Aviation of World War II

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Dive Bomber

Savoia-Marchetti SM.85

Simultaneously with the creation of the SM.85, SIAI engineers were designing a version of the aircraft with liquid-cooled engines. The continuity of the design was preserved, but a deep modernization was carried out. Modifications were made to: wing, flaps, tail unit, fuselage, cockpit. As a power plant, the customer, represented by the Italian Air Force, required the installation of 12-cylinder V-shaped engines Walter "Sagitta" I.C.S.R. (600 hp), which had good weight characteristics with sufficient thrust-to-weight ratio.

A prototype of the SM.86W dive bomber (registration number MM.397) entered trials in 1940. The tests lasted several months and ended in August 1940 at the research center in Guidonia, where the dive bomber was taken to be evaluated for suitability as a combat vehicle.

The second prototype built soon (ММ.398) received a similar designation SM.86W, but differed in Isotta Frascini "Gamma" engines with a power of 515 hp. From August 7, 1941, flights on it generally confirmed the data previously obtained during the tests of the first prototype.

SM.86 Specification
Crew 1
Wing span, m 14.90
Wing area, m² 28.00
Length, m 10.90
2 × PE Walter Sagitta I.C.S.R. power, hp 2 × 600
Weights and loads, kg:
Empty 3,820
Loaded weight 5,077
Maximum speed, km/h 412
Cruising speed, km/h 368
Service range, km 980
Service ceiling, m 7,000
Two 12.7 mm machine guns, kg bombs 800

Both modifications of the dive bomber turned out to be practically equal, with the only difference that the "eighty-sixth" had a slightly higher speed. The decision to launch the SM.86W into mass production was not made, since the already built SM.85 dive bombers had considerable problems in operation. In the fall of 1940, an order was issued for 97 aircraft, and it was decided to send the first prototype SM.86W to frontline trials for comparison with the Ju.87B. On September 15, it made its first combat mission, participating in a raid on the Al-Far airfield (Malta island). The exact number of flights of the SM.86W remains unknown, but for a month of use, the aircraft practically did not cause any complaints. Such a successful outcome allowed the Italian command to conclude that this dive bomber could be used in the Greek campaign, which began at the end of October. The plane was transferred to the Lecce airfield, and from 4 November it took part in the bombing of the Greek troops near the town of Ioannina.

The experience of using the SM.86 in combat should be considered more successful than the earlier SM.85, but the Air Force has already made a major bet on the Ju.87B. The prototypes were left for some time in the hangar, where on August 17, 1941 they were dismantled for metal.

Photo Description
Drawing Savoia-Marchetti S.M.86

Drawing Savoia-Marchetti S.M.86


  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /
  • Aeroplano S.M.85B - bimotore da esercitazione di bombardamento e picchiata. 1939