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SAI.403 Dardo

SAI 207

The SAI 403 Dardo ("Arrow") project was presented in early 1942. The differences from the SAI 207 were a slightly modified fuselage and tail, a larger wing area, and a new Isotta-Fraschini "Delta" RC.21 / 60 engine with a Piaggio 3-blade constant pitch propeller. The design of the aircraft was maximally adapted for serial production. As for performance characteristics, SAI-Ambrosini promised an even greater increase in speed while maintaining the same flight characteristics, which was later confirmed by prototype tests. Initially, the Italian Ministry of Aviation ordered 2,000 production copies of the SAI 207, but in January 1943, plans changed towards establishing production of 3,000 SAI 403.

The first prototype SAI 403 was built by the end of 1942 and flown in January 1943. The aircraft was demonstrated to the German representatives who were present during the tests, and several Luftwaffe pilots tested it in flight. On SAI 403, a Japanese pilot made several flights, who was at the same time in Germany.

SAI.403 Specifications
Crew 1
Wing span, m 9.80
Wing area, m² 14.42
Length, m 8.20
Height, m 2.90
1 × PE Isotta-Fraschini R.C.21/60, power, hp 1×750
Weight, kg
Empty 1,983
Loaded weight 2,640
Maximum speed, km/h 648
Cruising speed, km/h 512
Rate of climb, m/min 800
Service range, km 937
Service ceiling, m 9,800
Two 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns (175 rounds each)

Armament. Two 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 cannons (200 rounds per barrel) and two 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns (200 rounds per barrel)

According to the test results, the test pilots were almost unanimous in their opinion that the fighter should be urgently put into mass production. The Italian allies especially liked the fact that the release of the SAI 403 did not require the use of strategically important materials, since the fighter's structure was mostly wooden and could withstand significant overloads.

In the summer of 1943, SAI-Ambrosini practically formalized agreements for the licensed production of SAI 403 at the Heinkel factories in Germany and Mitsubishi in Japan, but in September, having signed a truce with the allies, the new Italian government actually split the country in two. Within a few days, the German command disarmed the Italian army and ferried most of the aircraft remaining in the occupied territory to Germany. The SAI-403 did not escape this fate, the Germans continued testing it, but already in their own test center (see photo above), where, since 1944, traces of the fighter are lost.

Photo Description

Drawing SAI.403


  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /
  • Light Fighter - Interceptor Ambrosini S.A.I. 207 \ S.A.I. 403 "Dardo" / Andrey Krumkach /