Weapons of World War Two
Fiat G50 Freccia
Around 1935, the military aviations of the main European powers started studies to attempt to solve a problem that was common to all of them: the replacement of the fighter aircraft in service until then, already obsolete because of being all of them of biplane formula. Also the High Staff of the Italian Regia Aeronautica convened a contest between several companies for a monoplane and totally metallic fighter, but setting successively diverse conditions of armament and operational range. These specifications made the companies to present prototypes of not always uniform prestations.
The technicians, lacking precise conditions, not always had known to choose between the diverse formulas (interceptor, escort or combat fighter), and often they resorted to compromises that at least complied partially with the three possibilities. The companies were Aeronautica Umbra, Caproni Vizzola, IMAM, Fiat, Macchi and Reggiane. After a series of examinations and evaluations were chosen, practically "ex aequo", albeit due to diverse causes, the FIAT G50 of engineer Gabrielli and the Macchi 200 of engineer Castoldi. So, the aviation, instead of focusing the attention in a sole aircraft, dispersed the productive potential of that aeronautical industry, with all the military and logistic inconveniences that later would weigh.
The G50 "Freccia" flew for the first time the 26th February 1937. As aforementioned, it was a monoplane of low wing, entirely metallic, of closed cockpit and retractable landing gear. It was the first fighter of modern conception serially built for the Regia Aeronautica, and in total 570 exemplars were produced. Its structure was hybrid, this is, part made in shell and part made in framework. It should be remembered that this was the first entirely metallic aircraft produced by an industry that until then had been based in the field of wood. The engine was a radial Fiat A 74 RC 38 of 14 cylinders in double fixed star, which could develop 840 horsepower.
In its action, the G50 showed itself as a discreet fighter, albeit of not exceptional effectiveness. Its speed was superior in only 50 kilometers/hour to that of the biplanes Fiat CR 42, and its maneuverability, very good, being a monoplane, was inferior to that of the aforementioned biplanes, 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 formed part of the Italian Air Corps that operated against England, and it took 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 still useful were used for training in the aviation of the Italian Social Republic.
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)
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