At last! After remaining for about 80 years in the rooms of the Rocca of Bergamo, on the 8th september 2000 the Balilla could once again feel sunlight. The aeroplane disassembling operations began on the 8th september 2000. Some unforseen technical problems surfaced, but GAVS operators solved them brilliantly and finally got the machine disassembled by the morning of the following day. 
Disassembling operations can be summarized as follows:

  1. build up of the fuselage and wings external supporting structures;
  2. undercarriage replacement: the original undercarriage was replaced my a mobile structure, specifically designed and made by GAVS, to let the fuselage stand by itself and to make fuselage moving easier;
  3. lower wings removal;
  4. fuselage removal from upperwing;
  5. tailplanes removal;
  6. removal of the upperwing from its peculiar location: wingtips were litterally inserted in two wall cavities.

Il Main parts were then brought to the lower floor, where they will wait for their journey to the GAVS workshops in Turin, scheduled for the 23rd september 2000.

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The aeroplane seems in very good conditions. Wing and fuselage wood parts are in good health .
The lower wings fabric panels sporting the two St. George paintings were removed carefully and will be soon restored separately, to be later shown alongside the restored aeroplane in the Museum's Aviation hall. Those paintings were not present on Balilla 16552's lower wings and are peculiar to the Ansaldo A-1 16553 flown by Antonio Locatelli.

Upperwing and tailplanes upper surfaces are camouflaged. It can be reasonably assumed that they were painted in the field, while with the 87a Squadriglia, Aeronautica del Regio Esercito.

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To Turin

On the 23rd September 2000 restoring activities were officially opened. The project was presented during a conference held in the Museum's "Capitolare" room, which was attended by local authorities and by Ms. Rosetta Locatelli, sister of Antonio. 
Subsequently, the aeroplane's main parts were exhibited to the public in the roomy balconies of the Memory Gardens. An helicopter belonging to the Carabinieri Army made some low altitude passages and the exceptional moment was truly enjoyed by all those who were present, also thanks to the beautiful weather.

Ms. Rosetta Locatelli (centre) could attend the cerimonies with pleasure and

All of the Balilla parts were then brought by hand to the especially configured lorry, which came from Turin directly. During loading of parts, a cerimony took place in front of the monument devoted to Antonio Locatelli. Shortly afterwards, the lorry reached the monument and stopped there for some moments of truly deserved tribute to the first world war hero, while the band of the Italian Air Force was playing the famous "The Legend of the Piave" march, which is still considered by the Italian people as the "Great War" himn. 
The Ansaldo then reached Turin without any trouble and is now stored in the GAVS workshops. Work will begin in January 2001.



Here  is available the movie of the disassembling operations. For helping your download we set four files of  5MB.
               |Balilla part1|Balilla part 2|Balilla part 3|Balilla part 4|

For fast connection owners the complete movie is about 21MB.
|Filmato Balilla|

Copyright Alberto Casirati and Museo Storico della Cittą di Bergamo - All rights reserved - Reproduction forbidden

The San Giorgio Project