Aviation of World War II

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Caproni Ca.309
  • Transport aircraft
  • First flight: 1936
  • Caproni

The development of the Sa.309 aircraft began at the Bergamo plant under the leadership of chief engineer Cesare Pallavicino. The 309th, a reconnaissance bomber and light transport aircraft, was well prepared for deployment in the sands. The wing mechanization consisted of flaps and flaps. There are ailerons on the consoles. The steering wheels had servo compensators. The wooden set of planes was covered with plywood, partly with canvas. The covering of the fuselage frame, welded from steel pipes, was plywood and duralumin at the front, and linen further towards the tail. The use of simple materials facilitated the design and speeded up repairs of the airframe in the field. The non-retractable landing gear was covered, with the exception of the rear wheel, by teardrop-shaped fairings.

The power plant of the Sa.309 is two Alfa Romeo A-115 series I or II (185-200 hp). The tanks held 740 liters of gasoline.

The fuselage of the new Caproni turned out to be somewhat narrower and longer than that of the Sa.308. The latter is due to the forward cockpit of the gunner-bombardier, which had side windows and glazing at the bottom. The Sa.309 was armed with three machine guns. Two 7.7 mm Breda-SAFATs were installed in the root parts of the wing, the third - Lewis - on a turret in the front cockpit. There were 500 rounds of ammunition per barrel.

The aircraft was equipped with photographic equipment, bomb racks or a cassette for 336 kg of small bombs, and on occasion could carry six passengers on board. The minimum crew is a pilot and a radio operator-observer.

The Sa.309 prototype was flown at the end of August 1936. It was given the name “Ghibli” (desert wind). Serial production at the Ponte San Pietro plant began in October. 243 cars of nine series were produced. Most of the "three hundred and ninth" went to units stationed in Libya. The ambulance "Ghibli", a model with a large number of windows, has been flying since 1940. The light "Caproni" also served in Italy itself.

In March 1939, pilots Krone and Fioravanti won the IV air rally across the Sahara in the Sa.309, which confirmed the good reputation of the car.

Three main variants were produced: a colonial reconnaissance bomber with Alfa Romeo 115-I (later Alfa Romeo 115-II) engines, a glass nose, faired wheels, weapons, a crew of 2 people, a series VI - a close support aircraft with reinforced weapons; light Transport aircraft for 6 seats (crew - 2 people) with an unglazed nose, without weapons; Bulgarian KB-309 with As 10C engines, without landing gear fairings; light Transport aircraft without weapons, crew 3 people. and 6 passengers.

Экипаж 2-3
Wing span, m 16.20
Wing area, m² 38.70
Length, m 13.30
Height, m 3.25
Weightd, kg
Empty weight 1745
Loaded weight 2,695
2 × PE Alfa Romeo 115-II, power hp. 2 × 200
Maximum speed, km/h 250
Cruise speed, km/h 210
Service range, km 670
Service seiling, m 45,000
Payload, pass. 6

Armament. Three 7.69 mm machine guns (on series VI - one 20 mm cannon and two 7.69 mm machine guns); bombs up to 336 kg - only in the colonial reconnaissance bomber version.

Combat use. By June 10, 1940, when Italy entered World War II, the Nazi Air Force had 93 twin-engine Capronis of various modifications. At that time, the identifying mark of Italian military aircraft was “fascia” (“fasces”) - three bundles of rods and axes, instruments of punishment that symbolized power in Ancient Rome.

Sa.309 "Ghibli", as befits a "colonial", were based in Libya at the airfields of El Adem, Kufra, Khon and Tripoli-Mellaha. There were 31 Capronis in service with seven squadrons of the 50th mixed air regiment ("stormo" in Italian). In addition to the "three hundred and ninth", the regiment had 24 Sa.310 "Libeccio", which replaced the outdated single-engine Breda Ba.65 reconnaissance aircraft in the 12th group (division) at the Sorman airbase.

Combat missions of the first month of the war - patrolling and reconnaissance, routes - Tunisia, the Mediterranean coast. Soon the Caproni took part in battles, attacking English strongholds and columns in the sands of the Sahara. The Three Hundred and Ninths were not suitable for attack aircraft. Therefore, the Sa.309 VI series was tested with a 20-mm Breda cannon installed in the nose, which significantly overweighted the aircraft.

How transport vehicles were operated until January 1943 in North Africa, and later in Italy itself. Bulgarian "papagals" served only as headquarters and communications vehicles.

Production in Bulgaria ceased in 1941, in Italy in 1942. By the time the country surrendered in September 1943, the Italian Air Force had lost almost all aircraft of this type.

Photo Description
Ca.309 Drawing Ca.309


  • Italian Civil and Military Aircraft /Jonathan W. Thompson/
  • Caproni Ca.309 /Aerei Italiani - Scheda Tecnica./
  • Aeroplani Caproni : Gianni Caproni and His Aircraft , 1910-1983 /R. Abate, G. Alegri, G. Apostolo. /