Форум Breguet's Aircraft Challenge
The Societa Anonima Meccanica Lombarda was established in Milan in 1901 (workshops in Monza and Sesto San Giovanni-Milan). It was one of the many small companies born after the first industrial developement which took place in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century,during the so-called "Giolitti age".
The company at first manufactured mechanic and industrial components but became interested in aircraft manufacture (like other Italian firms) in consequence of the Italo-Turkish war of 1911/12, which produced *favour and interest towards military aviation both in the military and the public opinion.
In October 1912 the Ministero della Guerra announced a competition for aircraft for the air branch of the Italian Army (by that time Battaglione Aviatori).The great majority of the Italian aeronautical firms were too recent and lacked technical background, experience and, to some extent, funds to undertake the development of successful prototypes, so that the aircraft the Italian Army took in charge as a consequence the 1912 contest were licence-built machines.S.A.M.L. didn't even participate to the contest.
In 1913 new official contests were announced;for aeronautical engines,for aircraft designed in Italy and for licence-built machines. In the course of the same 1913 S.A.M.L. management discussed with the German firm Aviatik the possibility of licence-production of Aviatik models.Consequently,S.A.M.L. nearly won a contest for licence-built machines with an Aviatik biplane, entirely built in Germany,which however S.A.M.L itself assured being able to start manufacture of in short times.
The 1913 competition was a failure for S.A.M.L.,and its interest in aircraft production decreased, but after the outbreak of the Great War the military, in order to increase and strenghten Italian aviation industry, begun to press the Italian companies to start or re-start aircraft and engine manufacture.
As for S.A.M.L., they tried to make it develop technical capability in modern aircraft design and, to this end, favoured the arrive (at the beginning of 1915) of Ing. Wild, a designer (Swiss, I believe) who had worked for Aviatik until 1914, and who was now unwilling to work for the Germans (possibly Wild's contacts with S.A.M.L. dated back to 1913).
Wild's arrive allowed S.A.M.L. to create a small but very efficient design bureau,of which Wild himself was put at the head.
Unavoidably,the first S.A.M.L. designs differed little from the early Aviatik's two-seater reconnaissance machines. According to M. Castoldi, a S.A.M.L.-Aviatik prototipe made its maiden flight at the end of May 1915, a few days after Italy's declaration of war.This machine (which was powered by a 135 hp liquid-cooled Salmson radial engine probably licence-built by Aquila Italiana) performed well, albeit the engine appeared to be insufficiently cooled.
The production of the aircraft of the first batch - which commonly were referred to as S.A.M.L. Aviatik-Salmson or Aviatik-Fiat, or also as Aviatik 100, 125, or 140 hp depending upon the engine they were fitted with (125 or 140 hp Salmson radial, or 100 hp Fiat in-line) - went on slowly. When the first machines became operational (in the autumn-winter of 1915) they were soon considered to be among the best aircraft by then available, so to be employed not only for reconnaissance but also for fighter duties. S.A.M.L.'s production capability increased notably in the following months, mainly thanks to its new factory at Sesto, and its two seaters, which were considered to have not spectacular, but good overall qualities,soon became a common view on the Italian military airfields.
S.A.M.L two-seaters were unceasingly improved, mainly by means of the installation of more powerful engines (which led to the increase of the wing-span,and consequently of the number of the wing-struts) and armament but the design remained basically the same in the various versions.