Focke Wulf Ta-154 Zanzara
When the Focke Wulf Ta-154 reached the night fighter squadrons in Germany in 1944 the Italian Air Force had an immediate interest in the aircraft. After the unsuccessful invasion of Sicily in 1943 the Italian mainland was plagued by constant night bombing by the Allies from bases in North Africa.
The Italians possessed no real night fighter able to intercept the Lancasters and Halifaxes from the RAF. They requested and got a batch of 48 Ta-154 A-2 night fighters from Germany. The aircraft was named "Zanzara" (Mosquito) in Italian service. The aircraft were painted matt black overall.
From the start the Ta-154 was very successful in Italian service. On the first operational sortie the Zanzeras downed 16 RAF bombers and their score remained good during 1944. Where the German night fighter squadrons preferred the Heinkel He-219 the Italians were very fond of the Ta-154. Especially the very good maneuverability was well liked by the Italian crews. In the end all Luftwaffe Ta-154s were transferred to the Regia Aeronautica.
After the initial batch of 48, more A-2 models followed in 1945 until the total strength was up to 214 aircraft. Towards the end of 1945 the A-2 model was phased out in favor of the more powerful C-3. This was powered by the Jumo 213T and used the FuG-240 Berlin radar with an internal antennae in the nose of the aircraft. This combination made the Ta-154 C-2 very fast, reaching a top speed of over 750 km/h.
The Ta-154 was so successful that the RAF decided to drastically reduce the number of bombings of Italy from 1946 onwards as losses became too high.
The Ta-154 was used by the Regia Aeronautica until 1948 when it was replaced by the BV-324 (formerly known as P-215) jet engined night fighter.