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S.M. 79 Sparviero
Medium bomber and torpedo bomber

SM 79

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero (serial number M.M. 20672)

Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 79 Sparviero, "Hawk" - the main Italian medium bomber and torpedo bomber. Developed at the Savoy-Marchetti firm under the leadership of Alessandro Marchetti, made its first flight on October 8, 1934, and entered service with the Regia Aeronautica in January 1937.

Designed as an eight-seater passenger liner, which was supposed to take part in international races on the London-Melbourne track, due to the lack of knowledge of the power plant, it was not prepared by the deadline. By April 1935, having changed four types of engines, the designers opted for the 680-horsepower Alfa Romeo 125RC-35 engines (Alfa Romeo 125RC-35). To ensure the required characteristics, the 10-ton aircraft had to be equipped with three engines, which allowed the failed "record holder" (S.79P) to accelerate to 410 km / h. True, the serial S.79B bombers flew at a maximum speed of 355 km / h, but after installing the 750-horsepower Alfa Romeo 126RC-34 on them and some improvement in aerodynamics, their speed immediately jumped to 430 km/h! The armament was also solid: 1250 kg of bombs and four machine guns, moreover, three of them were large-caliber.

The belief that high-speed bombers can do well not only without fighter cover, but also without defensive weapons, was quite widespread in the mid-1930s. Thus, the most "wise" faction of theoretical officers from the main headquarters of the German Luftwaffe generally considered high speed to be the only necessary and sufficient condition for protection from enemy fighters. On such a problematic conclusion, the German theory of air warfare of the 1930s was built, in which the leading role was assigned to large formations of high-speed bombers capable of evading enemy interceptors. Within the framework of this doctrine, the Germans assigned their own fighters a secondary role. Essentially, it was the German version of Douai theory.

Conceived as a high-speed civilian aircraft, simple and technologically advanced, the S.79 has mastered the military profession quite well, with Breda-SAFAT (Breda-SAFAT) machine guns (12.7 mm) located in the hump, sticking out of it: forward - motionless (for the pilot), back - with movable and mounted under the wing holders of aerial bombs. The central part of the fuselage was turned into a bomb bay, slightly shifted to the right in order to preserve the passage to the rear. This compartment housed up to 1200 kg of bombs in various combinations. All bombs were suspended vertically, except for the 500 kg, which were installed obliquely. Since the traditional placement of the bombardier in the nose of the aircraft was prevented by the front engine, it was put in a special "bath" - a gondola made under the fuselage in the aft section.

Armament - A forward-firing 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun with 350 rounds was controlled by the pilot. The 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun on the pivot was located under the visor panel in the rear of the dorsal fairing, with 500 rounds, the 12.7 mm Breda machine gun was on the turret in the rear of the ventral nacelle for protection from the rear hemisphere.

The production aircraft also carried a 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on a pivot at the rear of the fuselage for side defense.

Marchetti believed that the high speed of the S.79 would allow him to avoid frontal attacks from fighters. Therefore, they refused from a movable machine gun for firing forward, leaving only a fixed 12.7 mm "Breda-SAFAT" in a "humped" superstructure above the cockpit and the crew commander himself fired from it. In the back of the "hump", the defense, if necessary, was occupied by a radio operator, controlling the same machine gun, but on a mobile installation.

The crew also included a flight mechanic and a co-pilot-bombardier, and they also had one machine gun each. With the beginning of the air battle, the flight mechanic took a place in the tail, having the ability to throw his machine gun from one side to another, firing through rectangular windows.

The most unusual job went to the bombardier. When the plane went out for bombing, the co-pilot climbed into a gondola under the fuselage. From here, the bombardier pilot conducted guidance, using the bombsight and the duplicate steering wheel of the rudder control.

In total, according to various estimates, from 1330 to 1458 S.79 were produced, more than all other Italian multi-engine bombers combined.

S.M. 79 S.M. 79B
Crew 4-5
Length, m 15.60 16.20
Height, m 4.10
Wing span, m 21.18
Wing area, m² 61.00
Weight, kg
Empty 6,800 6,590
Loaded weight 10,500 11,180
Engine 3 PE Alfa Romeo
126 RC34
2 Pe Fiat A.80
Takeoff power, h.p. 3 х 750 2 х 1030
Maximum speed, km/h 430 450
Cruising speed, km/h 360 346
Service range, km 2,000 1,800
Service ceiling, m 7,000 6,800
Bomb Load
2 х 500 kg bombs, or 5 х 250 kg bombs or 12 х 100 kg bombs

Photo Description
Drawing Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

Drawing Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

The eighth built Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (serial number MM.20672) in three-color camouflage. The barrel of the front machine gun installed in the "hump" is clearly visible.

Torpedo bombers Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero from 283 Squadriglia while patrolling the Mediterranean between the island of Sardinia and the coast of Tunisia in the spring of 1942.

Suspension of a torpedo on aircraft SM.79 from 104 Gruppo, 1942

Benito Mussolini and General Valle (behind) greet the Sorci Verdi pilots at Littorio airport. In the line, fourth from the right, stands Mussolini's son, 19-year-old Bruno , (died during tests of the Piaggio P108 bomber in 1941).

Photo Description

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, side view and 3/4

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, landing gear

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, cockpit

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, cockpit, left side.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, cockpit, right side view.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, minder's console

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, sight in retracted position and prepared for aiming.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, top turret

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, landing light

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, radio semi-compass. Please note that the azimuth position of the frame is transmitted to the receiver by cable.

SM.79B Sparviero

Marchetti believed that not three, but a twin-engine bomber would be better suited for export. Therefore, despite the rejection of the S.79B project (Bimotor) by the Ministry of Aeronautics, he continued work in this direction, bringing the project to the construction of a prototype. It featured a completely new bow section with a glazed bombardier cockpit. To improve visibility, the cockpit was pushed forward and raised, it became narrower, and the pilots were seated in tandem. The hump was moved back a little. The change in balancing was corrected by lengthening the engine nacelles. Slightly increased the area of ​​the keel. In general, the car became more streamlined, and this fully compensated for the decrease in total thrust.

Armament practically did not change: three "Breda-SAFAT" machine guns of 12.7 mm caliber. One (stationary) was located in the nose, the second stood on the turret under the sliding panels "hump", and the ventral gondola was now used only to accommodate the third machine gun, which protected the lower rear sector.

First flight on August 8, 1936. The aircraft were exported to Iraq and Romania.

Photo Description
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79B Sparviero

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79B Sparviero, forward, glazed fuselage compartment. The navigator's workplace has been optimally designed.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79B Sparviero

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79B Sparviero, view 3/4.

SM.79 bis

Back in March 1937, a special sight was installed on an ordinary S.79, and a suspension for an 860 kg torpedo was installed under the fuselage (slightly shifted to the left). In November, tests were carried out, which were quite successful. In March 1938, a new version was tested - with two torpedoes. This time the results were worse - the aircraft's controllability dropped. As a result, the option with one torpedo was adopted as a combat one. From the end of 1939, all production S.79s were equipped with torpedo holders.

Torpedo bombers differed little from the usual S.79. Their crew was increased by one person - a naval observer officer; he sat between the radio operator and the flight mechanic. Since 1941, the motors began to be equipped first with elongated exhaust pipes, and then with flame arresters "Tipo Wellington" (based on a captured English flame arrester from "Wellington"). Flame suppressors began to be installed on the barrels of machine guns. In 1942, the Alfa-Romeo 126 engines were equipped with an ethyl alcohol injection system that increased by 20 minutes. engine power from 780 to 900 hp sec., this gave a speed increase of 50 km / h. But the payment for this was a sharp decrease in the resource of motors, which were already in short supply.

The military proposed a project to modernize the outdated three-engine aircraft, keeping the old S.79 airframe, but replacing the motor installation. This variant was named S.M. 79bis. The Alfa-Romeo 126 motors, which had previously been on all production cars, were replaced by the Alfa-Romeo 128 RC.18 with SIAI 32 automatic propellers without cocks. The new engine had a design altitude of 1800 m (instead of 3600 for the old one) and therefore was more profitable for a low-altitude torpedo bomber. The additional power of the engines slightly increased the maximum and cruising speeds of the aircraft. The alcohol injection system developed for older engines has been retained. Alfa-Romeo 128 began to be installed on the repaired S.79 in the spring of 1943. They removed the fuselage gondola unnecessary for the torpedo bomber, and the empty bomb bay was occupied by a 1000 liter gas tank (a 2300 liter version was also envisaged). The torpedo bomber also did not need the lower machine gun - he went into the attack above the very tops of the waves. The gondola on torpedo bombers was sometimes removed earlier. Radio equipment and devices were modernized.

They decided to make S.79 bis a standard version, launching it into production at the factories "Reggiani", "Aeronautics Umbra" and CNA (they intended to assemble 110 aircraft in total), as well as remake the previously produced aircraft according to a new model. On-board installations mounted 12.7-mm machine guns, and the hatches through which they fired were glazed. On one aircraft, the bow machine gun, which was used to suppress anti-aircraft installations of ships, was changed to a 20-mm cannon. A radio altimeter, gyrocompass and autopilot were added to the set of electronic equipment.

In early 1944 from S.M. The 79 bis formed the Buscaglia torpedo group, later renamed Faggioni. On March 10, she attacked American ships for the first time at Anzio. On June 4, 12 aircraft from this group successfully struck Gibraltar: four ships sank and two were damaged. The Italian torpedo bombers fought on the side of the Germans until the beginning of 1945. Their last victory was a steamer with a displacement of 5,000 tons, sunk on January 5 in the Adriatic Sea.

Armament. The forward-firing 12.7-mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun with 350 rounds was controlled by the pilot, the 12.7-mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun on the pivot was located under the visor panel at the rear of the dorsal fairing, having 500 rounds, the 12.7-mm Breda machine gun on turrets in the rear of the ventral nacelle to protect the rear hemisphere, 900 kg of bombs or one 860 kg torpedo.

SM. 79 SM. 79 bis
Crew 4-5
Length, m 15.60 16.20
Height, m 4.10
Wing span, m 21.18
Wing area, m² 61.00
Weight, kg
Empty 6,800 7,770
Loaded weight 10,500 11,400
Motors 3 PE Alfa Romeo 126 RC34 3 PE Alfa Romeo 128 RC18
Takeoff power, h.p. 3 х 750 3 х 860
Maximum speed, km/h 430 460
Cruising speed, km/h 360 37
Service range, km 2000 2800
Service ceiling, m 7000 6800

Photo Description

Схема Savoia-Marchetti SM.79bis.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bis with Alfa 126 R.C. 34 motors, 3/4 front view.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, fuselage.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, flame arresters.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, Variable pitch screw.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79, Landing gear.


  • Humpbacked "hawk" Marchetti / Sergey Kolov /
  • War in the Air # 104
  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /
  • Aeroplano "SAVOIA MARCHETTI" Tipo S. 79 /Ministero dell' Aeronautica, Roma 1938/
  • Aeroplano SM.79 BIS per motori Alfa 126 R.C. 34 /Ministero dell' Aeronautica, Roma 1943/

April 27, 2017.

In Italian technical literature, all three spellings take place: S.79; SM.79; S.M.84