Fiat Fighters

The Fiat CR.42 Falco ("Falcon") was a single-seat fighter sesquiplane which served primarily in Italy's Regia Aeronautica before and during World War II. The aircraft was produced by the Turin firm, and entered service, in smaller numbers, with the air forces of Belgium, Sweden and Hungary. It was the most widely produced Italian aircraft to take part in World War II. The Fiat CR.42 was the last of the Fiat biplane fighters to enter front line service as a fighter, and represented the epitome of the type. RAF Intelligence praised its exceptional manoeuvrability, further noting that "the plane was immensely strong." It performed at its best with Hungarian Air Force, on Eastern Front, where it had a kill to loss ratio of 24 to 2. A total of 1,781 CR.42s was built (some serving in Sweden and Hungary), but at the time of the Italian armistice in September 1943 only 64 remained serviceable. The Fiat G.50 Freccia ("Arrow"), first flown in February 1937, the G.50 was Italy’s first single-seat, all-metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear to go into production. Pilots disliked the sliding cockpit canopy, which was not easy to open quickly and interfered with vision, so in later production series, an open cockpit was adopted. In early 1938, the Freccias served in the Regia Aeronautica including with the Aviazione Legionaria in Spain, where they proved to be fast and, typical of most Italian designs, very manoeuvrable, however, the aircraft had inadequate armament (two Breda-SAFAT 12,7 mm machine guns). The Fiat G.50 was also used in small numbers by the Croatian Air Force and 35 were flown to Finland where they served with distinction. The Fiat G.55 Centauro ("Centaur") was used by the Regia Aeronautica and the A.N.R. (Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana) in 1943-1945. It was designed and built in Turin by Fiat. Fiat designer Giuseppe Gabrielli, while experimenting with a new version of his Fiat G.50 fighter, equipped with the DB 601, started a new design that was to become the G.55 powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 605. The Fiat G.55 was, probably the best type produced in Italy during World War II, but it did not enter production until 1943. During its short operational service, mostly under the Repubblica Sociale Italiana insignia, after the 8 September 1943, this powerful, robust and fast aircraft proved itself to be an excellent interceptor at high altitude. In 1944, over Northern Italy, the Centauro clashed with British Supermarine Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning. Italian fighter pilots liked their Centauro but by the time the war ended, only 274 had been built. Info: Wikipedia Profiles: Fighting Aircraft of World War II Published by Salamander Books. Wings Palette

Fiat Fighters
Roelf, Jun 5, 2011
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