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Weapons of World War Two

Macchi 202 Folgore

Macchi 202 Folgore

The binomial Macchi-Castoldi brought to life a "family" of fighter aircraft that constituted the pride and backbone of this speciality of the Regia Aeronautica. Engineer Mario Castoldi projected for Aeronautica Macchi the three excellent fighters Mc 200 "Saetta", Mc 200 "Folgore" and Mc 205 "Veltro", which were used, with the appreciation of those who had to pilot them, in all the fronts that between 1940 and 1945 saw the Italian soldier fighting. It would not be possible, hence, to talk about the Folgore, depicted in the illustration, without making reference to the Saetta and then to the Veltro, for the union between the three generations of this family is very close. Rather than three conceptually different aircraft, they were projects coming from a substantially identical base, to which successive modifications were added to obtain from the aircraft always good performances, keeping them at the level of the technical progress of the moment.

Born from a project outlined already in 1935, the prototype of the Macchi 200 flew for the first time in the last days of 1937. Monoplane of low wing and entirely metallic structure, it soon demonstrated magnificent gifts of maneuverability and constructive robustness. Some characteristics were truly notable. During the official trials it reached, during a dive, a speed of 800 kilometers/hour. But it was an aircraft that resented from the limitations imposed by the radial engine, adopted as formula for the near totality of the Italian aircraft of the moment. Over time this "handicap" was increasingly evident, specially in comparison with the most powerful enemy fighters. It was decided then to adopt a better propulsion plant, and the choice fell in the optimal Daimler Benz 601 A1, of twelve cylinders in inverted V and 1175 horsepower, instead of the 870 of the Fiat installed in the Saetta.

It was born so, in the summer of 1940, the Macchi 202, which entered production in September of the same year. The first deliveries to the units were effectuated in May 1941. After a while, instead of the DB 601 it would start to be installed its version produced in Italy by Alfa Romeo under German license, denominated RA 1000 RC41. The in-line engine brought as well a retouch in the structure of the fuselage, which acquired so a more fusiform profile, aerodynamically superior and more polished. All of these modifications allowed an increase in speed of 93 kilometers/hour. Regarding the armament, weak point of every Italian fighter, it remained initially identical to that of the Saetta, this is, two Breda SAFAT 12.7-millimeter machine guns firing through the propeller disc, until it was fitted with two wing weapons of caliber 7.7 millimeters.

The pilot was protected by 77 kilograms of armored plates, and in the last series of Macchi 202, also by an armored windshield. For the utilization of the aircraft as assault fighter it was provided a drop armament of 320 kilograms. The electronic dotation of the Folgore, constituted in the Saetta by a sole radio receiver, comprised a receiver-transmitter device and a radiogoniometer. For operations in desertic areas it was provided the utilization of sand filters.

The Macchi 202, which was the true workhorse of the series, never suffered important modifications. In April 1942, with a more powerful engine and increased armament, it would give origin to the Macchi 205, an excellent aircraft which, after the 8th September 1943, would be used by the aviation of the Italian Social Republic. It would fight very well against the Allied bombers, but it would be the last cry of the Italian aeronautical industry during the war.

Macchi 202 Folgore
Projectist: Engineer Mario Castoldi

First flight: 10 August 1940

Wingspan: 10.58 meters

Wing area: 16.80 square meters

Length: 8.85 meters

Height: 3.51 meters

Full load/Empty weight: 2889/2350 kilograms

Payload/Crew: 639 kilograms/1

Engine: Alfa Romeo RA 1000 RC41 of 1175 horsepower

Time to reach 6000 meters of altitude: 6 minutes 26 seconds

Maximum speed: 596 kilometers/hour

Service ceiling: 10200 meters

Defensive armament: Two 12.7-millimeter machine guns

Drop armament: Two 160-kilogram bombs

Operational range: 765 kilometers

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

Baionetta corvetteAichi D3A1 ValISU-152 tank destroyer