Italian fighter aircraft developed a good reputation in the early 1930s
with the production of the Fiat CR.20. In an effort to expand the Italian
aircraft industry, Italy sent air missions all over the world to help fledgling
Air Forces - and to sell Italian products (as did the US and Germany). Italian
development was also spurred on by the martial desires of Mussolini.
However, while promising in the mid-1930s, by the late 1930s, Italy was
lagging behind in a number of areas:
Ability to tun out all-metal aircraft in qualntity
Lack of high-power single engines (for modern fighters)
Lack of a good domestic fighter weapon; the SAFAT 7.7mm and 12.7mm
MGs were not as powerful as US or British equivalents, and Italiy did not have
a good air-mounted 20mm cannon.
The aircraft represented by these ADCs (available in one 150 Kb
PDF file) were active 1936-1941. These aircraft
were a technologic leap for Japan (see previous set of ADCs). Most were
withdrawn from frontline service after the initial Japanese assault (Dec-41 to
Re.2000 Falco I - Initial monoplane fighter about on
par with the Hurricane I (but much more lightly armed).
Re.2001 Falco II - Cleaner version using an imported
DB601 engine used as a fighter-bomber and nightfighter.
Re.2002 Ariete - Improved version, with Italian radial
Re.2005 Sagittario- Late war Reggiane fighter;
equivalent to MC.205.
Another company devoted alomost exclusively to fighter designs. MC.200
and MC.202 were published by JD. set of 4 ADCs (90
MC.205V Veltro - "3rd Generation" Macchi design:
maneuverability of the MC.202 coupled with German-import DB 605 engine and
decent weapons. Used by ANR and postwar by Italy - and Egypt during the 1948
As with everyone else, the Italians did develop aircraft theough the
war, looking for that combination of speed, maneuverability, punch and range to
prvide them with flexibility in operations and advantage in combat. And, like
other major nations, they came up with some odd designs on which they had high
hopes. This set of 4 ADCs (102Kb) includes:
Breda Ba.27 - This mixed construction braced monoplane bears
much resemblence to the Boeing P-26A. It was built around the same time (mid
'30s) - and was a stablemate of the P-26 in China.
Ambrosini S.S.4 - This all-metal canard design was test-flown
several times in 1939. While promising, it was much more difficult to produce
than the the-current biplane fighters in production.
SM.91 - Twin boom design using two DB.605 engines from
Germany. Layout similar to the P-38, with the piklot in a central nacelle.
SM.92 - Another twin boom design with the same engines, with
the pilot in one fueselage and the armamemnt located bwrteen the twin
fuselages, similar to the P-82 Twin Mustang.
Piaggio P.119 - This design put a powerful radial engine in
mid-fueslage similiar to the Bell P-39 for the same reason - hopes of improved
The Caproni organzation created a series of light patrol bombers and
attack craft that were well-though of at the end of the 1930s - both the
Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force but in orders for a few hundred of them.
Caproni also produced a well-regarded medium bomber that the Regia Aeronautica
did not want as it had only two engines.
Everyone knows about the SM.79 Sparviero. This set of Italian
bombers (165 Kb) covers some of the other (non-Caproni) bombers used by
the Regia Aeronautica:
Breda Ba.65bis - Single-engine attack aircraft first used in
Spain through the Balkans.
Breda Ba.88 Lince - Italy's worst gamble. This
fast-looking aircraft broke records in its preproduction versions. The
production version did not begin to measure up to its hype, and this aircraft
was quickly relegated to use as a decoy on airfields.
SM.81 - Medium bomber/transport used from the mid-thirties to
SM.84 - Medium bomber meant to replace the SM.79.
Piaggio P.108B - Italy's late war heavy bomber.
Fiat BR.20M - Fiat's twin-engine medium bomber.
John Caraher's Original Bomber ADCs
John's ADCs were parrt of my original inspiration to start this project. Here
are his bomber 3 ADCs (120 kb):
SM.79 Sparvieto I
SM.79 Sparvieto II
Italian Seaplanes and Flying Boats
The Regia Aeronautica was aware of its role as eyes for the fleet around
the central Meditterranean. This set of 4
ADCs shows some of their amphibious solutions:
Z.501 Gabbiano: Slow, trustworthy,
vulnerable, and ubiquitious, this mid-thirties design flew throughout the war,
usually in second-line duties.
Z.506 Airone: tri-engine maritime patrol
Fiat RS.14: twin-engine maritime patrol and torpedo
bomber similar to the He115, one of the best in this class.
Ro.43 and Ro.44: catapult-launched recon and fighter