Windsock Datafile No.88:
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla.
by Gregory Alegi,
Albatros Productions Ltd,
A4, pp. 36, £9.25 GBP
Issue 88 of the well-known "Windsock Datafile" series examines a hitherto overlooked aircraft, the nimble Ansaldo A.1 Balilla, a good all-Italian fighter which is now in the limelight partly because the Museo Storico della Cittą di Bergamo has recently launched the restoration of one of the only two survivors of the type.
The author has, with uncommon ability, filled the available space with a vast amount of previously unpublished data, presenting it in a clear and readable way, which is just as important. After setting the scene with the Ansaldo decision to enter the fighter aircraft business, the story follows Balilla development in chronological order, including Polish use and production and other exports. The text is rich with information, in part technical, satisfying even the most sophisticated reader. The Polish-Soviet conflict of 1919-20, often forgotten in the West, is a further source of interest, in part because of the variety of equipment supplied by almost every Western state. Although space prevents the Datafile from fully exploring this business struggle, the author succeeds in underlining several important aspects.
The combat qualities of the Balilla have long been controversial, with some authors openly doubting them. Alegi records both the negative evaluation of the 91st Squadriglia, the leading Italian fighter unit, and the sterling appreciation of the American volunteers in Poland, quoting their positive recollections of direct comparisons with some of the best WW1 fighters. Printed on excellent glossy paper, the Datafile includes Ian Stair's 1/72 and 1/48 scale plans, three of Ray Rimell's attractive colour profiles and an excellent cover painting by Danilo Renzulli. Photo coverage is impressive, with no less than 109 monochrome pictures, almost all of excellent quality and printed large enough to show revealing details. The markings section offers useful details about Italian and Polish colour schemes.
The overall result is extremely positive and we hope that the Datafile will be followed by further titles on Italian WW1 aircraft.
Dr. Alberto Casirati
Honorary Keeper - Aviation Section
Bergamo Museum of History