Centennial Perspective
Italian Aviation in the First World War. Vol.2: Aircraft A-H

J.Davilla - Italian Aviation in the First World War. Vol.2: Aircraft A-H /Centennial Perspective/ (74)

Etrich Taube

  The first Italian Taube, an Etrich IX series aircraft, was ordered in February 1911 from Lohner. It was powered by a 65-hp Austro-Daimler four-cylinder in-line, water-cooled engine. It arrived in May for use as a trainer the scuole militaire (military school) in Aviano; the cost was 5,080 crowns.
  In late August 1911 it took part in the Army maneuvers, supporting the “Red” Army forces piloted by tenente Giulio Gavotti. On the 24th a wing was damaged in a hard landing, barring the aircraft from further participation in the war games.
  From 17 to 20 September, aircraft flown by Italian military pilots, including the Taube, took part in a long distance flight from Paris-Venice using a 420 km route. Flying the Taube, Gavotti came in second, 1 hour and 5 minutes behind a Bleriot 11, but 13h 15 min ahead of the first civilian competitor.
  On October 13, the Taube was sent to Tripoli as part of the 1st Flottiglia Aerea (Air Flotilla). In addition to reconnaissance duties, on 1 November Gavotti’s Taube dropped bombs on the oasis at Ain Zara and Tagiura, possibly for the first time in history a plane had been used as a bomber. A second aircraft, dropped hand grenades from a makeshift bomb rack.
  The second Taube was badly damaged during a storm on 13 April, 1912. Lohner received an order for a replacement, which was delivered in mid-1912.
  The Italians saw the usefulness of the Tauben, but also recognized the need for more modern and maneuverable aircraft.
Etrich Taube in Libya.
Bristol Coanda Monoplane

  A tandem two-seat version of the Bristol-Coanda Monoplane, No. 132, went to Italy. Also sent were two variants with side-by-side seating, Nos. 110 and 165.
  Two others, Nos. 121 and 122, were built for the Italian government, and No. 122 was dispatched to Turin on 13 November, but No. 121 remained at Larkhill.
  No. 131 was despatched to Turin on 6 December 1912, together with school monoplane No. 132, as initial equipment for the Italian military aviation school.
  The Coanda monoplane had been selected for purchase by the Italian National Subscription, which had raised nearly L800,000 to buy aeroplanes for the army. Due to their generosity, 36 more Bristols were to be built under licence by the Caproni & Faccanoni, of Vizzola Ticino firm. Bristol insisted that the first machines built were to be test flown by Bristol’s own pilots. This was acceptable to Caproni and on 321 December 1912, the Societa Italiana Bristol Aeroplani was created.
  Henry White Smith and Captain Dickson, supervised production at the Caproni factory. Caproni was supplied with aircraft No.154. This was not a flyable prototype, but an example stripped of its fabric covering to permit the Italian factory workers to see how the aircraft had been put together. This pattern aircraft, factory supplied drawings, and a party of workmen from Bristol’s factory at Filton would teach the Italians about the construction methods employed by the firm.
  Delivery testing of Nos. 122, 131 and 132 was performed by Bristol’s Sidney Sippe. In December he flew to Turin from Rumania where he had demonstrated No.131 and set records for climb rate and speed with full load. Sippe remained in Italy to await assembly of the first two Caproni-built monoplanes.
  The Caproni-built examples were considered to have had acceptable workmanship, but the warp control was found to be immovable and on examination it was found that the ribs had been bolted to the spars, thus destroying the flexibility of the wing. In January a new flying school, based on Larkhill practice, was opened at Malpensa. Collyns Pizey was sent to Italy to begin training. He stayed until April when new Italian military aircraft trials were held between Turin and Milan; two Caproni-Bristols had been entered. The Caproni-Bristols could not meet the requirements of the competition. As a result, the Italian Government cancelled the Bristol contract. An acrimonious dispute followed involving, Bristol, Caproni, and the Italian government; it was not settled until January 1918 when the Caproni-Bristol licence was cancelled.

Caproni Prewar Designs

Bristol Caproni (Bristol-Coanda Monoplane)

  The Bristol Coanda monoplane had been selected for purchase by the Italian National Subscription, which had raised nearly L800,000 to buy aeroplanes for the army and had ordered 36 more of the type to be built in Italy by Italian labour. The Company had been asked to grant a manufacturing license to an established firm in Italy, and Caproni & Faccanoni, of Vizzola Ticino, had been recommended as the most reliable of the three or four constructors of that time. A condition for granting the license was that the first few Italian-built machines should be test-flown by Bristol pilots, and the formal agreement setting up the Societa Italiana Bristol Aeroplani was signed on 31 December 1912 by Henry White Smith, who, with Capt Dickson, had supervised the Caproni factory arrangements. These included the supply from Filton of a complete skeleton monoplane (No. 154) as a pattern and the loan of a party of Filton Factory workers to teach their Italian colleagues Bristol’s methods in addition to the normal provision of drawings and data.
  Delivery tests of Nos. 122, 131 and 132 were undertaken by Sidney Sippe, who had just joined the Bristol staff, and in December Pixton went to Turin on his return from Romania and put No. 131 through its paces, breaking records for climb and speed with full load. Sippe remained in Italy to await assembly of the first two Caproni-built monoplanes. These were generally satisfactory in workmanship, but the warp control would not work; it was found that the ribs had been bolted to the spars, thus destroying the flexibility of the wing. In January a new flying school, based on Larkhill practice, was opened at Malpensa and Collyns Pizey went out to begin instruction. He stayed until April when new Italian military aircraft trials were to be held between Turin and Milan, for which two Caproni-Bristols had been entered.
  Two Bristol-Caproni monoplanes were entered in the 1913 military competition.
  - Bristol-Caproni monoplane, 80 hp 7-cylinder Gnome engine Caproni and Faccanoni company from Vizzola Ticino, piloted by Suppey.
  - Bristol-Caproni monoplane, like the previous one, piloted by Pizzey.
  The Caproni-Bristols proved unequal to the task. As a result the Italian Government cancelled the Bristol contract because they did not meet the contractual condition. After a prolonged dispute which lasted until January 1918 the Caproni-Bristol licence was cancelled.
  The Caproni Bristols were replaced with Bleriot who were assigned to SIT.
Bristol Coanda Monoplane on display with an SVA in the background.
Ansaldo Baby

  The need for an effective fighter flying boat had become acute with in the Regia Marina. The Austro-Hungarian Navy had produced a series of effective fighter flying boats, primarily the Lohner series. The FBA Type H reconnaissance/bombing flying boats were vulnerable to these fighters, as were the Macchi L.3 and M.3 aircraft.
  A dedicated fighter was the only solution to the problem, and Macchi set to work creating the M.5 fighter that would redress the balance in the Adriatic. It as hoped than in the interim a stopgap fighter could be put into service. This would require the acquisition of a foreign design, preferably for license production.
  The Sopwith Baby floatplane was selected for license production under Ansaldo. It appears that Italian pilots had had a chance to evaluate the RFC’s Sopwith Baby fighter from examples brought to Italy and were well aware of its qualities as a fighter. Ansaldo would have to produce these aircraft as quickly as possible; if necessary, the type could act as a bulwark should the M.5 production be delayed.
  The main difference between the Italian version and the British original was in the engine. The Italians decided to use a 120-hp Le Rhone 9J. This was the same engine used by the Italian-built Hanriot HD.1 fighters, so they were plentiful supply. It was encased in a circular cowling with large openings for engine cooling.
  100 Ansaldo Baby fighters were produced in the Cantiere aeronautico N.I at Borziolimare near Genoa. The first four were built in 1917, the rest the following year.
  Fortunately for the Regia Marina, the Macchi M.5 was available on time - early 1918. This made the Ansaldo Baby production run superfluous, and they were little used.
  The Ansaldo Baby had good flying characteristics, being very maneuverable. However, its performance was not acceptable for the combat environment of the Adriatic in 1918. Most of the machines built, therefore, were assigned to training units where they served until the end of the War.

Operational Service

  Units which are confirmed as having the Ansaldo Baby floatplanes on strength are:

  268a Squadriglia
   The Sezione FBA at Rapallo was formed in the beginning of 1918. In April a Sezione Sopwith was established at Rapallo. This unit was equipped with Ansaldo Sopwiths under the command of Francisco Marini. At the end of the conflict it had on strength four Ansaldo Sopwiths. During the war it completed 841 missions. It was disbanded in April 1919.

  276a Squadriglia (Sezione d'Idrocaccia Ansaldo)
   The first Sezione of seaplanes at Naples received two FBAs in February 1917 and was redesignated 13a Sezione FBA In March 1918 it had a Sezzione d’Idrocaccia (Fighter Seaplane Section) with Ansaldo Sopwith Baby floatplanes. By June 11,1918 it received Macchi M.5s, suggesting that the Ansaldo Sezione was no longer with the unit.
Ansaldo Baby So.5072
N1034, one of a few British built Sopwith Baby seaplanes supplied to the Italian Navy, at Brindisi.
Ansaldo Babys in Italian service. The Baby shown has the original cowling and engine of the Sopwith-built Baby. (Roberto Gentilli)
Ansaldo Babys in Italian service. The Baby shown has the circular cowling and 120hp Le Rhone 9J of the Ansaldo-built aircraft. (Roberto Gentilli)
Albatros WDD

  In the fall of 1913 the Albatros firm flew the first of what was to become the German Navy version of their B Class military biplanes. The Type WDD (Wasser Doppeldecker Doppelsitzer), was powered originally with a 100hp Argus engine, but later versions had 125hp Argus, Mercedes or Benz power plants. Italy bought six WDDs from Germany in April 1914, two of which actually saw service based at the Venice Station. After the establishment of the Scuola di aviazione navale (Scuola di aviazione navale) in Venice, the school actually began its operation on February 1,1913, but but was officially inaugurated on April 25, St. Marco’s Day; it was for this reason the seaplane squadron was baptized “Squadriglia San Marco”.
  Federico Filippi in a World War One Aero article stated that it was the Zari firm that received orders to produce a copy of the WDD. He does show data (see below) that suggests the WDDs in Italian service had slightly different specifications, but, it is unclear if these were from the license-built copies or the one that was modified by Bresciano and Mirgala (see below). Filippi speculated that there were only two WDDs that came from Germany and that at least four were made by Enea Bossi in 1915 (although the original order was for six aircraft).
  At the declaration of war with Austria, two Albatros were in service at the Venice seaplane station, one piloted by tenente Giuseppe Miraglia the other by capitano del Genio Navale (Captain of Naval Engineers) ing. Luigi Bresciani.


  In June 1915 the original 100-hp Mercedes engine, was replaced by Ing. Bresciani and Mirgala who fitted a new 150 hp Isotta-Fraschini V.4 engine. They also modified the fuselage to carry this larger engine and added enlarged fuel tanks. To maintain the center of gravity the crew seating was rearranged.
  The engine was partly enclosed by a metal cowling, which left the entire upper part of the engine protruding into the airstream. This arrangement caused significant drag.
  Immediately behind the engine was the observer’s seat, under which the fuel tank was located; the pilot’s seat was behind that fuel tank. To ensure visibility of the sea and ground there was a cutout in the lower wing, immediately behind the rear wing spar.
  A small auxiliary fuel tank was also placed underneath the bottom of the upper wing, between the interplane struts.
  A camera for reconnaissance missions was carried in the cockpit.
  The main floats had the following dimensions:
   Length 3.40 m; width 0.80; distance between the floats 3.00 m; volume of the floats was 1,500 cubic meters.
  The arrangement on the float support struts was different from the Albatos-supplied machines. On these the support struts formed an ‘M’-shape which connected to two horizontal pipes to which the floats were attached by bungie chords. The middle point of these tubes was fitted with a hinge to allow the small rotations of the floats possible.
  The tail float was located the end of the fuselage, but was found to cause the aircraft to remain tilted backwards (about 15° at rest).


  The new engine increased the maximum speed of the aircraft from 90 to 105 km/h and the ceiling from 2,000 to 3,000 m. he maximum flight altitude was about 2000 meters with the Mercedes engine and over 3000 m with the Isotta Fraschini.
  A contemporary evaluation of the type is given in Magaldi’s Gli Idrovolanti in Italia pages 90 to 91:
   The maneuverability was excellent, the behavior in air and in water safe, the robustness remarkable; nor have these qualities diminished with the transformation undergone for the change of engine. Both before and after this, the aircraft... descended into rough sea, and this without suffering any inconvenience.
  In a long period of service they never had (complaints) about flight accidents or serious equipment failures.
  These aircraft could also now carry a radio or bombs.
  The first operation of a modified WDD took place in July 1915 when a reconnaissance of the Pola naval base was performed by commander Miraglia.
  The military use of the surviving two WDDs was limited to short-range reconnaissance and light bombing raids until the end of 1915.
  One of the last aerial accidents in 1915 took a heavy toll; on 23 December tenente di vascello Giuseppe Miraglia was killed in a flight accident on 23 December; he had played a critical role in establishing the seaplane base at Venice and led the Albatros WDDs stationed there on several reconnaissance missions to Pola, the last one on 18 December.
  The French established a CAM (Centre d’aviation maritime = Naval Aviation Station) Venise (Venice) in June 1915, and their FBAs were to replace the Albatros floatplanes in their daily flights over Pola. However, the FBA B’s 100-hp engines limited their radios of action to 30 miles, so the WDDs continued their patrols until retired at the end of 1915.

Albatros WDD two-seat floatplane with one 100-hp Mercedes engine
  Wingspan 15.10 m (16.3 m data quoted by Filippi); length 9.10 m; height 3.80 m; wing area 52 sq m (50 sq m)
  Empty weight 930 kg (1,130) kg; loaded weight 1,200 kg; payload 270 kg
  Maximum speed 90 km/h; range 400 km (250 km) (ceiling 2,000 m)

Albatros WDD two-seat floatplane with 150-hp Isotta-Fraschini V.4 engine
  (Only changes from the standard WDD are noted below)
  Empty weight 1,140 kg; loaded weight 1,480 kg; payload 340 kg
  Maximum speed 105 km/h; range 500 km (250 km); (ceiling 3,000 m)
Albatros WDD '27', Venice, 1915
Albatros WDD at Venice.
One FIAT R.2, two Aviatiks, two Farmans, and one Caproni, at El Palomar, Argentina.
Adamoli-Cattani Fighter

  Enea Cattani began studying his design for a rotary-engined fighter in winter 1917. Cattaneo gained valuable experience at Rome’s Istituto Centrale Aeronautico, which he joined in 1911. In 1914 was put in charge of the Institute’s Turin section. This opportunity eventually resulted in his joining the Pomilio Company as Chief of Projects and Developments. Cattani joined with Carlo Adamoli, to design a modern fighter. Construction was started in Turin by the G. Farina company but was still incomplete at the end of the war.
  Officine Moncenisio, another Turin firm which, under the company name Bauchiero built 400 Pomilio PDs, SAML S.2s, and SVAs.
  The Adamoli-Cattani was not intended to serve as a testbed to evaluate the team’s designs. Once enough experience had been gained, the next step would have been the production of a practical combat fighter.
  The Adamoli-Cattani fighter was a compact single-engine, biplane of mixed construction. It had fabric-covered wooden wings braced by Warren struts, while the circular section fuselage was fabricated light metal alloy, covered by metal panels up until the point behind the cockpit, where the covering was in fabric. The engine mount was very strong, being created from a stamped steel girder. The intended engine was a 200-hp Le Rhone rotary.
  Lateral control was achieved by varying the camber wing leading edges. In other words, the airfoil forward of the front spar could rotate differentially for each of the four wing panels. The mobile portions of the upper and lower wings were rigidly linked, and their movement acted on the leading edge instead of the trailing edge - essentially a reversal of the way that ailerons were used to control a plane.
  Due to the end of the war, the prototype was abandoned so it is uncertain if this unusual form of controlling an aircraft would have been successful. Cattani, himself, had doubts about the system of lateral control; but, then again, that was what the the team’s first aircraft was intended to evaluate.
  Although always listed as a “fighter”, the aircraft was unarmed; indeed there were never any plans to fit it with weapons. The performance figures of a maximum speed 300 km/h and endurance 2 hours 45 minutes are projections, and were probably unrealistic.
  Camurrati states that construction began at the Turin factory, but that the aircraft was transferred to the Officine Moncenisio in Condove for final assembly. He also notes that it was fitted with two 7,7-mm machine guns and was test flown. The engine developed only 160-hp and further testing was abandoned. This information contradicts other, more recent, Italian sources.

Adamoli-Cattani single-seat aircraft (no engine was ever fitted)
  Wingspan 6.45 m; length 4.80 m; wing area 17.85 sq m
  Empty weight 470 kg; loaded weight 675 kg;
  One built
Adamoli-Cattani fighter prototype.
The diminutive Adamoli-Cattani fighter.
Adamoli-Cattani fighter prototype.
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla

  To provide fighter escort for the planned new reconnaissance and artillery units, there would be 15 fighter squadriglias each with six seziones of six aircraft each. These would not only have HD.1s, SPAD 7s and 13s, Nieuport 27s, plus the new Ansaldo Balillas and Pomilio Gammas.
  No attempt was made to produce the SPAD 7 under license; Italy was placing its hopes on license-built HD.1s and 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.
  Alegi believes that the development of the A.1 began almost concurrently with the SVA series. This would explain why the Ansaldo firm was quick to make the A.1 its premier fighter, perhaps even before the SVAs were rejected for service as fighters. The A.1, being designed totally under the auspices of Ansaldo, meant they would not be required to share royalties with outside parties, as they had on the SV.
  Dates are unclear, but it appears that the prototype A.1 flew late in 1917. Performance testing followed in January 1918. Unlike the SVA, the maneuverability and visibility from the cockpit were considered good, but the climb rate and wing loading came in for criticism. The A.1 would have to address these criticisms without undergoing a major redesign. The war was ending and if the company wanted to sell aircraft to the military, it needed to be available now.
  No less than 1,600 A.1s were ordered despite the pilot’s evaluations.
  On 28 January, 1918 the prototype was destroyed in an emergency landing. This did not stop further testing and, matched against the Pomilio Gamma, Ansaldo’s design proved to be the superior machine.


  Single-engine, single-seat, biplane of wood construction.
  Wings - double-girder, linen-covered, with a soft trailing edge. The upper wing was longer than the lower. The upper wing had ailerons which were unbalanced. The middle wing section was supported above the fuselage by struts. There was a two-piece lower wing. Single-span airfoil chamber had on each side a pair of parallel steel tube struts.
  Fuselage - longitudinal longerons, covered with thick, 2-mm plywood. The thin cover was stiffened from the inside with diagonally positioned wooden bars. Fuselage cross-section was rectangular in the middle to triangular at the tip with a downwards turn. This provided better rear visibility from the cockpit. The front of the fuselage was covered with aluminum sheeting.
  Tail - vertical stabilizer covered with plywood, rudder covered in canvas. The non-split horizontal stabilizer had a leading edge covered with plywood; the rest of the horizontal tail was covered with canvas. The rudder was unbalanced. The stabilizers were externally stiffened with wire tendons, and the horizontal stabilizer was supported by struts.
  Undercarriage - two struts with a fixed non-split axle, shock absorption with a rubber cord. Tail skid made of steel half spring.
  Engine - 220-hp, 6-cylinder, water-cooled SPA-6A motor produced by the SPA plants in Turin or Breda (under license). Honeycomb frontal radiator. Wooden two-blade propeller with a diameter of 2.50 m. The main fuel tank was located at the bottom of the middle part of the fuselage and had an in-flight jettison mechanism. The top panel housed an additional fuel tank and an expansion tank for cooling water. The weight of the fuel reserve was 96 kg, and the fuel reserve weight was 13 kg.
  Armament - 2 k.m. 7.7 mm Vickers machine gun.


  A.1bis - version with a 24 sq m wing with two bays of struts; apparently only the single example was built. Compared to the production A.1s, the A.1bis proved to be slightly faster, but definitely had a slower climb rate.


  Alegi states that probably 221 A.1s were built prior to the Armistice.This figure includes 62 still under construction.

Operational Service

  A.1s began their career in flight training units at Malpensa and also to the gunnery school at Furbara. It seems that this provided the Ansaldo firm to continue to test the new fighter without exposing it to the stress of combat.
  When the A.1 began to reach frontline units it was primarily to introduce the pilots to the new machine. Thus 70a, 82a, and 91a each received a single example.

  91a Squadriglia was the first combat unit to receive an A.1 on 28 June. Three more followed in the next two months. The A.1s were not ready for combat; it seems that Ansaldo was requiring the unit’s mechanics to correct the flaws in the A.1 in situ. It did not work; the A.1s proved to be useless as they required continual work in a doomed attempt to turn them into operational fighters. They were not considered to be reliable enough to operate in a combat situation which, considering that the design had first flown seven months before, would appear to be a reasonable assessment.

  70a Squadriglia would also receive four A.1s (Alegi assigns serials 16550, 16555, 16556, and 16558 to these aircraft).
  On October 8, the commander of the 70a, tenente Flaminio Avet in one of the new Ansaldo A.1 Balilla, accompanied by tenente Leopoldo Eleuteri and sergente maggiore Aldo Bocchese, claimed an Albatros in S. Lucia di Piave; this was the only victory for an A.1 Balilla during the war; indeed, it was the only aerial victory recorded by an Italian designed and built fighter in the entire war.
  At the time of the armistice, 70a was in Gazzo as part of the X Gruppo with 18 Hanriot HD.1s, five SPADs, and only one A.1 Balilla.

  82a Squadriglia in August received two A.1s (16497 and 16554). On 4 November the flight line included only one A.1 Balilla. In December 1918 the unit was dissolved.

  74a Squadriglia was selected to receive all the A.1s at the front. It would probably be the most efficient means of vetting the A.1 for combat, but it never happened. Alegi notes that 82a had passed one of the machines, 16497, to the unit, which is apparently the only example of the type that the Squadriglia ever received.

  241a Squadriglia, a Regia Marina unit, received A.1s (we know this because there is a picture of the unit’s commander in front of the plane on 22 October). According to the units records, none of the up to seven A.1s received were operational during the last two weeks of the War.
Sezione Difesa Padova had two A.1s assigned to it.

  Thus during the war, despite 159 (Alegi also suggests 161) Balillas being built in 1918, only a handful of A.1s reached the front accounting for exactly one victory. The aircraft was placed into operational too soon in an attempt to get it into combat before the Armistice.


  The list of the aircraft on hand on 20 April 1919 (based on Roberto Gentilli’s research) shows 198 A.1s on strength. There were distributed as follows:
  Deposito Poggio Renatico - 31
  Deposito Marcon - 8
  Deposito Padova - 2
  1a Magazzino avanzato - 1
  Evaluation by Allied forces - 1
  Regia Marina -1
  Training units - 59
  Depositi Territoriali - 95

  By August 1919 no A.1 Balillas are listed as being on strength.
  After mid-1919, the A.1s would serve as trainers at the CNA (Cooperative Nazionale Aeronautica = National Aviation Cooperative) a private entity that provided training for the military up until 1933. The CNA not only had A.1s on strength for advanced training, including aerobatics, but also claimed to have actually built six Balillas.


  86a Squadriglia re-equipped with 24 A.1 Balillas on 15 October 1918 at Ponte S. Pietro. If this number is accurate, it means that 86a received 92% of all A.1s produced in the last two months of the War. Personnel came from disbanded 88a and 92a Squadriglias. It was disbanded on 31 January 1919.

  88a Squadriglia was reformed at Riva di Chieri on 15 October 1918 and was to be an all-Ansaldo A.1 unit. The war ended three weeks later, and the unit was disbanded before it received any aircraft.

  96a Squadriglia was planned as a dedicated A.1 unit, but never had the chance to receive any aircraft.

Foreign service

  Although it saw little service with the Italian military, the A.1s proved to be an export success. It would see combat in some of these countries.

  Argentina -To support foreign sales, by 30 November 1918 the Italian government sent 350a Squadriglia to Argentina in an attempt to interest that government in purchasing Italian aircraft. On 30 April, Locatelli and tenente Silvio Scaroni flew Balillas from Buenos Aires to Rosario and return; on 20 June. Later tenente Giorgio Michetti and sergente Nicola Bo flew from the Argentinian capital to Uruguay’s capitol city. Tenente Edoardo Olivero made the trip from Buenos Aires to Tandil on 5 September and on the 27th flew the A.1 from Buenos Aires-Tandil Tres Arroyos course. At least one Balilla was sold locally and was used by the Centro de Aviation Civil at Castelar. The aircraft did not enter military service.

  El Salvador - A single Ansaldo A.1 Balilla fighter was flown in to Salvador in July 1923 by Enrico Massi who became a flying instructor for the Government. This was civil machine, but when Massi was killed during a training flight at low altitude, the Government incorporated his Balilla into the air force. Hagedorn believes it received the serial “A-1” and survived on at least until January 1927. This is almost certainly the same aircraft that had been briefly been used by the Honduran Air Force.

  Greece - On 20th April 1921, Lieutenant J.G. St. Psaroudakis, with Ch. Hristidis as his observer, was out on a reconnaissance mission on a D.H.9 airplane. After a three hour flight and a shortage of fuel, they were forced to land on a sandy coast, 12 kilometres south of Ephesus. This area was also within the Italian sector. The Italian authorities impounded the aeroplane and arrested the crew. The prisoners later managed to escape and reported that they had learned that the Italian cargo ship Nafkratousa was carrying airplanes bound for Turkey.
  Psaroudakis managed to relay this information to the Ministry of the Navy which dispatched the cruiser Elli which stopped and search the freighter. Eight new, Ansaldo A-1 Balilla type, Italian made, fighter planes were found and confiscated. They were transported and stationed to Tatoi. In Tatoi they remained out of commission and used only in some local flights. The reasons of their non-commission were a lack of spare parts and technical instructions.
  The planes were certainly not well-liked. It was felt that the A-1s center of gravity was too far forward and during spins it would show great acceleration. The motor would often stall and it had only one magneto. Despite being aerobatic they were very difficult to operate.
  The first flights commenced as soon as they learned how to operate them. Of course, these were cautious, trial flights and the aircraft could not be transferred to the front.
  Many aviators flew these planes but their main pilot was St. Psaroudakis who had brought them to the N.F.C. through his actions. In his personal “flight book”, over a period of 5 months, out of a total of 90 recorded flights, 67 were on a Balilla and 23 on a D.H.9.
  In July 1922, the Greek Army’s advance beyond the Tsataltza fine and the occupation of Constantinople was planned and highlighted by the Greek government as a diversion. For this purpose, military units were assembled in the Eastern Thrace Front. Among these was a N.F.C. detachment with D.H.9s and Italian Balillas.
  The march against Constantinople was never accomplished due to the lack of support by the British, French and Italian Allies against Greece’s last-minute move. Thus, the Balilla fighter aircraft were never used in operational missions and remained in Tatoi only to be employed in training, flight proficiency, and maintenance flights.
  In September 1923, a Balilla piloted by Ath. Veloudios stalled twice, forcing the experienced pilot into two forced landings within the same morning, one in a field in Marathon and one in a field in Kifisia. Veloudios refused to fly it for a third time and Psaroudakis was summoned as the expert. Psaroudakis indeed took off but the Balilla stalled for the third time and the pilot made a third forced landing next to the stream of Chelidonou. This ended the A.1’s career with the Greeks.

  Honduras - In 1922 one Ansaldo A.1 Balilla and three Caudron G.IIIs reached Honduras for use by the national aviation school. The aircraft thus far cited, ostensibly owned and in some cases “leased” to the government, had been, for the most part, assigned serial numbers H-1 to H-8. The venture failed to survive the revolution of February-March 1924.
  The single A.1 Balilla was flown to El Salvador by Enrico Massi, after having flown for a time at his flying school, may have been given to Massi as final payment for his services.

  Latvia - An A.1 was first demonstrated in Latvia on June 7, 1923 at the Air Show. The plane was piloted by an Italian, Lovandino. On 16 August 1922, a contract was concluded with Latvia, for four SVA 10s and four A.1s.The aircraft were to be flight tested in Riga by Ansaldo crews. Eventually, Latvia acquired 13 Balillas, but pilot Mainardi was killed when he spun in at Riga-Spilve airfield while performing low level aerobatics at the 1924 Open House Aviation Festival Day. The Balillas were used first by a fighter squadron and then by the military flying school.
  By August 1923, Latvia had already acquired and was flying its first four Balillas. They were armed with two 7.9 mm Vickers synchronized machine guns.
  Known serial numbers are: 1K, 2K, 3K, 12K, 28, 34, 35, 39, 44, 45, 47, 49.
  The Italian aircraft were phased out in the early 1930s, being replaced by the Gladiators, Hinds and SV-5s. In total, over the course of their service lifetimes, the twelve Balillas were involved in two fatal accidents.
  #1K (K probably means Krustpils airfield) - Original serial number 318
  #3K - Original serial number 320
  #28 - Original serial number 32. In 1926, after major repairs/overhaul, this aircraft was returned to service. On 29 June 1927 Balilla no.28, piloted by Sgt. Robert Bemchens crashed at Spilve and was totally incinerated.
  #34 - 1926 - after major repairs/overhaul this aircraft was test flown (Bergmanis) and returned to service.
  #35 - 1926 - after major rep airs/overhaul this aircraft was test flown (Kleins) and returned to service
  #39, #44, #45, #47
  #49 - 1/29/30- Balilla no.49, piloted by vltn. Dimitri Gotsalk, crashed at Spilve. The plane was seen to spin from a height of 600-700 m, in both directions, apparently out of control. The pilot was killed.

  Mexico - According to Hagedorn a single A.1 was obtained in August 1921 with the enthusiastic support of the Jefe del Departamento de Aviation Gustavo Salinas. It was assigned code 1-D-79. Testing by one of the instructor pilots the aircraft performed satisfactorily. However, the pilots were reluctant to use the A.1 as it had been reported as difficult to fly. A German mechanic named Fritz Bieler allegedly convinced the authorities that he was a pilot and successfully performed the first test flights in August 1921.
  The A.1 was flown regularity from September 1921 to mid-1923. The now respected machine during its operational lite suffered some accidents during its period of service.
  At the end of June 1922, on the occasion of the commemoration of the Centenary of the Independence of the Republic of Brazil, the Ansaldo A.1 took part in the celebrations.
  On July 21 Ramon Alcala took off at 10:05 AM, and, after performing aerobatics, was prepared to perform a barrel roll at about sixty meters. The maneuver ended properly, he flew over the field and inverted the A.1, lost control and crashed to the ground. After the accident, Ramon Alcala died at 11:50 that fateful morning.

  Peru - Two Ansaldo A.1 “Balilla” arrived in Peru in February 1921 brought by the trade mission of Gio Ansaldo & Co., as part of the commercial effort launched by this Italian arms manufacturer in Latin America. They arrived with Mr. Barbara Cornaro, representative of the Ansaldo Company, as well as Edmundo Lenzi and Eduardo Chio Lierio, mechanics of the firm.
  On 2 May, Giovanni Ancilloto took off at 0549hrs from the Maranga airfield aboard an Ansaldo A.1 “Balilla” heading for the city of Cerro de Pasco, located 208 kilometers east of Lima. After crossing the Andes mountain range, he touched down in an improvised field established on the outskirts of the city. Six days later, at 11.15 a.m., Ancilloto began his return to Maranga, taking with him a Maltese cross made of solid gold, which was given to him by the city mayor in recognition of his visit.
  The Italian ace made another daring flight a few days later, when, on May 23, he left Maranga at 10:30 am, aboard the Balilla, for the city of Huancayo, located 115 miles to the Southeast of the capital. He landed his airplane at his destination one hour and 45 minutes later The Balilla was eventually acquired by the Military Aviation Service and flown until the beginning of 1923 when it was lost in an accident.

  Poland - The Polish Military Mission operating in Italy, headed by Brig. Gen. Eugeniusz Kijtkowski purchased 35 A-1 Balilla aircraft in the following lots:
  1st batch of 10, order from August 1919
  2nd batch of 15, contract of March 1920
  3rd batch 10, contract from August 1920
  Before the first purchased planes arrived, a demonstration copy was sent to Poland, the plane was initially stored at SL Lawica (December 1919 - 1920), then assembled at CSL. It took part in an international aerobatic aviation meeting. The competition, which included SE 5a and Fokker D VII aircraft, was in fact a competition for the efficiency of pilots and structures. The Italian pilot Mainardi took third place in a Balilla.
  The first batch of 15 reached Warsaw on January 9,1920. The assembly of the last ones was completed on April 28, 1920, and on May 1,1920. Balillas were to be assigned to 7 EM.
  After flying a distance of nearly 850 km , and on May 25, 1920, the planes landed at the Biala Cerkiew airport. They took part in the final phase of the Kiev offensive. American pilots, from voluntary recruitment in France, flew them alongside Poles. They were used primarily for anti-cavalry/ground attack operations. There was also a successful attack on a transport ship in the Dnieper plus numerous reconnaissance and liaison flights. Comparing the Balilla with the Oeffag D.III planes, the advantages of the A1 were noticed: greater endurance, higher maximum speed, and better maneuverability. However, their range was limited by high oil consumption, and the Italian synchronizer functioned poorly, allowing the propeller blade to be hit from time to time. There were also accidents of spontaneous combustion of the engine. The Balilla functioned in the previously mentioned roles until the truce of October 1920.
  The last batch of ten A-1 fighters arrived in Krakow in August 1921. After the war, they were still used by the 7th EM (Eskadra Mysliwska = Fighter Squadron) included in the 1st PL. On 25 May the 7th EM arrived in Biala Cerkiew and operated in front-line service right up to the 18 October 1920 Armistice. They used various bases, even being supported by a train which operated as mobile base, the rugged Ansaldo A.1s had no difficulties in operating in these primitive conditions. Ironically, it never was used as fighter due to a lack of aerial opposition.
  Alegi notes an incident when one of the unit’s A.1s was jumped by two Fokker D.VIIs and managed to survive without difficulty.
  The unit’s American mercenary pilots decided that the high performance A.1 should be initially reserved for the more experienced and combat-proven pilots, while others would continue flying the D.III.
  In addition, they were used for training and training in the training sections 1, 2 and 3 of PL, the CZL and WSP Grudziadz exercise sections, the last ones were SOC in the spring of 1926.

Polish Production

  In an effort to become independent from foreign sources of supply, a decision was made to launch factory production of aircraft in the country. In October 1919, the A-1 aircraft (together with the A.300) was selected for license production. ZM PL&L (E. Plage and T. Laskiewicz Mechanical Works) in Lublin was selected to build the A 1s under agreement No. 201/10 of February 14, 1920 (covering both the A.1 and A.300). It was specified that 100 would be delivered from August 1920 to September 1921. In November 1920. a contract was placed between ZM PL&L and Gio Ansaldo for the delivery of 100 SPA-6A engines.
  The pattern aircraft was intended to be delivered by flight. The start from Turin took place on August 23, 1920. The pilot was Lt. Stefan Pawlikowski. On the way, the plane force landed at Montelimar airport in France, where it was damaged. It reached Poland by sea via Cherbourg to Gdansk. At that time, in the face of the Bolshevik offensive, preparations for production were interrupted and the factory was evacuated from Lublin across the Vistula River. In October 1920, work was resumed and in mid-July 1921 there were already 14 A.1s in the factory: 4 finished, 4 being completed and 6 under assembly in the carpentry shop. The Lublin Balilla was a bit heavier than the Italian aircraft.
  Lublin was a firm relatively new to manufacturing aircraft, and the A.1 was, perhaps, not the easiest machine to begin mass production with. Not unexpectedly problems began to appear and would soon escalate to catastrophic proportions.
  The first copy was prepared for the premiere flight on July 21, 1921. The pilot was an instructor from the Wyzszej Szkoly Pilotow (Higher School of Pilots) in Grudziadz. The flight ended with the plane crashing and the test pilot’s death. The pilot’s over-bravado was cited as the cause, but it was said among aviators that a previously unrecognized tendency for the Balilla to slide easily onto the wing in tight turns was revealed. Two months earlier, in May 1921, an Italian-made Balilla had a similar accident with 7 EM. The pilot, Capt. Antoni Poznariski, died.
  It was decided to halt production by Lublin. In order to save the good name of the company, the Ansaldo factory sent to Poland in September 1921 a factory pilot Luigi Mainardi, who made a flight from Turin to Warsaw in the A 1. While in Poland, he showed off the reliability and capabilities of the plane, showing off, among others landing on the road of the Poniatowski Bridge.
  Production was allowed to resume to allow the completion of the first serial production A.1 which was sent to CZL from Lublin in November 1921.
  In the spring of 1922, a series of accidents on airplanes produced in Lublin again took place, involving the A.1 No.135 of corporal pilot Jozef Ryba. On May 15, 1922 in MS Wojsk a commission of Brig.Gen. Juliusz Malczewski began to investigate the accidents. Another commission from WCBL under the leadership of Maj.Toruri was tasked to evaluate the high failure rate of engines imported from Italy. The engine commission determined that the engines sent were older ones that been previously repaired.
  On October 4,1922, a new contract was made, limiting the number of A.1s ordered to 80.
  <...>required 8. Mieczyslaw Peczalski from WCBL carried out from 6 to 14 June 1923 an inspection of the Balilla wings and fuselages collected in Lublin and located in the P.2 warehouse of the CZL depot. 15 fuselages and wings for 5 aircraft, were returned to the workshop for alterations and corrections. Two engines sent from 2PL (2nd Air Park) were tested again on the WCBL test bench. The test was carried out in July and August 1923. In October, the CZL issued an opinion that the engines were unusable and needed to be revised. In the meantime, airframe production was restarted and the first Balillas were picked up after an almost one-and-a-half-year hiatus at the end of September 1923. Some innovations were introduced on the aircraft. On the right side of the pilot’s cabin, a knob in the form of a crank, was placed to make easier to adjust the ignition without removing the engine covers and reaching in a hard-to-reach place. This knob identifies the Lublin-built machines from those produced at the Ansaldo factory.
  In April and May 1924, the press launched a virulent campaign, prompting the formation of another commission. The corps of controllers formed a commission led by Lt. K. K. Abczynski. The results were included in the protocol of May 27, 1924, recommending a comprehensive control of the production quality as well as improving the level of discipline and training in the squadrons. At the same time, attention was paid to the recurring problems with the paneling, defects in welds unreliable engines, and other specific issues. Regardless, the domestic Balillas were not popular with pilots who considered them dangerous.
  In September 1924, it was decided to discontinue the production of the unpopular A.1s. By that time, 62 airframes had been built. The liquidation protocol required the plant to deliver 23 more units without engines as part of the contract settlement. The available data show that eight copies were assembled in total. These airframes were left with the previously assigned numbering to the finished sets, but the order in which they were assembled was not followed. The highest number 180 was the plane that later became no.122 in the EM / 1 PL. About 15 remained unassembled, still in pieces. Such sets were kept in factory warehouses during the inventory in May 1927. Thus, a total of 70 A.1 aircraft were built at ZM Pl&L; Alegi states that between 57 and 63 of these were actually delivered.
  Balillas manufactured in Lublin were used by eskadr 7 and 18 (squadrons 7 and 18), later 121 and 122 EM in 1 PL and eskadr 13 and 15 (later 111 and 112 EM) in 3 PL. In total 28 copies were in service. They were used by 11 PL in Lida at the beginning of the formation of this unit. In addition, they were in the training squadrons in aviation regiments, in CZL, in the Szkole Pilotow (Pilots’ School) in Bydg oszcz, and in the Wyzszej Szkole Pilotow (Higher School of Pilots) in Grudziadz.
  As the SPAD 51s and 61s were received, the A.1s were withdrawn for storage and scrapping, which was carried out at the factory in Lublin and in the workshops of Parkow (Parks) 1 and 2 PL.
  A total of 28 PiL Balillas equipped four fighter squadrons: Eskadry mysliwskie (fighter squadrons) 7 and 18 EM (later 121 and 122 EM of I Pulk Lotniczy, or Air Regiment, PL) and 13 and 15 EM (later 111 and 112 EM of 3 PL).They were equipped with them until 1926-1927.
  In the 11th MPL, as of September 30, 1926, there were three operational Balillas with numbers: 171, 174, 177. Only 12 copies were left after a general renovation in Park 1 PL, at the disposal of the Departamentu Lotnictwa (Aviation Department). In addition, 11 refurbished
A.1 aircraft were sent to the regiments for training purposes.
  The A.1 also served as trainers with the 1, 2 and 3 PL, CSL training sections (at Warsaw-Mokotow, but also at Winiary Poznan and sometimes Torun), Bydgoszcz flying school and the Grudziadz WSP (advanced flying school).
  As late as 1926-27 PLs still had a few operational Balillas, the decision to retire them being taken on 31 May 1927.
  After overhaul, a dozen were retained and 11 distributed to Pulks for training duties. They were withdrawn from training duties in 11 Mysliwskie Pulk Lotniczy (Fighter Aircraft Regiment, MPL) and 6 PL in 1928.
  Excluding combat losses, the Polish Air Force had lost 35 Balillas, all but five locally built and including five burned in the Cracow-Rakowice hangar fire. There had been four fatal accidents in Italian A.1s and 11 in Polish ones, the last of which on 20 September 1927.

  Soviet Union - The Soviet Union was another country which purchased 30 Balillas to re-equip its fighter units in 1920. A total of 18 (c/n 300 to 317) aircraft was delivered via Odessa in 1922. The A.1s were ordered without synchronizers and, as such, proved to be useless in a combat role. Synchronizers were subsequently ordered. Kulikov reports that the engines were a major source of problems: leaking water jackets, broken valve springs, ect. In the end there was nothing to be done, but to order more engines and spares. In addition to these issues, the aircraft arrived in the winter and had to be equipped with ski undercarriages, initially using the skis from Nieuports before designing purpose built sets four the Ansaldo. These were assigned to The Western Military District - 2nd Fighter Squadron, 2nd Regiment at Kharkov. Other units were the Air Forces of the Black Sea Fleet (2nd Navy Fighter Detachment) and the Air Forces of the Baltic Sea (1st and 2nd Air Detachments = 1st IAO (Otdel’nyi morskoi istrebitel’nyi aviatsionnyi otryad) at Novyi Petergof and 2nd IAO (2nd Otdel’nyi morskoi istrebitel’nyi aviatsionnyi otryad) at Odessa. The Navy fighter units were designated IAO = Independent Naval Fighter Sections. Each IAO had six operational and two reserve aircraft.
  The Moscow Aviation School would receive ten A.1s.
  Balillas flew until 1925 with the Moscow School for Advanced Instruction for Military Pilots. 1st IAO (later 1st OMIAO) used the type from 1923 to 1925, accidents involved Nos. 2 (7 July 1924) and 3 (26 May 1924).
  By 1926 the fleet had been reduced to a dozen planes, serving in the 48th Separate Air Detachment of the Black Sea Fleet.
  In 1926-27 the Italian fighters were replaced by Fokker D.VIIs in the first-mentioned unit and and by Fokker D.XIs and R-1s in the second.
  Service use continued until mid-1928. Known Soviet Union c/ns: 306, 314, 354.
  The Red Army captured at least two Ukrainian Ansaldo Balillas (c/ns 59/8 and 161) during the Civil War, which were repaired and put into service with the RKKVF.

  Turkey - Turkey obtained one aircraft named “Erzunumlu Nafuz I”, It was assigned 2.Tv.Bl from 12/12/20 to 8/15/1921.

  Spain - Jose Canudas, in his book Historia de I’Aviacio Catalana, Barcelona, 1983, states that in 1922 he used a Balilla del Servicio to make several trips between Madrid and Valencia (one of them in 1 hour 25 minutes).

  United States - At least two Balillas were shipped to the Italian Aeronautical Mission in the United States. In early 1919, the Mission visited McCook Field, in Dayton, Ohio. On 4 February, A.1 16612. crashed at Wright Field. When the Italian mission withdrew, an unnamed company purchased one SVA and A.1 16608 on behalf of the auto magnate Cliff Durant, who entrusted it to Rickenbacker to establish a San Francisco-Los Angeles speed record in 1920. It was then used in Hollywood for films and received a 180-hp Hispano Suiza motor.
  Aero Import Corp. purchased a single A.1 for $2,000 on 12 March 1920. This was probably the machine which Aero Import entered with race number 56 in the 1920 Pulitzer. Flown by Bert Acoste, this standard Balilla placed third, averaging 134 mph. In November 1921 Lloyd Bertaud races a Balilla fitted with a 415-hp Curtiss K-12 engine turning a four bladed propeller; he won the American Legion Derby in Kansas City averaging over 149 mph and fourth place in the Pulitzer in Omaha. The Lutz-Manor Co. entered another Balilla piloted by Florian F. Manor, which was assigned race number 7 but was withdrawn.
  The Hispano Suiza-powered Balilla was still flying in 1926 in St. Louis.

  Uruguay - One A.1 is known to have been used in Uruguay until 1925.

  Yemen - is believed to have had at least on a A.1 Balilla.

A.1 single seat fighter with one SPA 6 engine
  Wingspan 7.68 m, length 6.5 m; height 2.85 m; wing area 21 sq m
  Empty weight 640 kg; loaded weight 885 kg; payload 215 kg
  Maximum speed 205 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 2 minutes 40 seconds; 2,000 m in 5 minutes 30 seconds; 3,000 m in 8 minutes 20 seconds; 4,000 m in 13 minutes; 5,000 m in 22 minutes 40 seconds; ceiling 5,800 m; endurance 2 hours 30 minutes

A.1 bis single seat fighter with one Isotta Fraschini V6 engine
  Wingspan 7.68 m, length 6.9 m; height 2.53 m; wing area 24 sq m
  Empty weight 715 kg; loaded weight 970 kg; payload 255 kg
  Maximum speed 225 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 6 minutes; 3,000 m in 9 minutes 30 seconds; 4,000 m in 13 minutes 30 seconds; 5,000 m in 18 minutes 30 seconds; ceiling 5,800 m; endurance 2 hours 30 minutes

A.1 ISA single seat fighter with one SPA 6 engine
  Wingspan 7.68 m, length 6.5 m; height 2.83 m; wing area 21 sq m
  Empty weight 640 kg; loaded weight 885 kg; payload 245 kg
  Climb to 1,000 m in 2 minutes; 2,000 m in 4 minutes 54 seconds; 3,000 m in 8 minutes 30 seconds; 5,000 m in 22 minutes 40 seconds; ceiling 5,800 m; endurance 2 hours 30 minutes
Ansaldo A.1 #16503, 1918
Ansaldo A.1 #16538, 70a Squadriglia, October 1918
Ansaldo A.1 NAY.117., Hellenic Air Force, 1921-1923
Ansaldo A.1, No.7 Eskadra "Kosciuszko", 1920
Ansaldo A.1 16.1, No.7 Eskadra "Kosciuszko", Polish Air Service, 1920
Ansaldo A.1 16.4, No.7 Eskadra "Kosciuszko", Polish Air Service, Spring-Summer 1920
Ansaldo A.1, Latvian Air Service, Krustpils Aerodrome, ca. 1924
Ansaldo A.1, Soviet Air Service, ca.1922-23
Restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Detail photos of restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16503 at Borzoli, Genova.
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16503 at Borzoli, Genova.
Woman in front of an Ansaldo A.1 Balilla bis version with two pairs of struts. (Roberto Gentilli)
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla "8" in Poland.
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla "11" in flight in Poland.
Detail photos of restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Detail photos of restored Ansaldo A.1 Balilla 16553.
Ansaldo A.1 Ballila
Ansaldo A.1 Ballila
Ansaldo A.1 Ballila
Ansaldo SVA Single-Seaters

  The need for Italy to develop an indigenous fighter was driven by the difficulty of obtaining fighters from France. The French aviation industry, the largest in the world, was struggling to produce enough aircraft for its own forces, plus its allies. The DTAM decided to support two of its engineers, capitani Umberto Savoja and Rofolfi Verduzion, in their quest to produce a world-class single-seat fighter for the Aviazione Militaire. The well-respected engineer Celestino Rosatelli was also a member of the team. The type would be known as the SV after the initials of its two creators.
  The aircraft would use non-strategic materials, in this case plywood, designed to produce as sturdy an airframe as possible. The fuselage was built up around a wooden truss, and the wings used a Warren-truss interior structure. To produce a sturdy aircraft from the materials available to the Italian industry, the designers made extensive calculations of the stresses the aircraft would encounter in combat.
  Encouraged by DTAM, the Ansaldo company agreed to build the prototypes, thus making the SV a combined government and private industry project. Ansaldo created an aircraft factory (its first) Borzoi near Genoa in November 1916; it was known as Cantiere 1. A second factory with its own airfield and designated Cantiere 2 was also built at Bolzaneto,The SIT factory at Turin was also taken over by Ansaldo. In early 1918, Ansaldo took control of the Pomilio factory and designated it Cantiere 5. Cantiere 4 was built at La Spezia with the intention of using it to build seaplanes.


  Fuselage - a long fuselage which tapered markedly towards the tail. The shape of the fuselage changed from rectangular at the nose to triangular at the tail. Aside from these unusual shapes, construction was the standard wooden longerons and formers, covered by plywood. One of the main innovations was the decision to join the longerons together aft of the cockpit, creating a single, very rigid structure (called in contemporary literature a “longhorn”) all the way to the stern.
  Wings -a very thin wing was built around two spars and rib construction. Cattaneo notes that the trailing edge was more curved at low speeds, thus enhancing lift and load carrying capability, but at high speeds it would straighten which decreased drag. The ailerons were located only on the upper wing and were unbalanced.
  One of the unique features of the SVA was the Warren truss interplane struts used to ensure a robust structure. Each bay had its own bracing, and each bay was rigged independent of the other bays.
  Tail Unit - Unbalanced; the stabilizer could be adjusted on the ground.
  Engine - 220-hp S.P.A. 6a (205-hp on earlier aircraft) enclosed in a large, rectangular bay covered by aluminum sheeting. The fuel tank was located just behind the engine.
  Landing gear - The main landing gear was built around steel tubing and the single axle used bungee chords as shock absorbers. The single tail longeron joined to a girder fitting in the tail, which also held a leaf-spring tailskid.
  Armament - Two synchronized .303 Vickers machine guns.
  Equipment - two cameras could be fitted behind the main fuel tank aft of the engine.


  On 3 March 1917 the prototype made its first flight by sergento Stoppani. Stoppani made further test flights and was very impressed by the speed and handling of the SVA. He suggested some alterations be made to the rigging and landing gear.
  As testing continued, the SV showed some remarkable abilities - a climb to 1,300 m in two minutes and a maximum speed of 223.5 km/h was recorded at Mirafori where DTAM carried out its official tests of the aircraft. On April 30 capitano Croce stated that he felt the SVA (Ansaldo’s initial had now been added to the previous “SV” designation, which greatly displeased Savoja, Verduzion, and Rosatelli and led to numerous law suits) could perform aerobatics without difficulty.
  The ability of the SVA to make long-range missions was confirmed by a non-stop flight from Turin to Udine flown at an average speed in excess of 210 km/h. In July a 1,450 km flight was made in 6 hours and 50 minutes.
  Given its impressive attributes, it is surprising that the SVA was dismissed, almost out of hand, by the combat pilots who evaluated it. A panel drawn from 91a Squadriglia, probably the most successful Italian fighter unit, evaluated 6755 in August 1917. They outright rejected the design, primarily because it was less maneuverable than the HD.1s and SPAD 7s then in use by the Italian fighter squadriglias. They also criticised its poor visibility as well as the location and low rate of fire of its machine guns.
  Alegi reports that aircraft 6758 was evaluated by the STAe at Villacoublay, where the aircraft won high marks. The only complaints that echoed 91a Squadriglias evaluation was the distance from the guns to the cockpit (making it difficult, if not impossible, to clear the all-too-frequent gun jams caused by faulty Italian ammunition) and the limited forward view.
  Ansaldo attempted to improve the maneuverability issue by producing an SVA with wings of reduced span (SVA 3). However, it was too late, the SVA had been rejected for use as a fighter.
  The re-enforced wood structure was heavier, making the machine less maneuverable than some contemporary designs. While maneuverability was an important part of any fighter’s repertoire, so were speed, climb rate, and range; in the later categories the SVA excelled. The aircraft could also carry a significant bomb load. The range of the SVA would have enabled it to fly long-range escort missions. In retrospect, it seems that the rejection of the SVA fighter was short-sighted. As noted in the squadriglia histories below, the SVA proved itself capable of tangling with enemy fighters and, if necessary, could withdraw from combat without difficulty.


  Ansaldo - The first order for SVAs was placed in the Fall of 1917, and by the end of the year 65 had been completed. Eventually 900 examples were ordered.
  By February 1919 619 SVAs of all types had been delivered.
  AER - 350 ordered; 250 delivered by the end of the war.
  Bauchiero - 150 ordered,all delivered by the Armistice.
  Savoia - 300 ordered, 70 received by November 1918. These were all single-seat aircraft. Alegi notes that these aircraft had tail surfaces made of steel tube, eliminated the lower wing openings, and had the feeder fuel tanks mounted in a high-drag configuration.


  Engines - Cantiere 3 tested versions of the SVA with a 250-hp Isotta-Fraschini I.F. V6. The results are reported to have given a maximum speed and climb rate superior to the Fokker D.VII. The engine was later used on the SVA 9/10 two-seaters.
  A 200-hp Lorraine was also fitted, but without any increase in performance.

  SVA 2 - Known as the “Ridotto” (reduced) wing, this variant had a “clipped” wing than the standard SVA, although the wing span and area are little changed according to unpublished Castoldi manuscript). Alegi records that it was to be used an an unarmed fighter trainer.

  SVA 3 - The Ansaldo SVA 3 was the counterpart of the SVA 4 built under license by AER at Arbassano as a reconnaissance fighter. In the spring of 1918, however, AER produced the SVA 3 to be used as a interceptor derivative of the SVA-3 with a rapid climb rate; this would make it perfect for the various Sezione difesa (Defense sections) used to protect Italian cities and factories. Built only in small numbers, the SVA 3 Ridotto was distinguishable from the SVA-3 mainly by its higher-rated SPA 6A engine, and its smaller wing. The armament was unchanged from the standard SVA, but sometimes a third machine gun was fitted at an angle to attack enemy aircraft from beneath.

  SVA 4 - high-speed, long-range reconnaissance aircraft with two Vickers machine guns and two cameras. The wing was enlarged.

  SVA 5 - long-range, armed reconnaissance aircraft with two Vickers machine guns and two cameras, but also with an auxiliary fuel tank and bomb racks to enable it to carry three 162-mm bombs. It had a wing of the same size and area as the SVA 4.

  SVA 6 - dedicated reconnaissance variant with only a single Fiat machine gun and carrying two cameras.

  SVA 7 - dedicated high-speed bomber variant capable of carrying eight bombs.

  SVA 8 - ground attack/low altitude reconnaissance variant fitted with armor. It was fitted with a 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 engine; the more powerful engine was undoubtedly needed due to the weight of the armor plating.

  SVA 9/10 - two-seat versions (see entry).

Operational Service

  The decision not to equip the fighter squadriglias with the SVA left DTAM and Ansaldo with a high-performance aircraft in search of a mission. The aircraft could be useful in the high-speed reconnaissance and bomber missions. In spite of the fact that it did not carry a second crew member, the Ansaldo could still carry out these missions. Cameras could be used to gather data on enemy dispositions far behind the front lines and no rear gunner would be needed as the aircraft flew fast and high enough to avoid interception by enemy fighters. The SVA could be deployed in small numbers all along the front to supplement the army co-operation two seaters.
  The first two SVA squadriglias were initially designated 181a and 182a Squadriglia, but became the 86a and 87a within two months when the original designations were reassigned to Caproni Ca.4 squadrons. Their strength was initially established at 18 pilots and 24 aircraft each, reduced to 18 on 2 February 1918 by deleting six reserve aircraft.
  Protracted deliveries and the unexpected rejection of the SVA as a fighter, made 87a the only all-SVA Squadriglia created.
  By January 1918 it had been decided to deploy 86a as three separate Sezioni (1a, 2a, and 3a). The same fate befell the planned 88a, deployed in May-June 1918 as the 4a, 5a, and 6a Sezione.
  A plan was devised where each Armata was to have a Pomilio PE squadriglia and an SVA sezione for strategic reconnaissance. There would be three strategic reconnaissance squadriglias each with three seziones of six SVAs.
  Three seziones of six aircraft were assigned to la and 4a Armatas and to the Comando truppe altipiani (Highland Troops Command) and intended to provide a strategic reconnaissance capability for use by each Armata command.
  Two SVA squadriglias, one of which, 87a, were already at the front to provide the Comando supremo with a highspeed reconnaissance capability. These could be sent to the various units on an ad hoc basis.
  In 1918 a long range reconnaissance capacity was supplied to the 1a, 2a, and 6a Armate by individual SVA seziones assigned to each Armata and to the 7a Armata by the 87a Squadriglia SVA of the Comando Supremo.
  To provide fighter escort for the new reconnaissance and artillery units, there would be 15 squadriglias each with six seziones of six aircraft each. These would not only have HD.1s, SPAD 7s and 13s, and Nieuport 27s, plus the new Ansaldo Balillas and Pomilio Gammas.
  The SVAs were true multirole aircraft enabling them to fly fighter escort, long-range reconnaissance, and high-speed bombing missions. They were used in all these roles with considerable success, and they acquitted themself well in air-to-air combat. The first combat victory came on 11 January and there were others throughout the remainder of the war.
  As for long-range bombing missions, there was the famous raid with ten SVA led the SVA 10 flown by tenente Palli and carrying D’Annunzio as a passenger. The SVA 10 and five SVAs completed the mission and returned safely; the other SVAs had turned back due to technical problems.
  A number of Seziones difesa were formed or re-equipped with SVAs. They provided local defense for major cities and industrial centers against Austro-Hungarian bomber raids. Given the fact that these units were flying M.F.lls and Voisin 3s, the SVAs represented a quantum leap in performance.

Foreign Service

   A large Italian mission was sent to Argentina, with aircraft and pilots assigned to the newly created 350a Squadriglia. Several long distance flights, including one in June to Buenos Aires (Palomar) - Bahia Blanca - a 1,380 km round trip in 7.5 hour. On 21 July an SVA 5 was flown from Buenos Aires across the Andes to Valparaiso and Santiago. The non-stop return flight was made on 5 August.
  In July 1919 the local Ansaldo representative suggested establishing a school with SVA single-seaters, SVA 10s, and A.1 Balillas.
  On December 2,1920, the Army authorized the acquisition of fifteen additional SVA 5s that entered service in 1921. They were widely used for reconnaissance and training flights for fighter pilots at the Escuela de Aviation Militar (EMA) at El Palomar. At least a dozen were still on hand four years later.

   This aircraft was donated by Italian Colony in Chile. During its only flight in Chilean colours it crash landed at sea and had to be SOC, both crew member, luckily reached the coast swimming.

   In 1925, Feng Yuxiang formed the Northwest Air Force and bought a mix of 12 SVA 5 and 9 aircraft (see SVA 9/10 entry for details).

   Peruvian military aviation obtained two SVA-5s in 1924 and were employed at the “Jorge Chavez” Military Aviation School in Las Palmas. In 1925 the pilot instructors Alejandro Velasco Astete and Mayor Baltazar Montoya requested to use these aircraft to make long-distance flights to the cities of Cuzco and Puno, as part of long-distance navigation and flight exercises scheduled by the School for that year. On August 29, sub-lieutenant Alejandro Velasco Astete arrived in Cuzco aboard the SVA 5 “Cuzco”, becoming the first Peruvian to arrive in flight to that city, of which he was a native.
  Unfortunately, Peruvian pilot Cuzqueno was killed on September 28,1925 when he crashed into a massive adobe wall during his arrival in the city of Puno while avoiding hitting the excited villagers with the propeller of his aircraft as they were approaching his aircraft during landing. Days later, Major Baltazar Montoya successfully completed his flight to the highlands as well as to the city of Arequipa.
  The Ansaldo SVA-5 “Puno” continued in service until mid-1928 when it was withdrawn from service due to its precarious state of repair.

   The Italian Military Air Mission in Warsaw, trying to obtain orders for the SVA 5 single-seat intelligence aircraft, brought three demonstration copies to Poland. The first was No.12090 which was sent to Krakow, where it was demonstrated in February 1920. The next ones, with numbers 12211 and 12251, were assigned to 7 EM (Eskadra Mysliwska) in Lviv, the last one was previously the official mission aircraft of the Italian Mission. Later it was placed at the disposal of IWLot and in the 2 Pulku Lotniczym (2nd Air Regiment).
  This aircraft survived until 1922. The last mention of it was in an accident report during the flight after renovation, made by Colonel pil. Adam Zaleski 8 VII 1922. The landing gear was then slightly damaged during a forced landing outside the airport. All planes were treated as trial aircraft; none took part in combat operations. Although the plane was well-liked and had good performance, none of the offers of both Societa Gio Ansaldo from 1919, as well as Unione Italo-Polaco in Turin from September 21,1921, was met with much interest. All SVA 5 were deleted, along with the SVA-10s, in 1923.

   One SVA 5 was presented to the King of Spain in 1919, but this, and a non-stop Rome-Madrid to demonstrate the type’s impressive range, failed to secure orders. The aircraft was apparently used as a “hack” aircraft by the various Regiments.

  United Kingdom
   On 26 October the Italian Government Commission in London informed the Air Board that SVA 6758 would be presented to the British government after being overhauled at Hounslow by an Italian mechanic. Display fights in the SVA by the Italian demonstration pilot continued after the handover to the RAF. The aircraft eventually returned to Italy with No.66 Squadron RAF.

  United States
   Three SVA left Genova by boat on 1 August, 16 August and 30 September destined for the United States. Upon arrival, they were reassembled at Langley Field, Virginia. For unknown reasons no orders were placed, and the fate of these three aircraft remains a mystery.

   Two SVA 5s were reported in use between 1924-29, not confirmed.

   A single SVA 5 was acquired in 1920.

SV/SVA (SVA 1 ?) single-seat fighter with one 234-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 8.00 m; length 8.00 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 21.60 m,
  Weights: empty 655 kg; maximum 895.6 kg; payload 240 kg
  Maximum speed 230.5 km/h at low altitude; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes 45 seconds; 2,000 m in 6 minutes 45 seconds; 3,000 m in 10 minutes 45 seconds; 4,000 m in 15 minutes 30 seconds
  Armament: two or three fixed forward-firing 0.303-in Vickers machine-guns

SVA 2 single-seat fighter trainer with one 205-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 8.00 m; length 8.00 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 22.00 m,
  Weights: empty 695 kg; maximum 920 kg; payload 225 kg
  Maximum speed 214 km/h at low altitude; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 7 minutes; 3,000 m in 11 minutes 45 seconds; 4,000 m in 17 minutes

SVA 3 single-seat fighter with one 205-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 8.00 (7.65 m Green); length 8.00 (8.10 m); height 2.65 m, wing area 22.00 m,
  Weights: empty 695 kg: maximum take-off 920 kg (891 kg); payload 225 kg
  Maximum speed 212 km/h at low altitude; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes 15 seconds; 2,000 m in 7 minutes; 3,000 m in 11 minutes 30 seconds; 4,000 m in 17 minutes; endurance 3 hours (Green)
  Armament: two fixed forward-firing 0.303-in Vickers machine-guns

SVA 4 single-seat high speed reconnaissance aircraft with one 205-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 9.10 m; length 8.10 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 24.20 m,
  Weights: empty 690 kg; maximum 965 kg; payload 275 kg
  Maximum speed 195 km/h at 2,000 m;climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 6 minutes 45 seconds; 3,000 m in 11 minutes 45 seconds; 4,000 m in 16 minutes 15 seconds; ceiling 7,000 m; endurance 3 hours 15 minutes
  Armament: two fixed forward-firing 0.303-in Vickers machine-guns

SVA 5 single-seat long range,armed reconnaissance aircraft with one 205-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 9.10 m (7.75 m Camurati); length 8.10 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 24.20 m (21.60 sq m),
  Weights: empty 700 kg (665 kg); maximum 1,050 kg (890 kg); payload 350 kg (225 kg)
  Maximum speed 200 km/h at 2,000 m (225 km/h); climb to 1,000 m in 6 minutes; 2,000 m in 10 minutes 30 seconds; 3,000 m in 18 minutes 15 seconds (11 minutes); ceiling 6,000 m; endurance 2.5 hours
  Armament: two fixed forward-firing 0.303-in Vickers machine-guns
  The discrepancy between Camurati and Alegi suggests that Camurati was describing a different subtype. His data is reproduced here for completeness.

SVA 6 single-seat high speed long range reconnaissance aircraft with one 205-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 9.10 m; length 8.10 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 24.20 m,
  Weights: empty 700 kg; maximum 975 kg; payload 275 kg
  Maximum speed 195 km/h at 2,000 m; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 6 minutes 45 seconds; 3,000 m in 11 minutes 45 seconds; 4,000 m in 16 minutes 15 seconds; ceiling 7,000 m
  Armament: one fixed forward-firing Fiat machine-gun.

SVA 7 single-seat high speed bomber aircraft with one 205-hp SPA 6A six cylinder engine
  Wingspan 9.10 m; length 8.10 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 24.20 m,
  Endurance 4 hours
  Armament: two fixed forward-firing 0.303-in Vickers machine-guns and up to eight bombs

SVA 8 single-seat high speed bomber aircraft with one 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 engine
  Wingspan 9.10 m; length 8.10 m; height 2.65 m, wing area 24.20 m,

  Data from Alegi Ansaldo Fighters at War, based on unpublished “Castoldi manuscript”.
SVA 5 #11779, Ten. Aldo Finzi, 87a Squadriglia La Serenissima, Vienna Flight August 1918
SVA 3 11884
SVA 5, Unit unknown, 1918
SVA 5, USAAC, 1920
SVA 5, Polish Air Service, 1921
SVA 5, Spanish Air Service, 1921
SVA 5, Soviet Air Service, 1921
First prototype SVA.
SVA 5 photographed with the insignia of snake eating a child; it is the shield of the Visconti ruling family of Milan, that also appears on Alfa Romeo cars.
An SVA 5 of 87a Squadriglia.
The SVA 5 in service.
SVA 5 photographed with Gino Allegri.
The SVA 5 had a top speed of 147 mph, making it the fastest WWI aircraft to see operational service in quantity. It also had a good ceiling and excellent long-range performance. Here one is photographed over the Alps by a squadron mate.
Bristol Coanda Monoplane on display with an SVA in the background.
This unarmed SVA with reduced wingspan may be an SVA 2.
SVA 3 with unusual, unsynchronized over-wing gun photographed with its pilot.
Ansaldo SVA 5
Ansaldo SVA 5
Ansaldo SVA 5
Ansaldo SVA 5
Ansaldo SVA 6
Ansaldo SVA 6
Ansaldo SVA 6
Ansaldo Prototypes

Ansaldo A.3

  In the Spring of 1918, the Ansaldo Company had absorbed the plant of the Societa Costruzioni Aeronautiche Ing. O. Pomilio at Turin. It was renamed Cantiere Aeronautico Ansaldo N.5 (No.5 Ansaldo Aeronautical Shipyard). While the production of the PE type Pomilio continued , the workshops were redesigned to build SVA types and the Ansaldo Technical Office took over the responsibility for developing new aircraft.
  The Ansaldo A.3 was the first aircraft built by Cantiere Aeronautico No.5. The A.3 was a development of the Pomilio PE. Modifications included changes to the tail.
  Armament was a fixed, forward firing machine gun on the upper wing and one synchronized machine gun on the side of the fuselage.
  The engine was a 300-hp Fiat A.12.
  The A.3 was first flown in October 1918. A total of 500 were ordered. However, the Pomilio-Ansaldo hybrid had a performance that was inferior to the SVA 10 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft and this, plus the Armistice, resulted in the A.3 not being produced in any significant numbers. Camurati reports that 60 were built; if this is, indeed, the case they either did not see operational service or are being lumped in with the SVA 9/10s in the postwar orders of battle.

Ansaldo A.3 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 300-hp Fiat A.12bis inline piston engine
  Wingspan 11.50 m; length 8,75 m; height 2.95 m; wing area 38.00 sq m
  Weights: empty 1,025 kg; loaded weight 1,475 kg
  Maximum speed 190 km/h; ceiling 5,500 m; endurance 3 hours and 30 minutes
  Armament (provisional): one or two fixed synchronized forward-firing 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Vickers machine guns and 1 flexible 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Lewis machine-gun in the rear cockpit

Ansaldo A.5

  The acquisition of the Pomilio firm by Ansaldo led to the A.5 which was the combination of a SVA fuselage with the wings of a Pomilio PE/PF. The aircraft was produced in two versions: a single seat, high speed reconnaissance aircraft and a two-seat strategic reconnaissance machine. The engine was a 300-hp Ansaldo E 145.


  Wings - Two bay biplane with interplane struts made from steel tubes and reinforced with faired steel cables. Two balanced ailerons were placed at the ends of the upper wings; the wings have a transversal V of 2° / 0, and were covered in Ansaldo “Avisine” silk. The controls of both the ailerons and rudders were made of steel cables guided by pulleys.
  Fuselage - The wooden structure fuselage was the same as used on most Ansaldo aircraft, with plywood panel covering, and the tail surfaces also has a totally wooden frame.
  Landing gear - The “V“-shaped metal undercarriage struts supported a single axle with elastic shock absorbers.
  Engine - Powered by a 300-hp Ansaldo E 14 engine.
  Ansaldo emphasized that the A.5 avoided any exotic building materials and that the A.5 could be constructed of “easy to find materials”.
  Due to the strong load-bearing surface, this aircraft could carry a very high payload. This feature combined with the long range and high speed made the A.5 an excellent bomber, especially for distant targets. The Ansaldo firm also suggested that it could be used as high speed mailplane.
  Although the A.5 was a single seat aircraft, Ansaldo also promoted it as a passenger transport because it could “land at very low speed”. There is no indication in the Ansaldo brochure as to where, exactly, these passengers would be seated.
  As a single-seater, when fitted with special tanks, the A.5 was expected to have a range of 2000 kilometers and fly at 200 kilometers per hour. It was “very easy to maneuver, and its great stability allows the pilot to remain in flight, without serious discomfort, for long hours”.
  However, its performance was inferior to other Ansaldo SVA types, so further development was abandoned.
  A five-seat transport version was studied, but apparently never built

Ansaldo A.5 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one Ansaldo E 145 inline piston engine
  Wing area 30.00 sq m
  Weights: empty 785 kg; loaded weight 1,185 kg
  Maximum speed 212 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 2 minutes 10 seconds; climb to 2,000 m in 5 minutes; climb to 3,000 min 8 minutes 20 seconds; climb to 4,000 m in 13 minutes; ceiling 7,500 m; endurance 2 hours and 30 minutes;
  Armament one or two fixed synchronized forward-firing 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Vickers machineguns and one flexible 7.7-mm Lewis machine-gun in rear cockpit
The Ansaldo A.3. Armament included a synchronized gun and another over the upper wing. (Roberto Gentilli)
The single-seat version of the Ansaldo A.5. (Roberto Gentilli)
Ansaldo ISVA

  The ISVA (Idrovolante SVA = SVA seaplane) was a version of the standard SVA 5 which was equipped with tubular floats. The aircraft was fitted with a 200-hp SPA 6A engine and was designed at the request of the Direzione Superiore del’Aeronautica in order to take advantage of the high speed developed by the SVA series.


  Wings - The Warren truss arrangement of the struts with only one pair per side was found to provide a strong structure. It was not easy to mass produce, however, as it required special machining to complete the assembly.
  Fuselage - The fuselage was of the standard SVA design, meaning it was robust, but at the cost of poor forward and downwards visibility.
  Tail - The areas of the tail planes, at the extremity of the fuselage, had the following surface areas: Fixed horizontal surface 0.70 sq m; horizontal rudders 1.20 sq m; fixed vertical fin 0.45 sq m; rudder 0.85 sq m; elevators 1.25 sq m.
  Flight controls - Maneuvers were performed with the usual lever and pedal system; the controls were very short and straight, given the proximity of the pilot to the maneuvering planes, and remained well protected inside the fuselage. Even the engine or fuel controls were better protected from the elements as compared to the standard Macchi or SIAI flying-boats.
  Floats - Two Guidoni floats with a cylindrical body and two hydroplane vanes, two per float located in tandem. Their dimensions Length 5.60 m, diameter 0.50 m, distance between the floats 2.40 m; volume of each float 0.950 cubic meters; weight 56 kg.
  The entire float assembly weighed about 160 kg, complete with accessories, which represented 15% of the total weight.
  Take off from the water and ditching were made very easy by the use of hydroplane fins; but the possibility that algae or other foreign bodies could become entangled in the latter compromises the rapidity of lifting off from the water. Magaldi, in Gli Idrovolanti in Italia page 152, stated that: Together with M.7 the ISVA is one of the fastest seaplanes in the world, and is on par with many of the best land-based fighters. It could reach 4,000 m in 22 minutes. He felt that it would have seen widespread use had it been produced earlier in the war.

Operational Service

  Only 50 examples were built and saw service with only four naval Squadriglias, four Seaplane Stations, and two training centers. At the end of 1917 the test pilot collaudatore sergente Mario Stoppani achieved a world height record for seaplanes, reaching 6,200 m.
  The Ansaldo ISVAs were assigned for evaluation at Squadriglias in quieter areas of the front. This turned out to be a wise decision, as they were found to be underpowered. Many were returned to Ansaldo as not combat ready. During 1918, ISVAs were assigned to the following units:

Seaplane Stations
  Brindisi - 3 ISVAs
  Civitavecchia - 1 ISVA
  Valona - 1 ISVA
  Varano - 5 ISVAs

  R.N. Europa - 3 ISVAs

Training units
  Bolesna - 5 ISVAs
  Taranto - 5 ISVAs

  258a Squadriglia
   In the summer of 1918 the unit also began evaluation of the Ansaldo ISVA, a floatplane version of the SVA.

  260a Squadriglia
   This unit had at least four ISVAs. They were described as being useable due to their temperamental engines. In July the ISVAs were returned to Ansaldo.

  272a Squadriglia
   The 9th Sezione FBA was based at Civitavecchia on 1 June 1917 with only two FBAs. On 15 May 1918 it was reactivated as 272a Squadriglia. In the summer, 272a received ISVA 15263. The ISVA was lost on July 10, but close to end war 272a received another ISVA, 15248, 272a was disbanded December 6 1918.

288a Squadriglia
   Formed at the end of October 1918 at Valona with M.5s drawn from Squadriglias 257A and 258a. It also employed some ISVAs.

290a Squadriglia
   Formed at Varano, with the commander Alberto Ghe and pilots Vincenzo Coscione, Pero Guinzani, and Amedeo Formica. It was equipped with M.5 and ISVAs. It was disbanded postwar.

Foreign service

  Brazil - The Aviacao Navale acquired two ISVAs in 1919. They were assigned serials 26 and 27. The aircraft were SOC in 1921.

Ansaldo ISVA single-seat floatplane fighter with one 200-hp SPA 6A engine
  Wing span, 9,10 m.; length, 9,37 m; height, 3,46 m.; wing surface, 24,20 mq.
  Empty weight 850 kg.; payload 225 kg.; loaded weight 1,075 kg.;
  Maximum speed, 195 km/h; climb to 4.000 m. in 22’; endurance 3 h.
  Fifty ISVA s were built
ISVA #15243, 1918
The ISVA was a floatplane fighter conversion of the speedy SVA 5. The floats had hydrofoils to assist take-off.
The ISVA was a floatplane fighter conversion of the speedy SVA 5.
The ISVA was a floatplane fighter conversion of the speedy SVA 5. This one was photographed during its takeoff run.
Ansaldo ISVA
Ansaldo ISVA
Ansaldo ISVA
SVA 9/10

  The decision to not to use the SVA single-seaters as fighters led to their subsequent use in the reconnaissance and bomber roles. The Ansaldo company was presented with a unique opportunity when the much-anticipated SIA 7b proved to be a failure. It is not surprising the Ansaldo decided that a two-seat version of the SVA could more effectively accomplish the SIA 7b’s missions.
  In early June 1917 an SVA was converted to a two-seater in order to permit testing to begin in frontline squadriglias by experienced crew. This was not a difficult conversion as it only required the creation of an observer’s cockpit by removing the fuel tank in the forward fuselage. The wing area was enlarged by increasing the spacing of the ribs by 0.16 m. The original aircraft retained the 205-hp SPA 6 engine There were two main variants: the SVA-9 was an unarmed trainer, while the SVA-10 was completely equipped for armed reconnaissance missions.
  It is believed that 6803 was the serial of the first SVA 9. In July 1918 the SVA 10 two-seater was flown to the units for a day so pilots, observers, and mechanics could examine it.
  It was flown to XII Gruppo’s airfields at Casoni and Castel di Godego by capitano Luigi Bourlot and osservatore capitano Felice Porro on 5 July. At the end of the demonstration capitano Martucci, commander of XII Gruppo, stated that in terms of speed, maneuverability, and field of vision for the crew, the two-seaters would be suitable for combat use. Furthermore, its armament would permit it to be operated over the front without a fighter escort.
  The observers liked the interior layout in respect to the camera and radio equipment, but felt the rear machine gun mount limited the field of fire, particularly of the tail. The pilot’s cockpit had poor visibility ahead, and it would be difficult to exit the aircraft in the event of an emergency. The mechanics criticized the engine access and suggested that two doors be fitted the sides of the cowling.
  On 7 July 1918, while at the Gruppo V base at Marcon, the demonstration aircraft crashed, killing capitano Bourlot. The sole SVA crashed due to engine failure and was lost; fortunately it was recognized that the aircraft’s design was not a contributing factor in the accident, and production was allowed to continue. The recommendations of the front-line units were taken into account, and a Lewis gun was placed on a ring mount, while the pilot was given two synchronized Vickers machine guns mounted on the forward fuselage.
  The conclusion was that the new Ansaldo would be an excellent replacement for the unreliable SIA 7bs. However, once again, the Italian aviation industry was not up to the task. The SPA 6 engine would prove to be the SVA two-seater’s Achilles heal; problems with the motor would delay SPA 9/10 deliveries almost until the Armistice. As a result only enough SVAs arrived at the front to be used in the strategic reconnaissance role. The artillery squadriglias were left without a modern aircraft.


  Wings - double-girder, covered with linen. Two-span airfoil chamber with oblique stands, according to the Warren system, made of steel tubes with a drop cross-section. Such a system effectively transferred the stresses arising from the forces occurring in flight and on the ground, especially during landing. Warren’s truss provided greater rigidity and strength of the airfoil chamber. Unbalance ailerons were only on the upper wing. The wing surface area of the SVA-10 was slightly larger than that of the SVA-5; this was achieved by widening the chord.
  Fuselage - a frame and longitudinal hull, covered with plywood, had a rectangular cross-section going back into a triangular one, with the apex pointing to the bottom.
  Cockpit - shared (bath), SVA-9 two-seater with separate cockpits.
  Tail - wooden construction with steel pipe girders. The tail surfaces were stiffened with struts.
  Landing gear - two legs with a non-split axle. Bungee cord shock absorbers. Tail skid made of steel half spring.
  Engine - in-line 6-cylinder SPA-6A, 162 kW (220 HP), water-cooled, front radiator, blocked. The fuel reserve of 210 cm3 was carried in the main tank of 180 cm3 plus 2 auxiliary tanks.
  Armament - in the SVA-10 it consisted of one 7.7-mm Vickers machine gun and one movable, 7.7-mm Lewis machine gun on a semi-turntable mount.
  The SVA-9 was unarmed; it could have a machine gun for training, fixed or movable. SVAs could carry a load of 60-75 kg bombs (six of either 10 kg or 12.5 kg). The bomb racks were mounted to the handles placed on the sides of the fuselage in front of the pilot’s cockpit, above the oval cut of the lower wings.
  Equipment - SVAs equipped with a radio were powered by a propeller-driven generator located under the fuselage. In Polish aviation these were used on SVA-9 aircraft No. 12880. Two cameras with long focal length were placed in the hatch between the engine and the fuel tank.

Operational Service

  Small numbers of SVA 10s entered service just before the end of the war.
  The most famous mission for the type was, of course, the raid on Vienna, which was led by d’Annunzio riding as a passenger in the only SVA 10 included in the mission. The mission was a great success, and the SVA 10 was able to complete the entire mission, whereas several SVAs were forced to withdraw to technical issues (primarily with the engine).
  A sezione of the new SVA 10 two-seaters was assigned to 87a, its missions determined by the Comando Supremo. During Vittorio Venetto, the SVA 10’s mission was to fly contact patrols to keep tabs on the location of the rapidly advancing Italian troops. Their duties would be to reconnoiter 30 km in front of the advancing troops to assess the defensive lines and artillery that lay ahead. They were also to contact these troops and determine the extent of their advance. It was assumed that the situation would be too fluid for photographic surveys to be of value.


  The most famous accomplishment of the two-seat SVAs postwar was the Rome to Tokyo flight carried out in several SVA 10s; it was another spectacular flight conceived by D’Annunzio. A virtual armada of military aircraft, including Caproni 5s, joined the SVA 10s as they set out for Tokyo. However, in the end it was only two SVA 9s (replacing two SVA 5s that were not delivered in time) that would complete the journey. SVA 9 12849 broke down during the journey and had to be replaced by 13148, but 13157 flew the entire route. 13148 was preserved by the Japanese.
  The SVA units continued to employ a mix of single and two-seat aircraft.

   The treaties provided for a united and independent Albania, except for Valona, considered indispensable for the control of the Adriatic, to be assigned to Italy, but Yugoslavia and Greece were not pleased with this arrangement. The war weary Italian troops had to deal with armed gangs and malaria. In order to help stabilize the situation, VIII Gruppo was assigned to the area. Its constituent units included 85a Squadriglia Hanriot at Piskupi, 1 Squadriglia Caproni and 63a Squadriglia PE / SAML and the SVA Sezione of Valona, the latter was engaged in postal flights between the various cities of the country.
  In September 1919, the Aviazione deployed VIII Gruppo forming a Squadriglia Mista (Mixed Squadron) with eight fighters and six reconnaissance which flanked the Caproni Squadriglia 1 and an Sezione Autonoma (Autonomous Section) in Durres.
  In May 1920 the Italians withdrew to the coastal cities; the other occupying forces had withdrawn. The Italian aerial forces were commanded by maggiore Aurelio Liotta, former commander of VIII Gruppo and at the end of June he was assigned, on paper, six Capronis, eight SVAs, and two dirigibles.
I n the spring of 1922 after a conference in Paris for the settlement of the Greek-Turkish conflict and the reorganization of the Levant, the Italian troops were withdrawn from Anatolia.

   In the Balkans the Italian 35th Divisione, on the Macedonian front, which in April 1919 became the Italian Expeditionary Turkey also had an Italian presence, with a regiment in Constantinople. The last Italian troops left Anatolia in May 1922.
  At the beginning of 1920 8a Armata was a garrison army on the eastern border with only 106,000 men, but it had five bombers, 32 fighters, 20 reconnaissance, and 10 SVA bombers.

   The SVA-10s saw service in Libya. At the end of November 1918, the units in Libya with SVA 10s included 89a and 90a Squadriglias with 19 SVAs of various types, plus an independent sezione with SVA 10s.
  In the Spring of 1919, the Libyan-based units came under XXII Gruppo. They included 89a (5 SVAs) at Homs, 90a (5) at Mellaha, and a Sezione SVA biposto (two seaters).
  In 1922 104a Squadriglia was based at Cirenaica with M.F.11s and during the year re-equipped with SVAs at Malpensa. It subsequently moved to Bengasi. In 1925 104a was replaced by 26a and 37a Squadriglias. 16a and 23a Squadriglias are also known to have used SVA two seaters, although these units used a mix of single and two-seat SVAs.
  They SVA-10s were not replaced until 1930 when IMAM Ro.Is (Fokker C.Vs built under license) became available.

Foreign Service

  Argentina - On 30 November 1918 the Italian government formed 350a Squadriglia, which was intended to demonstrate Italian aircraft available for sale. The unit was sent to Buenos Aires and included the Isotta Fraschini V6-powered SVA 10 serial 13164; although some sources suggest that a second SVA 10 was sent, Argentinian sources confirm only one arrived. The sole SVA 10 was assigned to Grupo I de Aviacio/Grupo I de Obs.

  Brazil - The largest Latin American customer was Brazil; the Brazilian navy acquired 18 SVA 10s which remained in service with the Flotilla de Reconecimento (Reconnaissance squadron) until at least 10 January 1927. The SVA were initially operated as 780-797, which seem to be Ansaldo construction numbers, but later the surviving five aircraft became 211 to 215, which were definitely Brazilian serials.

  Chile - In December 1920 Chile had one SVA. The Chilean machine was a 'Tokyo’ type SVA 10, c/n 496, donated to the Army by Italian residents in 1919 as Capitan Pastine. It was wrecked at Puchuncavi on 30 June 1923. There is no record of this aircraft in the official history of the Chilean air force, or other sources; perhaps it was only used as a civilian machine.

  China - In 1920 during the Italian Rome-Tokyo flight with seven SVA 9s, 13157, crashed at Canton and was left there. On 25 February 1921 one of the SVA 9s brought to China in 1920 was presented to the Government and placed in the Historical Museum at Wu Men Lao in Peking.
  In 1925, when Feng Yuxiang formed the Northwest Air Force, he bought 12 SVA 5 and 9 aircraft. In May of the following year, one SVA 9 was lost in Zhangjiakou; the plane crashed and the crew were killed. The history of the planes is undocumented.
  Another example was constructed by a Mr Christiansen, Canton, from the spares left behind by the Italians and it is likely that the machine that crashed at Canton was used as well. This aircraft was sold to Yunnan in 1923, but crashed on its first flight.
  In 1925, when Feng Yuxiang formed the Northwest Air Force and bought a mix of 12 SVA 5 and 9 aircraft. In May of the following year, one SVA 9 was lost in Zhangjiakou; the plane crashed and the crew were killed.

  Czechoslovakia - SVA 9s were obtained for the Czech Air Force when, after the declaration of independence, two Czech pilots from Italy returned home with two SVAs. Their machines were based at Nitra and Olomouc. The Czech Air Force also had one SVA 10 which had been left after the departure left by the Italian military mission.

  Ecuador - The Ecuadorian SVA 10, was a gift to the Army by the Italian colony in Guayaquil, arrived on 19 February 1921 on the steamer SS Europa. It was assigned to the Escuela de Aviacion, along with a SAML S.2 (reported in Ecuadorian sources as an “Aviatik”).
  The SVA 10 had the honor of making the first flight for the Escuela de Aviacio piloted by Elia Liut with passenger Rafael Frugone who was a representative of the Italian colony.
  In Duran, on October 1,1928, Captain Agustin Zambrano Barreiro made a test flight of an SVA 10 that had undergone total repair, but at 300 meters the engine stopped, plummeting, crashed and killed the pilot.

  Georgia - After buying a sample SVA 10, in July 1920, the republic of Georgia ordered between twenty to twenty-five SVA 10s in 1920. A first batch of ten was delivered to Tiflis in November 1920.

  Japan - One SVA 9 that had reached Tokyo during the Rome to Tokyo flight, aircraft no. 13148, was donated by the Italian government to the Japanese Army. The aircraft was displayed at the Yushukan in Tokyo Kudan. It was later used as an instructional airframe at the Flight School. A restored machine was donated to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and is still stored.

  Latvia - Latvia acquired SVA 10s in 1923; known serial numbers are 4K, 5K, 6K, 29, 30, 33, 38, 40, 41. However, only four aircraft were actually purchased: one addition aircraft (33) was constructed in the aviation division’s workshops. The other four serial numbers (30, 38, 40, and 41) were the original four airframes renumbered.
  The Italian aircraft were phased out in the early 1930s, being replaced by the Gladiators, Hinds and SV 5s.
  4K - Original serial no. 776; August 26-30,1924 - participated in Latvia’s first goodwill tour, a four-day visit to Tallin, Estonia.
  5K - Original serial no. 777; August 26-30,1924 - participated in Latvia’s first goodwill tour, a four-day visit to Tallin, Estonia.
  6K - Original serial no. 778; August 26-30,1924 - participated in Latvia’s first goodwill tour, a four-day visit to Tallin, Estonia.
  29 - Original serial no. 779
  33 - in 1928 - this aircraft was constructed in the aviation division workshops from spare parts.
  38 - July 6,1928 the aircraft crashed injuring the crew.
  40 - October 30,1928 crashed, injuring the crew
  41- had a major overhaul in 1926
  The SVA 10s were phased out in the early 1930s, being replaced by the Gladiators, Hinds and Stampe Vertognen SV-5s.

  Lithuania - 1923 Lithuania bought 10 SVA 10 (No. 799-808) reconnaissance aircraft and spare parts for them for 745,000 lira from Aeronautica Ansaldo Societa Anonimo di Torino. Delivered to Kaunas on June 3, seven assembled planes had been completed and test flown by 9 June. The planes were bought unarmed in 1925. Subsequently, one Vickers machine gun for the pilot and one camera were installed.
  These were than sent to the 2-ajaj eskadrieli (2nd Squadron) of the Karo Aviacija (Lithuanian Air Force). The planes served until 1930. Another five SVA 10s were produced in the Aviation Workshop in 1928-29.
  According to Alegi, some may have gone to 3-ajaj eskadrieli (3rd Squadron); they were SOC before 1930.

  Mexico - purchased one SVA 10 in 1923. It was coded 2-D-80.

  Netherlands - On 24 August 1919 the Italian government offered two SVA 10s to the Dutch government. The first aircraft was SVA 10 SVA483, which arrived on 24 August at Soesterberg, whereas the second, SVA484, arrived months later. These aircraft were used in the liason role by the LVA. The version which the LVA received had a 250-hp Isotta-Fraschini I.F.V6 engine, There was a synchronized 7,7- mm Vickers machine gun and a second Lewis gun on the observer’s ring mount. SVA484 was SOC in 1923 or 1924, followed by SVA483 in 1925.

  Paraguay - During the 1922 civil war in Paraguay, the government and rebel forces each operated a single SVA10.
  The rebels began hiring foreign pilots; the first mercenary aviator to be hired was sergente Angelo Pescarmona, an Italian veteran pilot of the First World War, who owned an Ansaldo SVA 10. When he crash landed in Vilarrica, he destroyed the machine, but was unharmed.
  Another SVA 10 was left on the ground due to lack of technical repairs and was captured. The SVA 10 survived the conflict and was sent to the EMA (Military Aviation School) at Campo Grande, where it received serial No. 1. It is believed to have survived until 1930.
  The government machine, possibly coded '2’, was operated from Nu-Guazu (Campo Grande) and survived at least until February 1923. In several reconnaissance missions with the SVA 10, Sgt. Bo was accompanied by a Captain named Fernandez, as well as Agustin Cusmanich.

  Peru - In summer 1920 Maurice Mott bought a two-seat SVA and an A.300/3 in New York. A former US military pilot who had served in France, on 20 July Mott paid $3,800 for the SVA, which he then took to Peru. This led a Mr. De Marzi of the Menicucci shipping company to order two Balillas, two SVA 5s and two A.300/3s direct from Ansaldo, in December 1920. However, other sources report four SVA 10s and eight A.300s sold to Peru. However, the claim of four SVA 10s being sent to Peru appears to be erroneous. The official history of Peruvian military aircraft lists only SVA 5s, Ansaldo A.300s, and A.1 Balillas.

  SVA 9
   Capitano Luigi Mainardi flew his SVA 9 (no.12880) from Rome to Warsaw, via Udine and Vienna, in 9 hours, 25 minutes, carrying a member of the Polish legation in Rome accompanied by Tenente Giannino Ancillotto in a single seat SVA 5.
  It was a two seater, basically unarmed, although it was alternatively equipped with an installation for the engine Vickers and a semi-turntable in the second cabin in a rear passenger cabin. It could therefore be used as a long-range liaison aircraft. The SVA 9 was demonstrated at the following airports: Mokotow, Lawica, and Rakowice. In the spring of 1921, it was assigned to 12 EW, then equipped with SVA 10s. In the years 1922-23 it was in the Exercise Section 2 PL, from where it was withdrawn to a warehouse in the Parku lotniczym (Aviation Park) in 1923.

   In the years 1920-1921, 90 SVA aircraft were brought to Poland. The first contract of 27 February, 1920 for the supply of 40 SVA 10 between GUZA and the Ansaldo was signed on 24 April 1920. There was a signed second contract for the delivery of another 40 SVA 10s approved by Lieutenant General E. Katkowski on August 30, 1920.
  By December 20, 1920 the first 12 were received, and the rest by 30 August, 1921. All planes were picked up at the airport in Krakow. However, the serial list 30 SVAs, of which 26 were SVA 10s, three SVA 5s and one SVA 9. From regular deliveries ensured by contracts, 80 SVA 10 were marked with numbers from SVA.1 to SVA.80 in the park’s workshops 2 PL.
  The introduction of SVA-10 aircraft to the Polish military began badly. The Italians demonstrated SVA 10 No. 12765 at the beginning of February at the Rakowicki airport in Krakow. During a mock attack on 6 February 1920, as a result of the pilot’s failure to exercise caution, four soldiers from the 2nd Battalion died. The plane was badly damaged. However, this was due to the Italian’s excessive bravado and the incident did not affect the decision to order the planes.
  The SVA 10 aircraft entered service after the Polish-Bolshevik war in 1921. They equipped 12 EW with 1 EL and 6 and 14 EW from 2 PL. In 1922, eight more arrived and were transferred from Lida to 2 PL in August. Some were used by the WSP (Military Police) and military school at Grudziadz (which used them until 1933). Most of the planes, however, were gathered in Krakow As of August 30,1922, there were 81 SVA 10s in 2 PL, including 66 in the Park depot, 11 with operational units and four ready for scrapping.
  There was a series of SVA-10 accidents on 4 June, 20 June, 21 November 1921, 20 June 1922, and 12 April 1923. As a result of these crashes eight airmen were killed and five aircraft were SOC. The accidents occurred mostly in 14 EW and in Park 2 PL during the overhaul flight. The causes of the accidents were: wing tearing off (two), pilot error (one) and circumstances difficult to determine, but probably design flaws (two). In addition, there were more and more structural breakdowns, especially when performing acrobatics. The airplanes had deformed wings after landing and would require a major overhaul. On April 17,1923, SVA 10 flights were suspended, and the head of Dep. IV Z. P. col. pil. Armand Leveque ordered the destruction of the damaged airframes. In view of the negative results of the test, Dep. IV Z P ordered that on May 11,1923 all 67 SVA 10s in regiments and aviation schools, were to be withdrawn from use.
  At the end of September 1923, the Ansaldo team from Turin arrived in Krakow with SVA 10 and A 300-4 aircraft in order to demonstrate their flight properties and improve the image of SVA aircraft in the eyes of Poles. The SVA 10’s pilot was Rolandi, and he flew the two seater in Warsaw and Krakow at the beginning of September 1923. This did not help much, because the order forbidding flying on damaged airframes was not withdrawn and a year later, on September 1, 1924, none of the squadrons was equipped with SVA 10 aircraft. The last 31 were deleted in CSL Dublin on May 20, 1927.

  Soviet Union - A total of 25 Georgian SVA 10s were captured by the Red Army after the annexation of that country in 1922. Known serials include c/ns 566, 572 and 574, of which c/n 574 was fitted with the 250hp Isotta-Fraschini engine.
  The Soviet Government placed an order with Ansaldo in 1922 for thirty new SVA 10s, ten each for the 9th and 10th aviaotryady and the Moscow Aviation School, but in the event the only ones delivered were the sixteen that arrived at Odessa on the steamer Patras early in May 1922 (c/ns 617, 677-686 and 751-755).
  The aircraft were used by:
  - 17th Separate Air Detachment - Western Military District
  - Black Sea Air Forces - 1st and 2nd Reconnaissance Detachments
  - Trans Caucasus Military District
  According to Andersson, fourteen went to the Rostov-based 9th and 10th Otdel’nye razvedivatel’nye aviatsionnye otryady, where they replaced Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutters and other types, and two were assigned to the 1st Higher School of Pilots in Moscow.
  The 47th Otdel’nyi razvedivatel’nyi aviatsionnyi otryad (Detached Composite Kaukasian Reconnaissance Squadron) was set up at Tiflis at the beginning of 1924 with two Ansaldo SVA 10s, the three captured SVA 10s and a few Lebed XIIs.This unit became the 7th Otdel’nyi razvedivatel’nyi aviatsionnyi otryad in 1925 and the 44th Korpusnoi aviaotryad in 1926, but by then the SVA 10s had been replaced by Polikarpov R-1s. All but a few were written off in 1925.
  One SVA 10 served with the 48th Aviaotryad at Odessa.
  A (captured) SVA identified as s/n 13203 was first used by the Istrebitel’naya Eskadril’ya and then by the Razvedivatel’naya Eskadril’ya of the Aviatsionnaya Eskadra No. 2 at Kiev and, although fitted with a 220hp SPA engine.

  Ukraine - acquired a small number of SVAs in 1920. Some sources suggest that the actual Ukrainian order was limited to ten SVA 10; some of these later fell in Soviet hands.

  United States - On On 18 December 1919 the Ansaldo offices in New York requested a two-seat SVA fuselage, complete with controls and centre-section struts but without undercarriage and engine, This may have been intended for the Aero Import Corporation (AIC).The company went out of business on 31 December 1921.
  Alegi suggests that up to 70 SVA and A.300 may have reached the United States, either for promotional reasons or for resale to other (presumably South American) countries. No military orders were forthcoming.
  SVAs participated in the 1920 Pulitzer Trophy Race at Mitchell Field, the 1921 American Legion Air Derby in Kansas City, the second Pulitzer Trophy Race on 3 November.

  Uruguay - On July 30,1920 an Ansaldo SVA 10 was donated to Cap. Berisso of the Escuela Militar de Aviacion so that he could carry out long distance flights. This SVA 10, serial no.1, was named Uruguay was assembled by the Italian mechanic Mr. Gino Dolci. It had been paid for by a popular collection initiated by Messrs. Andres Carril and Luis Conti in the month of March 1920. After test flights over the Mendoza Aerodrome and a flight to San Ramon with a mechanic on September 3, Capt. Berisso accompanied by the mechanic Dolci, carried out a long distance flight on September 10 to the city of Mel and landed in the current field of the Centauro Polo Club before arriving at the cavalry barracks.
  Cap. Berisso made other long distance flights during 1920. However, Uruguay, proved difficult to maintain in service and in September 1921 suffered an accident and had to be rebuilt in the school’s workshops.
  The Uruguayan army obtained two more SVA 10s in 1925 by popular subscription and both were used by the Escuela Militar de Aviacion. These aircraft were No.2 (Fray Bentos), which flew on 15 June 1925 and No. 4 Flores on 25 August. Between 13-19 May 1926 Teniente Oscar D Gestido accompanied by mechanic Dagoberto Moll, flew No.4 from Montevideo to Asuncion and back, to salute the Paraguayan independence day.
  ‘Flores’was lost in February 1928, but 'Uruguay’survived to make a final nine minute flight on 14 September 1931 piloted by the man who had made the type so popular in Uruguay, Tte. Cnel. Cesareo Berisso.

  Yemen - In 1924 Imam Yahya’s Air Force asked for the supply two aircraft and two instructors. A contract was signed on 6 January 1926 to deliver six aircraft to Yemen. In March three of them arrived on the Italian ship ‘Lomedano’. The other three arrived in April. One report stated that they were a gift from Italy.
  The Imam complained officially about the condition of these aircraft and said that they were unable to fly any distance without breaking down. In July 1926 the Italian Government of Eritrea agreed to send better aircraft to Yemen; in August one machine, arrived at Hodeidah.This one was a present from the Italian Governor of Eritrea. The aircraft were assembled by the Italian pilot Schiona.
  Andersson believes that two of these aircraft were SVA 9 or 10s. The other machines were believed to be one Hanriot HD.1s, one or two SAML S2s, one Ansaldo A.1 Balilla fighter, two SAML S2s, one Hanriot HD.1 and one of an unknown type.

SVA 9 two seat trainer with one 205-hp SPA 6A engine
  Wingspan 9.100 m; length 8.100 m; height 2.650 m; wing area 26.90 sq m
  Empty weight 690 kg; loaded weight 965 kg; payload 275 kg
  Maximum speed 219 km/h at low altitude; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 7 minutes; 3,000 m in 13 minutes; 4,000 m in 21 minutes; 5,000 m in 35 minutes; endurance 3 hours

SVA 10 two seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 205-hp SPA 6A engine
  Wingspan 9.243 m; length 8.100 m; height 2.720 m; wing area 26.90 sq m
  Empty weight 730 kg; loaded weight 1,065 kg; payload 335 kg Maximum speed 195 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes 55 seconds; 2,000 m in 8 minutes 6 seconds; 3,000 m in 15 minutes 30 seconds; 4,000 m in 23 minutes 50 seconds; ceiling 4,800 m; endurance 3 hours 10 minutes

SVA 10 two seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 250-hp Isotta Fraschini V6 engine
  Wingspan 9.100 m; length 8.120 m; height 2.650 m; wing area 26.90 sq m
  Empty weight 760 kg; loaded weight 1,100 kg; payload 350 kg
  Maximum speed 199 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 6 minutes 10 seconds; 3,000 m in 10 minutes 10 seconds; 4,000 m in 16 minutes; 5,000 m in 24 minutes 10 seconds ceiling 5,800 m; endurance 2 hours 15 minutes

SVA 10 two seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 250-hp Isotta Fraschini Mezzo Asso engine
  Wingspan 9.243 m; length 8.180 m; height 2.860 m; wing area 27 sq m
  Empty weight 894 kg; loaded weight 1,294 kg; payload 400 kg
  Maximum speed 215 km/h at low altitude; climb to 1,000 m in 4 minutes; 2,000 m in 9 minutes 45 seconds; 3,000 m in 17 minutes; 4,000 m in 27 minutes; endurance 4 hours 15 minutes

Ansaldo AM

  The Ansaldo AM (Ansaldo Marino) was a single-seat floatplane based on the Ansaldo two seat SVA 9/10 aircraft. The floats which constructed as plywood cylinders with flat ends and a single step. There were steel rings fixed to the cylindrical part of the float in order to increase its strength. The cylindrical shape was unlike other floatplane designs that had flat bottomed floats. Ansaldo felt that this design feature would facilitate takeoff from either quiet or rough seas. There were two rudders at the end if the floats used for steering on the water. A special device allowed the engine to be started by the pilot while on board the aircraft.
  Armament was two synchronized Vickers machine guns.
  Ansaldo reported that company tests revealed the AM could reach 200 km/h and climb to 6,000 m with a full payload in just over half an hour.
SVA 10 24436
SVA 10 12376, Cap. Natale Pulli and Gabriele D'Annunzio, 87a Squadriglia 'Seremissima', San Pelagio Aerodrome, 9 August 1918 propaganda raid on Vienna
SVA 9, Netherlands Air Service
SVA 10, Wyzsza Szkola Pilotow, 1918-1924
SVA 10 '4' FLORES, Uruguay
SVA 9 #13148 on display at the Leonardo Museum in Turin. It is a totally original plane that used to fly in the USA.
SVA 9 replica in the museum at Hamamatsu Air Base, Japan.
SVA 10 #25872 with enlarged radiator postwar; it has an underfuselage parachute container.
The special SVA two-seater of d'Annunzio and Palli in a promotional visit to France, Sept. 1918.
SVA 10 #24436 in Libya postwar.
SVA 10 closeup photographed with crew.
The SVA of Arturo Ferrarin at its arrival in Tokyo, 31 May 1920, the first airplane ever to reach Japan by air.
The Ansaldo AM floatplane.
The Ansaldo AM floatplane. (Roberto Gentilli)
Ansaldo SVA 9
Ansaldo SVA 9
Ansaldo SVA 9
Ansaldo SVA 10
Ansaldo SVA 10
Ansaldo SVA 10
Ansaldo SVA 10 Factory Drawing
Asteria No.2

  The Asteria, biplane (designed by ing. Francis Darbesio) was founded on the classical architecture of the French Farmans. Its realization had its beginning in 1909 at the Fabbrica Italians of Airplanes Asteria formed by Darbesio together with the ing. Goklgoni. The prototype of the Asteria was nearly ready in the spring of 1910 but only in September was it transported to Centocelle where it made its first flights piloted by a young mechanica, Emilio Pensuti. After initial testings and an accident the Asteria no.1 was returned to Turin to be replaced in the March 1911 by the Asteria no.2. This version, thanks to several changes based on their experience with no.1, had an improved performance and was piloted from Cavagliu by Joseph Rossi, who conducted numerous flights. Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were all clearly influenced by the Farmans. They were pusher biplanes without front elevators.
  No. 3 saw active service in Libya. The MB 2-seat monoplane (May 1913) was the last aircraft built by company.
  Darbesio in the autumn 1911 opened a school of flight at Mirafrori. At this time a third biplane,was acquired by the Italian Government and sent to Bengasi for operations against Turkey. With tenente Lampugnani piloting, the biplane effected the first military reconnaissance by an Italian-built airplane in war time.

Asteria No. 2 single-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 50-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 13.50 m; Length 10.00 m; Surface area 40.00 sq m Empty weight 500 kgs
  Maximum Speed: 90 km/h
  One built
Asteria two-seater. (Roberto Gentilli)
Bastianelli P.R.B.

  As the First World War was drawing to an end engineer Filippo Bastianelli (Filippo Bastianelli) in September 1918 established the aviation company Societa Industriale per l’Aviazione. The first major project was to be a large flying boat designed by engineer Giovanni Pena (Giovanni Pegna). It was derived from a design study designated Pegna 8 intended for long-distance flights. The company was formed with engineer Pena, Giuseppe Rossi and engineer Bastianelli, also Carlo Marchiori an experienced engineer, who valiantly fought in the First World War.
  The first product of this company was the Bastianelli P.R.B., the name was derived from the initials of its founders, flying-boat, intended for use as a passenger transport. An equal span two-bay biplane, the P.R.B. had a single fin and rudder, with a biplane tailplane braced by a single “I” strut on each side. Although intended for passenger service, it seems that the example built had a possible military application since the bow cockpit would have been suitable for a machine-gun position. Power was provided by four Fiat A12bis engines mounted in tandem pans on the lower wing.
  The seaplane had a wingspan of more than 30 m, empty weight 7000 kg, a faxed weight of up to 12,000 kg. Four 300-hp Fiat A.12 bis engines supplied the power, making the PB.R. the largest and possibly most powerful, flying boat built in Italy.
  Structurally, the seaplane had a large central hull with a width of three meters, plus side floats connected elastically to the airframe. Location of the propellers was critical as they had to be high enough to avoid the salt water spray and waves generated on takeoff and while taxying.
  Development of the P.R.B. was completed in the summer of 1920, and in October it was transferred from Rome to Lido di Ostia for final assembly. On 2 February 1921 the P.R.B. was removed from the hangar to test its engines, as well as to begin sea trials. Flight tests were planned to begin in May.
  The first flight was on 11 May 1921; in addition to the test pilot Chevalier Rossi it carried engineers Gino Capannini and Vincenzo Tancredi, as well as the number of passengers, including engineer Marchiori.
  Official flight tests were made with a total weight of 10,000 kg and were judged satisfactory. The seaplane remained for a long time at the Naval base at Ostia in anticipation of creating interest on the part of the Italian, or possibly American, governments.
  It apparently ending its days at the Vigna di Valle seaplane base.

Bastianelli P.RBM passenger or military flying boat with four 300-hp (224-kW) Fiat A.12bis inline piston engines
  Wingspan 31.40 m, length 18.00 m; height 6.60 m; wing area 206.0 sq m
  Empty weight 5,200 kg); maximum take-off 8,300 kg; payload 3,300 kg
  Maximum speed 170 km/h; climb to 4,000 m in 30 minutes
Bastianelli P.R.B. flying boat. (Roberto Gentilli)
Bobba Monoplanes

  The Aero Club of Italy hoped to play an important role in initiating the manufacture of aircraft designed to meet military requirements. Previously operational aircraft had been adapted from civilian models. The organization arranged for two separate competitions: one for the supply of 28 Bristol Coandas and one for “the formation of two squadrons for experimentation: one with seven original Italian monoplanes, the other with seven original Italian biplanes.” Following this there was to be a third competition, which included a prize of 100,000 pounds and a “possible” order for 10 (1st place winner) and 5 (second place) aircraft.
  The specifications called for a range of 300 km with pilot and observer, a speed of 80 km/h, climb to 500 m in 15 minutes, and undercarriage which would enable landings on plowed fields or meadows, rapid disassembly for road and rail transport, bomb load of 40 kg of bombs and instruments (altimeter, compass, clock, tachometer, inclinometer, gauges for oil and fuel, and a paper cassette for navigational maps).
  Of the 32 participants enrolled, only 23 were actually presented in the field of Mirafiori on 1 April 1913.
  The Bobba monoplane appears to have drawn its inspiration from the Nieuport 4. It was a monoplane supported by extensive wire rigging. The wires were attached to a pyramid shaped nest of struts above the fuselage and a simpler “V” shaped strut underneath the fuselage. The crew of two sat in a cockpit tub beneath the upper struts. There was a two bladed propeller; the landing gear shared a single axle.
  When the tests of of the two competitions had been completed, only the two Bobbas, the SIA-Gnome, and a SAML were accepted for the final testing which included a climb to 1,000 m in less than 40 min and 300 km range. Testing was carried out after 9 May because of bad weather.
  The competition took place, assisted by Aero Club of Italy, on the route Turin-Milan-Turin-Casale which was followed by a circuit Turin-Chivasso to compute the maximum range. Giuseppe Rossi on the Bobba completed the lap in 3 h 5 min, followed by Stoffer in the SAML in 4h 5min, while Cesare Bobba in the Bobba on landed Serralunga Crea and Deroye on the SIA finished at Romano di Lombardia.
  Despite this victory, the Bobba, a copy of which was taken in charge by the Technical Section at Mirafiori until 1918, was never assigned to the Aviation Battalion. Therefore, the contest had no practical outcome for Italian military aviation.
  For several of the companies, this was their end of their foray into aircraft production. The real winner was Caproni whose Caproni Vizzola Ticino became the state workshop for the military.

Bobba Monoplanes with One 80-hp Gnome-Rhone Engine
  Wingspan 12.80 m; length 8.00 m; wing area 26 sq m
  Empty weight 850 kg;
  Endurance 4 hours
  Two built; one obtained by the Technical Section at Mirafiori
Bobba monoplane. (Roberto Gentilli)
Bossi Aircraft

  Enea Bossi and Luigi Mojoli of Milano developed several experimental types. Their work was recognized with a silver medal “Diploma di Medaglia d’argento” at the end of the first aviation exhibition in Italy, Milano, November/December 1909.
  The Bossi-Mojoli biplane was tested in March 1910. A second biplane made its appearance in 1910, designated the Bossi-Mojoli II.
  A new hydro-biplane designed by Bossi was entered in the “Il circuito dei laghi italiani”, 5-9 October 1913. The pilot was Francesco Deroye. There are no reports of the Bossi hydro-biplane actually competing in this competition.
  The Bossi hydro-aeroplane crashed on 16 November 1913 at Comacina Island, Lago di Como. It had been piloted by Ballila Battagli.
  A second crash occurred on 14 March 1914 at Lago di Como; the aircraft was piloted by Achille Landini and carried an unnamed passenger-mechanic.
  Enea Bossi continued to produce Curtiss aircraft under license in Italy. The type selected were based on the Curtiss flying boats used by the Regia Marina.

  Enea Bossi first experimented with model airplanes using 9-hp engines. Later Bossis began the construction of a Wright biplane that was built by FIAM (Factory Italian Balloons in Milan), which was the most oldest aeronautical company in Lombarda.

  Bossi 1 - completed March 10th 1909, effected some brief flights in straight line, but remained seriously underpowered and was soon damaged in an accident.

  Bossi-Mojoli 2 - Bossis with the financial and technical support of Luigi Mojoli, a rich and enthusiastic Milanese sportsman, toward the end of 1909 built a second biplane introducing changes and improvements to the Bossi 1; it was designated Bossi-Mojoli 2.The aircraft featured wings which introduced a curiously sinuous profile with triple transversal bending, imitating, according to the intentions of the builder, those of large birds. The undercarriage had skids and wheels and allowed the pilot to choose the skids or the wheels which could be retracted under manual command, according to the state of the ground on which the Bossi 2 would land. In the upper wing there was a mechanism with rubber band that allowed the automatic orientation of the wing under the pressure of the aerodynamic flow.
  The wing span was 14 m and was driven by a 35 to 50-hp Zust automobile engine. It had two propellers and weighed 650 kg .The Bossi-Mojoli 2 attracted the attention and the interest of many pilots in Italy, as well as other countries.

  Signoria - With the success of the Bossi 2, the association Bossi-Mojoli developed a small monoplane clearly derived from the Santos Dumont Demoiselle. Bossi succeeded in keeping the weight down in order to mimic the handling of Santos Dumont’s design. The aircraft was displayed at the aviation exhibition in Milan in November of 1909. The absence of the planned 25-hp Anzani engine suggested to those who had seen it that it was to be a glider. The extraordinarily light monoplane weighed, without an engine, 36 kg.

  Dai-Dai - At the same time as he was developing the Signoria, Bossi built the Dai-Dai, another light aircraft with a 50-hp Gnome-Rhone engine. Its empty weight was only 160 kg. It had a wingspan of 7 m, a length of 8,40 m, a surface area of 24 sq. m and an undercarriage with three wheels. The Dai-Dai was exhibited on the stand of the Firm Bossis & Mojoli Costruttori, in Milan in November 1909, but the Dai-Dai’s performance turned out to be poor and the machine proved to be of little practical use.

  Bossi 3 - In the period between 1910 and the 1911 Bossis built a new biplane designated Tipo Corso (Racing Type) inspired by designs of French engineer Roger Sommer. Bossi contacted the Regia Marina about his new design, designated Bossi 3. It was a single seat flying boat with a central hull, with a short fuselage and twin booms which supported the tail plane. The aircraft also had wing tip floats and was powered by a 80-hp SPA 10 radial engine. Flown by pilot Francois Deroyen the 5th and 9th of October 9, 1913, the Bossi 3 participated in the Circuit of the Italian Lakes. Despite the fact that the Bossi 3 had been specifically designed for this competition, Deroye didn’t place in the top threes. Bossi subsequently furnished a version of the same airplane with a larger upper wing fitted with ailerons. After the successful conclusion of flight testing, on 16 November 1913 the pilot Balilla Battagli completed the Como-Isola Comacina-Como race. Impressed by this accomplishment, the Italian military authorities in Italy, and particularly Brazil, became interested in acquiring Bossi’s aircraft. According to Camurati, the Brazilian Government in fact acquired examples of this flying boat powered by an 80-hp LUCT engine for its flight schools. However, there is no evidence that any Bossi served with the Brazilian military or naval air arms.

  Bossi 4 - Bossi meanwhile continued in his experimentation with seaplanes introducing the Bossi 4, a biplane with twin floats and an auxiliary float under the tail. It was carried a crew of two and had a pusher configuration, the engine driving a two bladed propeller. It was built at the Garibaldi airfield in the Shops Zari of Bovisio-Mombello. It had a wingspan of 11 meters with two large floats. It was powered by an 80-hp Gnome-Rhone rotary engine. This seaplane was the first of a series built by Bossi for the War Office. It was intended to equip the Regia Marina aviation stations. During these tests, Guidoni was the commander of the Venice seaplane squadron, assisted Bossi and test were performed by a pilot named Achille Landini.
  After a first flight, effected with difficulty from the Lake Como on March 12, 1914, the next day Landini and a mechanic took off again. However, the flight concluded tragically, the aircraft went out control and crashed into the lake. It was destroyed in the accident, but the pilot and mechanic survived. Achille Landini later wrote: To the beginning of the year 1914... I undertook to complete some flight testing of a prototype hydroplane, manufactured in Italy from our industry and destined for the Marina Militare. The flight tests would take place at Como Lake. In the preceding year 1913, I participated in the first aerial competition of the world organized by Arthur Mercanti, and I was the only Italian competitor to defend the national colors against a trained group of foreigners including Frenchman Garros, thought, then, to be the best aviator in the world. Although I was the youngest of age among all the competitors, I finished first in the most difficult test of the competition, particularly in the competition for climbing speed. Frenchman R. Garros remained in 2nd place in this category. In light of this achievement, I was designated to test an experimental hydroplane which was the first such machine built by our industry and destined for the Marina Militare.
  On 12 March of 1914 I began the experiments with the new hydroplane but since the first flight I ascertained that there were serious defects that I informed the planner-builder of who, incredibly, postponed performing any changes until flight testing had been completed! Before effecting the second flight I repeated the severity of the defects to the builder but, unfortunately, I was given only vague reassurances. Gives the urgency of the presentation of the hydroplane to the Direction of the Military Arsenal in Venice, I decided to effect a second flight in view of the limited time and never anticipating the final disastrous result of such a flight On 13 March 1914 the engineer and I, after a brief run on the waters of the lake, took off flying in the direction of Bellagio. After around 6 km and with difficulty in maintaining stability, the hydroplane, was hit by sudden and strong gusts of wind that also caused a rapid and unavoidable degradation in the the limited stability of the aircraft in flight. The hydroplane seriously slowed and losing a lot of speed, fell off to the side and turned upside-down. As I was not strapped into to the seat and had no parachute I was thrown out from over 150 meters falling into the lake vertically. The engineer instead fell with the big biplane which had enormous floats and a disproportionate weight in comparison to the strength of the engine. The wreckage turned upside-down and the hydroplane appeared on the surface on the lake and on the craft I saw, with a sigh of relief the engineer crouched and trembling. Swimming with a lot of work, I drew near to the apparatus seizing the craft next to where the mechanic sat. We were saved by a fisherman that casually operated in the vicinity and during the journey toward Como we met a motorboat on which was the planner-builder of the hydroplane accused me of the disaster as according to him I was performing stunts! However, it was a carcass which was so unstable that it was a miracle it could fly. And in fact a strong puff of wind has been enough to turn it upside-down. This letter, written by Landini at 60 years of age, greatly exaggerated the height from which he fell.
  Engineer Rambaldo Jacchia had collaborated with Enea Bossi in the design, but exactly what role he played remains a mystery.
  Because of these bad experiences Boss instead decided to manufacture French Borel Bo.11 floatplanes under license at the Zari factory at Bovisio Mombello. He succeeded in selling seven of these floatplanes (modified in their dimensions by Bossi), in substitution for the rejected Bossi 4, to the Regia Marina. The Borels were assigned the flight school at Venice.
Bossi 3.
Bossi Aircraft

  Bossi America - In the June 1914 Bossi built a transatlantic flying boat called Bossi America. The three-seat flying boat bomber had a central fuselage, with biplane wings, and two engines. It was based on the Curtiss America Bossi had planned to produce under license in Italy.
  The construction of the Bossi America took place at the Zari firm. The completed prototype, had two 150-hp Isottas Fraschini V.4s which replaced the 90-hp engines used on the Curtiss machine. The tests were extremely difficult, revealing various problems with the design. The Regia Marina had planned to buy 18 machines, but cancelled their order in 1915 after the tests dragged on.
  Enea Bossi, moved to the United States during the First World War. In 1927 he had become president of the American Aeronautical Corporation in New York an he acquired the license to build SIAI (Savoia Marchetti) seaplanes.
Bossi Aircraft

  Bossi Bomber - Bossi, who had a close relationship with the Regia Marina, had proposed to build a three-engine bomber designed by Ing. Alceo which would have “heavier construction, but less drag” than the Caproni bombers. Those aircraft would replace the failed Bossi America as a dedicated long-range bomber for the Navy.
  It was planned as a seaplane but, perhaps to accelerate the flight test, the floats were replaced with a fixed landing gear adapted to the task. The crew chosen for the test flights was test pilot Jerg. maggiore Peter Pettazzi and engineer Giuseppe Maremmani. According to testimonies of the time, after a first flight (according Castoldi, after a simple taxiing) at the second attempt on January 13 there was a crash on take-off either due to the failure of one of the engines, or, more likely, due to pilot error during a low-altitude maneuver. The aircraft collapsed and crashed; it is believed that it may have stalled while making a turn. The shutdown or malfunction of one the engines was believed to have contributed to the crash. Eng. Castoldi stated that: ... the common opinion on the causes of the accident, was the engineer that was in command, was unable to compensate for engine failure. For the two crew members, unfortunately, there was nothing to be done."
  It would seem that the Bossi was counting on the higher power of the Isotta Fraschini V.4s which generated total of 500 hp, compared to the Caproni’s 300-hp. However, the engine power was applied by the engineer seated behind the pilot. This arrangement resulted in an unnecessary delay in any emergency situation. It may have played a role in the accident.
  The accident resulted in the project being cancelled.

  Four Engine Bomber Project - In 1915 Bossi tested a model of a proposed four engine bomber in the Eiffel wind tunnel. The four engines (Isotta Fraschini V.4s or V.6s) were mounted back-to-back in tandem pairs. The Regia Marina expressed no interest in this design.

Postwar Projects

  In the United States Bossi, in 1931, built an amphibious biplane, single-engine, four-seat, designated BB.1. It was the first airplane to be built entirely in stainless steel by the American Aeronautical Corporation.
  In 1936 Vittorio Bonomi, probably aware of Bossi’s previous experience with human powered aircraft prewar, met with Bossi to collaborate on building what was called the Pedaliante Bossi-Bonomi. This was a man-powered aircraft designed by engineer Camillo Silva and built near the aeronautical Bonomi of Cantu. Boss had his plans evaluated by NACA. On 4 September 1937 the Pedaliante Bossi-Bonomi, flown and powered by Emilio Cevasco succeeded in completing a record flight of 862 meters.
  During the Second World War Boss was owner of a firm that produced aeronautical components in California. During the war he began to design a helicopter named Scorpion, It was built in 1946 by the Higgins Company and later flown.

Pedaliante Bossi-Bonomi

  In 1932 Enea Bossi calculated the minimum power needed to fly a human powered aircraft. During a trip to Philadelphia, Bossi, using a spring with a graduated scale attached to ae tow rope, tested the speed at which a glider towed by a bicycle was able to take off. He concluded that 0.94 hp (0.70 kW) would be adequate and that a human being could generate this amount.
  The results obtained by Enea Bossi confirmed that the speed required for the aircraft take-off could be achieved with the only human propulsion.
  A second experiment was conducted during a trip to Paris involving a propeller powered bike that reached a speed of 37 km/h. The problem with this layout was that the torque generated by the propeller was not counterbalanced. Bossi concluded that an aircraft with two counter-rotating propellers would counterbalance the torque effect.
  In 1936 the Italian government offered a reward of Lire 100,000 for the first aircraft able to fly for a 1 km by sheer force of human-power, upon the condition that it was made by an Italian citizen. Bossi was aware that he could not receive the award because of his US citizenship, but he took the challenge and produced the Bossi-Bonomi Pedaliante (Pedal Glider) using the construction drawings of a conventional Bonomi Glider.
  The monoplane had a wingspan of 17.7 m and an area of 23.4 m2. It was characterized by two large propellers made up of balsa wood, each two meters in diameter. The pilot was Italian army maggiore, Emilio Casco, who was also known an athletic cyclist. A bicycle chain conveyed the muscle power from the pedals to a shaft transmission which was oriented towards the two propellers, arranged on the two sides of the fuselage. The empty weight of the aircraft was 97 kg and this was due to the Air Ministry, requiring that the vehicle had the same structural requirements of a motor airplane, while Bossi had a plan for a mere 73 kg aircraft.
  On 18 March 1937, the plane flew at the Cinisello Balsamo Airport near Milan, launched from a height of nine meters and Casco pedaled successfully for a 1 km, as required by the specifications of the Italian competition, thus obtaining the first world record for human-powered flight.
  However due to the catapult used, not provided for in the requirements of the competition, the flight has not been approved and the Bossi-Bonomi Pedaliante for that reason was not awarded the prize.
Bossi Bomber. (Roberto Gentilli)
Bresciani Bre.1, Bre.2, Bre.3

  Luigi Bresciani received brevet number 6 as a seaplane pilot with the rank of Naval tenente. He was assigned to the seaplane base at Venice, and participated in aeronavale co-operation between aircraft and ships. With the entry of Italy into the first world conflict, tenente Bresciani performed many war flights over the Adriatic. He was later asked to direct the creation of long range bomber seaplane for the arsenal at Venice. The Regia Marina had concluded that it would be necessary to develop a naval bomber seaplane due to the Regia Aeronautica’s decision to produce its own multiengine seaplanes. Initially, Bresciani served as chief engineer for the transformation of five three-engined Capronis into float planes at Venice.
  While preparing to create these aircraft, Bresciani developed his own seaplane bomber. It was a large float plane with a central hull suspended beneath biplane wings and twin booms carried on the lower wing. Bresciani eliminated the central rudder of the Capronis leaving the twin booms without a connecting structure. He also replaced the traditional fuselage with a central hull flattened in the center; and with a a convex step. The crew was located at forward edge of the hull: in the bow there was a gunner and immediately after him two pilots, seated side-by-side with dual controls. In the stern, there was a gunner’s turret. This hull was connected to the wings through a rigid metallic frame, suspended by elastic bungee chords to help absorb landing shocks. The twin fuselage booms, covered originally in cloth, were layer covered in wood which was sanded and painted, then once again covered with thin metallic plate in their forward section to improve structural rigidity and reduce vibrations.
  The two fuselage booms were considerably closer together than Caproni’s aircraft. Being only 3.5 meters apart the two propellers caused severe turbulence in the zone where the two propellers were closest together.
  The armament constituted from a 25-mm cannon in the bow and a machine gun turret in the stern. There was a 100 kg bomb load. Bresciani realized the importance of having adequate engines to power this heavy seaplane and decided use three 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V 4Bs instead of the 100-hp engines used on the Capronis.


  Floats - The central float had a single step, but relatively short, as it did not have to support the tail planes.
  Its dimensions were length 7.60 m; width 3.00 m; height 0.25 m; weight 580 kg
  Four lightened steel sheet trestles were fixed on the double bottom to support the frame to which all the supporting frame of the airframe was attached by means of elastic attachments.
  The central float weighed 580 kg, The entire float structure weighed 778 kg, or 18% of the total weight of 4,360 kg.
  Power Plants - The front engines protruded from the fuselage. The petrol tanks were placed in the fuselages which were covered with plywood, except in the front area protected by aluminum caps.
  The struts, in steel tube, were also braced by large steel cables faired with wooden tails. The whole assembly of the connection frame between the float and the airframe was rigid, but also poorly aerodynamic.
  Tail Unit - The ends of the fuselages carried two sturdy steel tube shelves on which the horizontal fixed plane was fixed.
  The fixed horizontal surface area was 8.50 sq m; horizontal rudder 5.60 m; fixed vertical surfaces 0,90 m (each).
  The horizontal rudder had an area of 5.60 sq.m; rudders 4.20 sq , and ailerons 6.20 sq m (each).
  The rudder controls were of the common pedal and lever type (based on the system used in the Albatros WDD).
  Accommodation - Four man crew. The pilot and copilot sat in the cockpit with the group of engine controls which were all assembled on a box placed between the driver’s seat and that of the observer. In the bow there was a gunners position and there was an aft current for the fourth crew member, the rear gunner.
  The was a starter motor for the central engine which was controlled by the pilot.
  Armament consisted of a 25 mm gun in the bow gunner’s position and a machine gun in the aft turret. Up to 100 kg of bombs could be carried.


  Construction was begun in 1915 near the arsenal in Venice and was completed to late autumn. The floatplane, designated Bresciani Bre.1, was heavier than the predicted by around 1,000 kilograms. The first taxi tests on water towards the end of the same year were made by Bresciani, himself, although he lacked experience in flying muti-engine aircraft. But he quickly learned how to maneuver on the water by adjusting the propellers. The first tests at sea revealed to Bresciani that the Bre.1 was maneuverable and easy to pilot. Flight tests followed, again by Bresciani, that confirmed the positive findings of the sea trials. The new seaplane took off easily and, despite its 4,000 kg take off weight and cumbersome central hull, achieved a record speed of 115 km/h and could reach 3,000 meters in around 70 minutes. The good performance of the Bresciani Bre.1 was impressive, but Bresciani decided it still needed significant modifications.
  After the testing of Bre.1, Bresciani created a second version with the following alterations:
  The hull was built in thin metallic plate and its width was reduced from 3 m to 2.60 m.
  The wings, were given a thicker cross section.
  The step of the hull that was convex in the Bre.1, in Bre.2 the became concave.
  On April 3rd 1916, Bresciani took off with in the Bre.1 to perform flight tests with the 25-mm cannon mounted in the bow and with the rear defensive machine gun fitted in its current. The big aircraft was taking off when the right lower wing detached after the tip hit the sea , and the the Bresciani 2, crashed into the sea from about 50 meters. In the accident the whole crew perished, including Bresciani. The Navy recovered the wreck of the airplane. Its technical analysis ascertained that the fracture of the wing was due to the breakup of one of the spars that connected the lower wing to the right fuselage. It was concluded that this was due to a basic flaw in the design which had been rushed into flight testing. The aircraft had been flown before its structural integrity testing could be completed.
  A redesign of the Bre.2 resulted in the fitting of a conventional central fuselage similar to that of the Caproni, where the crew were protected from the elements. The crew’s exposure to waves had been one of the major complaints concerning the two earlier Bresciani designs. The central motor, was moved to the rear of the center fuselage. The wings were strengthened with the addition of new struts and connecting rods.
  The arsenal in Venice completed the construction of a first example which was designated Bre.3. This new version flew several times, but it was ascertained that the structural strengthening had made it much heavier than the prototype. The aerodynamic changes, structural enhancements and weight increase ensured that the Bre. 3 was slower and less maneuverable than the Bre.1 and Bre.2. Despite additional testing and modifications the Bresciani Bre. 3 was finally abandoned by the Regia Marina as being unusable.
  A development of the Bre.3 with two floats under the two fuselage booms was proposed, but never built. With a loaded weight of 4,100 kg carrying a payload of 1,375 kg, it was hope this variant would have a maximum speed of 140 km/h.
  Had Bresciani’s design been successful, the Regia Marina would have had its own independent long range bomber with which to attack the Austro-Hungarian seaplane and naval stations along the coast and ships at sea. Instead, in the July 1917, the Regia Marina adopted the Ca.450 fitted with twin floats.

Bresciani Bre.1 Four-Seat Long Range Seaplane with Three 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V 4B Engines
  Wingspan 24.80 m; Length 13 m; Height 5m; wing area 124 sq m; height of central hull 7.96m
  Empty weight 3,435 kg; payload 925 kg; loaded weight 4,360 kg;
  Maximum speed 115 km/h; range 400 km
  One built
Bresciani Bre.1.
Bresciani Bre.1.
Bresciani Bre.1 closeup of the cockpit.
Bresciani Bre.1 fuselage under construction.
Bresciani Bre.1 wing under construction.
Bresciani Bre.3 under construction.
Bresciani Bre.3 taking off.
Bresciani Bre.3 lifting off.
Bresciani Bre.1
Calderara Floatplane

  Mario Calderara, while a student of the Naval Academy, had observed the flight of seabirds, and for a long time had been in scientific correspondence with the Wright brothers. In 1905, tenente vase. Calderara, had built his unit own seaplane (without an engine), one of the first in the world, and experimented with techniques for takeoffs and landings on the water. It was a sailplane equipped with floats, and by being towed by the destroyer Lanciere, he had learned to rise on the water, to keep in the air, after having disconnected the cable, and to do aerial tricks, alighting then again on the sea. It was during one of these experiments that he crashed into the water, with minor injuries. Tenente Calderara had attended (at his expense) an aeronautics course at the Brigata Specialisti del Genio (Engineers Specialists Brigade) between the end of 1906 and the beginning of 1907.
  After the satisfactory experiences of 1907 with his glider, he asked for a six-month sabbatical to travel to France at the “Ateliers Voisin” in Billancourt (Seine).
  He obtained his license on 23 July 1908, and contributed to research and experiments in the Officine Voisin. He also designed an airplane with the French aviation pioneer Goupy. There is no description of this airplane. A photo that bears the caption “Calderara Airplane” shows a biplane with wheel undercarriage, rudders in front of the wings and pusher engine, which, most likely, represents the airplane that made the first flight to Buc on 11 March 1909. From 1 October 1908 to 1 April 1909, he was allowed to remain in France, learning to pilot various types of experimental airplanes at private French aviation establishments.
  Another memo by Maripers dated 1 May 1909, signed by chap. corv. Bonaldi, stated that: In a letter dated 4 December 1908, he asked that a naval officer be delegated to assist him in purchasing a Wright airplane and to learn how to fly it. The airplane was bought, but Mr. Calderara was unable to practice piloting in France because Wright was busy training pilots for the French government.
  Eventually, Calderara was chosen by Wright himself to begin his formal aviation education. Calderara was ordered to come to Rome so that he could be present at the beginning of the instructions.
  In the months of August and September the First International Air Circuit was announced; Calderara was recalled from the mission in France and considered to be on a mission in Italy from 1 April to 31 December 1909.
  The piloting course was held in Centocelle from 15 to 26 April 1909 and Calderara made 40 flights lasting a total of about 6 hours. These flights were all solo since there were no dual-control aircraft at the time.
  After Wright’s departure, Calderara continued his flights on the aircraft that the American, at the end of the contract, had donated to the Aviators Club. In particular, on 1 May 1909 Calderara, having on board tenente Savoy, managed to stay in the air for 25 minutes.
  Unfortunately, on 6th May he crashed from a height of 10 m, smashing the aircraft and injuring himself quite seriously.
  Having recovered his health, he continued his training and participated in the Brescia Circuit, which took place from 8 to 20 September. The competitors were 12, including four Italians, while among the foreigners there were the French Luigi Bleriot, Enrico Rouger, Alfredo Leblanc and the American Glenn H. Curtiss. The Italian participants were Eng. Aristide Faccioli of Turin with a triplane piloted by his son Mario equipped with a 25-hp engine, Marra and Altieri di Centocelle and Mario Cobianchi, the latter three on airplanes of their own construction.
  Calderara, on the Wright aircraft of the Aviators Club, which he re-equipped with a Rebus engine, distinguished himself by winning five of the eight most important prizes: the King’s Cup, the Brescia Prize, the Passenger Transport Prize, the Principe Prize Olofredi and the Corriere della Sera Award.
  Then at the request of the Comando della Brigata Specialisti del Genio (Comando del 3° Dipartimento Engineers Specialists Brigade) he was sent to Frankfurt to attend the Aviation Circuit from 4 to 14 October. Having thus gained extensive experience in the aeronautical field, he designed his own seaplane, whose construction plan was presented to the Ministry of the Navy in 1910.
  On 28 July 1911, the commander-in-chief at Spezia, Vice Admiral Leone Viale wrote:
  ...let me know that the Gnome engine already purchased in France for the airplane of the T. V. will soon arrive. In these conditions, the removal of Mr. Calderara would seriously harm the continuation of all the works and the Regia Marina would perhaps miss the fruit that was already foreseen when the aforementioned officer was entrusted with the construction of the type designed by the same.
  The hydroplane designed by Calderara was a monoplane equipped with four floats, with a tubular lattice fuselage to support the rudders, all at the aft end of the aircraft; this was a reversal of the Wright’s layout which had rudders mounted horizontally in front of the wings. The central float consisting of four segments divided into twenty watertight compartments and held together by a solid frame. The fuselage had two closed cabins equipped with windows.
  The flights began in December 1911, and probably lasted until the end of October 1912. At the end of the test flights, Calderara sent the following report to the Inspectorate of Aeronautical Services of the Ministry of War:
  Venice 5 November 1912 Special protocol N. 65
  R. Arsenale of Venice Sect. Marine Aviation
  The undersigned has carried out the construction of a seaplane in the 1st Department Maritime Arsenal in which he has tried to develop the characteristics that he considers most suitable to make a marine airplane completely independent from any external help.
  Tire trial period of this aircraft can be considered closed after the last happy flights with three people.
  The characteristics of the seaplane are as follows:
  1st great buoyancy stability;
  2nd great resistance of the central float to the impact of waves in rough seas;
  3rd the possibility of rescuing oneself on said raft (center float) in case of damage on the high seas;
  4th the possibility to move on board to repair small failures, check the engine and start it.
  Since the set of qualities listed above gives the seaplane a degree of practicality and safety not previously achieved in other aircraft, the undersigned would ask to submit it to the Competent Commission, pursuant to art. 167 reported in the order sheet of the Ministry of the Navy on 26 June 1908 art. 10.
  Lieutenant Mario Calderara
  Attached to this letter was a drawing, showing a three view and a lost photograph.
  During the tests some changes had been reported: in particular the floats had been reduced to three: a larger central one (in the letter: “the raft”) and two smaller lateral ones. There were two rudders, one front and one rear, as on Wright’s plane; a pusher propeller behind the wing; and a cockpit in which two passengers could be accommodated.
  When, in October 1912, the Inspectorate of Aeronautical Services established the “Airplanes Section”, Calderara was assigned, as shown in his serial number from 1 October 1912 to 31 March 1913, at the “Venice Seaplane Squadron”.
  When, in October 1912, the Servizi Aeronautici (Inspectorate of Aeronautical Services) established the “Sezione Idroaeroplani (Seaplane Section), Calderara was assigned from 1 October 1912 to 31 March 1913, to the Squadriglia Idrovolanti Venezia (Venice Seaplane Squadron).
  The Sezione Aviazione di Venezia (Aviation Section of Venice), set up in Le Vergini in mid 1912 with Calderra, Ginocchio, Guidoni, and Curtiss-Paulhans for use as a training center.
  He was on special leave for two years from 1 June 1913 and went to England to improve his flying technique. He was recalled into service on October 16, 1914, and sent to Albania from November 1, 1914 to January 23, 1915. After about two years of embarkation on various units, he was assigned command of the R. Bolsena, a post he held from December 28, 1917 to August 31, 1919; then he was appointed aeronautical officer at the Italian embassy in Washington from June 1923 to October 1925.

Calderara Floatplane 100-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 17.60 m; length 16.50 m; the wing area 70 square meters
  Empty weight 620 kg.
  Maximum speed 70-80 km/h.
Calderara floatplane. (Roberto Gentilli)
Caproni Prewar Designs

Eng. Gianni Caproni’s (1886-1957) first airplane design flew on May 27, 1910. Due to the inexperience of the pilot, the aircraft was destroyed in a crash.

  Ca.1 - 1909 Biplane with 25 hp Miller engine driving two traction propellers by means of a chain drive, copied from the Wright Flyer; construction began at the end of 1909.
  Ca.2 - 1910 Biplane similar to the Ca.1, but with the engine driving only one propeller. This was one of the first tractor designs with a direct drive of the propeller.
Caproni would have been hard pressed to find a suitable flying area in the mountainous Trentino region. He thus turned to the director of the Milan department of the Italian Army’s Engineering Corps and was allowed to use the Malpensa prairie, then a simple cavalry training area. The powerplant was supplied by the Miller company, recently formed in Turin. Caproni obtained a 25 hp engine, which he found quite unreliable. But it was all that Italian industry could supply.
Caproni Ca.2
Caproni Prewar Designs

  Ca.3 - 1910 Biplane similar to Ca.1, but with a larger wing area to improve takeoff performance.
  Ca.4 - 1910 Biplane with simple tail girder in order to simplify and lighten the construction; 25 hp engine.
  Ca.5 - 1910 Biplane with central cockpit with engine driving a tractor propeller, with twin tail booms and a 50 hp Rebus engine.
  Ca.6 - 1910 Biplane with single tail boom and open pilot, wings with double curvature, a monoplane tail and a 50 hp Rebus engine.
  Ca.7 - 1910 Twin-engine biplane; it remained an unbuilt project.
Caproni Ca.4
Caproni Ca.6
Caproni Prewar Designs

  Ca.8 - 1911 Single-seat monoplane with 25 hp Anzani engine; several were built for use by the training establishments.
  Ca.9 - 1911 Monoplane similar to Ca.8, but with a 35 hp Anzani engine. This aircraft was used on January 30, 1912 to set world records for distance and duration in closed circuit for aircraft with power below 40-hp.
  During 1912, an the military airfield of Somma Lombardo (Cascina Malpensa) was the headquarters of the piloting school. Commanded by cap. Gustavo Moreno, the school’s instruction and training were carried out with Nieuport-Anzani 35 hp monoplane and Caproni aircraft with the same engine (Ca. 9).
  Ca.10 - 1911 Ca.9 transformed into a two-seater.
  Ca.11 - Two-seater monoplane similar to Ca.10, equipped with a 50-hp Gnome rotary engine. It was used to set the Italian speed record of 106.242 km/h on February 12, 1912. Several specimens were reportedly purchased by the military prewar for use as trainers. They were definitely used at the Caproni aviation school in Vizzola where they were used to train civilian and military pilots.

Ca.11 two-seat trainer with one 50-hp Gnome rotary engine
  Wingspan 8.88 m; length 8.40 m; height 3.00 m; wing area 16 sq m
  Empty weight 240 kg; loaded 405kg
  Maximum speed 105 km/h.

  Ca.12 - Similar to the Ca.11, but with a 60 hp Anzani engine. On March 1912 it set a world speed record in closed circuit of 300 km in 2h 49 minutes. Three months later it was used to set an Italian record for flight duration with a single passenger in a closed circuit of 3 hours 12 minutes.

  Ca.13 - Identical to the previous Ca.12, but was a single-seater with a 70-hp Anzani engine. Fitted with wings that had a smaller span, the Ca.13 reached 130 km/h in testing. In June 1912, the Ca.13 was flown in the international competitions in Vienna; it was the only Italian aircraft that competed.

Ca.13 single seat aircraft with a 70-hp Anzani engine
  Wingspan 11.20 m; length 8.40 m; height 3 m; wing surface are 22.40 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg; payload 250 kg;
  Maximum speed 130 Km/h.
Caproni Ca.8
Caproni Ca.8
Caproni Ca.9
Caproni Ca.11
Caproni Ca.11
Caproni Ca.12
Caproni Ca.8 drawing.
Caproni Prewar Designs

  Ca.14 - 1912 Two-seat monoplane with 80 hp Gnome rotary engine. Used at the Caproni school at Vizzola.
  Ca.15 - 1912 Ca.14 with pilot and passenger located in a single cockpit.
  Ca.16 - Ca.14 variant with dual controls that could be released at will from first pilot; in other words, only the pilot or the student could use the controls at any one time. It set the world speed record world speed record (over 200 and 250 km/h) while carrying a passenger in closed circuit on January 1913. The next month it was used in a long distance flight from Milan to Rome.
Caproni Prewar Designs

  Ca.17 - Similar to the preceding Ca.16 but adapted to meet all the requirements of the first military competition in Torino in 1913. There were two pilots with dual controls; the wings could be removed in five steps. The airframe was strengthened to withstand the rigors of military service.
  Caproni entered both this modified design, as well as completely new design in the competition - see entry for Ca.18.
  During the preliminary tests, Slavorosoff’s Caproni crashed seriously injuring the pilot and killing the passenger Francesco Gallo. The second Caproni was also involved in an accident later.
  The failure forced Gianni Caproni to sell his company to the State, in effect becoming the technical director for his own company, ironically, the competition resulted in no contracts being awarded to any company, including the winner.

Ca.17 two-seat military aircraft with one 80-hp rotary engine
  Wingspan 11.80 m; length 7.88 m; height 2.70 m wing area 24 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg - Payload 250 Kg.
  Maximum speed 110 km/h
  One built

Ca.18-19 - After the failure of the 1913 Caproni in the military competition, Gianni Caproni had no choice but to sell his company to the State, in effect becoming the technical director for his own company. While repairs became the main task of the workshop, Caproni was able to continue the design activity, still creating several prototypes. Caproni designed the Ca.18 monoplane, a two-seater for observation conceived, through the intermediate type Ca.17, around the specifications of the Aviatori Battaglia on the basis of the experience made with the Bristol (see above).
  This new two-seater monoplane with 80 hp Gnome engine was built for the military competition for Italian-designed airplanes, held by the Ministry of War in Turin in 1913. The aircraft had to have removable and foldable wings to make it transportable on the road. The first model made the journey from Vizzola to Turin towed, covering 150 km.
  The aircraft had a wooden fuselage with a trellis structure, steel tube tail and two metal spar wing with wooden ribs, elastic shock absorbers. The engine was an 80-hp Gnome (replaced by a Le Rhone of the same power on the Ca.19 version). There was a sheet metal firewall.The landing gear consisted of two large diameter wheels and without a central skid. The Ca.18 also featured side windows to give the pilot a better view of the ground.
  In 1914 15a Squadriglia was equipped with Bleriot 11s, but in April 1915 it re-equipped with the Caproni Parasol Ca.18s and had nos. 228, 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234 on strength. Assigned to III Gruppo at the outbreak of the war it was based at Piacenza. On 24 June it was sent to Pordenone for the Parco d’Assedio di Artiglieria (Artillery Siege Park to transition to Caproni Parasol 100 hp Ca.24s, which were picked up at Vizzola Ticino. In May 1915 the five Ca.18s still in service were SOC.

Caproni Ca.18 two-seat army co-operation aircraft with one 80-hp Gnome engine (Ca.20 had an 80-hp Le Rhone)
  Wingspan 10.93 m; length 7.60 m; height 2.93 m; wing area 21.60 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg; loaded weight 695 kg
  Maximum speed 20 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 10 min; ceiling 2,000 m
Caproni Ca.18
Caproni Ca.18
Caproni Ca.18 drawing.
Caproni Prewar Designs


  The Ca.30 was Caproni’s first trimotor design. It was biplane with twin booms, two internal engines contained in an abbreviated fuselage powering the tractor engines through a transmission system, and one pusher engine. The design remained an unbuilt project, but clearly influenced the follow up project, the Ca.31 bomber.

Caproni Ca.31

  The Ca.31 helped to establish the layout of the wartime Caproni bombers. It was a trimotor biplane, but, unlike the Ca.30 project, there were two tractor engines each fitted at the front of its own boom. There was a third engine fitted as a pusher behind the center fuselage. There was also a monoplane tail with three rudders. Both tractor engines were 80-hp Gnome rotaries, while the pusher was a 100-hp Gnome.
  The Ca.31 was derived from the Ca.30, but the arrangement of the engines, while not avoiding the problems with torque should one of the two tractor engines fail, was far simpler than that proposed for the Ca.30.
  The Ca.31 was the first three-engine Caproni design to be built at the state workshops of Vizzola Ticino. It was first flown in October 1914 by test pilot Emilio Pensuti.
  The Ca.31 was of wood construction covered in canvas construction. There were two dual wheels under each boom and also in the nose landing gear. There were landing skids at the ends of the wing tips to prevent damage to the wings during landing.
  The cockpit had dual-controls with side-by-side seating.
  This Ca.31 served as the prototype for the entire series of Caproni bombers.

Caproni Ca.31 two/three seat bomber with two 80-hp and one 100-hp Gnome rotaries
  Wingspan 22.20 m; length 10.90 m; height 3.70 m; wing area, 95.64 square meters.
  Empty weights 2,000 kg; loaded weight 3,000 kg; payload 1,000 kg
  Maximum speed, 110 km/h; climb to 1,000 m. in 15 minutes.

Caproni Ca.1, Ca.2, Ca.3

Ca.1 and Ca.2 Development and Production

  Caproni & Faccanoni Vizzola Ticino, created in 1912 was selected to build Bristol Monoplanes, but the agreement collapsed due to the aircraft’s design deficiencies. The company was dissolved and reformed as Caproni led by Gianni Caproni, himself.
  Gianni Caproni was convinced that - in the event of war - the availability of a powerful fleet of multi-engine bombers would give the Italian armed forces a tactical and strategic advantage. With this in mind, in 1913 he designed twin boom aircraft with three engines clustered around a central fuselage. With the three engines providing a total of up to 230-hp, this aircraft would carry both an offensive bomb load and defensive armament. Chaperone’s design was submitted to the military authorities who passed the drawings from department to department.
  In the autumn of 1913, the Caproni workshops passed to the state and Caproni, who had agreed to remain in the management, was able to continue his studies. He received a compliment, of sorts, when the Austro-Hungarian Government, through Colonel Uzelac, commander of the troops of the Imperial-Royal Austro-Hungarian Air Force, tried to enlist Caproni to build a bomber for them.
  The first model of the Caproni three-engine bomber was built in the second half of 1914, and differed from the initial project mainly for the direct propeller-engine coupling of each of the drive units, which were therefore located one aft of the central nacelle and the other two at the head of their respective fuselages. This solution was chosen for reasons of cost and simplicity of construction, and therefore also of weight. The three rotary Gnome engines thus installed produced, respectively, 100-hp for the central one and 80-hp each for the two lateral ones.
  October 1914 saw the successful testing, by Emilio Pensuti, of the 260-hp three-engine design, which, in addition to being the first aircraft ever made with three engines, also represented at that time the most powerful aircraft in the world. Towards the end of the year leading technical and political personalities began to take an interest in the aircraft and to examine its characteristics. In January 1915, as an envoy of the French government, Rodolphe Soreau arrived in Vizzola to view the new airplane. This visit then resulted in the sale of the aircraft and its manufacturing license to France, where series production was entrusted to the Robert Esnault-Pelterie company. The French attempts to design an effective bomber had failed, and it was relying on obsolescent Voisin 3s and 5s, Maurice Farman M.F. 11s, and Breguet-Michelin 4s to perform its limited strategic bombing offensive. The first two aircraft would form a critical part of the Italian Aviazione Militaire, while the Caproni would be the key French long-range bomber for the second half of the war.
  In the meantime, negotiations had begun with the Italian government for the construction of a first series of 12 three-engined bombers (with a total of 300-hp) by a new company to be set up for this purpose. The increase in power from 260 to 300-hp was made possible by the replacement of the Gnome rotaries with the water-cooled Fiat A.10 with 6 vertical fixed cylinders, which gave much greater reliability.
  March 11, 1915 saw the establishment of the “Society for the Development of Aviation in Italy”, an anonymous cooperative under the presidency of Senator Esterle and a modest capital provided by illustrious Milanese personalities who were friends of the president (including Senator Colombo and Visconti di Modrone) without speculative intent. The new company was created at the workshops in Vizzola Ticino and those in Taliedo for the series production of three-engined boats. By the express wish of the whole new group. Caproni was appointed the Company’s technical consultant.
  The 300-hp three-engine biplane was, at that time, the only large bombing machine in existence. However, when Italy entered the war, the first sporadic bombing actions were carried out in June and July 1915 with Farmans, Macchi Parasols and Voisin 3s, whose limited power and payload made them absolutely unsuitable for this task. They were soon relegated to reconnaissance missions.
  In the meantime, Gianni Caproni had conceived a grandiose strategic plan. Influenced by the support of his friend Douhet, the idea of using a bomber for strategic tasks, not directly connected to actions at the front, began to form the the foundations of an air war strategy that would require a fleet of around 80 Caproni bomber which would operate throughout May to September to attack the Austro-Hungarian transportation system (railway and vehicular traffic from the Valsugana, Trento, Bolzano and Merano). It was anticipated that these attacks would cut the supply lines Austrian armies along the front, making them vulnerable to Italian attacks.
  On 16 July 1915 Caproni met in Udine with General Cadorna, who was seriously worried about the scarcity of airplanes. Cadorna soon became an enthusiastic supporter of the bombing plan and requested the production of 150 three-engined bombers to carry out an air offensive in Trentino. Production of 150 aircraft would permit, taking into account breakage and combat losses, a fleet of 80 aircraft to be available at all times. Unfortunately, neither the general staff nor the government was willing to make such a large expenditure at this time.


  A new problem developed when it turned out that these large, three-engined bombers were difficult to build.
  Negotiations for the price of the first 12 bombers took an extended period of time had been lost in agreeing on the contract terms for the first supply of 12 aircraft. The workshops at Vizzola, which had been leased to the Societa per lo Sviluppo dell’Aviazione in Italia (Society for the Development of Aviation in Italy) needed to have equipment purchased so production could begin. There were problems with the first engines supplied and these had to be sent back to the factory to be modified; they did not arrive back until June and July.
  As a result the first Ca.1 300-hp (later designated Ca.32) was completed on July 14, 1915. Deliveries of the 12 Ca.1s were completed October. In January 1916, a second order for 12 aircraft was subsequently increased to 36 and then 150 largely based on the first reports coming from front line squadriglias. As a result, Caproni now had the financial backing to set up an improved manufacturing plant in Taliedo. That new plant would be plagued by a shortage of trained personnel and transport.
  The order for an additional, upgraded 150 Capronis, with a maximum speed of 115 km/h and an ability to climb to 2,000 meters in 30 minutes, was placed in November, 1915. This would require production rate of 30 aircraft per month, which would, in turn, depend on new factories being built at Taliedo.
  It was expected that the 150 bombers would be ready in June, six months after the order was placed. This unrealistic assumption was further complicated by problems at Caproni’s plant. The production run of the 150-hp aircraft order was not finished until September 1915. In addition to the problems with the Taliedo plant mentioned above, there shortage of engines and supplies were largely responsible for the delay. Two aircraft of those ordered (Ca.718 and Ca.1147), used Gnome rotary engines which generated 300-hp, 40-hp higher than the preceding batch which were powered by Fiat A.10s of 100-hp.
  However, of the first 48 Caproni trimotors ordered, only 11 were at the front, 2 were ready for transferred to front line units, 2 others were being used at Malpensa for the training of pilots, and 8 were undergoing testing or waiting for testing at Vizzola. Adding these figures up, there only 23 aircraft had actually been built with 25 yet to be completed. This cast doubt on the ability of the industry to complete by April 1916 an additional 150 aircraft. Even when aircraft were actually built, poor workmanship and a lack of suitable building materials resulted in serious deficiencies in the airframes. Some Capronis were 100 kilograms (220 pounds) heavier than planned which resulted in inferior performance.
  Problems with the Capronis 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 19 January. 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, Caproni at the front had to be subjected to rigorous examination after each operational flight, and new machines were subjected to rigorous testing prior to delivery at the front. This all called for qualified maintenance personnel, spare parts, and an adequate infrastructure.
  Experience at the front showed that higher performance would be needed if the aircraft were to continue to serve at the front. It took until March 1916 before Caproni was able to fit a 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V.4B engine in the center position; this was done only after it was shown that the airframe had been subjected to a load of 13,000 kg corresponding to coefficient 6, after carrying out adequate static breaking tests on the “300 hp” cell. The aircraft now had two 100-hp Fiats in the booms and the central Isotta Fraschini added an additional 150-hp.
  The first example of the new “350-hp” became the Ca.2. It was flight tested on 10 May 1916 as Ca.1167; it was followed, between 21 June and 13 July by eight other machines with a similar installation. The deliveries of these nine Ca.2s supplemented the 150 Ca.1s.
  The gain in flight performance due to the increase in installed power from 300-hp to 350-hp increased the maximum speed from 115-127.5 km/h to 129-133.5 km/h. The time to climb to 2,000 m fell from 22 to 45 minutes to 17 to 25 minutes.
  Caproni attempted to improve the performance on a Ca.1 by modifying one airframe. The front wheels were removed and the cockpit almost completely enclosed. The slight improvement (from 120 to 125 km/h) did not warrant these changes being introduced the production line. This modified airframe later received the designation Ca.34.
  The possibility of using the Caproni bomber in the ground attack role resulted in a Ca.1 (Ca.1160) being fitted with a 25 mm caliber quick-firing revolving cannon on the bow of the aircraft. This example also remained a one-off type.
The Ca.1s and Ca.2s soon made way of the Ca.3. Many of the retired aircraft were sent to the Scuola d’Aviazione della Malpensa (Malpensa Training Center. These trainers were sometimes retrofitted with 110-hp Colombo D.l 10 engines.

Production Summary

  Ca.1 - prototype with two 80-hp Gnome rotary engines and one 100-hp Gnome. Later designated Ca. 31. One built
  Ca.1 - Initial production version with three 100-hp Fiat A.10 engines. Later designated Ca.32
  Twelve built.
  Serials Ca.478 to 488 and Ca.702
  Ca.1 - Second production batch with three 100-hp Fiat A.10 engines. Later designated Ca.32
  A total of 150 were built.
  Serials - Ca.703-717; Ca.719-721; Ca.1129-1166; Ca.1168-1179; Ca.1182-1229; Ca.1231-1241; Ca. 1244-1245; Ca.1247; Ca.1250-1268; Ca.718 and Ca.114 (with Gnome rotary engines).
  Ca. 2 - Two 100-hp Fiat A.10 engines and one 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V.4b.
  Nine built
  Serials Ca.1167; Ca.1180-1181; Ca.1230; Ca.1242-1243; Ca.1246; Ca.1248-1249.

Production Problems

  The Italian aviation industry devoted a significant percentage of its production capability to building bombers. The type selected was the Caproni 2s and 3s, with the Caproni 4 and 5 to follow later. This was because Gianni Caproni had spent considerable time designing a new heavy bomber, supported and encouraged by his mentor, Giulio Douhet.
  Caproni’s first design was presented to a group of potential investors on December 1914 at Vizzola Ticino. It was only after this presentation that the military was notified of the new design. Those present included Giuseppe Colombo, president of Credito Italiano and Carlo Esterle, CEO of the Italian energy company Edison. In May 1915 they formed, with Caproni, Credito Italiano - to build the Caproni 300-hp. The military subsequently declined to rent the plants at Vizzola Ticino to this consortium.
  The problems experienced by Caproni in building these aircraft was no different that that experience by other aviation firms - delays in deliveries and bottlenecks in the supply of subassemblies (most commonly engines). Despite numerous contractual clauses favorable to these aviation firms, and the military’s willingness to offer bonuses for firms just for meeting the delivery dates specified in their contracts, the numbers of aircraft delivered to the Aviazone Militaire never reached the anticipated numbers.
  Eventually, the military lost patience with Caproni, the General Director of the Aviazione Militair writing that Caproni’s excuse for delaying the deliveries of the first 20 Caproni 2s (a lack of pilots for carrying out final flight tests) was patently false. In fact only four aircraft and been completed and the quality of their production was substandard. Threats to cancel the contract, and to have his designs produced under license by competing firms, succeeded in breaking the production log jam. Finally, Caproni turned his attention to selling his designs to other countries, and, as a result, in 1916 he had to hire a technical director capable of managing production in his absence. This turned out to be the key to boosting production.
  It was anticipated that the new S.I.A,with two 700-hp Fiat A.14 engines would replace the Capronis in 1917. Indeed, the Caproni firm was asked if it would consider producing the S.I.A. 14 under license. Realizing the obvious threat, Caproni decided to produce an initial batch of 100 aircraft without a formal military order. This gamble paid off as in the end it was decided that a newer Caproni with three 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V.4B engines would instead be adopted. However, production problems once again intruded on the Italian military’s plans, and only a handful of what would be designated as Caproni 3s would see operational service. As a result of the indecisiveness of the Italian military, coupled with Caproni’s own production problems, the Caproni 3s remained the only bomber at the front. These aircraft were now well-worn and crews complained that there was a pressing need for new, more powerful airframes.
  The military ordered a halt in delivery of the Caproni 3s to the front. As a result, the production line stalled, the factory became cluttered with undelivered aircraft, and the firm had to begin a layoff of its skilled workers.
  It was decided that the S.I.A. 14b twin engine triplane would be produced in place of the Capronis. In February 1916 100 S.I.A.14b bombers were ordered. The SIA/Fiat aircraft project, designed by Eng. Mario Torretta at the end of 1916, had passed to the construction phase of three prototypes. A DTAM document noted only, without further clarification, that the twin-engine testing was abandoned. Fortunately (at least for Caproni) the S.I.A. 14b’s Achilles’heel was the two 600-hp Fiat A.14 engines selected to power the aircraft. Fiat could not produce the engines on schedule, so the production versions of the S.I.A. 14b bombers were ever built. Production of Ca.3s for the frontline units would continue.
  An order for 150 450-hp Ca.3s arrived by March 1917; in June, a second order for another 100 was received. However, the intense aviation arms race on the Italian front meant that the Ca.3s would soon be obsolescent.
  In March 1916, Caproni had begun development of a 600-hp bomber; it would be completed and flown in March 1917. The new type used three 200-hp Fiat A 12 engines, thus replacing the Isotta Fraschinis used on the Ca.3s which had proved difficult to produce and maintain. A postwar investigation into the rapid decision to produce the 600-hp Caproni would question the wisdom of this decision. The report was couched in such vague terms that it is impossible to determine if it was suspected that bribery or graft had played a role in the decision.
  In August 1917 , the technical bodies of the Aviazione Militaire decided to order 100-120 examples. The new aircraft would use the 200-hp Fiat A.12 engines that had been intended for the failed S.I.A. 14b. The military had already had placed on order for 1,000 of these motors and, understandably, wanted to put them to use; fitting them to Caproni 3 airframes would be the quickest way to get them into service. However Caproni rejected the “quick fix” of fitting these new engines to the older airframes. In the end, the Aviazione Militaire, while insisting that Caproni continue to study a 600-hp bomber variant, continued to buy the 450-hp variant. An order for 250 Ca.3 450-hp was completed in 1917, plus an additional 20 ordered in November. The military would have order more, but there were not enough Fiat A.12 engines left. The last of these Capronis were delivered in February 1918.

  Ca.3 - prototype with three Isotta-Fraschini V.4 150-hp engines . Later designated Ca. 33
  One built
  Ca.3 - 1917 production version with three Isotta-Fraschini V.4 150-hp engines. Later designated Ca.33
  Batch 1 - 100 aircraft; Serials Ca 2309-2408
  Batch 2 - 50 aircraft; Serials Ca 4037-4086
  Batch 3 - 100 aircraft; Serials Ca.4137-4236
  Ca.3 - 1918 production version
  40 aircraft, of which 20 were actually produced
  Serials Ca 11488-11507
  Ca.3 - 1919 production version
  8 aircraft. Serials unknown
  Ca.3 - modified 1923 production version. Later designated Ca.36
  23 aircraft. Serials unknown
  Ca.3 - modified 1924 production version. Later designated Ca.36
  40 aircraft. Serials unknown
  Ca.3 - modified 1925 production version. Later designated Ca.36
  23 aircraft. Serials unknown
  Ca.3 - modified 1926 production version. Later designated Ca.36
  10 aircraft. Serials unknown (source of production data Apostolo)
  Of the 153 Ca.3 modified built postwar, 144 served with the Regia Aeronautica.


Caproni Ca.3 450-hp

  Wing - Equal span biplane of rectangular shape with trapezoidal ends. Each wing consisted of five parts, namely: a central section, two middle sections (right and left), two outer sections (right and left). The cockpit and the two fuselages (or twin booms) were attached on the central section. The outer wing panels held the ailerons which were both the upper and on lower wing panels). The ailerons were connected to each other by a steel wire. The interior structure was two ash spars connected together by steel tube struts and steel wire or braid tie rods; single ribs (in fir and ash) and double (in poplar and ash). Ailerons in metal tubes. The struts were made from ash, fir, and Oregon. The wing was entirely covered by canvas.
  Fuselage - Twin booms each with four ash spars connected to each other by vertical uprights and wooden formers, and by crossed steel wire crosses. Canvas covered.
  The center section was built around four main ash spars (2 upper and 2 lower) connected to each other: front and rear struts were built up around steel pipes, braced laterally by wooden uprights and crosspieces and by steel wire crossbars. Canvas covering for the front portion up to the wing leading edge, plywood for the rest. Connection with the wing in wooden ribs and aluminum covering.
  Fuel tanks - There were two petrol tanks, made of leaded iron sheet, with a capacity of 315 liters each, placed behind the pilot’s seats. Three oil tanks (1 for each engine), with a capacity of 25 liters each.
  Tail - the horizontal tail surfaces had longerons in metal tube, with steel sheet ribs. Canvas covering. There were three fins and rudders with constructed from wooded ribs and steel tubing. The two external tail surfaces were all moving; the central rudder was the only part of the fin/rudder assembly.
  Cockpit - The crew consisted of two pilots seated side-by-side with dual controls. Front gunner located in the bow with a single machine gun and another gunner in a rear position aft of their cockpit and above the central engine. Instrumentation included compass, tachometer, and gasoline pressure gauge.
  Landing gear - The landing gear consisted of dual wheels, there was a rear skid under each boom. Skids were placed under the ends of the lower wings.
  Fuel tanks - There were two petrol tanks, made of leaded iron sheet, with a capacity of 315 liters each, placed behind the pilot’s seats. Three oil tanks (1 for each engine), with a capacity of 25 liters each.
  Armament - Offensive bomb load of 200; defensive armament consisted of two machine guns and ammunition weighing a total of 60 kilograms.


Caproni Ca.34

  This was modified Ca.33; the changes to the crew nacelle were intended to increase speed and crew comfort. It retained the nose skid, but deleted the front wheels to reduce drag. The cockpit was modified for the same reason; the crew compartment was almost completely enclosed (only the heads of the pilot and co-pilot protruded.
  The results of these changes was a small increase in the maximum speed (from 120 km/h to 125 km/h) , while the crew felt uncomfortable in such a tight, enclosed space.
  The aircraft, therefore, remained only a prototype.

Caproni Ca.35

  This was another attempt to improve performance by fitting a standard Ca.33 with a more streamlined crew nacelle. This was achieved by seating the crew in tandem in a narrower cockpit.
  As with the Ca.34 the loss in crew comfort was not compensated for by a significant increase in speed.
  This aircraft, also, remained a prototype.

Ca.36 (Ca.3 Mod)

  The Ca.3 modifications included structural modifications to allow easy disassembly of the external wing sections, leaving the central center fuselage and cockpit intact along with the twin booms and tail surfaces and landing gear. Postwar the aircraft was identified as a Ca.36.
  The mass production of the Ca.3 mod was undertaken by the Societa Nazionale delle Officine di Saviglian. Production was slow and in mid-September 1918 there were 5 finished or nearly completed airframes in the workshop, and another 15-20 under construction. Overall 20 of the Ca.3 mod series were built in 1918, followed by another eight in 1919. Four years after production had ceased in 1919, the Caproni firm resumed construction for three more years, until 1926. The total number of produced from 1923 to 1926 was 153 Ca.3 mod, 144 of which were delivered to the “Regia Aeronautica”. They were used by the night bombing squadriglias until they were replaced by Ca.73s.
  The Ca.3 mod. were often based in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and saw combat during the reconquest of the Libya.

Caproni Ca.36 three/four seat bomber with three engines (varying types)
  Wingspan 22.20 m; length 10.90 m; height 3.70 m; wing area 100 sq m
  Empty weight 2600 kg; payload Kg. 1400
  Maximum speed 135 km/h; climb to 1000 m. in 8 minutes; climb to 4000 in 65 minutes; ceiling 4500 m.

Caproni Ca.36S

  The Ca.36S was a Ca.36 converted into an ambulance aircraft. It could carry up to eight casualties: four on stretchers placed inside the nacelle in place of the cockpit tanks and bomb racks, and four more seated ahead and behind the cockpit. One of the pilots was replaced by a doctor or nurse.
  The cabin was completely closed and was accessed via a ladder which was part of the floor. Behind the stretchers was a pharmaceutical cabinet. The nacelle’s fuel tanks were relocated to the twin booms behind the engines.

  One Ca.3 mod. was completed as an ambulance. The fuselage was modified to carry eight wounded were accommodated: four of these could be placed on stretchers placed in place of the cockpit tanks and bomb racks, while another four patients could be seated: two in front of the pilot and two behind the cockpit. In this variant the second crew member consisted of a doctor or a nurse. The cabin was completely enclosed and fitted, at the front, with a transparent windshield. Access to the cabin was via a retractable ladder. Behind the stretchers three was a pharmaceutical cabinet. The fuselage tanks were replaced by other reservoirs placed inside the twin booms behind the engines.

Ca.39 Floatplane

  Three-engine seaplane with one large central float. It was based on the Ca.35 and Ca.36 bombers. There is no evidence this aircraft was ever built but the estimated specifications are listed below.

Ca.39 seaplane with three engines
  Wingspan 22.20 m; length 12.10m; height 4.70 m; wing surface area 100 sq m
  Empty weight 2700 kg; payload 1000 kg;
  Maximum speed 135 Km/h.


  Transformed into a post-war civilian version, the “450 HP” was capable of carrying six passengers, and some were used to transport the official courier between Padua and Vienna.
  These civil transformations then received, retroactively, the designation Ca.56a (transformations of the Ca.3 mod.).

Operational Service

  The first Ca.300 hp (Ca.478) arrived at Campo della Comina (Pordenone) on 23 July 1915, followed on 1 and 8 August by two other aircraft (Ca.480 and Ca.479 respectively). These three aircraft formed the Caproni 300 hp biplanes section (which later became sezione Caproni 300 hp) was established on 19 August within 21a Squadriglia. Capitano Bailo as commander of the Sezione.
  On 20 August, Ca.478 (with Capitani Bailo and Graziani, plus observer Maggiore Barbieri) and Ca.480 (Capitano Ercole and Sottotenete Laureati, and observer Capitano Cavalieri) carried out the bombing of the Aisovizza airfield, dropping 13 162-mm and 12 135-mm bombs and 14 incendiary bombs. On 21 and 28 August the Capronis repeated these attacks, releasing over 250 25 kg bombs.
  In September the Capronis concentrated their attacks on roads leading to Oppacchiasella, Doberdo and Gorizia. On 7 October Castagnevizza was bombed by eight Capronis. During the Carso offensive, the units sortied on the 24th, 25th, 26th, 29th, 30th and 31st attacking targets on the plateau at Bainsizza, Carso, the railways and train stations at Valle Buca (Idria), Gorizia, Trieste, S. Lucia, S. Caterina, and S. Pietro del Carso.
  During 1915 the Caproni Squadriglia, received a fourth aircraft (Ca.702) and with these four machines carried out 20 bombing sorties, plus three reconnaissance and two armed reconnaissance.
  The 1a Caproni Squadriglia was followed by the 2a, formed on 24 October 1915, flew its first mission on the 28th. On 17 October 3a (established on 17 October) flew its first action on the 18th over Aisovizza). 4a (established on 13 October) and 5a (established in Verona on November 22) followed.
  From 1 to 14 November the stations of Duino, Nabresina, Reichemberg, S.Daniele, Skope and Dottogliano were visited. The airfields at Aisovizza, Vogerko and Aidussiria were attacked on the 20th, 21st, and 25th of November.
  At the end of 1915, five Caproni squadriglias were operational. Four were at Comina as IV Gruppo and the fifth was located in Verona (commanded by Cap. La Polla) for bombing actions in Trentino.
  In spring 1916 the deployment of Caproni bombers was as follows:
IV Gruppo
  1a Squadriglia at Comina; 2a, 3a, 4a, 6a, 7a Squadriglia at Aviano; 8a Squadriglia at Comina
III Gruppo
  5a Squadriglia at Verona

  Towards August 1916, two other squadriglias were created, based in Aviano. XI Gruppo was also formed. At the end of 1916 there were a total of about forty bombers with about 80 pilots and 30 observer officers.
  The IV and XI Gruppos were placed under the control of a Comando di Raggruppamento (Group Command) which operated directly under from the Comando Aeronautico (Air Force Command) at the Comando Supremo (Supreme Command).
  To counter the Austro-Hungarian attacks on Itclian cities, the Comando Supremo ordered a series of retaliatory strikes on Austrian series during 1916. 1a Squadriglia flew the first such mission on 18 February, dropping 1,800 kg of 162-mm bombs on Ljubljana. During, Ca 478 was hit by AAA and Capitano Salomone, wounded, brought his aircraft back to base; for this action he was award the first medaglia d’oro (gold medal) to be awarded to an Aviazione Militar officer.
  5a Squadriglia di Verona attacked the airfield at Trento-Gardolo and train stations at stations Rovereto and Trento. The other Caproni squadriglias at Pordenone visited Aisovizza, Chiapovano and Dornberg, as well as the railroad stations art Longatico, Provacina and Ljubljana.
  During the battles of May-June 1916, the Caproni, performed low level attacks on depots and camps in the area of Folgaria, the Assa valleys, d’Astico, and d’Adige. In June 1916 the Capronis made a mass attack on Perigee, with 34 Caproni 300 HPs being sent out.
  In July the main missions were offensive raids on Adige, Giudicane, Lagarina, and Val d’Assa. In August the Caproni squadriglias moved to the Isonzo front for the August offensive.
  One of the major air battles on the Italian front came on 2 August when 24 Capronis were sent against the torpedo factory, oil depot and shipyards at Danubius, all located on the coast 3 km from the city. The bombers left from Comina and Aviano, attacking in squadriglia strength of four or five aircraft each. Four Fokker E.IIIs and two Aviatiks attacked the first wave and its fighter escort. The Capronis flew over their targets for nearly 30 minutes and each Caproni dropped an average of eight 142-mm (25 kg) bombs, equaling 4 tons of explosives. Aside from one Caproni that force landed near Volosca due to an engine failure, all the warplanes returned to their bases.
  From 4 to 18 August Capronis and dirigibles hit Nabresina, Prevacina, Dornberg, all being the front lines, with nearly 6 tons of bombs.
  On 13 September, 22 Capronis, covered by Nieuports, moved to Trieste with the task of bombing the arsenal and the seaplane base: despite intense AAA. The Italians succeeded in unloading four tons of explosives on the targets. In September-October the main targets were the rear areas at Karst. On 17 September, fourteen Capronis bombed the railway centers of Dottogliano and Skope with three tons of bombs, while six aircraft from 5a attacked Mattarello in Trentino.
  From October to December operations were limited due to the weather, but as many sorties were flown in support of the troops.
  Col Santo, Mattarello, Rovereto, and Volano in the Adige Valley were targeted. Also, the enemy’s rear positions at Karst, including train stations at Dottogliano, Nabresina, Skope, and the Frigido valley with over 10 tons of bombs. A fourth bombing was carried out on the Trieste seaplane base with the launch of 200 large-caliber bombs by 16 Capronis launching from Aviano and Comina.

  The first night bombardment with a Caproni was carried out on 6 January 1917 by Capitano Falchi (commander of the 3a Squadriglia and Tenente Ruggerone) on the Nabresina railway station and in the Monte Querceto area. As the Austro-Hungarian defenses would stiffen as 1917 progressed, night bombings would help to provide the aircrews with some additional protection.
  The Caproni units were able to resume operations after the extreme winter weather has cleared. In preparation for the Italian offensive in the spring , the bombers were sent to hinder Austrian troop movements south of the Frigido valley. This included a campaign against railway targets from 22 April to 10 May.
  On 4 May the Italian ground forces launched attacks in the Gorizia area. On that day seven Caproni bombed enemy rear areas in Chiapovano, while others dropped a hundred bombs along the San Marco-Vogersko-Ranziano line. No less than 34 Capronis participated in the two final offensive attacks of 23 and 24 August.
  The Capronis endured often quite heavy attacks from AAA and enemy fighters. However, although they had aging airframes and problematic engines, the Capronis often brought their crews home safely.
  As 1917 ended the order of battle for the Caproni units was:
  IV Gruppo - 1a, 8a, 13a, and 15a Squadriglias at San Pelagio
  IV Gruppo Comina - 1a, 2a, and 13a Squadriglias at Comina, 10a and 14a Squadriglias at Campoformido
  VIII Gruppo - 11a Squadriglia at Tahiraga
  IX Gruppo Verona - 5a Squadriglia at Verona
  XI Gruppo - 4a, 5a, and 6a Squadriglias at Padova
  XI Gruppo Avianao - 2a, 3a, 4a, 6a, 7a, and 15a Squadriglias at Aviano
  XIV Gruppo - 2a, 3a, 7a, 9a, 10a, 14a Squadriglias at Ghedi
  In June 1917 during what would become known as the 10th Battle of Isonzo the new Caproni 450-hp made its combat debut. On 10, 15 and 19 June, a total of 32 Caproni sorties resulted in seven tons of bombs being dropped on the enemy lines. The Idria mines, which were only 40 km away from the Italian front positions were hit particularly hard.
  On July 17 12 Ca.450s of IV Gruppo dropped about 4 tons of bombs. A repeat bombing was carried out on the 28th of the same month with three formations of ten aircraft each; a total of 10 tons of bombs being dropped.
  The months of August and September saw the new Ca.3 450-hp bombers concentrated at bases near the front. A large number of the new Capronis had arrived from the manufacturer, to the point that the reserves were equal in size to the number of frontline aircraft. Despite attrition, the Caproni squadriglias would carry out a sustained bombing campaign. X Gruppo carried out just such a series of raids against Pola, Assling and Tarvis.
  In August 1917, during the 11th Battle of Isonzo, sustained attacks were made on the important supply routes at Vallone di Chiapovano.
  Under the prompting of Gabriele D’Annunzio, on 2 August, 36 Ca.450s with a total load of 200 bombs attacked Olivi and the searchlights of Novigrad and Punta Salvatore. Twenty aircraft from the XI Gruppo at Aviano, plus 16 of IV Gruppo participated in the action (10 from Comina and 6 from Campoformido). D’Annunzio led from the front, flying in Ca.2378. Ten of Capronis suffered mild damage from AAA and force landed due to engine failure. On the nights of August 3 and 8, the action was repeated when 27 bombers on the 3rd and 28 on the 8th.
  Sixty Capronis attacked targets in the Chiapovano Valley releasing a total of 12 tons of bombs on various targets without loss to any of the attackers. The basic load carried by each plane was of ten 162-mm bombs plus two 162-mm incendiary bombs. Torpedo-grenades were chosen, rather than mines, due to their lower weight and greater efficiency. Furthermore, the nature of the targets to be hit in the Vallone which were poorly covered barracks which would burn easily or columns of troops. The aircraft attacked at intervals of a few hundred meters from each other and at varying altitudes to avoid mid-air collisions.
  While the Austro-Hungarian fighters only showed up occasionally, the Caproni crews were usually able to escape without damage.
  During this period effective attacks were made on Assling, a very important railway junction and industrial center. The route to Assling was to take place over a rugged mountainous area over 60 km high long, of which 40 km were close to the Austrian lines. The highest ridge was the Julian Alps, just under 2000 m, 30 km from the target. This meant that the raid could only be flown during the day, increasing the exposure of the crews to the enemy defense and the bomb load had to be limited to 300 kg per aircraft. A robust fighter escort would be required.
  On August 14, the first bombardment took place in two stages, the first against the railway facilities and the second on the ironworks and ammunition factories. Both raids were carried out with 12 aircraft all of which returned to base. From 2 to 14 August, the Capronis completed five bombings on Chiapovano, three on Pola and two against Assling. There were additional raids on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and the 28th of August during which 3,650 bombs were dropped totaling in 450 tons.
  D’Annunzio proposed an attack of the port town at Cattaro, which housed a large part of the Austrian fleet. The aircraft would be formed under Detachment A.R. with two squadriglias of seven plane. Ca. 4158 was commanded by Maggiore Armando Armani, Ca.4160 (Capitano Maurizio Pagliano), Ca. 4161 (Tenente Giampiero Clerici), Ca. 4159 (Tenente Mario Zoppola), Ca. 4152 (Tenente Mario Agostini), Ca.4155 (Tenente Gio. Batta Pittaluga), Ca.4149 (Tenente Amedeo Digerini), Ca.4151 (Capitano Leonardo Nardi), Ca. 4150 (Sottotenente Gino Lisa), Ca. 4157 (Tenente Vito Pugliese), Ca. 4154 (Tenente Raffaele Parravicini), and Ca. 4148 (Aspirante Cesare Baccili). Two other aircraft, Ca.4162 (Tenenete Muratorio) and Ca.4146 (Tenenete Buttini) were also to have participated, but had to return due to engine problems.
  On 4 October, these aircraft carried out successful attacks on Portoroz (submarine base), the warehouses of Meline and the coastal area of Castelnuovo with two tons of explosives.
  Caporetto changed the situation for the bombers. During there retreat, inoperable aircraft or units that did not have a sufficient number of pilots, some Capronis had to be destroyed. The Caproni crews attempted to continue to bomb enemy positions as best they could.
  The Caproni units at Aviano and Comina were forced to move respectively to Padua and S. Pelagio. During this chaotic time these squadriglias attempted to keep up the pressure on the German and Austro-Hungarian troops.
  From 10 November onwards, raids were carried out against enemy positions on the left of the Piave, against the bridges of the Livenza and Monticana, on the Primolano basin, on encampments between Feltre, Primolano and Fonzaso. Over 100 tons of bombs were dropped.
  In the first week of December, 150 Caproni sorties were flown against positions between Asiago and Vai D’Assa. On 30 December they bombed the fields of Comina and Aviano, occupied by the enemy.

Torpedo Bomber
  In July 1917 it was decided to modify two Ca.3 450-hp for use as a torpedo bomber; the intended target would be the Austro-Hungarian warships barricaded at Pula, Cattaro and Sibenik. As a result, two were adapted to hold an 800 kg torpedo at the Comina camp. Center of gravity issues developed bit with carrying the 400 kg torpedo (which exceeded the carrying capacity of a standard Ca.3) and releasing it. The launch experiments were conducted by Tenente Luigi Ridolfi in Venice, in the presence of Vittorio Emanuele III, with positive results.

  The front was gradually stabilizing during the winter of 1918. However, the Caproni squadriglias continued to suffer losses due to forced evacuations plus enemy bombing of their airfields. At Padua, for example, 24 Capronis were lost due to aerial attacks on their bases.
  Despite these losses the Capronis attacked the airfields at Aviano, Comina and Campoformido, which were then occupied by the enemy. Other targets were military targets at Bolzano and the railway station and the bridge over the Isarco. Almost all the planes of the group participated, departing from Padua, San Pelagio and Verona. Again, there were no losses.
  In April 1918, the Comando supremo decided to change the constitution of the Caproni gruppi and formed two nuclei: one autonomous which was divided between Padua and San Pelagio and another under the control of the raggruppamento (grouping) that included the Verona and Ghedi groups; the latter was also assigned the “Serenissima” squadriglia with the SVAs to serve as a fast bomber component that would not require fighter escort.
  Notable attacks in the spring included a bombing raid on:
  - Fiess power plant in Val Sarca
  - Passo del Tonale where a Caproni 600-hp (Caproni 5) participated for the first time; bad weather prevented the aircraft’s mission from being a success.
  - Asiago plateau where barracks were bombed in bad weather. Due to the exceptionally bad weather, this was the only mission flown by the Italians on that day. The Gruppo commander’s plane was forced to land in Villaverla.
  By mid-1918, the Comando Supremo had concluded that night mission sorties flown by individual aircraft were unable to put a sufficient weight of bombs on the target. In order for the attacks to be effective there would need to be a large number of Capronis attacking at one time. This would mean that missions would have to be flown during the day and be provided with fighter protection. A photographic post strike assessment would confirm that the attack had been successful.
  The first daylight mass attack was flown by IV, XI, and XIV Gruppo Capronis against the hydroelectric plants of Cavedine. The attack proved less than successful due to insufficient crew training which resulted in only a small percentage of bombs hitting a target that was, itself, of limited size.
  The small size of the target, the considerable launch altitude and the insufficient training of the crews in aiming did not allow for the total destruction of the target; but the operation was an excellent preparation for the major actions that our bombers were subsequently called upon to perform during the battle of the Piave.
  At the beginning of the battle of Piave on June 15, 1918 the Caproni units were:
  - I Gruppo - 4a, and 6a Squadriglias at Ca ‘degli Oppi with two Ca.3s and five Ca.5s
  - IV Gruppo - 1a, 5a, 8a, and 13a Squadriglias at San Pelagio with approximately 13 Ca.3s.
  - XIV Gruppo with 2a, 7a, 9a, 10a, and 16a Squadriglias at Padova with approximately nine Ca.3s
  - 181a and 182a Squadriglias at Ghedi equipped with 13 Ca.4s.
  - 11a Squadriglia in Albania
  Note 3a, 14a, and 15a Squadriglias were based in France as part of Groupement Villiome.
  This bombing force carried out a significant number of ground attack missions, dropping bombs on frontline troops and supply centers in broad daylight.
  In one attack on June 16 the Caproni squadriglias dropped 6,300 kg of bombs on targets between Falze and Nervesa.
  The next day 56 ground attack sorties were flown at an altitude of 100 meters, and on the 17th they dropped 11,140 kg of bombs near Montello.
  On 23 June: 35 aircraft bombed troops in Falze, Soligo, Conegliano, Spresiano.
  From 24 to 25 June the Capronis targeted road junctions and ammunition depots between Conegliano and Vittorio Veneto, as well as ammunition depots at Visnadello and Orsago.
  Most of these attacks were carried out with Ca.3s, the Ca.5s being assigned only to 6a Squadriglia of I Gruppo.
  The emphasis on ground attack missions was a sign of the realization of the major contribution the heavy bombers could make over the battlefield with this type of attack. However, it was also a tacit admission that the night bombing sorties by individual aircraft against strategic targets was not producing the desired results.
  The Caproni 3 Squadriglias flew similar missions during the Italian counter-offensive at Vittorio Veneto. The units that participated were:
  - IV Gruppo with 1a, 5a, and 8a Squadriglias at San Pelagio
  - XI Gruppo with 4a and 6a Squadriglias at Padova
  - XIV Gruppo with 7a and 10a Squadriglias at Arqua Petrarca
  There was also 181a and 182a Squadriglias with Ca.4 triplanes, plus a small number of the new SVA 10s and SIA 9Bs.
  Apostlo estimates that the total number of bombers available during the battle was 100 aircraft.
  From 24 October to 2 November, the Capronis flew attacks on enemy encampments, railroad targets, supply depots, bridges and airfields.
  In a period of ten days 300 tons of bombs had been dropped on these targets.

Postwar Service

  With the formation of the Regia Aeronautica, ten Ca.3s ( “450 HP” Caproni), became part of the 1° Stormo Aeroplani da Bombardamento in Milan. At the beginning of 1924, two Gruppi had Ca.3s. These were IV Gruppo, with two squadrons at Malpensa, 13a in Campoformido and another gruppo on three squadriglias (two in Pisa and one in Albenga). Each squadriglia had 9 aircraft.
  In 1925, 18 Ca. 3s (forming 10a and 14a squadriglias of the 7° Stormo da Bombardamento Pesante (7th Heavy Bombardment Wing), participated in the aerial maneuvers. In the same year, eight other aircraft of the same type were in Libya, engaged in operations to recapture the territory.
  In 1926 the last Ca.3 mods were retired.
  Ca.3 mod Ca.23174 with Isotta Fraschini engines still exists. The airplane was purchased at the end of the war for 30,000 fire by Buttini. After Buttini died, in February 1959, it was purchased by the Regia Aeronautica which, after having stored at Vigna di Valle, had it restored and transferred it to the Museo del Volo in Turin in 1964. Another example, the Ca.3 2378, it is kept in the Caproni Museum.

Italian units in France

  Negotiations for the dispatch of an Italian unit to France were completed in February 1918 with the transfer of the XVIII Gruppo (5a, 14a, 15a Squadriglias, each with four aircraft) under the orders of Maggiore De Riso. Groupement Villome (named after its commander-in-chief) on 14 May 1918 was based in Villeneuve-les-Vertus. There were 12 Caproni 3s with 10 in reserve.
  XVIII Gruppo, which carried out a total of fifty-six missions, dropped 164 tons of bombs. Targets included the Saar mining basin, San Quentin and Ludwigshafen.
  XVIII Gruppo moved to Ferme des Greves, near Chateu-Thierry. In April Capronis attacked Montcornet hitting the station with 1500 kg of bombs.
  Until May 27, the “Groupement Villome” operated over the Champagne front. The Italians bombed, in collaboration with Handley Page O/100s the bases of German bombers in Moncomat, Ville-au-Bois, Clermont-les-Fermes. During this time one Caproni was lost, killing the pilot and injuring the other two crew members.
  On May 28, Groupement Villome was at Villeneuve-les-Vertus. In the night of 21/22 July, they hit the Fere ammunition depot.
  On 14 August GB.2 and XVIII Gruppo were assigned to, whose planes were to participate in the blockade of the Thionville steel basin, attacking the station. They also bombed enemy troops on the German Strasbourg front, as well as Thionville-Hirson and Saarbrucken, Thionville, Luxembourg, and Namur. Secondary targets were the stations in the Metz region and the workshops of Rombach and Hagondange, also carrying out, when necessary, night reconnaissance sorties.

Regia Marina

  At the beginning of July 1917 201a Squadriglia Ca.3 was established in Ghedi. Subsequently based at Marcon the unit had four Ca.3s. The Regia Marina used these aircraft in the long range reconnaissance role off the Istrian coast. These patrols were flown during daylights hours, with the aircraft being changed every two hours.
  As time went on, 201a began to fly bombing sorties; the first missions were flown against battleships near Pola. These attacks used conventional bombs; attempts to outfit the Capronis as bombers proved unsatisfactory.
  Towards the end of 1917, the Regia Marina adopted a policy of using the Capronis for long range bombing attacks. One unit was formed in southern Italy (Brindisi) and another in northern Italy (Ferrara). The Ferrara was supposed to have eight squadrons of 10 aircraft each.
  The Ca.3s were replaced by Ca.4s with 181a and 182 a Squadriglias.

Foreign Service


  Four Ca.33s were supplied to the Escuela de Aviacion Militar in 1919.


  The 1915 concours to select a heavy bomber had failed to produce a satisfactory plane, and the French now realized that they were behind the other combatants in developing this type. As the Voisin 3s then in service were inadequate, being deficient in both range and bomb load, it now became necessary for the Aviation Militaire to equip bomber escadrilles with a foreign design.
  In the fall of 1915 the French accepted an offer from the chief of the Italian air service (Aviazione Militaire) to examine Italian aircraft design and manufacturing techniques. The French were aware of the Caproni bombers being developed and were interested in concluding an agreement for license production of these aircraft in France.
  The members of the French team examined the Caproni factory as well as the Fiat (which built the engines) and Pirelli (which produced the tires) plants. They were also taken to the airfield at Pordenone where operational Caproni squadrons were based.
  It was decided to arrange for license production of the Caproni 1 and 3 (in the text wartime Italian designations are used for these planes; the postwar designations were Caproni 32 and Caproni 33). They were to be built by the R.E.P (Robert Esnault-Pelterie) firm. The engines were to be supplied by both the Canton-Unne and Le Rhone factories. The French had intended to purchase Fiat engines but the Italians initially retained these engines for use in their own planes.The first produced under license by the R.E.P. was a Caproni 1 (Ca.32) and was designated the C.E.P.1 B2. The initials CEP. stood for Caproni Esnault Pelterie. Twin booms each held an 80-hp Le Rhone in a tractor configuration on a stamped metal plate. The booms had a quadrangular cross-section consisting of four ash longerons braced with wire and covered with fabric. Each boom was attached to the lower wing and held fuel and oil tanks behind the motor, each boom had an articulated tail skid.
  The horizontal stabilizer crossed the top of the booms. The stabilizer was a tubular metal structure braced with sheet metal struts. The outer vertical stabilizers were completely articulated, and only the center rudder had a fixed fin. All three stabilizers were connected to ensure they moved in unison. The rudders were made of metal tubing braced with wood. The tricycle landing gear consisted of two pairs of wheels suspended beneath each boom by struts attached directly to the lower wing by metal attachments. A pair of nosewheels were attached to the extreme nose. Bungee cords attached the axles to the struts and served as shock absorbers. The nose wheels prevented the aircraft from nosing over when landing. Skids were located at each wingtip and at the end of each fuselage boom. The fuselage skids were flexible, while those at the wing tips were fixed.
  Armament consisted of a machine gun mounted in the nose on a transverse mounting. A second machine gun was carried in a mobile mount inside a cupola attached to the top wing. A carbine could be fired beneath the floor of the central nacelle. The bombs were carried inside the central nacelle behind the fuel tanks. A Bowden bomb release system was used.
  Due to the unavailability of Fiat engines, various combinations of others were tried, including Lorraine-Dietrich AMs and Canton-Unnes. However, it was eventually decided that production aircraft would be fitted with a single 130-hp Canton-Unne mounted as a pusher and two 80-hp Le Rhones. Test results included a climb to 1,000 m in 12 min. 50 sec. and to 2,000 m in 33 min. 15 sec. Maximum speed was 110 km/h.
  This compared poorly with the Fiats of the Italian-built Capronis which provided horsepower almost double that of the French engines. Tests of the Caproni C.E.P.1 B2s at Amberieu-en-Bugey revealed that it was severely underpowered. Not surprisingly, only 14 examples were built. It is unlikely any of these saw operational service. An order was initially placed with RE.P. for 50 aircraft but according to correspondence with the SPA dated 12 August 1915, both the Aviation Militaire and the manufacturer agreed that before large-scale production could ensue, aversion with more powerful motors would be needed. This aircraft became the C.E.P.2.
  R.E.P. next produced a version of the Caproni 3 (Ca.33) powered by three Italian 150-hp Isotta Fraschini V4A engines. Production of the C.E.P.2 B2 began in 1916 and they soon entered operational service. Later, Caproni-built versions were obtained directly from Italy; these were designated CAP.2 B2. The final version of the bomber used by the French was the Italian-built Caproni 5 (Ca.44). At the insistence of the French government these aircraft had been equipped with three 260-hp Fiat A-12bis engines. Most CAP.3 BN3s, as they were designated, were obtained directly from Italy in mid-1918. However, a small number of Caproni 5s were built at Lyon by R.E.P. The first plane, C.E.P. 3 BN3, was sent to Villacoublay for testing but broke down at Chalon and could not get beyond Dijon. The second crashed and was destroyed at Corbeil. The third was tested but was not found to offer a significant improvement over the C.E.P.2 B2s and CAP.2 B2s already in service. General Duval reported there were numerous problems with the C.E.P.3 BN3s including an insufficient bomb load, exhaust flames exiting too close to the fuel tanks, and the fact that the type was difficult to fly because it was nose heavy. It seems likely that problems with the first batch of bombers from R.E.P. convinced the STAe that the Caproni firm in Italy would be a more reliable source. Only a handful of CAP.3 BN 3s were used by the French escadrilles, and all these had been built in Italy.
  It was originally anticipated that three Capronis a month would be built, but production quickly fell behind schedule. In 1915 a total of 14 C.E.P.1 B2s were built. It is believed that 41 aircraft were built in 1916, although one source suggests as many as 59; all these would have been C.E.P.2 B2s. In 1917 only six C.E.P.2 B2s were built. However, by 1917 it had become apparent that R.E.P. and SAIB (Societe Anonyme d’Application industrielle du Bois) were unable to produce the requisite number of bombers, and arrangements were made to obtain Caproni 3s directly from Italy. As these arrived the Caproni escadrilles changed their designation from CEP to CAP. In 1918 a total of 28 Capronis were obtained. Some of these may have been C.E.P.3 BN3s built by the SAIB. However, official documents show that 20 Caproni 5s (CAP.3 BN3s) were obtained directly from Italy in early 1918. These were configured to carry two 75-kg and nine 25-kg bombs. A school was opened at Amberieu-en-Bugey to train French pilots on the Capronis. The instructor was a pilot named Banderieu who would later be responsible for test-flying the Capronis built by SAIB. He had considerable experience with four-engined aircraft, having test-flown the Bleriot 67. The first were supplied from Italy.

Operational Service

  The first unit to receive Caproni C.E.P.2 B2s was CEP 115, formed in February 1916. After a period of training it was assigned to GB 1 in March 1916. GB 1 was based at Malzeville. The unit had initially had 20 C.E.P.2 B2s on strength. In March CEP 115 participated in night attacks on communication centers and rail lines in the Meuse Valley. During most missions a crew of only two was carried; the gunner’s position was eliminated because he was not needed for night operations. The crews of CEP 115 continued training for night missions throughout the summer months. Flights at night were quite hazardous and required highly skilled crews. Accidents were frequent and often had tragic consequences. For example, on the night of 15/16 August a Caproni crashed during takeoff because of engine failure. The aircraft was destroyed and one crewman killed. A large number of night raids could be carried out beginning in September, for by then most of the unit’s crews had been trained for night missions. Furthermore, the longer nights permitted more sorties. Bombers were sent out individually to widely separated targets in order to minimize the chances of mid-air collisions. While this policy was safer, it prevented the planes from concentrating their bombs on a single target. CEP 115 was also active in October, when it attacked a number of targets including railway stations and the Thyssen ironworks. In retaliation for attacks on its airfield, CEP 115 bombed the airfield at Frescaty on the night of 6/7 November. Bad weather hampered operations in December. Only one major raid was flown the entire month, when on 27 December CEP 115 dropped 150 bombs on various targets. Inclement weather also prevented CEP 115 from flying any sorties the entire month of January 1917. The unit had mixed results on 9/10 February when four aircraft attacked Mazieres; the raid was successful but one aircraft was lost when a bomb, which had become hung up during the raid, detached while the aircraft was landing. The resulting explosion destroyed the bomber as well as two aircraft inside an adjacent hangar.
  CEP 115 was detached from GB 1 on 7 April and assigned to GB 2 at Malzeville. Soon after its re-assignment CEP 115 began to receive the new Caproni 3s (CAP.2 B2s) from Italy and was redesignated CAP 115. The CAP designation indicated that the unit was equipped with the Italian-built Capronis. CAP 115 attacked railway stations, factories, barracks, and enemy airfields. CAP 115 was considerably less active during the summer months as, once again, the shorter nights meant fewer missions could be flown. Ludwigshafen and Phalsbourg were attacked in July. The success of CAP 115 resulted in the formation of a second unit in August 1917. It was also equipped with the new CAP.2 B2s and designated CAP 130. It was also assigned to GB 2. At this time both CAP 115 and 130 received new insignia. It seems that while ferrying the CAP.2 B2s across the Alps the pilots had become intrigued by the eagles indigenous to that area. It was decided that both units would be given an eagle emblem: CAP 115’s was a green eagle and CAP 130’s was blue. The new CAP. 2 B2s were very satisfactory and could carry an impressive bomb load. They served alongside the older Caproni C.E.P 2 B2s.
  As 1918 began GB 2 moved from Malzeville to Gundrecourt, a move necessitated by persistent German attacks on the former airfield. CAP 115 and 130 attacked Ludwigshafen on 1 February 1918 and again on 25 March. Other targets attacked early in 1918 included Luxembourg and Laon.
  GB 2 received direct support from the Italians themselves when 18 Gruppo was transferred to the Western Front. This unit consisted of three squadriglia: the 5a, 14a, and 15a Each squadriglia had only four operational Capronis.The combination of GB 2 and 18 Gruppo (which was designated GB 18 by the French) was designated Groupement Villome, after the unit’s commander. It completed 56 missions and dropped 164 tons of bombs on various targets in the Sarre Valley and the city of Ludwigshafen. The Italians had a total of 12 operational aircraft and ten in reserve. The latter were intended to form part of the Inter-Allied Independent Air Force, along with British and American bomber units. Groupement Villome attacked a large number of railway stations during the spring of 1918. The German attack at Champagne resulted in the unit moving to les Ferme-des-Greves in April. From this new base GB 2 could attack transportation targets in an attempt to stem the flow of German reinforcements. In response to the German offensive at Ansfeldhe, units of Groupement Villome attacked train stations along the Champagne front. In May GB 2 joined British squadrons in attacks on the German airfields at Montcornet, Ville-au-Bois, and Clement-les-Fermes. During May GB 2 was performing quick strikes against targets located by photo reconnaissance aircraft. In many cases these raids were launched as soon as the film had been developed and analyzed. GB 2 moved to Chateau-Thierry on 28 May. CAP 115 and 130 had a total of 30 Capronis on strength at this time. From 10 to 18 July these Capronis were used to attack German troops advancing in the area of Reims.
  During the Battle of Ile-de-France (18 July to 4 August) GB 2 bombed train stations from Guignicourt to Laon and Aisne to Laon. The escadrilles flew up to three sorties per aircraft each night. The Battle of Santerre (8 to 30 August) saw the Caproni units attacking iron works, troop concentrations, and railroad targets along the Strasburg-Thionville-Hirson line. Groupement Villome returned to Epiez for the Battle of Saint Michele (12 September to 30 September). During the Champagne-Argonne offensive (25 September to 11 November) Groupement Villome remained at Epiez. Since February 1916 CAP 115 had flown 289 sorties and dropped 387 tons of bombs. CAP 130, formed in August 1917, flew 371 sorties and dropped 213 tons of bombs.
  The Caproni units rapidly replaced their aircraft after the war ended. CAP 115 re-equipped with Caudron 23s; CAP 130 became Escadrille 211 postwar and soon received Farman F.60 Goliaths.

  Peru - Caproni Ca. 32 - Reportedly one acquired 1921/26.

  Russia - Another potential export client was Russia, which on 13 February 1917 was authorized to have a Ca.3 built in Italy from existing spares. Engines were not provided, however, and there is no record of actual delivery or use.

  United States - In early September 1917 negotiations were concluded with the Italian government for the training on Caproni bombers of part of the personnel of the American Air Service in Italy, and the location of the school was identified as the Regia Scuola Italiana d'Aviazione at Foggia. The programme allowed for the training of 500 students.
Caproni Ca.1 #1136, 3a Squadriglia
Caproni Ca.1 #1151, 8a Squadriglia
Caproni Ca.1 #1158, 8a Squadriglia
Caproni Ca.3 #2334, 201a Squadriglia
Caproni Ca.3 #2371, 2a Squadriglia
Caproni Ca.3 #2395, 11a Squadriglia, Albania
Caproni Ca.3 #4060, Buttini/Remitti/Poccetti/Franeti, 3a Squadriglia, September 1917
Caproni Ca.3, 1a Squadriglia, San Pelagio Aerodrome, 1918
Isotta Fraschini V.4 engine on display at the Gianni Caproni Museum of Aeronautics. The engine powered the Caproni Ca.3 and its variants, the FBA Type H, and the Macchi L.1, M.5, M.6, M.8, and the SIAI S.8.The V.4 was an inline six-cylinder engine; the 'V' indicated Volo, Italian for 'flight', and not the cylinder arrangement. It produced 190 hp from a displacement of 14.3 L.
Caproni Ca.1 #718 with rotary engines.
Caproni C.E.P.2 in French service.
Three photos of the Caproni Ca.2.
Caproni Ca.1, first version with three 100 hp engines, with unit personnel.
Caproni Ca.1 #483. (Roberto Gentilli)
Caproni Ca.1 #702. The difference between the Ca.1, Ca.2, and Ca.3 was the engines. (Roberto Gentilli)
Caproni Ca.34.
Caproni Ca.33 1160 with 25mm cannon, 450 hp.
Caproni Ca.2 1248, a 350 hp bomber. The Ca.1, Ca.2, and Ca.3 all used the same airframe and differed in their engines. Here the rear gunner shows how the gun was manipulated. (Roberto Gentilli)
Caproni Ca.2 1248, a 350 hp bomber.
Preserved Caproni Ca.3 Serial Ca.25811 painted to represent Ca.2378 of 6a Squadriglia in 1935. Note list of raids on nacelle. Was restored at USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, late 1980s and now on exhibition there.
Caproni Ca.3 bomber of and unit personnel of 11a Squadriglia in Albania.
Caproni Ca.3 mod 24825.
Caproni Ca.3 bomber on its field.
One FIAT R.2, two Aviatiks, two Farmans, and one Caproni, at El Palomar, Argentina.
Some Caproni aircrew tested primitive armored suits, but these were not generally adopted.
Caproni Ca.30 drawing. Although it was not built, it was Caproni's first tri-motor design.
Caproni rear gunner's turret.
Caproni Ca.3
Caproni Ca.3
Caproni Ca.3
Caproni Prewar Designs

Caproni Ca. 20

  A modified Ca.18 powered by a 110-hp Le Rhone rotary with a large nose fairing and shorter wings, as designed in February 1914 and built in 1916. Designated Ca.20 it was fast and had good climbing abilities.
  The emphasis on this design was to minimize air resistance. Side air intakes were fitted. Originally the machine gun position was hinged on the upper cabane and angled to fire above the propeller, although it’s position could be changed by the pilot.
  The type was not purchased by the military and remained a prototype.

Ca. 20 single-seat fighter with one 110-hp engine
  Wingspan 7.80 m; length 8.24 m; height 2.85 m; wing area 13 square meters.
  Empty weights 350 kg; loaded weight 500 kg; payload 150 kg.
  Maximum speed 165 km/h; climb to 1,000 m. in 3 minutes; 2,000 m in 7 minutes; 5,000 m. in 25 minutes.
  One built
Caproni Ca.20
Caproni Ca.20 drawing.
Caproni Prewar Designs

Caproni Ca. 21

  Two-seat parasol monoplane developed from the Ca.18 and equipped with an 80 hp Gnome rotary engine. Built in 1914 and remained as a prototype.

Ca.21 single seat parasol fighter with one 80-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 10.60 m; length 7.90 m; height 3.60 m; wing area 20.30 square meters.
  Empty weight 380 kg; loaded weight 630 kg; payload, 250 kg
  Maximum speed 120 km/h.

Caproni Ca. 22

  Experimental “parasol” type two-seat monoplane with a variable incidence wing adjustable by the pilot. It was powered by an 80-hp Gnome Lambda rotary engine and was larger than the preceding Ca.25 (an out of sequence designation). The automatic stability mechanism was replaced with the simpler one for variation of the incidence, patented on 19 July, 1914. The three-piece wing was centrally hinged on the front spar and rotated along the axis of the wing. The incidence was controlled manually via a hand wheel placed on the rear pillar moved by means of a sleeve with helical grooves which caused the tube to be raised and lowered. The fixed horizontal tailplane was also connected by a system of cables thus enabling the tailplane to operate in concert with the wing. This clever system preserved the balance of the plane in flight as the wing incidence was altered.
  The new project was called “Parasol 80” and later received the abbreviation Ca.22, but only after the war. Piloted by Emilio Pensuti in September-October 1914, it set four world records for height and ascent, including a new Italian record of altitude. 5,300 m on 1 October 1914.

Caproni Ca.22 two seat experimental aircraft with one 80-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 14.14 m; length 8 m; height 3.50 m; wing area, 29.18 square meters.
  Empty weights 480 kg; loaded weight 980 kg; payload, 500 kg.
  Maximum speed, 125 km/h; climb to 1,000 m. in 6 minutes; 3,600 m. in 32 minutes; ceiling 5,200 m
  One built

Caproni Ca. 23

  Two-seater “parasol” observation monoplane built in 1914. It was developed from Ca.22, but with a parasol wing of fixed incidence. Above the wing there was a vertical plane, which compensated for the downward displacement of the center of resistance. The retaining cables of the wings were covered with wooden slats: the cables took on an elongated shape.
  The Ca.23 version was equipped with a water cooled 100-hp Fiat A.10 in-line engine with a large frontal radiator. In addition to the different shape of the front fuselage resulting from the in-line engine with vertical front radiator, the Ca.23 was distinguished by the fin between the struts holding the wing above the fuselage. Its purpose is unclear. The 100-hp Fiat, however, was needed for Caproni bombers, so the Ca.23 remained a prototype.

Caproni Ca.24

  The Ca.24 variant was equipped with a 100-hp Gnome rotary engine. Several examples of this latter version were built and likely served alongside the Ca.18s. See entry for Ca.18.
  The Ca.24 was derived from the Ca.22, but had a more powerful 100-hp Gnome rotary engine and a more refined layout. The Regio Esercito (Royal Army) ordered 12 to be built in the former Caproni workshops, nine of which were delivered on the 18 July 1915.
  In 1914 15a Squadriglia was equipped with Bleriot 11s, but in April 1915 it re-equipped with the Caproni Parasol Ca.18s and was assigned to III Gruppo. At the outbreak of the war it was based at Piacenza. On 24 June it was sent to Pordenone for the Parco d’Assedio di Artiglieria (Artillery Siege Park to transition to Caproni Parasol 100 hp Ca.24s, which were picked up at Vizzola Ticino.
  The unit made numerous reconnaissance training flights on these new Capronis.
  On June 30, 15a Squadriglia moved from Piacenza to Pordenone, where flights resume on July 8, with the Parasol undergoing bomb dropping tests. By this time it had been discovered that the Ca.24 had a tendency to swerve to the side which caused several accidents. On 20 August brigadiere Domenico Cattaneo died when his Ca.24’s wing fractured. As a result, 15a Squadriglia was disbanded on 15 September 1915.

Caproni Ca.24 two-seat reconnaissance parasol wing monoplane
  Wingspan, 14.14 m; length 7.75 m; height 3.50 m; wing area, 29 square meters.
  Empty weight 480 kg; loaded weight 850 kg (one source says 980 kg); payload, 370 kg.
  Maximum speed 115 km I h; climb to 1,000 m. in 10 minutes; 2,000 m. in 25 minutes; endurance 4 h.

Caproni Ca.25

  Experimental parasol single-seat monoplane with automatic balance. The engine was a 45-hp Anzani 6-cylinder radial engine. The first Caproni parasol aircraft retained the same structure of the Ca.8 to 11 series of monoplanes. The aircraft had the same interior structure as the Ca.18 and was powered by a six-cylinder radial Anzani engine. The wing was hinged on the front spar and was fixed at the rear to a sliding vertical pylon. A calibrated steel spring allowed the incidence of the wing to be automatically adjusted.
  The variations in the incidence of the wing were transmitted to the horizontal tail plane by means of levers and cables, so that the incidence of the wing was synchronized incidence of the tail plane to ensure stability. The wings had a differential suspension for lateral balance.
  With the turn and warping controls locked, Emilio Pensuti carried out two one hour flights (without touching the controls!) for an official commission in June 1914.
  Later designated Ca.25, the new design was unsuccessful, the idea of a high-wing monoplane was resumed six months later.

Ca.25 single-seat experimental monoplane with one 45-hp Anzani engine
  Wingspan 8.88 m; length 8.67 m; height, 3.29 m; wing area, 19.50 square meters.
Caproni Ca.23
Caproni Ca.23
Caproni Ca.23
Caproni Ca.25
Caproni Ca.25
Caproni Ca.21 drawing
Caproni Prewar Designs

Caproni Ca. 26, Ca. 27, Ca. 28, and Ca. 29

  Caproni continued to experiment with variable incidence wings and designed a series of biplanes with both land and seaplane undercarriages. The wing incidence could be adjusted manually or automatically. The various proposed developments also had different wing profiles.
  The fuselage was mounted above the front spar of the lower wing and could move around this axis. As with the previous Caproni designs, the position of the horizontal tailplane was linked to these changes to ensure stability.
  One example was built in 1914, equipped with an 80 hp Gnome rotary engine, but the outbreak of the war led to a halt in the project.
  Only the dimensions of the built specimen are known: wingspan, 13.50 m; length, 8.50 m; height, 3.50 m; wing area, 52 square meters.
Caproni Ca.26, 27, 28, and 29 concept drawings.
Caproni Ca. 37, Ca. 38

Caproni Ca. 37

  Basically, the Ca.37 was a smaller version of the Ca.33 with a central fuselage that was shortened, as were the twin booms. There only two rudders located at the end of each boom.
  This version also deleted the nose wheels.There was only one 250-hp Lancia engine mounted as pusher at the end of the nacelle. The crew was reduced to two - a pilot and observer/gunner. The cockpit was provided with armor to reduce injuries from AAA.
  The Ca.37 was listed as a bomber, but the armor makes it more likely that its main function would be ground attack.
  As that mission was currently being carried out by other two seaters and in the case of the SVAs single seaters, it is unlikely that it would accrue any orders. It remained a prototype.

Ca.37 two-seat armored ground attack aircraft with one 250-hp Lancia engine
  Wingspan 11.30 m; length 11.20 m; height 4 m; wing surface area 65 sq m
  Empty weight 1300 kg; payload 500 kg
  Maximum speed 165 km/h; climb to 1000 m. in 4 minutes
  One built

Caproni Ca.38

  Basically identical to the Ca.37 but with a streamline nacelle and tail booms to reduce drag. These changes raised the speed from 165 km/h to 170 km/h. Postwar it was used as a trainer at Caproni’s school in Vizzola Ticino.
Caproni Ca. 4

  The Caproni Squadriglias used the excellent Caproni 2 and 3 series aircraft throughout 1915, 1916, and 1917. The aircraft enabled the Italians to establish an effective long range strike force, but the airframes suffered from unreliable engines. By the end of 1916 it as clear that a new design with engines that were both more reliable and could deliver more power were needed.
  Caproni decided to produce an entirely new replacement, a huge triplane with Isotta Fraschini V5 engines. The problem was that Caproni was not only stretching the boundaries of 1915 aircraft technology, but also the very limited capabilities of the Italian aircraft industry. Caproni, like Douhet, was a believer in the tenet that masses of bomber aircraft could bring about a decisive victory, even without the contribution of armed troops or navies. His decision to make the new bomber a massive flying juggernaut doomed the project.
  The deficiencies of the Caproni 2 and 3 were readily understood by the Aviazione Militaire. It had been planned to replace them with the new S.I.A. 14b triplane bombers. However, developmental problems (whether with the airframe or the 700-hp Fiat A.14 engines) resulted in the military losing interest in the project.
  Caproni was now the only option, and his new bomber would have to be powerful enough to climb over the mountains fining the Italian front, have superior range, be free of any major structural defects, and have reliable engines. The Ca.4 would be unable to meet almost every one of these requirements.
  The triplane layout could help make the new design’s ceiling superior to the marginal ceiling of the Ca.3s.
  However the Ca.3s Achilles’ heel were its 100-hp Fiat A.10s which were not powerful enough and were unreliable. The Ca.4 would use the 200-hp Isotta Fraschini V5 eight-cylinder inline engines, twice as powerful as the A.10s.
  To ensure that he Ca.4 would be a truly strategic bomber, the full capacity would be 1,118 kg of fuel, enough for its crews to fly seven hour missions.


  The Ca.4s first flight came on 6 July 1916. By all accounts, including Caproni’s own diary, both the aircraft and engines worked properly. The chief test pilot, Pensuti, described it as being maneuverable and easy to land. Aside from some minor alterations to the propellers and tailplane, the aircraft appeared to be poised for success. Not so, however, the Isotta Fraschini motors which even at this early stage were beginning to cause problems.
  Tests continues with the Ca.4 being flown at higher altitudes for longer periods of time. Alegi notes that by the end of 1916 it had completed 40 test flights. Trials with various modifications to the prototype airframe were tested including the crew layout, cockpit configuration, radiators and propellers.
  They Italian aviation industry was plagued by its inability to produce reliable, powerful, and easy-to-manufacture engines. This failure would hamstring Italian designs not only in the First World War, but also the Second where most medium bombers would need to have three engines and where its best fighters were those fitted with German DB 605 motors.
  Sadly, the Ca.4’s Isotta Fraschinis would follow this pattern. Testing revealed a higher than expected fuel consumption (reducing range), slower climb rate (limiting usefulness over the Alpine mountains), and a production rate which was merely 25% of the planned yearly output of 400 motors.
  Alternative power plants also had their own unique problems. The Fiat A.14 planned for the Ca.3s replacement (the S.I.A. 14b) had a maximum endurance without breakdowns of between 5 and 6 hours. In desperation the 400-hp Tossi engine was test fitted to two V5 prototypes without success. Caproni had no choice but to return to the trimotor configuration that would be the Italian industry’s fallback position for the next 30 years. The somewhat more reliable Fiat A.12 variants were tested on the Ca.5.
  The Direzione Generale di Aeronautica (Directorate General of Aeronautics, DGA) had planned to order 100 S.I.A. 14bs with the 700-hp Fiat A.14s; they were only interested in continuing to produce Ca.3s until the new bomber became available. Caproni’s response was to start a campaign to push for his new bomber in political and media circles. The problems with the new S.I.A. 14b won the day for Caproni; in late January 1917 DTAM requested a first batch of 36 Ca.4s. On April 30,1917 military tests began at Vizzola Ticino. These tests resulted in a small victory for Caproni - the DTAM agreed to purchase the prototype.


  Ca. 41 - This designation was applied to the prototype and the first three production examples. Caproni re-designated them as Ca.40s after the war.
  In order to improve the aircraft’s aerodynamics, the angular nacelle was replaced with a more streamlined shape in which the crew were now seated in tandem. A dozen examples of this improved variant (later re-designated Ca.41) were built.
  Ca.42 - The Ca.41 was fitted with three American-manufactured 350-400-hp Liberty engines and a bomb rack under the lower wing (post-war designation Ca.42). The crew was two pilots, a gunner in each wing, and and a nose gunner in the central nacelle.
  The payload was improved by 500 kg to 3,500 kg, the speed increased by 15 km/h to 140 km/h, and a faster climb to 3,000 metres in only 1 hour 24 minutes.
  Armament was a 1,000 kg bomb load and three machine gun mounts for single or paired weapons.
  Ca.43 - One Ca.41 (Ca.5353) was equipped with two floats for potential use as a torpedo aircraft. The torpedo was carried under the central section of the wing. This conversion was produced in 1920, and retroactively designated the Ca.43.
  Ca.48 - In 1918 a Ca.4 was adapted to carry passengers by the addition of a large cabin for 17 passengers under the central nacelle. Another six could be seated, in presumably considerably less comfort, between the pilot and the rear central engine. This aircraft was later re-designated Ca.48.
  Ca.49 - An unbuilt project project for a four-engine seaplane.
  Ca.51 - Variant with a biplane horizontal tail with, in the centre, a cockpit housing a gunner in a tail defense position.
  Ca.52 - Version of the Ca.42 built for the Royal Naval Air Service for use on the Italian front. Caproni’s book reports that these aircraft had varying types of engines, armament, internal details, etc. Most sources list the RNAS triplanes as Ca.42s, however.
  Ca.58 - A proposed thirty passenger transport version with three 700-hp engines (Fiat A.14?). Unlike the Ca.48, the cabin of this aircraft featured luxurious accommodations on two floors connected by an internal stairway. There was a bar, toilet and baggage storage.
  Ca.59 - Ca. 58 powered by five Isotta Fraschini V.7 400-hp engines (two were carried in gondolas outside the two booms).
  Alegi mentions several undesignated bomber variants with 500-hp Bugatti water cooled engines or Fiat A.14s. The day bomber carried a crew of three, four defensive machine guns, and a 1,100 kg bomb load. Another version had a crew of seven between 12 and 15 defensive machine guns plus a 37 mm cannon. As a result of all these additions, the bomb load fell by over half to 500 kg.


  Ca.4 (1916 -1919 are all Ca.33s)
  1916 - 1
  1917 - 250 with serial batches Ca.2309-2408; Ca.4037-4086, Ca.4137-4236
  1918 - 40; Ca.11488-11507
  1919 - 8
  1923 - 23 (Ca.36)
  1924 - 80 (Ca.36)
  1925 - 40 (Ca,36)
  1926 - 10 (Ca.36)
  From Alegi Caproni Ca.4

Operational Service

  A total of 250 aircraft had been ordered in 1917, by January 1918 12 had been completed. In an attempt to streamline production, Douhet decided to limit the bomb-bay gondolas to 162-mm and 260-mm weapons.
  In late May the Comando supremo declared the aircraft unsuitable for use over land and released them to the Regia Marina, who subsequently released them the Aviazione who used them over land!
  Alegi cites a document that sheds light on the feelings among the aircrews flying the aircraft: ...The aircraft climbs slowly and in daylight can be an easy prey for both antiaircraft artillery and fighters. Its size makes it an easy target for the former and the latter.
  The ground crews were kept busy installing new cockpit bulkheads, windscreens, and changing the propeller (a frequent problem with Caproni’s aircraft, see section on Ca.1, 2, and 3).
  XXII Gruppo, now fully equipped with Ca.4 triplanes, was assigned the task of attacking the railway plants and the military installations of Bolzano and Bressanone. Its two squadriglias had spent the first half of the month on test flights and on 18 July four 181a aircraft were prepared for an attack on the station and depots of Calliano, on a what would be essentially a practice mission. There was some trepidation on the part of the crews aa a shorty before this mission, a Ca.4 of 182a Squadriglia had crashed killing its four airmen. However, only the first triplane hit the target as the second crashed on takeoff, also in this case due to the failure of an engine. The mission was cancelled for the remaining two aircraft. The following night an attempt was made to bomb Bolzano with four Ca.4s but engine problems forced them to disperse their load of bombs and printed matter between Dro, Lavis and Mattarello, and then returned to Ghedi.
  The investigation by the Direzione tecnica dell’aviazione militate (Technical Directorate of Military Aviation) established that the Ca.4s fuel system had to be replaced and the use of the Ca.4 was suspended. Flight activity resumed with great caution in the second half of August, but in the afternoon of the 29th the Ghedi field was devastated by a storm of wind and rain which damaged the aircraft based there. On 14 September the Comando superiore di aeronautica (Air Force Superior Command) ordered that the two squadriglias move to Poggio Renatico, in order to provide support to the Regia Marina, and on 20 September XXII Gruppo was disbanded.
  It is perhaps fortunate that the Ca.4s went into action when the Austro-Hungarian air force was all but destroyed; there does not appear to be any recorded instances of the triplanes actually coming under attack on bombing missions. The fact that many sorties were flown in broad daylight attests to the parlous state of the KuK.
  On 20 December N528 moved to Rome, where it was incorporated in the new Gruppo Sperimentale Comunicazioni Aeree (Experimental Air Communications Group, GSCA) and made propaganda flights, including an aerial escort during the visit of US president Woodrow Wilson.
  N529 flew from Rome to Constantinople. Flown by Tenente Simonelli and Sergente Pesce, it left Rome on 9 June and reached Constantinople a week later, after several stop-overs and sundry minor problems. On the 20th N529 participated in a mass flight over Hagia Sophia, but it is unclear whether or not it returned to Italy; it was the Ca.4s last taste of glory, as a flight to Tokyo failed.

Foreign Service

United Kingdom
  Ray Sturtevant reports that five Ca.4s were accepted “on loan” from Italian Government under Cont No A.S.13174 (BR.62), This RNAS variant was retrospectively redesignated Ca 42 by Caproni.
  After testing began in March 1917 (with Pensuti, himself, making the first test flight) they were formally accepted in November of that year.
  They were considered for use for anti-submarine patrols in Southern Italy.
  All had Fiat engines, except for N527 which used V.5s.
  All five went to Northern Squadron 6 at Otranto in January 1918. All were listed as being returned to the Italian government in March 1918. No. 6 Wing at Malpensa had N526 in November 1918 while N527 was serving with No. 6 Wing in Vizzola in November 1918.

United States
  The United States Air Service considered producing the Ca.4 under license for use as a strategic bomber. When it was learned that the Italians were abandoning the Ca.4 for the Ca.5, they decided not to pursue the matter.
  Among the Italian aircraft sent to America was 5349 as part of the Italian aviation mission , which left Genova aboard the steamer Verona on 16 August and was assembled at Langley Field.
  The process was only completed in November. In the afternoon of 1 December 1917 the bomber crashed on take-off following an engine failure. Pilot Tenente Antonio Resnati and his three crew members were unhurt, but the planned American tour was over.

Caproni 4 (Ca.40) bomber with three 200-hp FIAT A.12 engines
  Wingspan 29.90 m; length 13.10 m; height 6.30 m; wing area 200 sq m
  Empty weight 3,500 kg; loaded weight 6,500 kg
  Maximum speed 125 km/h; climb to 3,000 m in 60 minutes

Caproni 4 (Ca.41) bomber with three 200-hp FIAT A.12 engines
  Wingspan 29.90 m; length 13.10 m; height 6.30 m; wing area 200 sq m
  Empty weight 3,500 kg; loaded weight 6,500 kg
  Maximum speed 135 km/h; ceiling 4,000 m

Caproni 4 bomber with three 400-hp Liberty A.12 engines
  Wingspan 29.90 m; length 13.10 m; height 6.30 m; wing area 200 sq m
  Empty weight 4,000 kg; loaded weight 7,500 kg
  Maximum speed 140 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 6 minutes; climb to 3,000 m in 24 minutes; ceiling 5,000 m
Caproni Ca.4, Demonstrator
Caproni Ca.4 '16'
Caproni Ca.4 '10', 182a Squadriglia
Caproni Ca.4 N526, RNAS
THE 600 H.P. ITALIAN CAPRONI TRIPLANE. - This huge machine, the size of which may be judged by the man standing just in front, is equipped with three 200 h.p. engines, and has a speed of about 80 m.p.h.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane heavy bomber.
Caproni Ca.4 heavy bomber. The structure below the central nacelle is a bomb container.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with bomb container
Lineup of Caproni Ca.4 heavy bombers in British service.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with bomb container.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with ground crew that show the size of the aircraft.
Caproni Ca.4 heavy bomber. The structure below the central nacelle is a bomb container.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with bomb container.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with bomb container and "CAPRONI" painted under the bottom wing. This was a Ca.4 that was shipped to New York for an exhibition in early 1919.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber airframe, this is a variant of the Ca.4, later called Ca.51, with biplane tail, a gunner position in the tail, and Fiat A14 engines
Caproni Ca.4
Caproni Ca.4
Caproni Ca.4
Caproni Ca.4
Caproni Ca. 5

  The need for an updated Caproni bomber was obvious. The Caproni Squadriglias were suffering poor availability due to airframe and engine breakdowns. The failure of the Ca.4 only exacerbated the sense of urgency.
  The availability of the 200-hp Fiat A.12 engine would enable Caproni to equip frontline units with a new 600-hp bomber, a third more power than available in the Ca.3.
  Studies on the new design took place between the end of 1916 and the start of 1917. Caproni took the easy route and initially modified a Ca.3 with the new engines. The wings were enlarged (both in span and chord), the crew nacelle was given a more aerodynamic ovoid shape, and radiators were fitted into the modified twin booms underneath the engines. The nose gear was also removed; the new bomber would be a tail-sitter.


  At Taliedo on 30 January a Ca.3 modified to a 600-hp variant was flight tested.
  On 7 February static destruction tests were performed on an airframe, and it proved to have the coefficient of 5. As coefficient 6 had been requested, Caproni then decided to add bracing wires (steel wiring that interconnected the struts at mid-height).
  The new Caproni Ca.5 underwent two subsequent evaluations by the military, who requested important modifications accepted by the company (not without some resistance) and only partially introduced. In fact, if the aircraft was able to carry 18 162-mm and 4 260-mm grenades, or an equivalent load of only 260-mm grenades, it was never equipped to carry 190-mm armor piercing grenades, although this had been a requirement. The cockpit was not modified to have a ventral defensive position to cover under the tail. This was the case of an aviation firm designing aircraft they thought would be easier to manufacture and not showing undue concern for the needs of the military.
  Armament was only one aspect of the troubled story of Ca.5. The difficult adaptation of the Fiat A.12 bis engines to the airframe and their unreliability, deriving from cooling and power problems, ended up delaying the program and imposing the need for a stop gap solution to keep the Ca.3 in service. In April, in the face of complaints from the Comando supremo that Caproni had stopped development of the “450” too early, an appeal was to made to Caproni that it was no longer possible to continue using Ca.3. The Ca.5 was needed urgently at the front as production of the Ca.3s had been halted and the airframes were becoming exhausted and were destined to be sent to training units after being withdrawn from the first line service.


  Initially, production was planned to be in the 200 range, but eventually grew to 1,700 aircraft.
  Breda, Miani & Silvestri, Pasotti, and Reggiane would all be involved in production which was expected to be close to 100 aircraft a month.
  The trials of the 600-hp (Ca.5) were conducted in March 1917, and in April Caproni received confirmation that 200 examples would be required. France, the United Kingdom and the United States expressed interest in acquiring examples and even the possibility of license production. In the case of the U.S., this would come to fruition.
  France on many occasions requested a third of the Italian production, the United States tried to acquire factories in Italy to produce the Ca.5 to meet their requirements, while Great Britain continued to occasionally manifest interest in the aircraft. All this was for an aircraft that had was based at that time on one modified Ca.3.
  By early February, planned production of the Ca.5 had reached 3,900 aircraft, later reduced to 3,650, with production divided between:
  Societa Caproni - 800
  Officine Breda - 600
  Zust, Miani & Silvestri - 900
  Off.na Sangiorgio - 250
  Piaggio- 200
  Off.na Mecc. Ital. - 300
  Bastianelli - 600
  These companies began to send teams to the Caproni factory for periods of one to two months to undergo thorough instruction in the construction and the assembly, of the aircraft. Each team conducted an experimental assembly of one or two aircraft in the workshops under the surveillance of Caproni technicians. This experience would assist in assembly, but the main obstruction for mass production would be supply of raw material from the subcontractors, with the result that production in the various license holders workshops was the subject of notable delays.
  In April 1918 construction of the Ca.5 was under way with Caproni, Breda, Miani & Silvestri, Reggiane, Piaggio, San Giorgio, Savigliano, and Bastianelli. Production was terminated in 1921, with the completion of 552 aircraft (beside the prototype) by the Caproni factory and another 102 at the Breda facility; another 5 examples were completed by Miani & Silvestri in 1919.
  On 30 April 30 1918, Caproni’s company warned the Commissariat that production of the Ca.5 was slower than expected. By that date it should have already delivered 115 planes, while in reality not one was ready for service!
  By 31 October, a few days before the signing of the armistice, only 190 planes had been completed - compared to the 2,916 that, according to the contract, were expected by that date. Of these 190 aircraft just 57 were with frontline units.
  The Commissariat, however, gave Caproni a pass. The Parliamentary Inquiry Commission noted the facts that the lack of production was actually a production delay “due to a plurality of economic causes: the difficulty in supplies, the continuous variations in the designs and materials to be used following the results of the first tests.”


  Ca.44 - version with Fiat A.12 200-250-hp or Fiat A.12 bis 300-HP engines.
  Ca.45 - version with Isotta Fraschini V.6 250-hp engines.
  Ca.46 - version with Liberty 350-400-hp engines.
  Ca.47 - In August 1917 at Venezia the first Caproni 600-hp seaplane was assembled; unfortunately, it never flew as it was destroyed by an incendiary bomb the evening prior to its flight test.
  Caproni considered building a series of 600-hp torpedo bombers. Comandante Pacchierotti inspected the prototype, which was tested at Sesto Calende on 26 February, 1918. In reality, only one example of the type was produced - plus 10 production aircraft (Piaggio-manufactured) after the Armistice. These were simply converted from standard Ca.5s powered by Fiat A.12s. They had twin floats and could carry a naval torpedo under the centre section of the lower wing between the two floats, with a release mechanism linked to the cockpit. Known at the time as the I.Ca. (Idro Caproni), the seaplane was later re-designated as the Ca.47.
  Ca.48 - Ca.40 adapted as an airliner. The central nacelle was replaced by an enlarged, overhanging, enclosed cabin for passengers placed below the wing. It was designed to carry 17 people, plus mail and freight. Only the single example was built.
  Ca.50 - ambulance version with Fiat A.12 engines.
  Ca. 57 - After the end of the war, Ca.5s were transformed into a passenger aircraft by installing an enclosed cabin with eight seats; one or two people could still be housed behind the pilot, but were still exposed to the elements. There was, furthermore, space for mail and newspapers. An initial flight with a cabin-equipped Caproni 600-hp was performed in January 1919.
  Another transport version carried 15 passengers from Milano to Torino and back (300 km) in 2 hours.
  Two conversions were created by Ing. Tommaso Sarri: one was based on a Ca.5 with Isotta Fraschini V.6 engines and the other on a Ca.5 with Fiat A.12 bis. The modifications to the two aircraft involved the removal of the rear engine, structural reinforcement, the relocation of the horizontal tail, and the creation of a comfortable cabin for five passengers in the first aircraft (named Sarri 1 Italia) and for 10 passengers in the second (Sarri 2 Italia). The first conversion was completed between the end on 1920 and early 1921, while the second was finished in the first half of March 1921.
  In the Breda workshops at Bresso, a third aircraft was similarly modified (I-BAGM), rebaptised Italia 3 and, later as the Breda B.1. These potentially interesting projects were not pursued, principally due to the official disinterest in civil aviation at the time.
  The designation Ca.57 served later used to collectively identify the various civilian conversions of the Ca.5.

Operational Service

  The Ca.5 arrived on the front line, but, as with all new designs, there were problems. Not surprisingly, the Fiat A.12 engines caused the worst problems. Back firing from the carburetor often resulted a fire. The alternative engine, the Isotta Fraschini V.6, fitted to a few examples as an alternative, proved just as unreliable.
  It is not possible to give a detailed account of Ca.5 operations due to the fact that there weren’t any. A handful were sent to frontline Caproni units for evaluation and on rare occasions participated in combat sorties.

5a Squadriglia
  On June 19, 1918 a new Ca.5, 11537, was sent 5a Squadriglia unit but it was only used only for test flights and, given the generally poor showing of the example received, it was little used.

6a Squadriglia
  On August 13 1918 6a Squadriglia personnel went to collect at Taliedo a new Ca.5 600 hp.
  On October 4, three new Ca.5 11647, 11664 ed 11671 arrived from Taliedo.
  During the final battle of Vittorio Veneto the Squadriglia, participated in actions.

14a Squadriglia
  On June 10 14a Squadriglia returned from XVIII Gruppo in France to the Centro Formazione Squadriglie at Riva di Chieri, to convert to the new Ca.5s.
  With eight new Caproni Ca.5s, the Squadriglia was sent back to France on 20 October, to the airfield at Longvic. After five days the Squadriglia flew to Chermisey, where it remained until the end of hostilities. 14a did not fly any operational sorties after its return to France.
  14th Squadriglia returned to Italy in early 1919. It was disbanded on 17 November, 1919.

15a Squadriglia
  On 14 October 15a Squadriglia, while leaving some men on the French front, left XVIII Gruppo and flew back to Italy to re-equip with Caproni Ca.5s, at the Centro Formazione Squadriglie at Ghedi. They were still in the process of transition to the new planes when the Armistice was signed.

Regia Marina

  In an attempt to develop its own heavy bomber, the Regia Marina ordered a strategic bomber of its own. After the failures of the Bossi, SVAN (a shipyard in Venice) (never built) and Bresciani seaplane bombers, the Navy was forced to purchase Army Capronis in an attempt to develop a means of attacking the Austrian fleet at Pola and the distant submarine bases.
  According to Gentilli, a three engine 600-hp Caproni bomber (possibly the prototype of the Ca.5) was tested by the Regia Marina. It was destroyed shortly after it had arrived in a Austro-Hungarian air raid on 7 September 1917. The Navy hoped to purchase hundreds of Ca.5s and ordered shelters be built to hold almost 500 bombers. They would use Ca.4s (rejected by the Army) in the meantime.
  Ever-present production delays resulted in the Regia Marina possessing only a handful of Ca.5s as the war ended. Eleven were to undergo testing by 203a Squadriglia at Poggio Renatico. The newly-formed 204 Squadriglia at Valona had only five Ca.5s.
  In the end, no Regia Marina Ca.5s saw combat.
  Postwar, 15a Squadriglia was formed in 1919 with eight Ca.5s.
  Gentilli believes that it is unlikely that any of the seven Ca.5 Idro (Floatplane) variants received at Spezia and Livorno in the 1920s ever flew.
  The handful of Ca.5s assigned to D’Annunzio’s Squadra Aerea San Marco, with the 1st Stormo Caproni Squadriglia S.A.(formerly 201a Squadriglia Caproni di Marcon) had been intended to make torpedo attack on battleships in Pola. Neither they, nor the rest of the unit’s aircraft, were operational before the Armistice.


  Postwar use of the Ca.5 was surprisingly limited. According to the official history, no Ca.5s were sent to Libya to participate in the policing operations there.

Foreign Service

  Brazil - A single Caproni 45 was acquired for evaluation in 1920. It was given serial 12038 (the c/n) and was a gift from the Italian Governor to the Av.Mil.

  Peru - a Caproni Ca.5 became the first bombing aircraft of Peruvian military aviation. It was acquired through donation made by the departments of Cusco, Puno, and the province of Pisco in May 1921. The Ca.5 was assembled and tested at the Maranga airfield.
  In July 1921 the aviators of the Military Aviation Service arrived in the town of Camana aboard a huge Caproni Ca.5 bomber.
  The aircraft, however, had a short operational life since, due the limited number of hangars in Maranga, it had to remain for long periods of time outdoors, irreversibly damaging its structure due to the humidity of the area.

  Turkey - in May 1923 a Caproni Ca.5 bomber converted to Breda B.1 standard landed near Edirne in European Turkey. On June 7,1923 pilot Vecihi fixed the aircraft in a few days and flew it to Izmir. The aircraft was named Vecihi but was soon grounded due to a lack of spares. It was never taken into the inventory.
  Source: personal communication with Ole Nikolajsen
United States

Army Air Service
  Colonel Bolling had recommended the U.S. purchase the Ca.5 since he had learned of the project in July 1917. He was particularly interested in obtaining license production rights for the type. He had the enthusiastic backing of the charismatic and influential Captain Fiorello La Guardia. The main obstacle to obtaining Ca.5s was the simultaneous availability of the Handley Page O/100.
  To help influence the U.S. decision in September 1917 two Ca.5 with Fiat engines were sent to America. In January 1918 a second mission arrived in America led by capitano ingegner D’Annunzio.
  In February 1918 an order was placed for 50 Caproni from Standard Aircraft Corp, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and in the following July further contracts were completed with Curtiss in Buffalo and Fisher Body Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, for the production of 500 Caproni each powered by Liberty engine. It is interesting to note that Standard was also given a contract for 500 Handley Page O/400 (the majority of which would have been sent from Britain for final assembly).
  In the Standard facilities at Elizabeth construction commenced of an initial series of four Liberty-engined Ca.5 under the direction of capitano D’Annunzio. The first assembled example was transported to the airfield at Mineola, where a successful first flight was made on 4 July 1918, piloted by sergente Gino and the capitano D’Annunzio. On its third flight the Caproni-Liberty performed various maneuvers and tests of maximum and minimum speeds just a few feet above the ground, concluding its presentation with a perfect landing, all in front of a large and enthusiastic audience including military men.
  The military authorities were convinced that the Caproni-Liberty would require extensive static load tests and flight trials. All this happened in the shadow of Handley Page who aggressively attempted to convince the Americans to buy O/400.
  In early September the O/400 comparative flight trials with the Caproni-Liberty, showed that the Italian machine was clearly inferior. That same month, 74 Squadron had been formed for training on the Ca.5. On 21 September the Caproni-Liberty climbed 4,000 metres in 46 minutes while carrying three people plus the pilot, 640 kg of weight made up from lead and sand, 1,500 litres of fuel, 210 litres of oil, and with two machine guns in the rear and two in the forward turret and two in the forward circle. Even with this weight, the Ca.5 was able to reach 167 km/h.
  Testing of the Caproni-Liberty revealed a maximum altitude of 5,500 metres; endurance of five and one half hours; climb to 14,000 feet in 46 minutes with a payload of 2,300 kg; and a maximum speed of 170 km/h.
  By the end of the war, only five Caproni-Liberty had been completed versus seven Handley Page O/400s.
  Of the five Ca.5s, two had been completed by Standard, with final assembly at Mineola; one had an oval section nacelle, the nacelle of the other machine had parallel sides. The remaining three machines were produced by Fisher Body, one of which was completed with the parallel sided central nacelle. A fourth machine was in an advanced stage of manufacture at Fisher, but was never completed.

U.S. Navy
  The ambitious plan to bomb the German submarine bases at Ostend, Zeebrugge and Bruges led to the creation of the Northern Bombing Group. This was to be accomplished by a force of six night bomber squadrons (each with ten Ca.5s or Handley Page O/400 ), and another six day bomber squadrons (18 DH-4s each).The Italian government agreed to supply 30 Ca.5s in June and July 1918, followed by 80 in August. In the end, only nine were delivered in June and the same number in July. Furthermore, the Ca.5s needed extensive modifications before they could become operational.
  On 11 August, the first Ca.5 was prepared for operations by installing of a bomb release mechanism, relocating of the control wires, installation fitting navigation lights, instrumentation, and defensive armament. The first independent action conducted by the Ca.5 squadron took place on 15 August 1918, when the German submarine base at Ostend was attacked. Subsequent operations were seriously hindered by the Fiat A.12 engines which caused multiple problems.
  After the first combat flight on 15 August, due to manufacturing and assembly defects, not a single Fiat A.12 could meet the four hour engine run required for combat operations. The aircraft were withdrawn from operations until a satisfactory four hour engine flight test could be completed.
  The Isotta Fraschini V6 was considered as an alternative, and the Italian government agreed to supply them to the U.S. Navy. The first Caproni fitted with Isotta Fraschini engines arrived at Eastleigh in England around 8 November, too late to see combat use. Given the history of the Ca.5 equipped with Isotta Fraschini engines in the U.S. postwar, this was fortunate.

Caproni Ca 5 U.S. Navy serials
  B-2 (MM 11577) - 27.07.18. Crash landing, due to a fuel flow issue, at Sens, SE Paris, en-route Milan to Paris.
  B-3 (MM 11598) - 24.08.18. Arrived St Inglevert 11.11.18.
  B-4 (MM 11587) - 24.08.18. Crashed at Orly without casualties.
  B-5 (MM 11562) - 22.08.18. Crashed near Dunquerque 23.08.18.
  B-6 (MM 11590) - 01.08.18. Crashed Mirafiori, Italy. (24.08.18). No casualties.
  B-7 (MM 11607) - 24.08.18. Arrived St Inglevert, 11.11.18
  B-8 (MM 11591) - 24.08.18. Force landed at Turin due to a fire. It was seriously damaged.
  B-9 (MM 11560)- 11.08.18. Crashed at Brioude, France due to fuel shortage after pilot became lost.
  B-10 (MM 11592) - Wrecked Taliedo, Italy.
  B-11 (MM 11595) -15.09.18. Landed at St Inglevert. Pilot turned sharply to return to hangar, forcing the aircraft to nose over. It caught fire and was destroyed.
  B-12 (MM 11599) - Arrived St Inglevert 22.12.18. Arrived Issodunne safely. 1st Ca.5 to be delivered.
  B-13 (MM11523) - 17.08.18. crashed at Mirafiori,Turin, Italy, shortly after takeoff. Both pilots killed, mechanic died following day.
  B-14 (MM 11561) - 11.11.18. At St Inglevert.
  B-15 (MM 11524) - 11.11.18. At Orly.
  B-16 (MM 11570) - 11.11.18. At St Inglevert.
  B-17 (MM 11594) - 11.11.18. At St Inglevert.
  B-18 (MM 11593) - 11.11.18. At Eastleigh.
  B-19 (MM 11589) - 02.09.18. Crashed at Dijon, France.
  Source: U.S. Navy Aircraft Record Cards and Colin Owers

  The Caproni Ca.5 had consumed a considerable amount of Italy’s resources devoted to aircraft production. As with the Ca.4, Caproni and their subcontractors were unable to deliver promised aircraft to frontline units. Even when the airframes were satisfactory, the Fiat A.12 engines proved to by unreliable. As a result, many brave pilots were forced to fly obsolescent aircraft into combat.
  Postwar, foreign interest in producing the type quickly waned, and they were quickly removed from frontline units. None of this means that the Ca.5 was not an effective warplane, simply that it had arrived too late to be of value.

Caproni 5 Bomber with three 300-hp Fiat A12 bis engines
  Wingspan 23.40 m; length 12.61 m; height 4.48 m;
  Empty weight 3,300 kg; loaded weight 5,300 kg
  Maximum speed 160 km/h; climb to 2,000 m in 14 minutes; ceiling 4,600 m; endurance 5 hours
  Armament two machine guns and 540 kg of bombs.
Caproni Ca.5, 6a Squadriglia, Autumn 1918
Caproni Ca.5 prototype.
Caproni Ca.5 on a barge for maritime operations.
Caproni Ca.5 #12050.
Caproni Ca.5.
Caproni Ca.5 #12222 (on the other side it was mistakenly written as 1222) in which Liberty engines have been installed as a prototype for its production in Italy.
Caproni Ca.5 of 6a Squadriglia.
A US Navy Caproni Ca-44 serving with the Northern Bombing Group Night Wing at Orly.
Caproni Ca.5 with USN serial B-15 photographed at the US Army airfield at Orly, France, for evaluation. Armament has not been installed but American markings have been applied.
Caproni Ca.5 42118 at Hazelhurst Field, US, in September 1918.
Caproni Ca.5 42118 at Hazelhurst Field, US, in September 1918.
An American officer, easily recognized by the headgear, stands in front of Ca.5 12222. The Liberty engine's greater size is clearly evident.
Caproni Ca.5
Caproni Ca.5
Caproni Ca.5
Caproni Ca.5
Caproni Ca. 53

  The Ca.53 was intended to meet a requirement for a fast day bomber carrying a 400 kg bomb load.
  It was a triplane with single fuselage of all-wood construction. This was to have been a multirole aircraft for long-range fighter, fast reconnaissance, or light bombing missions. The large fuselage could carry a significant bomb load internally, as well as externally. Defensive armament consisted of a dorsal machine gun turret and a gun firing beneath the aircraft from a trap door.
  The fuel tank was jettisonable. The engine was a 500-hp Tosi V-12, which proved to be heavier than the originally planned FIAT A.14.
  The project was abandoned in part due to performance issues and in part because Caproni was fully committed to the Ca.5 program.

Ca.53 two seat day bomber with one 500-hp Tosi V-12 engine
  Wingspan 14.30m ; length 9.23 m; height 3.86 m; wing surface area 65 sq m
  Empty weight 1600 kg; payload 800 Kg; loaded weight 2,400 kg
  Maximum speed 175 to 190 km/h
  One built
Caproni Ca.53.
Caproni Ca.53.
Caproni Ca.53 rear view.
Caproni Ca.53 front view.
Caproni Ca. 4


  Ca.48 - In 1918 a Ca.4 was adapted to carry passengers by the addition of a large cabin for 17 passengers under the central nacelle. Another six could be seated, in presumably considerably less comfort, between the pilot and the rear central engine. This aircraft was later re-designated Ca.48.
  Ca.48 - Ca.40 adapted as an airliner. The central nacelle was replaced by an enlarged, overhanging, enclosed cabin for passengers placed below the wing. It was designed to carry 17 people, plus mail and freight. Only the single example was built.
Caproni Ca.4. The structure below the central nacelle is a passenger cabin.

  In 1912, the first “Bernasconi” monoplane crashed at Mocafico. It was patiently rebuilt and in the meantime the long-given a new 50-hp Gnome 50 rotary engine.
  The manufacturers of the new aircraft had taken care to enter it as a competitor in the first Military Aviation Competition which was to take place in Mirafiori in 1913.
  It had to be entrusted to the expert hands of a good pilot, and Stefano Amerigo was chosen.
  Amerigo came to Rome and, over the Campo di Centocelle, managed to make several interesting flights with the new monoplane, which had taken the name of “Bernasconi aircraft”.
  At the beginning of April he was present in Mirafiori for the military competition, but he could not take an active part in it, due to the fact that in many races it was necessary to compete by carrying a passenger.
  The aircraft performed well during testing and its builders, Achille Castellani and Bernasconi, were complimented by the Military Commission for the construction of the monoplane.
  It was established that on their return to Rome the construction of a new two-seater aircraft would begin, to be able to compete in future military competitions, but the new aircraft was never built.
Chiribiri Type 5

  Two Fabbrica Torinese Velivoli Chiribiri Type 5 monoplanes with 80-hp Chiribiri engines were entered in the 1913 military aircraft competition. They were initially rejected prior to the competition, probably due to an arcane inclusion in the competition’s requirement. They were subsequently readmitted, only to be were withdrawn by the manufacture in protest against these same unreasonable rules (including the rule that stated that the military would not be obligated to purchase the winning aircraft). Therefore, neither aircraft participated for a chance at a military contract.

Fabbrica Torinese Velivoli Chiribiri Type 5 Two-Seat Military Aircraft with One 80-hp Chiribiri Engine
  Wingspan 7.5m; wing area 21 sq m
  Loaded weight 675 kg
Chiribiri Type 5.
Direzione Costruzioni Seaplane

  This seaplane was built in 1914 by the Direzione delle Costruzioni Navali (Directorate of Naval Construction) of Venice by engineer Alessandro Guidoni, which aimed to obtain a rather fast, easy-to-handle aircraft suitable for completing the training of new pilots. The aircraft was single-seater, with a full fuselage and a tractor propeller. It had two Guidoni-type hydroplane floats. The engine was a 100-hp Gnome.
  The aircraft’s upper wing was significantly longer than the lower one. The wing profile was described by Magnini as “very flattened and refined”.
  The engine was housed in a fuselage that carried the pilot’s seat as well as petrol and oil tanks. The floats were suspended beneath the fuselage by “V”-shaped struts. The two struts were independent of each other but both contributed to supporting the central load.
  The lower wing was directly attached to the fuselage. The cantilevered ends of the wings were foldable.
  The horizontal tailplane had a direction rudder that was not balanced.
  The floats were 5.00 m in length and 0.40 m in diameter, with volume of 0.560 cubic meters each.
  The aircraft handled well on both the air and water and was easy of maneuver. Due to the use of the rotary engine, the nose was wide and had a flattened shape that increased drag.
  Only the single example was built.

Direzione delle Costruzioni Navali two-seat floatplane with one 100-hp Gnome rotary engine
  Wingspan 12.00 m; length 8.00 m; height 8.60 m; wing area 29 sq m
  Empty weight 520 kg; loaded weight 780 kg; payload 260 kg
  Maximum speed .110 km/h; range 550 km
  One built
The Direzione Costruzioni seaplane in flight.
Direzione Costruzioni Seaplane
Ducrot S.L.D.

  Commendatore Vittorio Ducrot had suggested to the military authorities that they convert his furniture manufacturing business to war production to make torpedo boats and seaplanes. The technical staff of Turin’s “Direzione Tecnica dell Aviazione Militare” was sent to the firm to assist in the company’s aircraft production plans. FBA Type Hs flying boats, Savoia S.8s and S.9s were already being built. In 1918 200 Macchi M.7 fighter flying boats were also ordered, but apparently none had been completed by the end of the war. During the wartime Ducrot had completed over 500 aircraft and a large amount of spare parts.
  Like many factories, Ducrot had been manufacturing aircraft and spare parts since February 1916 and now wanted to try its hand at creating an all-new design. The S.L.D. fighter would help to replace the Nieuport fighters in service, as well as the Hanriot HD.1s coming into service. The SPAD 7s and 13s were to be purchased directly from the Bleriot SPAD firm which resulted in delayed deliveries and a cash drain on the country. Therefore, an indigenous Italian design that was equivalent to those fighters would be most welcome by the Italian military and generate significant sales.
  This is why, early in 1917 the Ducrot plant in Palermo (Sicily) began to develop a single seat fighter designated S.L.D.: S for Manlio Stiavelli (the designer), L for Guido Luzzatti (designer) and D for Ducrot (manufacturer).
  The S.L.D. fighter had a streamlined fuselage of monocoque construction and with a very small cross section which was suspended between the wings. The skin was made from moulded layers of birch ply, layered at 45° angles for maximum strength. The equal span wings had a single interplane strut per side and the minimum of bracing wires to reduce the drag.
  The prototype was equipped with a 200-hp Hispano Suiza 35 engine. Another machine was built for static tests.
  Completed in summer 1918, the S.L.D. flew for the first time during the following October, too late to complete its test program before the general slowdown of aeronautical industrial activity decreed by the Commissariato dell Aeronautica shortly after the armistice.

Ducrot S.L.D. single-seat fighter with one 200-hp Hispano Suiza 35 engine
  Wingspan 7.80 m; length 7.00 m; wing area 22.00 sq m
  Empty weight 610 kg;
  Loaded weight 810 kg; payload 200 kg
  Maximum speed 300 km/h; climb to 5,000 m 13 minutes 10 seconds (another source states 10 minutes); ceiling 7,000 m
The Ducrot S.L.D. (Roberto Gentilli)
The Ducrot S.L.D. (Roberto Gentilli)

  The SIA 7b scandal was the biggest aviation debacle of the First World War. The aircraft was intended to replace the second generation of Italian reconnaissance machines (SAML and S.P.3). However, its failure resulted in the continued use of those obsolete types, while at the same time forcing the army co-operation units to convert to the Pomilio PEs which proved to be of limited value.
  The SIA 7b suffered from myriad structural issues, including a tendency to shed its wing in flight. It was difficult to fly and was not well liked by the crews even before its lethality was recognized. It is said that a group of aviation cadets asked to be transferred to the trenches, rather than take there chances on the SIA 7b.
  The scandal, which included poor workmanship and inferior design, resulted in a government investigation which, perhaps predictably, failed to assign blame to anyone. However, SIA (which was the aviation production branch of the Fiat concern) was driven out of business. What actually happened was a management reorganization and a name change to Fiat.
  Since the structural issues were the most important reason for the SIA 7b’s downfall, these had to be addressed first. Fiat engineers Celestino Rosatelli and Miro Gamba not only had to strengthen the airframe, but also had to improve the new design’s performance. The R.2 would use the same 300-hp Fiat A12 bis engine.
  Fiat test pilot Brach-Pap tested his last R.2 (8762) on April 10,1920. The prototype underwent over 100 test flights in order to ensure that, this time, there would be no unpleasant surprises when the type reached flight line units.
  The airframe was strengthened in comparison to the SIA 9, and the weight distribution was altered in an attempt to rectify problems with that aircraft. In order to balance the center of gravity in the SIA 7b, it was necessary to place ballast in the rear cockpit if the observer was not being carried. Until this was realized, there were numerous accidents where the aircraft become difficult to control and, on occasion, would crash.


  Fuselage - the fuselage was of wooden construction with a rectangular cross section. The forward portion was covered in metal; the aft structured was enclosed in fabric.
  Wings - Two bay wings also constructed of wood. The wings were of equal span with wood struts, and wire rigging. There were ailerons on the upper wing only.
  Tail - metal interior structure
  Engine - 300-hp Fiat A12 bis engine
  Armament - Armament constituted a fixed, synchronized machine gun for the pilot and a machine gun on a moveable mount controlled by the rear observer.


  500 R.2s were ordered. The war’s end resulted in only 129 actually being built. However, fortunately for Fiat production continued after the war, reaching 270 examples.
  The prototype (Alegi believes it may have been numbered 8500) was tested in the summer of 1918.
  In May 1923 an order for nine aircraft was placed (24443 to 24451)

Operational Service


  Shortly before the war ended, examples of the R.2 were distributed among the various army co-operation units along the front. The crews were asked to evaluate the usefulness of the new type in combat. From October 18, two machines were assigned to 3a armata, two to 8a and one with 7a.
  During the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, 114a Squadriglia’s pilots flew photo reconnaissance, bombing and strafing missions. One of the first examples of the new R.2 reconnaissance aircraft, No.8509, assigned on an experimental basis to the 114a Squadriglia, was reportedly shot down on 30 October by AAA. The aircraft was believed to have been downed by rifle fire during a a ground attack mission in Sacile.

  In 1927 only 23 R2s still remained in service. They were replaced by Ansaldo A 300/4s and Fiat R22s.

Foreign Service

  Argentina - In June 1919 R.2 8579 (another source states it was 8584) was sent, as part of 350a Squadriglia, to Argentina with the Italian Air Force mission. In 1919. The arrival of this mission coincided with the arrival of two other military missions, French and English at the Buenos Aires military airfield, El Palomar. The Italians also brought Ansaldo SVA 5s and 9s, a Farman F.40, a Hanriot HD.1, a Breguet 14, and a Caproni bomber.
  The Fiat R.2 had been fitted with dual controls and was offered as a training aircraft. On May 24,1919, in the parade celebrating the Mayan festivities, the crew threw out commemorative pamphlets.
  The R.2 made several long distance flights from Buenos Aires, flown by different pilots.
  During the great flood of the province of Buenos Aires in 1919, the R.2, piloted by sergento Liverani, was used to survey the flooded areas in cooperation with the Buenos Aires government.
  In 1920 the Italian military mission helped create the Italo-Argentina pilot school. Here, the R.2 was flown by various trainees who passed through that school during that year.
  By mid-1921, the R.2 was acquired by Mr. Juan Mendoza and Nernuldes, who would become the first Bolivian civil pilot and his partner Mr. Alfredo Etienne, businessman from Oruro, who took the plane to Bolivia unarmed by train. It made several flights, starting on 10 November, 1921, then the plane was again dismantled and transferred to the town of Poopo. It was from the latter city that the R.2 was used on another long range flight to Oruro, a distance of 50 km on November 19, 1921. On March 3, 1922, the R.2 crashed landed at Cochabamba; this may have been the R.2’s last flight.
  Turkey - One aircraft obtained in Italy by Erzurumlu Nafiz. Named Erzurumlu Nafiz 2 it served with 1/2.TyBl/14. In August 1922 it was written off after a crash landing.

Fiat R.2 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 300-hp Fiat A12 bis engine
  Wingspan 12.27 m; length 8.75 m; height 3.15 m; wing area 46.5 sq m
  Empty weight 1,250 kg; loaded weight 1,700 kg;
  Maximum speed 215 km/h; climb to 3,000 m in 18 minutes 15 seconds; ceiling 4,800 m
  Armament - a single, synchronized machine in the nose and a second machine gun on a moveable mount in the observer’s cockpit.
  A total of 129 built.
Fiat R.2 R.8608, Autumn 1918. Colors not confirmed
FIAT R.2 #8608.
FIAT R.2 #8608 rear quarter view.
FIAT R.2 unit on its airfield.
FIAT R.2 with 270hp Fiat engine on its airfield at right, Spad 13 in middle, Hanriot HD.1 in left background.
FIAT R.2 lineup.
FIAT R.2 front view shows careful attention to fuselage streamlining. (Roberto Gentilli)
One FIAT R.2, two Aviatiks, two Farmans, and one Caproni, at El Palomar, Argentina.
FIAT R.2 uncovered forward fuselage showing the structure, engine, Vickers gun, etc. (Roberto Gentilli)
FIAT R.2 forward fuselage showing an experimental gun mounting. (Roberto Gentilli)
Closeup of FIAT R.2 cockpits and observer's gun mounting. (Roberto Gentilli)
FIAT R.2 forward fuselage structure closeup. (Roberto Gentilli)
FIAT R.2 uncovered fuselage showing the structure, engine, etc. (Roberto Gentilli)
FIAT R.2 fuselages under construction. (Roberto Gentilli)
Fiat R.2
Fiat R.2
Fiat R.2
Fiat BD / BR

  The prototype of the BD bomber was under construction in 1918. As a result of the Armistice further development was suspended.
  It was an aircraft that had not yet been assigned had its definitive name and was provisionally distinguished with the initials BD which stood for bombardamento diurno (daytime bombing). Designed by engineer Celestino Rosatelli, it was derived from the SIA 9b and also had a 700-hp Fiat A.14 engine. As with the SIA 9, it was to be a high speed bomber which would not require a fighter escort. The projected speed of 250 km/h and fast climb rate was intended to allow it to outpace or out climb enemy fighters.
  Development of the BD was continued postwar, and it first flew in April 1919. Now designated the Fiat BR it would serve an important role in the Italian bomber force in the 1920s.
SIA BR had Warren truss interplane bracing. (Roberto Gentilli)

  Marquis Francesco Filiasi of Naples, a talented musician, built his first model airplane in 1903.
  He contacted the Ministero della Guerra (Ministry of War), who entrusted the plans under examination to tenenti Calderara and Savoia. It was built by the Societa di Costruzioni Meccaniche di Roma (Mechanical Construction Company of Rome).
  On the morning of 3 June, it was flight tested by Calderara using a 50-hp Gnome engine supplied by the Asteria Company of Turin.
  Calderara managed to reach an altitude of four meters.
  In a second test, rolling on the stony ground, he collided with a large heap of hidden stones which brought the aircraft to an abrupt stop. There was significant damage to the propeller, tail and undercarriage.
  It took several days to repairs, and on 20 July he carried out a flight test; this one also ended with the landing gear breaking on rough ground.
  On 1 August, Calderara made a third flight. This was somewhat more successful as this time he flew for 42 minutes. The next flight was one minute and 50 seconds. The fourth flight that day lasted one hour and 35 minutes, but on landing, the skid failed resulting in a fractured propeller.
  The tests were repeated on 4, 12, and 13 August, but with unsatisfactory results. It was necessary to return the airplane to the workshop. Further repair and testing were ended.
  This was the first Italian airplane built by the Brigata Specialisti (Specialists Brigade); no attempts were made to develop the type any further.
Pilot attempting to take off in the Filiasi. (Roberto Gentilli)

  Giuseppe Gabardini was a Turin artist who became interested in aviation and in 1910 designed and built a seaplane. In 1912, Carlo Carbone backed Gabardini when he acquired the Restelli Motors Company of Milan. The following year the AVIS company, which built Voisin designs under license in Cameri (Novara), also joined Gabardini’s company. The advantage of taking over AVIS was that it had an airfield and production workshops. It also had a large tower to allow aerial activities to be observed.
  Guido Paolucci had flown the first Gabardini monoplane to Taliedo on 15 March 1913. The aircraft’s engine was a 50-hp Gnome engine and the control system used wing warping. Unusually for the time, the forward fuselage was made of metal.The frames were not welded but only held by metal tie rods to facilitate repairs. The wings had steel tube spars and wooden ribs, with cloth covering, aside from the metal parts of the fuselage.
  This basic layout and construction was used in all Gabardini’s monoplane designs; what varied were the engines and the shape of the rudder. This was also true for his biplanes.
  A series of long distance flights to and from Milan followed, with Rome, Turin, and Venice being visited.
  A floatplane version was also developed and flown from Sesto Calends to Rome in December 1913.
  On 27 July 1914 Achille Landini, who became the chief pilot of Gabardini took off from Cameri with a passenger in an attempt to cross the Alps. During the flight a height of 4,300 m had been reached; three hours later the Gabardini landed at Viege (Switzerland) after covering 140 km.
  In March 1914 Gabardini founded the Cameri a flight school with the financial help of his cousin Charles Carbone and pilot Achille Landini.
  The Gabarda, which was a generic nickname for all the company’s aircraft, were used to fulfill an Esercito contract for pilot training. The Gabardini School graduated 1,500 military pilots during the war. Each class had between 500 and 700 students and there were, on average, 200 training aircraft available.
  The Gabardini courses consisted of ground training, then taxying on a “penguin”. The student then advanced to a Gabardini with a 50-hp Gnome for short takeoffs and then to the 80-hp Gnome (or Le Rhone) variant for flight training. Using this system a dual control aircraft was not felt to be needed; the student was advanced gradually to more powerful aircraft until he was able to solo.
  This system required hundreds of trainers, which Gabardini was able to supply. In 1917 it became Aeroplani Gabardini S.A., with around 1,100 employees.
  The Gabardini training center continue to flourish after the war as its military contracts extended until the 1930s.

1913-1918 Types

Gabardini Monoplane Trainers

  The Gabardini monoplane proved to have good flight characteristics, making them ideal for use as trainers. First flown in 1913, these robust aircraft would prove to be the cornerstone of Gabardini’s school as well as his aircraft company.
  In April 1913 Gabardini took part in the Concorso Militaire, but his aircraft failed to garner an order from the military (in fact, none of the entrants received any contracts).
Gabardini Aircraft Designations
  Gabardini G.2 - 1913


  Alpi - Two-seater monoplane built almost entirely of metal, with wings with the wing spars constructed of steel tubes and with wooden ribs covered in cloth. The fuselage was constructed from welded steel tubes with he forward portion covered in sheet metal and the rear in canvas. The fuselage was very deep to accommodate the pilot and the passenger. The rear of the aircraft had a distinctive triangular shape. The tailpipes were made from welded steel tube covered in canvas. The undercarriage had legs made of steel tubing with a central wooden skid to act as a brake and prevent the machine from nosing over. The center axle was supported by bungee shock absorbers. The Alpi design could be fitted with 80-hp Gnome or Le Rhone engines.
  It assumed the named Alpi when Gabardini chief test pilot Achille Landini and professor Giovanni Lampugnani used it to cross Monte Rosa on 27 July 1914. During the flight over the alps they reached a height of 4,500 m. in a 140 km flight losing three hours.

Gabardini Alpi two-seat trainer with one 80-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 12 m; length 8 m; height 2.55 m; wing area 25 sq m
  Empty weight 500 kg; loaded weight 700 kg; payload, 200 kg
  Maximum speed 110km/h; ceiling 4,500 m

Gabardini Idrovolante (Seaplane)

  A version of the Alpi monoplane fitted with two main front floats. The twin floats had a flat bottom and cylindrical float mounted at the tail supported it at sea. It was fitted with the 80-hp Gnome rotary engine driving a Neri propeller which had hollow blades of reduced diameter. The aircraft was also fitted with a lightweight armor developed for seaplanes.
  In October 1913 the Gabardini seaplane participated in the Italian Lakes Circuit, piloted by Filippo Cevasco, but it performed poorly. Camurati suggests that was due as much to the pilot’s unfamiliarity with the aircraft as it was to design flaws in the idrovolante, itself.
  In December, with the design problems addressed and having had time to become more acquainted with the seaplane, Cevasco competed in the Sesto Calende-Genoa-Livorno-Rome long distance flight.
  Unfortunately on 2 June 1914 Cevasco crashed at Sesto Calende, while attempting to set a height record for seaplanes. The machine had suffered an engine failure and overturned while the pilot attempted to ditch. This was almost certainly a survivable crash, but the pilot did not know how to swim.
  Further development was abandoned.

  Gabarda - This aircraft was the result of Gabardini’s decision to focus his entire output on training machines after Italy declared war on Germany and Austro-Hungary.
  Without changing the design and internal structure of the previous monoplane, he built several versions, varying the dimensional characteristics according to the power of the engine used, in order to better respond to the various stages of instruction. The Gabardini training philosophy was that, as the student advanced through the course, he would fly aircraft of increasing performance unit he soloed. This enabled Gabardini to minimize the use of instructors at his school.
  The training syllabus would proceed as follows:
  - penguin ground trained to teach taxying and familiarize the student with the aircraft’s controls
  - 35-hp Anzani engine
  - 50-hp Gnome rotary engine
  - 80-hp Gnome or Le Rhone engine. Sometimes a 80-hp Maxim engine was used.
  These aircraft became collectively known by the name “Gabarda”.
  Gabardini produced over 200 monoplane trainers with 35, 50, and 80-hp engines of various types.

Foreign Service

  Argentina - From the type 1913 monoplane, Gabardini developed an improved version, the type 1914. used by an Argentinian flight school. No evidence for military use.
  Brazil - Examples of the monoplane were sent to Brazil, but none appeared to have been purchased by the Army or Navy.
  Ecuador - In 1912 Ecuador purchased some monoplanes to equip the flight school set up by Attilio Lanzini in Guyaquil.

Gabardini type 1913 two-seat trainer with one 80-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 12.00 m; length 8.00 m;
  Height 2,85 m; wing surface area 25.00 sq m
  Empty weight 500 kg; loaded weight 700 kg;
  Maximum speed 110 km/h; range: 4,000 ms
Gabardini school.

Gabardini Aircraft Designations
  Gabardini G.3 - 1914 ‘Biplano’ 1-/2-seat biplane trainer, 7.2 m span. A 50 hp Gnome, 80 hp Le Rhone, or 110 hp Le Rhone were the most commonly used engines

Gabardini "Biplano" Fighter Trainers

  To serve the needs of the fighter school, in 1918 a biplane using Garbardini’s construction methods was introduced. It used ailerons on the upper wing for control and had a landing gear without skids; this new type provided the student for the fighter aircraft they would be flying into combat. 80-120-hp Gnome or Le Rhone rotary engines were usually fitted.

Gabardini "Biplano"fighter trainer with 80-hp Le Rhone engine
  Wing span 7.20 m; length 5.10 m; height 2.20 m. wing area 14.82 sq m
  Empty weight 370 kg: loaded weight 520 kg
  Maximum speed 150 km h

Gabardini "Biplano"fighter trainer with 120-hp Le Rhone engine
  Wing span 7.20 m; length 5.10 m; height 2.20 m. wing area 14.82 sq m
  Empty weight 430 kg; loaded weight 600 kg
  Maximum speed 170 km h; climb to 1,000 m in 3 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 7 minutes, climb to 3.000 m in 13 minutes; ceiling 5.000 m

Variants of postwar designs intended for use by the school, included:

Gabardini G.4 Series
  Gabardini G.4 - 1924 single-seat biplane trainer, various engines; often a 80 hp Gnome rotary was used.
  Gabardini G.4 bis: Single-seat version. 1 x 120 hp Le Rhone
  Gabardini G.4 bis dc: dc = Doppio Comando; a dual-control 2-seater

Gabardini G.5 Series
  G.5: (eg I-AWAW) was a biplane advanced trainer
  G.50 mc: Single-seat biplane; mc = monocomando), 7.2m span
  G.51: Single-seat biplane, 1 x 80 hp Le Rhone 9C rotary
  G.51 bis: Single-seat biplane, 1 x 110 hp Le Rhone 9J
  G.51 dc: dc = Doppio Comando; one 50 hp Gnome

  G.50/G.51 - Designed by Enrico Rolandi. this was a development of the G.5 which was powered by an engine taken from a Hanriot HD.1
  Doppiobipilno - experimental design with two pairs of wing in tandem
Gabardini school.
Ginocchio Seaplane

  There is little information on this aircraft, only one photograph and some notes in Guidoni’s memoirs are available:
  Com.te Ginocchio ... after some tests in Vigna di Valle with an apparatus equipped with automatic stability, had set up the first San Marco squadron in Venice and a kind of experimental hydro-aviation plant, where he prepared his apparatus with a Salmson engine from 90 horsepower...
  The ten. vase. Manlio Ginocchio had taken flying lessons in Centocelle in July 1910. His instructor had been ten. Savoia and had obtained his airplane pilot license on 31 October 1910 in France on a Bleriot plane.
  When the Ministry of War, with a circular dated 28 October 1910, set up the “Aviation Section” ten. vase. Ginocchio was assigned to it.
  Among with the colonello Moris, tenente Gazzera and sottotenete Cammarota Adorni, he was then sent to Paris to buy a Bleriot type aircraft for the Aviation Section.
  When the Scuola Militaire di Aviazione (Military Aviation School) was established in Centocelle (1 December 1910), he was appointed commander of the same and pilot instructor on Bleriot aircraft. After the Centocelle school closed, he became the director and flight instructor of the Aviano school, which opened on 8 May 1911.
  In 1912 Ginocchio was sent to the Scuola di Idrovolanti di Juan-Les Pins (Juan-Les Pins Seaplane School to obtain his license. In October of the same year, at the establishment of the Sezione Idroaviazione (Seaplane Section) at Le Vergini in Venice, he assumed command of it.
  While serving in Centocelle he designed and built an innovative type of seaplane. It was a monoplane which instead of having two lateral floats used only one central float. On 9 June 1912 Ginocchio tested his seaplane on Lake Bracciano.
  Based on his experiences, as Guidoni recalls, Ginocchio designed another seaplane, which was built in the Venice Arsenal in 1912. It was a very sturdy biplane, with internal metal structures and a single central float in the shape of a hull; a precursor of future flying boat designs. The crew of two were seated in the hull, where they were better protected from the elements. There were two small stabilizing floats at the ends of the lower wing, an engine with a propeller behind the wings and a tubular lattice fuselage. There was also a “balancer” in front of the cockpit.
  His design was not very successful. There was apparently no opportunity to make further planned modifications which would have improved its handling.
  The seaplane was acquired by the Italian Navy and became part of the early Italian naval establishment in Venice. The bow was fitted a wave guard and the bottom had dual hydroplane fins.
  The Sezione Aviazione di Venezia (Aviation Section of Venice) had one Calderra, one Ginocchio, one Guidoni, and Curtiss-Paulhan seaplanes for use as trainers.

Ginocchio seaplane with one 90-hp Salmson engine
  Wingspan 12.20 m (12.20 m in Magaldi); length 12.40 m (10.40 m); height 2.80 m; wing area 26 sq m
  Empty weight 720 kg;
  Maximum speed of 80-85 km/h (95 km/h)
  One built
Ginocchio seaplane. (Library of Congress)

  The first seaplane to fly in Italy was built by cap. del Genio Navale Alessandro Guidoni.
  Guidoni from 1 January 1909 had been assigned to the Direzione delle Costruzioni Navali dell’Arsenale di Spezia (Naval Construction Directorate of the Arsenale of Spezia), and had carried out aeronautical research, about which he reported in articles in the Maritime Magazine of July-August 1911. The experiments were carried out using aircraft and propeller models.
  He then moved on to the design of an airplane, which he perfected with the model No.2: it was a biplane with a 100-hp engine that powered two coaxial propellers. The aircraft was built in the arsenal of Spezia and was ready in 1910, but it did not fly because, as Guidoni wrote in his memoirs:
  At the time of trying it, I had the good sense to understand that to design the airplanes... it was necessary to have flown ...
  So without great difficulty, I obtained from the Ministry permission to take Farman's pilot license, which I did in August 1911.
  Instead of his No.2, Guidoni equipped a 1910 Henri Farman with a 70-hp (some sources state 50-hp) engine as a seaplane, applying two cylindrical floats with ogival heads in place of the wheels, equipped with two hydroplane fins, which were to facilitate detachment from the water.
  With this biplane “after unsuccessful tests and a few baths”, on 5 November 1911 he took off from the harbor of Spezia. This was the first flight of a seaplane in Italy.
  With the same aircraft, converted into a landplane, he was in Libya for the Italian-Turkish war. In January 1912, he bombed Ain-Zara,where he was hit and forced to land in enemy territory. Guidoni was repatriated due to his injuries, followed by the Farman which was subsequently used for further experiments until the end of 1913.
  He returned to La Spezia, and Guidoni again turned again to float-equipped Farman. On 6 June 1912, in the presence of Admiral Nicastro, made two long trips alone the Gulf at about 300 m altitude.
  The Sezione Aviazione di Venezia (Aviation Section of Venice), set up in Le Vergini in mid 1912 with Calderra, Ginocchio, Guidoni, and Curtiss-Paulhans for use as a training center.
  After the happy experiences with the Farman biplane seaplane, Guidoni built a monoplane with a 70-hp engine. This aircraft was equipped with a tractor propeller placed in front of the wing and a tubular structure tail with rudders (1912).
  A second Nieuport-type monoplane with an 80-hp engine was also built in 1912. In the following year, Guidoni transformed a Borel monoplane and a Farman biplane with an 80-hp engine into seaplanes:
  The latter (the Borel) was very handy, safe, had 4 hours of autonomy and could carry a passenger.
  Guidoni also dealt with the launch of torpedoes from aircraft, and in this regard he wrote:
  Note that in 1912 the maximum weights thrown by airplanes were no more than 10 kg. Yet I found it feasible and, as I always have ... I practically began to test whether it was possible to increase (this) weight. With the old and faithful Farman I was able to subsequently throw lead weights up to 80 kg which was the maximum that could be carried with an old 60 HP engine.
  Posted to Tripoli, capitano Guidoni suffered a crash landing in this machine.

Guidoni HF. 3 Hydro (Seaplane Conversion)

  H.F.3 No.5 was converted to a seaplane at La Spezia by capitano Guidoni; its first flight was on on 5 November, 1911. It was powered by a 80-hp Gnome engine, had a longer wingspan, and was fitted with cylindrical floats with hydroplane fins designed by Guidoni. A simulated torpedo was held by a calm and supported by two semicircular supports enclosed by clamps.
  Based on his experience with this conversion, Guidoni would go on to develop his own unique flying boat design. (See entry under Guidoni).

Operations in Libya

  An H.F. 3 Hydro was sent to Libya, joined in October by two H.F.3s to become the la Flottiglia Aeroplani di Tripoli (Flotilla Airplanes Tripoli). At Tobruk the Squadriglia Aviatori (Aviator’s Squadron) was joined by three more volunteers on 28 November; one was sent to the squadriglia at Benghazi November 1911 to March 1912.
  The first combat sortie was carried out at Tripoli by De Rada on 5 November, but 16 December a cyclone destroyed the two H.F.3s of the unit. This was not a unique event, H.F. 3s were also damaged by weather on 31 January, 1912 and 13 April, 1912. An H.F. 3 as also a victim of bad weather on 9 January at Tobruk.
  In January, two Henri Farmans arrived at Tripoli. De Rada used them to perform a survey of the western sector for the purposes of creating a map. On 31 January, an H.F. 3 flown by Giuseppe Rossi dropped bombs on Aasen near Tobruk (these were literally thrown by hand from the pilots seat); his observer capitano Montu was hit by rifle shot, thus becoming first aviator in the world to be wounded during a combat mission.
  On 4 March, tenente Giulio Gavotti carried out a night flight. On 1 March the volunteers were repatriated. Now clearly obsolete, the H.F.3s went to the scuole at Pordenone and also to San Francesco at Campo (Turin). The survivors were gradually SOC in 1913.

Guidoni HF.3 seaplane
  Wingspan 14.20 m; length 12.00 m; wing area 50 sq m
  Empty weight. 450 kg; payload 250 kg; loaded weight 700 kg
  Maximum speed 70 km/h
Henri-Farman HF.3 in flight.
Henri-Farman HF.3 in flight.
Guidoni seaplane in flight.
Guidoni seaplane taxiing.
FBA Type H in Italian service at Bolsena, but the first aircraft in line is a Macchi L.3.
Gallinari Seaplanes

  The name isn’t that of an “Italian designer”. Rather, it refers to the wooden boat-building yard, Cantiere Navale G. Gallinari ScC. of Livorno and to its aviation subsidiary, Societa Anonima Industrie Meccaniche Gallinari based at Marina di Pisa. It was formed in 1916 to license-building seaplanes (beginning in 1916 or 1917, sources vary). There are suggestions that sometime during its existence, that the Gallinari plant built a wooden seaplane, but details are lacking.
  It is likely that the firm built FBAs (either parts for the aircraft or the whole airframe).
  There is mention of the Societa Anonima Industrie Meccaniche Gallinari holding a license to build the FBA Type H flying boat in Italy. SIAI (Societa Idrovolanti Alta Italia) however held the rights to license production, so Gallinari’s actual involvement in producing these aircraft, if any, remains in doubt.
  While Type H production remains uncertain, according to Progettazione e produttivita dell’industria aeronautica italiana dalle origini al 1943: Le relazioni della “Direzione Costruzioni Aeronautiche” dell’Aeronautica Militare, Gallinari built 93 aircraft during the war, primarily SIAI S.8 flying boats.
  Societa Anonima Industrie Meccaniche Gallinari closed after WWI. The firm was on shaky ground - Cantieri Gallinari had filed for bankruptcy in 1912 (although the boat-builder is going strong today). In 1921, the German-financed Societa Anonima Italiana Costruzioni Meccaniche (SAICM) took over Gallinari’s Marina di Pisa factory space. Formed to license-build Dorniers, SAICM became the more familiar CMASA (Costruzioni Meccaniche Aeronautiche - Societa Anonima) after its 1925 move to Genoa.
Curtiss Triad

  In 1912 the Regia Marina sent officers to the French Curtiss school at Juan-les-Pins and bought three Triads (Air-Sea-Land). The Curtiss Triads were the first type of seaplane ordered by the Italian Navy abroad, and were built by the Paulhan Shipyard in Regy (France) under license from the American company; as a result they were sometimes known as Paulhan-Curtiss.
  Societe d’aviation Paulhan was given the order by the Italian Government for delivery of three Curtiss hydroaeroplanes in late July 1912. The first aircraft was accepted on 1 September.
  The single-seaters were equipped with a water-cooled 8-cylinder V-shaped Curtiss engine with a power of 80-hp; in 1914 two machines had these replaced by a Gnome rotary engine of the same power. The pilot’s position was not very comfortable due to the absence of any protection and instruments were lacking. This type of seaplane was used to train new pilots, who were usually able to quickly solo on the Triad, as it was stable, robust and easy to fly.
  The first, tested in September, were assigned to the Sezione Aviazione di Venezia (Aviation Section of Venice), set up in Le Vergini in mid 1912 along with the Calderara, Ginocchio and Guidoni prototypes. Often known as the “San Marco” unit, its main responsibility prewar was to train future seaplane pilots.
  All three Curtiss and two Borel seaplanes were delivered to the air base in Venice established in the early 1913. The detachment consisted of several pilots, including Ludovico De Filippi, one of the famous pioneers of Italian aviation. A flying school for navy pilots was commanded by tenente Ginocchio, and the first trainees started classes in the early February 1913.
  Curtiss Hydros also took part in experiments, such as lifting an aircraft aboard a ship by crane and lowering it back into the water.
  On 2 June 1913 four Curtiss Triads participated in the search for the German battleships “Goben” and “Strasburg” arriving in Venice for a visit.
  Six other Curtisses were purchased through Enea Bossi and built by the Zari company in Bovisio Mombello (Milan). In March 1914, the users included the Accademia Navale e alia Direzione Costruzioni di La Spezia (Naval Academy and the Construction Department of La Spezia).
  The first Italian seaplane-carrying ships were the battleships “San Marco" and “Roma", “Emanuele Filiberto" “Vittorio Emanuele" and on the cruiser “Amalfi'. The wings on some of the Triads were of reduced size to facilitate shipboard storage and handling onboard the ships; these aircraft were known as “Curtiss-Robinson”. Alegi notes that one was on the “Roma” on 27 April, 1913.
  When Italy entered the war, there was a Curtiss in Venice and two in Pesaro, while two others were on board the ship “Elba”m the port of Brindisi.

Curtiss A.1 Triad amphibious floatplane with one 80-hp Curtiss engine
  Wingspan 8.75 m; length 8.15 m; height 2.55 m; wings area 27 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg; loaded weight 600 kg;
  Maximum speed 90 km/h; endurance 2 hours

Curtiss-Robinson Triad amphibious floatplane with one 80-hp Curtiss engine
  Wingspan 8.60 m; length 8.40 m; height 2.55 m; wings area 20 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg; loaded weight 550 kg;
  Maximum speed 95 km/h; endurance 3 hours
Curtiss A.1 Triad in USN Service.
Curtiss Triad.
Curtiss Triad.
Curtiss Triad in Venice.
Curtiss Model F

  In 1913, the Italian Navy placed an order for three Curtiss Model F flying boats with specifications that differed from any previous hull design. The hull sides were to be straight instead of flared, as was then the custom. The flared hull was designed to accommodate the side-by-side seating and shoulder yoke control system still in use by Curtiss. The hulls of these Italian Navy boats were narrower, with the occupants seated in tandem. The slab-sided construction made it possible to plank the whole side with one sheet of three-ply mahogany rather than the strip planking then in common use.
  An unusual and distinguishing feature was the hood for the occupants. The fabric hood was like a carriage hood, running longitudinally with transparent panels fitted in the cloth between ribs and across the front. The opening was along the top center line, like an oyster shell, and the hood could be folded down inside of the elliptical-shaped cockpit. The Curtiss controls were changed to a control wheel, something with which the Italian pilots would be more comfortable.
  The inboard wing panels were fitted with a transparent strip that made it possible for the rear occupant to look directly downward. The engine was braced against longitudinal movement by two bracing members that ran down at about a 45-degree angle from the engine bed to the forward deck. Bracing wires extended from the upper bow to the middle interplane struts. The empty weight was approximately 1,440 pounds.
  Aero and Hydro, February 7, 1914, reported; CURTISS “CABIN” BOAT FLIES SUCCESSFULLY Hammondsport, N.Y, January 31. Raymond V. Morris today made a series of flights here in a new flying boat built by the Curtiss Company for the Italian Navy. The machine differs from other Curtiss flying boats in that it has an entirely enclosed cockpit or cabin, seats arranged in tandem, and an oddly shaped hull intended for work on large bodies of water. The crew are well sheltered from the elements that waves washing entirely over the craft would not touch them nor could they swamp the boat. Morris, accompanied by an official observer, put the boat through the usual series of altitude, speed, and weight carrying tests.
  The first Model F was evaluated in January 1914; after testing had been completed in Venice the first examples were ordered by the Regia Marina. Initially ten were ordered, but this number was subsequently increased to 24. They were produced by the Enea Bossi company in Milan in early 1915. Bossi had by that time obtained the Curtiss production license for the Italy and had them built by the Zari brothers’ factory.
  At the beginning of 1916 there were 33 Model Fs listed on strength in the official history. They had, however, been SOC by mid-year. While the speed and climb rate were slow and the climb time high; their in-flight stability was satisfactory, and perhaps more importantly, the Model F handled well in rough seas.
  The Achille’s heel of the design was the Curtiss engine which suffered frequent breakdowns. This resulted in poor serviceability and aircraft being forced down at sea. Later in some aircraft the American engine was replaced with a 110-hp Colombo D.110 national engine, achieving a speed increase of 15 km/h; it is unclear as to when this was done.
  Despite the decision to fit them with more powerful Colombo engines, the type was soon replaced by Lohners or at least their Macchi equivalent.

Curtiss Model F with 90 hp Curtiss engine
  Wingspan, 13 m; length, 8.20 m; height, 3 m; wing area, 42 sq m;
  Empty weight 530 kg; loaded weight 800 kg; payload 270 kg
  Maximum speed 85 km/h; climb to 500 m. in 12 minutes, range 430 km, ceiling 1,000 m
Curtiss Model F in USN Service.
Curtiss Model F in Italian Service.
Bleriot 11

  The Italian Aviazione Militaire (Air Service) purchased five Bleriot 11s in 1910. These were:
  1. 50-hp Gnome - one two-seater and one single-seater.
  2. 35-hp Gnome - one single-seater.
  3. 25-hp Gnome - two single-seat trainers.

Italian Variants

  The Italians used five main types of Bleriot 11s, all built under license by Oneto di Pisa and S.I.T. (the Societa Italiana Transaerea = Italian Transaerial Society). S.I.T was part of the Bleriot company created by them at Turin. The sixtieth and last model was tested on November 20, 1915.
  1. Bleriot 11 “Monoposto” - a single-seater with a 50-hp Gnome engine. It was soon discovered to be of little use in wartime.
  2. Bleriot 11 with low power (30 to 45-hp) Anzani engines. These were also too underpowered for combat service, but proved to be excellent trainers.
  3. Bleriot 11 “Parasol” - 70-hp Gnome; this saw widespread use with the squadriglias. Eight were built in France, but were soon found to be of limited use. Approximately 47 were built by S.I.T.
  4. Bleriot 11 “Idro” - seaplane version of the 11 with a 90-hp Le Rhone engine, twin floats and a tail float. Only one example was produced.
  5. Bleriot 11-2 - a two-seater with an 80-hp Gnome engine. It was used for reconnaissance and bombing, as well as training.
  There were also underpowered versions (likely created from the Anzani powered versions) used as “penguins” to familiarize students with aircraft handling without actually being able to take off.
  6. Bleriot “Biposto” - Unlike the Bleriot 11 designs, the “biposto”was a conventional biplane with tail booms and cockpit with a pusher engine. It was two-seater equipped with an 80 hp Gnome rotary engine. The aircraft was built in 1913 by Louis Bleriot, breaking a tradition that was the standard bearer of the monoplane, built the aforementioned biplane which appeared at the Paris International Air Show that same year.
  The aircraft closely resembled a Henri Farman H.F.20 apart from the simplified landing gear (no skid) and more rounded wing tips. The biplane remained a prototype state presumably the French were satisfied with the Farman design.
  S.I.T. was owner of the Bleriot patents in Italy and in 1914 acquired the aircraft which they designated “Biposto” to evaluate in Italy.
  No further examples were purchased.
  7. SIA-Bleriot - These were eliminated by the military prior to the start of the 1912 competition. They were an all-metal biplane version of the Bleriot 11. It was designed by Ing. Alberto Triaca with an 80-hp Gnome engine. A total of 77 examples were built by S.I.T., alone. Italian production brought the number of Bleriot 11’s acquired up to 221.

Operational Service

  Bleriot Ils of various types were sent to the aviation scuole (school) at Centocelle in Rome), which ceased operations on March 11, 1911. The Bleriots were then sent to the schools at Malpensa and Aviano.
  The aircraft found a more warlike role when they served as reconnaissance aircraft during the Monferrato maneuvers the week of 22 August, 1910. At least 12 aircraft were used during the maneuvers; they were a mix of 50-hp single-seaters and 70-hp two-seaters.
  Two were assigned to the Flottiglia Aeroplani (Airplane Fleet) as part of the expedition to Libya. They reached Tripoli on 15 October, and on the 24th capitano d’artiglieria (artillery captain) Carlo Piazza made what is widely regarded as the world’s first combat sortie by an airplane, a one-hour reconnaissance flight; he later damaged his Bleriot on landing.
  A two-seater and two 80-hp single-seaters also equipped the Tobruk squadron from March 1913, which was repatriated on 12 August.
  In the following days, the Italians experimented with a variety of ways to use these aircraft, including missions at night (March 4,1912). They served alongside Nieuport 4s as part of the 1st Flottiglia di Aeroplani de Tripolia, which consisted of nine machines that undertook reconnaissance, bombing, and even leaflet-dropping operations during the Turko-Italian War.
  A lists of firsts during the war in Libya include;
  - first combat sortie on 22 October 1911
  - first adjustment of naval fire on 28 October 1911
  - first photographic reconnaissance on 23 February 1912
  - first night combat sortie on 4 March 1912
  In 1912 the Bleriot 11 was included among the types chosen for incorporation into the newly re-structured the air forces.
  The next year SIT of Turin delivered 33 30-hp two-seaters followed by other variants in 1914 and 1915. Also, the first Bleriot 11-2 two-seaters were at last obtained from France in March 1912. Two-seaters were needed due to the observation, during the type’s deployment to Libya, that the pilot’s workload during reconnaissance missions was high enough to warrant carrying a second crew member.
  In 1913 the following Squadriglias used Bleriot 11s:
  1a Squadriglia (based in Turin-Mirafiori) 2a Squadriglia (Turin-Venaria Reale)
  3a Squadriglia (Cuneo)
  4a Squadriglia (Rome-Centocelle)
  13a Squadriglia (Piacenza),
  14a Squadriglia (Brescia)
  Tobruk Squadriglia - one Bleriot 11-2 and two single seaters (possibly Bleriot 11 “Parasol”).
  Ideally each Squadriglia would have five operational aircraft and two more in reserve.
  When a Bleriot 11 crashed at Mirafori on 24 April 1914 after its wings detached, the military issued a flight ban while the airframes were examined.

First World War

  When Italy entered the war there were 30 Bleriot 11s (plus seven in reserve) available. This does not include aircraft serving in the Aviano and Miraflori Schools.
  The Bleriot 11s were with 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 13a, and 14a Squadriglias. They were assigned as follows: 1st Gruppo: 1a, 2a, 3a, 13a, and 14a Squadriglias.
  3rd Gruppo: 4a Squadriglia.
  In 1915 the 1st Gruppo was assigned to the 3a Armata while the 4a Squadriglia was attached to the Venice Fortif Harbor Headquarters.
  Thirty Bleriot Ils were assigned to the front but had be withdrawn as being unuseable by 1 December 1915, 2a, 5a, and 13a Squadrilias being the first to disband.

After their retirement form operational units, the surviving Bleriot Ils were relegated to training roles.

S.l.T.-built Bleriot 11 Parasol with 70-hp Gnome engine
  Wingspan 9.20 m; length 7.80 m; height 2.95 m; wing area 18 sq. m
  Empty weight 310 kg; loaded weight 480 kg Maximum speed: 110 km/h

S.l.T.-built Bleriot 11 Idro Floatplane with 90-hp Le Rhone
  Wingspan 11.05 m; length 9.00 m; height 3.0 m; wing area 24 sq. m
  Empty weight 500 kg; loaded weight 740 kg
  Maximum speed: 95 km/h
  One built

S.l.T.-built Bleriot 11-2 (Italian) Two-Seat Reconnaissance Plane with 70/80-hp Gnome
  Wingspan 10.30 m. length 8.40 m, height 2.45 m (Alegis states 2.60 m), wing area 20.3 sq. m
  Empty weight 345 kg; loaded weight 585 kg; payload 240 kg
  Maximum speed: 95 km/h; endurance 3 hr 30 min; climb to 1,000 m in 18 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 50 minutes
  Armament Winchester carbines for the crew, flechettes, and bombs
  47 built

Bleriot Biplane
  Wingspan, 12.70 m; length, 9.15 m; height, 3.10 m; wing area, 38 sq m
  Empty weight 400 kg; loaded weight 650 kg; payload, 250 kg
Bleriot XI #17
Bleriot XI #252
Bleriot XI #283
Bleriot 11 in civil service.
Italian Bleriot 11 Bl.173 in service.
Bleriot 11 escadrille in French service; all the aircraft are two-seaters.
Italian Bleriot 11 '17' in service.
Bleriot 11s in Italian service.
Italian Bleriot 11s at war. (Roberto Gentilli)
Bleriot XI-2, Typical markings, 1914
Bleriot XI-2, Typical markings, 1915
Bleriot 11

Italian Variants

  The Italians used five main types of Bleriot 11s, all built under license by Oneto di Pisa and S.I.T. (the Societa Italiana Transaerea = Italian Transaerial Society). S.I.T was part of the Bleriot company created by them at Turin. The sixtieth and last model was tested on November 20, 1915.
  3. Bleriot 11 “Parasol” - 70-hp Gnome; this saw widespread use with the squadriglias. Eight were built in France, but were soon found to be of limited use. Approximately 47 were built by S.I.T.
Bleriot 11 Parasol in French service in 1915. The Parasol design enhanced the crew's downward view.
Borel Floatplane

  The first examples of this seaplane, built by the French firm of Borel, were assembled in Italy at the beginning of 1913. They were not all identical, although the differences between one and the other were very slight.
  The aircraft was a monoplane, with a crew of two seated in the fuselage, two floats and a rear float.


  Wings - The wing had no dihedral; the leading and trailing edges were parallel, while the ends are rounded. Other examples of the Borels had a trapezoidal wing planform.
  The wing has two main spars, spaced m. 0.80; the front one was 0.25 m from the leading edge. The distance between the ribs was 0.30 m. There are also a number of reinforced ribs, between which there were internal crossbars.
  The upper tie rods of the wings terminate at the vertex of a pyramid formed by four uprights above the observer’s cockpit.
  The lower tie rods, on the other hand, were distributed differently and the front ones connect to the bow of the floats; the rear ones formed a “V” of vertical uprights attached to the fuselage.
  Fuselage - The crew sat in a wide fuselage in. 0.70, with the passenger located in front. The fuselage has wooden frames, stiffened with wire , and was paneled. The front part that carried the engine was covered in aluminum sheeting.
  Tail Unit - The horizontal fixed plane was attached at the end of the fuselage, to which it is connected by means of uprights. It was rectangular in shape, 2.40 x 0.35m and a surface area 0.84 sq m.The horizontal rudder was balanced, and has a large extension (1.80 square meters) with a total area of 3.90 m.
  The rudder was also balanced; the surface area was 0.80 sq m. The talk section of the Borel had a width of 0.25 m - possibly for greater strength - but this plus the size of the rudder resulted in turbulence in that area.
  Flight Controls - The aircraft was steered by wing warping; the ends of the wings were wide and flexible. Wing warping was controlled by means of the lateral movements of the operating lever, which also controlled the rudder, while the pilot determined direction by using a pedal located in the cockpit.
  Floats - There were two main floats, 3.50 x 0.50 x 0.35 meters. They had a slight incidence with respect to the line of flight and had a very gentle curvature on their lower face, while that of the upper aft portion was more abrupt.
  The volume of each float is about 0.600 cubic meters or could support little more than the empty weight of the aircraft while in the water.
  The distance between the two floats was 2.25 m.The tail float at an inclination of 9° it would touch the water at the same time as the main floats.

Operational Service

  In 1913 the Regia Marina bought several examples of the Borel floatplane, each slightly different, some being fitted with 80-hp of 100-hp Gnome-Rhone rotaries.
  The Borel was among the types embarked on major warships and had an important participation in the hydroaviation activity of the years 1913-14.
  After the establishment of the Scuola di aviazione navale (Scuola di aviazione navale) in Venice, the school began its operation on February 1, 1913. The new unit carried out a first major air exercise on 2 June 1913, on the occasion of the visit of the German units Goeben and Strassburg. The mission was to intercept ships and reporting their sighting point.
  Tenente di vascello Ginocchio and tenente Brivonesi left on a Borel seaplane and Guidoni also flew a Borel. Ginocchio first sighted the two ships at an altitude of 1000 m and, dropping to 20 m. On the way back, due to a breakdown, he was forced to land, but he managed to repair the engine and fly back to the base.
  In addition to the San Marco Squadron, based in Venice, the Navy also equipped some naval units with seaplanes and a Borel piloted by sottotenente di vascello Garassini and Roberti were based on the battleship Roma.
  The heterogeneous material that was used in early military floatplane experiments in Italy included at least three copies (some sources suggest up to six) of the French monoplane Borel.
  A contemporary appraisal reads:
  The speed of 100 (km/h) was not normally reached in flight, and it was commonly kept at 90 ...; the maximum altitude was about 2000 meters. The qualities of the device made it significantly superior to the biplanes in use in the same period of time; but it was also easy to handle and quite safe. The robustness of the structure was also satisfactory, indeed some parts were exuberant and could have been lightened without damage. (source Magaldi in Gil Idrovolanti in Italia).
  In May 1915, there were four Borel aircraft located at the seaplane base at Porto Corsini near Ravenna, under the command of tenente Mario Vivaldi, but they saw little service operationally.

Borel two-seat floatplane with one 80 Gnome rotary engine
  Wingspan 11.38 m; length 8.35 m; height 3.10 m; wing area 20 sq m
  Empty weight 550 kg; loaded weight 780 kg; payload 230 kg
  Maximum speed 100 km/h; ceiling 2,000 m; range 260 km.
Borel floatplane in French service.
Borel floatplane in Italian service. (Roberto Gentilli)
Borel floatplane in Italian service. (Roberto Gentilli)
Breguet G 3

  A Breguet in 1911 was included in the material sent to the Italo-Turkish War front and also served in the aviation service of the Navy.
  At the end of July, 1912 having finally managed to repair his Breguet G 3 (or Breguet Type 1911), which had been damaged during a test flight in May, tenente Quaglia began operational sorties. In September he arrived in Benghazi along with tenente Francesco Vece in his Farman, from Tobruk, after that squadron had disbanded. The two new officers immediately began flight activity that also included various photographic reconnaissance. On October 18, 1912 they arrived in Benghazi.
Breguet G 3 in French service.
Breguet G 3 in Benghazi, Libya, in 1912.
Breguet HU 3

  Two HU 3 floatplanes, were obtained by Italy before the war.


  Biplane floatplane with crew of two seated in tandem; however. The engine was a 135-hp Canton-Unne (Salmson) fixed engine.
  Wings - two bay biplane with the upper wing longer than the lower wing. Th upper wing had a 1.80 m overhang. The wings have a rectangular configuration, with a rounded tips and a thick profile. This shape was used in other, earlier Breguet designs as it had been tested in the Eiffel wind tunnel.
  The wing structure had a metal central spar and four other wooden spars, aft of the leading edge. The main ribs protruded somewhat beyond the trailing edge, and their ends were connected with metal wire. The ribs were spaced at approximately 0.12 m intervals.
  To strengthen the wing, numerous rigging wires were used from the bow of the float connecting the struts. Other wires passed from the struts to the tail of the fuselage.
  Fuselage - The fuselage had four longerons of steel stiffened with metal posts and crossbeams. They main fuselage was canvas covered, but the forward part with the engine was covered by aluminum aluminum sheets to reduce air resistance. The radiators were composed of bundles of thin tubes attached to the sides of the fuselage.
  Floats - The shape of the Breguet central float was characteristic for that firm. It had chines on the sides because the frames - straight and vertical - met at the surface of the bottom along two edges that end up on the bow.
  The dimensions are as follows: Length 4.80 m; width 1.50 m; height 0.55 m; volume 2,700 cubic meters
  The volume of 2,700 cubic meters allowed for a displacement which could support a machine twice as heavy. The central float was divided into multiple watertight compartments by longitudinal and transverse bulkheads. Its structure, however, was remarkably light.
  Tail Unit - The tail had oblique horizontal stabilizers and ended in a small step with a vertical wall. This structure was intended to strengthen the airframe and avoid vibrations or testing when exposed to wind eddies.
  The connection of the float to the device is ensured by means of uprights, two under the forward area attached to the fuselage, just behind the engine, and two others to the center of airframe (probably at or near the center of gravity). The points of attachment to the float were hinged, so that the hull could undergo slight rotations and the stern strut supports were elastic. The special system of these struts consists included a pair of oil-pneumatic shock absorbers, placed almost under the center of gravity, to dampen shocks due to ditching or waves.
  Along the upper edge of the float, in the forward section, a metal sheet was fitted to protect the propeller from splashing water.
  The outer floats, necessary for transversal stability in water, were fitted under the intermediate uprights. These floats were 1.90 m in length, 0.70 m wide, and had a volume of about a quarter of a cubic meter. They were supported with a single post plus several wires, one of which, the front, attached to the upper end of the post. The threads were elastic to allow the float a limited amount. The two stabilizing floats were also connected by means of tubes to the central float.
  The tail float had an unusual shape, with a “V” shaped part starting from the keel, while the upper part was almost flat. It was supported by four struts and various wires at the tail of the fuselage. While sitting on the water both the central and tail float would be immersed at 9 °.
  Flight Controls - The entire rudder and tail form a single, cruciform configuration connected to the end of the fuselage with a universal joint, so that the movements of the assembly were free when one or the other of the rudders was operated.
  The rudder had a span of 4.00 m and width of 1.45 m. The surface area was 4.60 sq m.The directional rudder was symmetrical. The vertical, triangular tail, which starts from the passenger seat had a surface area of 0.70 sq m.
  Both rudders were balanced, and were held in the medium equilibrium position by means of spring ties.
  The steering wheel controlled the horizontal rudder with the usual forward and backward movements of the lever, or the vertical rudder by means of its rotation.
  Lateral control was via the aileron system.

Operational Service

  The speed of the HU 3 was modest due to its somewhat high drag, ungainly layout, plus an engine of modest power.
  The Breguet seaplanes were usually equipped with wireless telegraphy (transmitting apparatus).
  During the war in Libya, eight civilian and eight military pilots were sent to Tobruk and Derna. The Flottiglia Volontari di Piloti (Civil Volunteer Civil Aviatos Fleet) reached Denza (Derna) on 25 November and Tobruk on the 28th. They were then divided into the 3a and 4a Plotone di aviazione autonoma (Autonomous Aviation Platoons). The civilians were provided with one Regia Marina Breguet HU 3 floatplane and a Deperdussin (listed as a “Concours Militaire 1911”) with a 100-hp Clerget engine.
  The HU 3s were embarked on the Dante Alighieri in 1913 and 1914. The aircraft were carried on top of Current number 2 and had to be taken in and out of the water using a ship’s crane.
  One was out of service at the end of 1915; it is uncertain as to when the second Breguet was SOC.

Breguet HU 3 two-seat floatplane with a Canton Unne engine
  Wingspan 15.40 m; length 10.20 m; height 3.50 m; wing surface area 47 sq m
  Empty weight 900 kg; payload 250 kg; loaded weight 1,150 kg
  Maximum speed 90 km/h; range 250 km
  Two acquired by the Regia Marina
Breguet HU 3 floatplane in Italian naval service. (Roberto Gentilli)
Breguet BUC

  Gentilli and Varriale have a picture of a Breguet pusher serving with the Sezione Difesa di Mirafiori in their units book. It is noted as being that unit’s only aircraft in August 1917 and was apparently operated until the end of September. The Breguet’s pilots were sergenti Canonica and Battaglia.
  The authors tentatively identified the aircraft as a Breguet-Michelin, but the single nose wheel indicates a fighter version. These were not funded by the Michelin brothers, so they only carried a Breguet identification. The shape of the nose and single nose wheel suggest a BUC, although the radiators shown were more commonly used on other variants. It could also be a heavily modified BM 4, but that would seem unlikely.
Breguet BUC in Italian service at Mirafiori, Turin. (Roberto Gentilli)
Caudron G.3

  Italy was in desperate need of adequate combat aircraft when it entered the war in 1915. One of the first types to be obtained was the Caudron G.3, along with Nieuport 10, Macchi Parasols, Voisin 3s, and Farman M.F.11s. Of these the Nieuport 10 and Macchi Parasol (the only indigenous design) were quickly withdrawn and more Caudron G.3s purchased.
  The first 15 G.3s would be delivered in June and AER (established in Turin in April 1915) was also to produce the type under license.
  The Parasol Macchi was replaced in five of the Squadriglia Artiglieria (Artillery Squadrons) by the Caudron G.3 with 30 machines being supplied by France and 10 more to follow.
  Caudron G.3s and G.4s were built under license by the AER plant at Torino. Ninety aircraft were built in 1915, and 80 in early 1916, bringing the total built to 170 examples. This brought the total number of G.3s built in Italy and obtained in France to 224.
  The Fiat A.10 and the 150 hp Isotta-Fraschini would eventually replace the rotary engines, with the exception of the 80-hp Le Rhone, destined for the Caudron G.3s, whose production was about to start under license by AER. Even the Caudron G.3’s Le Rhone proved difficult for the Italian industry to produce under license.
  It was soon realized that the Caudron G.3’s 80-hp engines were simply not powerful enough to permit them to operate in bad weather.
  Trials were performed with a G.3 equipped with radios; the radios chosen were SFR and Marconi sets. The SFR proved superior and some of these raids were sent to 4a in November 1915.
  As the war progressed the 165-mm focal length cameras were replaced by 240- and 430-mm types with magazines carrying up to 24 plates.

Operational Service

  By December 1915 there were five G.3 squadriglias on strength. The aircraft were used in the army cooperation role and were organized as artillery Squadriglias.
  During the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo (10 November - 2 December 1915) the G.3 OOB was:
  1a and 5a Squadriglias Caudron G.3 at Oleis assigned to 2a Armata
  2a and 3a Squadriglias at Macchi Parasol at Medeuzza (in the process of converting to Caudron G.3s) 4a Squadriglia Caudron G.3 at Gonars at the disposition of 3a Armata
  At the end of 1915 the artillery squadriglias, 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a, all used Caudron G.3s. Each Squadriglia consisted of 3 seziones with three G.3s each, plus a tenth in reserve.This arrangement permitted the various seziones to be deployed to the areas of the front where they were most needed.


  In the first four months of 1916, 39 G.3s had been sent to front line units. During 1916 the G.3 were 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, and 47 Squadriglias.
  Caudron G.3s continued in widespread use as army cooperation aircraft throughout 1916. They were organized as follows:
  III Gruppo (1a Armata): 46a (sezione of Caudron G.3s) and 50a Squadriglias (M.F.11s).
  V Gruppo (3rd Armata): 41a, 42a, 43a, and 44a Squadriglias.
  VI Gruppo (3rd Armata): 45a Squadriglia.
  By early 1917 the G.3s were replaced by other aircraft, including Caudron G.4s. The G.3s were subsequently used as trainers.
  A few remaining G.3s were assigned to 41a Squadriglia in 1917, along with a number of Farmans. No. 41a Squadriglia was assigned to 2 Gruppo. In April 2 Gruppo was assigned to the 2nd Armata and in November it was with the 4th Armata.

  Crews had been forced to fly in an active war zone in a design which was clearly outdated. The problem was the continued problems with the Savoia Pomilio firm. The plan to replace the Caudron G.3s with the Savoia-Pomilio SP.2s and SP.3s was blocked by problems discovered with the design during testing. As both development and production issues with Pomilios was being dealt with, there was no choice but to keep the seriously outdated French machines on the front lines.
  On 9 July, Caudron G.3 605, which had been hit by antiaircraft artillery during a photographic survey of the Portule ridge, crashed on the northern slopes of the Armentera. The shooting down of this aircraft, with the death of its crew once again raised the question of the appropriateness of continuing to use the G.3. The limited performance of the type, coupled with its vulnerability to fighters (it was virtually unarmed because of the configuration of its airframe, meant that army commanders had to limit its depth of penetration over the lines to 5 km. This episode thus contributed to hastening the dissolution of the Caudron squadriglias, which took place on 17 August, 1917 with the dissolution of 49a. The Caudrons would be replaced by SP.3s, which, were themselves vulnerable to fighters due to their pusher configuration. Yet, even as the S.P.2 and 3 crews were still being trained for operations after their arrival at the front, it was necessary to continue to use the G.3s in 42a, 43a, and 44a.
  By late 1916 the G.3s were being withdrawn from the front and sent to school units. The main training units were Cameri, Centocelle (school for observers), Mirafiori, San Giusto, and Venarai in 1916. According to Alegi the G.3bis with a 120-hp Le Rhone engine was built specifically for the school; the need was so great for the aircraft that the production line reopened in 1918!

Caudron G3s Built by A.E.R.: Engines Included the 80-hp Le Rhone
  Wingspan 13.40 m, length 6.40 m, height 2.50 m, wing area 27 sq.m
  Empty weight 420 kg, loaded weight 710 kg
  Maximum speed: 110 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 8 min.; climb to 2,000 m in 18 min.; climb to 3,000 m in 30 min.; ceiling 4,000 m; endurance 4.0 hours
  A total of 250 were built.
Caudron G.3 C1077
Caudron G.3 C1417
Caudron G.3 in Italian Service.
Caudron G.3 in Italian Service.
Caudron G.3 in Italian Service.
Caudron G.3 bottom, Early Markings
Caudron G.3 bottom, Late Markings
Caudron G.4
  The G.4s were found by the Italians to have superior qualities and, in particular, a good climb rate and high-altitude performance. These two qualities made it especially suitable for service in the Alps. The type was built by the AER factory in Torino. Forty were built under license in 1916 and 11 in 1917.
  In late 1916, the first Caudron G.4s arrived, and 48a was the first unit to receive it. It was also the only Squadriglia fully equipped with this machine. Preceded by the news of the conquest of the world height record with a passenger on board, with an altitude of 6,240 meters, the first two specimens arrived in Belluno on 23 June. The Italian G.4s could carry a Fiat Revelli mod. 1914 and a Fiat Villar Perosa machine gun, and an offensive load of 100 kilograms of bombs. This availability enabled 48a to add bombing missions in the immediate rear and even combat patrols to hinder the action of KuK observation aircraft.
  Produced in 51 units, the G.4 replaced the Farman M.F.11s of the four seziones of 48a. As the war progressed, the addition aircraft were supplied to other artillery squadriglias deployed on the lower Isonzo as seziones with three aircraft.
  Italian G.4 units in 1917 included:
  V Gruppo (3a Armata): 42a, 43a, and 44a Squadriglias.
  12 Gruppo (4a Armata): 48a Squadriglia.
  The artillery squadriglias of the 2a and 3a Armatas had started 1917 equipped with about 8-9 aircraft each. In consideration of the inherent limitations of the Caudron G.3, whose flight qualities were no longer sufficient to compensate for the lack of armament and performance increasingly penalized by the poor efficiency of their rotary engines, the Squadriglias operating on the Lower Soca (42a, 43a and 44a) were each reinforced in February by a sezione of twin-engined G.4s.
  By 1918 the Caudron G.4 had been replaced by indigenous designs such as the Pomilio PE and SIA 7b of indigenous origin.

42a Squadriglia
  At the beginning of 1917 this unit received a Sezione of Caudron G.4s that, unlike the G.3s, were armed with a machine gun. In May, in the same position, it supported the offensive of XI Corpo d’armada with a total of 71 flights and took over 250 photographs taken over Comen, Vale, and Reifenberg.
  As part of V Gruppo and based at Medeuzza, 42a Squadriglia also was active during the offensives in August making a total of 43 flights, including 10 reconnaissance, 25 artillery regulations, and 8 bombings during the offensive. Like other Caudron Squadriglias, 42a was disbanded on October 15,1917. During the war it carried out approximately 850 flights of war.

43a Squadriglia
  During 1916 this unit also received Caudron G.4s. Reconnaissance missions wren flown over Goriansko and Kobila Glava in March. In April, 43a had G.4 2007, which had to be SOC on 13 April due to AAA damage to the engines.
  In May, under V Gruppo at Bolzano, 43a was very active in support of the offensive, carrying out reconnaissance and artillery spotting. In May, 43a made 56 war flights.
  By August 1917 the unit had to be withdrawn due to the age of its Caudron G.3s and G.4s. Overall, in August 43a made 49 sorties, including 18 reconnaissance and observations, 28 infantry strafing, and three bombing operations. On September 26 it moved to Medeuzza, and was disbanded on October 15,1917.

44a Squadriglia
  44a received some Caudron G.4s in mid-1917.
  In August, during the offensives, 44a stepped up its operations, even though its planes were old. During August 44a had made 47 flights over the enemy lines, including three bombing missions, and had taken about 160 photos.
  Operations declined, and the Squadriglia was finally disbanded on 10 November, 1917. In the course of 1917 it had performed about 125 combat sorties.

48a Squadriglia
  This unit was constituted as 8a Squadriglia per l’Artiglieria, on April 5,1916 with Nieuport monoplanes. In June 1916, it converted to Caudron G.4s, which, having would be more suitable for high mountain areas.
  In July 48a left VII Gruppo and became an independent unit, available to the Comando di Artiglieria (Artillery Command) of 4a Armata.
  In September the 48a performed bombing missions and contact patrols against incursions by enemy aircraft, with whom there were several encounters.
  In 1916 48a Squadriglia performed, according to official reports, about 90 sorties.
  In January 1917 48a was still an autonomous unit based at Belluno. Only a few missions were flown in January due to bad weather.
  In the Spring, 48a Squadriglia ceased to be an autonomous unit and rejoined VII Gruppo, then in May it passed to the new XII Gruppo, under 4a Armata. It was still based at S. Pietro al Campo, Belluno.
  In early June 48a detached its second Sezione for two months to the field of Feltre; three pilots and three observers were sent.
  With the Caporetto retreat beginning in November, 48a made a series of moves to Casoni, S. Justina, and Castel di Godego.
  During 1917 48 Squadriglia had flown 224 combat sorties.
  In February 1918 48a flew strategic reconnaissance missions. Its Caudron G.4s meantime had become too difficult to maintain and were seen as now being too slow to operate over a front that was now becoming more active. As a result, 48a began refitting with Pomilio PEs, and sent many of its crew to other units.
  Shortly after being introduced into service, the Pomilio PE was discovered to be a difficult aircraft to use in combat. However, 48a was not able to fly many sorties due to its now thoroughly obsolete Caudron G.4s. On 18 June 48a Squadriglia participated in a mass low altitude bombing against enemy troops who were trying to cross the Piave, sending the four aircraft to attack.. The next day the same crews performed nine bombing missions, dropping a total of 117 bombs, and the action was repeated again on June 20. By this time the PEs, and later, SAML two-seaters had at last replaced the G.4s.

A.E.R.-Built G4 with Two 80-hp Le Rhone Engine
  Wingspan 16.885 ran; length 7.20 m; height 2.60 m; wing area 36.828 sq. m
  Empty weight 845 kg; loaded weight 1,350 kg; payload 505 kg
  Maximum speed: 130 km/h at sea level; climb to 3,000 m in 19 min.; climb to 4,000 m in 36 min.; ceiling 4,500 m; endurance 4 hours
  A total of 51 G.4s were built by A.E.R.
Caudron G.4 in Italian Service.
Caudron G.4 in French (Belgian ???) Service. The G.4 was basically a twin-engine derivative of the G.3; as such it retained the primitive pusher configuration despite not being a pusher. This limited its performance and ability to defend itself against fighters, and subsequent Caudron twins had a conventional fuselage.
Caudron G.4 in Italian service. (Roberto Gentilli)
Deperdussin B

  While the Deperdussin B never served formally with the Italian military, one example did have a brief moment of glory during the Italian invasion of Libya. As there was a shortage of military pilots available to serve on the Cyrenaica front, the Italian magazine La Stampa Sportiva offered to pay for civilian flyers to provide their support, a concept that the Esercito actively supported. In the end eight civilian and eight military pilots were sent to Tobruk and Derna, along with nine Bleriots and one Farman.
  The Flottiglia Volontari di Piloti Civil Volunteer (Civil Aviatos Fleet) reached Denza on 25 November and Tobruk on the 28th. They were then divided into the 3a and 4a Plotone di aviazione autonoma (Autonomous Aviation Platoons). The civilians were provided with a Breguet HU 3 floatplane, and a Deperdussin B (listed as a “Concours Militaire 1911”) with a 100-hp Clerget engine.
  A Deperdussin was flown by pilot Dal Mistro, during the Libyan campaign serving with Squadriglia di Derna. At least one was also piloted by Cesaroni. The aircraft had a 100-hp Clerget rotary engine and could carry a crew of three.
Cesaroni in his Deperdussin. (Roberto Gentilli)
Farman H.F.3

  In In May 1910, then Brigata Specialisti (Specialists Brigade) sent tenente Savoja to Mourmelon-le-Grand to train on a Farman HF and buy one for the Ministro della Guerra (Ministry of War). At that time the Ejercito had only one thoroughly antiquated Wright Type A Flyer. The H.F.3, which would prove to be a substantial improvement with its 50-hp Gnome engine, was thus able to replace the old Wright which had been decommissioned on 22 May,
  Testing began at Centocelle in June 25 where the H.F.3 was quickly damaged and, almost as quickly repaired. It was purchased to allow the military aviators to familiarize themselves with a more “modern” aircraft type and as such served as a trainer for tenenti Saglietti, Gavotti and Ginocchio.
  A technical department under the Brigata Specialist! was created by colonello Moris at the workshops in Rome. With assistance of Savoja and Calderara they built three H.F.3s and equipped them with 50 hp Gnome engines. Thus, the first military aircraft produced in series in Italy were three H.F.3 trainers. On 3 December, 1910 H.F.3 No. 3 crashed, killing tenente Enrico Cammarota Adorno and engineer Castellani.
  Despite the tragedy, the H.F.3s proved to be both efficient and safe. By the end of 1910 H.F.3 No.1 from France had made no less than 299 flights. Additional machines were ordered from France; the total H.F.3s was now nine aircraft, excluding losses.
  The scuole moved from Centocelle to Ariano, where in July 1911. As training sessions continued at the new site, the H.F.3s continued to add to their laurels, H.F.3 No.1 achieving a speed of 59 km/h on 28 June.
  Tenente Leopoldo De Rada participated in the Monferrato maneuvers in August 1911, operating with the blue forces.

Henri Farman H.F.3 two-seat aircraft
  Wingspan 10 m; length 12 m; wing area 40 sq m
  Maximum speed 80 km/h
Henri-Farman HF.3 3-view drawing.
Italian Farman M.F.11 (???) floatplane being hoisted aboard a ship.
Farman H.F.20

  Four H.F.20s were built under license in 1913; it was the first type produced by the “Savoia” Aeronautical Construction Company of Turro Milanese. The H.F.20 was tested by pilot Henri Bille of the Farman firm and Michele Signorini of the Savoia factory in December 1913.
  At the beginning of 1914 all four aircraft were handed over to the military administration for the formation of the first squadron of biplanes “Savoia”-Farman known as Squadriglia Savoia. One pilot of this unit, Maurice Chevillard, made a number of publicity flights to various Italian cities in March 1914. It appears that there were no H.F.20s still in front-line service when Italy entered the war in 1915.

H.F.20 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft
  Wingspan 13.60 m; length 8.06 m; height 3.20 m; wing area 35 sq m
  Empty weight 366 kg; loaded weight 621 kg; payload 255 kg;
  Maximum speed 95 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 13 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 27 minutes; endurance 3 hours 30 minutes
Farman H.F.20 in French service.
Farman H.F.22H

  The H.F.22 was similar to the HF.20, except for the greater wing area and consequent increase in wingspan and weight. It was mounted on twin floats suspended by struts below the airframe plus a rear float under the tail. The floats were fixed to the cell with a special elastic (bungee) chords which absorbed shocks. It was equipped with an 80 hp Gnome rotary engine.


  It is a biplane with two floats with an 80 HP Gnome engine, and pusher propeller.
  Similar to the H.F. 20, aside from a slightly more curved and thicker wing profile. The distance between the ribs was 0.25. The upper wing had a trapezoidal shape.
  The crew was seated in the central nacelle along with the fuel tanks. The pusher engine was located at the end of their nacelle.
  The support structure of the tail has a triangular plan, and was made up of four steel tubes, the two of which on each side were almost parallel to each other and stiffened with uprights and crossbeams.
  The horizontal fixed tail surface was 3.80 sq m and had a positive incidence of about 3° on the two upper tubes. The stabilizer was operated by independent wires, and had a total surface area of approx. 1.60 sq m.The wires went to the ends of two rocker levers, placed on the sides of the cockpit and rigidly connected by means of a tube that the pilot rotated to the desired angle with the forward and backward movements of the control lever.
  There was a single, balanced rudder with an area of 1.30 sq m. Its movement was via two pedals which moved in vertical planes by dragging the control wires with them and which were connected together by a wire passing through a pulley below.
  The ailerons had a surface area of about 2 sq m each, meters. They were controlled by means of two arms equipped with handles applied to the upper end of the control lever, which was rotated to the right and to the left by means of a hinge. The purpose of this system was to eliminate the steering wheel and to allow maneuvering even when the hands were numb or covered by large gloves.
  The floats were the standard Farman types, and the Regia Marina aircraft did not have them replaced by Guidoni floats. They had a length of 3.90 m; width of 0.9 m; height of 0.32 m, and a volume of 0.950 cubic meters.
  Distance between the floats, m. 3.90
  The shape of the rear floats was designed to facilitate detachment from the water; however, it could cause considerable resistance to motion.
  The tail float was of the same type but smaller, with a volume of 0.120 cubic meters.
  The nacelle was considered to be well designed, comfortable for the crew. The control system made the work of the pilot easier.
  It was found the the H.F.22H’s layout generated considerable drag, in large part due to the shape of the cockpit and the fact that it was completely open at the top. The partly protruding fuel tank and engine support structure aggravated the problem.

Operational Service

  Several examples of the H.F.22H (H = Hydravion, or seaplane) were built by the “Savoia” in 1914. One was supplied to the Regia Marina and sent to the Squadriglia di Taranto (Taranto Squadron). Others went to the stazione di idrovolanti dell’Esercito (Army seaplane station) at S. Feliziano sul Trasimeno, which was commanded by tenente Anseimo Cesaroni.

Farman H.F.22H two-seat floatplane with one 80 hp Gnome rotary engine
  Wingspan, 15.50 m;length, 9.60 m; height, 3.80 m; wing area, 44.50 square meters.
  Empty weight 525 kg; loaded eight 770 kg; payload 245 kg
  Maximum speed, 90 km/h; climb to 1,000 m. in 25 minutes; endurance 3.5 hours
Farman F.22H drawing.
Farman F.40

  Domenico Santoni, managing director of the Savoia company, imported an F.40 from France in 1916 for evaluation. He subsequently donated it to the Ministero della Guerra (Ministry of War), to participate in the air defense of Milan, which had been bombed by Austrian planes.
  There have been reports that a few examples were built by Savoia and served in the Farman Squadriglias, alongside M.F.11s.
Farman F.40s in Italian service.
Farman F.40s in Italian service.
Farman F.40s in Italian service.
FBA Type C

  The Italian naval air service acquired a number of Type Cs to use against the Austrian Lohner seaplanes (which, ironically, had been heavily influenced by the Donnet-Leveque flying boat on which the original Type A had been based).
  The first Italian FBA were Type Cs purchased by the Esercito in June 1915 for service with the Sezione Idro del Lago di Garda (Garda Lake Seaplane Flight), which during the summer performed several reconnaissance and some bombing missions.
  In 1916 there were 38 FBA Type Cs in service. Some Type Cs were produced under license by the SIAI firm.
  They appear to have primarily been used by the Army’s 1a Squadriglia Idrovolanti.

1a Squadriglia Idrovolanti

  This Esercito unit moved from San Feliciano, on Lake Trasimeno, to Desenzano del Garda on 26 May, 1915 with a single Henri Farman 80 horsepower seaplane. Tenente Anseimo Cesaroni and maresciallo Alfredo Rossetti who carried out the first reconnaissance of the war on 2 June, 1915. On 17 June Cesaroni and Rossetti returned with two FBA Cs with 100 horsepower Gnome engines, construction numbers 52 and 73 which are assembled and tested on 22.
  The unit was formally born as the Sezione Idro di Desenzano (Seaplane Section of Desenzano) established on 13 July 1915 and operated as a Squadriglia without having a precise name. The unit made individual and formation bombings over Austro-Hungarian naval targets. They began offensive reconnaissance missions on August. On 25 August the FBAs attempted to intercept Austro-Hungarian flying boats bombing Brescia without success; the FBAs then bombed Riva. On 1 December 1915 the unit joined the new III Gruppo.
  It became 1a Squadriglia Idrovolanti (la Seaplane Squadron) on 26 January, 1916. It received FBA no.88, the first of the SIAI-built FBA, in January 1916, followed in April by the 100 hp 52 and 53, and then by additional French and Italian models. On 19 March it had nine FBA type Cs, with 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine.
  As of August 26, 1916, the la Squadriglia Idro had one FBA H and 14 FBA Cs.
  On 15 October 1917 the unit was transferred to the Navy who used it to create two difesa antisommergibili seczioni (anti-submarine sections) for use over the Mediterranean. The first sezione went to Catania, later becoming 282a Squadriglia and FBAs 3149, 4315, 4250 and 5688. The second sezione went to Syracuse, later becoming 283a Squadriglia with FBAs 3150, 4252, 4262 and 4270.
  On 4 November 1918 the new Sezione FBA del III Gruppo at Desenzano had FBAs 7160, 7163, 7661, 7648, 7655 and 4245.
  At the end of the year it had six FBA H. 1a Squadriglia Idrovolanti was dissolved on 18 January 1919.
FBA Type C in Italian service.
Lineup of FBA Type C flying boats at the flying school at Sesto Calende.
F.B.A. Type C
F.B.A. Type C
F.B.A. Type C
FBA Type H

  One of the most ubiquitous, and important Italian naval aircraft in the First World War, the F.B.A. Type H was used by by 28 Squadriglias.
  The aircraft also helped to provide the fledgling Italian aeronautical industry with experience building flying boats. The SIAI (Societa Idrovolanti Alta Italia = Seaplane Society of Upper Italy) was created to build FBAs under license by Italian entrepreneur Domenico Sanoni and the Caoe brothers woodworking firm. The SIAI firm has enjoyed enormous success, even to this day. License production saved the Italians from having to depend on the overloaded French aircraft and aero engine industry which could not possibly supply all the airframes and engines that were required by their ally.
  The SIAI aircraft were fitted with a 170-hp Isotta-Fraschini engine and had larger dimensions. A total of 982 were built in Italy until production ceased in late 1918.
  Five Type Hs were order by the military, but not by the Regia Marina, but by the Regia Esercito (the Royal Army). Varriale reports that five were ordered by the Esercito even been before the first example had flown. They expanded their order to 48 SIAI Type Hs in June 1916. The first two reached Venice in late August and were assigned to 1a Squadriglia Idro.
  The Regia Marina had evaluated the FBA C but found its Monosoupape to be problematic. Once the Type H became available with the indigenous Isotta-Fraschini engine, they eagerly ordered large numbers of the type. Due to production difficulties at SIAI, they had received only five Type Hs in Venice by October 1916, plus two in Varano, Brindisi, and Valona (in Albania).There were also two with the Taranto flying school; this gives a total of only 13 aircraft.


  Gallinari proposed an amphibious version of the Type H with the wheels retracting into fairings on the side of the hull. It appears to have been built, but was never tested. Indeed, it may never have flown at all.


  The key to mass producing aircraft in France was the need to use reliable subcontractors. Understanding this, SIAI chose to subcontract work to CIVES in Varazze, Gallinari in Livorno, Savoia e Zari in Bovisio, IAM in Naples and Ducrot in Palermo. Together, by the end of the war these companies would build nearly 1,000 aircraft. Unfortunately, Gallinari and Durcot would have serious production problems that would result in frequent equipment failure in operational service.
  SIAI: 406 aircraft
   1916 - 38 aircraft, 1917 - 294 aircraft, 1918 - 74 aircraft
  Durcot: 120 built (out of 160 ordered)
  Industrie Aviatorie Meridionale: 100 (140)
  Savoia: 100 (100)
  Societa Costruzioni Idrovolanti of the CIVES School of Varazze: 100 (100)
  Societa Industrie Aeronautiche Gallinari of Livorno: 93 (100)
  Zari: 60 (60)
  Total: 1,029 FBAs were produced (almost all Type Hs)

Operational Service


  The Army would have a brief flirtation with developing its own naval aviation units. They formed 1a, 2a (at Grado), and 3a Squadriglias, before largely abandoning naval aviation to the Regia Marina.

Regia Marina

  In 1917 there were 367 Type Bs, Cs, and Hs in service. These aircraft flew patrol and bombing missions, but their most important task was anti-submarine duties. Shipping was vulnerable to German and Austro-Hungarian submarines and, as with the Western front, aviation would play a crucial role in limiting the efficacy of sub attacks. Eventually, a network of seaplane stations was created to cover almost the entire coastline of Italy, plus Libya and Albania. Initially operating as seaplane stations, they were redesigned Squadriglias in early 1917 as the number of FBA Type Hs produced began to increase dramatically.
  FBA Hs were assigned as follows on 1 June 1917: Brindisi (12), Valona (18), seaplane carriers (8), and Corfu (6). At the time of the Armistice, the Italian naval air service had a total of nearly 600 FBAs (Cs and Hs) on strength. These were assigned to the following squadriglias: Reconnaissance squadriglias: 254, 255 (based at Varano), 256 (Otranto), 257 (Valona), 58 (seaplane carrier Europa), 263 (Porto Cosini), and 264 (Ancona).
  Patrol squadriglias: 266 (Sanreno), 267 (Porto Maurizio), 268 (Rapallo), 269 (La Spezia), 270 (Palermo), 271 (Civitavecchia), 273 (Livorno), 274 (Piombino), 275 (Ponza),276 (Napoli), 277 (Sapri),278 (Terranova Pausiana), 279 (Cagliari), 280 (Milazzo), 281 (Taormina), 282 (Catania), 283 (Siracusa), 284 (Trapani), 285 (Orbetello).
  The FBAs were effective in reconnaissance missions, but their low ceiling made them vulnerable to AAA. As time progressed, their slow speed was more than matched by the Austro-Hungarian fighters, so they now required fighter escort, often from Macchi M3s. They also reportedly required a higher workload on their pilots, being unforgiving of mistakes. Furthermore, the Durcot and Gallinari machines had so many issues, that units would send officers to their factories in an attempt to determine what the problem was. Varriale notes that Capitano di Corvetta Ponzio, the Regia Marina Director of Aeronautical Services in the Upper Adriatic, decided against using FBAs over fortified targets by day. As a results the FBAs at Venice were moved to quieter sections of the front. Records show that 258a had already made this same decision in 1917; it would seem likely that at least some of the other Squadriglias using the type would come to the same decision.
  The FBA Hs did not have rudders making taxying at sea difficult. The Type Hs relatively low ceiling made it vulnerable to AAA unless the payload was severely restricted. The use of petrol hand pumps proved impractical under combat conditions. The aircraft’s low speed made interceptions of enemy aircraft difficult, if not impossible.
  The FBA Hs also proved useful as dual control trainers in the seaplane flying school. It is reported that one had its top wing removed so it could used as a seaborne “penguin” to teach pilots to taxi on the water. U.S. Naval aviators were also trained on the type prior to being assigned to the now American run 263a Squadriglia.
  Despite all these issues, FBA Type Hs served throughout the First World War in both the Regia Marina and Esercito. They were effective in the maritime reconnaissance role, often operating in pairs for up to four hours on patrol.
  As the war ended the Regia Marina still had 382 FBA Hs in service. Their intended replacement was also built by SIAI as the S.8. It was a fine airplane, but it arrived far too late to replace the FBAs. In April 1919 there were 331 FBAs in service.

Foreign Service

United Kingdom

  During June the Italians presented RNAS Taranto with four FBA flying boats. They were given RNAS serials N.1075-N.1078. Two were retained at Taranto, and the other two were sent to Malta.



  The Regia Marina had 140 FBA Hs on strength on 20 April 1919. Including examples with training units and the depots the total comes to 501 FBAs.


  Three FBA Hs seziones had been established in Libya during the war to patrol for German flying boats; these seziones later merged to form 286a Squadriglia. 286a remained active postwar.
  The Type Hs served alongside the land based aircraft in attacks against local rebellious tribes.

SIAI-built Type H Three-Seat Flying Boat with 170-hp Isotta-Fraschini
  Wingspan 14.55 m; length 10.20 m; height 3.78m; wing area 42 sq. m;
  Empty weight 925 kg; leaded weight 1,400 kg
  Maximum speed: 140 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 8 min.; climb to 2,000 m in 18 min.; climb to 3,000 m in 31 min.; climb to 4,000 m in 47 min; ceiling 5,000 m, range 600 km
  982 built

Gallinari Seaplanes

  The name isn’t that of an “Italian designer”. Rather, it refers to the wooden boat-building yard, Cantiere Navale G. Gallinari ScC. of Livorno and to its aviation subsidiary, Societa Anonima Industrie Meccaniche Gallinari based at Marina di Pisa. It was formed in 1916 to license-building seaplanes (beginning in 1916 or 1917, sources vary). There are suggestions that sometime during its existence, that the Gallinari plant built a wooden seaplane, but details are lacking.
  It is likely that the firm built FBAs (either parts for the aircraft or the whole airframe).
  There is mention of the Societa Anonima Industrie Meccaniche Gallinari holding a license to build the FBA Type H flying boat in Italy. SIAI (Societa Idrovolanti Alta Italia) however held the rights to license production, so Gallinari’s actual involvement in producing these aircraft, if any, remains in doubt.
  While Type H production remains uncertain, according to Progettazione e produttivita dell’industria aeronautica italiana dalle origini al 1943: Le relazioni della “Direzione Costruzioni Aeronautiche” dell’Aeronautica Militare, Gallinari built 93 aircraft during the war, primarily SIAI S.8 flying boats.
  Societa Anonima Industrie Meccaniche Gallinari closed after WWI. The firm was on shaky ground - Cantieri Gallinari had filed for bankruptcy in 1912 (although the boat-builder is going strong today). In 1921, the German-financed Societa Anonima Italiana Costruzioni Meccaniche (SAICM) took over Gallinari’s Marina di Pisa factory space. Formed to license-build Dorniers, SAICM became the more familiar CMASA (Costruzioni Meccaniche Aeronautiche - Societa Anonima) after its 1925 move to Genoa.
FBA Type H #18102 '5'
FBA Type H '6'
FBA Type H '7', Bolsena NAS
FBA Type H in Italian service at Bolsena, but the first aircraft in line is a Macchi L.3.
FBA Type H in Italian service at Bolsena.
FBA Type H #18102 with dramatic marking at Bolsena flying school.
FBA Type H in Italian service.
FBA Type H tactical '5' in Italian service.
FBA Type H in Italian service.
FBA Type H in Italian service.
FBA Type H in Italian service.
FBA Type H in Italian service at Brindisi, with a battleship in background..
F.B.A. Type H
F.B.A. Type H
F.B.A. Type H
Hanriot HD.1

  The Nieuport N.11s and N.17s were not only inferior to their Austro-Hungarian figure counterparts, but also suffered from numerous structural problems including wing failures. The latter was exacerbated by the Nieuport firms’s decision to continue to produce these aircraft with “V” interplane struts, a remnant of the time the lower wings could be swiveled along the center spar to permit adjustment of the rigging while on the ground.
  Representing the Missione Militare Aeronautica Italiana (Italian Air Force Military Mission), capitano Ermanno Beltramo met with Hanriot and his chief engineer Pierre Dupont to discuss producing the HD.1 in Italy. The Aviation Militaire had decided to continue to rely on the SPAD 7 and forthcoming SPAD 13s to equip its fighter escadrilles. The HD.1 was seen as passe and no orders were forthcoming for the fighter variant. This created an opportunity for Hanriot to salvage their design, and for the Italians to modernize their fighter force.
  The Italian pilots prized maneuverability above all else (the perceived lack of that quality had ended the career of the very promising Ansaldo SVA as a fighter), and the HD.1s were very agile aircraft.
  The Hanriot was demonstrated in Italy in February 1917. It was decided that both the Hanriot firm and Nieuport-Macchi would produce the aircraft. In fact, Macchi not only built a new plant at Cocquio S. Andrea sole to build the new fighters, but they also ended their participation in the Ca.5 production program so they could concentrate on building HD.1s.
  This turned out to be a wise decision, as production delays and the Armistice would bring an early end to Ca.5 production, while Macchi went on to build 901 examples of Hanriot’s fighter. The Hanriot firm, itself, built at least 210 fighters, 90 of them were built and delivered after the war (24207-24266 and 24458-24487).
  Most were powered by a 110-hp Le Rhone engine, although some were fitted with a 120-hp 9Jby. The Vickers machine gun, which originally was offset, was relocated to the centerline of the fuselage to improve the pilot’s access to the gun in flight (as Italian ammunition frequently jammed the guns) and to make aiming easier.
  The Italians were very pleased with the HD.1. They especially appreciated its robustness and agility. It was also marginally faster than the Albatros fighters and Brandenburg D.Is it was fighting. However, as time passed problems developed.The HD.1s suffered from twisted and deformed wings (reminiscent of similar complaints with the Nieuport fighters), excessive vibration, and airframe defects.
  Growing dissatisfaction with the type became apparent. 73a Squadriglia’s commander, tenente de Biasi, complained to XXI Gruppo about frequent breakages of bolts and pins, and weakening of the aircraft’s tail surfaces. On 27 June, an aircraft suffered from rudder bar failure. The pilot succeeded in landing his machine with great difficulty. The unit reported that in March it had only two operational Hanriots.
  The Hanriots were also slower than the enemy planes, meaning that the Austro-Hungarian pilots could easily avoid combat. In September the commander stated that the engine performance was poor and 15 of the rotary engines had to be repaired. Note that these machines were being built under license in Italy, suggesting the problems with the type’s construction may have begun in Italy.
  By September 1918 the HD.1s were regarded as inferior to the newer Austro-Hungarian fighters being encountered over the front. The decision was made to replace all Hanriots with the new Ansaldo A.1s. However, production delays resulted in only a handful of A.1s being delivered before the Armistice.
  As noted below, the HD.1s were forced to soldier on until 1925 until enough new aircraft had arrived to replace them.
  Even then the HD.1s continued in service with the scuole, most notably with “Airone” school (later CAB from June 1927), which used HD.1s with 40-hp engine (for use as “penguins”) or 80-hp for limited flights. Some HD.1s were converted to two-seaters, although it is unclear if dual controls were fitted. Alegi notes that in 1927 CAB obtained its AR models directly from the Hanriot firm in 1927. The firm built at least 39 AR.1 single-seaters and at least 12 AR.2 two seaters. The last AR was registered in May 1932.

Operational Service

  The initial unit to be equipped with the type was 76 Squadriglia, which received its first in August 1917. The unit was based at Borgnano and assigned to the 6 Gruppo in the 2nd armata sector. It participated in the 11th Battle of Isonzo on 18 August 1917, where the qualities of the HD.1 became readily apparent.
  During 1917 many of the other Italian fighter units received the type. The units equipped with Hanriot HD.1s on 20 November 1917 were:
  X Gruppo (assigned to the Supreme Command): 70a, 82a, and 91a Squadriglias.
  XIII Gruppo (3rd armata): 80a and 83a Squadriglias.
  VI Gruppo (4th armata): 76a, 78a, and 81a Squadriglias, two Sezione of HD. 1s assigned to defend Padova.
  On 26 December 1917 HD.1s of VI and X Gruppo Aeroplani participated in the air war over Istrana. By the end of 1917 there had been substantial changes in the dispositions of the HD.1 units. The new organization was:
  X Gruppo (Supreme Command): 70a, 82a, and 91a Squadriglias.
  Ill Gruppo (1st armata): 72a Squadriglias.
  XIII Gruppo (3rd armata): 80a and 83a Squadriglias.
  VI Gruppo (4th armata): 76a, 78a, and 81a Squadriglias.
  By the time of the Battle of the Piave in June 1918 the following units had Hanriot HD.1s on strength:
  X Gruppo (Supreme Command): 70a, 80a, and 91a Squadriglias.
  XVI Gruppo (1st armata): 71a and 80a Squadriglias. VI Gruppo (4th armata): 76a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (7th armata/9th armatas): 72a and 74a Squadriglias.
  XV Gruppo (8th armata): 78a and 79a Squadriglias.
  214a Squadriglia (Regia Marina).
  The Italian fighter command concentrated 120 fighters over the battlefield. This “Massa de Caccia,” the majority of which were Hanriot HD.1s, proved very successful, and these units claimed 107 enemy aircraft and seven balloons destroyed between 15 and 23 June.
  HD.1 units also saw action in Albania (85a Squadriglia Caccia based at Piskupi), Macedonia (73a Squadriglia Caccia based at Negocani), and Venezia Lido (214a Squadriglia of the Italian navy).
  The Hanriot HD.1 remained in service throughout the war. By the Battle of Vittorio Veneto on 20 October 1918 the number of squadriglias using the aircraft had increased from 10 to 14 with a total of 144 HD.1s in service. These were as follows:
  III Gruppo (1st armata): 75a Squadriglia.
  VI Gruppo (4th armata): 6a and 81a Squadriglias.
  VIII Gruppo (Albania): 85a Squadriglia.
  IX Gruppo (7th armata/9th armata):72a Squadriglia.
  X Gruppo (Supreme Command): 70a and 82a Squadriglias.
  XIII Gruppo (3rd armata): 80a Squadriglia
  XVI Gruppo (1st armata): 71a Squadriglia.
  20 Gruppo: 74a Squadriglia.
  XXI Gruppo (35th Divisione in Macedonia): 73a Squadriglia.
  XXIII Gruppo (9th armata): 79a Squadriglia.
  24 Gruppo (6th armata): 83a Squadriglia.
  241 Squadriglia (Marina Italiana).
  Squadriglias 72a, 73a, 76a, 80a, and 81a were equipped only with HD.1s; the other units operated a mixture of HD.1s, Nieuport 27s, and SPAD 7s.
  A total of 1,700 Hanriot HD.1s were ordered from the Nieuport Macchi firm and by the time of the Armistice 831 had been delivered. An additional 70 were delivered after the Armistice.

  By 1926 the Hanriot HD.1s were retired to the training units, having been replaced by the new Fiat C.R. 1.

HD.1 Single-Seat Fighter with 110-hp Le Rhone 9Jb Built by Nieuport-Macchi
  Wingspan 8.50 m; length 5.85 in, height 2.5 in; wing area 17.50 sq. m
  Empty weight 410 kg; loaded weight 600 kg
  Maximum speed: 183 km/h
  Climb: 1,000 in 2 minutes 40 seconds; 2,000 in 6 minutes 40 seconds; 3,000 m in 11 minutes; 4,000 in 16 minutes 30 seconds; ceiling 5,900 in; endurance 2.5 hours
  Armament: one 7.7-mm Vickers machine gun
  Approximately 900 built under license by Nieuport-Macchi
Hanriot HD.1, 70a Squadriglia
HD.1, 70a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #11432, 72a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1, 72a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #519, 76a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #6647, 76a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #6239, Tenente Silvio Scaroni, 76a Squadriglia
HD.1 #6206, Sgt Raimondo Loretto, 76a Squadriglia, 1918
Hanriot HD.1 #6239, 78a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1, Tenente Mario Fucini, 78a Squadriglia
HD.1 #6614 (French-built #18), Sgt. Guido Nardini, 78a Squadriglia, 1917
Hanriot HD.1 #6239, 80a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #543, 82a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #6239, 82a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #6242, 82a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #13246, 83a Squadriglia
Hanriot HD.1 #7501, 85a Squadriglia, Sarrocchi
HD.1 #21071.
HD.1 #6647 of 76a Squadriglia.
Colorful HD.1 of 76a Squadriglia on the airfield.
HD.1 of Tenente Mario Fucini, 78a Squadriglia.
HD.1's of 78a Squadriglia on their airfield of San Luca.
The Hanriot HD.1 of S. tenente. Antonio Bogliolo.
Ten. Olivetti with his HD.1 of 81a Squadriglia.
The Hanriot HD.1 of S. tenente. Antonio Bogliolo.
Capt. Mario Zoboli, CO-81 Sq., in front of his HD.1
HD.1 fighters of 81a Squadriglia.
FIAT R.2 with 270hp Fiat engine on its airfield at right, Spad 13 in middle, Hanriot HD.1 in left background.
Macchi-Built Hanriot HD.1
Macchi-Built Hanriot HD.1
Macchi-Built Hanriot HD.1
Farman M.F.7

  Italy acquired 12 M.F.7s from Farman in 1913.
  Subsequently, the type was built under license by the Society Italiana Transacrea (S.I.T.). These were equipped with 70-hp Renault engines imported from France.
  The S.I.T -built M.F.7s entered service in mid-1913. By the beginning of the war there were four squadriglias formed on M.F. 7s:
  9a Squadriglia
  10a Squadriglia
  11a Squadriglia
  12a Squadriglia
  When Italy entered the war in 1915 the M.F.7s (alongside M.F.11s) were assigned to the 1a,2a, 4a, 6a, 10a, Ila, 12a, and 13a reconnaissance and bombing squadriglias. Two army cooperation squadriglias, Nos.6a and 7a, also used both types of Farmans.
  By 1916 most of the M.F.7s had been assigned to training units and were replaced in front-line squadriglia by M.F.11s.
  See entry under M.F. 11 for unit histories.

M.F.7 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 70-hp Renault engine
  Wingspan, 15.54 m; length, 11.50 m; height, 3.25 m; wing area 60.50 sq m.
  Empty weight 580 kg; loaded weight 857 kg; payload 277 kg
  Maximum speed, 90 km/h; climb to 1,000 m. in 20 minutes; endurance 3 hours
M.F.7 escadrille in French service commanded by Capitaine Bares.
Italian Farman M.F.7 of an early configuration with forward elevator.
M.F.7 in French service flown by Lt. Happe in 1913.
Farman M.F.11

  A total of 601 M.F.11s (which were often called Farman 1914s in Italy) were built under license by the Societa Construzioni Aeronautiche Savoia at Bovisio-Mombello beginning in May 1914. The Fiat firm at Torino also built them under license beginning in mid-1915. The Fiat-built machines were powered by 100-hp Fiat A-10 engines and carried the designation F.5b while the Savoia M.F.11s had 110-hp Colombo D.110 engines.
  Finally, the Societa Nieuport-Macchi built 50 M.F.11s. The Savoia F.5bs were subject to a number of modifications closely resembling those of the Farman F.40s, which were probably the inspiration for Savoia’s modifications.


  A series of problems, partly related to the De Dion Bouton engines produced at the Nagliati in Milan, delayed testing until the beginning of June. Savoia was contracted to build 150 M.F.11s in 1915, all equipped with more reliable 100-hp Fiat A.10 engine: however, as of May 31,1915, only a quarter of the 72 engines had been delivered.
  During the war the following companies built Farmans:
  Bottazzi - 9
  Galore di Padova (later Arezzo) workshops - 50
  Societa Nieuport-Macchi - 50
  Officine Ferroviarie Meridionale of Naples - 54 (out of 150 ordered)
  Oneto - 85
  Rossi Industrial Institute of Vicenza -10
  Savigliano National Workshops - 4
  Savoia - 451 but from 1916 to 1918. The trainer variants and were often equipped with 110-hp Colombo D.110s or
100-hp Anzani engines.
  SIA (Societa Italiana Aviazione = Italian Aviation Society) of the Fiat group - 90 that became known as SIA F5b; the F5b designation was often arbitrarily used to identify any Farmans, whether not the SIA had built them. The Fiat-built machines were powered by 100-hp Fiat A.10 engines.
  According to Alegi they were poorly built and no further orders were placed with SIA.
  Vickers-Terni - 69 (out of 100 ordered)
  Zari - 180 (of 220 ordered)
  This gives a total of 1,052 built.
  Most manufacturers followed the pattern aircraft closely, but changes were introduced during production. Some M.F.11s were given a streamlined nacelle similar to that used on the Farman F.40. Other examples were also fitted with Le Prier unguided rockets for use against enemy balloons.
  The Farmans proved to be multi-role aircraft being used not only for reconnaissance but bombing and air defense. As a bomber it could carry four 162-mm or eight 87 or 113-mm weapons and four boxes of 600 flechettes weighing 30 grams each.


  A DGA (Directorate General of Aeronautics) dated July 13, 1915 summarized the status of the orders already assigned. The main reconnaissance type was the M.F.11 (Farman 1914); 38 were available at the end of June, this included 10 supplied by France, with another 10 arriving from across the Alps. An additional 206 were on order from the Italian national industry and a contract for 53 more was pending. Forty Farmans were ordered from Macchi. An additional 60 were ordered from Fiat, were under construction at the Mirafiori plant. However, delays in the completion of the 101 Farmans ordered from Savoia di Bovisio, resulted in the Italian government’s plan to bring the firm under the direct control of military.
  The M.F.11s were intend to operate over mountainous area, but those equipped with a 80-hp De Dion engines could not operate safely from airfields at elevations above 1,000 meters; even worse was the fact that the mountains were as high as 2,000 meters. The answer was to re-equip the Farmans with the 100-hp Fiat A.10 engine which would allow them to reach a speed of 105 km/h and climb to 2,000 meters in 25 minutes.
  In the air defense role, the Farmans performance was marginal, the Aviatik was seen as superior, although it had originally been intended to see service in the two-seat reconnaissance role. Initial examples of the Italian M.F.11s had a 100-hp Salmson M.9 engine; later machines were equipped with a 135-hp Salmson M.9 which permitted a maximum speed of 115 km/h was therefore more suitable to carry out air defense tasks.
  The twelve squadrons at the front at the start of the war had 75 aircraft including 11 M.F.7s; the transition from M.F.7s to the M.F.11s was already underway.
  During the First Battle of the Isonzo, from 23 June to 7 July 1915, 1a Armata - 12a Squadriglia (Farman 1914s = M.F.11) was commanded by capitano De Masellis was placed at the disposal of la Armata, at Asiago. Thus far in the war, the squadriglia’s usefulness had been limited by engine malfunctions and bad weather.
  The Aviazione Militaire took advantage of the quiet period between the First and Second Battles of the Isonzo to reorganize. 11a squadriglia (Farman M.F.11) arrived in Pordenone on 9 July, from Brescia, and was assigned to the 3a Army.
  The Italians decided concentrate on biplanes instead of monoplanes (Nieuport 4s). it was planned to re-equip the Nieuport units with MF 1914s (M.F.11s). A Farman squadriglia was activated in Padua, and 11a squadriglia, which had transitioned to the Farman with a 100 hp Fiat A.10 engine, was transferred on 9 July from Brescia to Pordenone.
  On July 31, 1915 the Farman order of battle was:
  Cervignano - I Gruppo - available to the 3rd armata, with only one Farman MF 1914 squadriglia at Chiasiellis.
  Udine - II Gruppo - available to the 2nd armata, with the 9a squadriglia Farman MF 1914 in Campoformido.
  S. Maria la Longa - III Gruppo - available to the 3rd armata, with 10a Farman.
  Asiago - 12a squadriglia Farman.
  Padova - 1a squadriglia Farman MF 1914.
  Pordenone - 11a squadriglia Farman MF 1914, with Fiat A.10 engine.
  During the Second Battle of the Isonzo (18 July - 3 August), 10a Squadriglia (Farmans) flew artillery cooperation sorties.
  Gruppo’s aircraft concentrated on battlefield reconnaissance, but also made aircraft available to attack targets discovered by the Farman squadriglias. The Comando supremo decided to disband the Gruppo’s Bleriot squadriglias (2a and 13a). Italian aviation would now depend on biplanes, in the the case of I Gruppo, this would be the M.F.11s imported from France or built under license in Italian factories.
  Gruppo’s activities were also inhibited by the weather. Whenever possible, its squadriglias flew photographic reconnaissance sorties. Their aircraft were able to locate batteries near Marcottini, Vizentini, Doberdo and Rubbia, as well as discover new trenches between Bosco Cappuccio and San Martino del Carso.
  The Second Battle of the Isonzo to the Third Battle of the Isonzo lasted from 13 August to 17 October 1915. The second part of the battle would be supported by Farman squadriglias.
  An ad hoc fighter unit was formed for the defense of Udine from 2a Squadriglia’s Farmans and two Nieuport 10s.
  Several more squadriglias were disbanded from August 9 to 28 including 1a (Farman) and 2a (Farman), but these would be reformed with new unit designations.
  The following month, 6a squadriglia (Farman) was assigned to 2a armata. The new SAML-Aviatiks were formed into another unit to defend the city of Brescia on the 26th which replaced a Farman squadriglia.


  Defense of Udine - Five M.F.11s and four Nieuports intercepted a raid by five KuK aircraft on 19 November. They disrupted the attack, but the Austro-Hungarians still managed to drop 15 bombs, causing damage and injuries.
  The Fourth Battle of the Isonzo lasted from 10 November to 2 December. It was fought under bad weather conditions and freezing temperatures, which limited aerial operations.



  By April 1916, the plan was to have ten squadriglias in service with Farman lATS. The Fiat-built machines were powered by 100-hp Fiat A-10 engines and carried the designation F.5b while the Savoia M.F.11s used 110-hp Colombo D.110 engines.
  The plan was that the Comando supremo would have 8 squadriglias for the service with the various corpi d’armata, of which three would use Farman Fiats.
  Seven more squadriglias wold be assigned directly to the various armati, of which 3 squadriglias would use Farmans.
  Finally there would be 17 fighter units with eight mounted on Farmans.
  The Italian aviation industry would be unable to fulfill all these plans. In the first four months of 1916, 137 Farmans of all types had been sent to the front, making it by far the most numerous warplane in the Aviazione.
  As of 29 February 1916, there were ten reconnaissance and combat squadriglias, of which eight used Farman M.F.11s and two were equipped with Voisin 3s. These squadriglias were divided into two or three Seziones of three aircraft each. These seziones could be sent to areas of the front where they were most needed, without having to send an entire squadriglia.
  There were plans to replace the M.F.11s with the Savoia Pomilio SP.2s and SP.3s, which were based on the Farman machine. Also, the small number of Caudron G.4s available allowed 48a to retire its Farmans.
  As newer types began to slowly arrive, the M.F.11s were sent to the artillery co-operation squadriglias. For example, 9a Farman squadriglia became 7a artillery squadriglia in March 1916, followed by the creation of two other M.F.11 artillery squadriglias: 6a Squadriglia, operating between Verona and Asiago. 7a Farman squadriglia was based between Adige and Brenta at the summit of the Trentino salient, later moving to Oleis, to operate on the Isonzo front in support of 2 armata. 8a Farman squadriglia moved to S. Pietro al Campo, near Belluno, to support 4a armata. In mid-1916 the Squadriglias were redesignated. Farman squadriglias numbered as 10a , 11a, 4a, 6a, 1a, 12a, 2a, and 13a, became, in order 27a, 28a, 29a, 30a, 31a, 32a, 33a and 34a.
  The artillery squadriglias numbered 6a and 7a, with Farman M.F.11s, became 48a and 49a.


  During the Fifth Battle of the Isonzo aerial reconnaissance, though hampered by bad weather, did not take long to provide confirmation of the Austro-Hungarian preparations. On 20 April, a Farman of 3a Squadriglia, returning to Verona, was hit multiple times by shrapnel; its crew reported an intense movement of supply vehicles and trucks on the road from Calliano to Folgaria as well as Monte Finonchio. In the following days the Farmans of 31a and 32a Squadriglias encountered increasing opposition flying over the area of Calliano, Val Lagarina, and the Caldonazzo station, This circumstantial evidence of the increased KuK buildup in the area was confirmed by other unequivocal signs of enemy forces forming in the area. As a result, the Comando supremo strengthened the aviation units in the area by transferring squadriglias from the Sozo front 28a Squadriglia on April 25th to Villaverla, and on the 30th, II Gruppo transferred to Verona 28a. Both units were used Farmans, so these movements would strengthen aerial reconnaissance over the front. However, the M.F.11s were also intended to be used a bombers and would, therefore, provide an increased aerial offense capability.


  The Austro-Hungarian spring offensive, named Strafexpedition, (punitive expedition), was planned to start 15 May.
  On that day an intense Austro-Hungarian artillery barrage opened the way for the infantry advance on the Italian front. Three M.F.11s from 46a Squadriglia took off from Asiago in search of the large caliber artillery pieces that had opened fire on the town, followed by other short range reconnaissance sorties in an attempt to determine the situation on the ground.
  Between 25 May and 5 June, Caudron G.3s and Farman M.F.11s performed photographic reconnaissance missions, interspersed with adjustment of artillery shooting. The Verona detachment of 46a Squadriglias Farmans also entered into action on the morning of 15 May, in the sector of the Val Lagarina, to locate the batteries at Zuech, Creino and Finonchio. Other units kept track of the movement of the Austro-Hungarian forces.
  On 21 May the two Seziones moved to the Castenedolo field, but on the morning of the 22nd they were again in action over Val Lagarina, where a Farman, flying a reconnaissance mission over Pasubio and the Zugna Torta, was hit by the anti-aircraft artillery and forced to crash land. 30a and 31a Squadriglias Farmans flew over the lines to detect troop and artillery movements in the Calliano-Besenello-Folgaria area, while 27a, 28a, and 32a (all Farman Squadriglias) were engaged in counter air patrols to prevent Austro Hungarian reconnaissance aircraft from photographing the Italian forces.
  Farman also were used in strategic attacks, often outnumbering the Caproni bombers. For example, a strategic bombing attack was flown against troop reinforcements and supply area for the troops operating near the plateau of Tonezza, employing two Capronis from 5a, one Farman from 30a, and two from 31a Squadriglias at Verona, and three patrols of 4 Farmans drawn from 27a, 28a, and 32a Squadriglias at Villaverla. The Caproni’s chosen route, designed to minimize exposure over enemy territory, took the aircraft from Verona to Lake Garda, across the Adige valley passing the lines near Zugna Torta. However, the short range of the Farmans did allow for the circuitous, if safer route. The Farmans flying from Villaverla followed the more direct Campomolon-Lavarone-Folgaria route. The mission was successfully completed.
  An important logistic center, Folgaria was re-attacked on the morning of May 19 by two Capronis of 5a squadriglia and three pairs of Farman M.F.11s from 27a, 31a, and 32a Squadriglias; that same afternoon the depots at Calliano were bombed by one Caproni of 5a and four Farman M.F.11s of 31a squadriglias.
  The Farmans of III Gruppo participated in attacks on the stations along the Adige railway line, supporting the Caproni’s bombing raids. On 2 and 5 June the Calliano station was bombed, the first time by two Caproni trimotors from 5a squadriglia, joined by one from 9a; the second attack was by five Capronis, three from 5a and two from 9a squadriglias, and by eight Farmans - two from 30a, two from 31a, and four from 32a Squadriglias.
  Although in no sense of the word could the M.F.11 be considered a fighter, there were occasional victories. On 15 June a Farman of 30a Squadriglia, during a reconnaissance over Mezzolombardo, shot down a Brandenburg C.I of Flik 7 near Nave di San Rocco.
  On 20 June, during a retaliatory raid, III Gruppo sent four Farmans of 32a Squadriglia joined by three Capronis of 9a Squadriglia from Verona and 2 Capronis from 10a Squadriglia. They were joined by two Farmans of 30a Squadriglia and two from 3a Squadriglia. Thus the planned massive retaliatory raid was actually eight M.F.11s joined by five Capronis, two of which had to return due to engine problems. The bomb load of the M.F.11 as not very impressive, so how much of a material or morale effect these raids caused is debatable.
  The M.F.11s equipped 12 squadriglias in November 1916. These units were:
  Gruppo 1 (3rd Armata): Squadriglias 27a and 28a.
  Gruppo 2 (2nd Armata): Squadriglias 29a and 30a.
  Gruppo 3 (1st Armata): Squadriglias 31a and 37a.
  Gruppo 4 (2nd Armata): Squadriglias 47a.
  Gruppo 7 (1st Armata): Squadriglias 46a (Verona and Asiaso) assigned to the 1st Army, 48 (Belluno) assigned to the 1st armata, and 49a assigned to the 1st armata. Defense of Udine: Squadriglia 33a.
  Albania: Squadriglia 36a (Valona) assigned to the 16th armata in Albania.
  The DGA (Direzione General de Aeronautical = General Directorate of Aeronautics) planned to reduce the variety of aircraft in service and concentrate production on a few basic types able to meet the needs of different specialties (this is exactly what was happening in France at this time). For reconnaissance, the aim was to replace the Farman M.F.11s and Caudron G.3s with the similar SP.2 designed by Savoia and Pomilio. Equipped with a 200 hp Fiat engine, this aircraft, which (based on limited deployments to frontline units) was believed to provide both robustness and an improved performance. Unfortunately, production of the S.P.2s and 3s was delayed, and there were significant technical problems with the aircraft.
  As a result, the number of Squadriglias using M.F.lls had actually increased in 1917.


  By 1917 there were 15 Squadriglias which still used M.F.11s and F.5bs. These were:
  Gruppo 1 (3rd armata): Squadriglia 36a.
  Gruppo 2 ( 2nd armata, 4th Armata): Squadriglias 27a, 30a, and 41a.
  Gruppo 3 (1st armata): Squadriglia 31a.
  Gruppo 4 (2nd armata, 4th armata): Squadriglias 29a and 45a.
  Gruppo 7 (6th armata, 1st armata): Squadriglia 32a.
  Gruppo 8 (Albania): Squadriglia 34a
  Gruppo 9 (1st Armata): Squadriglia 37a.
  Independent Squadriglias: Iola (Bari), 102a (Ancona), 104a (Bengasi), 12a (Bengasi), and 7a.


  By the time of Caporetto in November 1917, most of the M.F.11s had been retired, primarily replaced by the only marginally improved S.P.2s and S.P.3s. Nevertheless, were two units which still retained their Farmans.
  - Night defense of Udine, a sezione of Savoia Pomilio and Farman M.F.11s.
  - 27a Squadriglia ricognizione at Oleis under VI gruppo with eight Farman M.F.11s. It was under the command of capitano Ottorino Mutti. On 28 October the Squadriglia moved to Aviano and immediately to Ghedi and on 3 November to Castel di Godego.


  The M.F. 11s were withdrawn from front-line service in 1918 and assigned to training units. Some of the S.P. series remained in Italian service until 1922 and provided support for Italian colonial troops during attacks against rebels.


  M.F.11s saw combat service in Libya during and after the war. They were perfectly suited for operations in that theater. They were easy to maintain and would not encounter any aerial opposition.

M.F.11 (MF.14) two-seat reconnaissance aircraft with one 100-hp FIAT A.10 engine
  Wingspan 16.20 m; length 9.50 m; height 3.20 m; wing area 56 sq m
  Empty weight 540 kg; loaded weight 865 kg; payload 325 kg
  Maximum speed 105 km/h; climb to 1,000 m in 10 minutes; climb to 2,000 m in 22 minutes; ceiling 3,800 m; endurance 3.5 hours
  (Data from Camurati)
Italian Farman M.F.11 in the field.
Farman M.F.11 serial 742 of French MF29.
Farman MF.11.
Farman M.F.11 of French MF99.
Italian Farman M.F.11 #273 with its pilot.
Italian Farman M.F.11 #430 with its crew ready for a mission.
An Italian Maurice Farman type 11, typical of the type that Lang faced on 22 August.
Farman MF.11.
One FIAT R.2, two Aviatiks, two Farmans, and one Caproni, at El Palomar, Argentina.
FIAT R.2 with 270hp Fiat engine on its airfield at right, Spad 13 in middle, Hanriot HD.1 in left background.