Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Torpedo Fighters

Reggiane RE 2001G
Experimental modifications included the employment of leading-edge radiators in place of the standard underwing type (this machine designated Re 2001bis); the fitting of deck arrestor hooks for trials to be held aboard the aircraft carriers Aquila and Sparviero, in the process of being converted from merch1tnt ships; a revised tandem two-seat cockpit; and the substitution of an 840 h.p. Isotta-Fraschini Delta IV twelve-cylinder inverted vee air-cooled engine for the DB 601A-1, which was becoming hard to obtain, most of the German engines being allotted to the Macchi C.202. With the Delta engine, the Re 2001 had a maximum speed of 320 m.p.h. at 14,760 ft., only 17 m.p.h. slower than with the DB 601A-1. Further experiments included the Re 2001G torpedo fighter and the Re 2001H anti-tank machine. In addition, an all-wood Re 2001 was under development at the time of the Armistice.

Reggiane RE 2002
Reverting to a radial engine, which was more suitable for the low-altitude attack role, Reggiane produced the Re 2002 Ariete (Ram) fighter-bomber in 1941 as a development of the Re 2000 Serie III. The engine was an 1175 h.p. Piaggio P.XIX R.C.45 Turbine B enclosed in an extremely efficient Messier-type cowling and driving a three-bladed airscrew with very large spinner. Except for these changes, and the fitting of two 7.7-mm. wing guns (as on the Re 2001), the Ariete was practically identical to the Serie III Falco I. A 440-lb. bomb could be carried beneath the fuselage; the fighter was also tested with a torpedo. The Re 2002bis was an experimental Ariete with the outward-retracting landing gear later employed by the Re 2005. The Re 2002S (Scorta) was an escort fighter with a drop-tank in place of the bomb.

Fiat G.55S
Unfortunately for the Regia Aeronautica, the fast, manoeuvrable, heavily armed Centauro was just beginning to equip operational units when Italy surrendered. At that time one example was in service with the 53° Stormo C.T. at Caselle Torinese, and twelve with the 353a Squadriglia C.T. at Ciampino; of the latter, however, only two machines were operational. As a result of the surrender, German forces controlling Northern Italy took over the remaining Regia Aeronautica aircraft and ordered several thousand further examples for the Aviazione della RSI. However, few DB 605A-1 engines were delivered by Germany or by FIAT, and only 105 Centauros were completed by the end of the war. These included two 1944 developments, the G.55/II with no less than five MG 151 cannon, and the G.55S (Silurante, or torpedo fighter, which, in order to carry the 2167-lb. Whitehead Fiume torpedo beneath the fuselage, had two underwing radiators in place of the normal central one, and a lengthened tailwheel leg. The G.55S had a reduced maximum speed of 374 m.p.h.

Fiat G.57
A projected experimental version of the G.55 with a radial engine, the G.57 was to have employed the 1250 h.p. FIAT A.83 R.C.24-52 eighteen-cylinder unit designed in 1943. However, no prototype was built due to the superiority of the German engines as well as to the critical stage of the war.

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