Savoia-Marchetti S 73
Eighteen passenger airliner/transport aircraft
On 10 May 1940, all 7 surviving Savoia-Marchetti SM.73P aircraft belonging to SABENA were requisitioned by the Belgian Authorities and flown to Great Britain. The aircraft involved were OO-AGL, OO-AGO, OO-AGQ, OO-AGS, OO-AGZ (OO-AGX already was at Shoreham (GB). A single SM.73P (OO-AGP) was undergoing maintenance at Haren airfield at the outbreak of the war and was destroyed locally to prevent it being captured by the invading German forces.
The aircraft were camouflaged at Speke (near Liverpool GB) in May 1940, but retained their civil registration. The 7 machines were to be incorporated in N°s 24 and 217 Squadrons, RAF.
On 23 May 1940, two of the aircraft were lost: OO-AGS was shot down by German ground fire near Arques (Pas-de-Calais, France), with the loss of one crew member, while OO-AGZ was destroyed on the ground at Merville when the airfield was strafed by a formation of Bf-109's.
Later, the Belgian government ordered the remaining aircraft back to Marseille (FR), where they were used by the French for evacuation-flights to Algeria. With the aircraft at Algiers, the commander of the Belgian flying-school requisitioned the aircraft to bring the instructors and the pupils to Belgian-Congo. Unfortunately, this was prevented by the armistice, thus grounding the remaining aircraft at Algiers (DZ) where the Vichy Authorities seized them and transferred the aircraft to the Italians. Four SM.73P's were allocated to N°609sq/149Gr at Guidonia Italy, while one aircraft remained at Algiers serving as spare parts source. These last four former Sabena Marchetti's survived until the 1943 armistice in Italy, but all were taken out of service by the end of the war.
Although requisitioned by the Belgian Government and flown by Belgian crews, the Marchetti SM.73P's were never "officially" incorporated in the Belgisch Militair Vliegwezen/Aéronautique Militaire Belge.
To 24 Sq RAF at Hendon (GB), to Marseille-Marignane (F.) via Le Bourget, impressed by Vichy authorities, transferred to Italian AF as MM60513, to 605 Squadron/148Gr at Rome Ciampino (IT) on 15 Sep 1940, crashed on take-off from Brindisi (IT) on 19 Nov 1940.
To 24 Sq RAF at Hendon (GB) on 15 May 1940, to Marseille-Marignane (F.) via Le Bourget, impressed by Vichy authorities, transferred to Italian AF as MM60516, flown to Rome (IT) as MM60516 on 14 Oct 1940, to 605 Squadron/148Gr at Rome Ciampino (IT), to 247 Squadron/48 Gr. in 1942, reported missing in Russia.
Some unidentified militarised Belgian Savoia-Marchetti S.73 aircraft.
Two pictures taken at Oujda (Morocco) of an unidentified former Sabena Savoia-Marchetti S.73 taken on 10 July 1940.