Bomb Timer, Leonidas, circa 1942

Bomb Timer, Leonidas, circa 1942

Bomb Timer produced by “Leonidas” and installed on second series Fiat P.08B bombers. This specific version made of aluminum and Bakelite was installed on the control stick as there was a special housing there. On the dial there is a number which does not refer to the serial number of the chronometer but rather to the aircraft's assignment.

Perfectly functional and the conditions in which it is found are in a "preserved" state as its original cardboard box is present on which two important alphanumeric details are shown.

In 1942 the Piaggio workshops and factories were located near the Pontedera airfield. Over the years, these structures expanded to the point of incorporating the entrance, the command building, and the barracks of the former airfield. Particularly successful was the production of the four-engine Piaggio P.108, the first Italian strategic bomber, which was used for a long time during the Second World War by the Regia Aeronautica. The P.108 was designed by engineer Giovanni Casiraghi who had worked for a long time in the United States of America. In 1936 Casiraghi was appointed chief designer of Piaggio, replacing the engineer Giovanni Pegna. With the P.108 project, he put into practice the theories on the dominion of the air of Giulio Douhet, the great theorist of aerial warfare and the dominion of the skies. The first flight of the large four-engine plane took place from Pontedera Airport on 24 November 1939.

The memory of a tragedy that occurred in Pisa on 7 August 1941, where Bruno Mussolini, the third son of the Duce, lost his life, is also linked to that same aircraft. He had been assigned command of the 274th Large Range Bombardment Squadron (BGR), part of the 46th Stormo based in Pisa and the new Piaggio P.108B four-engine bombers had been assigned to this squadron. The engines of his plane, while he was landing at Pisa Airport, suffered a sudden drop in power. Unable to regain altitude, the plane crashed shortly after. Two other airmen also lost their lives in the accident. During the Second World War, Pontedera Airport was used, first by the Royal Air Force, subsequently by the German Luftwaffe and finally by the Americans, who restored the runway subjected to heavy bombing, which was first cemented and then asphalted (before it was in clay). After the 1950s, Pontedera airport gradually lost its importance to the nearby Pisa airport. While remaining under the control of the Air Force, it was given over to Piaggio, which used the track as a test track for Vespas and other motorcycles produced in the factories.

The second title block is in fact in German and means that the object was serviced on 11.25.1942. The motivation for this consolidates the evidence that Pontedera Airport, starting from 1942, was used by the Luftwaffe, therefore it cannot be excluded that this timer could have been used by German bomber pilots.

The Leonidas Company: The company was founded in 1841 by Leonidas Bourquin Julien in Saint-Imier. It built many instruments used in the automotive and aeronautical fields and produced exceptional chronograph and second-counter calibers during the Second World War. In 1964, Leonidas merged with Heuer, which later became Tag-Heuer, with the disappearance of the Leonidas brand.

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