Marinavia Farina QR 14 Levriero: Heinkelino.

The Levriero (Greyhound) was started in late 1938 by Luigi Queirolo and Ing. Recanatini as a wooden twin-engined four-seats small tourism aircraft which soon evolved into a potential military fast liaison and unarmed reconnaissance aircraft for use in the Italian African colonies. The construction of the prototype began in 1940 at the Costruzioni Aeronautiche Taliedo (CAT), a firm specialised in glider construction. Due mainly to business direction changes and the eventual acquisition of the CAT firm by Caproni, the erection of the prototype proceeded both painfully slow and intermittently; the Italian Armistice arrived with no first flight in sight.
In fact, the Levriero had to wait until Oct. 1947 for its air baptism. The flight tests proved its good, even outstanding qualities. A serie of twenty-five was envisaged and the aircraft appeared at some airshows to created interest. It even won a prize at Milan the year of its first flight. Unfortunately, all that hopes came to nothing because it could not compite with the cheap war-surplus aircraft. The aircraft ended its days rotting at the Linate airport.

Powered by a pair of sleek Alfa Romeo 111-1 C.22, this svelte “velivolo’s” fin and wing surfaces reminds me those of the early Heinkel He 111s.


Caproni Ca.134: The right amount of weirdness.

The Ca 134 two-seat biplane conceived by CapronI in 1936 to cover a Regia Aeronautica “strategic reconnaissance” requirement. Quite orthodox in design, the Ca.134 had nevertheless a strange biplane tail with endplate fins and rudders: a feature chosen to give the gunner a fairly unobstructed rear field of fire. Of classic Italian mixed-construction, this biplane was powered by a potent but heavy 900hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI R.CAO.
Displaying a fast pace of design and construction, the first prototype maiden flight took place in Jan. 1937. Soon followed by a second example, the Ca.134 didn’t convince the Italian authorities though. No production was undertaken.

It certainly had allure. Just like its quite related, and also unlucky, little boy.

Breda Ba.27M: Sun Clashes (II).

The original Ba.27 was a mixed-construction (metal fuselage-wooden wings) fighter monoplane design tested unsuccessfully by the Regia Aeronautica (RA) in 1933. Despite the poor showing of the two prototype produced Breda persevered with the basic configuration, but for their next try they undertook whole redesign of the aircraft, mainly structurally. The resulting Be.27M (M from Metallico) had a smother non-corrugated fuselage, better cockpit design and new metal wings instead of the previous wooden ones. The RA tested the “Metallico” in 1934, but proved to be not good enough for them. Breda, undeterred, tried the international market, but only China saw interest. Less than a dozen were received and they fought in the continuous war against the Japanese.

This “Metallico” looks a bit uninterested in the fate of that pair of Mitsubishi Ki-30s. Pretty neat artwork on the box cover of AZ Model 1/72 scale model. The similarities with its American lookalike are bloody evident.

Reggiane Re.2002 Ariete: Resting Places (XVII).

Happy enough with their Re.2001 Falci, the Regia Aeronautica found nevertheless that the difficulty to obtaining the hard-to-get Daimler-Benz DB601 (Monsoni) engines curtailed its deliveries. To solve the dilemma they decided to retrace their paces. With the Re.2002 the Reggiane people took back the basic Re.2000 fuselage, matted it with a wing with fuel tanks modifications introduced in the Re.2001 and reverted to an indigenous radial engine, the 1,175hp  Piaggio P.XIX RC 45.
First flown in early 1942, the Ariete (Ram) proved to be worthy enough, but its engine left a lot to be desired in reliability. Improved somehow during its service these fighters were employed by the Italian mainly as assault aircraft due mainly to it questionable engine. More than two hundred were produced.

The only other operator of the Re.2002 was the German Luftwaffe. The Germans placed a huge order and they even found this sturdy fighter worth further development; the BMW 801 was envisaged as the power plant. The Italian Armistice put an end to all those dreams. Anyway, the Germans got their hands in around sixty Arieti. The Luftwaffe employed them in their anti-partisan war against the French resistance. One of the only two surviving Arieti is this lovely example, sadly incomplete, superbly preserved at the Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation of Limoges.

Photo: Vicent Schrive.

Aermacchi AM.3CM Bosbok: Taking my mind off.

The original AM.3 was a single-engine two-seat light STOL utility aircraft created by the Italian manufacturer Aermacchi together with Aerfer employing the know-how acquired with the Lockheed- Aermacchi AL.60. It was produced in response to an Italian Army requirement for a Cessna L-19 replacement. First flown in the Spring of 1967, the prototype showed promised but soon became orphan when  Italian Army decided to order the SIAI-Marchetti SM.1019 instead. Its development was continued privately anyway. That stubbornness paid in the end when the AM.3 attracted the interest of the South African AF. Forty of the customised AM.3CM Bosbok model served operational with them from 1973 until 1992.

Nothing out of the ordinary in this no-nonsense workhorse, yet it always strikes a chord in me. By chance it was one of the first aircraft I read about when I was a kid.