Re.2001 Falco II
Re. 2001 "Falco II" 1942
In the summer of 1939, after the first flights of the Re.2000 Falco I fighter, the Italian Ministry of Aviation approached Reggiane with a proposal to improve the characteristics of the Re.2000 by modifying the airframe for a more powerful in-line RA engine. 1000RC-41 / I, which was a licensed A-shaped 12-cylinder Daimler-Benz DB.601A-1 water-cooled engine produced in Italy with an output of 875 kW (1175 hp).
The chief designer of the Reggiane firm, engineer Longhi, made modifications to the airframe in order to reduce weight and redesigned the fuselage. The first prototype Re.2001 with serial number MM409 left the shop on June 9, 1940 and was soon flown successfully.
His further fate was quite ordinary: after the fly-over, the prototype was handed over to the Air Force, which intensively tested it at the Guidonia airbase. Of the flight characteristics, I was pleased, first of all, by the maximum speed of 563 km / h at an altitude of 5500 meters and excellent maneuverability.
At the request of the Ministry of Aviation, the design bureau also worked on the second prototype, which differed from the first with a new three-spar wing and protected fuel tanks. Later, the company modified the first prototype MM409 to meet this standard. Also, the original glazing of the cockpit outside of the cockpit (known from Series I Re.2000) was replaced with new ones, such as on Series III aircraft. The second prototype looked the same; his originally retractable tailwheel was replaced by a non-retractable one.
On October 31, 1940, Reggiane received an order for the supply of two hundred Re.2001s, orders were also issued for licensed production of two hundred aircraft to Breda, one hundred machines to Caproni in Toledo and the same number of aircraft to the Caproni plant in Predappio. In February 1941, the construction of ten pre-production vehicles began (numbers MM8071 - MM8080). Successful tests were interrupted by the disaster of the second prototype on March 14, 1941, which claimed the life of pilot Pietro Scapinelli.
Regardless of the production of pre-production vehicles, the Re.2001 bis prototype was assembled, equipped with a completely new wing without a protruding block of radiators, now completely inscribed in the wing contour. Air was supplied to them through the air intakes in the leading edge of the wing. This prototype had the serial number MM538. In its manufacture, the fuselage and empennage of the first prototype MM409 were used. Tests of the Re.2001bis took place from the summer of 1941 to the summer of 1942 with the participation of German specialists. A maximum speed of 600 km / h was reached at an altitude of 6000 m. However, the decision to introduce it into production was not made, and the original wing was installed on the aircraft. The experience of installing radiators in the wing was later used in the design of the Re.2006 fighter.
In May 1941, the first pre-production aircraft was ready. The first production vehicle left the assembly line in September of the same year. In July 1941, the option of ordering one hundred Re.2001 fuselages for Sweden was being worked out. The DB-601 engines in this case were supposed to be supplied directly from Germany, but the project did not come to fruition. A long delay in the delivery of DB-601 engines or licensed RA-1000RC-41 / I led to the elimination of orders from the Breda and Caproni-Toledo firms, a decrease in orders from the Reggiane firm to one hundred and from the Caproni-Predappio firm to ten aircraft.
Constant delays in the delivery of DB-601/RA-1000 engines led to the fact that in January 1942 only 43 serial and 10 pre-production machines were ready. This depressing situation led the Ministry of Aviation to the idea of installing an Italian invert 12-cylinder air-cooled Isotta-Fraschini Delta RC.16 / 48 engine with an output of 618kW (840 hp) on the Re.2001 airframe. The production of a prototype and a series of one hundred cars were ordered from Caproni-Toledo instead of the previously ordered Re.2001.
The first flight of the prototype Re.2001 Delta flew on September 12, 1942. During the tests (which took place at the Guidonia airbase since November 2), the prototype reached a speed of 523 km / h at an altitude of 5600 m and climbed 3000 meters in 4 minutes 11 seconds, and 6000 m in 10 minutes 30 seconds. On January 27, during the climb test, at an altitude of 7800 m, the engine overheated and stopped, and when trying to restart it, it exploded. Pilot Beretta escaped by parachute, but the plane was completely destroyed. Later, the Air Department canceled the order for the Re.2001 Delta.
Already in December 1941, the Ministry of Aviation decided to alter one hundred fuselages of the Re.2001 for different purposes. Thirty-nine aircraft, designated Re.2001CB (Caccia-Bombardiere - fighter-bomber), received a bomb rack under the fuselage for bombs weighing 100, 160 or 250 kg; two fuselages were lightened for testing ejection launches from the ground; 12 Re.2001 received brake hooks and attachments to the catapult for the intended operation from the aircraft carriers "Aquila" and "Sparviero", the first of them at the time of Italy's surrender was in the stage of completion, but was not completed. It didn’t come to the bookmark “Sparviero” at all. Here it is necessary to mention an unusual way of increasing the capacity of the underdeck hangars of these ships - special hooks were to be installed in the roots of the wings, for which the aircraft were suspended from special carts on the ceiling of the hangar. However, this idea did not wait for its implementation. The carrier-based aircraft carried the designation Re.2001OR. In April and June 1942, two series of these machines, fifty units each, were ordered. Production began, but as the introduction of aircraft carriers was continuously delayed, all Re.2001ORs were later modified to the standard ground vehicles and transferred to ground units for service.
One of the aircraft of the OR standard (MM.9921) was converted into a torpedo bomber. This variant was designated Re.2001G and was ready for testing in June 1943.
There were plans to build 50 Re.2001 GV. (GV - modification for the ability to carry a 630 kg bomb under the fuselage). According to the idea of Lieutenants Galimberti and Vaccari, the plane could serve to strike at aircraft carriers. Initially, two aircraft of the SV variant were adapted for this. Their only combat use occurred on August 11, 1942, when aircraft piloted by Lieutenants Robone and Vaccari attacked the aircraft carrier Victories. Both pilots dropped bombs; however, only one bomb fell on the deck near the side of the ship and, without detonating, bounced overboard. This failure stopped the implementation of the Re.2001GV variant. On one of these aircraft (MM8077), tests were carried out for combined control of the gas sector and the angle of installation of the propeller blades during a dive. In an experimental dive from six to two thousand meters at an angle of 70 degrees, a speed of 950 km / h was achieved without exceeding the maximum engine speed and damaging the fuselage. Only one glazing panel of the cockpit canopy could not withstand the dynamic pressure and burst. In October 1942, dive bombing tests with a standard 250 kg bomb were tested at the experimental range in Furbar and very good results were obtained.
The next option under construction was the Re.2001CN (Caccia Notturma - night fighter), armed with two 20mm Mauser MG-151 cannons, placed in characteristic "tubs" in place of the original 7.7mm machine guns. However, difficulties in the supply of guns led to the fact that most of the aircraft retained their original armament.