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.

Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero: Jorobando.

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The Gobbi were operated by both the Italians and the Nationalists (rebels) during the Spanish Guerra Civil -99 in total. In Spain the S.79 was one of the most advanced, and fastest, aircraft to see service, only the Soviet I-16 could reach it.

A pair of S.79’s on a lovely dynamic, and quite unlikely, action. The Spanish flag and St Andrew cross in the tail is really fanciful and inaccurate. I must confess I’ve a love/hate relation with them. The Italians of the 8º Stormo “Falchi delle Baleari” (Hawks of the Balearic islands), among other things, bombarded my city during that horrible conflict.

 

Gobbo= hunch-backed= jorobado / Jorobando in Spanish means “bothering”.