In this paper, the history and geographical reach of Ala Littoria is considered in light of the impetus to connect Italy with its colonies.
By focusing on Ala Littoria, the fascist regime's flagship airline, this paper tries to highlight how technical and technological questions--from route planning to the type of aircraft used on imperial air links--were not simply questions limited to engineering and bureaucracy, but issues which went to the heart of the regime's colonial enterprise.
Ala Littoria was the fascist regime's national airline, flying the symbol of the fasces from Berlin to Addis Ababa and from Rome to Buenos Aires.
The name 'Ala Littoria' (Ala meaning 'wing' in Italian) also points to the fact that the airline was seen as the 'fascist wing'.
Throughout its operational life (1934-40), Ala Littoria was managed by the same director, Umberto Klinger, who was appointed directly by Balbo.
Compared to other European airlines, Ala Littoria was smaller than most in size, capitalization and passenger numbers.
Ala Littoria developed rapidly owing to the route networks, agreements and technology gained by its takeover of other Italian airlines.
For example, Ala Littoria maintained a stock of 518 aero engines, 39 motorboats (for transport to and from seaplanes) and 73 wheeled vehicles, as well as parts and supplies.
In 1937, however, Ala Littoria was still the smallest major airline in Europe in terms of market capitalization and route network size, when compared to KLM, Deutsche Lufthansa and Imperial Airways (Figure 1).
Although revenues do not necessarily translate into profitability, nonetheless Ala Littoria's operational cost efficiency improved during its years of operation.
By 1937, Ala Littoria reported that 87,342 passengers had flown on its routes in the previous year.
At 1230 hours, the two forward companies that were dug-in along the railway line began to see tanks--lots of them: five Tigers coming down the Ninfa road and another three from Littoria
. The tanks moved in to launch a violent counterattack, inflicting terrible losses, while the supporting Allied artillery radioed that they were unable to see what was going on beyond the highway.