Balbo, Italo ē´tälō bäl´bō [key], 1896–1940, Italian Fascist leader and aviator. After serving in World War I, he joined the Fascist movement and in 1922 was one of the four top leaders of the March on Rome, which brought Mussolini to power. A general of the Fascist militia, he held several cabinet posts and was (1929–33) minister of aviation. He efficiently developed aviation in Italy and led mass flights, the most notable being Rome–Rio de Janeiro and Rome–Chicago (1933). As governor-general of Libya (1933–40) he attempted to gain Muslim support for Fascism. He was killed when his plane crashed at Tobruk, Libya, apparently shot down accidentally by Italian antiaircraft artillery.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Italian History: Biographies