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Weapons of World War Two

The Allied Invasion of Sicily (Jul-Aug 1943)

Macchi Mc 202 Folgore

Macchi Mc 202 Folgore

To all of those who had the chance to live the tremendous years of the Second World War in Italy, the Macchi-Castoldi binomial would surely bring memories of a "family" of fighter aircraft which constituted the pride and the backbone of this speciality of the Italian Regia Aeronautica. Engineer Mario Castoldi designed for Aeronautica Macchi the three excellent fighters Mc 200 "Saetta", Mc 200 "Folgore" and Mc 205 "Veltro", which were used, with the appreciation of all of those who had to pilot them, in all of the fronts which saw the Italian soldier fighting between 1940 and 1945. It is not possible, hence, to talk about the "Folgore", depicted here in the illustration, without making reference to the "Saetta" and then to the "Veltro", for the union between the three generations of this family is a very close one. Rather than three conceptually different aircraft, they were designs coming from a substantially identical base, to which successive modifications were added to be able to always obtain a good performance from the aircraft, keeping them at the level of the technical progress of the moment. Born from a project outlined already in 1935, the prototype of the Macchi 200 flew for the first time in the last days of 1937. Being a monoplane of low wing and entirely metallic structure, it soon demonstrated to have magnificent traits of maneuverability and constructive robustness. Some characteristics were truly notable. During the official trials it managed to reach, during a dive, a speed of 800 kilometers/hour. But it was an aircraft which suffered from the limitations imposed by its radial engine, which was anyway adopted as the formula for almost all of the Italian aircraft of that time. Over time this "handicap" became increasingly evident, especially in comparison with the most powerful enemy fighter aircraft. It was then decided to adopt a better propulsion plant, and the choice fell upon the optimal Daimler Benz 601 A1, of twelve cylinders in inverted V and 1175 horsepower, instead of the 870 horsepower of the Fiat installed in the "Saetta". This way it was born, in the summer of 1940, the Macchi 202, which entered production in September of that same year. The first deliveries to the units were effectuated in May 1941. Shortly after, instead of the DB 601, the version produced in Italy by Alfa Romeo under German license, denominated RA 1000 RC41, would start to be installed. The inline engine brought as well a retouch in the structure of the fuselage, which got so a more fusiform and streamlined profile, which was aerodynamically superior. All of these modifications allowed an increase in the speed of 93 kilometers/hour. Regarding the armament, weak point of all of the Italian fighter aircraft, it remained initially identical to that of the "Saetta", namely, two Breda SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns firing through the propeller disc, until it was fitted with two 7.7-millimeter machine guns installed in the wings. The pilot was protected by 77 kilograms of armored plates and, in the last series of Macchi 202, also by an armored windshield. For the utilization of the aircraft as a fighter-bomber a drop armament of 320 kilograms was provided. The electronic equipment, constituted by only a radio receiver in the "Saetta", comprised a receiver-transmitter device and a radio-goniometer in the "Folgore". For operations in desertic areas the utilization of sand filters was provided. The Macchi 202, which was the true workhorse of the series, never underwent important modifications. In April 1942, with a more powerful engine and an increased armament, it would give origin to the Macchi 205, an excellent aircraft which, after the 8th September 1943, would be used by the aviation of the Italian Social Republic. It would fight very well against the Allied bombers, but it would be the swan song of the Italian aeronautical war industry.

Macchi Mc 202 Folgore
Designer: Engineer Mario Castoldi

First flight: 10 August 1940

Wingspan: 10.58 meters

Wing area: 16.80 square meters

Length: 8.85 meters

Height: 3.51 meters

Full load/Empty weight: 2889/2350 kilograms

Payload/Crew: 639 kilograms/1

Engine: Alfa Romeo RA 1000 RC41 of 1175 horsepower

Time to reach 6000 meters of altitude: 6 minutes 26 seconds

Maximum speed: 596 kilometers/hour

Service ceiling: 10200 meters

Defensive armament: Two 12.7-millimeter machine guns

Drop armament: Two 160-kilogram bombs

Operational range: 765 kilometers

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