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Weapons of World War Two

The Italian Invasion of Greece (Oct 1940 - Apr 1941)

Fiat G50 Freccia

Fiat G50 Freccia

Around 1935, the military aviations of the main European powers initiated studies in an attempt to solve a problem which was common to all of them: the replacement of the fighter aircraft in service until then, all of them already obsolete because of their biplane formula. Also the High Staff of the Italian Regia Aeronautica convened a contest between several companies for designing a monoplane and totally metallic fighter, but successively setting diverse requirements of armament and operational range. These "warnings" led the companies to present prototypes of not always uniform prestations. The technicians, lacking precise specifications, had not always known what to choose between the diverse formulas (interceptor, escort or combat fighter), and they often resorted to compromises which at least partially complied with the three possibilities. The companies were Aeronautica Umbra, Caproni Vizzola, IMAM, Fiat, Macchi and Reggiane. After a series of examinations and evaluations they were chosen, practically "ex aequo", albeit due to diverse causes, the FIAT G50 of Engineer Gabrielli and the Macchi 200 of Engineer Castoldi. This way the Regia Aeronautica, instead of focusing the attention into a single aircraft, dispersed the productive potential of the Italian aeronautical industry, leading to all the military and logistic inconveniences which later would be a burden. The G50 "Freccia", which flew for the first time the 26th February 1937, was an entirely metallic monoplane aircraft of low wing, closed cockpit and retractable landing gear. It was the first fighter of modern conception serially built for the Regia Aeronautica, and a total of 570 exemplars were produced. Its structure was one of hybrid construction, with a part in shell and a part in framework. It should be taken into account that this was the first entirely metallic aircraft produced by an industry which until then had been based in the field of wooden construction. The engine was a radial Fiat A 74 RC 38 with 14 cylinders arranged in two fixed stars, which could develop 840 horsepower. In action, the G50 showed itself as a modest fighter of not exceptional effectiveness. Its speed was superior in only 50 kilometers/hour to that of the Fiat CR 42 biplanes, and its maneuverability, very good for a monoplane, was inferior to that of the aforementioned biplanes, which were true aerobatic airplanes. A great advantage was its foolproof robustness. Used for the first time in the Spanish Civil War, during which it had no chance to take part in the fight, it was later part of the Italian Air Corps which operated against England, before taking part in every action in the Balkan and African fronts. Finally it fought tenaciously in Sicily against the Anglo-American invading forces. After the Armistice, the few aircraft which were still useful were used for training in the aviation of the Italian Social Republic.

Fiat G50 Freccia
Designer: Engineer Giuseppe Gabrielli

First flight: 26 February 1937 (Prototype); 1938 (G50)

Wingspan: 10.736 meters (Prototype); 10.98 meters (G50 and G50 bis)

Wing area: 18 square meters (Prototype); 18.25 meters (G50 and G50 bis)

Length: 7.80 meters

Height: 3.28 meters (Prototype and G50); 2.96 meters (G50 bis)

Full load/Empty weight: 2330/1900 kilograms (Prototype); 2402/1963 kilograms (G50); 2705/2077 kilograms (G50 bis)

Payload/Crew: 430 kilograms/1 (Prototype); 439 kilograms/1 (G50); 628 kilograms/1 (G50 bis)

Engine: Fiat A 74 RC 38 of 840 horsepower

Time to reach 5000 meters of altitude: 8 minutes (G50 bis)

Time to reach 6000 meters of altitude: 6 minutes 40 seconds (Prototype); 7 minutes 30 seconds (G50)

Maximum speed: 490 kilometers/hour (Prototype); 472 kilometers/hour (G50 and G50 bis)

Service ceiling: 10800 meters (Prototype); 10700 meters (G50); 10000 meters (G50 bis)

Defensive armament: Two Breda SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns

Drop armament: Occasionally two bombs under the wings

Operational range: 670 kilometers (G50); 1000 kilometers (G50 bis)

Also in Weapons of World War Two

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