1/48 Special Hobby Fiat G.55 Centauro

Gallery Article by David Walker on Oct 17 2012



The reason for building my first ever Italian World War 2 Fighter was that the Fiat G.55 is one of those aircraft that you just like the first time you see it. This is a very good-looking Italian aircraft with graceful wings, pointed nose and slim fuselage.

Only one Fiat G.55 still survives, preserved at the Italian Aviation Museum near Rome .

History of the Italian Fascist ANR Air Force
The two separate Italian air forces which came into being after the 8 September 1943 Armistice gradually structured themselves along the lines of their respective allies, the Luftwaffe in the North, and the USAAF and RAF in the South.

The northern air force under German control was named Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR), and while struggling to remain autonomous from the Germans, quickly adopted the Luftwaffe as a model. The ANR adopted German tactical formations (Rotte/Schwarme) and Radar vectoring with improved air-to-air gunnery training.

Finally, the ANR restructured its Gruppi Caccia (Fighter Groups) along the lines of the Luftwaffe’s Gruppen containing three Squadriglie (Squadrons) and a staff squadron.

The number of aircraft in a Squadriglia was increased to correspond with the German Staffel, 15 to 20 aircraft versus an average of 10 to 12 in the old Regia Aeronautica. Torpedo-bomber and transport units were similarly re-organized, dependent upon aircraft availability.

The Armistice brought about a collapse in Italian morale that broke much of the will to fight. However, many of the Regia Aeronautica pilots in the north took a different attitude towards the new military situation, perceiving the Armistice as a betrayal of those who had died fighting their former enemy.

Many pilots refused to fly to the Allied controlled airfields in Southern Italy due to an unwillingness to accept an Armistice signed which they felt had been signed ‘over their heads’. To some this feeling of ‘betrayal’ was conscious and to others it was unconscious. A large number of Italian pilots, while they might otherwise agree with the armistice, could not accept the way the surrender had been carried out, while others simply wanted to oppose the Allied fighters and bombers which were relentlessly tormenting Italian cities and population.

On 23 September Il Duce announced the formation of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) in the Italian territory under German control, with the formation of an Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana) on 10 October 1943 .

The choice of Tenente Colonnello Ernesto Botto, a famous fighter pilot and hero of the Spanish Civil War, as Under-Secretary of Aeronautics contributed heavily toward attracting Regia Aeronautica personnel to the Aeronautica NazionaleRepubblicana (ANR), many of whom had dispersed after the Armistice, especially men belonging to fighter units. Personal allegiance to the RSI, a German puppet state, was never popular and joining the ANR was often impulsive rather than rational.

However, this enthusiasm and impulsiveness which characterized the airmen of the ANR, contributed heavily toward allowing the ANR to maintain its independence in the face of increasing German political pressure to which both the Army and Navy eventually succumbed. As a result, the ANR was the only RSI armed force which operated regularly and with success against the Anglo-American forces, gaining respect not only from their German allies, but even from the Resistance.

The Resistance, recognizing the ANR’s value in protecting the Italian population from the heavy American bomber raids, often concluded local mutual non-aggression pacts with individual ANR units.

History of the Fiat G.55
In 1942, the Italian Regia Aeronautica accepted three prototype fighter aircraft entries, all to be powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine. This new generation of Italian fighters was known as the “Series 5”, denoting the DB 605 engine.

The entries were the Reggiane Re 2005 “Sagittario” (Archer), the Macchi MC. 205 “Veltro” (Greyhound; basically a development of the MC. 202 “Folgore”), and the Fiat G.55 “Centauro” (Centaur). The chief designers of these aircraft were Roberto Longhi, Mario Castoldi and Giuseppe Gabrielli, respectively. All three aircraft were designed to be armed with a combination of Breda SAFAT 12.7mm machine guns and the Mauser MG 151 20mm cannon.

The Regia Aeronautica tested all three prototypes, and while each aircraft had its merits (and weaknesses), no clear winner was announced, so all three were ordered into production, though the G.55 was considered the “ primary aircraft ”.

Because of Italy’s limited industrial capabilities (coupled with supply problems of the DB 605 engines) the total production of all three fighters was just over 400 units (48 of the Reggiane, 262 of the Macchi, and 107 of the Fiat G.55 ) having been built during the wartime.

The G.55 prototype (MM491) first flew on April 30, 1942 and had excellent overall performance in terms of speed and maneuverability (all three aircraft were very close in all performance regimes). Top speed was listed at 389 mph. Some aviation experts consider it the best single seat fighter produced for the Italian Air Force.

Twelve pre-production G.55s (serials MM91053 to MM91064) were given the designation “Sottoserie 0” (pre-production, series 0). These aircraft were fitted with four of the SAFAT 12.7mm machine guns in the nose (two above the engine, and two below), with the 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub. The later (Series 1) setup was two machine guns above the engine, two wing-mounted 20mm, and the propeller-mounted cannon. In either configuration, the G.55 was well-armed, with a five-gun punch.

The first G.55s flew briefly with the Regia Aeronautica before the Armistice, and enjoyed limited success in combat, particularly against the P-38 Lightning.

Once the Armistice was signed in September 1943 (and Italy divided), the G.55 subsequently served with the newly-formed Italian Fascist Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana (ANR) which would fight alongside the Germans until the end of Fascist Italy’s involvement in the war in April 1945.

The Fiat G.55 was probably the best Italian fighter of World War II, but due to limited production and other factors, did not have a significant impact on the outcome of the war.

The Special Hobby Model Kit
SPECIAL HOBBY (MPM) - This series is a popular line of aircraft kits produced using “Short Run” moulds and supplemented with photo-etched and resin parts. Special Hobby is part of the MPM Model Company (started in 1992) from the Czech Republic.

If you want to see what they produce http://www.cmkkits.com/en/

The quality of the kit plastic ,upon opening the box is as good as anything produced by Eduard, Hasegawa or Tamiya in my opinion.

Special Hobby's Centauro arrives in a sturdy and attractive conventional box with the clear parts bagged separately from the other sprues.

The kit comprises : 73 x mid grey styren