On October 18th, 2018, the final Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic anti-submarine and marine patrol aircraft to see service with the Italian Air Force (serial MM40118/41-03) “landed” on the shores of Lake Bracciano, Rome, to join the collection of the Museo Storico Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force Museum) at Vigna di Valle, just north of Rome. The aircraft had been active until its retirement last November with 41º Stormo Antisom (41st Antisubmarine Warfare Wing) at Sigonella, Sicily. Earmarked for preservation, she made her final landing at Pratica di Mare Air Base, on the Tyrrhenian coast just south of Rome on November 22nd last year. However since there is no airfield beside the museum, she could not fly in under her own power. Instead, Air Force personnel disassembled the Breguet Atlantic and then the Società European Air Crane (EuAC) airlifted the fuselage and other large components roughly 40 miles north to the museum using an Erickson S-64F helicopter belonging to the National Fire Corps.
Inspector of Naval Aviation, General of Air Brigade Carlo Moscini, formally welcomed the Breguet Atlantic to Vigna di Valle after her arrival, and symbolically handed over her keys to the museum’s director, Lt. Col. Adelio Roviti.
General Moscini stated, “The Atlantic rightly joins the prestigious fleet of the Italian Air Force Museum. The operational activity carried out by the aircraft in the anti-submarine role has been amazing: over 45 years of service totaling more than 260,000 flying hours. ‘The Hunter of Submarines’ represented a perfect combination between operability and effectiveness, and was the first inter-force weapon system; a very reliable aircraft with excellent operational capabilities, it must be part of the Museum collection.”
Indeed, the Breguet Atlantic served Italy, and NATO exceedingly well, with the first Italian Air Force example arriving at Sigonella on June 27, 1972. The aircraft had incredible endurance, being able to stay in flight for 19 hours and 20 minutes without refueling, significantly more than others of the same type. During its 45 years of service with the Italian Air Force, the Atlantic has operated mostly over Mediterranean waters to protect the nation’s borders, but the type has also participated in many international missions as well. They flew from all of the major European military air bases, but also reached further afield to Morocco, Greenland, Egypt, the USA, Canada, Lebanon, the UAE, etc., and even landed at the North Pole in 1997.
The Atlantic’s successor is the Leonardo P-72A, a militarized variant of the ATR 72-600 short-haul turboprop airliner. She is a stopgap maritime patrol aircraft, rather than a true replacement, as current versions do not yet have an anti-submarine capability due to budgetary constraints. 41º Stormo Antisom began transitioning to the P-72A a few years ago, with the first example arriving at Sigonella on November 25, 2016. The wing is an inter-service unit, with aircrew from both the Italian Air Force and Navy.
Breguet Atlantic MM40118 now joins the 80 aircraft already present at the Italian Air Force Museum, one of the world’s truly great aviation museums, situated in historically important buildings at the birthplace of Italian Aviation. In addition to the world-class aircraft collection disperse between four large exhibition pavilions, there is also a vast collection of engines and other aeronautical memorabilia relating to the history of military flight in Italy. For more information about the museum, be sure to visit their Facebook page.