Mystery Biplane photographed in northern Africa, early WWII

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by Aviator, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. Aviator

    Aviator New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    My mother recently received a few photos from someone who knew her two Uncles that served with the Australian Infantry in northern Africa, early in WWII. The first one is a biplane of unknown origin, that I have been unable to identify so far, and was hoping that the experts here may be able to recognise it. The other photo that came with it is of a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, that was either captured or abandoned. Anyway, here are the photos, just scanned in by my mother, so it is their first appearance in many years:

    20140316_221816-1.jpg

    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    A retired military Navigator/ATC, FIS controller
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    The aircraft is quite destroyed but it is one of Italian Romeo ( IMAM ) Ro-37 or Ro-37bis in my humble opinion.
     
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  3. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    That's certainly the correct ID.

    The Italian Air Force Museum just outside Bracciano used to have one on display in a desert camouflage, it might still do.

    I'd be interested to know where the photograph was taken, if you know. One bit of North African desert looks a lot like any other and I've seen all too many photos with not very helpful scrawls on the back.....like 'German Stuka, Africa' but you might be lucky :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  5. BasilBarfly

    BasilBarfly New Member

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  6. BasilBarfly

    BasilBarfly New Member

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    Greetings,
    The link above is incorrect. The correct link is Fiat CR.42
     
  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Unfortunately you have omitted a major detail of the main landing gear of the Fiat CR.42. The legs were attached to the bottom of wing roots while the plane in the pic posted above has shock absorbers attached to the fuselage sides. Also CR.42 had two pairs of struts between top and bottom wings for each side making "V" looking from the front. The one we are talking about has one pair of them only. Fiat CR.42 could have wheel spats removed what can be seen in the second pic here at the bottom. But there always was left its top part ( similar to PZL 23 Karas or Ju-87 Stuka ). Additionally ... I'm afraid, you overlooked the characteristic for Ro-37 wheel hubs and the lack of the small spinner, peculiar to the Fiat CR.42.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It's an Ro.37, as Wurger said, not a Fiat.

    The Ro.37 also has two narrow struts (interplane struts) per side between the upper wing and lower wing unlike the CR.42's 4 robust struts per side between upper and lower wings. Also note the Ro.37's minimal Cabane-struts at the fuselage to upper wing, where the CR.42 has a complex Cabane-strut configuration at the fuselage to upper wing.

    Also as noted, the main wheel structure on the Ro.37 has additional bracing where the CR.42 has only the main strut (with or without spats, connecting to the fuselage at the wing-root) with the Ro.37's main support extending up, beyond the lower wing, entering the fuselage's centerline behind the engine cowling.

    You may also note that the CR.42 had adjustable cowling flaps for engine cooling where the Ro.37 did not.

    Ro.37 (with spats)
    Ro37bis[540].jpg

    Ro.37 (without spats)
    Ro37[540].jpg
     
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  9. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    As an individual that is familiar with Axis aircraft, I agree. Ro.37, to be sure.
     
  10. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    And finally, three details that make us sure it's the Ro.37. ...
    The exhaust pipes ... two long ones going under the fuselage while the CR.42 had two very short ones.
    The shape of Ro.37 fuselage at the bottom area where it meets the engine cowling making the characteristic "stair".
    And an air intake under the engine cowling of the CR.42 while the Ro.37 didn't have a such one there.
     
  11. BasilBarfly

    BasilBarfly New Member

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    I stand corrected. My speciality is not in Italian aircraft of pre-World War 2.
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It's much easier to ID aircraft when they are in intact (better still, flyable) condition and not derelict in the desert!
     
  13. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    wonder if it is still sitting there??
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Beleive it or not, but there is still quite a large amount of equipment sitting in the desert.

    An episode of Globe Trekker showed a large amount of abandoned British Equipment (vehicles) in the Tunisian/Libyan desert still sitting there, rotting away.
     
  15. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I used to know an ex RAF Chiefy who used to be based at RAF Al Adem in Libya and he often went out over the desert in Wessex helicopters and said that they often passed over old tanks and trucks abandoned in the desert from the war, both British and German.
     
  16. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    oh...i'd believe it. just wish i had the cash to screw off and just fly all over north africa and look for stuff like that. just like that p 40 found last year i'd bet you could find 109s...spits....etc.
     
  17. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    Confirm. My family spent 22 years in Libya from 1967 to 1989 and was quite common to find in the desert a lot of military equipment, expecially around Tobruk.
     
  18. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    Foto bardia 1.jpg

    In this colonial 1969 photo, taken in Bardia, about 60 km from Tobruk, after a pleasant day at the beach, many nationalities are present.....
    The third gentleman top left is Leut. Zeleny, RAF, which in those times was the Commanding officer of the Rescue Service of the El Adem airport.
    Leut. Zeleny was a Czech that escaped from his invaded Country in 1939 and enlisted in the RAF. During the WWII he served as Navigator in Lancasters an he told me very interesting stories about his missions “Yes, one night over Berlin we were attacked by a nightfighter that sawed out our left wingtip, but fortunately we were able to escape....
    He did show me the sextant he used in the aircraft and explained me how to use it, but I have to admit that with the bumps of the aircraft and with someone behind tryng to kill me, finding latitude and longitude could have been more difficult.
    One day, in his home after a pleasant cup of tea in the afternoon and a generous wedge of a cake made by Mrs Zeleny, Leut. Zeleny, that had just returned from a training trip of three or four days and thousands of miles deep inside the Libyan desert, show me his last finding: a piece of metal that was encrusted by several dozens of bullets, partially melt by the heat. Something like a modern Art masterpiece.
    About ten years after I visited the Imperial War Musem, and in a showcase I saw that very piece of metal : “Gift of the Rescue Service of the El Adem Airport, 1969, Libya”.....
    Probably it is still there.
    The Boy top left is Pablo, son of the U.S. Air Attaché in Libya, and his Mum, a Cuban lady, is top right, while the Lady first row left is Mrs Watson, wife of the Commander of El Adem Military Airport. I'm somewhere in the photo........
    Gone are the days.....
     
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  19. Monty Flange

    Monty Flange New Member

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    Bit of an old post re resurrect, but some of you might be interested in this facebook page. There was a few mentions of Zig Zeleny, WHich looking for his history led me here.


    Log into Facebook | Facebook
     
  20. Albacore

    Albacore New Member

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    I'm currently reading The Men Who Made The SAS: The History of the Long Range Desert Group by Gavin Mortimer, and these Italian biplanes were mentioned. According to on Lance Corporal Mike "Loft" Carr, first navigator with LRDG, they British on patrol were more afraid of Italian biplanes than the Luftwaffe Stukas, etc:

    "They were a damned sight more dangerous than the others because they were so slow. When a plane dived to strafe us, the driver would drive, the rear gunner would do his stuff and I as the navigator would look at that plane and I would give instructions to the driver, like 'right' or 'left', and we would do very quick turns. Messerschmitts couldn't turn that quickly but the CR.42 could practically stand on the tip of one wing and follow you round."
     
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