the Royal Cavalry at Pinerolo, the same regiment as Francesco Baracca, and is credited as being the first Italian pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft (over Verona). He later became a test pilot for Pomilio industries.
In 1926 he participated in the ninth edition of the Schneider Trophy which was held that year at Hampton Roads, Virginia (United States).
The Schneider Trophy was a race for high-speed sea planes, with the winner usually setting a new world speed record. The race was held over a triangular course. The competition was initially sponsored by the French engineer Jacques Schneider in 1911 with the aim of stimulating technological progress, particularly for aero engines. The first competition took place in 1913.
On November 13 1926, Mario De Bernardi won the competition with a Macchi M.39 which completed the 350 km of the circuit at an average speed of 396.7 km / h setting a new world speed record for seaplanes. A few days later, in the same plane, he was able to improve on his own record.
In 1928, with a Macchi M.52R, he was the first man to exceed 500 km/h, reaching 512,776 kph.
In 1931, in Cleveland Ohio, he won the aerobatics competition at the National Air Races.
In 1940-41 he was the first Italian to fly a jet plane Caproni-Campini N.1/C.C.2.
He had a long and illustrious aeronautical career and was awarded the Air Force Gold Medal. In 1959, the airport of Pratica di Mare (Pomezia – Rome) was named in his honour.
He died on 8th of April 1959.
The first official airmail experiment between Turin and Rome was scheduled for 6 am on May 20, 1917.
In an article published that day by “La Stampa” it was reported:
“[…] The mayor, Senator Count Teofilo Rossi will send His Excellency Boselli, the Mayor of Rome and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs a goodwill message, with the best wishes and greetings of the Turin civic administration and citizens to the capital”.
Unfortunately, inclement weather prevented the event from taking place as planned and “La Stampa” of May 21 commented on page 2:
“Yesterday morning’s driving rain caused the cancellation of the first experimental Turin-Rome airmail, ruining, of course, the morning inaugural ceremony. The pilot, Lt. De Bernardi, had to postpone the flight, waiting for better weather”.
Finally the weather improved and at 11.27 am on the 23rd of May 1917, the first Italian postal flight took place from Pomilio’s airfield (today Aeritalia). Lt. Mario De Bernardi, Pomilio’s test pilot, at the controls of a P.C (Pomilio Caccia) carried 200 kg of letters and 100 copies of the newspaper “La Stampa”, landing with some difficulty at 15,30, 4 hours and 3 minutes later, at the Centocelle aerodrome in Rome in the presence of civilian and military authorities.
The report in “La Stampa” punctually detailed the event as follows:
“[…] it was awaited […] by a large and elegant crowd held back by cordons of police on foot and on horseback […]. When the aircraft appeared above the field […] the pilot performed a daring evolution and then landed. During this last maneuver, the aircraft tail went up in the air, causing damage to the propeller and to the landing gear […] but it was quickly seen that the airman was quite unharmed and that the damage was minimal […].
[…] after a brief reception, Lt. De Bernardi, went by car to meet the Prime Minister Boselli, for whom he had a plaque and messages from the Turin authorities […]”.
Lt. Mario De Bernardi and his Pomilio P.C.
Mario De Bernardi in his Pomilio after his second landing at Centocelle (Rome) with another load of mail from Turin
As mentioned earlier, the Pomilio factory and its airfield were sold to Ansaldo in 1918. They subsequently sold it to FIAT in 1926. Its name was changed to “FIAT Aeronatica d’Italia S.A.”, but was later abbreviated into the much better known “Aeritalia”.
At the time when FIAT added the word “AIR” to its existing “Land and Sea” activities, its most important “AIR” was that of Aeritalia.
1928. Torino Aeritalia airport. Meeting between the President and the work force. Amongst others, the following can be recognised (from the left): Captain Bedendo, Engineer Nuvoli, Captain Brach Papa, Ferrarin, Cobianchi, Colonel Bolognesi and Lt’s, Cassinelli, Bertolini and Ranieri. In the center, a French mission. In the background, a 6-winged Bréguet XIX, two BR-1 and a CR-1
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