Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Italian Warplanes of the Second World War preserved (Regia Aeronautica)

Italian Warplanes of the Second World War preserved (Regia Aeronautica)

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Italian Warplanes evaluated by the RAF and USAAF Technical Air Intelligence Staff in Europe

The first Italian aircraft evaluated in the UK was a Fiat CR.42 Falco biplane (Serial  No. 326, ex MMN5701), BT474, of the Regia Aeronautica, which was the only Italian aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain.  It had been based at Maldegen in Belgium and was shot down by RAF Hurricanes from Martlesham Heath on 11 November 1940.  After repair and flight-testing, it was stored until placed on display in the RAF Museum at Hendon.[1]  (RAF Photo)

No. 3 Squadron, RAAF captured a Fiat CR.42 Falco, coded 7-70, at Martuba in Libya, after the squadron’s arrival there in January 1941.  The aircraft was repainted in silver with British markings and given Serial No. A-421, (signifying “Australian CR.42 No. 1).  This CR.42 was flown by No. 3 Squadron at Benina in Libya in March 1941.  It was later destroyed on 4 April 1941 at Got-es-Sultan Landing Ground.[2]

Three of four Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)s flew into Heliopolis, Greece on 19 April 1941 carrying gold bullion.  These were former Yugoslav Air Force aircraft which went into operation with No. 117 RAF Squadron in Khartoum on 30 April 1941.  A fourth arrived shortly afterwards.   Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) (Serial No. 3712), AX702, flew with the Yugoslav Air Force and was delivered to No. 117 Squadron on 26 May 1941.  S.M.79K (Serial No. 3713), AX703 went to the same unit, then on to No. 117 Squadron.  It crashed on 17 November 1941 near Takoradi, after the failure of one of its engines.  S.M.79K (Serial No. 3714) arrived with AX702, final fate not known.  S.M.79K (Serial No. 3702), AX705 was the third aircraft and served with No. 2 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at Heliopolis from 3 January 1942, until it was damaged in a landing accident on 27 February 1942 and struck off charge.[3]

 (Regia Aeronautica Photos)

Caproni Ca 133 in Regia Aeronautica Service. 

 (RAF Photos)

Caproni Ca 133 captured by the RAF in the Western Desert, nicknamed "Percy".

 (Jim Kinnear Photo)

Caproni Ca 309 Gibli captured by the RAAF in North Africa.  Originally used for dropping flares, this aircraft was converted to transport personnel and flown by RAAF No. 3 Squadron.

No. 3 Squadron, RAAF arrived at Castel Benito on 22 January 1943, and seized an Italian Caproni Bergamashi Ca 309 Ghibli, a twin-engined light transport and reconnaissance aircraft, to use as a unit communications hack.  It made its first flight with the squadron on 1 February 1943, coded CV-V. It made a number of long flights to Cairo and Alexandra in Egypt and remained on duty with the squadron until 4 September 1943.  No. 3 Squadron also acquired a Caproni Bergamashi Ca 164 two-seat light aircraft, possibly found at Castel Benito.  It was recorded as in use on 2 March 1943 and on through 29 May 1943.[4] 

 (RAF Photo)

Macchi MC.202 Folgore in RAF markings.  (RAF Photo).  A Macchi M.C.202 Folgore coded AN of No. 417 Squadron at Castel Benito was flown in RAF markings in early 1943.  A Macchi MC.202 Folgore (Serial No. MM7779), RAF RN236 was evaluated in England.

 (RAF Photos)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk), MM 22174,captured by British forces at Castrel benito, Italy and nick-named "Gremlin HQ", No. 145 Squadron RAF, coded ZX.  It was handed over to USAAF forces in May 1943, but was destroyed in a fire before it could be flown.

A Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) (Serial No. MM 22174) of the Regia Aeronautica, was taken over by No. 145 Squadron, RAF at Castel Benito on the unit’s arrival there on 8 February 1943.  This aircraft was repainted in British markings with the Squadron code letters ZX, and used extensively as a Squadron communications aircraft and wore the name Gremlin HQ.  The aircraft was later handed over to a USAAF unit, but was destroyed by fire before it could be flown.  Another aircraft captured at Castel Benito was a Fiat G.50 Freccia single-engined fighter, which was also painted in RAF markings, but later handed over to the USAAF 79th Fighter Group.[5]

A third captured Fiat CR 42 Falco was flown by No. 238 Squadron at El Gubbi while the squadron was in residence there between 19 January and 5 February 1942.[6]

 (RAF Photo)

Fiat G.55 Centauro (Serial No. MM91150), RAF VF204.  This aircraft was surrendered by a defecting Aeronautica D’Italia SA test pilot who landed at Piombino airfield on 4 August 1944.  The aircraft was shipped to England where it was examined at Tangmere, but not flown due to serious corrosion which had taken place during its shipment.  The G 55 was likely scrapped in Tangmere.[7]

A number of Italian aircraft were captured in Eritrea and Abyssinia, and pressed into Allied service, including a Fiat CR 32 (Serial No. MM4191); several Fiat CR 42 Falcos including (SAAF Serial No. 22); Caproni Bergamashi Ca 133Ts (Serial No. 4145), registered as I-GOGG; and another captured at Mogadishu (Serial No. MM60125), flown in RAF markings coded S.M.8, (SAAF Serial No. 23); Fiat G.50 Freccia (Serial No. unknown), coded HS, was flown by No. 260 Squadron in Palestine from August to October 1941; Caproni Bergamashi Ca 148; Caproni Bergamashi Ca 101 (Serial No. 3351), I-ABCK, captured in North Africa; and another Ca-101 (Serial No. unknown), coded HK859, which was shot down on 13 February 1942 while being ferried in RAF markings from Acoma; Caproni Bergamashi Ca 309-VI Ghibli, (Serial No. MM12444) ground attack aircraft with a fuselage-mounted 20-mm cannon wore RAF markings at Brindisi in December 1943; Caproni Bergamashi Ca 311, (Serial No. unknown) wore RAF markings at Foggia/Main in November 1943; Savoia-Marchetti S.M.73 (Serial No. K33), captured in Abyssinia and nicknamed “Holly’s Folly”; two Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) (Serial No. MM22551, SAAF No. 24), and (SAAF No. 25), coded K36, flown by the SAAF; plus another S.M.79 (Serial No. unknown), coded HK848; and one Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello coded 14-2 which became lost on a bombing raid on Aden on 13 June 1940, and was later flown by the RAF to Aden, at least three Saiman C-202 (Serial No. unknown), coded HK860, light communications aircraft were put into operation by the SAAF and RAF; an unidentified Caproni (Serial No. unknown), coded HK914; and a Breda Ba 65 fighter bomber captured in Addis Ababa in December 1941.[8]

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Fiat RS.14 floatplane, 287, 2.

 (Slim Moore Photo)

Macchi MC.205V Veltro (Greyhound) MM.9377 at Pachino, Italy, captured by No. 3 Squadron, RAAF.  This aircraft is marked with their Squadron code CV-V.

  (Mike Mirkovic Photo)

Macchi MC.205V Veltro captured intact by Australians on Pachino Airfield, in Sicily, Summer 1943.

 (RAAF Photo)

Macchi MC.205 Veltro aircraft found on Catania airfield, Sicily, Italy, by personnel of No. 450 Squadron RAAF and subsequently serviced by the squadron's fitters.

When No. 3 Squadron RAAF arrived in Sicily, it acquired a fresh batch of Italian aircraft, including a number of Caproni Bergamashi Ca 100 light aircraft, similar to the De Havilland DH 60 Moth.  A Macchi M.C.202 Folgore and a Macchi M.C.205V Veltro (Serial No. MM937), coded CV-V, both single engine fighters, were also flown by No. 3 Squadron.  The Folgore was test flown on 2 September and the Veltro was flown on 7 September 1943.


[1] Phil Butler, War Prizes, p. 14.

[2] Phil Butler, War Prizes, p. 37.

[3] Phil Butler, War Prizes, p. 41.

[4] Phil Butler, War Prizes, p. 38.

[5] Phil Butler, War Prizes, p. 39.

[6] Phil Butler, War Prizes, p. 38.

[7] Phil Butler, War Prizes, pp. 31-32.

[8] Phil Butler, War Prizes, pp. 42-43.

 (RAF Photo)

Caproni Ca 309 Ghibli in RAF markings.

 (RAF Photo)

Caproni Ca 311 in RAF markings.

 (Australian War Memorial Photo MEA0311)

Cant Z.501, Gabbiano float plane found intact by the RAAF on the occupation of Sicily, Italy. c. September 1943.  No. 3 Squadron also acquired a CANT Z.501 Gabbiano single engined reconnaissance flying boat at Bari, also coded CV-V, although it was not flown.  CANT Z.501 coded 147-11, HK976 was pressed into service in the RAF on 20 December 1943 after Italy surrendered.  This floatplane eventually went to the Free French.

(RAF Photos)

CANT Z.506B floatplane in RAF markings, one of three CANT Z.506B Airone, coded 147-4, HK977, 147-7, HK978 and 147-2, HK979, which were  taken on RAF strength on 20 December 1943.

One of these Cant Z.506 floatplanes belonged to the Regia Aeronautica’s 139th Squadron.  On 29 July 1942, it was used by the RA to rescue the crew of a ditched Bristol Beaufort, but the  English prisoners overwhelmed the Italians during the flight to Taranto, Italy and hijacked the aircraft to Malta.  Afterwards the aircraft was based at Alexandria. 

 (Zerosei Photos)

CANT Z.506 Airone (Heron) on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  The Airone was a triple-engine floatplane produced by CANT from 1935.  During the Second World War, it was used as a reconnaissance aircraft, bomber and air-sea rescue plane by the Italian Regia Aeronautica and the Luftwaffe.

 (RAF Photo)

CANT Z.1007 Alcione (Kingfisher), a three-engined medium bomber with wooden structure, captured at Enfidaville, Tunisia, shown here in Free French markings.  The Free French Air Force in North Africa made good use of captured Italian aircraft. The Alcione had excellent flying characteristics and good stability and was regarded by many as the best Italian bomber of the Second World War although its wooden structure could be easily damaged by extreme climate conditions, like those experienced in North Africa and in Russia.  Despite being a bomber, it was used as a transport aircraft by the Free French.  This example carries the Free French cross of Lorraine, a symbol chosen by General Charles de Gaulle himself, on its tail.

 (RAF Photo)

Fiat G.12 in RAF markings.

 (RAF Photos)

Fiat CR.42 Falco captured during the Battle of Britain.  The aircraft was salvaged following a forced landing due to an overheated engine, on the shingle beach at Orfordness, Suffolk, on 11 November 1940.  Still wearing its Italian camouflage scheme, it was given RAF roundels and RAF Serial No. BT474.  It was later flown by the RAF's No. 1426 Flight.  This aircraft is preserved and displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum Hendon, as MM5701, 13-95.

  (Alan Wilson Photo, left, Oren Rozen Photo, right)

Fiat CR.42 Falco MM5701, 13-95, on display in the RAF Museum, Hendon, England.

The Fighter Collection at Duxford, England is restoring another Swedish J 11 to fly - formerly Fv2542; now civil-registered as G-CBLS.

  (Roland Turner Photo, left, Mike1979 Russia Photo, right)

Fiat Cr.42 Falco MM5701, 13-95, on display in the RAF Museum, Hendon, England.

 (Alan Wilson Photos)

Fiat CR.42, 162, on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.

 (Zerosei Photo)

Fiat Cr.42, MM4653, 162, on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  This aircraft is a composite CR.42 in Italian colours built up with the help of parts recovered from other CR.42s in Sweden, Italy and France.

Fiat Cr.42, J 11, Fv2543, Swedish Air Force Museum near Linköping, Sweden.  (Towpilot Photo)

Fiat G.50 Freccia in Italian Air Force service.  (Regia Aeronautica Photo).  The only known G.50 bis still in existence is undergoing restoration in the Museum of Aviation, in Sur?in, at Nikola Tesla Airport, Serbia.

Captured Italian Fiat G.50 in SAAF markings.  (SAAF Photos)

Fiat G.55 Centauro on display at the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  (Lorenzo Tomasi Photo)

Fiat G.55 Centauro on display at the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  (Aldo Bidini Photo)

Fiat G.55 Centauro on display at the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  (Zerosei Photo)

Fiat G.212 on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  (Oren Rozen Photo)

Macchi MC.200 “Saetta” of the Regia Aeronautica captured on Sicily in September 1943 and flown by pilots of the Desert Air Force of the RAF in North Africa.  The Saetta was a Second World War fighter aircraft built by Aeronautica Macchi in Italy, and used in various forms throughout the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force). The MC.200 had excellent manoeuvrability and general flying characteristics left little to be desired.  Stability in a high-speed dive was exceptional, but it was underpowered and under-armed for a modern fighter.  In keeping with a test aircraft, the rudder and fuselage band of this aircraft were painted bright yellow, while the roundel is wrong in every respect, including proportion and size.  (RAF Photo)

Maachi MC.200 Saetta fighter in USAAF markings.  (USAAF Photo)

 (Aldo Baldini Photo, left, Alan Wilson Photo, right)

Macchi MC.200 Saetta on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.

Macchi M.C.200 Saetta .  This aircraft was captured during the Nord African campaing, transferred in Unites States and was restored in 1989.  It is currently display at the National Museum of the USAF.  (NMUSAF Photos)

Macchi C.202 "Folgore" of the 31st Fighter Group captured by the Allies in Sicily and nicknamed "Wacky Macchi".  (USAAF Photo)

Macchi MC.202 Folgore, bearing both USAAF & RAF markings, Catania, Sicily, 5 Oct 1943.  (USAAF Photo)

 (USAAF Photos)

Maachi MC.202 Folgore fighter captured after the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943.  Initially catalogued as Engineering Branch number EB-300 at Wright Field Ohio on 20 Aug 1943.  It was flown as USAAF FE-300 and later as USAAF FE-498.

 (Cliff Photos) (Wilson44691 Photos)

Maachi MC.202 Folgore fighter captured after the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943.  Initially catalogued as Engineering Branch number EB-300 at Wright Field Ohio on 20 Aug 1943.  It was flown as USAAF FE-300 and later as USAAF FE-498.  It is shown here on display in the Smithsonian Museum, painted as 90.4, (Serial No. MM.9476). 

 (Zerosei Photo, left, Alan Wilson Photo, right)

Macchi MC.202T-AS, MM9667 on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.

 (RAF Photo)

Macchi MC.205 Veltro in RAF markings.

 (Zerosei Photo, left, Peter Bakema Photo, right)

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Macchi MC.202 modified to represent an MC.205V on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy. 

 (Stepaho Stabile Photo, left, Oren Rozen Photo, right)

Macchi MC.205V on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.

 (Aldo Bidini Photos)

Macchi MC.205V on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.  (Aldo Baldini Photo)

 (USAAF Photo)

SAIMAN 200 two-seat primary trainer designed and built by the Societa Industrie Meccaniche Aeronautiche Navali (SAIMAN).  A number of these aircraft were captured and flown by Allied airmen during the war, including this one shown with USAAF 51-224 (perhaps made up) at Ponte Olivio. Sicily, 19 August 1943, with the nick-name "Patches". 

  (RAF Photos)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 in RAF markings.

  (USAAF Photos)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 in USAAF markings.

 (Alan Wilson Photos)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, an ex-Lebanese aircraft on display at the Museo Storico dell' Aeronautica Militare Italiana at Vigna di Valle, north of Rome.

 (M.L. Watts Photo)

 (Ennio Varani Photo, left, Matteo Ianeselli Photo, right)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, on display at the “Museo dell'Aeronautica Gianni Caproni” at Trento, Italy.

 

 

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 dropping bombs.

 (Australian War Museum Photo)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 captured by the RAAF at Bari Airport, Italy, 1943. 

 (Oren Rozen Photo)

Savoia Marchetti SM.82PW Canguru on display in the Italian Air Force Museum, Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano in central Italy.

Captured Allied aircraft in service with the Regia Aeronautica

  (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Bristol Beaufighter, British light bomber.

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Bristol Blenheim, British light bomber.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator, USAAF bomber.

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Dewoitine 520, French fighter.

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Hawker Hurricane, British fighter.

 (Regia Aeronautica Photos)

Lockheed P-38 Lightning, USAAF fighter.

 (Regia Aeronautica Photo)

Potez 23, French light bomber.

Axis Warplane Survivors

 

A guidebook to the preserved Military Aircraft of the Second World War Tripartite Pact of Germany, Italy, and Japan, joined by Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia; the co-belligerent states of Thailand, Finland, San Marino and Iraq; and the occupied states of Albania, Belarus, Croatia, Vichy France, Greece, Ljubljana, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Manchukuo, Mengjiang, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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