Centennial Perspective
Italian Aviation in the First World War. Vol.3: Aircraft M-W

J.Davilla - Italian Aviation in the First World War. Vol.3: Aircraft M-W /Centennial Perspective/ (75)

Rampante! Th is painting by noted artist Russell Smith shows leading Italian ace Major Francesco Baracca flying his Spad 13. The rampant stallion was Baracca's personal insignia and was borrowed with Baracca's mother's permission by Enzo Ferrari for his racing cars after the war.
Captured Lohner L 40 in Italian service
Macchi Parasol

  In 1912 the Italian War Ministry launched a competition to select an aeroplane for the Italian forces. The French aircraft industry was the most successful in the world, and it is not surprising that the Italians would choose to initiate aircraft production in partner with one of that county’s more successful firms.
  Carlo Felice Buzio, engineer Roberto Corsi, and capitano Costantino Biego di Costa Bissara, an artillery officer approached Giulio Macchi, an engineer living in Varese, about provided the necessary capital. Macchi agreed, and tasked Buzio and Corsi with negotiating with the French Nieuport firm an agreement to build their aircraft under licence.
  On 1 May 1913 in a meeting with Leon Paul Maurice Bazaine (representing the Nieuport company of Paris), Paolo Molina (the legal representative of the Macchi brothers of Varese), and Giovanni De Martini (of the Wolsit company of Legnano), together Macchi and Corsi the Nieuport-Macchi firm was born.
  The French would provide technical assistance and training for the nascent Italian aircraft industry. The also assisted in arranging for the supply of Gnome engines and many parts for the airframes.
  The first three 100 hp Nieuports were assembled by seven men working in a Varese shed used to build automobiles. In 1913, the company was awarded an order for the construction of 56 Nieuport monoplanes, for which the 80-hp Gnome engines and many structural parts would be purchased direct from France.
  These airplanes would be designated Ni.18 square meters or Nieuport 10, and were two-seaters intended for tactical reconnaissance, artillery spotting, and army cooperation duties.
  Meanwhile, drawing on the experience it had gained in building the Nieuports, Macchi was able to offer its first original design, the Parasol. The development of this aircraft was under the guidance of a test pilot named Clemente Maggiora, who had arrived at Varese in early 1914. The Parasol retained the same basic layout as the Nieuport 10, but had a parasol wing configuration, In the first year of the War, many aviators felt that an unobstructed view of the ground was necessary for reconnaissance and artillery spotting. Mounting the wing above the fuselage would be the most effective way to provide the observed with downward vision. This was also done with the Bleriot 11, where the shoulder mounted wing was replaced with a parasol on the Bleriot Type 11-2 Artillerie two-seater.
  Other changes to the Macchi Parasol was the elimination of the cumbersome landing gear skid, which was replaced by a conventional tail skid. Some Parasols had a vertical surface mounted above the wing at the centreline.
  On 4 December, 1914 a Macchi Parasol flown by Maggiora established three new world altitude records: 1. 4 December 1914 - 8,500 ft (2700 m) with two passengers (Count Patriarca and pioneering aviator Zanibelli) 2. 19 December 1914 - 12,300 ft (3750 m) in 38 minutes with one passenger
3. March 1915 - 12,430 ft (3790 m) with one passenger

Operational Service

  Nieuport-Macchi built 56 Nieuport 10s (for details see entry under Nieuport 4), as well as the 42 Macchi-Parasols. During the first months of the War two squadriglias using the type were assigned artillery spotting duties. A squadriglia equipped with Parasols for artillery co-operation was operational in the second half June of 1915 at Pordenone, later displaced to Medeuzza the following July. Assigned to the service of 3a Armata (Carso and Adriatic), it was particularly active over Gorizia. In the June and July 1915 the Parasol performed sporadic bombing missions to little effect. Therefore, they were fitted with R.T. Rouzet wireless units.
  The aircraft were removed from frontline service in November 1915.The pilot’s had complained that the aircraft was unstable and could not fly high enough to avoid AAA.

  The Macchi Parasols were not up to the task of operating in a combat environment, so in November the unit converted to Caudron G.3s.
  The Parasol had a strong structure and could be quickly disassembled for transport, but it was difficult to fly. The failure of the Parasol doomed the company’s chances of a large and lucrative contract for their first original design.

Macchi-Parasol two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 80-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 13,00 m; length 7,20 m; height 3,10 m; wing area 24,0 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg; payload; 260 kg; loaded weight 660 kg
  Maximum speed 125 km/h; climb to 1000 m in 10 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 26 minutes; ceiling 12,430 ft (3790 m) with one passenger, range 400 km
  A total of 42 built
Macchi Parasol #421, Unit unknown
Macchi Parasol, Savoia insignia, Unit unknown
Macchi Parasol.
Macchi L.1

  Inspired by a captured Austro-Hungarian seaplane, the Macchi L.1 would provide the Regia Marina with an effective defense against the flying boats of that same country. It would also lead to the rise of the Macchi firm which is, under the title Aermacchi, still producing successful aircraft to this day.
  On 27 May 1915, L 40 suffered a broken crankshaft which resulted in a forced landing near Volano. Alerted by a local constable, the crew were easily captured. The Lohner was sent to the Porto Corsini naval air station for evaluation.
  The Lohner L 40 had been ordered by the Austro-Hungarian Navy under contract AE 000. It had a 140-hp Hiero engine on delivery, later 150-hp Rapp engines were also used. It had arrived in Pola on 31 December 1914 and operated from the seaplane stations at Pola, Sebenico from February 18-23, 1915. On 23 February 1915 during a flight to Pola it made an emergency landing due to lack of petrol at Medolino; the pilot and plane were rescued by mine-layer Chamaleon (Chameleon). It was repaired at Pola and on 28 May 1915 had participated in an attack along with L 44, L 46, L 47, L 48 and L 49 on Venice due to engine failure. It was during this raid that the aircraft force landed and was seized by the Italians.
  The commanding officer of the Ferrara airship station, tenente di vascello (Naval Lieutenant) Guido Scelsi, took the time to carefully examine the Austrian aircraft and found it to be a superior design, clearly more advance than the motley collection of seaplanes then used by the Regia Marina. On 31 May, Scelsi recommended that the Regia Marina build a series of ten Lohner flying boats.
  Macchi’s technical co-director Carlo Felice Buzio and his staff built and flew a copy in 'one month and three days’. The new seaplane obviously could not use the same engine as the captured example, so a 150-hp Isotta-Fraschini V4 engine, was used. It was tested by Giovanni Roberti di Castelvero and was sent to the seaplane station on Lake Varese.
  These tests led to an order for 48 machines on September 1915 plus another 200 in 1916. Eventually it would deliver nearly 140 L.1s, 31 in 1915 and 109 in 1916. Ship manufacturers such as Baglietto in Varazze and Picchiotti in Viareggio (Lucca), and the Zari aircraft firm were the most important subcontractors.
  Macchi fitted out the hulls, constructed the wings, and installed the engine at Masnago. The seaplanes were tested at Schiranna.
  Copies of the Austrian L-types were numbered in the 101 to 200 range. As the first four L.1s were delivered to the Regia Marina they received serials L.101, L.102, L.103, and L.104. Their deliveries were finished on 12 December.
  L.105 through L.108 were delivered in the first week in October, then the sequence restarted at L.169 on 19 October. This skip in the numbering sequence resulted in a stern warning to Macchi to adhere to the original numbering guidelines, and the normal sequence resumed.

Operational Service

  By the end of December 1915 Lohners were based at:
   Brindisi, 1 Macchi L.1
   Grado, 2 Macchi L.1
   Porto Corsini, 4 Macchi L.1
   Venice, 4 Macchi L.1
  Ship RN Europa
   1 Macchi L.1

  In the second half of 1916 the structure of Italian aviation was as follows:
   Brindisi - 332 sorties in 1916, 4 Macchi L.1
   Grado - 136 sorties in 1916, 6 Macchi L.1
   Porto Corsini - 44 sorties in 1916, 1 Macchi L.1
   Taranto -13 Macchi L.1
   Varano - 265 sorties in 1916, 5 Macchi L.1
   Venice - 242 sorties in 1916, 8 Macchi L.1
  Ship RN Europa
   6 Macchi L.1

  The L.1s were used for the mundane, but important missions, of coastal patrol usually lasting three and a half hours.
  On 4 May 1916, 2° capo Guido Jannello and his observer torpediniere Dante Falconi flew L124 against five Austro-Hungarian flying boats attacking Brindisi. Jannello claimed to have hit one of them. This victory was awarded to Jannello as the first victory for Italian naval aviation; Austro-Hungary did not record any losses that day.
  On 19 July 1916 L157, which was apparently captured by the Austrians and pressed into service.
  Brindisi utilized four aircraft in June 1916 (L135, L148, L195 and L196), three in December 1916 (L164, L205 and L214) and again four in March 1917 (L164, L214, L227 and L233) as trainers.
  On 26 September 1916, Brindisi sent four L.1s and three FBAs to bomb Durazzo where they set fire to a steamer, a hangar, buildings and eight wagons on the road to Tirana. L120 was shot down.
  During 1916 53 L.1s were lost representing half of the number of aircraft built. Very few of the losses were in combat, most were due to accidents or aircraft SOC due to breakdowns.
  The Italians had one seaplane-carrying ship in the early part of the war, the RN Europa, which had replaced the Elba in November 1915. Four L.1s were deployed initially and there were six at the end of the year. The ship was moored in the Albanian harbour of Valona, serving as a floating air base. According to Varialle, the possibility of launching Lohners or FBAs on ships’ decks was studied in December 1916 and June 1917, but was found to be too technically demanding to pursue. On 1 April 1916, cannon-armed Lohners L 186 and L 191 flew to Samano Point, alighted and blew up the coal stockpile, telephones and other equipment at thee Austrian base.
  As the more mature L.3s became available in 1917, the L.1s were relegated to the 6° Gruppo Scuole for use as trainers. The Gruppo consisted of five seaplane schools at Sesto Calende, Naples, Orbetello, Taranto and Passignano sul Trasimeno, the latter two being largely equipped with Lohners.
  The main L.1 training units were at Orbetello, Passignano sul Trasimento, and Taranto. Of these, the most important base was at Taranto, which in the first half of 1916 had eight L.1s, reaching 13 in late 1916, but dropping to a single L.1 in mid-1917. By the end of 1917, the number of L.1s with the school had risen to seven.
  The attrition rate for seaplane trainers must have been very high as ten L.1s were lost between 20 October 1916 and 30 July 1918.
  According to one seaplane student by 1917 the Lohners (L.1s and L.2s) were obsolete, requiring full power and a long take off run to leave the water.

Macchi L.1 Two-Seat Patrol Flying Boat with One 150-hp Isotta-Fraschini V4 Engine
  Wingspan 16.2 m, length 10.4 m, height 3.5 m; wing area 46 sq m
  Empty weight 1,159 kg; loaded weight 1,780 kg; payload 600 kg
  Maximum speed 105 km/h; climb to 2,000 m in 30 minutes; range 630 km
  Armament included twin-barrelled Revelli light machine guns, a single heavy gun and various combinations of light bombs under the wings
  Approximately 140 built

Macchi L.2

  Operational experience soon showed that the L.1 lacked the performance for air defence duties. To this end, Macchi developed the lightened L.1 derivative known to the Regia Marina as LC (for Lohner Celere or Corsa, indicating Fast Lohner). The company was awarded a contract for ten L.2, fitted with hulls provided by Zari and Baglietto and serialled LC 251-260. The entire batch was apparently delivered by May 1916.
  The new design retained the basic L.1 airframe but with a four bay wing. The empty weight was reduced by 250 kg.
  Varriale has suggested the L.2 may have been influenced by a Lohner T1 L 83 captured on 2 February 1916. Although the L.2 had a higher top speed a 140 km, performance degraded rapidly over time. The ceiling declined from the reported 2,000 m to as little as 700 m in the older airframes. The hull and engine supports failed, as did the magnetos and fuel pumps.

Operational service

  Brindisi, 6 Macchi L.2
  Venice, 3 Macchi L.2
  Ship RN Europa, 1 Macchi L.2

  As they were of no use in combat, the L.2s were sent to training units. By late 1917 only a handful (the official history says four) L.2s remained in service, down from the seven that were at the Taranto school at the start of the year.
  L.2s ended its career with the training units of 6° Gruppo Scuole. This comprised five seaplane schools at Sesto Calende, Naples, Orbetello, Taranto and Passignano sul Trasimeno.

Macchi L.2 Two-Seat Patroll Flying Boat with One 150-hp Isotta-Fraschini V4 Engine
  Wingspan 16.2 m, length 10.6 m, height 3.16 m; wing area 46 sq m
  Empty weight 1,000 kg; loaded weight 1,450 kg; payload 450 kg
  Maximum speed 140 km/h; climb to 2,000 m in 19 minutes; 3,000 meters in 30 minutes; range 600 km; endurance 4 hours
  Approximately 10 built

Macchi L.3 (M.3)

  Macchi’s L.2 had proved unequal to the task of providing a defense against the Lohner seaplanes. As the L.2 was a slightly modified L.1, a more radical departure from the preceding L types was needed.
  Developed in 1916 by the Macchi seaplane division at Schiranna under the direction of Felice Buzio, the Macchi L.3 was a two/three-seat single-step flying-boat, which had unequal-span biplane wings developed from those of the L.2, but with a hull and tailplane of entirely new design. The hull was more streamlined and the tailplane, strut-mounted above the hull, was to become a characteristic of Macchi flying-boats.
  In 1917 the original L.3 designation was changed to M.3 in recognition of the difference in concept from the original Lohner-inspired Macchi machines. However, the official naval aviation history still refers to them as “L.3s”.
  The Macchi L.3 was significantly lighter than the L.1 or L.2 due to its low empty weight. On 10 October 1916 an M.3 operating from Lake Varese established a world time- to-height record for seaplanes by climbing to 5,400 m in 14 minutes.
  Some 200 M.3s were built and used in the Adriatic for a wide variety of missions including bombing, reconnaissance, patrol and escort; the type was even used as a fighter until the appearance of the M.S single-seater in 1917. Several M.3s also participated in commando-style raids behind the Austrian lines.
  The M.3s were held in high esteem by the pilots of the Italian navy. They made many bombing raids on the naval bases of Pola and Cattaro and pioneered aerial photography with frequent missions over these bases as well as Trieste.

Operational Service

  Seaplane Stations
   Brindisi - 7 L.3
   Cascina Farello - 7 L.3s
   Otranto - 5 L.3s
   Santa Maria di Leuca - 3 L.3s
   Siracusa - 3 LAs
   Varano - 8 L.3
   Venice - 28 L.3s
  Training Units - 74 L.3s

  Most L.3s (M.3s) were based at Venice to help counter the attacks by Austro-Hungarian flying boats.
  Later during 1917 the concept of the naval squadriglia (squadron) was introduced, with a numbering that started from 251 for the seaplanes, leaving the numbers from 201 to for other types of units.

  251 - L.3 - Venice; S. Andrea
  252 - L.3 - Venice; S. Andrea
  253 - L.3 - Venice; S. Andrea
  259 - L.3 - Venezia; S. Andrea
  265 - L.3 - Brindisi

  In 1918 the L.3s had been largely replaced by M.5s; many were now serving in a training capacity.

  Seaplane Stations
   Brindisi - 8 L.3s
   Venice - 30 L.3s
  Training units
   Bolesna -1 L.3
   Taranto - 13 L.3s
  Naval Squadriglias
   251 - L.3 - Venice; S. Andrea
   252 - L.3 - Venice; S. Andrea
   253 - L.3 - Venice; S. Andrea
   259 - L.3 - Venezia; S. Andrea
   265 - L.3 - Brindisi


  Postwar the type remained in service with training units until 1924. A number were sold to the Swiss company Ad Astra Aero and were converted to take two passengers on charter flights and joy rides from the Swiss lakes. The passengers were seated side-by-side behind a large windscreen, with the pilot in a raised, open cockpit behind them.

Macchi L.3/M.3 Two-Seat Reconnaissance/Bomber Flying Boat with One 160-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.4B Engine
  Wingspan 15.95 m; length 9.97 m; height 3.33 m; wing area 45 m2
  Maximum take-off weight was 2,976 lb (1350 kg)
  Maximum speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) and range of 280 miles (450 km), climb to 1,000 m in 5.30 minutes; to 4,000 m in 38 minutes; ceiling 6,000 m
  Armament comprised a flexible 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Fiat machine-gun or a light cannon; four light bombs could also be carried.
  A total of 200 built.
Macchi L.1 L.219
Macchi L.1 L.222
Macchi L.1 prototype.
Macchi L.1 L101.
Macchi L.1 #L101 at rest.
Macchi L.1 L153.
Macchi L.1 L161.
Macchi L.1 taking off.
Macchi L.2 L.C.252. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi L.3 on its beaching dolley.
Macchi L.3 on its beaching dolley.
Macchi L.3 taking off
Macchi M.5 (???) fighter taking off.
Macchi L.3 '5' in flight.
Macchi L.3 in flight.
Macchi L.3 3404 afloat.
Macchi L.3 4842 at the Sant'Andrea Naval Station in Venice.
A Macchi L.3 of 259a Squadriglia stationed in Venice. Note the unit marking of the Lion of St. Mark so artistically rendered. This aircraft was part of a bombing raid of Pola on 17th July 1918. The US Naval aviators would often join their Italian counterparts in the missions against the SFS-Pola.
Macchi M.3
Macchi M.3
Macchi M.3
Macchi M.4

  The final stage in the evolution of Macchi flying-boats derived from the L.1, the Macchi M.4 appeared in 1917. It was more powerful than the M.3, being tested with both a 300-hp (224-kW) Fiat A.12 engine and a 420-hp (313-kW) F.T.; with the latter it had a maximum speed of 118 mph (190 km/h). One of the two examples built was used in tests with a Vickers COW gun for anti-submarine attack, but it was armed normally with a single machine-gun and carried a heavier bomb load than the M.3. With the end of the war and appearance of the M.9, development was abandoned.

Macchi M.4 Two-Seat Reconnaissance and Bomber Flying Boat with One 300-hp Fiat A.12 Engine
  Wing span 16,00 m; length 9,95 m; height 3,22 m; wing area 49,00 sq m
  Empty weight. 1100 kg (2,420 lbs) payload 600 kg (1,320 lbs.);
  Loaded weight 1700 kg (3,740 lbs.).
  Maximum speed 165 km/h (102 m.p.h.); ceiling 4000 m (13,120 ft), range 660 km (410 mis.), endurance 4 h.
  Armament was 1 machine gun and two lance bombs (2 lancia-bombe).
  Two built
A Macchi.L.4 prototype. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi M.5

  The escalating naval air war between Austro-Hungary and Italy resulted in bomb raids on major coastal cities and naval bases; i.e. Pola and Venice. The performance of the reconnaissance and bomber seaplanes necessitated the creation of a dedicated seaplane bomber force using singleseat fighters. While the KuK could occasionally provide fighter escorts for these vulnerable seaplanes, it was soon recognized that the Regia Marina would need to provide fighter escorts for their own aircraft.
  Several solutions were posited. The Ansaldo license built 100 Sopwith Baby floatplane for use as an interim fighter until an indigenous design could be completed. However, by the time the Baby was available, the M.5 would already be in production.
  It was hoped that the Macchi L.2 and L.3 would serve as a stop gap until a purpose-designed fighter was available. The L.3 would prove to be of limited usefulness as a fighter, while the L.2’s performance degraded so quickly in service that it had to be withdrawn from operational units and used as a trainer.
  Fortunately, the Italian Macchi M.5 would prove to be the solution to the Regia Marina’s requirement. Indeed, to would be produced in greater numbers than any other seaplane fighter.
  Macchi’s design used the available 160-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.4B engine, the same as used on the preceding L.3 flying boat. There could be no hope of counting on increased engine power to provide superior performance; the M.5 would have to depend on its single seat design to reduce weight and on aerodynamic refinements to further boost performance. The M.5 was smaller, not only because it had just one crew member, but also to reduce weight and, hopefully, boost speed and maneuverability. Compared to the L.1, the fuselage length was 20% shorter and the wingspan was 25% smaller. These changes reduced the empty weight by 25%.
  Armament was to be a single machine-gun mounted on post ahead of the windscreen. On pre-production machines the armament would be changed to allow for two machine guns to be carried. There was no need for the complexity or weight of a synchronization system, as the M.5 would have the engine mounted in a pusher configuration.
  Prototype testing resulted in changes to the design. The step was moved up by 30 cm, the bow was shortened by 20 cm. The machine gun was now faired into the forward fuselage. The fin and rudder were placed 30 cm forward. The engine was covered by an aluminum nacelle. The radiator was now a single vertical piece, replacing the dual radiators of the prototype.
  A contract for ten machines was issued on 17 February 1917.
  Testing of initial production M.5s began in May 1917. Test pilots praised its superior speed and rate of climb.
  Eight of the ten M.5s ordered had been delivered by 30 June 1917. They would be used as fighters and reconnaissance machines (According to Varriale these were known as “M.M.” in contemporary documents).
  Operational testing led to further modifications to the tail surfaces. The fin now had a square outline and was mounted directly to the fuselage so the control lines could be located internally and, therefore, be protected from salt water corrosion. The wing tip floats had been mounted flush to the wing tips in the prototype; they were now enlarged and carried on struts. The internal structure of the wing was altered; there were now 27 ribs, instead of 17, for each wing panel. The steel internal structure of the ailerons was now made of wood with a 150% increase in the number of ribs. It is unclear why these changes were introduced; perhaps some of these alterations were intended to boost production.
  As noted above, the M.5 would be used as fighter with a (in production aircraft) non synchronized twin machine gun armament. But the M.5 was also expected to used as a high speed photo reconnaissance aircraft. To that end, a vertical camera was mounted behind a moveable panel located in the lower hull.
  At least one M.5 was modified to carry a 25,4-mm Fiat gun in place of the machine gun armament; 255a Squadriglia had one such aircraft which carried serial 7080 (see entry below).
  The total number of M.5s ordered was 420, of which approximately 348 were actually built. Nieuport-Macchi received an order for 340 and Aeromarittima in Naples was to manufacture 80.


  M.5 mod - The success of the M.5’s successor, the M.7, resulted in an order for 320 aircraft, as well as a reduction in M.5 orders. This provided an opportunity for Macchi to suggest that the unfinished 70 or so airframes could be converted to a pseudo-M.7 with meant fitting them with the new M.7 wing. This hybrid aircraft would be know as M.5 mod (modification). Varialle notes that there was no intention of fitting these airframes with the M.7’s 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 engine. However, postwar, a 1923 order called for 32 M.5s mod to, indeed, be upgraded with 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 engines.
  Acceptance flights were carried out in the summer of 1918, and at least two appear to have reached operational units (13132 with 260a Squadriglia in late November 1918 and 13153 at Brindisi in early December). By March 1919 some had also reached the 264a in Ancona.
  M.S a.s. - Long-range version the M.5 mod. Known as M.5 a.s. (a.s. = autonomia speciale 'special range’). It had an endurance of five hours, a 30% increase over the standard M.5 mod. The reason for the alteration is not known, but as the M.5 was intended as fast reconnaissance aircraft, the longer endurance would make it a high-speed, long-range reconnaissance aircraft, similar to the SVAs in service with the Aviazione. At least three were completed with serials 13139, 13152, and 13153.

  M.M. - 10 ordered 4866 to 4875
  M.5 - 50 ordered 7056 to 7195
  M.5 - 77 ordered 7225 to 7302
  M.5 - 166 ordered 13088 to 13185; M.5 mod. is in this serial range as 13129 to 13185
  M.5 - 44 ordered 14078 to 14122
  Total production was 348 aircraft
  List based on Varialle, Macchi M.S.

Operational Service

  By 1 July, aircraft 4866 and 4867 were on strength of the 251a Squadriglia in Venice (I Reparti Dell’Aviazione Italian della Grande Guerra suggest that these became operational much later).
  The aircraft were used in their intended fighter escort role and their performance represented a marked improvement over the L.3s then in service. The Fiat gun had a tendency to jam, but this was a common problem with Italian aviation weapons and was usually due to problems with the ammunition and not the gun, itself.
  The Regia Marina supplied fighter aircraft in small numbers to operational units in to provide escort during reconnaissance and bombing missions. As the M.5s were produced, they were sent in small numbers to the units that faced the gravest threat from Austro-Hungarian fighters.
  Eventually, production reached the point it was possible to create squadriglias with a dedicated fighter role.
  Designated as Gruppo Idrovolanti da Caccia (Seaplane Fighter Group), 260a and 261a Squadriglias. It is noteworthy that these units were based in Venice, where the need for fighters was the most critical.
  The M.5 was intended to be replaced by M.7s in 1918, but, once again, Italian aviation lagged behind the needs of the frontline units only a small number of M,7s arrived in time to enter service. As a result, the M.5 was the main Italian fighter seaplane of the war.


  On 30 September 1919, there were 242 M.5 and 29 M.5 mod, but only 87 were serviceable - all but one were with Regia Marina squadriglias. Naval Stations now operated a mix of aircraft types; the surviving M.5s and M.7s would be used to provide escort for reconnaissance and bomber aircraft.
  Varriale reports that at least one M.5 was used by the aviation element of the Italian insurgent forces in Fiume in 1919.
  When the Regia Aeronautica was formed on 28 March 1923, the surviving M.5s were based at Brindisi and Pola. The 1923-24 seaplane program moved the two M.5 squadriglias to Taranto and Venezia, each with nine aircraft plus reserves.

Foreign Service

United States
  Two M.5s were sent to the U.S.Navy by the Italian government in the hope of enticing the Navy to procure more. These were assigned BuAe (Bureau of Aeronautics) numbers A-5574 and A-5575 after the war.
  The Italian government eagerly welcomed the support of the U.S. Navy in the Adriatic, including U.S. Naval Aviation. The Italians decided to turn over the Porto Corsini and Pescara Stations to them. Porto Corsini was, in the end, the only base to be given to the U.S. On 1 August 1918 the new American unit had three M.5s and five M.8 flying boat fighters (plus ten FBAs). Seven M.5s were not operational initially, so the number available fluctuated between three and six. Varriale reports that the Italians had turned over 15 M.5s, so this gives some idea of the state of the machines.
  Although displeased with the condition of the base, the Navy began combat operations on 21 August.
  On 21 August 21; M.8 19008, while being escorted by four M.5s took off on the missions. Four Phonixes intercepted the Americans. George Ludlow, in M.5 13015, along with Austin Parker and Charles H. Hammann engaged the Austrian aircraft. The M.5s of Dudley Voorhees, could not follow because his machine gun jammed. Ludlow attacked the lead Phonix; A.102, which he claimed as destroyed although the Austrians stated the aircraft was destroyed when its fuel system spontaneously ignited. Stephan Woleman was attacked by A.118. Hits from 8-mm machine guns ignited his engine and the Macchi burst into flames. Hammann landed on the water to help his friends; Ludlow sunk his plane before boarding Hammann’s plane. Harmann would later receive the Medal of Honor for this action; the first to be earned by an aviator of the U.S. Navy.
  The next day M.S No.7293 and M.5 No.7294 flown by Ensign Johansen and Seargent Guarniere made a reconnaissance of Pola.
  As the M.5s were worn out, and it took considerable effort to make them operational. Six new M.5 were shipped to Porto Corsini on 6 September.
  263a continued to attack Pola, but as the number of M.8 bombers was limited, they could only stage a few bombing raids. Pola was attacked on October 22 with 11 aircraft, including at least two M.5s: 7293 and 13076. On the afternoon of 25 October, 263a’s airplanes joined with other aircraft based at Venice to make a large bombing raid on Pola.
  On 2 November four M.5s were sent on an armed patrol of the Pola station; these were 13076, 13085, 13086, and 13089. The patrol failed to reach their target due to the weather, and 13076 had to briefly set down due to equipment failure. Eventually, all the M.5s made it back to base.
  On January 1st, 1919 the Station was formally taken back by the Regia Marina.
  The two M.5s still in the United States had brief careers. One crashed when it entered a spin; it killed Ensign Hammann before he could be awarded the Medal of Honor.
  The c/n numbers of the M.5s supplied to the U.S. Navy were 7225, 7229, 7241, 7251, 7268, 7293, 7294, 7299, 13015, 13021, 13027, 13047, 13075, 13076, 13077, 13079, 13085, 13086, 13088, 13089, 13091, 13102, 13129.

Macchi M.6

  The Macchi M.6 was a variant of the M.5 in which the Nieuport firm’s favored sesquiplane layout was eliminated. In its place, there were equal span, single bay wings without sweepback. As the struts were located on the outer section of the wings, auxiliary supports made of steel tubing were placed on either side of the engine nacelle.
  Designated M.6, the aircraft was found not to offer any advantages over the M.5. Further development was, therefore, abandoned. However, the M.6 did influence the design of the next Macchi aircraft, the M.7.

Macchi M.6 Single-Seat Flying Boat Fighter with One 160-hp Isotta Fraschini V.4B Engine
  Wing area. 29,00 sq m
  Empty weight 760 kg; payload; loaded weight 1,030 kgs
  Maximum speed 189 km/h; climb to 4000 m in 20 minutes; endurance 3 hours.
  Armament was one 7,7-mm Vickers machine gun
  One built
Macchi M.5 M7240 '14', STV A.Carrera, 258a Squadriglia, RN Europa, June 1918
Macchi M.5 M7288 '6', 260a Squadriglia, Venice, 1918
Macchi M.5 M7289 '2', 260a Squadriglia Venice, 1918
Macchi M.5 flown by Ensign Willis Haviland, commander of the USN flying unit at Porto Corsini.
Macchi M.5 M13083 '16', 261a Squadriglia, 1918
Macchi M.5 flown by the USN from Porto Corsini.
Macchi M.5 flown by the USN from Porto Corsini.
Macchi M.5 '1', Federico Martinegno, 260a Squadriglia Venice, 1918
Macchi M.5 '19', 261a Squadriglia, 1918
The superlative Macchi M.5 fighter. This aircraft in the hands of the aggressive Italian naval aviators from the Gruppo Idrocaccia Venezia wrested command of the skies over the Northern Adriatic Sea from the Austrian naval aviators. The fighter with the "angry cat" insignia belonged to Luigi Bologna.
Macchi M.5 M 7248 on its beaching dolley. The M.5 was the best flying boat fighter to see combat during WWI.
Another view of the Macchi M.5 flown by Lieutenant Haviland, commander of the flying unit at Porto Corsini.
Ensign Haviland, commander of the flying unit at Porto Corsini, stands beside his colorful Macchi M.5 fighter.
One of the colorful Macchi M.5 fighters based at Porto Corsini flown by the US Navy.
Ensign Ludlow's Macchi M.5 undergoes engine maintenance.The Latin phrase on the hangar refers to the star above: It saves whereupon it shines.
Ensign George H. Ludlow in front of a colorful Macchi M.5 fighter flown by the US Navy from Porto Corsini.
Landsman for Quartermaster Charles Hammann with his Macchi M.5 fighter at Porto Corsini. Hammann received the Medal of Honor for rescuing George Ludlow when he landed two miles from Pola to pick him from the water after he was shot down.
Macchi M.5 fighter at Porto Corsini.
The marvelous Macchi M.5 of Arcidianocono taxiing down the canal.
Macchi M.5 taxiing.
Macchi M.5 fighter photographed in flight from a companion.
The colorful Macchi M.5 fighter of the Commander of 261a squadriglia, Domenico Arcidiancono over Venice. Courtesy of Ray Rimell; artist is Danilo Renzulli.
Macchi M.5 Mod.
Macchi M.5 Early
Macchi M.5 Early
Macchi M.5 Early
Macchi M.5
Macchi M.5
Macchi M.12

  The identity of the M.10 and M.11 are unknown.
  A reconnaissance/bomber flying-boat, the Macchi M.12 represented an attempt to achieve a worthwhile improvement in speed and defensive armament by comparison with contemporary the M.9. Designed in late 1918, the M.12 was powered by a single 450-hp Ansaldo-San Giorgio 4 E/28 engine driving a pusher propeller, but had an unconventional wide forward hull which terminated aft of the wings. Attached to the rear of the hull were two booms, which supported a twin-fin-and-rudder tail unit. The crew comprised a pilot and two gunners, the latter in cockpits in the bow and behind the wing. This arrangement gave the rear gunner a wide field of fire above and below the tailplane. All cockpits were interconnected by an internal passage which permitted the nose and tail gunners to switch positions.
  The M.12 carried a radio, a camera and a bomb load of up to 882 lb (400 kg), plus two 7.7mm (0.303-in) machineguns.
  The aircraft’s mission was to have been high speed reconnaissance and bombing.
  Produced just at the end of the war, it does not appear that more than one or two examples were ordered by the Regia Marina. There is no record of any M.12s reaching front line units for operational evaluation.
  The M.12bis of 1919 was a civil version with provision for three passengers in an enclosed cabin. It had a cruising speed of 103 mph (165 km/h).

Macchi M.12 Three-Seat Long-Range Flying Boat with One 450-hp Ansaldo-San Giorgio 4 E/ 28 Engine
  Wingspan was 17.00 m; length 10.90 m; height 3,66 m; wing area 61.0 sq m
  Empty weight 1,780 kg; payload 780 kg; loaded weight 2560 kg
  Maximum speed 190 km/h; climb to 3,000 m in 28 minutes 30 seconds; range 750 to 950 km; ceiling 5,500 m
  Armament was 2 7,7-mm Fiat machine guns in nose and tail positions and four 162 mm mines
The Macchi-Nieuport Boat, with double rudder.
Macchi M.12. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi M.14

  The M.14 single-seat sesquiplane fighter was designed by Alessandro Tonini. While certainly not a direct copy of the Hanriot HD.1s that Macchi had produced under license, it did bear an uncanny likeness of that machine. It was of all wood construction and had a Warren truss type interplane bracing. The engine was a 110-hp Le Rhone 9J nine-cylinder rotary. The armament was two synchronized 7,7-mm Vickers guns.


  Wings - two spar wooden wing covered in fabric. Ailerons on the upper wing only. The wings had a marked dihedral on the upper wing, while the lower wings were straight. The “W” shaped struts (joined at the mid portion of the lower wing on each side, was later seen in other Italian fighter designs, most notably the CR.42.
  Fuselage - similar to the HD.1. The fuselage sides were flat.
  Power Plant - The engine was a 110-hp Le Rhone 9J rotary engine for the M.14 bis fighter and a 80-hp engine or the M.14 fighter trainer. The 90-hp version may have never been built.
  Landing Gear - Landing gear with faired struts an additional fairing covering the landing gear strut. These struts were intended to act as an auxiliary airfoil.


  Flight testing commenced in the spring of 1918, but the prototype was destroyed in June of that year when it crashed, killing Clemente Maggiora. Aircraft 20931 underwent evaluation in 1919 at Montecelio. By December 1919 there were seven M.14s at Montecelio. However, no additional orders were forthcoming. The M.14’s performance was considered satisfactory, but not notably superior to the other Italian fighters then in service. The ten M.14s were employed as advanced trainers; these carried serials 20931 to 20940. At least one (20935) appeared on the civil register carrying serial I-BADG.

Foreign Service

  Spain - An example was purchased in Spain. According to the then Lieutenant Gomez Spencer, who flew the sole prototype at Getafe around 1922, it cost the Aeronautica Militar only 6,000 pesetas. It was equipped with a 110-hp Le Rhone 9J engine. No further details are known.

Macchi M.14 single-seat fighter with one 110-hp Le Rhone 9J engine
  Wingspan 8.20 m; length, 5.65 m; height 2.62 m; wing area 16,60 sq m
  Empty weight 440 kg; loaded weight 640 kg
  Maximum speed 182 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 3.5 minutes; endurance 2 hours.
  Ten examples built
Macchi M.14.
Macchi M.14.
Macchi M.15

  The two-seat reconnaissance Macchi M.15 was designed by Tonini and Bergonzi and appeared late in 1918.
  Intended to be used as a high-speed reconnaissance aircraft over the battlefront, it was an unequal-span biplane with its pilot and observer seated close together in tandem open cockpits. The structure was mainly of wood and had the “W”-form Warren-truss style wing bracing, typical of Macchi aircraft. This arrangement provided additional strength. There was provision for three cameras and a radio transmitter, and armament comprised three 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-guns.
  A modified version designated M.15bis appeared in 1922, which differed externally by having revised vertical tail surfaces.
  The type equipped 115a Squadriglia da Ricognizione at Bologna from 1922 to 1924, but it is believed that not more than 20 examples of both versions were built. After being retired from service, a few M,15s were used for experimental purposes, including one used by the Prospero Freri for parachute testing.

Macchi M.15 two-seat reconnaisance aircraft with one 300-hp (224-kW) Fiat A.12bis engine
  Wingspan 13.38 m; length 8.60 tn; height 3.30 m; wing area 42 sq m
  Empty weight 1,125 kg; maximum take-off weight 1635 kg; payload 510 kg;
  Maximum speed 200 km/h, service ceiling of 6,000 m, climb to 5,000 m in 50 minutes, range of 600 km, endurance 3 hours
Macchi M.15.
Macchi M.7, M.7bis, & M.7ter

  The driving force behind the M.7 was the availability of the 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 that represented about a 33% increase over the 190-hp engine used on the M.5. Due to the use of a more powerful engine, a larger fuel tank was needed. Space for this new tank was created inside the M.7s airframe which resulted in the need to widen the fuselage.
  It had a simplified wing cellule, inspired by the preceding M.6, with a single bay of splayed interplane struts. The span and chord of the upper wing was reduced, while the lower, two spar, wing had an increase in area. The Nieuport “V” struts were replaced by more conventional ones; Varriale believes that this was based on Macchi’s experience with building Hanriot HD.1s under license.
  Originally, armament was to have been a single machine gun, but the prototype carried two. As with the M.5, the need for a high speed reconnaissance capability was catered to be designing a compartment with a retractable door which could carry a camera.


  Fuselage - The hull was had an ash framework with a spruce skin, the fin being built integral with the hull.
  Wings - The single bay wings were of unequal span with slight sweepback. Construction was built around ash spars with spruce ribs, covered in fabric. The single bay of struts were canted outwards. Ailerons were placed on the outer panels of the upper wing.
  Tail - Similar structure to the wings with a wood structure covered in fabric. It was placed approximately 1/3 of the way up the fin and rudder and was braced by struts.
  Floats - there were two stabilizing floats under the lower wing.
  Engine - 247-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.6 engine mounted between the wings above the hull. It was supported by wooden “N” struts between the wings. The engine was mounted in a pusher configuration with a large radiator placed in front. There was a small oil cooler underneath the radiator.
  Accommodation - the single pilot sat directly beneath the radiator. There was a small windshield and a faired headrest.
  Armament - two Vickers 0.303 machine-guns mounted on the sides of the hull.



  Testing of the M.7 prototype began in early 1918 at the Nieuport-Macchi seaplane facility at Schiranna, and tests were promising enough to result in a production contract for 1,085 aircraft. About a third of these were to come from Macchi, and the remainder to be built under license by five subcontractors.
  Only 11 were delivered before the Armistice led to the cancellation of the contract.
  By 1920 there were 10 still in service, but were still being used in the seaplane fighter units five years later.


  The M.7 earned a second chance postwar. Virtually all of the aircraft produced postwar would go to the Regia Aeronautica; foreign sales were minimal (see below).
  In May 1923 Macchi received its final M.7 contract, covering 30 aircraft (serialled 24396-24425, including a pattern airframe for Piaggio) and bringing total M.7 production to about 142.
  Camurati has reconstructed the Regia Aeronautica serial numbers and placed the number of M.7ter built at 154 machines: 109 from Macchi and 45 from Piaggio. Testing revealed that the performance of the Piaggio machines were inferior to those built by Macchi.
  The M.7ter AR production included ten aircraft drawn from the batch 25410-25449. These were assigned to Taranto where 166a Squadriglia was formed in 1925.


  The M.7 had only limited success in the foreign market. However, Macchi appears to have had considerable faith in the designs a number of variants were developed postwar. The firm’s foresight paid off, and over 100 variants of the M.7 were used by all the Squadriglie Caccia Marittima (Naval Fighter Squadrons) in the 1920s.

  M.7 Racer - Five M.7s took part in the trials to select the Italian participants for the 1921 Schneider Trophy. As the contest was being held in Venice that year, Italy was determined to win. The five M.7s were flown by de Briganti, Buonsembiante, Corgnolino, Falaschi and de Sio. De Briganti and Corgnolino won places in the Italian team, Falaschi’s M.7 crashed before the trial began, and the other two were eliminated.
  In the event that, due to the withdrawal (for various reasons) of the other countries involved, the M.7 had merely to fly the course to win the trophy. See entry for M.7 bis.

  M.7bis - The M.7bis had wing span and area reduced to 25 ft 5 in (7,75 m) and 256.19 sq ft (23,80 m2) respectively. It was based on the modified M.7 had won the Schneider Trophy in August 1921 with an average speed of 117.75 mph (189,50 km/h).
  The Macchi M.7bis would have the chance to prove itself against real competition in 1922s Schneider Trophy race. M.7bis I-BAFV had this opportunity handed to it, once again, by luck. The Italian aircraft chosen to race, the Savoia S.50, had crashed. The M.7bis came in fourth, and last, with an average speed of 199.607 km/h (124.029 mph).

  M.7ter - Although retaining the M.7 designation, the M.7ter was only nominally related to the wartime M.7. The M.7ter prototype first flew in October 1923. It had a completely redesigned hull as well as a revised and lighter all-wood structure. The new, two spar wings had the same span, but with a smaller surface area (the size of the outer wing panels being reduced compared to the standard M.7). Powered by a 247-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.6 engine and carrying twin-Vickers machine guns, the M.7ter was ordered into series production to re-equip the Squadriglie Caccia Marittima as the M.7ter. Approximately 154 were built

  M.7ter AR - The M.7ter AR (AR stood for Ali Ripiegabili = folding wings) had folding wings for operation from the seaplane carrier Miraglia and from several scout cruisers. In 1925 there were 24 M.7ter ARs were in service; according to one source that number had risen to between 29 and 33 in 1927. They were assigned to 166a Squadriglia at Taranto. The extra weight of the retraction mechanism reduced the aircraft’s performance when compared to the standard M.7ter, and aside from the Miraglia there were no other ships in the Regia Marina which could effectively utilize it.

  M.7terB - Equipped with a 480 hp Lorraine 12Db engine.

  M.7ter Isotta-Fraschini - in 1927, the Societa Aeronautica Italiana re-engined 14 M.7terAs with the 250 hp Isotta-Fraschini Semi-Asso engine. The prototype was c/n 3709, which received serial MM.1715. A total of 14 airframes with the new engine in 1927 were built by SAI in Passignano.
  Over 300 M.7ter, in all its variants, were built and, beginning in 1924, were assigned to the six Squadriglie Caccia Marittima that, in 1925, formed 80° Gruppo. Eighty-three were in service in 1927, including 29 of the folding-wing AR version, the last being withdrawn in 1930.

Operational Service

  According to Varriale, an M.7 was sent to the Venice Station on 13 July 1918.
  Only one operational unit received M.7s during the war - 260a Squadriglia.


  In the early 1930s SISA set up a course to train military pilots. It acquired 22 SAI-operated M.7ter which had been struck off the civil register in December 1933 and eventually 27 were allotted new military serials MM.2505 to 2530. The aircraft were in use at the Scuola Centrale di Pilotaggio (Central Flying School) created at Portorose on 20 October 1935.
  The new school had two Reparti Volo (Flying Units), the second of which included five single-seat and three dual-control M.7ter; the latter, never mentioned by previous schools, must have been converted from standard M.7ter aircraft. Ironically, Macchi had proposed a purpose-built trainer postwar, but it was never proceed with.
  The aging M.7ter aircraft were labor intensive, but the school still had 11 on strength as late as December 1936 (at least two had been lost in accidents). A little over a year later, the school moved to Puntisella, but 2° Reparto Volo returned to Portorose on 30 March 1938. At this time the antiquated M.7ter were, at last removed from the school’s inventory.

Foreign Service

  Argentina - two M.7s were donated to the Argentine Navy by the Italian Air Mission in 1919. They carried designations CM-7 No 1 and CM-7 No. 2 (CM = Caza Macchi = Macchi Fighter). They were assigned to destacamento (detachment) San Fernando. They participated in the naval manoeuvres 1919/20. CM-7 No.1 flown by Tte. ZAR made a famous flight to Paraguay in March 1920. CM-7 No.2 was lost soon lost after it was acquired. No.2 was withdrawn from use in 1924.

  Brazil - three M.7s were purchased by the Brazilian Navy. These carried serials 33 to 35 and were used in the training role from 1919 to 1923 at Escola de Aviacao Naval. By 1923 they were SOC, but other sources suggest one or two were lost prior to that.

  Ecuador - a small number of M.7s were obtained via the Italian Air Mission for use by the Escuela de Aviacion Militar.

  Paraguay - although sometimes reported as used by the Paraguayan Navy, this was actually the Argentinian M.7 CM-7 flown to Paraguay in 1920.

  Spain - A total of 14 examples of the M.7 and M.9s were obtained by Spain in 1922 for use by the Escuela de Tiro y Bombardeo (School of Gunnery and Bombing) at Los Alcazares. In February 1923 capitan Sousa Peco flew to Los Alcazares in an M.7 with a 220-hp Hispano-Suiza 8Ba engine in place of the Isotta-Fraschini.

  Sweden - The Armens Flygkompani (Army aviation service) obtained four M.7s in 1921. These flying boats would enable them to be used at critical sites where airfields were not available. They carried serial numbers 941, 943, 945, and 951. Due to the discomfort of operating in cold, rough seas with an open cockpit, they were soon relegated to training duties.
  941 - suffered an accident at Roxen in September 1921 but was repaired and served until December 1923, when it was withdrawn
  943 - withdrawn December 1923, after it had been damaged in an accident
  945 - Lieutenant Nils Kindberg flew 945 from Roxen to Lindarangen, near Stockholm to Helsinki, in Finland. On 6 September he flew to Reval (now Tallinn), in Estonia. On the return flight he landed at Marb, south of Kapellskar, with engine problems. Later he flew back to Roxen. In 1925 Finland established an independent Air Force (Flygvapnet) on 1 July 1926, 945 survived long enough to become part of the new service. It was written off in December 1927.
  951 - 951 survived long enough to become part of the newly formed Flygvapnet on 1 July 1926. it was written off in December 1927. Fortunately, Flygflotilj (Wing) 3 stored 951 at its base, where it remains today.

Macchi M.7 Single-Seat Flying Boat with One 247-hp Isotta-Fraschini V 6 Engine
  Wingspan 9,95 m; Length 8, 85 m; Height 2,97 m; Wing area, 252.96 sq ft (23,50 m2).
  Empty weight, 1,775 lb (805 kg). Loaded weight, 2,381 lb (1080 kg).
  Max speed, 130 mph (210 km/h). Time to 16,405 ft (5 000 m), 23 min. Endurance, 3.66 hr
  Armament of twin 7,7-mm Vickers guns

Macchi M.7ter Single-Seat Flying Boat with One 247-hp Isotta-Fraschini V 6 Engine
  Wingspan 9,95 m; Length 8,10 m; Height 2,95 m; Wing area 26.60 m2
  Empty weight, 1,708 b (775 kg). Loaded weight, 2,381 lb (1080 kg).
  Max speed, 129 mph (208 km/h). Time to 3,280 ft (1000 m), 2.75 min. Endurance, 3 hrs.
  Armament of twin 7,7-mm Vickers guns
Macchi M.7 M20781, 1918
Macchi M.7 fighter.
Macchi M.7 fighter 20781.
Macchi M.7 fighter.
Macchi M.7 fighter '34'.
Macchi M.7 fighter '33' in Brazilian service.
Macchi M.7 fighter '3?'.
Macchi M.7
Macchi M.7
Macchi M.7
Macchi M.8

  At the end of 1917 Nieuport-Macchi, having studied the structural and aerodynamic characteristics of traditional rectangular-bay biplanes when they built the Hanriot HD.1s under license, designed the radically different M.8. It should be noted that the previous wartime Macchi aircraft had used the Nieuport firms (formally the firm’s name was Nieuport-Macchi) techniques for construction, Having now seen the advantages of using a more robust layout presented the firm with an opportunity to construct seaplanes that were lightweight, but also sturdy enough to survive a maritime environment.
  The M.8 was a heavily modified L.3 with two triangular bays formed with wooden struts of adjustable length. Aside from being fundamentally stiffer, the new wing arrangement reduced drag. This resulted in a significant improvement in speed, which was increased from 145 to 165 km/hr, although the original 160-hp engine was still retained. The wing had a longer span and wider chord than the lower wing.
  Armament was a single machine gun in the forward cockpit. On reconnaissance missions a crew of three was usually carried, as a bomber, to help offset the weight of the bombs, there were only two crewmen.
  The M.8 seaplane, of which 30 examples were built, was employed by the Regia Marina for antisubmarine and coastal patrol duties, the same as the L.3s they were intended to replace.

Operational Service

251a Squadriglia
  In the spring of 1918 the L.3s were joined by the new M.8. In response to the last Austrian offensive in the second half of June the Squadriglia attacked land targets and strafed Austrian troops.
  The unit was intensely involved in reconnaissance and bombing attacks on land and maritime targets, including Pola during the summer.

252a Squadriglia
  In 17 July, 1918 one of the new M.8s, serial 19018, arrived. Flown by sottocapo nocchiere Domenico Nocetti and observer sottotenente Ottorino Leoni, it attacked Pola. 252a was now concentrating its activities between Piave and Livenza up until the autumn.
  During the victorious offensive of October the unit flew artillery regulation missions as well as bombing and strafing enemy positions. During that month a fire damaged M.8s registered 19012, 19014, and 19023.
  The last war mission of the unit was completed on 4 November. From its formation 252a Squadriglia completed 758 war missions collecting 4.000 photos in the last year. On November 4th 1918 M.8s in service with 252a were numbers 27, 28, 30, 31, and 33.

259a Squadriglia
  In September 1918 and up to the end of hostilities 259a Squadriglia, received the new Macchis M.8s with which it dropped leaflets and newspapers on the Austrian positions. On 4 November 259a Squadriglia had L.3s: the numbers 16, 19, 20 and 24 and four M.8s, numbers 14, 19, 21, and 22.

263a Squadriglia
  263a Squadriglia became the U.S. Naval Air Station of Porto Corsini. The unit flew M.5s and M.8s.
  The Americans had high praise for the M.8, although they found the bottom of the hulls to be weak due to the quality of the wood used.
  The Americans were finally ready for operations on August 2; at that time they had five M.8s, of which three could be considered operational.
  Throughout August, the number of available M.8s fluctuated between two and four. The lack of spare parts was lamented as the cause for the serviceability being so low.
  The first mission was to drop leaflets on Pola. M.8 register 19008 with Walther White and Albert P. Taliaferro escorted by four M.5s took off on the missions. 263 Squadriglia returned to Pola, this time to bomb it. However, with so few M.8s available for bombing these missions were few and far between.
  From 1 September to 10 October the process of returning the base to Italian control was carried out. In early November M.8s 19025, 19007 and 19009 were involved in a hangar fire which also destroyed 19025.
  On 1 January 1919 the Station was formally taken back by the Regia Marina.

289a Squadriglia
  Formed at Varano and equipped with L.3 and M.8s, the unit was disbanded just after the armistice.

Foreign Service

  Sweden -At the end of the month of October /November 1919, the Italians donated two M.8s to the Swedish military. The purpose of this gesture was to inspire additional orders in Italy. One was gifted in conjunction with a visit of four Italian navy pilots, arrived in Sweden in 1919 during a round trip in Northern Europe. The aircraft was assigned number 41 and was based in Karlskrona. It soon became apparent that the engine was unreliable. After several engine repairs, the flying boat was SOC in the autumn of 1921.

  United States - At least eight M.8s were used by the naval personnel at Porto Corsini. For details see 263a Squadriglia.
Known U.S. serials (Porto Corsini, Italy): 19006, 19007, 19008, 19009, 19010, 19025.

Macchi M.8 Two/Three Seat Patrol Flying Boat with One 170-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.4.B Engine
  Wingspan 16 m, length 9,97 m; height 3,33 m; wing area 40 sq m;
  Empty weight 980 kg; loaded weight 1430 kg;
  Maximum speed 162 km/h; range 450 km; climb to 1,000 m in 5 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 15 minutes; climb to 3,000 m in 23 minutes; climb to 4,000 in 37 minutes; ceiling 5,000 m; range 490 km; endurance four hours
  Armament was one machine gun in a turret fired by the observer
  A total of 30 built

Macchi M.9

  Developed from the M.8, the Macchi M.9 reconnaissance/bomber flying boat appeared in late 1918 and did not see service in the First World War. It closely resembled closely the earlier machine, but its slightly refined structure had marginally increased dimensions and power was provided by a 300-hp Fiat A.12bis engine. Production was to be subcontracted, but in the event only 30 of the type were delivered to the Regia Marina, 18 of them by the end of 1918. The M.9 was credited with an offensive load of either four 100-kg aerial mines or two 135-kg bombs for anti-submarine attacks.
  The M.9 remained in service until 1924.
  Post-war versions included the M.9bis with an enclosed cabin for a pilot and three passengers, and the M.9ter with an Italian-built 300-hp (224-kW) Hispano-Suiza engine and open cockpits for its pilot and three passengers.

Foreign Service

  Argentina - Two M.9s were acquired by the Argentine Navy from the Italian Air Mission in 1919. Serials were BM.9 No.1 and BM.9 No.2 and were based at San Fernanado and Puerto Militar. They were SOC in 1928. One was flown by Alferez Zar and Capitan Gregores in December 1919 on a tour of South America.

  Brazil - Five acquired in 1919. They were assigned serials Nos. 19 to 23, They remained in service until 1923.

  Poland - The Italian Air Mission in Poland offered on February 5, 1920, to supply a complete squadron equipped with 15 M.7s and 15 M.9s. The M.9s were manufactured in 1919 and were new. Since, maritime aviation did not exist in Poland yet, the offer was rejected.
  On 3 December, 1920, the Polish Military Purchase Mission in Rome placed order No. 351/20 for five Macchi M.9s, two-seat, patrol flying boats with Fiat A-12bis engines plus spare parts of airframes were ordered. Initial acceptance was to be made on site in Naples, and after final delivery to Puck.
  On 8 February, 1921, a second order, No. 93/21, was issued for an additional two M.9s. A plan to order 16 more with Fiat engines was considered, but eventually, abandoned. Delivery was by sea to Gdansk-Westerplatte. The whole reached Gdansk at the end of July 1921 on the Rosaalba, together with FBA Type S trainers. In total, seven complete M.9 + spare parts + other equipment were imported.
  Assembly and test flights was by Polish mechanics of the unit. On 10 April 1922, the commission inspected the first M.9s that were at the final stage of assembly. At the time, it was intended to assemble seven complete M.9s, leaving aside for later the assembly of an additional three airframes, which could be assembled from spare parts.
  Italian technicians arrived at the end of June 1922 The aircraft assembled in Puck were dismantled and reassembled. An unofficial flight was carried out. Unfortunately, the wooden structure, stored for 11 months in a damp and unheated hangar, required a thorough renovation, especially the replacement of the plywood covering.The turret rings were mismatched and needed correction. Flights on the M.9s had to be suspended.
  In the Maritime Aviation Workshop in Puck, additional reinforcements of M.9 hulls and wings were undertaken, and they were subsequently approved for flight.
  As the result of this and subsequent repairs, the M.9s became slightly heavier, which reduced their payload, limiting the radius of action. They were still satisfactory for patrol flights and for crew training.
  During the routine flight of 6 October 1919 with the task of choosing a place for the artillery range, an M.9 flying boat was involved in an accident, the crew of Cpt. Obs. Karczewski and lieutenant pil. Ludwik Patalas were killed. The cause of the crash was engine failure.
  All Macchi M.9s had to be re-examined. The work lasted until April 1924. At the same time, assembly of two airframes from spare parts was begun at Puck.
  The M.9s were to be used along with new LeO H13B and CAMS-30E2 flying boats obtained from France. However, by this time, the M.9s were outdated and were used only for training and soon decommissioned.

  Spain - A single M.9 was obtained in 1921. The M.9 was felt to be inferior to the SIAI S.16 and S.16bis.The lone aircraft were assigned to the training unit Escuela de Tiro y Bombardeo (Gunnery and Bombing School) at Los Alcazares. Macchi No. 4 had the top wing removed and was used as a gunnery trainer as a penguin (incapable of flight). It is not known how many M.9s were purchased.

Macchi M.9 Two-Seat Reconnaissance and Bomber Flying Boat with One 300-hp (224-kW) Fiat A.12bis Engine
  Wingspan of 15.45 m; length 9.50 m; height 3.15 m; wing area 48.5 sq m
  Empty weight 1,250 k; payload 550 kg; maximum takeoff weight of 1800 kg
  Maximum speed 187 km/h; climb to 4,000 m in 28 minutes 30 seconds; ceiling 5,500 m; range 700 to 900 km
  Armament comprised one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun on a ring mounting in the front cockpit and two 135 kg bombs carried under the wings
  Thirty built for Regia Marine
Macchi M.8 '34', 1918
Macchi M.9 '25', Polish Naval Air Service
Macchi M.8.
Macchi M.8 '32'.
Macchi M.8 '49', 251a Squadriglia. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi M.9 in the water draws a crowd.
Macchi M.9. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi M.9 '28'.
Macchi M.9 #20730 with its crew. These are all photos of Macchi M.9 flying boats of the Brazilian Navy in 1919.
Macchi M.9 flying boats at their naval air station in Brazil.
Macchi M.9 flying boats at their naval air station in Brazil.
Macchi M.9 '29'.
Macchi M.9 flying boats at their naval air station in Brazil.
Macchi M.9 tactical '30' together with other Macchi flying boats at its seaplane station in Brazil.
Macchi M.9 tactical '30' on the water.
Brazilian Macchi M.9 on the water.
Macchi M.9 flying boats at their naval air station in Brazil.
Macchi M.9 undergoing maintenance.
Macchi M.9 #20680 in Argentina. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi M.9 '25' of the Polish Navy. (Roberto Gentilli)
Macchi M.9
Macchi M.8
Macchi M.8
Macchi M.8
Marchetti MVT/S.50

  Designed by Alessandro Marchetti of the Vickers-Terni firm in La Spezia.The fuselage had a metal interior structure with bronze joints and was fabric covered. The sharply tapered fuselage was suspended between the wings. The narrowing of the fuselage from behind the cockpit was apparently intended to improve the pilot’s rearward view.
  It was intended that the aircraft could be rapidly disassembled and transported. The wing interior was also constructed of metal with steel spars; the top wing had a pronounced sweepback. A simple “I” strut on either side of the wing provided support along with sheathed cable rigging.
  The engine was an SPA 6A. Oddly, the M.V.T. (Marchetti Vickers-Terni) used wing warping of the wing tips for lateral control instead of ailerons as used by virtually all Italian fighters at that time. It was powered by a high-compression SPA 6a engine developing 220-hp with car-type radiator. It drove a wooden two blades propeller with a spinner. The landing gear protruded from the fuselage through a cut out in the leading edge of the lower wing. There was a conventional fin attached to a large rudder. There were elevators, but no horizontal stabilizers.
  The M.V.T. was flown in September 1918 by sergente Liut; as testing continued the aircraft was claimed to have reached 260 km/h at Montecelio, although this was, and still remains, unverified. In 1919 a speed of 275-hp was reportedly reached with a newly fitted 285 hp SPA 6-2a engine.
  Work stopped postwar until Marchetti joined SIAI and resumed development as the S.50. This was the first landplane for the SIAI firm.
  The S.50’s received in 1923 serials 11, 12, 13 which, in the system adopted by the Regia Aeronautica, indicated experimental aircraft. An order of 12 examples was announced in 1922 but as far as can be determined they were never built.
  SIAI modified an S.50 as a floatplane to participate in the 1922 edition of the Schneider Trophy in Naples. Still called S.50, this aircraft carried two big flat bottomed floats attached to the undercarriage legs and, with a “V” strut, to the underside of the fuselage. It had a new rudder, with a larger fin that projected underneath the fuselage, while the upper portion had been deleted. The modified S.50 crashed during a test flight over the Lake Maggiore. Test pilot Umberto Guarnieri, survived this accident, while the M.V.T. S.50s career did not.

S.50 Single-Seat Fighter with One 220-hp SPA 6A S.s.c. Engine
  Wingspan 8.70 m; Length 7.25 m; Height 2.60 m; Wing surface area 21.5 sq m
  Empty weight 740 kg; payload 240 kg; loaded weight 987 kg.
  Maximum speed 250 km/h; Climb to 1000 m in 2 minutes; Climb to 2000 m in 4’36”; Climb to 3000 m in 8 minutes; Climb to 4000 m in 12’12”; Climb to 5000 m in 23’40”; Ceiling 7550 m; Endurance 2h 6’
Marchetti M.V.T. with pilot serg. Liut.
Marchetti M.V.T. with pilot serg. Liut and designer Alessandro Marchetti. (Roberto Gentilli)

  Giovanni Pegna in 1905 applied to enter the Naval Academy in Livorno. He was accepted in October 1905, and in March 1909, was appointed a Lieutenant of Naval Engineers in April of the same year. Also in 1909 he built several interesting models, including the biplane glider Pegna I, and the Pegna 2, a monoplane flying boat with, with engine 1 hp, two-cylinder engine driving a four-bladed propeller. This second model, however, was destroyed at the end of its first flight.
  In 1911 he obtained a degree in marine engineering at the Royal Naval School in Genova, and in September of that year he was named the head of the repair works for shipboard seaplanes in use by the Italian Royal Navy Arsenal at La Spezia.
  At the beginning of 1912 he was promoted to capitano del Genio Navale (captain of Naval Engineers). It was in La Spezia in 1912 that Pegna made his first airplane flight as an observer. He learned to fly on a single-seater Curtiss-Robinson seaplane of the Regia Marina.

  Pegna 3 - Pegna later modified the Curtiss seaplane and designated it Pegna 3. After numerous sea taxying trials, during which he learned to control the aircraft, he progressed to a series of short jumps, and then took off alone. On April 4,1913 in the Gulf of La Spezia tenente Calderara, with tenenti Ortalda and Pegna as passengers, made the first three-man seaplane flight in Italy.
  While making a series of flights aboard the seaplane on 3 August, Pegna crashed into the sea. Pegna was rescued and the aircraft was recovered and taken to the Naval Arsenal.
  On 15 November 1913, in Venice, Pegna applied for a patent for his new seaplane design. On December 3, 1913 he flew Curtiss seaplane from La Spezia to Livorno. In 1913 and in 1914, at the Arsenal of La Spezia, he built two types of seaplanes whose production was limited to only two prototypes.

  Pegna 4 - a single engine monoplane with floats. The prototype was destroyed during an attempt to take off when it collided with a boat.

  Pegna 5 - a single engine monoplane with floats, which was fitted with number of different engines including a 100-hp Gnome 14-cylinder motor. Subsequently he tried a 90 hp Salmson 7-cylinder water cooled radial. The aircraft would have to be autostable, since the fuselage hung “underneath" the wing and could be moved in the longitudinal direction with respect to it. The seaplane was completed and made several flights but with disappointing results.

  Pegna also developed a maritime blimp which remained, an unbuilt project.
Pegna floatplane prototype.

  He collaborated in the construction of a seaplane at Pesaro, where he was assigned in August 1914, and, in collaboration with the pilot Giuseppe Rossi, also performed experiments with launching torpedoes from seaplanes. In 1915 Pegna was transferred to Milan, to coordinate the production of aeronautical support facilities for seaplanes operating in the area. At this time Pegna began the design of three new types - a single-engine seaplane and two four-engine bombers (fitted with wheels). The two bombers received designations Pegna 8 and Pegna 9. One was to be constructed by the Societa Architetto Monti di Milano and the other by Cantieri Fratelli Zari at Bovisio Mombello. Unfortunately for Pegna, Ammiraglio Pini suddenly died, and he was succeeded by Ammiraglio Casanova. He had no interest in the heavy bomber program and unilaterally rescinded the contracts and canceled the prototypes which were still under construction.

  Pegna 6 - With the support of Ammiraglio (Admiral) Pino Pini, Chief of Staff of the Royal Navy, Pegna proceeded with the construction of the Pegna 6 seaplane, a two-seat biplane, with a single-engine, supplied by the firm Isotta Fraschini.
  The Pegna 6 was a two-seat, biplane flying boat intended for maritime reconnaissance. The engine was a 180 hp Isotta Fraschini V4B. The hull, initially in steel, was later replaced with a lighter wooden structure. The thick wings, were strengthened by two vertical struts on either side.
  Ammiraglio Casanova, who had replaced Pini on his death, cancelled the project.
  The Isotta Fraschini firm decided instead to complete on their own behalf, as a company project. Ammiraglio Casanova saw this as a willful disobedience of his orders and placed Pegna under arrest for three months. However, the Aviation Department of the Isotta Fraschini firm, under the direction of Flaminio Piana Canova, assisted by engineer Tebaldi, completed the seaplane that was successfully tested on Lake Orta. To no ones surprise, the aircraft was not purchased by the Regia Marina.

  Pegna 7 - Pegna had also planned a high altitude, called «stratosferico» (stratospheric) aircraft which was designated Pegna VII, which was to be able to operate between 6000 and 8000 meters. This aircraft was to have had four engines mounted in tandem and a fifth engine inside the fuselage for actuating the central compressor supercharging. The project was halted when the Pegna 8 and 9 contracts were canceled.

  Pegna 8 - this was a four-engine biplane bomber, powered by four 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 motors mounted in tandem. The construction, which began in 1917 at the Society Brothers Zari, was later suspended after the death of Ammiraglio Pini by order of the Regia Marina. Known specifications include a wing span of 35 m; length 16.50m; wing area 200 sqm; maximum speed was projected to be 160km/h.

  Pegna 9 - this design was very similar to the Pegna 8, but it had a wing area reduced from 200 to 140 square feet, to make it less cumbersome and faster. The construction, which began in 1917 at the Societa Architetto Monti di Milano, was then halted by the Royal Navy. Known specifications include a wing span of 25 m; length 14 m; and wing area of 140 sq m.

  After the Pegna 7 debacle, Pegna was again transferred to La Spezia, where he was able to carry out important experiments on marine propellers and sea-based platforms to enable aircraft to take-off and land and which would be propelled by powerful speed boats.
  In 1917, at the request of DTAM, (Technical Service for Army Aviation) Pegna was assigned to Turin, where he undertook studies and experiments on the flight test of airplanes in order to evaluate the structural stresses which they were subjected to during aerobatics and aerial combat.
  In 1918 he remained assigned to the DTAM when it moved to Rome and with the collaboration of colonnello Biondi and under the direction of generale Costanzi, continued his technical studies.
  After the war, during which despite the incident with Ammiraglio Casanova he reached the rank of maggiore del Genio Navale (Major of Naval Engineers) Pegna left the military in 1919 to start a business in the field of civil aeronautical design.
  See P.B.R. for details.
Pegna 6 prototype. (Roberto Gentilli)

  A twin-engine monoplane seaplane, the first torpedo flying boat built in the world, was designed in 1912 by the lawyer Pescara-Pateras. He showed his designs to the Regia Marina, which accepted it and instructed the capitano del Genio Navale (captain of the Naval Engineers) ing. Alessandro Guidoni for its construction.
  The Pateras-Guidoni torpedo seaplane was a monoplane, the largest that had yet been built, with wings made of wood and aluminum attached to the fuselage. At the base of the wing there was an opening of about one meter for the two propellers which faced each other. The fuselage was divided such that the forward propeller was fitted as a pusher and the forward one as a tractor. The engines were 18-cylinder Gnome rotary engines each generating 200 hp. The connection between the two parts of the fuselage was entrusted to two long floats by means of a lower frame; an upper pylon held the steel cables that supported the wings. The fuselage was completely metal. The rudders were balanced to reduce the effort required to maneuver the aircraft; a small compressed air servomotor was considered instead, but was not used. The floats were of the Guidoni type with hydroplane fins, had an elliptical section with two straight ends and were made of wood with steel fins. There were rudders at the stern of each float for maneuvering in the water.
  Construction began at the Venice arsenal, but it was only at the beginning of 1914, due to the delay in the delivery of the engines from Gnome, that test flights began. On 26 February Guidoni launched a simulated torpedo weighing 375 kg. Although the test proved the success of the project, the aircraft was abandoned after only a few more flights.

Pateras-Guidoni Torpedo Seaplane with Twin Gnome Rotary Engines of 100-hp
  Wingspan 19 m; length 15 m; length of floats 9 m; height 5 m; wing area 70 sq m
  Empty weight 1,600 kg; loaded weight 2,800 kg; payload 1,200 kg.
  Maximum speed 120km/h; endurance 3 hours
Pateras-Guidoni prototype. (Roberto Gentilli)
Pateras-Guidoni prototype.
Pomilio PC

  The Society anonima per costruzioni aeronautiche Ing. O. Pomilio & C was officially incorporated on 19 January 1916. The identity of the PA and PB is unknown; these designations may have been assigned to Pomilio’s earlier aircraft (S.P. 1, 2, 3, and 4). However, since Pomilio’s first tractor design was designated PC because it stood for Pomilio Caccia 1 = Pomilio Fighter Number 1, it seems unlikely that the PA or PB designations refer to the same design. The PC turned out to be inadequate for use as a fighter, and the firm likely chose to designate the follow on designs as PD and PE simply to show that they were all part of the same family.


  The PC was a tractor biplane with equal span wings. The lower wing had a slight sweepback to improve transverse stability. The ailerons were only on the upper wing and made the aircraft very sensitive to control inputs. The two spar wing had a concave curvature.
  The plywood fuselage had aluminum panels over the engine cowling. It was built around four spruce and ash longerons.
  The rudder had bungee cords attached to keep the aircraft from turning to the left.
  The engine was a 250-hp Fiat A.12. Engine cooling was by two inverted “V” shaped radiators located ahead of the cockpit of the pilot. In some case only a single radiator was fitted.
  The oil tank was under the engine and the fuel tank was located at the center of gravity to keep the aircraft stable as the fuel was emptied.
  There was a forward firing 6.5-mm Fiat machine gun located on the top wing; the gunner had another Fiat machine gun located on a Eteve mount.
  Three bombs carried externally on the fuselage side.


  The first flight was effected by Attilio Baldioli in September 1916. Instability problems were noted, and as a result of which the firm increased the wing surface area.
  The PCs had higher speed and improved climb rate then contemporary Italian two-seater pushers, but the PCs also were revealed to have design deficiencies which resulted in numerous accidents in service. They were difficult to fly and unforgiving of pilot errors. Some of these difficulties were the sensitive controls which, while making the PC maneuverable, also made it difficult to fly. Carelessness on the part of the pilot could (and at times did) result in loss of control of the aircraft.


  The first production aircraft were completed in March 1917. While the initial order was for 670 aircraft, Alegi lists production as being only approximately 70 machines.

Operational Service

  The PCs were employed initially as reconnaissance aircraft, not fighters.
  It appears that only two units (131a and 132a) used the Pomilio PCs in any numbers. The first examples entered service on 20 July 1917. They were assigned to I and II Gruppi, at Chiasiellis and Campoformido. Equipped with two Fiat machine guns, unlike the S.P. and M.F.11 pushers, the PC was in a much better position to survive enemy attacks, particularly from the rear. Their maneuverability would also increase the crew’s chance of surviving in a dogfight.
  Serious problems appeared almost a soon as the type entered service. The instability noted in testing had not been completely corrected, and the pilots began to have control problems occasionally leading to crashes.
  131a used Pomilios 3771, 3772, 3782, 3784, 3786, 3810, 3879. On 2 August 1917, tenente Scarpa was killed in an accident. Initially, observers were removed from operational flights (which required ballast to be carried to prevent instability), but on the 4th all Pomilio operations were brought to a halt for three days.
  There were manufacturing issues also. Tenant Luigi Scarpa of 132a was killed when his seat and Eteve mount detached in flight. This resulted in a suspension of flights carrying an observer until the problem could be corrected.
  In outlining the aviation program for the fourth quarter of 1917, Major General Maggiorotti, head of the Aeronautical Services Office of the Supreme Command stated:
  It (the PC) is generally considered a good type for strategic reconnaissance and the commands that employ it are very happy to receive this type. Some inconveniences occurred recently with aircraft that, for no apparent reason, significantly changed their flying qualities. It has been evidently demonstrated that this depended on incorrect adjustment, which was easily remedied by the intervention of the squadriglia’s fitters. This type of aircraft has recently been significantly improved and since, it appears to this Office that a significant number of aircraft of the most recent type have already been tested and delivered (PD and PE), I request that the new squadrons be formed entirely of the most recent type, serving the old type to the needs of the schools and subject to maintaining the efficiency of the squadrons already at the front. Although it may be questionable whether it is advisable to use a model that had proved not easy to fly for training tasks, these words reveal the fact that in just two months of operational use the Pomilio had managed to establish itself and be appreciated in the specific role assigned to it.
  Source: Di Martino pages 129-130
  This somewhat sanguine analysis overlooked the in the inherent design flaws that resulted in the Pomilio PC being unstable. However, new types were needed at the front so these drawbacks were considered to be acceptable risks. The solution of the instability problems was by not means perfected in the following models D and E, but they were improved.
  Unfortunately, the Fiat-Revelli, powered by 50 or 100-shot magazines had a lower fire capacity than weapons used by KuK fighters that carried 250 rounds.
  The first squadrons to receive PC were 131a and 132a Squadriglias where the PC’s inherent instability resulted in a number of accidents. On 22 May, 1917, using a modified PC, tenente Mario de Bernardi completed a postal run from Torino to Rome, transporting over 200 kgs of mail and newspapers, with a flight lasting 4 hours and 11 minutes, at a cruising speed of 180 km/h. However, on landing the aircraft was struck by a crosswind and crashed.
  Given the problems discovered with the PC in operational service, Pomilio had no choice but to redesign the aircraft.
  The PCs were quickly withdrawn from service. There is, fortunately, no evidence that they were ever used as trainers as novice pilots would have found the type difficult, if not dangerous, to fly.


  131 Squadriglia - This was the first unit to receive the new Pomilio PC fighter. It was formed at Torino on 20 March, 1917 at the Centro Formazione Squadriglie at Arcade.
  The unit was active in bombing missions and participated in attacks on Austro-Hungarian flying boats. It then was sent to Lavariano at Chiasiellis assigned to I Gruppo in the 3a Armata sector. On October 1, 1917 the unit moved to Lavariano, still with I Gruppo. By this time the PCs had been replaced by PDs and, later PEs.

  132a Squadriglia - This unit was the only other Squadriglia to equip with PCs. It was formed in July 1917 at the Centro Formazione Squadriglie at Padova. 121a was assigned to II Gruppo in the 3a Armata sector. On September 2,1917 the unit moved to X Gruppo at Campoformido, and back to II Gruppo on October 25. Two days later it moved back to Aviano, the 3 days later to Casoni. By November PEs began to replace the PCs in service.

Pomilio PC Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 250-hp FIAT A.12 Engine
  Wingspan 11,64 m.; length 9,87 m.; height, 3,35 m.; wing area 46 sq m
  Empty weight 1.000 kg.; loaded weight 1,400 kg; payload 400 kg
  Maximum speed 165 km/h.; endurance 3/4 h.
  Armament wing mounted 6.5-mm FIAT machine gun (on some aircraft) and a machine gun on an Eteve mount fired by the observer.
  Approximately 70 built

Pomilio PD & PE

  The Pomilio PC had revealed significant deficiencies in its brief service with 131a and 132a Squadriglias. There were manufacturing deficiencies and design flaws that resulted in a least one flight ban. Nevertheless, the performance was superior to the SAMLs in service and it was no longer vulnerable to rear attacks thanks to the tractor layout which allowed a rear gun to be fitted. The basic design was useful, providing the aircraft’s problems could be corrected. The PD, and more importantly the PE, were intended to replaced their troubled ancestor. The intention was to both eliminate the problems the PC had encountered, while also improving on its performance.
  It was planned that each armata would have a Pomilio PE squadriglia assigned for tactical reconnaissance and artillery co-operation (plus an SVA sezione for strategic reconnaissance). The army reconnaissance squadriglias would each comprise three seziones of four PDs or PEs each. This would permit the seziones to be distributed to the various corpo d’armata on an as needed basis. Eventually there were to have been 12 PD/PE squadriglias assigned at the armata level, versus 24 corpo d’armata squadriglias with SIA 7s.
  However, the PEs would prove to be of even more importance to the Aviazione then the relatively modest plans above would have suggested. They would be called upon to replace more than the obsolete S.P.3s, and obsolescent SAMLs. With the failure of the SIA 7b and delayed production of the SVAs, the PE would become the backbone of the Italian aerial reconnaissance units.
  But first of all, the PCs flaws had to be addressed. The main problem was the lateral instability which on the PC had been “fixed” by attaching a bungee chord to the rudder to prevent it from swiveling. To address this issue, the PD and PE were fitted with an enlarged fixed fin ahead of the rudder and a very large ventral fin which encased the tail skid.
  Another complaint concerning the PC was the limited forward vision of the pilot due to the large radiators mounted in front of the pilot on the cabane struts. On the PD there was a single radiator above the engine. Unfortunately, this radiator was also located in front of the pilot and this, plus the prominent cylinder heads, still severely restricted the pilot’s field of vision. In the PE the radiator was moved and the cylinder arrangement modified; these changes markedly increased the pilot’s forward view.
  Another change on the PD was that the fuel and auxiliary tank were mounted under the upper wing. The tank would be relocated on the PE, also to improve the view ahead.


  According to Camurati, the number of PDs and PEs produced was:
   1917: 463
   1918: 1,073

  In the summer of 1918, half of the reconnaissance squadrons were equipped with Pomilio airplanes.


  1. One PE was fitted with a 300-hp Lancoa engine. This was not intended to be an upgrade for the PE, but instead was to serve as a testbed for in flight evaluation.
  2. An armored ground attack PE was proposed, but it is uncertain if it was ever built.
  3. Ansaldo A.3 was an upgraded PE with revised tail surfaces built after Ansaldo took over Pomilio’s assets. For details see entry under Ansaldo.

Operational Service

  The conversion of the reconnaissance squadriglias to the PD began in the late summer of 1917. These units would be receiving a more modern type than their SAMLs and S.P.3s. However, those two types were docile aircraft, relatively easy to fly. The SIA 7b had proved to be more difficult to master as, aside from its myriad flaws, it was more maneuverable (hence less stable) and required more concentration to fly. It also had a higher performance which took time for the crews to learn to exploit and which also led to landing accidents due to its higher speed. After the SIA 7b experience, it might be expected that the conversion to the PD would prove a more pleasant experience. It was not; the crews were unhappy with the limited forward vision, engine problems, and poor construction. These problems can be broken down as follows:

  1. Engine breakdowns - In August sergente Albertone of 136a suffered two engine failures which resulted in the crash of 13681 (1 August) and 13714 (5 August). On the second crash he was severely injured. On 26 August, a Fiat technical team arrived and disassembled the carburetors of the Fiat A12 engines. It is unclear to what degree this addressed the problem as the squadriglias continued to complain of frequent engine failures, sometimes resulting in the loss of the aircraft.
  136a used SAMLs until they could be assured of the Pomilio’s safety. They did not resume PE operations until 5 September. By the end of the war, the unit lost five planes in combat and 23 in forced landings due to engine breakdowns.
  In 28a Squadriglia, engine failures and propeller problems would result in crash or emergency landings limiting the number of aircraft available for operations.
  The problem was traced to faulty engine settings and mismatched propellers; according to Alegi, these problems could be corrected in the field by mechanics from Fiat.

  2. Wing failures. The PDs and PEs had structural failures of their wings in flight, sometimes with the resultant loss of aircraft and crew. On November 27, Pomilio 6900 of 139a Squadriglia was lost when a wing detached during a test flight, killing caporale Mautino.
  A 133a Pomilio was subsequently found to have a cracked wing spar.
  This problem was addressed by required inspection of the attachment points of the wings by both the squadriglia mechanics, as well as Pomilio representatives at the airfield or repair centers. Only after these inspections were completed could the aircraft be returned to service.
  Inspections in the field revealed numerous incidents of poor manufacturing techniques and design flaws. These problems could be exacerbated when the field mechanics adjusted the rigging. According to Alegi, the Pomilio firm was ordered to fix the attachment points to the main wing spar box on all the Pomilios then in service.
  These problems continued throughout the war. For example, on December 10, 1918 134a Squadriglia was in Verona with Pomilios 3859, 3891, 3895, 3899, 4015, and 6867; all six were not operational as they needed repair to the wing mountings which had caused numerous breakdowns.

  3. Instability - There were widespread centering problems which before being at least partially resolved had in turn caused several serious accidents. Unit records note that the aircraft were seen to flip over on their back with complete loss of control, without any obvious explanation. On the 20th sergente Carnio and Adorni of 136a were injured when their PE 7925 had a wing slip on their return to base.

  These issues led to a widespread distrust of the machine. In one squadriglia the PDs and PEs had to be withdrawn due to the open resistance to them by the pilots.
  Despite these problems, which were never fully solved, by late August the squadriglias using PD/PEs had completely converted to the type. Part of the delay was due to the fact that many Pomilios lacked the installations required by the artillery service and that these had to be fitted at the squadriglias as the aircraft were delivered. There were also delays in getting PEs due to the need to retrofit the new wing spar box attachment points. This was a time consuming process which required mechanics to remove the wing covering and repair the joints.
  28a Squadriglia provides an example of the conversion process from SIA 7bs to Pomilios. The transition began 1 July when the last SIA was discharged. There were no further flights until 9 July, when the unit received two Pomilios (one with dual controls, usually these were converted PDs) for training. Pilot training had been completed by 25 July, when combat sorties could begin. At the end of August only six Pomilios had been supplied; there were only three qualified pilots and six observers.
  Unfortunately, having a handful of trained pilots and operational planes did not mean that full operations could now begin. Engine failures and propeller problems would result in crash or emergency landings which reduced the supply of aircraft.
  As production switched to the improved PE, the PDs were converted to dual-control trainers, designated d.c. or doppio comando (dual control). Later it was decided to covert PEs to trainers. Alegi reports that 196 PD and PE trainers were built, which was 14% of the entire production run.
  The army squadriglias using Pomilio PEs found that, despite the rear gunner, they still required fighter escort. In time they ended up being increasingly used as corpi d’armata squadriglias; this influx of relatively new aircraft permitted the corpi to have sufficient aerial coverage.
  Due to a lack of observers that were trained in artillery spotting, the PEs use in the artillery co-operation role was limited.
  The PEs did have good characteristics which became more evident as the crews learned to adapt to the type’s shortcomings. For example, the Pomilios of 131a were able to operate without escort and engaged in long-range reconnaissance over occupied territories during which they dropped propaganda leaflets. Their speed was still considered sufficient protection, even if, on 25 March, 1918 the plane piloted by Sergeant Lorenzo Baudino with Lieutenant Orazio Brizio Soletti as an observer was shot down near Oderzo during one of these missions.
  The commander of I Gruppo, capitano Sella (as quoted in Gentilli and Varriale’s book) had this to say about the Pomilios: “The P.E. never gave rise to inconvenience and aroused confidence in pilots and observers. The construction of this device from the past year in which it presented defects for which often various parts had to be changed, (were) improved so much that it no longer gave rise to any complaints.”

Pomilio PD Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 250-hp FIAT A.12 Engine
  Wingspan, 11.64 m; length, 8.94 m; height, 3.35 m; wing area, 46 square meters.
  Empty weight 1,177 kg; loaded weight 1,577 kg; payload, 400 kg
  Maximum speed, 185 km / h.; climb to 1,000 m. in 5 minutes 30 seconds; at 2,000 m. in 12 minutes 45 seconds; 3,000 m. in 22 minutes; 4,000 m. in 37 minutes; range, 5,000 m; endurance three to four hours
  Two 6.5-mm FIAT machine guns, one fixed and forced by the pilot, the other on a ring mount fired by the observer; three bombs carried externally

Pomilio PE Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 250-hp FIAT A.12 Engine
  Wingspan, 11.28 m; length, 8.95 m; height, 3.35 m; wing area, 44 square meters.
  Empty weight 1,135 kg; loaded weight 1,535 kg; payload 400 kg
  Maximum speed 195 km/h. climb to 3,000 m in 15 minutes; range 5,000 m; endurance three to three to five hours
  Two 6.5-mm FIAT machine guns, one fixed and forced by the pilot, the other on a ring mount fired by the observer; three bombs carried externally
Pomilio PD P.3824
Pomilio PE, 23a Squadriglia, Summer 1918
Pomilio PE P.6930, 131a Squadriglia, Fossalunga Aerodrome, 1918
Pomilio PE, 112a Squadriglia, Castenedolo Aerodrome, 1918
Pomilio PE P.13839, CpI Pasquale Bernabei/Ten Lucio Albani, 135a Squadriglia, Castelgomberto Aerodrome, June 1918
Pomilio PE P.18502, 28a Squadriglia, Malcontenta Aerodrome, September 1918
Side View if a Pomilio PC P 3757 Tractor Biplane for armed reconnaissance from 1917. 260 h.p. Fiat A.12 engine, allowing about 114 m.p.h. Later models became similar but refined PDs and PEs.
Pomilio PC P 3757.
Pomilio PC P 3780 in a hangar. (Roberto Gentilli)
Pomilio PD P.3824 had a fuel tank behind the prominent underwing radiator.
The Pomilio PD had a prominent radiator attached under the leading edge of the upper wing.
Pomilio PD P.5611.
A Pomilio PD with colorful markings. (Roberto Gentilli)
The Pomilio PE had a nose radiator and under-fuselage fin incorporating the tail skid.
The Pomilio PE had a nose radiator. This early model had the original small fin of the PD.
Pomilio PE P7871 in darker finish and enlarged vertical fin.
A Pomilio PE in darker finish with colorful markings and enlarged fin.
A Pomilio PE of 22a Squadriglia in darker finish.
The Pomilio PE had a nose radiator and under-fuselage fin incorporating the tail skid.
The Pomilio PE in flight.
Pomilio PC P 3780 after a bad landing at Mirafiori. (Roberto Gentilli)
Pomilio PD in bad condition. (Roberto Gentilli)
Pomilio PD
Pomilio PD
Pomilio PD
Pomilio PE
Pomilio PE
Pomilio PE
Pomilio PF

  Under engineer Corradino Di Ascanio, Pomilio also produced the PF, a two-seat biplane reconnaissance aircraft evolved from the previous “Gamma” fighter design. The PF was fitted with a 300-hp Fiat A.12 engine.
  The PF was faster than contemporary fighters then in service with the Italians. With this new airplane Mario de Bernardi reached a speed of 240 km/h. The PF carried a powerful defensive armament of two synchronised machine guns fired by the pilot and one or two machine guns mounted in a ring mount fired by the observer.
  The PF was the first Italian reconnaissance aircraft to have its cameras mounted inside the fuselage; it actually had three cameras one with a focal length of 500 mms.
  Although flight testing in May to June 1918 revealed the PF to have superior performance, the PF was not built in series, because the Society Anonima Pomilio was absorbed by the Ansaldo firm and the PF was, in fact, a competitor to the SVA 9 and 10 series. In fact, after the Pomilio firm had been absorbed by Ansaldo, the Pomilio technicians produced a version of the PE which became the Ansaldo A.3.
  Pomilio went to the U.S. and designed the FVL.8 and BVL.12 for the Engineering Division at Wright Field.

Pomilio P.F. two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 300-hp Fiat A.12 engine
  Wingspan 10.30 m; length 8 m;
  Loaded weight 1,500 kg
  Maximum speed 240 km/h; endurance 3 hours 30 minutes
  Armament was two synchronized machine guns fired by the pilot and one or two machine guns mounted in a ring mount fired by the observer
  One built
Pomilio Gamma

  The Gamma was the only single-seat fighter produced by Pomilio. The previous Pomilio designs carried designations up to the letter “F”, so it is likely this would have been the PG, or “Gamma”.
  The Pomilio Gamma was of wooden construct with cloth covering and biplane of conventional construction. The Gamma had a streamlined fuselage with a single bay of struts and few bracing wires. The large wing and tail plane were designed to ensure maneuverability in combat. Armament consisted of two fixed, forward firing.303 machine guns.
  The Gamma was initially fitted with a six cylinder in-line, water cooled 200-hp SPA engine and was tested in Winter 1917 by tenente Mario De Bernardi, with disappointing results. Therefore, a second version was equipped with the more powerful 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 in-line engine. The more powerful Isotta-Fraschini improved the Gamma’s climb rate; it could now reach 4000 m in 11 minutes.
  After thorough testing in late February 1918 De Bernardi demonstrated the Gamma to the military authorities at Mirafiori airfield. The flight tests of the aircraft continued throughout 1918, confirming its superior performance.
  Despite this, the Gamma never saw any operational use; Ansaldo’s had assumed control of Pomilio in Spring 1918 and were inclined to push their own designs, in this case the A.1 Balilla, over Pomilio’s.
  Seven Gammas were to be constructed for testing purposes, but it appears that none of the other six were ever delivered.
  The two Pomilio brothers emigrated to the USA, with the blessing of the Italian government, to create designs for the U.S, Engineering Division.

Pomilio Gamma Single Seat Fighter with One 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 Engine
  Wingspan 7.99 m; length 6.30 m; wing area 21.90 sq m
  Empty weight 680 kg; loaded weight 810 kg (one source says 950 kg)
  Maximum speed 225 km/h; climb to 4,000 m in 11 minutes; ceiling 5,000 m; range 3 hours
  One built out of seven ordered
Pomilio Gamma prototype.
The Italian Pomilio fighting scout.
Pomilio Gamma prototype and De Bernardi. (Roberto Gentilli)
Pomilio Gamma prototype under review by Ruffo and Baracca. (Roberto Gentilli)

  The brothers Ettore and Umberto Ricci with the financial support of Ettore De Antoni and the industrialist Annibaie Cecconi who provided the capital, founded the Fratelli Ricci & Cecconi Company in 1912.
  They began work on a seaplane called Ricci O, which was a large machine with a central hull, with lateral floats. The upper wing was mounted in a central position, and two lower movable wings with a smaller spa, were located one at the end of the bow and the other at the stern. These last two wing surfaces also functioned as rudders and stabilizers. The engine, installed in the fuselage behind the cockpit of the two pilots, was ordered from the German firm Daimler-Mercedes of Stuttgart. It was a 100 hp 6-cylinder in-line DI, driving a 2.45-meter Romanoff pusher two-blade propeller. After the engine was delivered in 1914, the Ricci O was launched in a small private dock on the Adige river where, where test pilot Bartolomeo Pugnante - one of the first Italian seaplane pilots - tested the buoyancy and seaworthiness of the new design. The Regia Marina delayed providing a test pilot to evaluate the machine and this, plus disagreements between Ricci and their financiers, slowed down further testing of the seaplane which was abandoned with Italy’s entry into the war in 1915.

Ricci 1 and 1 bis

  When Italy entered the war the two Ricci brothers dissolved the company and entered service with the 3a armata. After about a year, Ettore and Umberto Ricci were assigned to the DTAM = Direzione Tecnica Aviazione Militate (Military Aviation Technical Directorate) in Turin.
  During this time Ettore Ricci designed a large multi-engine bombing seaplane, the construction of which was approved by the Direzione Superiore Aeronautica (Superior Aeronautical Directorate) which entrusted the work to the Ingano and Lauro company of Naples. This company was later transformed into the I.A.M. = Industrie Aviatorie Meridionali and was planning coproduce the FBA Type H under license. The work was carried out under the direction of its designer, who was transferred to Naples to follow the construction of his seaplane, and the new aeronautical department of the I.A.M.
  In 1916, based on a project by Ettore Ricci and commissioned by the DTAM, the second Ricci seaplane was created. It was an ambitious triple-engine bombardment and torpedo biplane which was given the name of Ricci 1. It was a large twin-hull flying boat, capable of carrying two torpedoes or a corresponding load of bombs and was armed with two machine guns mounted at the end of the bow of each of the two hulls. The engines were 250 hp Fiat A.12 bis with a tractor propeller installed in front of the cockpit, and two 180 hp Isotta Fraschini V.4Bs pushers, located between the two wings above the twin booms.
  To speed up the preparation as much as possible, the various parts of the prototype - based on construction drawings by engineer Ricci - were produced by different companies: the crew nacelle was built by S.I.A. of Turin, the wings by the Schirollo firm of Milan, and the two hulls by Cantieri Navali Gallotti of Naples.
  The final assembly was carried out at I.A.M., under the direct control of the designer. Upon its appearance, the Ricci 1, with its 28 meters wingspan, turned out to be the largest bombing seaplane of its time. Its flight test, in 1917, almost turned into a tragedy. Test pilot Franzoni was not trained to fly multi-engine aircraft, and a careless maneuver caused the Ricci 1 to crash; although he survived the crash, the aircraft was destroyed.
  Despite the accident of the Ricci 1, the DTAM ordered three examples, one example to be tested to destruction, plus two flying prototypes. In 1917 the Ricci brothers developed a newly modified and enhanced version, with one 300-hp Fiat A.12 bis and two 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V.6 of 250 hp engines, generating a total of 800 hp. It was designated Ricci 1 bis.
  There was to have been a crew of five. The armament included 2 torpedoes carried on racks between the two booms; defensive armament was three machine guns, two at the front of the booms and one at the rear of the cockpit. The Isotta Fraschini V.6 engines proved troublesome and had to be replaced by two Fiat A.12 bis.
  On 15 December, 1919, the Ricci 1 bis was successfully flown by pilot Licinio Bornacin. During repeated test flights even in unfavorable weather conditions and sea states, the Ricci 1 bis proved to be a good seaplane. As the test continued the type was ordered into production. The First World War ended when the three tests aircraft had just been completed and before production could start. Not surprisingly, the plan to produce more examples was cancelled.
  The Ricci 1 bis was transformed into a commercial aircraft, with the replacement of the cockpit by a cabin for three crewmen, two pilots and an engineer, and 10 passengers. Cargo, mail, newspapers and goods, could be carried in the two hulls, where the fuel tanks were already located. There was no interest from any potential buyers in this flying boat airlines; no further examples were built.

Ricci 2

  In 1918 the Riccis designed a very elegant and unusual hulled seaplane with seagull-shaped wings, designated the Ricci 2 monoplane. The pusher engine was mounted on four supports immediately behind the cockpit. The tail planes were placed very high above the hull. The Ricci 2, was to have been fitted with a 300-400 hp engine and reach speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour.
  This design also remained a project.

Ricci 3, 4, and 5 Projects

  Although the production of Ricci 1 and Ricci 1 bis had stopped only at prototypes, Ettore and Umberto Ricci were already thinking of large multi-engine engines for the transatlantic passenger service; the result was the Ricci 3, Ricci 4 and Ricci 5 projects.
  The Ricci 3 was a twin-hulled, triplane seaplane with four engines, which was to be powered by a total of 5,000 hp. The cabin, for 50 passengers, was located between the first and second wings. The payload also included freight and mail. The tail planes included three vertical fins and a single rudder. The engines, coupled two by two, were coaxial with traction and propulsive propellers.
  The Ricci 4 seaplane was a huge triplane with two floats, propelled by four engines coaxially coupled in groups of two.
  The Ricci 5 had two hulls, tandem triplane wings and a biplane tailplanes. The two designers attributed a possible carrying capacity of 150 passengers.
  The Ricci brothers considered the possibility of operating a transatlantic airline on the Naples-Gibraltar route, as well as an Azores-St John of Newfoundland-New York route. The longest leg required a non-stop flight of 2,300 kilometers. These dreams failed to attract investors.
  They reworked the Ricci 1 project by enlarging the cabin and also adding an engine. The result was a four-engine seaplane for use on the Naples-Palermo-Tunis-Tripoli route. This plan also failed.

Ricci 5bis

  In 1923 they therefore decided to sell their ownership shares in the boat company and become employees again.They then became designers at the Officine e Cantieri Meridionali in Naples. With this company they built three new aircraft for school and tourism: the Ricci 5 bis seaplane and the Ricci 7 and Ricci 7 bis airplanes.
  In 1924 they completed the Ricci 5 bis, a small and slender biplane flying boat, for training and touring, it carried two crewmen in tandem seats, powered by an 80-hp Combi engine operating a two-blade propeller. The Ricci 5 bis was flown for the first time, in 1924 by pilot Raimondo Di Loreto.

Ricci O Torpedo Seaplane One 100-hp Daimler Engine
  Wingspan 7.50 m, length 10.50 m, wing surface area 44 sq m
  Empty weight 600 kg, payload 300 kg, total weight 900 kg.
  Maximum speed 100 km/h.

Ricci 1 Flying Boat Torpedo Plane with One 250 hp Fiat A.12 bis with a Tractor Propeller and two 180 hp Isotta Fraschini V.4B Pushers
  Wingspan 28 m, length 14 m, height 4.20 m, wing area 140 sq m
  Empty weight 2,500 kg, payload 1,500 kg, loaded weight 4,000 kg,
  Maximum speed of 160 km/h, endurance 4 hours.

Ricci 1 bis Flying Boat Torpedo Plane with Three 250 hp Fiat A.12 bis Engines
  Wingspan 26 m, length 13 m, height 4.20 m, wing area 120 sq m
  Empty weight kg 2,800, payload kg 1,700, total weight 4,500 kg
  Maximum speed 160 km/h, endurance 4 hours.
  Three built

Ricci 5 bis Two Seat Touring Flying Boat with One 80 hp Combi Engine
  Wingspan 7 m, length 8.10 m, wing area 16 m2
  Empty weight 350 kg, payload 200 kg, total weight 550 kg.
  Maximum speed 150 km/h.
Ricci R1 bis. (Roberto Gentilli)
Ricci R.1.


Ricci 6

  In 1918, the Riccis also designed a single-seat triplane which, completed at the beginning of 1920, had a wingspan of only 3.45 meters, at the time it was one the smallest (if not the smallest) aircraft in the world.
  The Ricci 6 or R.6, made the first flight at Bagnoli airport (Naples), piloted by Bruno Albertazzi, at the beginning of 1920. In July 1919 the LAN, Lega Aerea Nazionale (National Air League), with the intention of launching light aviation in Italy announced a competition for touring airplanes. The regulation set the wingspan at only 6 meters.The Ricci R.6 was entered and placed third behind the Macchi M.16 and the Breda Pensuti. It also set an international record in the category height (3,770 m) with am engine below 50-hp.
  The R.6 was offered at a price of 20,000 lire, but there were no sales. The Ricci R.6 was purchased by the well-known engine manufacturer Alessandro Anzani who perhaps, in this way recovered, the cost of his 35-hp engine.
  In 1925 Ettore and Umberto Ricci joined the Aeronautical Section of the Societa Bacini e Scali di Napoli, which specialized in the repair and overhauls of airplanes and seaplanes. At that time Ettore Ricci also designed a small two-seat fighter with folding wings. It was to be carried on warships and launched by catapult. This project was never built and did not receive a Ricci designation.
  In the course of 1931-1932, the Regia Aeronautica purchased a second example of the Ricci R.6 triplane that had been built at the Societa Bacini e Scali of Naples, with modest changes compared to the original. This new R.6 had wingspan increased to 3.60 meters and a 40-hp 6-cylinder Anzani engine. It was tested by the pilot Otello Venchiarutti and assigned Italian military serial MM.167. After testing, it was assigned to the Squadriglia di Propaganda Aeronautica (Air Force Propaganda Squadron).
  The Regia Aeronautica thought of using the Ricci R.6 for liaison and flight training and even special uses in the colonies. But, in the end they only bought the one machine.

Ricci 7

  Built in 1924 using the wings and engine of the Ricci 5 bis seaplane, the Ricci 7 was a landplane with a biplane layout. It was flown for the first time by Di Loreto in Capodichino. In 1925, Ricci replaced the wings with two newly designed wing panels designed for the Ricci 7 bis. In November 1925, piloted by Gennaro Pistone the plane participated in the preliminary rounds of the Italian Cup at Centocelle Airport, Rome. The Ricci 7 suffered a breakage of an engine connecting rod and the pilot was forced to land.

Ricci 8 I.A.S.

  In 1918, as the war ended, the Ricci brothers, based on their project and with the financial support of Baron Gallotti, they built the Ricci 8 I.A.S. (Idroplano Anti Sommergibile = Anti Submarine Seaplane). It was a central-hulled, monoplane flying boat, intended to make low level attacks on submarines. The Ricci 8 I.A.S. had a hull and short and thick wings of only 8 m span and an area of 20 square meters. Once again they chose to use 300-hp Fiat A.12 bis, driving a tractor four-blade propeller, placed aft of the cockpit.
  The armament was a fast-firing cannon mounted in the bow and two torpedoes.The Ricci 8 I.A.S., would use ground effect when it flew low over the surface of the water, reducing aerodynamic drag and conserving fuel. The end of the war ended development of the Ricci 8 I.A.S.

Ricci 9

  With the end of the conflict Ettore and Umberto Ricci diversified into shipbuilding. They set up their own company, called «Societa Cantieri Aeronautici e Navali Fratelli Ricci, Ettore and Umberto», located on Lake Lucrino, near Naples. Here they built boats of different types and tonnages.
  In 1921 a two-seater version of the Ricci 6 was built and designated R.9.The wingspan had been increased to 4.50 meters and the wing area had been increased to 13 square meters and the length to 5 meters. The 35 hp Anzani 6-cylinder engine had been replaced by a 60-hp Le Rhone rotary engine. At the time of its construction, the Ricci 9 was hailed as the smallest two-seater in the world.
  The R.9 was offered at a price of 30,000 lire, but there were no sales. There was a bright side, however; thanks to the attention that the Ricci 6 and 9 had brought to the Ricci brothers , they received orders to build airplanes under license.

Ricci R.6 Single Seat Light Aircraft with One 35 hp Anzani 6-cylinder Engine
  Wingspan 3.50 m, length 3.75 m, height 2.30 m, wing area 11 m2
  Empty weight 150 kg, payload 110 kg, total weight 260 kg
  Maximum speed 140 km/h, minimum speed 35 km/h.
Ricci 6b. (Roberto Gentilli)
Ricci R.6.
Ricci R.6.
SAML "Amphiplane"

  Two biplanes with 80-95-hp Aetos engine. It was entered in the final round of the 1913 Military Aircraft Competition. This called for an ascent to 1000m in less than 40 minutes and 300 km of distance. The SAML completed the course in 4 hours 5 minutes, an hour behind the Borel.

SAML Aviatik, S.1 & S.2

Aviatik P.13, P.14,& P.15

  The SAML two-seat reconnaissance machines were purchased as interim aircraft pending the arrival of more modern designs for the corpi d’crmata and crmata squadriglias. The failure of the Italian aviation industry to develop new reconnaissance machines that were both reliable and efficient, resulted in the type serving almost to the end of the war. It is interesting that such a modest design, so clearly outclassed by 1916, would play such an important role in the Aviazione Militair.
  The Aviatik firm had considerable success in producing military aircraft for the German Fliegertruppe prewar. Three successful prewar military designs had been designed by Wild, the famous Swiss aeronautical engineer, for the German Aviatik firm. These aircraft were:
  Aviatik B - Type P 13 - produced as in a three or four-bay version. Its first flight was on May 1912. It was also known as Aviatik DD Military
  Aviatik B - Type P 14 - a smaller wing; purchased by the Fliegertruppe in 1913 for its stable flight characteristics and load carrying ability.
  In 1913 a total of 101 B-type tractor biplanes based on types P 13 and P.14 fitted with wing cellules of varying wing span were ordered.
  Aviatik B - Type P 15 - a contemporary design of the successful P.14, the P.15 had two-bay wings and shorter fuselage. A three bay version was built as a bomber. The engine was a 100-hp Argus or Mercedes.
  SAML, which had manufactured industrial machinery since 1901, obtained a license to produce the Aviatik under license.
  In 1913, SAML entered an Aviatik P.13 in the first Italian military aircraft competition in 1913. The design did not elicit any orders, French designs such as the Bleriot 11 being preferred.
  By early 1915 colonello Maurizio Mario Moris, of the DGA (Direttore Generale d Aeronautica = Director General of Aeronautics), ordered the Aviatik P 15 copy to be built, These would not be used as army co-operation types or bombers, but were intended to serve with various squadriglie da difesa (defence squadrons) to provide for local protection for Italian cities and factories.
  By the spring of 1917 no Aviatiks were still equipping any operational unit at the front, since they had been gradually replaced by the newer SAMLs for use in reconnaissance missions and by the nimbler single-seat Nieuport biplanes. The Aviatiks were assigned to flying-schools, where they operated quite successfully.


  The Aviatik P.15 was a two-bay biplane with the upper wing being substantially longer than the lower. The two spar wings were of wooden construction, covered in fabric. The struts were metal.
  The wooden fuselage was slab sided without much streamlining. There was fabric covering, except for the forward portion (to the cockpit) which was covered in aluminum sheeting.
  The crew of two sat in tandem in separate cockpits.
  There was a triangular fin and curved tailplanes.
  “V” struts supported the conventional undercarriage, and there was a wooden tail skid. Bungee chords provided shock absorption.
  Various engines were used in the German Aviatiks, and the Italian machines followed suit using several types:
   150-hp Isotta-Fraschini
   125-hp Salmson
   140-hp Salmson
   200-hp Fiat A. 12
SAML Aviatik trainer.
SAML amphibian.
SAML Aviatik trainer A.20173.
SAML Aviatik trainer.

  In order to ease production, it was decided to ask Aviatiks designer, Wild, to assist in the development of a version that be built by an Italian manufacturer. The engine selected was a 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V4; on the prototype and a handful of production machines, the V5 was to be used.
  There were only a few changes made to the basic Aviatik layout. The Italian machines had a larger wingspan and, consequently, had a higher empty weight. Alegi notes that the ailerons, empennage, controls, fuel tanks, and wing attachments of the Aviatik design were retained, although the aerofoil was modified.
  Most production machines would use a 200-hp Fiat A.12. This had the dual of advantage of increased power, as well as equipping the aircraft with an engine that could be reliably mass produced, unlike the troublesome V5.
  The differences between the standard Aviatik and the new design resulted in the designation S.1 and S.2 being applied. However, they were most commonly known simply as “SAMLs”.
  Testing revealed that the performance was superior not only to the Aviatik, but also the SAML’s stablemate, the Savoia Pomilio S.P.2 (another second-generation reconnaissance aircraft design).


  Production of the SAML was delayed by the usual delays in aero engine production. It transpired that the product delays for the Isotta-Fraschini Vs were almost equalled by its replacement, the Fiat A.12. In addition to this, the SAML factory moved in 1916.
  By the end of October 1916 23 examples had been delivered - about one year after the Aviatik had been retired in German service. Two years later 657 SAMLs (Alegi lists a source shows 669) had been produced by SAML and subcontractors Fratelli Frattin in Milan, and Bauchiero at Condove.

  There was only one variant of the SAML. This was the S.2 which featured a shorter and smaller wing, thus reducing the empty weight by 40 kg. It could carry two cameras and had the option of being fitted with an overwing machine gun (this writer has seen only one mention of such an installation in the field, with 120a Squadriglia; see below).
  Postwar a significant number of SAMLs were converted to two-seat trainers.


  The first SAML units were organised as squadriglie difesa reporting directly to the Comando supremo. They were soon sent to operational units to replace their first generation machines: Caudron G.3s, Farman M.F.11s, and Voisin 3s.
  The first deliveries came in January-February 1917 to the 72a and 73a Squadriglia at Brescia and Verona, replacing their Aviatiks.
  Subsequent SAML units were formed for reconnaissance, eventually equipping a dozen squadrons.
  The crisis brought about by the SIA 7b fiasco and the considerable difficulties encountered by the Pomilio types required the SAML to remain with front-line units until the end of the war.


  In the summer of 1915 20 copies of the Austro-Hungarian Aviatik, equipped with 125-hp Salmson motors, were ordered from SAML before the war, but were delivered only between July and August due the unavailability of the engines. An additional twenty were ordered with either 140-hp Salmson or 150-hp Isotta-Fraschini engines. The new SAML-Aviatiks were formed into a unit to defend the city of Brescia on 26 August 1916; they would replaced a Farman squadriglia.This new unit was designated 3a Squadriglia and was of three local air defense units initially formed (the other two flew Farman M.F.11s).


  In 1916 the plan to use the Aviatiks with local defense units had to be altered; the French pusher designs currently being used in the reconnaissance/army co-operation roles were proving to be too vulnerable to enemy aircraft. The SAMLs would, by default, become one of the main Italian reconnaissance types. The SAMLs had the advantage of being a tractor design, permitting a gunner to be carried who could protect against rearward attacks. The 1916 production plan called for four squadriglias to be formed on the type, but there would actually be many more.
  Aviatik Squadriglias in early 1916 were:
   Aviatik Defence Sezione at Aviano, under Comando supremo Ufficio Servizi Aeronautici.
   72a Squadriglia at Brescia, under III Gruppo, 1a armata.
   73a Squadriglia at Verona, under III Gruppo, 1a armata.
   74a Squadriglia Aviatik at Milan, local defense air unit within the Comando supremo.
   75a Squadriglia Aviatik at Verona, local defense air unit under III Gruppo, 1a armata
  By early 1916 there were to have been eight SAML squadriglias in service, but production delays prevented an adequate number of aircraft from being produced. By the end of April 1916, only 23 SAMLs had reached operational units.
  SAML had doubled the size of its factory to meet the military’s demands, but this was a plant that had produced machinery prior to the 1915 order, and was not yet geared for mass production. The SAML at least lacked the vulnerabilities of the pusher Farman M.F.11s, S.P.2s, and S.P.3s, but its production had been delayed by extended testing and acceptance times of all the new machines. Lack of raw materials also played a role in slowing production.
  As the SAMLs began to become available, a crisis was developing in the Aviazione. There were not enough modern fighters to fly combat patrols; the SAMLs were ordered to fill the gap and 3a, 4a, and 5a Squadriglias were formed as fighter units.
  Some reconnaissance squadrons of the Army also had air defense tasks, having to ensure the protection of the cities. Precisely for this reason they were equipped with the SAMLs armed with two machine guns and able to reach a speed of 151 km/h, which thus became the first tractor aircraft with a full fuselage to be used as a fighter aircraft in these air defense units.
  The Italians had favored the pusher formula, long after it was obvious that in this configuration the crew would be helpless to defend against rearward attacks.
  As 1916 progressed, the SAMLs would help form some of the Aviazione’s first fighter units.
  At the end of the first quarter of 1916, the SAML OOB was:
  Officio servizi aeronautici (aviatori) at Udine (Aeronautical services office (aviators) at Udine)
  - IV Gruppo Aeroplani at Pordenone defense sezione diffuse (defense section) at Aviano on Aviatik/SAML
  - defense of Milan, with the 74 Squadriglia Aviatik/SAML at Trenno.
  Comando 1a Armata (1st Army Command)
  - Ill Gruppo Aeroplani at Verona, with 73a Squadriglia and 72a Squadriglia at Brescia, both using SAMLs
  Later in 1916 the following units used SAMLs:
   72a Squadriglia - The unit was created on April 15, 1916 from the Squadriglia 3rd Caccia at Brescia. It had four SAML Aviatiks and two M.F.11s.The unit provided fighter cover and escort missions over Trentino and the Brescia sector.
   73a Squadriglia - Formed 10 December 1917 for service on the Macedonian front by upgrading la Sezione of 83a Squadriglia. 73a Squadriglia was created by upgrading the 1a Sezione of the 83a Squadriglia.
   75a Squadriglia - at Verona, under III Gruppo with la armata.


  It was planned that in the spring of 1917 the Italians would be able to field 30 reconnaissance squadriglias (equipped with the new Savoia-Pomilio S.P.2s, 3s, and 4s), 38 fighter squadriglias (10 with Nieuports, 14 with Pomilio two-seater PCs, and 14 on SAMLs).
  The SAMLs would also continue to serve in the local Air Defense Squadriglias.
  In 1917, the reconnaissance units also had to deal with the troublesome Pomilio PEs and the unexpected structural weakness of the SIA 7b, which had resulted in repeated flight suspensions and subsequent attempts to strengthen their wings. Since the SAMLs could still be useful, provided they were escorted, the transformation of 39a and 121a Squadriglias on to the newer aircraft was suspended. The SAMLs were, therefore, once more called into frontline service, albeit in the reconnaissance role and not as fighters.
  Between February and May the newly-formed Squadriglias de ricognizione 111a, 112a, 113a were formed on SAMLs. Some reconnaissance units of 1a armata were assigned to provide aerial defense for the cities of Lombard, and for this reason they were equipped with the faster SAMLs. Of the 38 air defense squadriglias, 14 used SAMLs. During the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo the SAMLs of 111a and 113a performed the long-range reconnaissance missions, usually without fighter escort. The far less capable, and more vulnerable pusher Savoia-Pomilios and M.F.11s flew the shorter-range missions.
  Due to the chaos most of the reconnaissance sorties were flown without fighter escort and the S.P.3s and SAMLs suffered heavy losses.
  Only the reconnaissance squadrons equipped with SAMLs and Pomilio PC/PDs remained at the front between the end of October and the first days of November, as their performance was adequate for unescorted missions (although in the case of the SAML, this must have been marginal).
  The operations at Caporetto had led the Aviazione to decide that the antiquated S.P.4s should be replaced with the older, but preferred SAMLs, which were even considered to be superior to the Pomilio PC/PDs.
  By 2 December, the situation had stabilized, creating the opportunity for a reorganization of the artillery co-operation squadriglias. It was decided that the artillery squadriglias were to be gathered under a single Gruppo.


  Due to the shortage of fighter aircraft, an escort was not foreseen for artillery regulation missions and short-range reconnaissance and relied on the indirect protection provided by large patrols of free fighter patrols operating freely along the front and, increasingly, behind the lines. On two occasions, on 10 and 11 March, aircraft of 39a Squadriglia escaped the attacks of the opposing fighters and on March 23 a SAML, engaged in the observation of a counter-battery shoot, was shot down over Romanziol. The loss of the SAML resulted in the decision to provide fighter escort for artillery co-operation aircraft.
  May 1918 saw a new series of interventions that, with the transfer of some units and the entry of others into frontline service, altered the SAML order of battle.
  With only six months left in the war, no less than 10 squadriglias da ricognizione still used the antiquated SAML. It is a compliment to Wild’s design that his aircraft were still considered to be superior not only to the S.P. series of aircraft, but even the Pomilio PC that had originally been intended to replace it.
  The Pomilio PE was intended to ultimately replace the SAMLs. However, the Pomilio PEs proved troublesome in operational service and the unexpected structural weakness of the SIA 7b, resulted in repeated flight suspensions and subsequent attempts to strengthen their wings. Since the SAMLs could still be useful, provided they were duly escorted, the transformation of 39a and 121a squadriglias on to these newer aircraft was suspended.
  The Battaglia del Solstizio would be the last Austro-Hungarian offensive of the war. When it began on 15 June, the Italians were ready. The SAML units at that time were: (Note that the designations of the 2a and 5a Armatas were changed to 8a and 9a to confuse the enemy).
  The problems with introducing the Pomilio PE into service had been almost completely resolved, yet the SAMLs ended the war, still in service with four Squadriglias and one sezione. This was a remarkable record for an aircraft which had been selected at the outbreak of the war for use in small numbers with the air defense units.


  The total SAMLs available in 1919-20 included:
  - 26 S.1 (four with the Esercito, 18 with schools and four with the Direzione Rifornimenti Aviazione Militare, DRAM (Military Aviation Supply Department)),
  - 437 S.2 (69 with the Esercito, 24 with schools, 30 with other organizations, 284 with the DRAM and 30 with the DTAM)
  - 206 training variants, all fitted with dual controls (all with DRAM).
  In mid-1920 only four units had SAMLs:
  - 39a Squadriglia - at Aiello converted from Pomilio PE to SAML in July 1920, before transferring to the Turin area
  - 113a Squadriglia - on 4 November 113a was active with XX Gruppo supporting 7a armata; at that time the Squadriglia still had three operational SAMLs.
  - 115a Squadriglia - On 30 November, 115a passed to XIX Gruppo, and in March 1919 to XX Gruppo at Campoformido. It became part of the Gruppo Ricognizione Tactica e Strategica (Tactical and Strategic Reconnaissance Group) at the end of 1919.
  - 121a Squadriglia - at the start of Vittorio Veneto, 121a was still one of the few all-SAML Squadriglia with aircraft 2472, 2497, 2522, 2529, 2550, 2941, 3008, 3009, 3116, and 20355. The unit’s existence continued postwar, initially at Bolzan.

  The SAMLs (primarily S.2s) saw brief colonial service in Africa when a sezione in Eritrea was created March 1919. The unit had several SAMLs; operations began in March 1920 and consisted mainly of communication flights between Assab to Asmera and patrolling Dancalia. The unit redeployed by sea between 1919/20 to Somalia. Operations resumed at Omargergeb, near Mogadishu on 24 March 1921. By summer 1922 there were still three SAMLs still operational and two under repair. The unit was disbanded 1 July 1922.

Foreign Service

  Between 1921 and 1922 the Aviation Militaire Beige has used a number (10+) of SAMLs (either B.2’s or S.2’s) trainers at its flying training School situated at Asch. (Now As). First simply identified as serials 1 to 8 they were redesignated A-1 to A-8 in late 1921. After a series of accidents these Italian aircraft were considered dangerous and were withdrawn from use through an order dated 13 February 1922.

  The city of Quito became the point of selection of the aspiring pilots and it was agreed with the Kingdom of Italy to come to Ecuador for a technical assistance body, in charge of the Italian Aeronautical Military Mission.
  A SAML S.2 was bought in Italy by the Syrian colony of Guayaquil. Other aircraft donated were an Ansaldo SVA 10, from the Italian colony; a Macchi M.18 from the Chinese colony; and an Aviatik B.I (?) bought in Italy by the university students of Guayaquil and, finally a a Salmson 2 was donated. All these aircraft, aside from the M.18, had been in service during World War I. They were put to use by the new Escuela Aviation (Aviation School).

  During the month of June 1922, Sargento Nicola acquired additional aircraft for the government. He had served with the 2a and 6a Sezione SVA during the war and arrived in Paraguay with no fewer than six aircraft. He brought a single Spad 20, two SAMLs, two Ansaldo SVA 5s and one SVA 10 to the airfield known now as Nu-Guazu (Campo Grande). These aircraft operated almost exclusively from the airfield there throughout the campaign against the rebels. These all saw action during the Paraguayan revolution of 1922. In August 1922 the few airworthy aircraft, operated from Villarrica, where the government forces had established their headquarters.
  During the closing months of 1922, Government aviators continued operational missions in support of the Army. By February 1923, the total airworthy Government air element consisted of one SVA 5, one SVA 10, the two SAMLs, and the Spad 20. The SAMLs carried registrations MET-1 and MET-2.
  During the 1922 revolution, both SAMLs were used exclusively as reconnaissance aircraft, sometimes armed with hand-held Thompson light machine guns. Both survived the conflict and were then used by the Escuela Militar Aviation (Military Aviation School). One of these had its wings disassembled and was used a “penguin”.
  In 1928, MET-2 was destroyed in an accident in the San Pedro area, although its crew suffered only minor injuries. The other SAML, MET-1, remained in service at the school until September 1929, when it was used by the Aeronaval School for the training of naval pilots, who also used the facilities of Campo Grande. Six naval pilots were trained during the school’s first year.
  During the Chaco War, the SAML continued to train naval pilots until the end of the conflict. In 1936, the SAML was still operational with the Escuela Militar Aviation when it transferred to the Aeroclub of Paraguay. At this new site it would be used to train aspiring civilian pilots. The surviving SAML was finally removed from service in 1938.

  The association of Turkey with the SAML began when one aircraft was captured 2/7/22. It was assigned to the T2.Tayyare Bolugu on August 1920. It was written off in 1924.
  In 1921, one aircraft was obtained from Italy to serve in the reconnaissance role. It proved unsatisfactory and was relegated to a training role. Named Kraga, it served with the Flying School first at Adana, then Konya and finally Gaziemir.
  In 1923 another six aircraft were obtained on short notice from Italy. The original engines proved unreliable and at Eskisehir old WWI Mercedes engines were successfully mounted instead. Four were used extensively during 1923 and 1924 for pilot training until replaced by French training aircraft.
   2.Tayyare Bolugu (1922)
   HavaMektebi (1923-1924)

  In October 1918 the Kingdom of Yemen became independent from the Ottoman Empire. When Yemenite forces were bombed by the RAF Flight at Aden in January 1922 the Imam became interested in acquiring his own aircraft. An aircraft of unknown origin or design was obtained, but there is no evidence it was ever able to fly.
  Negotiations between Yemen with Italy resulted, in 1924, in Yemen asking to be provided with two aircraft and two instructors. A contract was secured on January 6, 1926, under which six aircraft were to be delivered; all were in bad condition. The Imam complained officially about the fact that the machines supplied were constantly breaking down. In August 1926 the Italian Government of Eritrea sent one machine, which landed at Hodeidah. It was a present from the Italian Governor of Eritrea.
  There was heterogeneous force supplied: at least one Hanriot HD.1, one Ansaldo SVA 10, and one identified as a SAML S2.
  The subsequent fate of these machines remains unknown. The Aviatik B designs of 1914 were certainly useful aircraft, as contemporary notes confirm. They had been largely withdrawn from Luftsteitkrafte service before the end of 1915.

  In Italian service, however, the operation life of the Aviatik designs began in 1916, and the only slightly improved SAML variants would be used throughout the war.
  The dependence of the Aviazione Militaire on this antiquated design was entirely due to the inability the Italian aircraft industry to produce an adequate replacement. The SAML was a first-generation reconnaissance design, yet it was superior to it’s second-generation stablemate, the Savoia Pomilio S.P series. Furthermore, the failure of the third-generation reconnaissance machines, particularly the SIA 7b, as well as teething problems with the Pomilio PD and PE, would mean that in some units the newer types had, themselves, to be replaced by the older SAMLs. There can be certainly no finer complement to Wild’s and Aviatik’s prewar design.

SAML S.1 Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One Fiat A.12 Engine
  Wingspan 13.80 m, length 8.50 m. height 2.95 m; wing area 45 sq m
  Empty weight 1,000 kg; loaded weight 1,420 kg, payload 420 kg
  Maximum speed 151 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 5 minutes 30 seconds ;climb to 2,000 m in 11 minutes 50 seconds; climb to 3,000 m in 20 minutes; climb to 4,000 m in 35 minutes; endurance 3 hours 40 minutes

SAML S.2 Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One Fiat A.12 Engine
  Wingspan 12.25 m, length 8.50 m. height 2.95 m; wing area 39 sq m
  Empty weight 960 kg; loaded weight 1,395 kg, payload 375 kg
  Maximum speed 162 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 5 minutes 40 seconds; climb to 2,000 m in 12 minutes; climb to 3,000 m in 22 minutes; climb to 4,000 m in 37 minutes
SAML S.1 S.2887, 121a Squadriglia, Autumn 1917
SAML S.2 S.2958, 113a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.2961, 111a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.3018, 118a Squadriglia, Autumn 1917
SAML S.2 '1', 113a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.20378, 113a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 2567, Capitano Mario Reboa, 115a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.2542, Sgt. Dositeo Meazza, 115a Squadriglia.
SAML S.2 S.2548, Tenente Luigi Monti, 115a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.19042, Capitano Piero Botta, 115a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.3104, Maggiore Renato Pascale, 115a Squadriglia
SAML S.2 S.3018, Sgt. Filippo Rosati, 115a Squadriglia
SAML closeup.
SAML #S.2044.
SAML #S.2058 with airmen.
SAML #S.2058 on its airfield.
Lineup of SAML two-seaters of 115a Squadriglia.
Aviatik designs had an impact far beyond Germany. Above are S.A.M.L.2 aircraft of Italy's 113a Squadriglia; the S.A.M.L. 2, one of the more reliable and successful Italian two-seaters, was developed from the Aviatik B-type design.
SAML performs a head stand after a rough landing.
SAML S.2 Early
SAML S.2 Early
SAML S.2 Early
SAML S.2 Late
SAML S.2 Late
SAML S.2 Late
Savoia-Pomilio S.P.1, S.P.2, & S.P.3

  Savoia Pomilio was named after its two founders, ingegnier maggiore Umberto Savoia and tenente Ottorino Pomilio.
  There first design was based on the M.F.11s that had been license built in Italy.
  The Italian reconnaissance and fighter arms came to depend, at least initially, on French aircraft.The Voisins 3, Caudron G.3, Caudron G.4, and, most importantly, the M.F.11, formed the backbone of the army co-operation units.
  By 1916 it was clear that more modern types were needed, preferably types that could be built by the early Italian aircraft industry. M.F.11s were built by Fiat (designated F.5b) with 100-hp Fiat engines, this from Savoy had 110-hp Colombo motors, and Nieuport-Macchi built 50 machines.


  It must have appeared that the M.F.11 would be the most ideal machine to copy. It was popular, effective, and easy to mass produce. The Savoia Pomilio chose to offer to the Aviazione Militaire a variant of the M.11 that was essentially a direct copy of the French machine. Designated the S.P.1, the main difference form the French machine was the selection of a 100-hp Fiat A10 in place of the commonly used 70-hp Renault. The S.P.1s were, aside from their engines, direct copies of the so-called Farman 1914 (M.F.11).


  The S.P.2 airframe was heavier because its structure had to be reinforced to carry a 260-hp Fiat A.12 motor. This new power plant enabled the S.P.2 to carry both a camera and a nose-mounted machine gun. In fact the S.P.2bis (approximately ten built) could carry 25-mm Fiat cannon. These S.P.2bis were used by the Sezioni Difesa and provided a night fighting capability for the seziones to protect key cities.
  Other armament options permitted by the S.P.2’s heavier payload included;
  - one Fiat-Revelli 6.6-mm machine gun
  - a rear-firing Fiat-Revelli 9-mm double barrel sub-machine gun, fastened to the upper wing to provide for rearward defense
  - Villa Perosa sub machine gun; it weighed only 62 kg and fired up to 2,400 rounds per minute
  Other equipment that could be carried included a Marconi MNM wireless transmitter, which in 1917 could be driven by an onboard electric generator. A planimetric camera built by Lamperti & Garbagnati could be carried which allowed for better definition of the surrounding topography.
  Testing began on 10 July 1916 from Mirafiori airfield. Testing lasted four months, at which time the S.P.2s were leaving the factory at the rate of ten a month.
  The DTAM noted that frontline personnel criticized the poor take off and handling characteristics of the heavy S.P2s. Stalls and crash landing were blamed on inadequate pilot training. The chief of flight testing, brigadiere Guido Guidi, gave a vigorous take off and landing demonstration in a fully loaded S.P.2 to convince the aircrews of the sounds of the design. He succeeded, but very few of those aircrew would have possessed Guidi’s piloting abilities.
  The S.P.2, was to equip eight army co-operation/reconnaissance squadriglias, while six other squadriglias would use the twin engine SP 4s. The S.P.4s would operate in mountain regions due to the added safety of having twin engines, plus the possibility of carrying a heavier weapons payload. Also the S.P.4s were intended to equip nine squadriglias assigned at the Armata level.
  Produced by both Pomilio and SIT, the Pomilios often had different nacelle configurations. Some were oval, others had pointed noses. The decking also varied with some being completely plywood covered,while others had some metal panels. Where and when these differences originated from remains unknown.
  Tenente Brach-Papa tested the S.P.2 and, on July 16, flew one to 6,175 meters. The heavier airframe resulted in poor manoeuvrability, enhancing the type’s already considerable vulnerability to enemy fighters. The S.P.2 was not a success meaning that the 402 examples built would be of limited use in combat.
  Savoia Pomilio S.P.2s and 3s were intended to re-equip the artillery and reconnaissance squadriglias and used the first version of the 200-hp Fiat A.12 in-line engine, a few S.P2s were already assigned to some front line units in late summer 1916. Although faster and with a superior climb rate than the M.F.11s and Caudron G.3s they were replacing, the crew found them difficult to fly as they were heavier and less maneuverable due to their higher weight. The only solution was to replace them with a lighter version with a shorter wing, the S.P.3. A total of 300 examples of this version, designated as the S.P.3, would be built.

S.P. 2 Production
Manufacturer Ordered Built Period
SIA 200 102 July - Dec. 1916
100 Jan. - July 1916
O. Poudiio? 200 26 July-Dec. 1916
131 Jan.-July 1917
43 July-Dec. 1917
Source: The Savoia Pomilios by Gregory Alegi


  The S.P.3 was only 17 kg lighter than the S.P.2, but its reduced wingspan (from 16.74 m to 14.71 m) and the changes made to the interplane struts, increased the speed by 10 km/h, bringing it to 145 km/h. Manoeuvrability was also improved. Thus, the S.P.3 was superior to the S.P.2, but the degree of improvement could not make up for the aircraft’s limited performance and lack of rearward defense.
  As with with the preceding S.P.2, there were variations on nacelle configurations. Alegi has suggested the flat sided nacelles were built by SIA, while the rounded ones came from SIT.

S.P. 3 Production
Manufacturer Ordered Built Period
SIA 200 200 1917
SIT 100 70 July-Dec. 1917
30 Jan.-July 1917
Totals 330 270
Source: The Savoia Pomilios by Gregory Alegi

  The alterations introduced in the S.P.3 brought the maximum speed up from 135 to 145 km/h and made the machine more maneuverable, but they could not overcome the limits of the pusher configuration. Fiat (whose aircraft carried the SIA - Italian Aviation Society designation) acquired a reputation for difficult-to-fiy aircraft. The numerous landing incidents were attributed to the inadequate training of the pilots and to their lack of familiarity with an aircraft that was more powerful than the M.F.11s and Caudron G.3s. Furthermore, Fiat (as had the French manufacturer Farman) had stayed too long with the pusher formula, long after it was obvious that this layout involved attacks from the rear that the crew would be helpless to defend against.
  This was confirmed by the obvious superiority of the tractor layout, as the first reports on the SAML two-seaters had shown.
  Unfortunately, in the time it took to create a satisfactory Italian version of the M.F.11, the time of the combat pusher aircraft was over. All the S.P.s were vulnerable to rearward attacks, which is exactly the weakness that the Austro-Hungarian fighters exploited. It has been suggested that the S.P. series were an interim type until the Pomilio PC, then under development, would become available. This might have worked as the S.P.s were certainly easy to produce, but the PC had major developmental troubles requiring the continued use of M.F.11s and S.P.2s and 3s with operational squadriglias.
  A 2a armata aviation report dated 20 May 1917 emphasized the type’s heaviness heaviness and poor handling. The aircraft also had a tendency to stall and there were frequent crash landings, although the report took pains to emphasize that these were mainly due to the inexperience of the pilots or their unfamiliarity with such a powerful machine. It was also clearly stated that the pusher configuration was outdated.
  During the Tenth Battle of Isonzo (12 May to 8 June, 1917), the units with Savoia-Pomilios in particular suffered from a lack of observers and equipment, which added to the poor performance of these obsolescent aircraft. Furthermore, the tendency of their propellers to break grounded many aircraft.
  The new 27a, 28a, 33a and 36a Squadriglias arrived at the Isonzo front in the summer of 1917; they were all equipped with S.P.3s, which, while a definite improvement over the Voisin 3s, were not much better than the M.F.11s they would be replacing. Yet, while the S.P.3 crews were being trained for front line operations, including familiarization with the fronts they would operate over, it was necessary to continue to use the G.3s in 42a, 43a, and 44a.
  During the first few days of the Caporetto attack, the units equipped with S.P.3s could no longer be assured of fighter escort as the fighter units had also been widely dispersed. For this reason the S.P.3s were ordered to be returned to the training centers.

Pomilio S.P. 2 Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 260-hp FIAT A-12 Engine
  Wingspan 16.78 m; length 10.95 m; wing area 78 sq m
  Empty weight 1,250 kg; loaded weight 1,700 kg
  Maximum speed 135 km/h; climb to 3,000 m in 26 minutes; celling 5,000 m; endurance four hours
  402 built

Pomilio S.P. 3 Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 260-hp FIAT A-12 Engine
  Wingspan 14.41 m; length 10.95 m; wing area 60 sq m
  Empty weight 1,233 kg; loaded weight 1,683 kg
  Maximum speed 145 km/h; climb to 3,000 m in 25 minutes; celling 5,000 m; endurance four hours
  300 built
S.P.2 #1901
S.P.2 #4413
S.P.3 #4530
S.P.3 #4531
S.P.3 #4537, 36a Squadriglia
S.P.3 #4658, 26a Squadriglia, January 1918
S.P.2 4388.
SP.3 reconnaissance aircraft rear view showing engine installation details.
S.P.3 4512 in Cavazzo Carnico belonged to 24a Squadriglia, whose insignia was an elaborate Savoy coat of arms. This aircraft was lost on 7 November 1917, shot down by German fighters during a reconnaissance mission over Sacile and Pordenone.The crew, pilot Tenente Luigi Vitale and observer Capitano Fabiano Venier, was captured.
S.P.3 #4537 of 36a Squadriglia.
S.P.3 4658 flew for 26a Squadriglia, whose marking is visible on the nose, in January 1918.
S.P.3 #4565
S.P.3 4597 has gathered a curious crowd of onlookers.
S.P.3 4524 belonged to 24a Squadriglia and is portrayed on Cavazzo Carnico airfield in summer 1917.
S.P.3 6684. (Roberto Gentilli)
S.P.3 (SIT-Built)
Savoia-Pomilio S.P.4

  Initially the AER firm of Orbassano,Turin, planned on developing a two-seat variant of the S.P.2 that was never realized. The next step was to produce a twin engine version of the S.P.3 to be designated S.P.4 that was to serve as a bomber. The S.P.4 used many of the common components of the S.P.3. Power was supplied by two 190-hp Isotta Fraschini I.F. V4B engines which would power two-bladed tractor propellers. The reliability of Italian power plants made it desirable to use an aircraft with two engines, this improving the aircraft’s ability to return to base should one of them fail. The twin-engine formula was ideal for long range missions over enemy territory, particularly over the Alps, and also permitted a more powerful defensive armament to be fitted.
  The crew of two men were seated in tandem in a nacelle between the two engines. The S.P.4s were intended to equip nine armata Squadriglias.


  S.P.5 - According to an official DTAM document written in 1917, it was anticipated that there would be production of a fifth Savoia Pomilio type, the S.P.5. This would have been a twin-engine design with two pusher propellers between the tail booms. According to this document it was anticipated that S.P.3 production would cease in August, 1917; S.P.4 production would end in 1918, and production of the S.P.5 would follow. The S.P.5 was never built.


  The S.P.4 was produced by the firm of AER at Orbassano. Production of the S.P.4 was limited due to three main problems:
  - the size of the aircraft limited production and storage of completed airframes.
  - higher production costs
  - lack of raw materials, shortage of workers, and limited factory space and storage.
  The wingspan and wing area of the S.P.4s was considerably larger than the S.P.2s and S.P.3s, making it difficult to fit in the hangars built at Campo, so much so that the AER-built aircraft had to be stored in Aviazione Militaire hangars.
  The price of the two-engined Pomilio designs was also a cause for concern, an estimated at L 53,000 per aircraft due to the cost of raw materials and workers.
  Operational problems, along with the high cost of the S.P.4 resulted in production stopping at only 152 examples, only a few of which actually saw combat.
  On January 3, 1917 tests conducted resulted in the decision to not employ the S.P.4 as a night fighter, the role for which it had been originally intended. Nonetheless 150 were ordered from AER Orbassano, which produced 22 in the first half of 1917, 101 in the second and 29 in the first of 1918, a total of 152 examples.

Operational Service

  The S.P.4s served in small numbers in many reconnaissance squadriglias.
  The squadriglias received the S.P.4s in July 1917 - a delay caused by the need to change the radiators, the deliveries of which were also delayed. Only 61a and 62a Squadriglias, saw operational service with the S.P.4, but there were to have been two others.
  On 1 November 1917 63a Squadriglia, recently mobilized, returned from the front to report their problems with the S.P.4 and sent the planes to the warehouse at Taliedo. 64a Squadriglia was in Turin without airplanes on November 15, 1917 when it suspended training.
  Small numbers of S.P.4s were sent to other army cooperation units.
  The French and British had already brought spies at night, but tests were begun to see if agents could be inserted by parachute. A Caproni Ca.3 was involved which did not work, due to the location of the rear engine. The possibility of using the twin-engine Savoia Pomilio S.P.4 was considered, which immediately gave much better results. Since the observer was behind the pilot in the nose of the plane, the way to get the paratrooper out of the aircraft was the main problem. The solution was to create a folding seat behind the pilot where the paratrooper would sit with his face towards the tail and with the feet dangling out. The paratrooper seat was controlled manually by the observer . The parachute was housed outside, under the belly of the S.P.4, connected to the paratrooper with a 4 cm diameter elastic rope and only four meters long.

S.P.4 two-seat bomber with two 190-hp Isotta Fraschini F.V4B engines
  Wingspan 19.80 m; length 10.70 m; height 3.65 m; wing area 78 sq m
  Empty weight 1,700 kg; payload 600 kg; loaded weight 2,300 kg
  Maximum speed 150 km/h; range 4,500 m
  A total of 152 built
SIA Italia

  The SIA “Italia” was entered in the 1913 Military Aircraft Competition. It was a monoplane and had a Gnome engine.
  The aircraft made it to the final round which called for an ascent to 1000 m in less than 40min and 300 km of distance.
  This was followed by a long-distance flight: Turin-Milan-Casale-Turin which stopped short of finishing at Romano di Lombardia. This aircraft successfully completed the first two parts of the competition.
  The SIA was unable to complete the demanding requirements of the third part of the contest, ending short at Romano di Lombardia.
  Known information includes a wingspan of 12.50 m; length 7.90 m; height 2.40 m; and wing area 23 sq m. The empty weight was 380 kg; loaded weight 675 kg and endurance was four hours.
S.I.A. Italia.
S.I.A. Italia. (Roberto Gentilli)

  Inspired by the availability of the new 600-hp Fiat A.14 engine, ing. Mario Torretta designed a heavy bomber to compete with the Caproni series which had previously dominated the Italian bomber force. The new design was designated S.I.A.1200 (for 1,200 hp total engine power) but better known as the S.I.A.14. (for Fiat A.14 engines).Three examples were built in mid-1917.
  The S.I.A.14b was a three bay, equal span biplane. As with the Caproni designs, there was a short central fuselage containing the crew, and two large booms with an engine in the front and a biplane tail surfaces with six fin and rudders. Beneath each of the forward bombs was a complex landing gear with 4 wheels in a row and a single wheel mounted ahead of each bogie to prevent the aircraft from nosing over; this gave a total of 10 wheels for the landing gear. Control was achieved by a servo command system. The crew was five people and defensive armament consisted of four machine guns.
  Alegi has uncovered documents showing that the DGA had ordered 100 examples in August with the expectation that they were to be delivered September. It is noteworthy that not a single S.I.A.14 had yet to actually fly.
  It was hoped that the new design and new engines would overcome the deficiencies of the Capronis which not only were prone to structural failures (usually the wing struts) but were also underpowered. However, it is possible that there was a growing animosity towards the Caproni firm which gave constant excuses as to why the development of new types was so slow and for their inability to meet the production schedule called for in the contracts.
  Problems with the Capronis had persisted, at least partially due to poor workmanship and inadequate materials, leading to frequent breakage of the bolts connecting the wings to the interplane struts. This problem became serious enough to lead to the immediate suspension of the flight activity on January 19, 1916.
  Replacing the bolts with ones made of stronger materials rectified the problems, but it took two weeks to make these modifications. As a result of these problems, Capronis at the front had to be subjected to rigorous examination after each operational flight, and new machines were subjected to equally rigorous testing prior to delivery at the front. This all called for qualified maintenance personnel, spare parts, and an adequate infrastructure.
  It was planned to improve the Caproni’s range, bomb load, and defensive armament by fitting 100 examples with two 400/500-hp Fiat engines already under development at Fiat, these would be designated Ca.3s. A Caproni with three 600 hp engines was also under construction as the Ca.5. The Ca.4 would prove to be unsuited for combat operations over the front, and the Ca.5 would not enter frontline service in significant numbers until after the Armistice.
  These well-laid plans would not produce a solution to the Caproni problem. The S.I.A.14 was not ready for testing until mid-November. It will never be known how much an improvement it would have offered over the Ca.4 and Ca.5, because it never completed testing. Apparently, during taxying tests the prototype was damaged. One report stated that the S.I.A. had ‘completely failed in recent tests’, although how that conclusion was made remains unclear as no S.I.A.14 had yet flown. Perhaps this refers to the extended delay in the development of the prototype (which was certainly no worse than what would happen to the Ca.4 and Ca.5) or problems with the Fiat A.14 engines.
  War Minister Paolo Morrone felt that the A.14 had not failed and that it was unwarranted to conclude that it should be cancelled when it had yet to make a single flight.
  It was all to no avail, the Ca.4 was selected as the new long range bomber capable of bombing Pola and Vienna, and the S.I.A.14 was shelved. The sad story of Capronis follow on designs are told in the Caproni section of this book.

S.I.A.14 bomber with two 600-hp Fiat A.14 engines
  Wingspan 32.90 m.; length, 17.35 m.; height, 4.90 m; wing area, 240 sq m.
  Empty weight 5.500 kg; payload, 3.000 kg; loaded weight 8.500 kgs
  Maximum speed 140 km/h; ceiling 4,000 m; endurance 7 hours (these are presumably projected figures as the S.I.A.14 apparently never flew).
S.I.A. 14B prototype. (Roberto Gentilli)
SIA 7b1 &7b2

  Fiat’s first original aircraft design (it had built M.F.11s (FSB) and S.P.3s (SIA.6b) under license) was a two-seater reconnaissance biplane equipped with a 250 hp Fiat A.12 engine. Fiat established an aviation subsidiary to produce its first design, SIA (Society Italiana Aviazione = Italian Aircraft Company). The SIA 7b, as it was designated, appeared at the beginning of the summer of 1917.


  Fuselage - constructed up four longerons with plywood frames and fuselage covering. Behind the engine there was a fuel tank (95 liter) and an oil tank (50 liter). The main fuel tank (200 liters) was located between the pilot’s and gunner’s positions.
  Wings - two bay wing connected by steel interplane struts. The lower wing had a slight dihedral.
  Power Plant - 250/280-hp Fiat A.12
  Armament - fixed machine gun on the top wing firing outside the propeller arc and controlled by the pilot. A second machine gun was mounted in the observers cockpit on a mobile mount.


  SIA was anxious to build up enthusiasm for its new design. The SIA 7 could, indeed, perform well. According to Alegi, with a 500 kg payload the SIA 7b could reach 200 km/h. Climb rates included 3,000 m in 11 minutes 45 seconds and 6,165 m in 34 minutes.
  Perhaps blinded by these impressive numbers and recognizing the need to replace the antiquated SAMLs and S.P.3s, an order for 300 SIA 7b on 6 June 1917.
  SIA arranged for special flights to be performed to show the endurance and reliability of the new machine.
  In 1917 capitano Giulio Laureati used an SIA 7b on a non-stop, round trio flight of 1,600 km covering Turin-Naples-Turin. This feat was completed on 15 August 1917 in 10 hours and 30 minutes, which constituted the world record for non-stop distance. On 24 September, 1917 an SIA 7b was also used on a 1,200 km from Turin-London in just over 6 hours, by the same pilot, but this time carrying a passenger. This set a world distance record for a flight with a passenger.
  To bolster the firm’s claims, on 14 December, 1917 tenente Francesco Brach-Papa reached an altitude of 7,025 meters, beating the previous Italian height record (according to SIA).
  However, these flights did not subject the aircraft to the severe stresses of aerial combat, maneuvering, and low altitude flight. Unfortunately, the DTAM (Direzione dell’Aviazione Militare = Technical Directorate of Military Aviation) did not take that fact into consideration.
  Instead, it was envisioned that the SIA 7b could become the main third generation reconnaissance aircraft, replacing the older designs in most of the operational squadriglias. It was also seen as a light bomber which could fly unescorted sorties over the front. The orders for the new machine were even increased to 500 before even one could reach operational units.

Introduction to Service

  While the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo was still underway, the first two Fiat SIA 7bs were assigned to 132a Squadriglia. Results of testing by a front line unit were sent to the Comando supremo (Supreme Command) in September 1917. The performance of the aircraft was commented upon favorably, of which the speed and climbing ability were especially appreciated, and there was a clear field of vision for the observer/gunner (although the forward view of the pilot was strictly limited). The pilot fired a machine gun fitted to the top wing, outside the propeller arc; it was requested that, instead, a interrupter system should fitted. The rear gun needed a more mobile mount than the SIA design, of the type used by the French and British on the Western Front. The radiotelegraphic and photographic system, was to include two cameras with a focus of 430 mm and a supply of 24 plates for each. These were placed on the bottom of the fuselage and activated by a remote control, although the layout of the design would make this difficult in practice. The commission ended its work with a flattering evaluation of the potential of SIA.7b:
  Given the aforementioned qualities of good visibility, the possibility of all installations relating to reconnaissance, significant speed ... this aircraft is considered suitable for strategic reconnaissance tactics. Due to the speed with which it is equipped, since there is no need today to provide it with the fighters for escort service, it is of essential importance to arrange an armament such as to allow combat.
  The device is very well suited for observing artillery fire, ... taking advantage of all its speed which allows it to move from the target to the receiving station in a short time. Source Di Marino page 146.
  It was widely recognized that the Savoia-Pomilios in Corpi d’Armata squadriglias, «(served) admirably for the artillery service for which today a fast apparatus is needed, contrary to what was thought before the recent last offensive, such that it can quickly transport the observer to the target ... and return within seconds to the radiotelegraphic station (a) report of the observation result. This is all the more necessary today due to the increased number of radiotelegraphic stations. The ... speed difference that the SIA 7b offers allows it to be able to stay on the target and make a meticulous observation.»
  After the production of the first examples, the SIA 7b the designation was changed to SIA 7b1, presumably in anticipation of further developments of the design. The performance provided by the new aircraft from the first flights was truly excellent and aroused the keenest interest in military circles and seemed destined to quickly replace all other types of reconnaissance, being superior even to the best aircraft among used by the Germans and Austro-Hungarians.
  It had excellent handling qualities, with a high top speed and a rapid climb rate (4,000 meters in 15 minutes). Given the mediocre, at best, qualities of the SAMLs and SP.3s still in service, the SIA.7b must have looked like the perfect aircraft to modernize the reconnaissance squadriglias. It was ordered into mass production with the initial 500 expected to be delivered in 1917/1918.
  Alegi notes that on 4 October, 1917, while on a delivery flight, 5878 shed its wings in flight. The aircraft was not carrying a full combat load and was not performing aerobatics. This was the first hint that the SIA 7 series would be plagued by structural problems.

Into Service

  132a’s first two SIA.7bs were returned to the manufacturer in Turin, to be modified and produced in series. It was thus hoped to have a safe and efficient airplane with which to equip the artillery squadrons and more corpi d’armati, but this hope was in vain - the SIA.7b’s design errors and manufacturing defects prevented the planned re-equipment of the army co-operation and strategic reconnaissance squadriglias. The SP.3s, which it had been intended to be replace in the first three months of 1918, would have to continue in service until the end of the war; its slow speed meaning less time over the target area to make detailed observations and substantial delays in providing photographs to the corpi and armata units which they served. In 1918 there would still be 16 squadriglias using SP.3s and four with SP.4s.
  It did not take long for the consequences of that rash decision to rush to production to become evident.
  (General A. A. Felice Porro, wrote in his book “La Guerra nell'Aria” (Milan 1935):
  ... “The need for combat and maneuvering to reach another aircraft or to escape fighters and to change altitude quickly in order to escape the area hit by the anti-aircraft fire, or to carry out strafing against the ground, subjected the structure of the aircraft to ... stresses far greater than those occurring during a normal flight regimes. The wings of the SIA 7b.1 were intolerant of these stresses and detached themselves from the fuselage, which, without any support, fell to the ground.
  After these first incidents, the crews attacked by Austrian fighters, decided not to maneuver their aircraft in a fight with the opponent, and relied solely on the weapons on board, preferring to run the risk of a probable enemy attacks, instead of the certainty of death from the loss of wings.”
  It is interesting to note that these comments assign no blame to the designers or workshops at SIA. It also ignores the fact that the aircraft was rushed into production at the insistence of the military.
  In an attempt to rectify the situation, the SIA 7b2, a modified version of SIA 7b1 with strengthened wings, was developed. The fuselage was also redesigned to improve the pilot’s forward visibility and provide interior space so five 162-mm bombs could be carried. The standard armament was one machine gun on a flexible mount fired by the observer and a fixed gun on the upper wing that fired above the propeller disc. When they became available, a gun synchronization enabled the forward firing gun to be located in the center of the cowling.
  A thousand copies of the SIA 7b2 were ordered, that number later being increased to 2,400 including examples for the United States. They began to reach front fine squadriglias in the early months of 1918, re-equipping numerous squadriglias. These units also immediately began to report difficulties with their SIAs, and it was soon decided to replace all SIA.7b1s in service with SIA 7b2s. The SIA 7b1s would, instead, be fitted with dual controls to serve as trainers.
  A new design, the SIA R.2, was underway at this time. It was to have the same performance of the SIA 7b2, but with changes to make it able it to withstand the rigors of combat and improve crew safety was also built. For details see entry for Fiat R.2.

Service Use

  The SIA 7b1 was in service with nine squadriglias at the end of March 1918. This model, however, was affected by problems of structural weakness which became apparent during the training. At times the wings would fail and sometimes detach themselves from the fuselage; the result was the inevitable death of the crew.
  In March, the existing aircraft at the frontline units were grounded to allow the manufacturer to replace the wing attachment boxes with others with more robust fixing lugs. The lateral trusses of the engine support were also reinforced, as were the joints joining the connections of the lower wings to the fuselage.
  During this work, however, the doubt arose that in carrying out the replacement, due to an imperfect connection between the attachment points of the new wing attachment boxes and the holes of the attachments fixed to the fuselage, “the workers forced., them to move to make the holes connect and introduce the pin“. (Di Martino)
  These repairs could have caused a weakening of the attachment points, and therefore the recurrence of the same serious problems. There were numerous defects found as the aircraft were inspected, most were due to poor workmanship. This was not an unusual problem for the Italian aircraft industry. Certainly, British and French aircraft suffered from these types of problems, but the Italian aviation factories seem to have had exceptionally poor quality control. This was probably due to the unrealistically high production rates imposed upon SIA as the military demanded newer aircraft be sent to the front as quickly as possible.
  The Comando Superiore d’Aeronautica established that all aircraft should be inspected by a commission composed of engineer captain Guidi and chief engineer Jona of the SIA company. To bolster the confidence of the unit personnel, gruppo commander, squadriglia commanders, and all the pilots were ordered to witness the verification process. Furthermore, the aircraft found to be operational after being reassembled would have been inspected and tested in flight by tenente Brach-Papa. At the end of this cycle of interventions, generale Bongiovanni would rely “on the personal influence of all the commanders because doubts about the qualities of the SIA aircraft are (to be) definitively eliminated” (Di Martino).
  This was a bold, and well thought out attempt to address the problem. Sadly, it did not work. A wiser course of action would have been to cancel the production of any further aircraft. If this was done the army co-operation units would be forced to use S.P.3s and SAMLs until enough Pomilio PDs and PEs were available to replace them, but it would have reduced the number of aircrew casualties yet to come.
  Problems with the SIA.7s continued to erode confidence on the SIA design.

The End

  The definitive statement on the SIA’s reliability is a report cited by Alegi showed that the number of fatal crashes involving the aircraft at the Mirafiori training center were so high, that several students asked to be released to fight in the trenches! Attempts to strengthen aircraft could not improve its miserable reputation, and there was no choice but to withdraw it from operational service. In June 1918 the SIA 7b losses resulted in the realization that the aircraft was unsuitable for frontline service. The Commandante Superiore di Aeronautica (Supreme Commander of the Air Force) said that “SIA is now synonymous with misfortune”. He issued a flight ban for the type. Circular no.6120 was issued on 28 June stating that “All the SIA 7b1 and B2 single and double control aircraft will be ... by the same squadrons disassembled ...”
  The nine squadriglias using the type were now deprived of their aircraft, as were the two undergoing transition training. No less than two-thirds of 3a and 4a armata’s artillery and army squadriglias had used the aircraft.
  The RAF helped by supplying some RE 8s, flown by a British pilot with an Italian observer.The RE 8s operated over the Grappa and the Lower Piave. They were withdrawn beginning 11 July in the 3 armata sector (which was able to obtain some obsolescent SAMLs); the withdrawal from 4a armata took longer - until, 6 September.
  24a Squadriglia was sent to the front, reformed on twelve SIA 7b with 12 pilots. Its three seziones were intended to support 3a and 4a armata and the Comando truppe altipiani (Highland Troops Command), in order to help overcome the problems of co-ordination among these forces had often led to disappointing results in 1917.
  In the end, the SIA 7s suffered the ignominious fate of being burned, perhaps to help exercise the pain associated with the type.
  The SIA 7s main problem was not the design, which certainly had some weaknesses, but instead the DTAM’s insistence that it be pushed into service before it could receive a proper combat evaluation. When it became clear that there were serious production problems brought on by this rushed production rate, production was allowed to continue, albeit with a series of “quick fixes” which could not eradicate all the problems. As the body count among SIA aircrew increased, the morale in SIA squadriglias dropped, even leading some crew members to refuse to fly in the machine.
  In the end, may Italian reconnaissance units reverted to using the very SP.3s and SAMLs the SIAs had been intended to replace. The mediocre Pomilio PD and PE, which had its own problems, became by default the main reconnaissance type. SIA was disbanded, the name now synonymous with faulty aircraft, but was immediately reborn under the parent company’s name Fiat. Fiat would go on to built aircraft of varying quality up until nearly the end of the century.

Foreign Service

United States

  The American Air Service’s Boiling Mission ordered 500 SIA 7bs in September 1917. These were to use the 240-hp Fiat A-12 engine. There are not notes on any qualitative assessment of the aircraft because its main attribute was quantitative. Fiat promised to deliver the 500 machine before the end of 1917.
  In early flights in 1917, the performance of the initial version, the 7b1, was above that of similar Italian combat machines.
  As the severe structural and design flaws of the type became obvious, the SIA introduced a follow on machine intended to rectify these deficiencies. As a result, the American Air Service revised its contract to 100 7b1 machines which were to be restricted to advanced training and 400 of the new and improved 7b2s for combat use.
  The first SIA 7b1 for the United States were finally delivered in January 1918 to the training field at Foggia, Italy. In mid-February, 20 were shipped by rail to the training facility at Tours, France. At Foggia, they served as advanced trainers following preliminary instruction on Italian-owned Farmans. As with the experience of the Italian squadriglias, the SIA 7b1s showed they were not suitable as trainers, hardly surprising as the main complaint about the type was its fragility. Casari reports that as of March, there had been five crashes at Foggia with one death, all attributed to the plane’s defects, and Capt. Fiorello H. LaGuardia, stopped further deliveries of the 7b1 reducing the contract to 50 planes.
  In the end the SIA 7b1s were almost evenly divided between Foggia (19) and Tours (25).
  On 4 April 1918 the SIA 7b1 were ordered to be withdrawn and stored; their only service to the U.S. had been a three month stint as trainers for student pilots.
  At least the Air Service was able to use the Fiat engines in the Breguet 14s currently being used by the U.S. Air Service.
  It was proposed to strengthen the 7b1s on hand and use them as trainers for observers as the airframes would not be subjected to the depredations of student pilots; perhaps mercifully, this suggestion was not pursued.
  According to Casari, the know serials at Tours were: 5850, 5851, 5868, 5879, 5881, 5903, 5905, 8203, 8244, 8248, 8255, 8259, 8268, 8271, 8274, 8276, 8282, 8291, 8292, 8303, 8342, 8343, 8393, 8802, 8804.

SIA 7b1 Two Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 300-hp FIAT A.12 Engine
  Wingspan, 13.32 m; length, 9.067 m; height, 2.90 m (Alegi reports 3.15); wing area, 48 sq m.
  Empty weight 1,150 kg (Alegi 980); loaded weight 1,650 kg (1480); payload 500 kg
  Maximum speed 175 km/h (179 km/h); climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes 45 seconds, 2,000 m in 8 minutes 20 seconds, 3,000 m in 14 minutes; 4,000 m in 21 minutes 10 seconds, 5,000 m in 31 minutes, range 5,000 m; endurance 4 h.

SIA 7b1 Two-Seat Advanced U.S. trainer with One 240-hp Fiat A-12 Engine
  Wingspan 43 ft. 8 in.; length 29 ft. 9 in.; height 10 ft. 4 in.; wing area 517 sq. ft.
  Weights: Empty with water 2,357 lbs.; fuel and oil 566 lbs.; crew and equipment 535 lbs.; total 3,458 lbs.
  Maximum speed at ground level 116 mph; at 6,500 ft. 110 mph.
  Climb to 6,500 ft. in 8 min. 20 sec; to 13,000 ft. in 15 min. 15 sec; to 18,500 ft. in 73 min.

SIA.7b2 Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 300-hp FIAT A.12bis Engine
  Wingspan, 13.32 m; length, 9.067 m; height 2.90 m (Alegi reports 3.15), wing area, 48 sq m.
  Empty weight 1,200 kg (Alegi 1,180); loaded weight 1,710 kg (1680); payload 510 kg
  Maximum speed 185 km I h; climb to 1,000 m in 6 minutes, 2,000 m in 14 minutes 20 seconds, 3,000 m in 14 minutes; 4,000 m in 39 minutes 30 seconds, range 5,000 m; endurance 4 h.
  Data is from Alegi, Camurati, and Casari.

SIA 8b

  A derivative of the SIA.7b fitted with a 300-hp FIAT A.12 bis engine. The fuselage, tail, and landing gear were unchanged, but the wing span was reduced. It was hoped that the smaller wings would improve the aircraft’s manoeuvrability.
  The SIA.8b underwent testing in the spring of 1918, but only one was built.
SIA 7b1 #5930, Unk Squadriglia
SIA 7b1 #6009, Unk Squadriglia
SIA 7b1 #6012, Unk Squadriglia
SIA 7b1 #5868, USAS, Tours Aerodrome, February-April 1918
SIA 7b1 #5905, USAS, France, 1918
SIA 7b1 #8250, USAS
SIA 7B1 5868 tactical '43' in American service.
SIA 7B2 #6009 of 27a Squadriglia.
SIA 7B2 #6012 of 36a Squadriglia captured by the Austrians.
S.I.A. 7B.1 #5796 at Langley Field. The B.1's weak wing structure led to the strengthened 7B.2 version, but it was also unsatisfactory. (Peter M. Bowers)
The Italian Mission for Aeronautics in August 1917 brought a number of Italian aircraft to the United States to demonstrate, including this S.I.A. 7B.1 serial 5796 seen here at Langley Field, Virginia. The unsynchronized machine gun on the top wing is a 6.5mm Fiat-Revelli. The barely visible observer's gun is in its stored position aimed rearward. (Peter M. Bowers)
S.I.A. 7B.1 #5796 at Langley Field. Its 260-hp 6-cylinder in-line Fiat A.12 had twin exhaust valves for each cylinder. (Peter M. Bowers)
S.I.A. 7B.1 #5796 at Langley Field. Its 260-hp 6-cylinder in-line Fiat A.12 had twin exhaust valves for each cylinder. (Peter M. Bowers)
SIA 7B1 5870.
Operations on the Isonzo Front in Italy continued throughout 1918 and the Italian SIA 7B continued to operate in the reconnaissance role until the summer.
Only one SIA 8B prototype was built. It was basically a SIA 7B with reduced wing span.
SIA 7b
SIA 7b
SIA 7b
SIA 7b
SIA 9b

  It had been the hope of the DTAM that the SIA 7b series could be used to fill the light bomber role. Evaluation of the SIA 7b2 revealed that it would not be used effectively as a bomber, being underpowered. Instead SIA began to develop a version of the SIA 7b designed around the 500-hp Fiat A.14 engine. It was intended that this new aircraft would eliminated the design flaws present in the preceding design.
  The SIA 9b, as it was designated, would carry either 16 162-mm bombs (the SIA 7b2 was designed to carry five of these in a small interior compartment), or four 260-mm bombs. Defensive armament was a Fiat machine gun mounted over the wing (as on the SIA 7b2) replaced early in the production run with a synchronized version. The rear Fiat machine gun was placed on a TO.3 ring mount, which was superior to SIA’s own design. It could carry two cameras. Alegi notes that it was requested that the crew be provided with electrical heating which suggests the SIA 9 was expected to perform high altitude raids or long range night sorties.
  In the autumn of 1917 the SIA 9 was tested and an order for 500 was placed, but by the Armistice only about 40 had been delivered; an additional 22 were delivered postwar.
  Serial numbers were between 10788 to 10849. The prototype carried serial 6800.
  The remaining airframes became SIA 9bd (also known as SIA 10B) which never reached operational service. The postwar Fiat BR would replace both SIA variants.
  Orders from the DTAM to strengthen the side members (perhaps influenced by the SIA 7b debacle) resulted in more delays in production. Alegi reports that in March 1918 the following alterations were mandated:
  1. increase the diameter of numerous bracing tie rods to 3.5 mm;
  2. apply plates of 30 x 20 cm at the base of the rear cabane uprights;
  3. insert reinforcements to avoid the so-called “sliding” of some wooden elements;
  4. add 5.26mm steel tie rods between cabin and the engine.
  These changes suggested similar problems to those found on the SIA 7b - flaws in the construction of the wing structure which required additional bracing. It is unclear if these were also found on the SIA 9 or were intended to prevent a repeat of the fatal wing collapses seen with the SIA 7b series.
  It was planned to have five high speed bomber units in service with 24 SIA 9bs in 1918.
  Douhet believed that with the SIA 9b, the Italians would have an aircraft capable of playing the role of the battle airplane, provided that its armament was strengthened and its protection increased. He proposed to significantly reduce the numbers of reconnaissance aircraft, aiming to retrofit their squadriglias with SIA 9bs during the Summer. He anticipated a rapid growth in the number of bombers at the front; these bomber squadriglias would receive constant support from the SIA 9b “battle plane” units. Given the production difficulties with the Ca.5 and SIA 7b, it is hardly surprising that this study was destined to remain a theoretical exercise.
  On 27 February 1918 a prototype piloted by Brach-Papa and with capitano Porro made a high speed bombardment of Branzollo while avoiding an enemy fighter over Feltre. On 15 March an SIA 9b was assigned to a sezione of 161a Squadriglia.
  The catastrophic use of the SIA 7b resulted in any aircraft carrying the SIA designation being stigmatized. The above-mentioned attempt to strengthen the SIA 9b airframe only created more doubts in the aircrew. The formation of 161a Squadriglia was soon cancelled.
  D’Annunzio fought to have the SIA 9bs see action by having 161a assigned to the 1a Squadriglia Siluranti Aeree al Lido di Venezia (Air Torpedo Squadron at the Lido of Venice). Based in San Nicolo on the Lido of Venice with selected crews, it was considered an experimental unit for the SIA 9b and received the two aircraft of the 161a on 11 May. Four more SIAs arrived in July.
  At last the SIA 9bs saw action when Pola was bombed 17 July. It was not an auspicious start. D’Annunzio flew with Brach-Papa on SIA 9b 10788, but on the return form the mission 10794 and 10795 were lost due to engine problems.
  A repeat attack on Pola was flown on August 21st, of the three SIA 9bs that took off only D’Annunzio’s 10789, piloted by sottotenente Barberis, reached the target. On 19 September three SIAs completed the mission, with one being damaged on the return flight, and on 29 September 10815 crashed killing the crew.
  This time the problem was not due to airframe weakness or poor engine mounts; the problem lay with the poorly designed and built radiators. The only was to remedy the situation would be to design and fit new radiators. However, once again, a quick fix using auxiliary water tanks or a second radiator were tried, and as with the SIA 7b, these failed miserably.
  On 24 October the unit had 20 SIA 9b but only seven pilots, although they did participate in war missions during Vittorio Veneto.
  At last 161a Squadriglia was reformed; it was to have had at least two seziones. 1a sezione was sent to the front on 31 October while the Armistice prevented the formation of 2a sezione. Although it has been stated that the SIA 9b were soon removed from service, they actually appear to have survived into at least mid-1919.


161a Squadriglia
  1a Sezione SIA 9b was formed in March 1918 in Riva di Chieri, then it moved to Padua with two planes and two pilots, and then on May 12 to Ghedi. The formation of 161a began in June 1918 under capitano Barucchi; it had two aircraft. However, at the end of June, all aircraft produced by SIA were canceled. Training on the SIA 9b continued at Venaria Reale, where almost all the new SIA 9bs were assigned. D’Annunzio managed to assign them to the Squadriglia Siluranti Aeree al Lido di Venezia (Air Torpedo Squadron at the Lido of Venice). 161a Squadriglia was assigned to the XI Gruppo Massa da Bombardamento (Bombardment Force), equipped with the SIA 9b and SVA 4s.
  Stationed in Verona, the 161a was formally constituted only after the war was over, on 15 November 1918. It was disbanded in March 1919.

1a Squadriglia Siluranti Aeree
  Based in San Nicolo, the 1a Squadriglia Siluranti Aeree was formed in 11 March 1918 as an aerial torpedo unit (Squadriglia Siluranti Aeree), Initially equipped with the two Ca.3s, it later received Ca.5s which proved to more troublesome than the older variants.
  D’Annunzio decided to use the waylaid SIA 9bs of 161a Squadriglia, although they were incapable of carrying torpedoes. He obtain a small number of SIA 9bs and sent two of them (10791 and 10792) on a raid over Osteria Palu 19 May. Only 10971 flew the mission, the other SIA had to turn back. The power station at Fies and Feltre air base were also raided during May.
  As the Ca.5s continued to prove troublesome, it was decided to re-equip with more SIA 9bs obtained from Turin. A major raid against Pola was flown 17 July with 10788, 10794, 10795 and 10796; 10794 and either 10795 or 10796 were lost due to engine failures, but the two crews were rescued by the Regia Marina. Later that month 10789 was lost in a training accident.
  On 21 August for D’Annunzio led the SIAs in an attack on Pola; his aircraft (10789) was the only one to complete the mission, the other three turned back to equipment failure. During yet another attack on Pola on 19 September SIA 9b 10789 was attacked by Austro-Hungarian fighters. The crew were saved by the timely intervention of Regia Marina M.5 fighter flying boats.
  In preparation for the Vittorio Veneto battles, the Caproni 5s, recently arrived SVAs, and the remaining SIA 9b were assigned to the Massa da Bombardamento and the unit was renamed San Marco. At this time there were 20 SIA 9b bombers, almost half of all the examples built during the war. There were also 18 SVAs.
  On 25 October four SIA 9b and three SVAs bombed Austrian camps between Arten and Rosai; only two aircraft completed the mission; the others were forced to turn back due to technical issues. SIA 9b 10815 crashed while taking off killing the crew.
  On 28 October four planes (type unknown) bombed railroad targets; as October ended they harassed retreating Austrian troops and bombed bridges over the Livenza River. In July 1919 the SIAs and SVAs were withdrawn from the unit, which was, itself, disbanded in the Fall of 1919.


  On 20 April 1919 there were 15 SIA 9b with la Magazine Avanzato (six aircraft) and Deposito Mantova (9 SIA 9b). There were also nine SIA 9b with the Regia Marina and three at Villacoublay. There were 48 SIA 9b in the depots. By August 1919, no SIA 9b served with active units.

SIA 9b two-seat fast bomber with one 700-hp Fiat A.14 engine
  Wingspan 15.5 m, length 9.7 m (Alegi states 8.8 m); height 3.35 m; wing area 66 sq m
  Empty weight 2,100 kg; loaded weight 3,000 kg
  Maximum speed 215 km/h (204 km/h); ceiling 5,000 m; climb to 2,000 m 8 minutes; climb to 3,000 m in 15 minutes; range 5,000 m; endurance 4 hours (2.5 hours)
  Armament was one fixed machine gun fired by the pilot and one (occasionally two) machine guns fired by the observer.
  Bomb load of 350 kg.
SIA 9B Prototype #6800
SIA 9B #10810, 1a Squadriglia Navale S.A.
SIA 9B 6800, the prototype.
SIA 9B 6800, the prototype.
SIA 9B 6800, the prototype.
SIA 9B serial 10792 appears ready for a mission, but it is in plain fabric finish and national marking appear only on the upper wing. The armament and massive size of the aircraft are clearly shown.
Close-up of SIA 9b serial 10792 of 1a Squadriglia Navale S.A.
SIA.9B венецианской эскадрильи "Сен Марко", аэродром Лидо, 1918
SIA 9B 10796.
This close-up of SIA 9b serial 10796 shows its unit markings for 1a Squadriglia Navale S.A. in more detail. D'Annunzio is the man on the right.
Closeup of a SIA 9B of 1a Squadriglia Navale S.A. shows its size.
This close-up of SIA 9b serial 10810 shows its unit markings for 1a Squadriglia Navale S.A.
A SIA 9B takes off from San Niccolo airport, Venice.
SIA 9B of la Squadriglia Navale S.A. on a mission.

  The S.8 was the first original SIAI project realized by Raffaele Conflenti, and it started a line of single engined biplane flying-boats which were to be used by the Regia Aeronautica for over twenty years. It was produced as a successor to the FBA flying boats, over 500 of which were built by SIAI during the war.
  In 1917 it was test flown by Swiss pilot Emilio Taddeoli. Compared to the FBA, the S.8 was a marked improvement and it showed several new features. It had double bay equal span wings. The wing structure included two wooden box spars and a thick row of ribs, spaced 15 cm apart. The top wings were straight and carried ailerons, while the bottom wings, joined directly to the fuselage top, while in the FBA they were detached, and had a 3 degrees dihedral.
  The hull was a single step wooden structure with a “V” bottom of rather sophisticated design. It was sturdy with seagoing qualities superior to those of other Italian seaplanes of its time. Tailplanes were attached to a wooden fin rising from the fuselage. The rudder (and in later production S.8’s, the elevators also) was aerodynamically balanced. The engine, mounted between the wings, was usually an Isotta Fraschini V.4b but some machines of the second series had a 220-hp Hispano Suiza 44 and other ones had the 120-hp Colombo F.150.
  The crew consisted of a pilot and observer, seated side by side, the latter one manning the forward machine gun. The gun could be accessed internally from the front cockpit. Armament could include a Fiat machine gun which was seldom mounted, as the S.8 operated mostly in patrol missions in areas where no enemy fighters were likely to be encountered, and a light bomb load and two cameras.
  The S.8 was ordered in large quantities and its production was entrusted to CIVES of Varazze and Society Anonima Ducrot of Palermo, besides SIAI, all these firms having built the FBA.


  At the end of World War One the S.8 was mostly used for anti-submarine patrols with Regia Marina Squadriglias 266a at San Remo, 272a at Civitavecchia, 276a at Naples, 277a at Sapri, 281a at Taormina and 285a at Orbetello.
  Production reached at least 172 units.
  One year later the Navy had 23 S.8’s in service, in San Remo, Leghorn, Orbetello and Palermo, including some modified as double controls, and 191 more were stored in the depots of Genoa, Pisa and Sesto Calende, All these aircraft having the Isotta V.4b.

  In 1920 there were 63 aircraft, only one of which was operational.

SIAI S.8 two-seat patrol flying boat with one 180-hp Isotta Fraschini V.4b engine
  Wingspan 12.77 m; length 9.84 m; height 3.30 m; wing area 46 sq m
  Empty weight 900 kg; payload 475 kg; loaded weight 1,375 kg
  Maximum speed 144 km/h; climb to 1,000 min 7 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 17 minutes; climb to 3,000 m in 26 minutes; climb to 4,000 m in 39 minutes; climb to 5,000 m in 74 minutes; ceiling 6,000 m; range 700 km


  Around mid-1918 SIAI introduced its second original design by Conflenti, the S.9, a large maritime reconnaissance flying-boat powered by a 300-hp Fiat A 12 bis engine. The S.9 was built in small numbers and was evaluated in Venice shortly after the war by Regia Marina test pilots.


  Construction of the S.9 was similar to the S.8, as it was a single engine pusher biplane flying-boat. Its hull had a concave bottom, with two crewmen seated side by side and a nose gunner’s station that could be reached through an internal tunnel. Elevators were balanced and there was no fin to the rudder. The uncowled engine drove a wooden two-blade pusher propeller. It had a rectangular radiator mounted in front.
  The two bay wings were of equal span, with a rectangular planform and a very marked camber. Ailerons were on the top wings, and the bottom wings had a slight dihedral.
  Production S.9’s differed significantly from the prototypes, as they had a Spad-like arrangement with only a single bay of struts and with supplementary anti-vibration struts at the cross bracing. Wing profile was changed and had less camber, and the tail surfaces featured a fin and unbalanced elevators. The engine was cowled and had an oval shaped radiator. Wooden side floats were supported by a simple pair of inverted V struts.


  The prototype S.9 had some handling difficulties which required modifications to be carried out. During a test flight a prototype went into a spin and crashed on 18 August 1919 with the death of guardiamarina (ensign) Umberto Calvello.


  The S.9 was in competition with the Macchi M.9, and it was that aircraft that was selected by the Regia Marina.
  This left SIAI with no choice but to attempt to salvage the program by garnering foreign sales as either a military machine or in a civil version for passenger transport and liaison. The S.9 was shown in the spring of 1919 at the Taliedo air show, and a transport version with an enclosed cabin for four passengers was also presented. In the summer of 1919 a mixed section of S.9 s and S.13’s with pilots Umberto Maddalena, Carlo di Robilant, Minciotti and Longo flew to Amsterdam to take part in the ELTA international air show, after which the SIAI flying boats went to Stockholm for a period of training for Swedish naval pilots.

Foreign Service

  At the end of 1919 Belgium received an S.9 with a specially built hull with triple planking, to be used for liaison over the internal rivers of Belgian Congo. The Chantiers Aeromaritimes de la Seine, the company founded in 1920 by Santoni at Saint-Ouen, bought a production license, calling it CAMS C-9, and received a sample machine ferried to Antibes by Ambrogio Colombo, where was active CTM, the aerial work company of CAMS. One French S.9 was registered F-ADFI.

  The Italian government donated a Savoia S.9 flying boat to Finland during autumn 1919. An Italian crew flew it to Helsinki on 10th November 1919. With serial 2B500 it was based at Santahamina naval air station until it was badly damaged in a landing accident on 18th May 1920.
  Tobacco manufacturer A. K. Christides donated on 23rd July 1919 185 000 Finnish marks to the Aviation Forces to be used for purchasing aeroplanes. The money was used to buy two Savoia S.9 flying boats, which were bought from the Italian manufacturer for 75,000 French Francs.
  During the following summer Major Vaino Mikkola, 1st Lieutenant Aly Durchmann, and 2nd Lieutenant Carl-Erik Leijer travelled to Italy to be trained on the type and to fly the planes to Finland. The fourth member of the crew was Italian mechanic Carlo Riva. They took off in the morning of 7th September 1920 at 6 o’clock from Lake Lago Maggiore.
  They were seen crossing the Italian and Swiss border as a pair, but then the aircraft were separated. At 8 o’clock Leijer landed on River Rhine at the railway bridge at Raganz, confirmed that he was in the right course and took off.
  The next observation was made at 9.35, when the plane piloted by Leijer with mechanic Riva as a co-pilot began shedding parts over the village of Zollikon. It crashed into the Zurich See. The body of Riva remained afloat, but Leijer went down with the wreck, to be recovered later.
  The other plane flown by Mikkola and Durchmann disappeared and was found five weeks later by a guide from Glims Glacier at Glarner Alps. The clock of the plane had stopped at 8.47 am and the altimeter showed 4 400 metres. More parts of the latter wreck were found as late as 1958.
  The reasons of the accidents were never finally solved. The investigations showed that the propellers of both aircraft could have disintegrated during flight, caused either by a production fault or sabotage. It was also possible that clear-weather turbulence had broken the planes in flight.
  7 September is still held as the day of the deceased in the air force.
  An S.9 was given to Spain, flown by Guido Jannello in a direct flight from Sesto Calende to Barcelona, 905 kilometers flown in 5 hours and 15 minutes.

S.9 two-seat patrol flying boat with one 300-hp Fiat A-12 bis engine
  Wingspan 13.16 m; length 10 m; height 3.85 m; wing area 47.6 sq m
  Empty weight 1,190 kg; payload 550 kg; loaded weight 1,740 kg;
  Maximum speed 170 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 4 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 10 minutes; climb to 3,000 m in 18 minutes; climb to 4,000 m in 32 minutes; climb to 5,000 m in 59 minutes; endurance 5 hours
SIAI S.8. (Roberto Gentilli)
A S.I.A.I. S.9 Flying Boat of 1918. Bombing Type. Fiat A 12 bis engine of 100 h.p. Not adopted for service.

  The Zari brothers wood working company at Bovisio-Mombello had produced parts for the Bossi-built Curtiss Triad. It soon graduated to building completed airframes such as the FBA H, Macchi M.8, and M.F.11s. Their biggest project would have been the Pegna 8 heavy bomber, but the Regia Marina quickly put an end this project for political reasons.
  In 1919, Zari decided to build its own aircraft, a singleseat fighter sesquiplane designed by ing. Tebaldi. Of wooden construction and of unequal-span, heavily staggered sesquiplane configuration, it was powered by a 190 hp Isotta-Fraschini V6 six-cylinder water cooled engine. Its most unusual feature was the wide track, oversized main wheels carried on a common axle which was incorporated into the lower wing. Control was by ailerons in the top wing. Armament would have been two synchronized Vickers machine guns.
  The design rights and prototype were purchased by Breda. As a new fighter specification called for a 300-hp engine (preferably the soon to be available Hispano-Suiza HS 42 nine cylinder water-cooled power plant), the Tebaldi fighter had to be modified to carry one.
  In 1922 a draft agreement between Breda and the Commissariato d’Aeronautica was signed for three aircraft. No contract followed, but the original prototype was modified for participation in the 1923 fighter contest of the newly-created Regia Aeronautica. Carrying an armament of two 7,7-mm guns, the Tebaldi fighter was given redesigned wings, with the upper wing of longer span and narrower chord, stagger was reduced, and the gap between the fuselage and the lower wing increased. The incline of the outer struts was also increased to attach at the undercarriage axle, so that the outer panels of the lower wing could be removed for comparative flight testing of the aircraft as a sesquiplane. Further redesign was then undertaken, the chord of the upper wing being increased, ailerons enlarged and the outer panels of the lower wing eventually being discarded permanently.
  The Breda Tebaldi-Zari was now in competition with the Ansaldo A.201, Caproni C.64, Dornier H (built under license by SAICM), Fiat CR, Gabardini G.9, Macchi M.32 Piaggio P.2, and SIAI S.50.
  The fighter did not find favour with the Regia Aeronautica and Breda abandoned further development.
  The Regia Aeronautica ended up buying Dewoitine D.Is and Nieuport 29s as interim fighters pending the delivery of the Fiat CR which was felt to have come closest to fulfilling the Regia Aeronautica’s needs.
  However, the Tebaldi-Zari was given one last chance when the Regia Aeronautica ordered two from Breda, plus one unflyable airframe for static testing. Unfortunately, the static airframe failed to meet the requirements of the coefficient of strength during static testing. The two flyable specimens were, therefore, cancelled ending, at last, the story of Tebaldi-Zari’s innovative fighter.

Tebaldi-Zari single-seat fighter with one 300 hp Hispano-Suiza HS 42 nine-cylinder water-cooled engine
  Wingspan 9.00 m; Length 7.80 m; Height 2.00 m; Wing area 22.00 sq m
  Empty weight, 825kg; loaded weight 1100 kg; payload 275 kg
  Maximum speed, 255 km/h at 6, 560 ft (2000m), climb to 5,000 m in 16 min., endurance 3.0 hrs.
Tebaldi-Zari fighter prototype. (Roberto Gentilli)
Built in Milan in 1919, the sole Tebaldi-designed fighter was of distinctive appearance and is seen with lower outer wing panels attached.

  This aircraft was designed by Eng. Rambaldo Jacchia. Two (one with a LUCT engine) were entered; also known as Jacchia-Botarini-Wolsit “Roma” monoplane or as the Wolsit-Nieuport. The design was based on a Nieuport monoplane (Nieuport 4) with a 9 cylinder 80-hp LUCT engine.
  It has been speculated that this was the “Jacchia-Wolsit” floatplane that participated in the 1913 “Circuito delle Laghi”, modified to landplane configuration.
  The monoplane was destroyed when pilot Attilio Maffei crashed into some trees during a test flight for the Military Competition on April 17th, 1913.
  The aircraft was eliminated from any further participation in the competition.
  Wolsit later entered the aircraft industry by acquiring a stake in Nieuport-Macchi.

Wolsit-Nieuport "Roma" Monoplane Two-Seat Military Aircraft
  Wingspan 11.50 m; length 7.80 m; wing area 22 sq m
  Empty weight 390 k
  Maximum speed 130 km/h
The 'Jacchia-Wolsit' Roma floatplane at Lake Como in 1913; the pilot is Marcello Caviggia. (Luigino Caliaro)
The Wolsit-Nieuport landplane. (Luigino Caliaro)
Pomilio BVL-12

  Ottorino Pomilio’s next design for the United States Engineering Department was the BVL-12 day bomber which was ordered in September 1918. BVL stood for Bomber Victory Liberty. The first example appeared in 2 January 1919. According to Casari, this was an unpowered airframe which would be tested to destruction.
  It had a plywood fuselage which was also suspended between the wings (as in the FVL-8). There was three bay wing. Fuel was carried in to tanks behind the engine and one had a gravity feed from the top wing. Armament was one fixed Browning gun, two Lewis guns on a flexible mount fired by the observer/gunner, and 350 pounds o£ bombs (250 lbs were carried in an internal bomb bay).
  The other BVL-12 (40087) as the actual flying prototype. It was sent to McCook Field where it was assigned P no. P-68, and flown on 8 April 1919. After being flown for less than nine hours, BVL-12 40087 was surveyed on March 20, 1920. The other four aircraft were delivered unfinished because the Pomilio Corporation had gone bankrupt. The U.S. government graciously accepted the other four aircraft as completing the terms of the contract.

Pomilio BVL-12 two seat bomber with one 400-hp Liberty 12A 12-Cylinder Engine
  Wingspan 48 ft. 6 in; length 32 ft. 0 in; height 10 ft. 0 in; wing area 580 sq. ft.
  Empty weight 2,540 lbs; loaded weight 4,540 lbs.
  Performance (Estimated): Maximum speed 120 mph at ground level; 118 mph at 5,000 ft.; 113 mph at 10,000 ft.; 101 mph at 15,000 ft. Climb to 5,000 ft. in 7 min.; 10,000 ft. in 15 min.; 15,000 ft. in 30 min. Service ceiling 19,000 ft. Endurance 6 hours.
  Armament (Planned): One synchronized Marlin machine gun with 500 rounds and two Lewis guns for the observer with 970 rounds. Uo to 350 lbs of bombs
  Number Procured: Six.
  Army Serials: 40086-40091.

Pomilio Liberty Fighter

  Pomilio had hoped to substitute a Liberty engined, single seat fighter in place of one of the BVL-12 bombers. The Air Service rejected this proposal. It is unclear if this aircraft was ever completed; it certainly was never delivered to the U.S. military.

Pomilio Liberty Fighter with one 400-hp Liberty 12A engine
  Wing area 335 feet
  Empty weight 1,883 lbs; loaded weight 2,725 Ins
  Maximum speed 158 mph; climb to 16,000 ft in 18 minutes: 20,000 ft in 28 minutes; 24,000 ft in 45 minutes, endurance 2 hours
  Armament was planned to be two synchronized Marlin machine guns.
  Data is based on Casari’s American Military Aircraft 1908-1919
The Pomilio BVL-12 bomber had its radiator in the nose.
The Pomilio BVL-12 bomber was powered by a 400 hp Liberty V-12 engine.
The Pomilio BVL-12 bomber was larger than the DH.4 with much more wing area to carry its 500 lb. bomb load.
Pomilio FVL-8

  With the sale of Pomilio to Ansaldo, and with Ansaldo’s decision to terminate developed of the Pomilio Gamma fighter in favor of its own designs, Ottorino Pomilio decided to settle in the United States in 1918. His brother accompanied him and together they founded the Pomilio Brothers Corporation at Indianapolis. Pomilio designed a single-seat fighter for the U.S. Engineering Division, powered by a 290-hp Liberty 8 engine with armament consisting of two synchronized machine guns. A unique feature of the design was the decision to suspend the single bay upper wing above the fuselage and the lower wing below the fuselage. The fuselage had an all wood framework covered in plywood. This method was subsequently to be adopted by many American aircraft manufacturers. The radiator for the Liberty 8 was in the lower wing center section.
  Six FVL-8 (Fighter Victory Liberty) prototypes were ordered on 12 September 1918, but the war ended when these were still in course of construction. The first FVL-8 made its maiden flight in February 1919. No further orders followed.
  The first airframe had no engine and was intended to be tested to destruction. The first flyable prototype (40081) was sent to McCook Field where it was given P No. P-69. It arrived on 24 March 1919 and it flew on 9 June. Casari states that it likely only flew 1 hour 34 minutes. It appears that 40081 outlasted the other non flyable airframes delivered from Pomilio, being left in the Engineering Division’s museum as late last 1924.
  Serial numbers: S.C.40080/40086.

Pomilio FVL-8 single seat fighter with one 270-hp Liberty 8 8-Cylinder Engine
  Wingspan 26 ft. 8 in; length 21 ft. 8 in; height 8 ft. 2 in.; wing area 264 sq. ft.
  Empty weight 1,490 lbs; loaded weight 2,140 lbs.
  Performance (Contract specifications): Maximum speed 140 mph at 5,000 ft.; 138 mph at 10,000 ft.; 133 mph at 15,000 ft.; 126 mph at 20,000 ft. Climb to 10,000 ft. in 4 min.; 15,000 ft. in 9 min.; 20,000 ft. in 16 min.
  Armament (Planned): Two synchronized Marlin machine guns.
  Army Serial: 40080-40085
The Pomilio-designed FVL-8 conceived for the US Army’s Engineering Division and of which six were built in Indianapolis.
The Pomilio FVL-8 fighter had its radiator in the center section of the lower wing and the 270 hp Liberty 8 was totally enclosed.
The Pomilio FVL-8 fighter was powered by the 5th experimental Liberty 8 engine.
Flown at McCook Field as P-69, the Pomilio FVL-8 was never given a performance test.
Wright Type A

  In August 1908. Wilbur began a European campaign to sell their invention in Europe. The demonstrations were carried out throughout Europe. Following these successes of the Club Aviatori di Roma (Aviator’s Club of Rome) agreed to the purchase one aircraft plus flying lessons at a total cost of 50,000 pounds, covered by the contribution of the Ministries of War and Navy. An airfield was set up in Centocelle, destined to play a critical role in Italian military aviation, where from 15 to 26 April 1909 Wright made 67 flights and carried 19 passengers. His pupils were Italian, tenente de vascello Mario Calderara and tenente Umberto Savoja who flew solo. On 6 May, the Wright was destroyed in a crash, injuring Calderara. Savoy rebuilt what was left creating an essentially new machine that flew on 1 July.
  In mid-August, the Wright was sent to the Meeting Aereo di Brescia, where it was damaged when a hangar collapsed. After the repairs were complete a 30-hp Rebus engine of Italian design was fitted. Later Calderara recovered from his injuries to become Italian aviator No.1.
  Savoja’s heavily altered Wright A remained at Centocelle and was flown until 22 May 1910 when Calderara switched to a Filiasi biplane.
Wright A at Centocelle, Rome. (Roberto Gentilli)
Wright A at Centocelle, Rome. (Roberto Gentilli)
Nieuport 4G & 6M

  Italy bought its first Nieuport 4Gs in France in 1911. In August 1911 two two-seater Nieuports (with one in reserve) participated in the Monferrato maneuvers.
  Three aircraft, all with the 50-hp Gnome engines, were sent to Libya on 12 October on the Enrichetta. They were assigned to the Corpi di spezione Libya (Expeditionary Corps in Libya) where they were assigned to the la Flottiglia Aeroplani (Tripoli) (1st Airplane Flotilla (Tripoli)) where they performed excellent service.
  On 23 October Moizo made a 40-minute reconnaissance sortie along the Tripoli-Azizia road: it was the second war flight in history.
  Later it was decided to build it under license in Italy and for this purpose the Nieuport-Macchi Company was established in Varese at the end of 1912. A total of 56 were ordered, almost all built by the Nieuport-Macchi Company.
  The Nieuport, while proving to be the best aircraft of the conflict, needed more powerful engines to operate safely as a two-seater, hence the transition to Nieuport 6M (Militaire). Wolsit of Legnano and Macchi of Varese competed to produce the type under license; the rights went to Macchi which established Societa Anonima Nieuport Macchi (Nieuport Macchi Anonymous Company) on 1 May 1913. The prototypes and the 42 of the Macchi series aircraft had 80-hp Gnome rotary engines. There is no confirmation of orders for nine and six machines to Wolsit and Asteria.
  Six examples with 70-hp Gnome rotaries were imported from France in June 1912 and some probably went to the 5a Squadriglia at Torini 3 June 1913, and partly to the Tripoli squadriglia, which received a 100-hp Nieuport on November 6. The unit was disbanded soon after and returned in December.
  Nieuport-Macchi equipped four squadriglias from September 1913, each with five operational aircraft and two in reserve. These units were:
  - 5a Squadriglia from Busto Arsizio, which also supported the blue forces in that year’s cavalry maneuvers, at Taliedo,
  - 6a Squadriglia at Padua
  - 7a Squadriglia
  - 8a Squadriglia at Bologna
  Possibly also 9a Squadriglia had some at Padova.
  At the beginning of the conflict they equipped 5a, 6, 7a, and 8a Squadriglias. All these units were disbanded in mid-1915. 5a and 7a Squadriglias were reformed on Voisin 3s, 6a with M.F.11s and 8a with Nieuport 10s.
  Before the end of 1913, the Nieuport monoplane had provided a platform for some of the earliest experiments in wireless telegraphy, with Morse code signals exchanged between the aircraft and its base.

Operational Service

  Nieuport-Macchi built 56 Nieuport 10s as well as the 42 Macchi-Parasols which were indigenous derivatives of the Nieuport 6Ms (see entry under Macchi for details).
  The Nieuports were assigned to 5a, 6a, 7a, and 8a Squadriglias Despite the facility of their machines, this small cadre undertook reconnaissance, artillery spotting, and bombing missions, They even engaged in aerial combat with Austro-Hungarian aircraft.
  By the Summer of 1915, it was clear the Nieuport 4s were no longer suitable for combat, and they were withdrawn from service.

  Between 31 July and 24 September 1915 the Nieuport squadriglias were disbanded and the Nieuports sent to the scuola at Malpensa. There were four school types:
  50-hp Gnome single-seaters - eight (Alegi suggests that this may have included the three used in Libya)
  20-hp Anzani engines three examples
  25-hp Anzani engines seven examples
  30-hp Anzani engines five examples

Nieuport 6M Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 80-hp Gnome Engine
  Wingspan 12.27 m (8 m for the 50-hp single seaters); length 7.70 m (7 m); height 2.80 m; wing area 26 m2 (14 sq m)
  Empty weight 395 kg; total weight 650 kg; payload 260 kg
  Maximum speed 112 km/ h (65 km/h); climb to 1,000 m 12 min; climb to 2,000 in 30 minutes; ceiling 2.000 m; range 330 km
  56 built
Nieuport IVM Ni106, 6a Squadriglia, Circa 1912-13
Nieuport IVM, Unit unknown
Lineup of Nieuport 6M reconnaissance two-seaters serving with the Imperial Russian Air Service.
Nieuport 6M monoplanes in Italian Service. (Roberto Gentilli)
Nieuport 6M monoplanes in Italian Service. (Roberto Gentilli)
A Tenente with a Nieuport IVM. (Roberto Gentilli)
Nieuport IVM Ni106, 6a Squadriglia, Circa 1912-13
Nieuport 10

  In 1915 the Societa Nieuport-Macchi had acquired the rights to build Nieuport 10s under license, after ten had been imported from the Nieuport factory. The Italians employed the airplane as a dedicated fighter and, for this reason, the observer’s cockpit was faired over and a Lewis gun was fitted to the top wing. These aircraft were often called Ni 10 or Ni 18 sq m the latter based on the wing area.
  The first Nieuport 10s arrived from France in July 1915 and were initially assigned to 8a Squadriglia at Aviano. The pilots assigned to this unit were Italians who had been trained in France. A sezione of two Nieuport 10s was sent to Santa Caterina to provide aerial defense for the Comando supremo (Supreme Command). This sezione saw considerable activity against the Austro-Hungarian Lloyd and Brandenburg reconnaissance aircraft. However, the limited performance of the Nieuport 10s soon became apparent and it has been reported that the Austro-Hungarians and Germans regarded the type as posing a negligible threat.
  As of January 1916 there were two Italian units using Nieuport 10s: 1a and 2a Squadriglias.

1a Squadriglia
  An M.F. 11 reconnaissance unit, it has been reported that at least one Nieuport 10 was supplied to the unit probably to provide escort for the slow Farmans.

2a Squadriglia
  2a Squadriglia was placed at the disposal of the Comando supremo (Supreme Command) for the defense of Udine and was strengthened by the addition of two Nieuport 10s which were flown by Guido Tacchini, Maffeo Scarpis, and Francesco Baracca in 1915. On 1 September 1a Sezione Nieuport replaced capitano Scarpis and received Oreste Salomone and lieutenant Domenico Bolognesi. On 19 November the unit had five M.F.11s and four Nieuport 10s. By 11 December 1915 the unit was redesignated 2a Squadriglia da Ricognizione e Combattimento and Sezione Nieuport.

70 Squadriglia
  The unit was born on April 15, 1916 as an autonomous unit on the field of S. Caterina di Udine as a fighter squadriglia.
  The unit’s flight line consists of eight Nieuport 10s.
  On 9 May, a storm uncovered three of the Squadriglia’s wooden hangars, seriously damaging eight planes, four of which had to be sent to the air park for repairs.
  On 9 August 70a escorted a formation of Capronis on a bombing mission over Dornberg. By 19 August the unit had 10 pilots and 12 aircraft, eight Nieuport 11s and four Nieuport 10s. Of the latter, urgent replacement was requested because they were not very fast and have been worn out by intense use. On that same day 70a Squadriglia escorted a formation of Caproni bombers on a bombing raid on Dornberg.
  By early 1917 the last Nieuport 10s had been replaced. One of the aircraft’s claim to fame in Italy was that it was on a Nieuport 10 that tenente Baracca of 70a Squadriglia achieved the first Italian victory on 7 April 1916 when he destroyed a Austro-Hungarian Brandenburg C.I over Medeuzza.

71a Squadriglia
  This unit was created April 15, 1916 from 2a Squadriglia with Nieuport 10 (single and two-seat), as well as some Nieuport 11s. It was based at Cascina Farello, near Aquileia, and under the control of I Gruppo. The aircraft were most likely single-seater Nieuport 10s 658, 1249 (with wing of 14 sq m), 1040 (wing of 18 sq m) and the two-seater with wing from 18 sq m serial number 1263 and 1264.
  During this period the Squadriglia made numerous attempts to intercept Austrian planes attempting to penetrate Italian lines.
  The unit moved to Villaver la on 23 May, now under the command of XIV Corpo d’Armata, and engaged in inconclusive combats for the rest of the month. In May the unit had Nieuports 1047, 1263, 1264, 1265, 1266, 1449 and 1766.
  Due to the bad weather conditions, the redeployment was not complete until the 25th, the day on which the first mission from the new base at Ghelfi was undertaken.
  During the second half of 1916 the Nieuport 10s were assigned to provide fighter escort for Caproni bombers during attacks on Fiumee, Gorizia, Trieste, Opcina, and Dornberg.
  71a now operated in the northern sector in June during the battle of Ortigara. On 8 July the Squadriglia became part of III Gruppo commanded by maggiore Ernesto La Polla. Guarding the air space over Vicenza sky, the unit was very busy intercepting Austro-Hungarian aircraft. However, as the unit’s diary noted, the aircraft warning system was inadequate and interceptions were few for which the commander stated that he could not assume any responsibility.
  On 26 September, four planes were kept on alert from sunrise to sunset, in the area of the V Corpo d’Armata, available to 44e Divisione. They patrolled the Vallarsa, Dolomiti, Monte Maggio line in an attempt to intercept Austrian artillery co-operation aircraft. The unit also supported the Italian offensive, alongside 32a, 35a, and 75a Squadriglias.
  In October, 71a carried out combat patrols during the Italian offensive actions on the Pasubio.
  On 4 December 71a replaced 78a in interdiction flights over the plateau at Valsugana, in collaboration with 75a and la Idrovolanti.They all operated along Pasubio and Vai Lagarina flying in closely spaced pairs. The weather conditions greatly limited sorties. In 1916, 71a Squadriglia had made 523 sorties and engaged in 74 combats.

75a Squadriglia
  75a was formed at Tombette air field on 1 May 1916 under the command of capitano Maffeo Scarpis and assigned to III Gruppo. It was to provide air defense for the city of Verona with Nieuports 1455, 1456, 1457, 1458 and 1459.
  On 3 May the squadriglia sent a sezione of three planes and pilots to Villaverla.
  In October, 75a performed numerous escort missions for reconnaissance and bombing aircraft and supported aerial operations over Pasubio.
  The flight activity in the last two months of the year was limited due to bad weather. By now the unit had Nieuport 11s 1646, 1647, 1649, 1654, 1688, 1690 and 1695; by this time, the Nieuport 10s had been deleted.
  During 1916 74a had flown 361 combat sorties and engaged in 24 aerial combats’ there was one confirmed victory.

76a Squadriglia
  This Squadriglia was formed on the Comina field, near Pordenone, on 25 May 1916. It was equipped with Nieuport serial numbers 1042, 1043, 1805 and 1806 available. On May 29, 76a received the order to fly to S. Maria la Longa, to be assigned to I Gruppo.
  At the end of June the unit had Nieuports 1042, 1464, 1606, 1806, 3438, 2182 and 2206.
  On 29 September 76a became part of II Gruppo, based at Santa Maria la Longa. It supported II Armata offensive operations in the autumn of 1916.
During 1916 76a had to strike off charge Nieuports 1650, 1683,1699,2111,3128 and 3133 due to various damages. By 1917 the unit had fully re-equipped with Nieuport 11s.

77a Squadriglia
  77a Nieuport Squadriglia was formed on 31 May 1916 at Campo della Comina. It was assigned to the Comando Supremo and based in Istrana on June 18, 1916. It was equipped with Nieuport 10s. Combat operations began in July as it re-equipped with Nieuport 11s.
  By July 1916 Nieuport 11s had replaced the Nieuport 10s.

78a Squadriglia
  78a was formed June 29, 1916 at Comina. However, the unit had only a single Nieuport 10 (and seven Nieuport Ils); the Nieuport 10 was soon replaced.

  By the end of 1916, Nieuport 11s and 17s had begun to replace the Nieuport 10s in the fighter role. Nevertheless, as of mid-1917 six units still used Nieuport 10s: 70a, 71a, 75a, 76a, 77a, and 78a Squadriglias. By 1917 the two Nieuport 10s were replaced.
  The Nieuport 10 remained in front-line service well into 1917, but in the aerial reconnaissance role.
  By 1918 most Nieuport 10s had been assigned to training units. The Nieuport-Macchi firm built more than 240 of the type and it is believed that the Italians eventually acquired more than 500 Nieuport 10s before the end of the war.

Nieuport-Macchi 10 Single or Two-Seat Reconnaissance Aircraft with One 80-hp Le Rhone Engine
  Wingspan 8.03 m; length 7.01 m; height 2.85 m; wing area 18 sq m
  Empty weight 440 kg; loaded weight 650 kg
  Maximum speed 140 km/h; ceiling 3,800 m; endurance 2 hours 30 minutes, range 300 km
Nieuport 10 Ni 13510, Unit unknown
Nieuport 10 Ni 13052, Unit unknown
Nieuport 10, Unit unknown
Nieuport 10, Unit unknown
Nieuport 10, Unit unknown
Nieuport 10, Unit unknown
Nieuport 10 in French service.
Nieuport 10 in Italian service. (Roberto Gentilli)
Oreste Salamone with his Nieuport 10
Nieuport 10
Nieuport 10
Nieuport 10
Nieuport 11

  Italy used large numbers of Nieuport 11s to supplement and later replace the Nieuport 10s. The Macchi-Nieuport firm built the type under license and 450 were built by that firm as well as an additional 93 (out of 200 originally ordered) by the Officine Elettro-Ferroviarie in Milano.
  The Nieuport 11s began to appear in Italian fighter units during 1916 and 70a Squadriglia, based at Santa Caterina, was probably the first unit to receive them. The unit subsequently moved to Udine, where the Comando supremo was located. While based in this area 70a Squadriglia flew offensive patrols along the front lines. By the end of 1916 most of the 56 enemy airplanes destroyed by Italian fighters had been dispatched by Nieuport 11s. At this time the main complaint about the Nieuport 11 concerned the Lewis gun, which was difficult to reload in flight, and the Nieuport 11s could only carry a small number of additional rounds. By late 1916 some of the Italian Nieuport 11s were fitted with the Le Prieur rocket system for use against enemy balloons.
  There were four Squadriglias using Nieuport 11s during 1916. These were organized as:
  Comando Supremo
   70a Squadriglia at Santa Canterina
   IX Gruppo (1st Armata) - 71a and 75a Squadriglias;
   II Gruppo (2nd Armata) - 76a Squadriglia.

  By early 1917 the following units were equipped with Nieuport 11s:
  I Gruppo (3rd Armata ) - 77a and 80a Squadriglias.
  II Gruppo (2nd Armata, 4th Armata) - 76a and 81a Squadriglias.
  VII Gruppo (6th Armata, 1st Armata) - 79a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (1st Armata) - 71a, 75a, and 78a Squadriglias.
  X Gruppo (Comando supremo) - 70a and 82a Squadriglias.
  Independent units:
   83a Squadriglia at Kremain (Macedonia)
   85a Squadriglia at Piskupi (Albania) Sezione Nieuport at Belluno.

  During 1916 and early 1917 the output of Nieuports from the Macchi-Nieuport firm was between 35 and 45 a month; most of these were Nieuport 11s. However, by early 1917 the Nieuport Ils were being superseded on the production lines by the improved Nieuport 17. By October 1917 only nine Squadriglias still had Nieuport Ils on strength:
  II Gruppo (4a Armata) - 76a Squadriglia
  III Gruppo (1a Armata) - 72a Squadriglia.
  VII Gruppo (1a Armata) - 79a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (1a Armata) - 71a and 75a Squadriglias
  X Gruppo (Comando supremo) - 70a, 78a, and 82a Squadriglias
  85a Squadriglia at Piskupi (Albania).

Only six squadriglias were still using Nieuport 11s at the end of 1917:
  II Gruppo (4a Armata) - 76a Squadriglia Ill Gruppo (1a Armata) - 72a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (1a Armata) - 71a and 75a Squadriglias.
  X Gruppo (1st Armata) - 82a and 91a Squadriglias.
  85a Squadriglia at Piskupi (Albania).

  The Nieuport 11 had by 1918 been eclipsed by the Nieuport 17. As these newer airplanes reached front-line units, the Nieuport 11s were reassigned to training units. By February 1918 there were only 22 Nieuport 11s still in service. The last unit to have them on strength was 85a Squadriglia in Albania which flew them until 4 November 1918.

Nieuport-Macchi 11 Single-Seat Fighter with One 80-hp Le Rhone Engine
  Wingspan 7.40 m; length 5.57 m; height 2.45 m; wing area 13 sq m
  Empty weight 3540 kg; loaded weight 500 kg
  Maximum speed 144 km/h; ceiling 4,800 m; endurance 2 hours 30 minutes, range 350 km
Nieuport 11 Ni.1440, 76a Squadriglia
Nieuport 11 Ni.1636, 76a Squadriglia
Nieuport 11 Ni.1763, 76a Squadriglia
Nieuport 11 Ni.2123, S/Ten. Alvaro Leonardi, 80a Squadriglia, 1917
Nieuport 11 #2352.
Nieuport 11 flown by Baracca to score his first victory.
Ace Giannino Ancillotto after his feat of flying through a burning Austrian balloon.
Sergente Giovanni Bartolomeo Arrigoni of 76a Squadriglia warms up his Nieuport 11 #2187 on Borgnano airfield. The aircraft was the first effective fighter employed by the Italians, who obtained their first aerial victories with this type. Due to its dimensions the plane was often called Nieuportino (little Nieuport) (Aeronautica Militare)
Nieuport 11 in Italian service. The engine cowling was painted in the Italian colors of red, white, and green.
Nieuport 11 in Italian service. The engine cowling was painted in the Italian colors of red, white, and green.
Nieuport 11 #2140 of 80a Squadriglia.
Nieuport 11s of 76a Squadriglia.
Nieuport 11 #1636 of 76a Squadriglia with Le Prieur rockets.
Nieuport 11 in flight
Nieuport 11
Nieuport 11
Nieuport 11
Nieuport 17

  During 1917 the Nieuport 17 replaced the Nieuport 11 in Italian service. Macchi began to build the type under license in December 1916. Approximately 150 were built by the Macchi firm, becoming known as “Super-Bebes. The engine was a 120hp Le Rhone. The Italians found that the Nieuport 17’s lower wing spar broke during certain maneuvers. Because of this, the Italian pilots, along with their counterparts in the RFC, flew the Type 17 with great caution.
  During the first half of 1917 the following squadriglias received Nieuport 17s to supplement the Nieuport 11s then in service:
  I Gruppo (3rd Armata): 77a and 80a Squadriglias;
  II Gruppo (2nd Armata): 76a and 81a Squadriglias;
  VII Gruppo (1st, 6th Armata): 79a Squadriglia;
  IX Gruppo (1st Armata): 71a and 75a Squadriglias;
  X Gruppo (Comando supremo): 70a, 78a, and 82a Squadriglias;
  Independent units: 1st Sezione 83 Squadriglia based at Kremain (Macedonia) and Sezione Nieuport 17bis and 17s at Belluno.

  The Nieuport 17 squadriglias flew combat patrols, reconnaissance missions, and escort for Caproni bombers.
  They were also used in the ground attack role, striking enemy troops with bombs and machine gun fire. The Nieuport 17s proved to be particularly effective in preventing Austro-Hungarian reconnaissance airplanes from penetrating the Italian lines. In addition, many Nieuport 17 seziones (sections) were formed to defend important Italian cities, ports, airship bases, and ammunition dumps.
  By October 1917 the following units still had Nieuport 17s:
  I Gruppo (3rd Armata): 77a, 80a, and 84a Squadriglias;
  II Gruppo (4th Armata): 76a Squadriglia;
  III Gruppo (1st Armata): 72a Squadriglia;
  VII Gruppo (1st Armata): 79a Squadriglia;
  IX Gruppo (1st Armata): 71a and 75a Squadriglias;
  X Gruppo (Comando supremo): 70a, 78a, and 82a Squadriglias;
  Independent Units 1st Sezione 83a Squadriglia at Negocani (Macedonia), 2nd Sezione 83a Squadriglia (Belluno), 3rd Sezione 83a Squadriglia (Cavazzo Carnico), and 85a Squadriglia at Piskupi (Albania).

  By the end of 1917 Nieuport 27s, Hanriot HD.1s, and Spad 7s were replacing the Nieuport 17s still in service. By June 1918 only 2 units had Nieuport 17s: 72a Squadriglia based at Busiago as part of the 9th Gruppo (7th armata) and 74a Squadriglia based at Castenedolo as part of the 20th Gruppo (7th armata).

Nieuport-Macchi 17 Single-Seat Fighter with One 110-hp Le Rhone Engine
  Wingspan 8.20 m; length 5.95 m; height 2.40 m; wing area 15 sq m
  Empty weight 390 kg; loaded weight 580 kg
  Maximum speed 175 km/h; ceiling 5,300 m; endurance 2 hours
Nieuport 17 Ni.3602, Sgt Pagliari, 70a Squadriglia, Spring 1917
Nieuport 17 N.3625, 81a Squadriglia, Campoformido Aerodrome, Autumn 1917
Nieuport 17 Ni.3664, Giannino Ancillotto, 80a Squadriglia
Nieuport 17 Ni.3666, 71a Squadriglia
Nieuport 17, Unit unknown
Nieuport 17 markings, Port side
Nieuport 17 markings, Starboard side
A French-built Nieuport 17 in Italian service
Giannino Ancillotto of 80a Squadriglia in the cockpit of his Nieuport 17 #3664.
Sgt. Pagliari of 70a Squadriglia and his Nieuport 17 #3602 in spring 1917.
Pilot with his Nieuport 17. The synchronized machine gun was an improvement compared to the over-wing mounting of the Nieuport 11.
Squadriglia lineup of Nieuport 17s in Italian service. The second one, with skull and crossbones, is the plane of ace Fulco Ruffo di Calabria, the third one with prancing horse of ace Francesco Baracca.
Lineup of Nieuport 17s of 77a Squadriglia at Aiello.
Squadriglia lineup of Nieuport 17s in Italian service; #3632 at left, followed by 3620 at right.
Nieuport 17
Nieuport 17
Nieuport 17
Nieuport 24

  Camurati reports that examples of the Nieuport 24 were supplied to Italy and used within some of the Nieuport squadriglias during the winter of 1917-18. This report cannot be verified.

Nieuport 27

  The Italians purchased Nieuport 27s from the French. In late 1917 and 1918 the Macchi firm was concentrating on license production of the Hanriot HD.1 and therefore, did not contract to build the Nieuport 27 under license. Only about 100 examples of the Nieuport 27 were obtained from the French.
  The Nieuport 27s were serving with one unit in November 1917. This was 91a Squadriglia based at Padova which was assigned to the 10 Gruppo under the control of the Comando supremo.
  By June 1918, nine squadriglias had Nieuport 27s on strength:
  III Gruppo (1st Armata): 75a Squadriglia;
  VII Gruppo (6th Armata): 81a and 83a Squadriglias;
  IX Gruppo (7th Armata): 72a Squadriglia;
  XX Gruppo (7th Armata): 74a Squadriglia;
  XXIII Gruppo (8th Armata): 78a and 79a Squadriglias; 85a Squadriglia at Piskupi (Albania); and 73a Squadriglia at Gazzo.

  The Nieuport 27s were used operationally during the Battle of Piave and the offensive at Vittorio Veneto.
  By October 1918 the number of squadriglias using Nieuport 27s had declined from nine to six. These were:
  III Gruppo (1st Armata): 75a Squadriglia;
  VII Gruppo (6th Armata): 83a Squadriglia;
  X Gruppo (Supreme Command): 70a and 82a Squadriglias;
  XX Gruppo (7th Armata): 74a Squadriglia;
  23 Gruppo (8th Armata): 79a Squadriglia.

The Nieuport 27s were quickly retired after the war; some were bought by private citizens for recreational flying.

Nieuport-Macchi 27 Single-Seat Fighter with One 120-hp Le Rhone Engine
  Wingspan 8.20 m; length 5.98 m; height 2.40 m; wing area 15 sq m
  Empty weight 365 kg; loaded weight 580 kg
  Maximum speed 186 km/h; ceiling 5,500 m; endurance 1 hours 30 minutes
Nieuport 27 N.5820, 74a Squadriglia
Nieuport 27 N.19750, Sgt Marziale Cerutti, 79a Squadriglia
Nieuport 27 N.19750, 73a Squadriglia, Macedonia
Nieuport 27 N.19750, 83a Squadriglia
Nieuport 27 N.19786, 79a Squadriglia, Winter 1917-18
Nieuport 24 in French service. The N27 differed from the N24 by having a divided axle landing gear and internally-mounted tail-skid.
Another Nie.27 of the 79* Squadriglia was N5907, conspicuously adorned with the marking of a long pennant on the fuselage side.
Cerutti in front of his N27 #5907. (Roberto Gentilli)
Italian Nieuport 27 of 83a squadriglia with pilot.
Nieuport 27 lineup of 83a Squadriglia in 1918.
Nieuport 27 of 81a Squadriglia after capture.
Nieuport 27
Nieuport 27
Nieuport 27

  The Squadriglia di Derna used at least one biplane Savary (probably the 1911 two seat biplane), who had previously taken part in maneuvers in the Monferrato piloted by Quaglia. It was a single-engine monoplane with two propellers, had tail booms with rudders and vertical wing tips.

Savary 1911 Two-Seat Military Biplane with One 70 hp Water-Cooled 4-Cylinder Inline Labor Engine
  Wingspan: (upper): 14.5 m; (lower): 10 m; length: 11 m; wing area: c 52 sq m;
  Empty weight: 600 kg; payload: 220 kg;
  Maximum speed: 90 km/h (est);
Sommer Biplane

  A Sommer biplane, which entered service with the Specialists Brigade in October 1910. It had a 50-hp engine and had been purchased in France by tenente eng. Giuseppe Saglietti on behalf of the Battaglione Specialisti (Specialist Battalion). In the few days it remained in service, it was used as a trainer for tenente Saglietti, who, made his first flights at Centocelle under the guidance of tenente Savoy. Using this experience, he planned to attend the Sommer school of Douzy to earn pilot’s license.
  Unfortunately, on October 27, the Sommer aircraft suddenly fell from about 80 meters high, while it was preparing to land, causing the death of Saglietti. Steffanini notes in the Centocelle flight register: “...at about 3 meters from the ground he passed to the right of the seat jumping to the ground, but was overwhelmed by the device and remained lifeless there .” It appears that the Sommer may have made too sharp a right turn, and Saglietti attempted to exit the crashing aircraft, which instead crushed him. The ministro della guerra (War Minister) Spingardi ordered a thorough investigation, from which it emerged that Saglietti had previously expressed the doubt that the rudder was not working perfectly.
Sommer biplane.
Sommer biplane side view drawing.
Spad 7

  Italy’s fighter force had been equipped exclusively with modern French fighters. It is not surprising, then, that when the Spad 7 became available that Italy would acquire the type. It seems the Spad 7 was not liked by most Italian pilots and the Nieuport 17s and especially the Hanriot HD.1 remained the main fighter types. Ironically, the later aircraft was offered to the Italians because the Aviation Militaire wished to preserved the Spads for their own use.
  The first Spad 7s arrived in early 1917 and were found to be particularly useful as high-speed reconnaissance aircraft. However, the top Italian ace, Baracca, flew the Spad 7 because he was willing to accept its single machine gun armament as a trade-off for its improved speed and maneuverability.
  No attempt was made to produce the Spad 7 under license; Italy was placing its hopes on license-built HD.1s and the indigenous designs such as the Ansaldo SVA and A.1. These were expected to possess the requisite performance requirements, and these all-wood designs would be easier to mass produce.
  It appears that Spad 7s first entered service in March 1917 with 77a and 91a Squadriglias. By August 1917 the following units had Spad 7s on strength:
  I Gruppo (3rd armata): 71a and 77a Squadriglias.
  II Gruppo (2nd armata): 76a Squadriglia.
  III Gruppo (Comando supremo): 91a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (1st armata): 75a Squadriglia.
  X Gruppo (Comando supremo): 78a Squadriglia.
  All of these units were flying a combination of Spad 7s and Nieuport 11 and 17s. By October 1917 the number of units had increased from six to eight:
  I Gruppo (3rd armata): 77a, 80a, and 84a Squadriglias.
  II Gruppo (4th armata): 76a Squadriglia.
  III Gruppo (1st armata): 72a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (1st armata): 71 a, 75a Squadriglias.
  X Gruppo (Comando supremo): 91a Squadriglia. In November 1917 76a, 80a, and 84a Squadriglias reequipped with Hanriot HD.1s and gave up their Spad 7s. This was in part due to the fact that the Hanriots were being built under license by the Macchi firm, unlike the Spad 7s which had to be supplied by the overtaxed French aircraft industry.
  During Caporetto, on 27 November, the Comando supremo reported that there were only 119 fighters in the War Zone, including 34 Spads (almost all Spad 7s), 38 Nieuport Ni.17, 33 Hanriot HD.1, two SVA, and even 12 Nieuport 11s. Spad 7s now made up only about a quarter of the Italian fighter strength.
  By June 1918 the Spad 7s were no longer in front-line service and were relegated primarily to training units.
  In addition to escorting two-seaters and bombers, the Spad 7s saw widespread use in the high speed reconnaissance role. During the final months of the war Spad 7s were used in the ground attack role, two bomb racks were fitted between the aircraft’s undercarriage. The bombs were released from the cockpit by a Bowden cable. Ground attack was a particularly dangerous assignment; Italian ace-of-aces Baracca lost his life on a ground attack mission on 19 June 1918.
  The Spad 7s did have some notable successes. 91a Squadriglia led by Baracca destroyed 14 Austro-Hungarian aircraft between 20 and 26 October 1918. The type was also used for reconnaissance; of particular importance was a mission by three Spad 7s over Trieste and Istria. In these aircraft a camera was located behind the cockpit.
  As more and more Spads arrived with front line units, problems began to appear. Poor construction in the French factories resulted in numerous defects requiring the Italians to modify and strengthen the airframes.
  On 18 October there were 74 Spad 7s with front line units, making up only 20% of the frontline fighter force.
  Spad 7s were in use with he following Squadriglias:
  70a - 5, 71a - 16, 73a - 1, 77a - 15, 82a - 7, 91a - 9, Depots - 35
  Busto Arsizio and Donate Pozzolo advanced fighter school and Furbara gunnery school - 12
  The remaining squadriglias replaced their Spad 7s with Spad 13s during 1918.
  The last Italian air-to-air victory of the war would go to Cabruna in a Spad 7. On 2 November he claimed two Brandenburg C.Is near Aiello.

Post Armistice

  After the war ended, both Spad 7s and 13s remained in service.
  When the Regia Aeronautica was formed in March 1923 there were still 69 Spad 7s on strength (versus 216 Spad 13s):
  78a Squadriglia - Turin
  91a Squadriglia - Sesto San Giovanni
  Centro Aviazione da Caccia (Fighter Aviation Centre)
  According to Varriale, the last Squadriglia that operated Spad 7s was 83a as part of XVII Gruppo at Cinisello Balsamo. The Spad 7 was, at last, retired in October 1925.
  In 1927 two units still had a few Spad 7s:
  - the Sezione Autonoma Caccia (Autonomous Fighter Flight) at Nettuno
  - 1a Squadriglia of the Gruppo Autonomo 3° ZAT (3a Zona Aerea Territoriale (Territorial Air Zone, ZAT).

Spad 7 Single-Seat Fighter with one 180-hp Hispano-Suiza 8Ab engine
  Wingspan 7.822 m; length 6.080 m; height 2.20 m; wing area 17.85 sq. m
  Empty weight 500 kg; loaded weight 705 kg
  Maximum speed: 2,000 m 212 km/h 3,000 m 204 km/h 4,000 m 200 km/h 5,000 m 187 km/h Climb: 2,000 m 4 minutes 40 seconds 3,000 m 8 minutes 10 seconds 4,000 m 12 minutes 49 seconds
  Ceiling 6,553 m; endurance 1.5 hours
  Armament: one 7.7-mm Vickers machine gun
Spad VII #1390 (or 1398), Ten. Flaminio Avet, 70a Squadriglia, October 1918
Spad VII No.14208, Ernesto Cabruna, 77a Squadriglia
Spad VII No.4707, Tenente Giorgio Pessi, 91a Squadriglia
Spad VII #4695, Ten. Bartolomeo Constantini, 91a Squadriglia, July 1917
Spad VII S6363, S/Ten. Gascone Novelli, 91a Squadriglia, 1918
Spad VII, Tenente Fulco Ruffo di Calabria, 91a Squadriglia
Spad 7 #2489 in the Baracca Museum. The accepted knowledge in Italy is that Baracca scored one victory in it. In July 1918 this plane was assigned to Lt. Olivero.
Spad 7 in Italian museum in the markings of Fulco Ruffo di Calabria of the 91a Squadriglia; he was an ace with 20 confirmed victories.
Spad 7.
Spad 7 flown by Cabruna.
Spad 7s in Italian service.
Spad 7 in Italian service.
Spad 7 in Italian service.
Spad 7
Spad 7
Spad 7
Spad 13

  Although the Spad 7 had not been a great success in Italian service, the Italians arranged to import several Spad 13s. It may have been felt that the twin guns would offset the biggest complaint about the Spad 7, that its armament was inadequate.
  However, as plans to produce the type in Italy were never pursued, France would have to supply them. As a result, there were initially only enough Spad 13s to equip 91a Squadriglia, with small numbers being supplied to other fighter units.
  Among the first units to be equipped with the Spad 13 were the only two squadriglias still using Spad 7s as their main equipment: 77a and 91a.
  In June 1918 27 Spad 7s and 15 Spad 13s were supplied to the operational squadriglias. On 20 October there were 43 Spad 13s available; this represented only 6% of all fighters in service. However, only 16 were serving in combat units:
  70a Squadriglia (X Gruppo) - unknown number
  71a Squadriglia (XVII Gruppo) - 3 Spad 13s
  77a Squadriglia (XVII Gruppo) - 3 Spad 13s
  91a Squadriglia (XVII Gruppo) - 10 Spad 13s
  Depots - 34
  Busto Arsizio and Lonate Pozzolo advanced fighter school and Furbara gunnery school - 1
  Riva di Chieri CFS - 1

  At the end of the war the 91 a had 13 Spads.


  There were a significant number of Spad 13 airframes (sans engines) available postwar. This would provide the postwar Aviazione with a steady supply of fighters and allow the number of Spad 13s in service with the Regia Aeronautica to widely exceed the number in service during the First World War.

  By 1927, the last Spad 13 had been retired. Some of the Spads continued to serve with training units.
Spad XIII, Maggiore Francesco Baracca, 91a Squadriglia
Spad XIII, Bertini, 91a Squadriglia
Rear quarter view of the Spad 13 of Italian ace Fulco Ruffo di Calabria. Note the early rounded wingtips on this Spad 13. Ruffo was credited with 20 victories and survived the war. (Roberto Gentilli)
Two Italian Spad 13s; note their early-production rounded wingtips. (Roberto Gentilli)
Rampante! Th is painting by noted artist Russell Smith shows leading Italian ace Major Francesco Baracca flying his Spad 13. The rampant stallion was Baracca's personal insignia and was borrowed with Baracca's mother's permission by Enzo Ferrari for his racing cars after the war.
Spad 13 Early
Spad 13 Early
Spad 13 Early
Voisin 3

  After receiving 12 Voisin 3s in early 1915, the Italian Servizio Aeronautico (Air Service) decided to produce the type under license.
  The SIT firm of Turin was asked to produce 40 Voisins to supplement the 12 purchased from France. More than 100 were built by the SIT (Societe Italiana Transaera) firm. Their Salmson M9 engines were built under license by the Isotta-Fraschini firm. The Salmsons proved troublesome in operational units. Problems afflicting the rotary Salmsons installed on the Voisin were attributed to the lack of familiarity of pilots and engineers with this type of engine. By mid-1915 only 28 had been completed.
  Alegi lists mid-1916 production as:
  Voisin 3 with 140-hp Canton-Unne engines - 11
  Voisin 3 with 150-hp Canton-Unne engines - 15
  Voisin 3 with 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V.4 engines - 7
  Voisin 3 trainers with 125-hp Salmson or 100-hp Gnome - 7
  By the end of 1916 SIT had produced 112 Voisin 3s.
  Other engines used were the 190-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.4, 100-hp Fiat A.10, and (on at least one Italian Voisin) a 120-hp Le Rhone with external reduction gear. Deliveries began in January 1916. On some Italian Voisins a second gun, usually a 9-mm Revelli machine pistol, was carried.
  Although the Voisin 3s were antiquated, unlike the Caudron G.3s and Parasol Macchis, the Voisin 3s could operate in bad weather. The Voisin-equipped units were able operate successfully over the entire front at Carso.

  The April 1916 production plan was to create four Voisin squadriglias, of which two would have Salmson engines and 2 Isotta Fraschini engines for front line service.
  Although the Voisin 3s were used primarily in the army cooperation role, they could also serve as bombers. The Voisin 3s had performed strategic attacks for the Aviation Militaire in 1915 and 1916. In Italy they were used to supplement the reprisal raids carried out by the Caproni squadriglias.
  For example, in response to Austro-Hungarian raids on Italian cities in the first two months of 1916 on 16 February 5a and 7a Squadriglias sent nine Voisins Kostanjevica, hoping to hit the headquarters and depots at Carso. The Voisins take off was in darkness, fog, and heavy cloud cover. Six Voisins returned at the first light of the day and another two, at the limit of their range, landed at Colonna, near Romans, and near Forte Alberoni, between Chioggia and Venice. The last, a machine of 5a Squadriglia piloted by capitano Ernesto Jacometti with observer tenente Marcus Aurelius Ripamonti, reached the area of Castagnevizza. Immediately after releasing his bombs he was repeatedly hit by the anti-aircraft fire. The Voisin sought refuge in the clouds and flew towards the sea, but with the compass out of order and the flight controls damaged they ended up off course, making a crash landing on the coast of Istria, near Dignano, where the crew was taken prisoner.
  On 26 April, three Capronis joined with four Voisin 3s of 25a and 26a Squadriglias to attack the Ovcia Draga railway terminal; the aircraft were badly damaged by AAA.
  On 15 August, 1916 four Voisins from 25a and four from 26a Squadriglias, escorted by 3 Nieuports of 7a, bombed the Reifenberg station, engaging in several fights against KuK Brandenburgs and Fokkers, one of which was claimed as shot down. The Reifenberg station, on the Trieste-Gorizia line, was once attacked on August 17 by a formation of Voisins, again from 25a and 26a Squadriglias.
  During the Seventh Battle of the Isonzo, on 18 September, Voisin 3s and Farman M.F.11s from I Gruppo, escorted by 76a Squadriglia hit the Comen station twice in attacks that were closely integrated with the action of the ground forces.
  In 1916, Voisins also were used to fly combat patrols, as when Voisins, drawn from 25a, 26a, and 35a Squadriglias, flew two-aircraft patrols between Podgora and Gradisca and between Gradisca and the sea, to prevent enemy aircraft from crossing into Italian territory.
  By 1917, the Voisins were clearly no longer suitable for frontline use and were to be withdrawn from service. However, problems with Savoia Pomilio S.P.2s and S.P.3s, and delays in production, resulted in a few still being present in front line units. Even in late 1917, at Caporetto, 25a Squadriglia was still using the type.
  It is hard to imagine a more unequal series of combats in aviation history as the Voisins went up against the German Luftstreitkrafte. 25a had sent four old Voisins “protected” by Savoia Pomilios S.P.3s and three from 28a Squadriglia, for a mission over Tolmin. The entire formation was attacked by four or five German Albatros D.Vs. Voisin 1303 with capitano osservatore Giuseppe Gabbin and tenente Giuseppe Ciuffelli was the last and lowest in the formation, probably due to engine failure. This was the oldest aircraft in the unit, and in any event was obsolete and should never have been put into a combat situation, especially where the escort was incapable of putting up an adequate defense. Their epitaph was provided by sergente Molino: “It is therefore in the obstinacy of having to perform one’s duty at all costs, despite the enormous obstacle that has arisen, that the two glorious aviators have found death”.
  In the same attack, the plane of tenente Francesco Nociti and sergente Ezio Guerra were shot down, as was tenente osservatore Giacomo Macchi, and sergente Pietro Molino; they both survived. Only tenente osservatore Ignazio Lanza and tenente Umberto Gelmetti managed to return to their field. As a result of these catastrophic losses 25a Squadriglia was officially disbanded on 10 November. It is unfortunate that it took a slaughter of this magnitude, in which three Voisin 3s and four men were lost, to at last bring about the retirement of a successful design that had been pushed well beyond its limits due to the failure of the Italian aviation industry.
  The Voisin 3 s were withdrawn from front-line units and assigned to reconnaissance training. Others were used to drop spies behind enemy lines. For these missions they were fitted with special mufflers to quiet engine noise; this represented one of the first uses of stealth technology.

Voisin 3 (LA) Two-Seat Bomber with One 120-hp Salmson M9 Built by S.l.T. in Italy
  Wingspan 14.74 m; length 9.50 n height 3.60 m, wing area 53.60 sq. m
  Empty weight 800 kg; loaded weight 1,200 kg
  Maximum speed: 120 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 7 minutes; endurance 3 hours 30 minutes
  A total of 112 were built
Voisin III V.603, 26a Squadriglia
Voisin III V.1296, 25a Squadriglia
Voisin III V.1441, 35a Squadriglia
Voisin 3 V.2089 being readied for a mission.
Voisin 3 V.589 of VIIa Squadriglia with crew preparing for a mission.
Voisin 3 V.1309 with crew and bombload.
Voisin 3 with crew wearing primitive armor. The armor was not generally used.
Closeup of pilot in Voisin V.1797 of 103a Squadriglia.
Voisin LA V.1317 found abandoned without crew near Ponte di Piave in September 1918 after having delivered agents behind the enemy lines.