Regia Aeronautica

Breda BA.65 Attack Plane

The Breda BA.65 was  originally designed to operate as a fighter, light bomber, army  cooperation and reconnaissance plane. However because of the size of the plane and it’s underpowered engine the BA.65 was only able to be used  as a light attack plane. First flying in September 1934, the BA.65  fought well in the Spanish Civil war but by the Italian North African  campaign in 1940 it was totally obsolete. Due to it’s poor performance  the BA.65 was quickly withdrawn from service. The BA.65 was armed with  two 12.7 mm and two 7.7 mm Breda-SA FAT machine guns, an internal bomb  load of 440 lbs and an external bomb load 1,760 lbs. This model shows a  BA.65 of the 94a Squadrigla, 8 Grupo, 2 Stormo, in 1938.

Breda BA.65 Attack Plane

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Fiat CR.32 Fighter

The Fiat CR.32 was derived from the CR.30 design and first flew on April 28, 1933. The new biplane fighter was an instant success with deliveries beginning in March 1934. The CR.32 was highly maneuverable with a strong fuselage and was used for many aerobatic shows in Italy and abroad. It was considered one of the outstanding fighter biplanes of all time, but by 1939 it was obsolete. The Fiat CR.32 was used extensively in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side. At least 380 were used in the war and they proved to be very formidable adversaries for the Soviet Polikarpov I-15 and Polikarpov I-16 monoplanes that formed the backbone of the Spanish Republican Air Force. Largely thanks to the CR.32 the Italians gained air superiority against its opponents, claiming 60 Russian bombers, 242 Polikarpov I-15 fighters and 240 Polikarpov I-16 fighters for only 73 losses. Even though the CR.32 was very successful in Spain, its performance misled the Italian air ministry into believing that a fighter biplane was still useful as a front line aircraft. The Fiats went into action in North Africa and Italian East Africa. While the planes had some initial successes, losses began to mount and by April 1941 they were all transferred to training units. The Italians exported the CR.32 to Hungary before WWII and the Hungarian planes saw action against Slovakia in 1939, then Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in 1941. Besides the Italian and Hungarian air forces, the CR.32 flew with the Austrian Air Force, Chinese Nationalist Air Force, Chilean Air Force, Paraguayan Air Arm, Spanish Air Force and the Venezuelan Air Force. The Fiat CR.32 was armed with 2  7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machineguns. This model shows a CR.32 flown in the Spanish Civil War.

Fiat CR.32 Fighter

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Fiat G.50 Fighter

The Fiat G.50 Freccia (Arrow) was first flown in February 1937 and was Italy's first single seat, all metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear. However Italian pilots disliked the enclosed cockpit and it was removed from later versions. The G.50 became operational in 1938 and about a dozen G.50s were sent to Spain where their maneuverability allowed them to achieve some success. After Italy entered WWII, the G50 went into action against France. In September 1940 G.50s based in Belgium fought in the Battle Of Britain. By this time then planes the planes slow speed, open cockpit and short range had become major liabilities. In 429 missions the G.50 did not once engage enemy aircraft. Most of the G.50s were returned to the Mediterranean theater by mid 1941. The G.50 flew it’s first combat mission in North Africa on January 9, 1941, although due to the Italian retreat, they saw little action. Facing the Hurricanes and P-40s of the British Desert Army, the G.50 was generally outclassed, though they did manage some successes and they were effective against bombers. After 1941, combat losses and obsolescence caused the G.50 to become a minor player in the Regia Aeronautica. During the invasion of Sicily, the G.50 was the most numerous aircraft used by the Regia Aeronautica to counter attack the Allied landings with all available united rushed to the area where they were used to attack ships, landing craft and troops. By the time of the Italian Armistice, only a few G.50s were left. Some were used as part of the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force, while four others were used by the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana as fighter trainers. The G.50 did have a great deal of success flying with the Finnish Air Force during the Winter War and the Continuation War where at least 3 pilots became aces flying the G.50. The Fiats were finally phased out of front line duty in the summer of 1944 due to a lack of spare parts. Total G.50 production was 784 aircraft. The G.50 was flown by Croatia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Italian Social Republic, Spain and Yugoslavia. The Fiat G.50 was armed with 2 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machineguns.

Fiat G.50 Fighter

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Macchi MC.202 Folgore Fighter

The Macchi MC.202 Folgore (Thunderbolt) was the first modern Italian fighter. The Italian preference for radial engines had hampered the design and use of inline engines to the point were all Italian fighters were essentially obsolete by 1941. Finally realizing this, the Italian air ministry issued a call for a fighter with an inline engine. However no Italian engines were available so the MC.202 was designed to use a licensed version of the inline German Daimler Benz DB 601, built in Italy by Alfa Romeo. From the first trials, it was evident that the C.202 was an advanced design that allowed Italy to catch up with Britain and Germany in the field of fighter airplanes. The Folgore first saw service during the Siege of Malta in September 1941. From the outset the MC.202 proved to be superior to the Hawker Hurricane in combat over Malta. After the siege, most Folgores were transferred to North Africa where they went into action during Operation Crusader. The MC.202 fought throughout the North African campaign and in Tunisia till the end. After the loss of North Africa, the Folgores were used in the defense of Sicily, Sardinia and Italy. The MC.2020 also fought on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. Beginning in August 1942 they fought on until the Italian surrender. The Folgore is considered one of the most beautiful fighters to fly with the wartime Axis forces with its extremely streamlined fuselage; it was the fighter to serve in large numbers with the Regia Aeronautica. At the time of the Italian Armistice there were only 100 aircraft still in operational condition out of 1,500 built. After the war, they continued to fly with the Italian Air Force until 1948. The Royal Egyptian Air Force acquired several C.202s after the war and some of these aircraft fought against Israel and were in service until 1951. The Macchi MC.202 Folgore was armed with 2 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machineguns in the engine cowling and 2 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machineguns in the wings and could carry 2 350 lb, bombs or 2 26.4 gal. drop tanks. This model shows a MC.202 flying with 363 Squadriglia, 150 Gruppo, 53 Stormo Caccia Terrestre at Benghazi, Libya in July 1942.

Machi MC.202 Fighter

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Fiat G.55S Centauro Torpedo Plane

Generally considered to be the best fighter plane produced by Italy in WWII, the Fiat G.55 Centauro (Centaur) did not enter production until 1943. Designed around an Italian copy of the German Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine the prototype Centauro flew on April 30, 1942 and won a fly off shortly afterwards against entries by Macchi and Reggiane. The plane was also tested by the Luftwaffe in February 1943 against the FW-190 A and the ME-109 G at the orders of Hermann Göring. The Luftwaffe testers were very impressed with the G.55 and rated it excellent and the best fighter in the Axis. A decision was made by Göring to produce the G.55 for the Luftwaffe. German production plans and further testing of the Centauro were brought to a halt by the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943. Although 2,000 G.55s were ordered by the Italians only 274 were made by the end of the war. The Centauro began operational service with the Regia Aeronautica in March 1943 and went into action in June 1943 against the Allies at Sardinia. The G.55 was very successful against Allied bombers and fighters including the P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-38 Lightning and the Supermarine Spitfire. With the Italian surrender, all but one of the Centauros flew north to fight for Mussolini's Italian Social Republic air force, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana until the end of the war. The G.55 was armed with three 20 mm MG 151/20 20 mm canons and two 12.7 Breda-SAFAT machineguns. It could also carry two 350 lb. bombs or two 26 gal. drop tanks. The G.55S was a prototype torpedo bomber version of the regular G.55. The design was modified with a split radiator, a strengthened and lengthened tail wheel and racks to carry a single 1,500 lb. Whitehead torpedo. The machineguns were also removed. It first flew in August 1944 and was successfully tested in January 1945. An order for 100 was placed but only the prototype was completed before the end of WWII. This model shows the prototype Fiat G.55S Centauro in late January 1945.

Fiat G.55S Centauro Fighter

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