Aviation of World War II

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  • Fighter
  • First flight: 1942
  • Piaggio

The basis was taken from the Drawing Bell P-39, the highlight of which was its powerful weapons, landing gear with a nose wheel and engine location behind the cockpit. Having abandoned the newfangled, but very unreliable three-post landing gear, the Italian design team left the engine placement unchanged, designing a new fuselage with maximum aerodynamic purity. All weapons could now be installed in the bow. It was planned that the P.119 would be equipped with a 20 mm Mauser motor cannon and four 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns. Thus, in terms of the mass of a second salvo, the R.119 surpassed not only the American R-39, but also some heavy twin-engine fighters.

The production of the aircraft encountered a number of design and production difficulties. The biggest problem, as expected, was installing the motor. To provide the aircraft with the highest speed, the radial Piaggio P.XXII was chosen, which had high power (1700 hp), but required good cooling. Already at the initial design stage, the engine had to be replaced with a Piaggio P.XV RC.62/2V. The two-row 18-cylinder engine with a three-bladed variable-pitch propeller promised a power of 1,650 hp. To prevent it from overheating, a large air intake was made in the forward part of the fuselage from which air entered the cooling system through a long tunnel and then exited through special louvers behind the engine. It was this technological solution that led to a significant delay in the construction of the prototype. The production of the prototype was completed only at the end of 1942.

Since November 1942, at the Villanova d'Albenga airfield, jogging was slowed down, and on December 19, pilot Nicolo Lana took the P.119 into the air for the first time. By the time of the truce, they managed to carry out an extensive test program, during which the Fighter, contrary to expectations, was unable to show the calculated data. During the flight, the engine overheated greatly, and the aerodynamic torque of the hot air flow coming out of the blinds negatively affected controllability. The plane tried to scrape (turn over its back), which was completely unacceptable. Among the positive characteristics, they noted the high speed, reaching up to 640 km/h. However, the R.119 could not maintain such a pace for long, and besides, the prototype was armed with only two machine guns, which saved a significant part of the take-off weight.

Tests continued until August 2, 1943, until the brakes of the R.119 failed upon landing. The Fighter crashed, denting the nose of the fuselage and the propeller. The repairs that began were never completed. In September, Italy capitulated and most of the promising developments had to be postponed or completely closed. No one showed much interest in the experimental R.119 fighter, so the restoration of the aircraft was interrupted and it was dismantled for metal.

Piaggio P.119
Crew 1
Wing span, m 13.00
Wing area. m² 27.80
Length, m 9.70
Height, m 2.90
Weights, kgг
Empty weight 2438
Loaded weight 4,091
1 × PE Piaggio P.XV RC60/2/V, power hp. 1 × 1650
Maximum speed, km/h 640
Cruise speed, km/h 578
Service range, km 1,515
Service ceiling, m 9,800
1 × 20 mm Breda CL20 cannon and
4 × 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns

Technical description. The R.119 fighter was a single-seat all-metal monoplane with a fuselage with working skin.

The wing is two-spar with duralumin covering. Deflectable wing surfaces:

The tail unit is metal with deflectable surfaces covered with fabric.

The cockpit was glazed, made of plexiglass, with a fairing-headrest, which only partially allowed rear visibility. The back of the pilot's seat is armored.

The main landing gear retracts into the wing niches, the tail support is rotatable and non-retractable.

Fuel tanks are located in the wing consoles and fuselage behind the engine.

The fighter was equipped with standard instrumentation for determining flight parameters and engine control.

The aircraft was equipped with a two-row 18-cylinder Piaggio P.XV RC60/2V engine with a three-bladed metal propeller with variable pitch in flight.

The armament of the prototype consisted of two synchronized 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns.

Photo Description
Drawing Piaggio P.119 Drawing Piaggio P.119


  • Airacobra in Italian - Fighter Piaggio P. 119 /Alternate History. Ivan Byakin/
  • Fighter Piaggio P. 119 /Andrey Krumkach/
  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /