Alfa Romeo DB-601 engines/imports?

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mfy4444
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Posts: 79
Joined: 29 Aug 2012 21:43

Alfa Romeo DB-601 engines/imports?

Postby mfy4444 » 16 May 2018 15:12

Hello, all. I am confused about exactly when production began for the Alfa Romeo licensed copy of the Daimler-Benz DB-601 aircraft engine. Brian R. Sullivan's chapter on the Regia Aeronautica in WW2 in Higham and Harris' "Why Air Forces Fail" says that Valle as head of the RA obtained agreement with the Germans to license production of the DB-601 to Alfa Romeo in January 1939, but that there were delays in delivery of the machine tools. Several online sources say that the actual license was received by Alfa Romeo in November 1939. In Greene and Massignani, "The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943" it says Alfa Romeo only built 74 of their version of the DB-601, called the Monsone, by the end of 1941. That seems a very small number, as another source I saw said actual production began January 1940?

I have tried looking online for a short summary of the production of the DB-601/Monsone by Alfa Romeo but can't find anything more than the above. Can anyone clear up the following for me?

1. When did actual production of the Monsone by Alfa Romeo begin? (not license obtained, but actual engines being built)
2. Sullivan says Valle also arranged to buy 15 German DB-601 engines. Were others imported to Italy beyond the original 15?
3. Does anyone have actual dates and numbers built for Alfa Romeo production of the Monsone?

Thanks for any help, this list has been great in putting up with my questions and giving great answers!

Regards

Mike Yaklich

mfy4444
Member
Posts: 79
Joined: 29 Aug 2012 21:43

Re: Alfa Romeo DB-601 engines/imports?

Postby mfy4444 » 17 May 2018 16:47

As often happens when I post one of my questions here, I did discover some of the answers through further searching. This link proved helpful, especially in terms of the original Air Ministry documents posted at the bottom:

http://www.alieuomini.it/pagine/dettagl ... c,154.html

Also found, in the book "Spitfire V vs C.202 Folgore" by Donald Nijboer, that Alfa Romeo 's Monsone variant of the DB-601 only started coming off the production lines in summer 1941, which would explain the low number of 74 produced in 1941 according to Greene/Massignani (I also need to dig up Greene and Massignani's reference for that figure, but I am currently at my job and the book is at home). Especially given that the link above indicates that originally monthly production of the Monsone was no more than 30-40 engines, and that stringent quality control led to some 20% of production being discarded.

Not pertinent to my original question, but something else of interest, was that one of the Air Ministry documents reproduced in the link I gave referred to the desert air filters for sand/dust that needed to be fitted to the C.202 before deployment to North Africa. Recall that in November 1941 Cavallero convinced Mussolini to fire Pricolo as head of the Air Force ostensibly over delays in sending the C.202 to North Africa, despite Cavallero's repeated and insistent requests.* What I did not know before seeing that memo (dated late November '41) was that the air filters apparently had to be obtained from the Germans, and that apparently several types were tested before deciding on one that worked.

That said, I'd still love to hear anything on my original questions if anyone out there knows anything about the subject. I'm filling in the pieces of the puzzle, but there are still many parts missing...

*Here is my English translation of Cavallero's Comando Supremo war diary as Chief of the General Staff regarding Pricolo's dismissal:

“I proceed with the following briefing to the Duce on the replacement of General Pricolo with General Fougier: the entering into service of the Macchi 202 planes grants us the ability to deploy a superior fighter, with all the possibilities that derive from such a supremacy. On October 11th, I called upon General Pricolo to arrange for sending to Libya two groups of the C.202, which he assured me would be ready in the shortest term. On October 14th he gave assurances that the first group of the 1st Stormo would be ready October 20th, and the second on the 27th. On 17 October I received General Pricolo... and revealed what I foresaw concerning the coming enemy attack in Cyrenaica and the urgent necessity with which I had to insist on the prompt reinforcement of our aviation in North Africa with fighter groups. On October 21st I asked for a prompt temporary reinforcement of the 5th Air Fleet, in conjunction with the expected operation against Tobruk. October 22nd I pointed out the urgency again. October 23 General Pricolo informed me that he had ready at Brindisi, for sending to Libya, also a group of CANT 1007, and I stressed that he employ all efforts to make ready the necessary supplies of fuel. On October 30th I brought myself to the airfield of Ciampino South to review, according to the invitation presented to me, the first group of the 1st Stormo on its departure for Africa. On today's date-- 20th November-- the group that I had inspected October 30th is still found at Ciampino. I confirm that this effective disobedience of General Pricolo to the orders received from Comando Supremo has placed our forces in Libya in conditions of poor effectiveness at the precise moment in which, as I have repeatedly and vividly admonished, an important enemy initiative against us in Cyrenaica is made apparent...” (the "important enemy initiative" referenced by Cavallero being the "Crusader" offensive that eventually succeeded in breaking the siege of Tobruk and forcing Rommel to retreat halfway across Libya).

Regards (and thanks for the replies I know are coming sooner or later! :D )

Mike Yaklich


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