Lockheed F-104G Spillone: I can’t help it.

The Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos HF Zero 1970 concept car again in good company. Mea Culpa.

Photo: Rainer Schlegelmilch

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Fiat G.91 PAN: Smart through and through.

In a very clever measure the Italian AF decided in the 1960’s to recycle some of their pre-production “Ginas” after the production models began to take their places. Not a humble destiny for them; they were modified to serve in the glamorous “Frecce Tricolori” aerobatic team. After almost two decades of service (1964-1981), that proved to be a wise and productive decision.

This lavish photo needs no further comments.

Piaggio P.23M: “Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato”.

The middle 1930’s P.23M was the prototype of a commercial airliner/transport specifically designed to operate above the North Atlantic. A really cool feature of this outstanding push-pull tandem four-engined  (900hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI’s) monoplane was its fuselage; shaped like a boat hull to allow it to ditch at sea in case of emergency. As conceived the P.23M was really an ambitious project: 400 km/h maximum speed and a maximum range of 5,100 km while flying at 300 km/h.
All very promising, but first flown in 1935 the aircraft never ever saw the Atlantic Ocean. Besides, no real data is available about its performance or potential. It was soon forgotten.

Junkers Ju 87B-2 or R-2 “Picchiatello”: Tuffatori !!

Magnificently framed photo of a group of Regia Aeronautica early Ju 87 dive-bombers (bombardieri in picchiata). The Italians were dedicated users of the Stuka, specially, after their faulty native dive bomber interpretations were found wanting. North Africa, Greece, the Balkans and the Allied sea traffic were Picchiatelli’s main operating areas.

I’ve been reluctant to identify theses Stukas. The Regia Aeronautica operated both the B-2 and the R-2. The latter was just a long-range variant of the “Bertha”, recognisable by their 300l underwing drop tanks. Without those tanks, at this distance, they were almost identical.

CANT Z.506B Airone: Behold !!!

The middle/late 1930’s Z.506 is considered one of the best seaplane of its era, its 10 world records bear witness of that. Conceived originally as a transport/mail seaplane for the Ala Littoria company, the design soon saw potential as a military aircraft. The “B” was the main military variant and contrary to other simular cases this was happy adaptation. The Airone (Heron) proved to be a real asset during WW2 being fast, tough and very seaworthy despite its classically delicate Italian all-wood construction. The more than three hundred built served with distinction through all the war and belong. Some examples even continued to serve in Search and Rescue (SAR) until 1960.

Magnificent bird, this gorgeous photo speaks for itself.