Jump to content
tanknet.org

Fiat CR.42 Falco biplane fighter


Recommended Posts

From Wikipedia:

Even though slower, with an open cockpit, many units lacking radio, and armed with only a pair of machine guns (a pair of 12.7 mm/.5 in or a combination of former and a 7.7 mm/.303 in Breda-SAFAT), the Falchi could easily outturn the Hurricanes and the Spitfires opposing it and usually proved difficult to hit. "The CR 42 turned to fight using all the aeroplane's manoeuvrability. The pilot could get on my tail in a single turn, so tightly was he able to pull round." As the RAF intelligence report stated, the Falchi were hard targets. "As I fired he half rolled very tightly and I was completely unable to hold him, so rapid were his manoeuvres. I attacked two or three more and fired short bursts, in each case the enemy aircraft half-rolled very tightly and easily and completely out-turned me. In two cases as they came out of their rolls, they were able to turn in almost on my tail and opened fire on me."

The biplane was clearly outclassed by the newer monoplane fighters, but I was unaware that they proved to be so agile in air combat. Apparently they were also structurally very strong. Were the Italian pilots considered to be skilled in dogfighting or was it the airplane that gave them the edge?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not surprising that a biplane could outturn a Hurricane which wasn't  good - only good against a lousy Bf 109 - or a Spit.

The Italians pilots were very skilled in flying in good weather and in dogfight but not in all types of air combat. To explain: their air combat culture was all in pure dogfight like the Japanese, some units refused Macchi C.200 which was much faster than Cr.42 and still superior in maneuverability to Spitfire.

.Edit: i remembered an account of a Commonwealth pilot praising the flying skills of a Macchi C.202 pilot he fought against and downed at same time saying what he was doing was not combat but aerobatics. He said what he done was beautiful.

 

 

Edited by lucklucky
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Rick said:

IIRC, the German and Italians took their future fighter doctrines from the Spanish Civil War?

It could be said that on the basis of the SCW experience, the Italians thought the biplane fighter to still being a valid option.

Germans did test new doctrines during the SCW, but I guess those were developed not only the duration of the conflict.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The biplane was clearly outclassed by the newer monoplane fighters, but I was unaware that they proved to be so agile in air combat. Apparently they were also structurally very strong. Were the Italian pilots considered to be skilled in dogfighting or was it the airplane that gave them the edge?

Italian pilots were considered to be skilled in aerobatics. Some of them extremely experienced. There was a case of British fighters attacking one in the Battle of Britain but being unable to shoot it down because pilots could outmanoeuvre the attackers.

Having said that, biplanes were hopelessly inferior in speed, protection, climb rate and armament. IIRC in Italy they stayed longer in service because pilots wanted aircraft with higher manoeuvrability, but at the end they transition to single wing types. It is also worth pointing out that in Spanish Civil War biplanes also struggled to catch fast bombers (SB-2, Do-17...). 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

What CR 42 had going for it compared to other biplane fighters was 12.7mm machineguns. After combat aircraft got the most basic protection measures (seat armours, rubberized fuel tanks), rifle calibre armament became all but useless. Gladiator's machineguns were also pretty unreliable at least in wintertime. Chaika's armament was made more ineffective by poor longitudinal stability and stiff mechanical trigger.

Swedes operated both Gladiators and Fiats and seemed to think latter was better.

Edited by Yama
Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't Gloster Gladiators give the Germans fits, also?

On a more modern note, I once read that A-10s could turn inside an attacking fast-mover's gunsight pipper and make a head-on run at its attacker--depending on range, of course.

Edited by shep854
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, lucklucky said:

I don't think Germans fought Gladiators much.

There is a point that when overall performance inferiority is so big that turns to a problem to the superior aircraft, like they are in parallel universes. If the superior aircraft goes to the other "universe" it takes a big risk.

Not always, FW-190s had a field day during the Channel Dash of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau against Swordfishes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, lucklucky said:

I don't think Germans fought Gladiators much.

There is a point that when overall performance inferiority is so big that turns to a problem to the superior aircraft, like they are in parallel universes. If the superior aircraft goes to the other "universe" it takes a big risk.

Over Norway they did, but with Bf-110:

"In Norway, the Bf 110s helped secure the Oslo-Fornebu airport, escorting Junkers Ju 52 transports loaded with paratroops (Fallschirmjäger). The Germans were engaged by several Gloster Gladiators and machine guns manned by troops on the ground; in the ensuing battle, both sides lost two aircraft.[13] The Messerschmitt pilots did not know that many earlier waves of transports had turned back and that the airport was unsecured. Landing their cargoes, many transports were destroyed. The remaining Bf 110s strafed the airfield and helped the ground troops take it; the air support provided by the Zerstörer was instrumental, and it was to perform well as a fighter-bomber in the coming campaigns. During these battles, a future 110-kill Luftwaffe ace, Helmut Lent, scored his fifth and sixth victories against Norwegian opposition."

It all comes down to fighting in the envelope your fighters performs best. A classical example is mishandling this is the he ACEVAL “Towering Inferno” 4 F-15s vs 4 F-5Es in which all 8 participants were shot down after 1 minute and 52 seconds...

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Yama said:

What CR 42 had going for it compared to other biplane fighters was 12.7mm machineguns. After combat aircraft got the most basic protection measures (seat armours, rubberized fuel tanks), rifle calibre armament became all but useless. Gladiator's machineguns were also pretty unreliable at least in wintertime. Chaika's armament was made more ineffective by poor longitudinal stability and stiff mechanical trigger.

Swedes operated both Gladiators and Fiats and seemed to think latter was better.

I have found it surprisingly hard to find good sources in Swedish when it comes to comparing the J8 (Gladiator) to the J11 (CR 42). One source mentions, just as you do, that the pilots that flew combat missions in Finland was not impressed with the effect of the 8mm machine guns of the Gladiator. But that same source also states that in mock combat between J8 and J11 fighters the J8 would "usually" win. The Gladiator seems to be the better aircraft to get you into a good firing position but once there its weak armament will let you down.

Having said that it's clear that the pilots liked the Gladiator very much. It was a robust aircraft, very manoeuvrable and also easy to fly. The enclosed and heated cabin was a bonus in Nordic climate to. Unfortunately all Italian made aircrafts in Swedish service, the Caproni Ca.313, the CR 42 and the Reggiano Re.2000 suffered from poor build quality which tarnished their reputation in the Swedish Air Force.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Poor Pat Pattle.

Acknowledged as likely the highest scoring British and Commonwealth ace of WW2.

Considered the highest scoring Gladiator ace (of which many were CR.42's), and the highest scoring Hurricane ace.

Quiet and unassuming, flew himself into exhaustion against great odds and an early death, with no grave.

Truly, still The Forgotten Ace.

Edited by wilhelm
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, wendist said:

I have found it surprisingly hard to find good sources in Swedish when it comes to comparing the J8 (Gladiator) to the J11 (CR 42). One source mentions, just as you do, that the pilots that flew combat missions in Finland was not impressed with the effect of the 8mm machine guns of the Gladiator. But that same source also states that in mock combat between J8 and J11 fighters the J8 would "usually" win. The Gladiator seems to be the better aircraft to get you into a good firing position but once there its weak armament will let you down.

Having said that it's clear that the pilots liked the Gladiator very much. It was a robust aircraft, very manoeuvrable and also easy to fly. The enclosed and heated cabin was a bonus in Nordic climate to. Unfortunately all Italian made aircrafts in Swedish service, the Caproni Ca.313, the CR 42 and the Reggiano Re.2000 suffered from poor build quality which tarnished their reputation in the Swedish Air Force.  

Aight, thanks. One source I read said that Swedes ordered Falco because nothing else was available, then thought it was better than they expected and ordered more.

Gladiator was not very successful in Finnish Air Force. In Winter War it proved too slow to catch bombers. It was not seen equal to Polikarpov fighters, it turned tight but was slower and had poor acceleration. Worse, it was very vulnerable in combat, they had no seat armours and plane caught fire very easily. Type suffered heavy losses and was moved to recon duties in 1941.

Falco's successor Fiat G.50 was thought to be very effective when it got into combat (it suffered very few air-to-air losses) but it was hard to get there due to engine, and electric and pneumatic systems which had problems in Finnish climate. Unfortunately Italian engines used ricin oil, which responded poorly to subzero temperatures. Sometimes the entire squadron simply failed to sortie as the planes wouldn't start. Part of the blame apparently goes to Finnish maintenance culture, which was used to more 'carefree' British and American radials, Fiat required more careful attention. Curious shortcoming was the cockpit glazing - Fiat had enclosed cockpit, but side panels were made from so poor quality acrylic that they became almost opaque in few months and had to be removed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

99% of flight hours for Swedish Gladiators were flown under peace time conditions which probably made it easier to overlook the weaker points of the aircraft.😊 The whole story of aircraft purchases of the Swedish Air force during the 30's and 40's would be hilarious if it was not so serious a question. I would really want to know why we bought those extra CR.42's in late 1940. The first batch of 12 aircrafts we of course bought from you Finns, the Winter War was over, you needed money more than you needed aircrafts and we needed more aircrafts. Win win really. 

But twelve units won't get us very far so we contact the Italians directly for further purchases and that's where it gets a bit weird. In september/oktober 1940 the government sign a deal to buy 60 CR.42 from Fiat but then just a month later we buy 60 Re.2000 from Reggiano. The Re.2000 being a more modern and faster fighter, very similar to the Seversky P-35 that the Air Force already use as the P9. I have never been able o find out why we did not buy only Re.2000's.

Could be that the Swedish Air Force did not want to/ could not afford to or maybe the Italians were unwilling/unable to sell that many. 

Edited by wendist
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks RETAC21 ref. Luftwaffe vs Gladiator.

---

RE 2000 was not accepted by Regia Aeronautica(RA) because it had integral tank wings. Pretty much all Italian aircraft had semape fuel tank protection and this went against that rule.

The production priority went mostly to Hungary - they were already Fiat Cr.32 and Fiat Cr.42 costumers. Also got a license and produced many more. It was a very maneuverable plane - in mock combats against Cr.42 it would win most -and had a range that was double of other Italian fighters so they could have escorted bombers to much longer range if RA would have acquired it. In the end RA  got 10 models from a before war batch for testing, with another 20 build later in War. These were employed escorting convoys based on land and as CAM fighter in Littorio battlehips from late 1942 - when they already had not  much fuel to sortie. Contrary to very reliable Fiat engine the Piaggio of Reggiane was more delicate.

Regarding the performance of Gladiator vs Cr.42. Gladiator was considered  better  at low level and the Fiat at higher altitude. The machine gun configuration favored the Gladiator due to higher rate of fire if the range was close and the firing time short which was common. Fiat had no armor too so 7.7 had only the range as an handicap.

Link to post
Share on other sites

http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/falco_belgium.htm

Report on Cr.42 vs Bf 109, a small number of combats, Belgian pilots with short training but they got a certain 1:1 or even got more Bf 109 than losses.

Report on Belgium Gladiator vs Bf 109

https://www.belgian-wings.be/gloster-gladiator

Edited by lucklucky
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/14/2021 at 8:51 AM, shep854 said:

So Faith, Hope and Charity pretty much fought Italians over Malta?

The Hal Far Fighter Flight was a British fighter unit formed during the Siege of Malta in 1940. For several weeks, the island of Malta was protected by a small force of Gloster Sea Gladiator biplane fighters, based at RAF Hal Far, which was also known as the Fleet Air Arm station HMS Falcon. The flight is the source of the myth that only three aircraft, named Faith, Hope and Charity formed the fighter cover for the island. In fact, six aircraft were operational, though not always at the same time; others were used for spare parts. The names Faith, Hope and Charity were applied to the aircraft many months later, by a Maltese newspaper.

faith-hope-and-charity-colin-parker.jpg

Edited by MiloMorai
Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a fake history Italians bombed at will do to numbers advantage even when Hurricanes arrived in July/August  But in Mussolini "war to get a seat at peace conference" Malta was to be neutered so only 292t bombs were dropped in 1940, the biggest achievement was the sinking of 65000t floating dock .

The Regia Aeronautica war was quite strange, They dropped not much more than the quantity of bombs they dropped in Spanish Civil War with much less aircraft. And it fired only 6% of all machine guns rounds available at war start.

Edit:

Until end of Dec 1942:

12749.5 t of bombs

in SCW 11199.6t of bombs.

Edited by lucklucky
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...