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"Italian Fighter Planes" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following article, which describes two types of Italian fighter planes, was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 22, April 8, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


a. Macchi-202

The Macchi-202, one of the best Italian fighters, is a single-seat, low-wing cantilever monoplane, powered by one, twelve-cylinder, Daimler-Benz 601 A/1 engine of the inverted "V" liquid-cooled type. It is of all-metal construction with smooth stressed skin and has moderately tapered wings with a span of 34 feet 8 inches and a gross area of 181 square feet. The fuselage is oval, with the cockpit over the trailing edge of the wing. Camber-changing flaps are interconnected with the ailerons. It has an adjustable stabilizer and a hydraulically operated landing gear retracting inward into the wings. The tail wheel is fixed.

The latest type of engine is reported to develop 1,150 hp at 16,000 feet, which would permit a sea-level speed of 295 mph, a cruising speed of 310 mph at 18,000, and a maximum speed of 360 mph at 20,000. The airplane is believed capable of reaching an altitude of 18,000 feet in approximately 7.2 minutes.

The service ceiling with a normal load is 35,000 feet, and the range is 425 miles at normal cruising speed. On some models the engine is fitted with an air filter connected to the landing gear. The filter apparently operates only when the wheels are down. The metal propeller is three-bladed.

There are apparently two fuel tanks, one in the fuselage below the pilot's seat, holding 71 U.S. gallons, and the other behind his head and shoulders with a capacity of 34 U.S. gallons. Both tanks are of standard light-alloy construction and are self-sealing, having five protective layers on the inside. However, a recent airplane is reported to have had three tanks, a main tank aft of the cockpit holding 111 U.S. gallons and an auxiliary tank of 25 U.S. gallons built into each wing next to the fuselage, each connected with the main tank.

The standard armament consists of two synchronized 12.7-mm Breda machine guns mounted over the engine and firing through the propeller. There is provision for mounting two 7.7-mm guns in the wings outboard of the propeller arc, but none have been found actually installed. This aircraft is believed to be equipped to carry two 220-pound bombs.

Eight-millimeter armor protection is used for the head, shoulders, and bucket seat, but no bulletproof windshields have been reported.

This airplane has been almost entirely used for fighting and ground attack. It has operated extensively against Malta, and in the defense of the North African ports in the Libyan campaigns, and is now in action in Tunisia.

b. Reggiane-2001

The Reggiane-2001 is another Italian fighter used for ground attack. It is a single-seat, low-wing, cantilever monoplane with a comparatively short, tapered fuselage. The elliptical wings have more curvature on the trailing edges than the leading edges, and rounded tips. The single fin and rudder have a very deep chord and are approximately triangular in shape. The leading edge of the fin is straight, and the trailing edge of the rudder is slightly curved. Split flaps are fitted and are continuous under the fuselage. The main wheels of the landing gear turn through 90 degrees during retraction and appear as slight bulges beneath the wing. The tail wheel is non-retractable. The cockpit is inclosed and is over the wing.

The airplane is powered with a Daimler-Benz 601 A/1 engine, as used in the Macchi-202, which develops 1,150 hp at 16,000 feet. This is believed to give a sea-level speed of 290 mph, a cruising speed of 300 mph at 18,000 feet, and a maximum speed of 350 mph at 20,000 feet. The airplane can climb to 18,000 feet in slightly over 8 minutes. Service ceiling with normal load is 34,000 feet, and the range is 730 miles at normal cruising speed. There is a coolant radiator with controllable flaps under each wing and an oil cooler mounted beneath the engine. A standard type of air cleaner is incorporated forward of the long intake to the supercharger. The three-bladed propeller is reported to be made of solid duralumin.

It is believed that the aircraft was originally designed to carry one fuel tank in the center section with a capacity of 172 U.S. gallons. However, at least one is reported to have three tanks, one behind the pilot's seat of 22 U.S. gallons capacity. The other two tanks are at right angles to the fuselage, extending 2 1/2 feet into each wing; the forward one holds 82 U.S. gallons, and the other 54 U.S. gallons.

A flat pane of splinter-proof glass forms the windshield of the cockpit. Behind the pane is a sliding canopy of plexiglass which can be slid to the rear, permitting exit by parachute, or can be fixed in intermediate positions.

The basic armament of the Reggiane-2001 consists of two 12.7-mm synchronized Breda machine guns, fitted beneath the top cowling with the breeches accessible to the pilot and firing through blast channels; also, two 7.7 guns, one in each wing. The original design is believed to permit the installation of a carrier for light bombs or a container for antipersonnel bombs. Another report suggests a version of this airplane (Re-2005) fitted for carrying one or two small torpedoes and equipped with the 1,500 hp Isotta Fraschini L 180 I.R.C.C. 45 engine, which would give a performance comparable to the Re-2001 fighter.

The pilot's bucket seat and his head and shoulders are protected by 7-mm and 9-mm armor plate respectively.

This airplane has been reported in action on the Tunisian front.


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