The Italian "5" series fighters

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Luftwaffe air units and general discussions on the Luftwaffe.
daveh
Member
Posts: 1439
Joined: 11 Feb 2003 18:14
Location: uk

The Italian "5" series fighters

Post by daveh » 21 May 2003 13:22

At the time of the Italian surrender the Italian air force had just started to use operationally 3 new fighter types. These were all powered by the German DB 605 series engine or the licence built version thereof.
The 3 types were the Fiat G55, The Macchi MC 205 and the Reggiane RE 205.

How good were these aircraft? How did they compare with contemporary designs both Allied and German?
Does anyone have any details on test flights by Allied evaluation units / technical centres?. Or of assessments made on the basis of meeting them in combat ie intelligence reports.
Given the known limited capacity of Italian industry why did 3 designs enter production?


Comments and information would be most welcome.

User avatar
SM79Sparviero
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 18 Oct 2002 09:01
Location: Culqualber

Italian Fighters

Post by SM79Sparviero » 21 May 2003 19:21

It was not a bad idea according to me. Infact the C-205 Veltro had two vantages:it was ready,it could be easily built on the Macchi factories on the lines of the C-202 infact the c-205 was nothing more than a c-202 with the DB-605 engine at the place of th DB-601, and with two MG-151 guns in its wings
More, the C-205 had better performances at low altitudes.

Re-2005 and Fiat G-55 had better performances at high altitudes, in a dogfight they managed much better than a FW-190 , but the factory lines were not ready yet in 1942-43.
The "serie 5" fighters and their gallant pilots of the Social Italian Republic since 1942 opposed themselves successfully to Thunderbolts and Spitfires.
The real italian masterpiece was the Fiat G-56 with DB-603 engine that flew with German ensigns, and the Macchi C-207 and Reggiane Re-2006 that could not fly.
http://www.kotfsc.com/warbirds/

gabriel pagliarani
Member
Posts: 1583
Joined: 01 Aug 2002 03:11
Location: ITALY

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 21 May 2003 22:05

I can refer about the opinions of some pilots who drove them in battle: dad drove only Fiat G-55, probably not the exploiter among those but probably the most advanced and easy to ride. As macchi 205 it was produced also after the end of the war and serviced as Fiat G-59, a nice evolution powered with a Merlin. Dad said that the pitch & roll rate were higher than Spits and Mustangs, in the while the DB605 engine provided an extra kinetic energy boost after sudden dives than the Merlin equipped versions. G55 (G= ing.Gabrielli the father of G91 and G222) was a masterwork: easy to ride, extremely reactive, higly aerobatic was really tough to die. Dad was wounded while attacking a B-24 box in summer 1944: the windshear hit by a .50 round exploded punching his face with a lot of glass-shrapnels and the hot oil blowed out the DB engine ustioned deeply all those tiny wounds on his face. When he landed there were more holes in his own wings than a Swiss gruviere, at least 50.50 rounds drilled his G55. The day after the FIAT was combat ready another time, dad not at all. But the legendary exploiter was the excellent Re2005. This plane in summer 1943 surely broke the sound barrier during an extreme dogfight on the Gulf of Naples. If mass produced, surely it could be able to hide some myths about the performances of more than an allied fighter.
P.S.
Both Reggiane Re2005 and Republic P-47 were sons of the same father: a joint italo-american team of engineers (as Italo Balbo obtained after his succesfull massive raids over North America) developed the Seversky P-35. Fascist Italy abandoned the cooperation with USA, but 2 separated projects came out, the 1st in USA and the 2nd in Italy. If you examine carefully wings, rudder and tails of both planes, you will note exactly the same shapes (NACA-NASA inventored profiles) Both planes were considered the excellence in their class.
About the reason of a trice ordnance fighter, you have touched something similar to madness that was a special characteristics of Italian Air Command: before WW2 obstacled the development of any italian powerful liquid-cooled engine and when those necessary german engines became finally purchasable, SuperAereo never decided what plane had to be mass-produced. The fact that all 3 programs were at the same excellent level was therefore an handycapp instead being a serious advantage for Regia Aeronautica.

User avatar
Tim Smith
Member
Posts: 6177
Joined: 19 Aug 2002 12:15
Location: UK

Post by Tim Smith » 23 May 2003 01:31

The Italians seemed to have the knack of producing superb airframes, even more so than the Germans and Japanese. The airframe of the MC202 and later Italian fighters was far superior to that of the Me109G, being more maneuverable and easier to fly and land safely. The engines were the problem.

Unfortunately the Italians took ages to produce powerful engines of their own design, and by the time they did, Italy was on the verge of surrender. (Piaggio had an engine of 1700 hp on a test bed by mid 1943, but never got it into production.)

Like the Japanese with the Ki-61 engine, Italy was very bad at manufacturing the German DB601 and DB605 engines. The Italian versions were more reliable than the Japanese versions, but the Italians were completely unable to produce them quickly and in sufficient numbers, forcing them to rely on German-supplied engines.

gabriel pagliarani
Member
Posts: 1583
Joined: 01 Aug 2002 03:11
Location: ITALY

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 24 May 2003 03:38

Tim Smith wrote: Like the Japanese with the Ki-61 engine, Italy was very bad at manufacturing the German DB601 and DB605 engines. The Italian versions were more reliable than the Japanese versions, but the Italians were completely unable to produce them quickly and in sufficient numbers, forcing them to rely on German-supplied engines.
... true the contrary! DB601s produced by Alfa Avio during 1942 (AR 58 "Tifone") were able to produce an average over-power of 150Hps respect with the German ones! The problems were in the lack of good quality raw materials and impossibility of a really massive production: every piece was artigianally machined and adjusted, only a few stamped. (as usual in German mass production) But tolerances and clearances during couplings were largely better than the std. germans. Nothing strange in this: Alfa Avio was a militarized version of Alfa Corse (..they produced P-2 and P-3 cars, the red legends droven by Tazio Nuvolari. After the war a P-3 won the 1st Formel One Championship) Ferrari bought Alfa Corse. But the workers were always the same!

daveh
Member
Posts: 1439
Joined: 11 Feb 2003 18:14
Location: uk

Post by daveh » 24 May 2003 13:25

Many thanks for the comments and information. The 5 series fighters certainly "look" right and the Italian designers generally had a reputation for creating maneuverable designs.

Why did the Italians fail to produce effective aero engines?. I know that the British bought Italian engines for their fast MTB designs pre war and the car industry had a high reputation pre war. Why weren;t these suceeses seen in their aero engines?

Given the lack of a suitable inline engine did the Italians produce a succesful radial engined fighter? The Reggiane Re 2000 comes to mind and was exported to the Swedes and Hungarians. Did it stand comparison with Axis or Allied designs? Why wasn't it chosen over the Fiat G50 and Macchi MC 200?

Note another case of 3 designs being produced at the same time.

gabriel pagliarani
Member
Posts: 1583
Joined: 01 Aug 2002 03:11
Location: ITALY

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 25 May 2003 01:57

The Alfa Romeo liquid cooled 12 cyl developed and twin-mounted on MC-72 hydroplane had the chance to be the father of a "Merlin " equivalent never born italian engine. MC72 at very today holds the world speed record for hydroplanes. Born to win last Schneider Cup defeating definively Supermarine and Rolls Royce, MC72 was not admitted to the last competition by cause of a lack in export documentation and Scheider Cup was definitevely gained by superb Supermarines. The war was coming and Supermarine used those extremely competitive experiences in developing Spitfire, Rolls Royce the Merlin. But Macchi and Alfa Romeo were stopped in their harsh competition against the Britishes directly by the Air Ministry: 860 HPs of radial engines used on biplanes had to be enough also for next monoplanes MC200 and Fiat G50! 1000 HP engines? Too many! As result of such a crazy order a fascist "Spitfire equivalent" fighter never flew during 1936 till 1941, loosing 5 years. Regia Aeronautica used the same crazy rules adopted by U.S.Navy and both Air Forces entered in WW2 with superseeded fighters.
About Re-2000 you are right. Too much expensive to be mass produced but so excellent to not be abandoned, it was the 1st crazy sample of the main fault of Regia Aeronautica: a terrible lack in taking any decision. Mussolini caused it sending Italo Balbo in Lybia, far from aeronautics.

Return to “Luftwaffe air units and Luftwaffe in general”