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C.200 Saetta

MC.200 Saetta

Fighter Macchi C.200 Saetta, "Lightning", maiden flight 24.12.1937. The aircraft was developed by the Aeronautica Macchi design bureau under the leadership of Mario Castoldi. It was in serial production from July 1939 to the end of 1942.

The best qualities of the MC.200, however, were not particularly high speed, but a good rate of climb, which is especially important for an air defense fighter. Exceptional maneuverability and structural strength were highly valued in maneuver battles for the following years with more modern and heavily armed aircraft. The maximum dive speed was also impressive. During official testing, a dive speed of 805 km / h was achieved without flutter or elastic deformation problems.

The MC.200 was powered by a two-in-line 14-cylinder Fiat A.74 RC 38 engine with a capacity of 870 hp. at 2520 rpm on takeoff and 740 hp above sea level.

Armament. Two 12.7 mm SAFAT machine guns for 310 or 370 rounds. Underwing holders capable of carrying 8 x 15 kg bombs or 2 x 50 kg, 100 kg or 150 kg bombs.

The cockpit canopy was particularly striking. The prototype and the first 240 aircraft assembled by "Macchi" (ie the first 5 batches) had a closed-type canopy with a full rear view and a good aerodynamic shape, similar to the streamlined drop-shaped canopy used by many fighters of the second half of the war. However, this lantern was not liked by fighter pilots of that time, who traditionally were supporters of open cockpits on fighters - biplane. After two experimental variations, tested on the same glider, two side panels were adopted, reclining on hinges. In the field, these panels were sometimes removed, and two small transparent shields were installed on the sides of the visor.

The aircraft entered service with the Italian Air Force in August 1939. By the beginning of World War II, most of the C.200 were concentrated in air defense units. The fighter's combat career began in September 1940 during the raids on Malta. From April 1941 to April 1943 they were used in North Africa. From August 1941 to January 1943 they were used on the Eastern Front.

As combat aircraft, they were used until the summer of 1944, then they were used as training aircraft.

The fighter was decommissioned in 1947. A total of 1,153 aircraft were produced.

MC.200 Saetta Specification
Crew 1
Wing span, m 10.58
Wing area, m² 16.82
Длина самолета, м 8.25
Высота самолета, м 3.05
1 PE Fiat A.74 RC38, power, h.p. 870
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 19640
Loaded weight 2393
Maximum speed, km/h 504
Rate of climb, m/min 952
Service range, km 570
Service ceiling, m 8,900
two 12.7 mm SAFAT 310 machine guns, kg bombs, 150

"Makki" on the Eastern Front. On August 12, 1941, the 22nd group of 51 MC.200 fighters arrived at the Eastern Front in Tudoru, (Odessa region). They were accompanied by 2 transport SM.81 and 3 transport Ca.133, followed by several bomber and reconnaissance units. This was the first Regia Aeronautica landing party to take part in the hostilities of the Italian Expeditionary Force in Russia (CSIR). The MC.200 operated with some effect during the September offensive of the Italians on the Dnieper River, but with the onset of winter conditions became more and more difficult, both in terms of weather and due to the fact that the unit did not have suitable equipment for action during very low temperatures. During November and most of December, flights were impossible, but in the three-day "Christmas battle" MC.200, having lost one aircraft, announced that 12 Soviet fighters had been shot down in three battles. When large-scale hostilities resumed in February and March, the MC.200 were active in escort and assault missions and successfully fought Soviet fighters.

During the spring of 1942, the 21st group replaced the 22nd and was merged with 12 select MC.202s.

On July 26, 1942, the Italians suffered the heaviest losses during their entire stay on the Eastern Front. 9 MS.200, accompanying the "pieces", were attacked by 20 Soviet LaGG-3s. The Italians lost three vehicles, shooting down only one LaGG. The next day, the LaGGs again attacked the Italians accompanying the Ju 87. This time, the Soviet pilots failed to catch the Italians by surprise, so having lost three LaGGs, they shot down only two Italian fighters.

In November 1942, before the start of the Soviet offensive on the Don, the 21st division had 32 MS.200 and 11 MS.202, Italian pilots more than once noted that their fighters, armed only with 12.7-mm machine guns, could not do anything to do with IL-2 armored attack aircraft.

In late December 1942 - early January 1943, Italian aviation took part in supporting the 6th Army of Paulus, surrounded at Stalingrad. In January, the 8th Italian Army was also surrounded, losing 110,000 people in the cauldron killed and captured. On January 21, 1943, the 21st division made its last sortie on the Eastern Front, personnel and materiel were removed from the Eastern Front by the end of the month.

Photo Description
Drawing MC.200 'Saetta' with Fiat A.74 R.C.38 engine

Drawing MC.200 'Saetta' with Fiat A.74 R.C.38 engine

Macchi C.200 'Saetta'

Macchi C.200 'Saetta', (3 views, side front and back 3/4)

Macchi C.200, photo-recorder Macchi C.200, photo-recorder, above the fuselage a Venturi tube for powering gyroscopic instruments
Macchi C.200, cockpit, left panel

Macchi C.200, cockpit, left panel.

Macchi C.200, cockpit, right panel

Macchi C.200, cockpit, right panel.

Macchi C.200, cockpit visor

Macchi C.200, cockpit visor.

Macchi C.200, cockpit dashboard

Macchi C.200, cockpit dashboard.

Macchi C.200, A.R.C.1. radio

Macchi C.200, A.R.C.1. radio

Macchi C.200, weapons bay

Macchi C.200, weapons bay.

Macchi C.200, machine gun mounts

Macchi C.200, machine gun mounts.

Macchi C.200. Propeller group. N.A.C.A ring Macchi C.200. Propeller group. N.A.C.A ring, oil cooler, oil filter access door, three-blade variable pitch propeller - Piaggio.
Macchi C.200. Main landing gear

Macchi C.200. Main landing gear.

Macchi C.200. Lantern with open hinged side panel

Macchi C.200. Lantern with open hinged side panel.

Macchi C.200. Tail unit

Macchi C.200. Tail unit.


  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /
  • Italian Reggiane fighters in World War II / S. Ivanov /
  • Italian fighter aircraft in World War II / Tornado 1997 /
  • Aeroplano C.200 (Motore Fiat A.74 R.C.38) /Ministero dell' Aeronautica, Milano/

December 23, 2017

It can be noted that Soviet fighters in WWII often preferred to fly with an open lantern, so that the opening side panel on hinges seems quite justified.

December 24, 2017

In all available sources, translated from foreign languages, the actions of the MC-200s are assessed as successful, with 88 downed Soviet aircraft indicated, with 15 lost in battles and only 19. Film Let me disagree with this assessment.

- Firstly, the Italian fighters could not be put on alert when the outside air temperature was -14 ° C and below, and even the Black Sea winter put the Italian fighters on hold (the Italians did not have engine heaters).

- Secondly, the Makki proved to be absolutely useless against the Soviet Il-2, the main aircraft of the Soviet Air Force, which supported the military ground operations and ensure their success.

- Thirdly, "88" is only the declared "shot down", what were the real shot down, we cannot say now, but we know that the numbers often differed significantly. The real figure for today is 19 Italian aircraft lost. Considering that only 30 aircraft out of 50 who actually arrived on flight days turned out to be combat-ready, it is now impossible to say how many aircraft were ready for departure at the time of evacuation. These data are not shown.
However, we know that the selected 202s, who were given for "reinforcement" for the fight against modern Soviet fighters, made only 17 combat missions, while not scoring a single victory. Of the 12 aircraft of 202 that arrived at the time of the evacuation, 5 aircraft turned out to be faulty and were abandoned. Hence, it can be assumed that the "Lightning" considered here not all returned home.
It is also obvious that the 8th Italian Army was thrown into the cauldron and lost 110 THOUSAND people captured and killed.
By the sum of all the above, such a result can hardly be considered "successful".