Superga tragedy, the plane crash that involved Grande Torino 75 years ago

Image edited with AI.

They're gone now 75 years old from that tragedy May 4, 1949when at hours 5.03pm a three-engined airplane Fiat G.212CP with the whole company on board Grande Torino football team crashed into the Basilica of Mount Supergain Piedmont, a 675 meters of altitude. Unfortunately, in this tragic accident they died well 31 people, including all team members. But what were the causes of this disaster? It was probably a mix of bad weather conditions, low visibility and instrument malfunction.

The characteristics of the Fiat G.212CP

First let's take a quick look at the vehicle involved in the disaster: it is a Fiat G.121CPa three-engine monoplane entered service in 1948 and used mainly fornavigation training – so much so that it was soon renamed “flying classroom“. Overall it had a length of 23.05 meters for a height of 6.50 m and a wingspan of 29.34 m.

Credit: Air Force

Unfortunately, this aircraft has been affected by two serious accidents over the course of its history: the first, as we will see shortly, was that of Superga In the 1947 while the second, in 1948, occurred in Belgium and on that occasion they lost their lives 8 people.
The last G.212 was disbarred in 1959 and today it is only visible near the Historical Museum of the Air Force of Vigna di Valle (RM).

The crash against the Basilica of Superga: how the plane crash happened

At 9:52 of the May 4, 1947 the G.212 monoplane departed from Lisbon to return to Turin: the team had traveled to Portugal to play a friendly match with the Benfica. Once he reached Piedmont the pilot immediately realized that the weather conditions were not favorable and that the visibility was very low: in some areas (such as near Mount Superga) this was even equal to 40 meters.

The aircraft then signaled its presence in Savona when the altimeter read 2000 meters above sea level, after which the pilot began the descent to clear the clouds and regain visibility. Unfortunately, during this descent maneuver something went wrong and the vehicle, instead of aligning itself with the landing strip, hit Mount Superga with its 675 meters above sea levelcrashing into the basilica. In this tragic accident they lost their lives 31 peopleincluding all players on the team, 3 journalists And 5 technicians.

The possible causes of the tragedy: hypotheses on the reasons for the disaster

Currently we do not know with certainty what caused the crash but, probably, it was the combination of several factors: primarily the weather conditions were terrible, with heavy rain, wind, fog and reduced visibility. The wind, in particular, could have diverted the plane's descent trajectory, putting it on a collision course with the Basilica of Superga. To this we must add that the on-board instruments certainly they weren't up to par of those today and which, consequently, made navigation more complicated than it would be today. Over time it has also been assumed that there was a altimeter failure: this would have reported an altitude of 2000 meters when, in reality, it would have been much lower.

In some ways this story is very reminiscent of the plane that crashed in the Andes, inspiring films like Alive And The della Neve company. To find out more, here is an in-depth video:

hindenburg disaster