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Fiat G50


By Sakhal

Around 1935, the military aviations of the main European powers started studies trying to solve a problem that was common to all of them: the replacement of the fighters in service until then already obsolete because of being of biplane design. Also the High Staff of the Italian Regia Aeronautica convoked a contest among several companies for a monoplane and totally metallic fighter, but setting successively different specifications for armament and operational range. These discrepancies made that the manufacturers presented prototypes of not always uniform prestations. The technicians, lacking precise conditions, not always had chosen wisely between the diverse roles (interception, escort, combat) and often resorted to compromise formulas that should comply at least partially with the three possibilities. The partaking companies were Aeronautica Umbra, Caproni Vizzola, IMAM, Fiat and its subsidiary CMASA, Macchi and Reggiane. After a series of exams and evaluations were chosen, practically equally, albeit by diverse reasons, the Fiat G50 designed by engineer Giuseppe Gabrielli and the Macchi 200 designed by engineer Mario Castoldi. This was one of the strange elections in the plans of modernization of the Italian Armed Forces. So, the aviation, instead of focusing the attention in a single fighter, dispersed the productive potential of that aeronautical industry, with all the military and logistic inconveniences that this would produce later.

Fiat G50


Fiat G50


The G50, nicknamed "Freccia", flew for the first time the 26th February 1937. It was a low-winged, entirely metallic monoplane, with closed cockpit and retractable landing gear. It was the first fighter of modern conception (metallic construction and retractable landing gear) serially built for the Regia Aeronautica, which acquired a total of about 570 exemplars of the regular versions. Its structure was hibrid, partially made as "shell" and partially made as frame. It is notable that this one was the first entirely metallic aircraft built by an industry that until then had been based in the field of wooden construction. The engine was a radial Fiat A 74 RC 38, of 14 cylinders in double fixed star, that could develop 840 horsepower. In action, the G50 showed itself as a discreet fighter, of no exceptional effectiveness. Its speed was only about 50 kilometers/hour superior to the one of the biplanes Fiat CR 42, and its maneuverability, very good for a monoplane, was inferior to the one of the aforementioned biplanes, true aerobatic machines. However, a great advantage of the G50 was its foolproof robustness.

It was used for the first time in the last stages of the Spanish Civil War (11 exemplars were sent in January 1939 with the Aviazione Legionaria to support the cause of the national side), in which it had no occasion to participate in combat. The surviving aircraft were later transferred to the Spanish Air Force. When Italy entered the Second World War, the Regia Aeronautica had 118 of these aircraft, some of which participated in operations in France (escorting the bombers that attacked Corsica), in the English Channel and in the North Sea (Italian Air Corps that operated against England between October 1940 and April 1941). The G50 also took part in all the actions in the Balkans and North Africa, being used mainly as fighter-bomber, before being relegated to second line missions. Finally it fought tenaciously in Sicily against the landing Anglo-American forces. After the Italian Armistice, of the 48 aircraft that remained, ten were used for training in the aviation of the Italian Social Republic and others of the still useful to serve with the Italian Co-belligerent Air Force. The G50 of Finland entered service in 1940, taking part in the war against the Soviet Union (1941-42), being later used for training, until being retired in 1947.

Fiat G50

Fiat (CMASA) G50bis Series IV, of the 20th Group (Gruppo), 56th Ground Strike Wing (Stormo Caccia Terrestre), in Maldeghem, Belgium, October 1940; this aircraft formed part of the Italian Air Corps sent to Belgium to take part in the aerial offensive against Great Britain, from October 1940 to April 1941; note the tactical distinctives in yellow, the emblem of the unit ("Gato Negro") in the tail and the distinctive of the Group Commander (Commandante di Gruppo) under the canopy.

Development record

The prototype was a monoplane fighter with closed cockpit, engine Fiat A74 RC 38 and two Breda-SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns. It became the series model G50; many of them were converted to a semi-closed canopy, including the 35 exemplars ordered by Finland; 246 units were built by CMASA. The model G50bis was an improved G50 with semi-closed cockpit, increased fuel capacity, improved radio equipment and modified wings (included nine exemplars ordered by Croatia); 421 units were built by Fiat and CMASA. The model G50bis/A was a two-seater fighter-bomber based in carriers, provided with arresting hook; it had larger wingspan and two additional Breda-SAFAT machine guns installed in gondolas under the wings; only one prototype was built by CMASA. The model G50B was an unarmed trainer with dual control; 108 units were built by CMASA. The model G50ter was a modification of the G50B, fitted with engine Fiat A76 RC 40 of 1000 horsepower; not completed. The model G50V was a G50 fitted with engine Daimler-Benz DB 601A of 1050 horsepower; only one prototype was built by CMASA. The models G51 and G52 were modifications of the G50, fitted with engines Fiat A75 RC 53 and Daimler-Benz DB 601N, respectively; developed only as projects. Total production for all the versions reached 777 exemplars.

Specifications for prototype G50

First flight: 26th February 1937

Type: Polyvalent fighter

Wingspan: 10.73 meters

Wing area: 18 square meters

Length: 7.80 meters

Height: 3.28 meters

Weight (empty): 1900 kilograms

Weight (full load): 2330 kilograms

Engine: Fiat A 74 RC 38 of 840 horsepower

Time to reach 6000 meters of altitude: 6 minutes 40 seconds

Service ceiling: 10800 meters

Maximum speed: 490 kilometers/hour

Operational range: N/A

Armament: Two Breda-SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns installed in the upper fore fuselage

Bombs load: N/A



Specifications for G50

First flight: 1938

Type: Fighter/fighter-bomber

Wingspan: 10.98 meters

Wing area: 18.25 square meters

Length: 7.80 meters

Height: 3.28 meters

Weight (empty): 1963 kilograms

Weight (full load): 2402 kilograms

Engine: Fiat A 74 RC 38 of 840 horsepower

Time to reach 6000 meters of altitude: 7 minutes 30 seconds

Service ceiling: 10700 meters

Maximum speed: 472 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 670 kilometers

Armament: Two Breda-SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns installed in the upper fore fuselage

Bombs load: Occasionally, two bombs installed under the wings (300 kilograms)



Specifications for G50bis

First flight: 1938

Type: Fighter/fighter-bomber

Wingspan: 10.98 meters

Wing area: 18.25 square meters

Length: 7.80 meters

Height: 2.96 meters

Weight (empty): 2015 kilograms

Weight (full load): 2522 kilograms

Engine: Fiat A 74 RC 38 of 840 horsepower

Time to reach 6000 meters of altitude: 7 minutes 45 seconds

Service ceiling: 10700 meters

Maximum speed at 4500 meters of altitude: 472 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 675-1000 kilometers

Armament: Two Breda-SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns installed in the upper fore fuselage

Bombs load: Occasionally, two bombs installed under the wings (300 kilograms)





Article updated: 2015-07-07

Categories: Aircraft - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]

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Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-05-03


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