Italian Aircraft of WWII

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Ghostdancer, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. Ghostdancer

    Ghostdancer Member

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    One thing I've never seen much written on are the Aircraft of the Italian AF in WWII. I have heard that Italy did produce some fighters that were comparable to the best that Germany and Britain had at the outbreak of the war, I'm just not familiar with any of them.
     
  2. Jank

    Jank Member

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    In December 1942 a technical commission of the Regia Aeronautica was invited by Luftwaffe to test some German aircrafts in Rechlin. The visit was part of a joint plan for the standardization of the Axis aircraft production. In the same time some Luftwaffe officers visited Guidonia where they were particularly interested in the performances promised by the Serie 5's. On December 9 these impressions were discussed in a Luftwaffe staff meeting and rised the interest of Goering itself.

    In February 1943 a German test commission was sent in Italy to evaluate the new Italian fighters. The commission was led by Oberst Petersen and was formed by Luftwaffe officiers and pilots nad by technical personnel, among them the Flugbaumeister Malz. The Germans carried with them also several aircrafts included a Fw190A and a Me109G for direct comparison tests in simulated dogfights.

    The tests began February 20. The German commission, not without a certain surprise, was very impressed by the Italian aircrafts, the G55 in particular. In general, all the Serie 5's were very good at low altitudes, but the G55 was competitive with its German opponents also in term of speed and climb rate at high altitudes still maintaining superior handling characteristics. The definitive evaluation by the German commission was "excellent" for the G55, "good" for the Re2005 and "average" for the MC205. Oberst Petersen defined the G55 "the best fighter in the Axis" and immediately telegraphed his impressions to Goering. After listening the recommendations of Petersen, Milch and Galland, a meeting held by Goering on February 22 voted to produce the G55 in Germany.

    The interest of the Germans, apart from the good test results, derived also from the development possibilities they was able to see in the G55 and in the Re2005. For the Re2005 the German interest resulted in the provision of an original DB605 with the new WM injection. This engine and a VDM propeller were installed on the MM495 prototype that was acquired by Luftwaffe and tested in Rechlin. The aircraft reached 700 km/h during a test with a German pilot, but the airframe was not judged sufficiently strong for these performances.

    The G55 was bigger and heavier and was considered a very good candidate for the new DB603 engine. Other visits were organized in Germany during March and May 1943 in Rechlin and Berlin. The G55 was again tested at Rechlin at the presence of Milch. Gabrielli and other FIAT personalities were invited to visit German factories and to discuss the evolution of the aircraft. The specifications of the German G55/II included the DB603 engine, five 20 mm guns and a pressurized cockpit. The suggestion of weapons in the wings, limited to one 20 mm gun for each wing, originated the final configuration of the Serie I, while the 603 engine was succesfully installed in the G56 prototypes.

    As a concrete results of the German interest in the G55, the Luftwaffe acquired three complete G55 Sottoserie 0 airframes (MM91064-65-66) for evaluations and experiments giving in change three DB603 engines and original machinery for the setup of other production lines of the DB605/RA1050 RC58 I. Two of the Luftwaffe G55's remained in Turin, at the Aeritalia plants, where they were used by German and Italian engineers to study the planned modifications and the possible optimizations to the production process. Later these two were converted to Serie I and delivered to the ANR. The third one was transferred to Rechlin for tests and experiments in Germany. The DB603 engines were used to build the G56 prototypes.

    The interest in the G55 program was still high after the Armistice: in October 1943 Kurt Tank, who previously personally tested a G55 in Rechlin, was in Turin to discuss about the G55 production. However, war events and the not yet optimized production process were the reasons for which the G55 program was eventually abandoned by the Luftwaffe. Early produced G55's required about 15000 manhours; while there were estimations to reduce the effort to about 9000 manhours, the German factories were able to assemble a Bf109 in only 5000 manhours.
     
  3. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I've read that story so many times that I almost know it by heart :D To me it's my favourite what-if story. Having Luftwaffe Fiat G.56s fighting Mustangs over Germany.

    But to comment on Ghostdancer's post, Italy definitely had no good fighters at the outbreak of war. They had good ones at the end but couldn't produce them in significant numbers. They did have some good three-engined bombers at the outbreak of war though.

    I think most is known of the Italian part in WW2 but there is a lack of statistical data. I have never seen monthly loss reports like the ones I have from the Luftwaffe.
    Kris
     
  4. Parmigiano

    Parmigiano Member

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    Good summary Kris, I fully agree.
    PS: you were temp working in Italy, are you still there?
     
  5. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    The wikipedia article is somewhat optimistic regarding the capabilities of Italian fighters... Here`s the actual German tactical trial :

    Kurfürst - Bericht über Jagdflugzeug-Vergleichsfliegen bei der ital. E-Stelle Guidonia.

    The opinion was positive, but also mixed. The Italian aircraft, amongst their good qualities, also had a number of important drawbacks. On the whole I`d say the G-55 and other DB-powered versions were largely comparable to the LW`s fighters, but in the end they also proved far more difficult to produce, which killed any serious consideration about producing them.
     
  6. Jank

    Jank Member

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    Civettone said, "They had good ones at the end but couldn't produce them in significant numbers."

    Keeping in mind that the "end" was September 8, 1943. Although fielded in pitifully small numbers due to Italy's industrial defects, the Series 5 machines were among the very best fighters in the world at the time. Perhaps only the lates Spitfire variant was superior.
     
  7. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    No man, I came back a couple of weeks ago. I had a blast!
    Will be going back for a week at the end of the month. Hopefully I'll go back next summer.
    Where do you live again?

    I love those 5 series but when I think about it, they were about a year behind ... which is still a step forward to the C.200 and C.202 which were even more behind. I think the 5 series were comparable to the following aircraft: Spitfire IX, Bf 109G, Yak-9, Fw 190A and P-38F, all aircraft which were around in 1942.

    Kris
     
  8. Ghostdancer

    Ghostdancer Member

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    And...

    I think that France had some good fighter aircraft as well at the outbreak of the war, but only in small number and were quickly destroyed.
     
  9. Parmigiano

    Parmigiano Member

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    Performance wise series 5 was equal or better to the contemporary fighters, that is the 109G series before the enhancements of the DB605 and so on.
    In two words, they could replace the Bf109 at high altitudes with equal or better performances and far superior armament, while at low-medium altitudes in 1943 the 190A was still a troublesome customer for every foe.

    Construction wise the series 5 was more expensive to build than the German counterparts. I don't think they were more expensive than the Spitfire, but the problem was that whereas the Spit could be mass produced in a big factory in a safe environment (like all American crafts) the axis fighters needed to be produced in a dispersed environment to escape bombing.
    If you could have built the Fiat G55 in Republic or North American plants, the industrial cost would probably be comparable with P47 and Spit.
    Add to this the 'not invented here' factor that was common everywhere and the decision of the Luftwaffe is perfectly understandable.

    Kris, I am living 40Km from Milan and work there, PM or mail me if you are in the area and want toi have a drink together.
     
  10. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Well, if you read that Guidonia report on Kurfürsts site it seems clear that the 5 series were comparable to the Bf 109G: in climb and roll rate similar, in handling better, in speed worse. BUT! the Bf 109G was from 1942. And that's my point.
    And I don't think the 5 series were better than the Spitfire IX which dominated the scene until 1944 with great handling, climb rate, speed and maneouvrability. The IX was to the Spitfire what the Bf 109F was to the Bf 109s.
    A similar story for those other fighters of 1942 which I mentioned.

    Of course you're absolutely right about the problems with dispersion of production and continuous air raids. But the Spitfire costed (in manhours) about as much as the Bf 109 before production was dispersed in 1944. As such the 5 series would still have been more difficult to build. And I only know of the G.55 being designed with ease of production in mind. I suppose the other 5 series were more complicated to produce.
    But the G.55/56 was definitely worth the effort, I don't see it replacing the Bf 109 but complementing it. I think it should have replaced the Fw 190A/D...

    Kris
     
  11. Parmigiano

    Parmigiano Member

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    .. but the DB605 installed in the 'series 5' was the 1942 version... and that's my point: in case of full scale production the G55 would have been fitted with the most recent 605s

    About a comparison of the 3 machines, I agree that the G55 was the best (and only possible) choice: the Macchi 205V was more a "series 2,5" than a series 5: just a 202 with the DB605 and 2xMg151 (the real Macchi 5 was the 205N, built only in 2 prototypes), the Reggiane 2005 was also in the infancy (tail structural problems to be ironed out, similar to the early Bf109F) and would have required time before being ready for mass production.

    On the possible 'replacement' of LW fighters I disagree instead: the G55 could have been a kind of BF109 with more punch (firepower was the main problem of the 109F and G, only partially solved with the K) and MAYBE would have made not necessary the development of the Dora.
    The combination of high performances as fighter at low-mid altitude plus the versatility as Jabo, bomber destroyer etc. of the 190A could not have been matched by a G55 as they were not matched by the 109.


    Btw: I was in Reggio Emilia for a meeting yesterday, so here is a picture of the 'Officine REGGIANE' as they can be seen today from the railway station...
     

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  12. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I think its worth mentioning that the G55 operated in some units with the 109G's and K's but the pilots preferred the G55.
    The main advantage being the G55 handled better at high speeds plus the better weapons.
    No one is denying that the 109g's and K's had a higher top speed, but the controls were heavy above 350mph and close to impossible at much over 400mph. The G55 was still easy to handle at these speeds.
     
  13. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    ? It was still the DB 605A from 1942 till 1944...


    Perhaps that's a bit exaggerated. The Re.2005 was designed and flew around the same time as the G.55 so was definitely not in its infancy.
    The tail problems grounded the fighter in the Summer of 1943 for a very short tome and after that it was solved. By the time the Reggiane would have been in German production (1944) those problems would have been long ironed out.

    The Bf 109G-6/R6 was a sufficient bomber destroyer. The gun gondolas giving a reduction in speed of - what was it again Kurfürst? - 8 km/h? And one should look beyond this, only half of the fighters were used against the bomber fleets and even then they had to fight the escort fighters as much as the bombers. So in most cases the standard armament of the Bf 109 sufficed, especially once they had the MK 108.
    So for sure, the G.55 had an advantage in armament and was definitely the better bomber destroyer. But my point is that it doesn't warrant it completely replacing the Bf 109 because the Bf 109 was sufficient for most tasks and could be build in twice the numbers of the G.55.


    :D

    I agree on the Jabo bit. But as a low altitude fighter or as a bomber destroyer it didn't have advantages over the Bf 109 or G.55.
    As such I would continue the production of the Fw 190F/G.

    Cool!
    Why didn't you go in and ask some information about the tail problems of the Re.2005. I'm sure they would have loved that! :twisted:

    Glider, I also have accounts which say that the Bf 109G was still controllable (though barely) at all speeds. I suppose it depends on who's telling the story...
    Kris
    Kris
     
  14. 16KJV11

    16KJV11 Member

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    I was reading in a book about the Macchi 205V and it said that was the best Italian fighter of WWII.
    It was so good, that the Luftwaffe formed one gruppe of these fighters.
    I am curious what the gruppe's name was, where did they serve and what was their success rate?
     
  15. Parmigiano

    Parmigiano Member

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    Kris,

    about DB 605 being the same....
    Early DB 605 were restricted in RPM, and it seems that restricted version was the Fiat manufactured one fitted in the 'series5' of the test.
    and the DB AM, AS, ASM, ASB, ASC, D, D-2, DB and DC not to mention MW50and GM1?

    Reggiane 2005 : yes, design was contemporary but G55 was in a more advanced development, so if you have to pick one in a hurry the G55 should be the natural choice. Even in the most favorable approach there was no option to develop 2 models.

    Bf109/R6 (Gondolas): by reading the reports, impression is that it was not only the 8 kmh in speed but mostly the worsening of flight behavior due to 300kg added to the wings.
    G55 and 190A had already this extra-weight in the standard configuration used for evaluation.
    Probably in pure climb rate and speed the 109k would had retained a slight edge (as it had vs the Dora) but probably a G55 with up-to-date engine could have been more effective in 44-45

    Fw190A : with standard armament of 4x20mm + 2x12,7 (A7&A8) or 4x20+2x7,9 (A4,5,6) it had about 3 times the firepower of standard Bf109, it seems logically arguable that it was more effective as bomber destroyer.
    At least until the versions of 109G10 and K were available with the Mk108 in the nose, but still you were limited to 60 rounds.
    Trading performances for firepower, the 109 could add 2x20mm in gondolas, the 190A had 2x30mm in the wings and almost no added weight (ecluding the extra-armour, but then to keep comparison fair you should add it to Bf109 too)

    Reggiane: the aeronautical division ceased to exist in 1945, it is a dead story and there is nothing left....
    here is what they are producing now:
    FantuzziWorld Online

    the only dedicated historical site I know is this, but seems not updated since 2002

    Reggiane! Reggiane!


    16KJV11

    Maybe the correct statement should be 'best Italian fighter deployed in reasonable numbers' :) :)
    The 205V was a MC202 with DB605 instead of DB601 (and the 202 was basically a MC200 with DB601 instead of the crappy radial): it was a fairly good fighter and able to fight on par with all opponents but still from an older generation.
    Many parts (tail, gear etc.) were interchangeable between 200,202 and 205V, several MC202 who needed engine overhaul were fitted with a DB605 and started a second life as MC205V.

    later...
    sandro
     
  16. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Near Impossible and Barely Controllable sound pretty close to me. Either way the G55 scores over either description.
     
  17. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    IIRC it one of the JG 77 Gruppen used Macchi 205 briefly in Italy, didn't shoot anything down and lost some Macchis in accidents.

    Juha
     
  18. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The G-55 along with the Re-2005 and other italian fighter A/C were tested againsz a Bf-109G4 and turned out to be slower.
    The G4 itselfe had larger and more sturdy landing gears (with a wing modification to accomodate them), a necessarity orginiating from improvised, muddy airstrips in Russia. Therefore, the G4 top speed in clean fighter configuration is with ~640 Km/h (398 mp/h) at optimal altitude actually slower than a G2! If the G55 indeed was slower than a G4, it is not competetive to modern allied fighter A/C appearing late in 1943 from a german perspective.
     
  19. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Nope, the G-55 was lightly armed version had 4x12.7 guns, plus a Mauser in engine with the same amount of rounds in the engine as in the 109G-4; the 190A-5 was a lightened version with only the two (syncronized) root MG 151s retained. It could add two MG FFs in the wings which would bring up weight to 4 tons or about +150 kg extra. This firepower would be matched exactly by the gondies on the 109G on added 215 kg, with the advantage of superior ballistics but the weight penelty for adding the same 2 Mausers for the 190A wing was very similiar: + 200 or so kg.

    Yup, but in that configuration tthe A8 would weight over 4.3tons, about 500kg heavier than the lightened A-5 version tested in Italy.. similiarly, the upengined, 'five-twenties' G-55 would be a much heavier beast than what was compared at Guidonia.
     
  20. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Would it be Steinhoff`s book..? I haven`t seen such quote yet. Anyway, a few days ago I was reading this entry from the JG 77`s Kriegtagebuch (the unit flew both Macchis, G-55s and 109Gs, later Ks) :

    27.05.44

    Display for the Air Fleet ([… …])

    Macchi a good plane against fighters, FIAT G.55 a tired ship. Despite that, Macchis are running out and the G.55 will continue to be built!


    In any case, the only thing those guys are crying out loud for was more 109Gs with AS engines..


    The 109 was perfectly controllable at high speeds, there are tests showing 900kph dive recoveries from vertical dives in about 1000 meter altitude..

    As for the G-55, at Guidonia they seemed to like the weapons of ship, and the possibility for a DB 603, otherwise it`s not so uniformly flattering IMHO (my quick translation :

    The flying properties are not as good as the Bf 109 G 4 and the Fw 190 A 5 The visibility is not as good as the Bf 109 G 4 and the Fw 190 A 5. A significant drawback of the Fiat G 55 in comparison to the German fighters is that it`s unsuited for the Jaboeinsatz. This should not be overlooked, as on all fronts the the fighter-bomber missions are moving to the foreground.

    ...

    The aileron forces are high. The rudder effectiveness could have been somewhat better. Roll rate is slightly lower than with the Bf 109 G. The aircraft turns well and very tightly. In neutral position (firing solution/Schießflug) the plane is a little restless and fahrthängig. (some comment on snaking qualities I think? (Abkippmöglichkeit/verhalten). Could not be tested, similiar to the Spitfire)... Moderate visibility at take off. View in flight is limited to forward and above, good to the sides and rear. Take off and landing is very simple. Aircraft is in series production.

    Not usable for Jabo-Einsatz with fuselage-mounted ordonance, since the underfuselage radiator and the landing gear retracts inward. The radiator sufficiently sized for tropical operations.
     
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