Aviation of World War II

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Light Bomber and Recognaisance Aircraft



CR.25 - the aircraft was developed in 1936 by order of the Italian Air Force as a light high-speed bomber, strategic reconnaissance was envisaged as the second "profession".

The General Staff ordered FIAT 40 CR.25, and on July 22, 1937 the plane made its first flight. The tests were successful, and at the beginning of 1938, the military decided to use him as a scout.

A total of 12 aircraft were produced.

Crew 3
Wing span, m 16.00
Wing area, m² 40.00
Length, m 13.35
Hight, m 3.30
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 4,475
Loaded weight 6,625
2 × PE Fiat A.74 RC38, power h.p. 2 × 840
Maximum speed, km/h 450
Cruising speed, km/h 368
Service range, km 2,100
Service ceiling, m 7,950
Three 12.7 mm machine guns, bombs up to, kg 500

Combat use. There were, of course, battles with the enemy. So, on February 6, during an anti-submarine patrol, Lieutenant Rindone's crew collided with a lone Blenheim and attacked it. The British were able to safely get rid of the scout, but did not reach Malta, falling victim to Bf109 from II./JG 53.On April 29, Lieutenant Bertuzzi's crew witnessed a dramatic event when a German Bf.110 mistakenly shot down a civilian Kant Z.506 I-DORA. flying from Tripoli to Marsala with 15 passengers on board. The Fiat crew had no choice but to drop rescue equipment into the crash area, although there was no one to help.

On June 21, a CR.25 pair piloted by Rindone and Dori took part in covering an Italo-German convoy. The Italian pilots were able to shoot down two Beaufort ships, although the crew of the destroyer Da Recco, which shot down three British aircraft at once, became the hero of the day.

Then there was participation in Operation Pedestal, which became the peak of the aircraft's career. It was during this period that the number of aircraft was reduced to four (however, there were never more than two or three aircraft in service at the same time). The command tried to improve the situation by transferring several Ca.314s. However, the planes did not take root because of their very bad reputation - for example, just on November 20, two such aircraft did not return from departure at once (eight crew members disappeared immediately). As it turned out later, the planes were attacked by the Beaufighter flight of the 227th RAF. The last flight in the CR.25 war was made on January 15, 1943.

After that, the remaining three cars under the command of Lieutenant Rindone flew to Palermo. Another car was being repaired. Thus, after 18 months of the war, only four CR.25s remained, assembled at the factory airfield in Cameri. After Italy's surrender, these aircraft were captured by the Germans and used in various training units until September 1944.

Photo Description

Drawing FIAT CR.25

FIAT | CR.25 | CR.32 | CR.42 | G.50 | G.55 | G.55S | G.56 | Br.20 | RS.14 | G.12 | G.18 |


  • Multi-role fighter and reconnaissance bomber
  • First flight: 1941

Company Costruzioni Aeronautiche Novaresi S.A. (CANSA), which had its own enterprise and Cameri airfield (Novara, Piedmont, Northern Italy), was a subsidiary of the FIAT concern in 1939, which improved the financial position of the company and opened up access to new technologies.

In response to a competition announced in 1937 to create a twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft, in 1938 Giacomo Mosso began designing an aircraft called the FC.20. It was the first and only CANSA aircraft designed from the outset as a combat aircraft. For a small company like CANSA, this was an extremely ambitious task.

The basic design was to be a high-speed monoplane capable of performing the tasks of a daytime tactical bomber and, depending on the mission statement, a fighter-interceptor, a long-range escort fighter and an attack aircraft to attack armored ground and sea targets. To speed up the design, the new car borrowed the wing, chassis and engines from the FIAT CR.25, while the fuselage with a large glazed nose and twin-tail tail was redesigned by Mosso. The highlight of the project was the forward part of the fuselage, mounted at the final assembly stage: depending on the task, one or another option was installed.

The aircraft did not meet the aspirations of the command of the Italian Royal Air Force, which relied on the multi-purpose Ca.310/313 and the more promising Ca.331. This attitude of mistrust, combined with the organizational difficulties of a medium-sized company, led to the aircraft's first flight taking place on April 12, 1941, by the company's test pilot Fausto Moroni. During testing, the aircraft reached a speed of 467 km/h. Its practical range was 1300 km. These data did not satisfy the Regia Aeronautica, especially since the first Ca.313 had already entered service.

It seemed that the fate of the new car was decided, but chance decided the matter. The new Chief of Staff of the Regia Aeronautica, Rino Corso Fougier, assessed the importance of heavy fighters suitable for fighting armored vehicles, based on the experience gained by the Luftwaffe on the Russian front using both converted aircraft (Ju.87, Ju.88) and and specially designed for such use (Hs-129). CANSA, having received such support, redesigned the FC.20 prototype (MM.403), installing a 37 mm cannon on it.

A second prototype was soon built and tested, registered as MM.404. The FC.20bis was considered as a fighter and light bomber, with the long glazed nose section of the fuselage being replaced by a short rounded fuselage housing a 37 mm Breda cannon, an anti-aircraft gun of the Italian Royal Navy and using manual loading. Armament is complemented by 12.7 mm machine guns mounted in the root parts of each console and in the Scotty gunner turret (later replaced by the standard turret of the Italian Caproni-Lanciani Delta bombers). Two pylons were placed under the wing to accommodate 100 kg bombs, and an internal compartment was also developed to accommodate 126 2 kg bombs. The rear fuselage, landing gear, fuel tanks, and hydraulic system were also changed. Thus, the FC.20bis became a completely different aircraft in design, purpose and load distribution. The aircraft was transferred to the Regia Aeronautica experimental center at Guidonia airfield, where it underwent intensive testing.

In addition to FC.20bis, it is necessary to mention two more modifications of the CANSA aircraft.

The first is called FC.20ter and was distinguished by a return to the glass cockpit of the prototype and changes in design. The aircraft was equipped with more powerful Fiat A.80 RC.41 engines with 1000 hp each. (the hoods and propellers were also replaced), brake grilles and a 37-mm cannon protruding far forward.

More radical changes were made during the construction of the aircraft with the number MM.75571 (FC.20quater) - its armament was changed: instead of the removed wing 12.7 mm machine guns, 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 cannons were installed in the nose . There were also engine replacements: the outdated Fiat A.74 was replaced by V-shaped liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB.601 engines. The empty weight of the machine was expected to be around 5220 kg, the maximum speed was 500 km/h, the time to climb 6000 meters was 13 ' 36 ". This machine was assembled before the armistice and was located at the company's plant. There the idea of ​​installing a 54-mm cannon on the aircraft arose , but given the experience of using the lighter 37-mm gun, this option was abandoned.

CANSA FC.20bis
Crew 2
Wing span, m 16.00
Wing area, m² 40.00
Длина самолета, м 12.18
Высота самолета, м 4.03
Массы, кг
Empty weight 4,770
Gross weight 6,880
2 × PE Fiat A.74 RC38, power hp. 2 × 840
Maximum speed, km/h 420
Крейсерская скорость, км/ч 385
Service range, km 1,150
Service ceiling, m 7,350

Armament. One 37 mm Breda cannon (42 rounds of ammunition) and two front 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns with 250 rounds of ammunition, one rear 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun on a Scotti turret with 500 rounds of ammunition; bomb load - 252 kg of light bombs.

Technical description FC.20bis. The CANSA FC.20 attack aircraft is a twin-engine, two-seat all-metal monoplane (low wing).

The fuselage is welded from manganese steel pipes and covered with duralumin skin up to the trailing edge of the wing, the tail section is covered with canvas (with the exception of the tail cone, also covered with duralumin).

Double-spar metal wing: duralumin spars and ribs, duralumin skin. The ailerons had a duralumin frame and were covered with canvas, the flaps were completely metal. The landing gear is retractable - the rack rotates back and is completely retracted into the engine nacelle.

The tail wheel is rotating and non-retractable. The tail is double-finned, all-metal, with the exception of fabric-covered deflection surfaces.

The cockpit is glazed with a canopy that tilts to the side.

Standard instrumentation for determining flight parameters and engine control.

Fuel tanks are protected: 4 in the wing center section, one in the fuselage.

Fiat A.74 R.C.38 engines with metal three-blade propellers with pitch variable in flight.

The armament consisted of a 37 mm cannon mounted in the nose (ammunition - 42 rounds) and two 12.7 mm machine guns with 250 rounds of ammunition per barrel, located in the wing root. The shooter's armament is one 12.7 mm machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition in a Caproni-Lanciani Delta turret.

The fuselage houses a bomb bay for 250 kg of bombs, and there are two pylons on the wings.

Photo Description
Drawing FC.20 bis Drawing FC.20 bis
Modifications FC.20 Modifications FC.20

Combat use. The aircraft's operational career developed in a strange way and entirely under random circumstances. By the end of 1942, Allied bomber raids on numerous targets located on the Italian Peninsula became a harsh reality. But in order to prevent raids, Regia Aeronautica needed interceptors, but unfortunately the interceptor groups had outdated fighters: new machines were needed in North Africa and Sicily. The Italian Royal Air Force could only rely on the Macchi MC.200 and Re.2001, which were not up to par as interceptors.

In this situation, there is also the 22nd group, stationed at Capua airport and called upon to act against the B.24, which carried out raids on targets in central and southern Italy. So, by coincidence, its commander, Major Corrado Ricci, linked the group’s fate with CANSA F.C.20. While at Guidonia airfield one day, he spots a plane and is left amazed by the power of its weapon, which protrudes from the nose of the fuselage. For those who are forced to use 12.7 mm machine guns, this caliber seemed very promising, just as the characteristics of the aircraft, unfortunately not very accurately described by the company’s engineer, were very promising: good controllability, good climb speed, ceiling of about 8,000 meters and speed at this altitude at 350 km/h. In general, all the ingredients for his unit to successfully meet the B-24.

Ricci asked a CANSA engineer about the possibility of using the unused second prototype FC.20 (MM.404) for interception tasks. In early March 1943, he received the desired permission and left for Guidonia to pick up the aircraft for use as an interceptor. A short course of retraining, flight testing and shooting at the Furbara training ground, unfortunately, reveals the true characteristics of the machine: problems with controllability and stability, low speed, instability, a tendency to stall in a tailspin, low engine power, unstable behavior of the aircraft when firing weapons. Now those who wanted this plane at any cost could no longer refuse this car. Major Ricci, returning to Capua, tried to use the plane, trying to squeeze at least something out of it. The first alarm flights yielded zero results, since the plane spent almost half an hour to climb to an altitude of 7500 meters. On the next flight, when the FC.20 happened to be slightly below the B-24 Liberator formation, the pilot had to make a bitter observation: the B-24's cruising speed was higher than the pursuer's speed.

At the end of March 1943, FC.20 was transferred to Furbara airfield on the occasion of a visit by Mussolini and a large group of senior Italian and German officers. During the demonstration of the F.C.20 among the new aircraft for the Regia Aeronautica, a general effect worked - during demonstration shooting on the ground, the gun constantly jammed, the bursts were short. It was painful and embarrassing for Mussolini and the Italian officers to watch for several minutes the major pressing the firing button and loading, fussing around the unruly small-caliber cannon.

Returning to Capua, Ricci tried several times to approach the enemy bombers, but was never able to get within range to attack. Considering the situation that it was possible to carry out only one attack, I had to remember the Spanish experience of CR.32 pilots who fought against faster SB bombers: study the routes in detail and wait for the enemy at a higher altitude.

That's what Ricci did when, on April 10, 1943, he attacked 12 B-24s heading south after being bombed at an altitude of 7,500 meters. He followed a course parallel to them with an altitude increase of 200 meters. Having targeted the last aircraft, the pilot turned to attack, but his maneuvers were too abrupt, causing the FC.20 to immediately autorotate. Having regained control after one lap, Ricci found himself at the rear of the enemy formation, coming under concentrated fire from the airborne gunners. For a moment, he managed to catch two bombers in his collimator and fire several shells at them, which, unfortunately for the major, missed. After completing the flight, Major Ricci explained his failure in shooting: the low speed at an altitude of 7500 meters, combined with instability when shooting, made hitting the bombers impossible. This flight was the bloodiest episode in the FC.20's career as an interceptor.


  • Multi-role fighter and reconnaissance bomber CANSA FC.20/Alternate History. Ivan Byakin/
  • Strategic reconnaissance Fiat CR.25 /Mikhail Zhirokhov/
  • FIAT CR.25 /Aerei Italiani - Scheda Tecnica./
  • CANSA FC.20 /Aerei Italiani - Scheda Tecnica./