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Italy's Fiat BR.20; Fiat B.R.20 medium bomber
Nickname: Cicogna (stork), Cigona

Photos

  • Fiat BR.20 Cicogna bomber
  • Fiat BR.20 Cicogna bomber

Design

The Fiat B.R.20 was designed by Celestino Rosatelli to meet the requirements for a two engine bomber that could carry 2,640 lbs of bombs 600 miles at a speed of 240 mph.

The B.R.20 had stressed skin duralumin and fabric. It also had retractable undercarriage into the engine housings.

The BR.20M had a cleaner nose and a stronger wing.

Prototype

The prototype of the Fiat BR.20 Cicogna first flew on February 10, 1936.

The prototype of the Fiat BR.20M was flown at the end of 1939.

The first B.R.20bis flew in December 1941 / 1941.

Production

The BR.20II entered production in 1943.

  • Fiat B.R.20: 275, 320
  • Fiat B.R.20A: 2
  • Fiat B.R.20L: 1
  • Fiat B.R.20M: 264
  • Fiat B.R.20bis: 15
    • Production: 1942 - ?
  • Fiat BR.20M and BR.20bis: ~250
  • Total: >500, 602, 606
    • Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.
    • Production: 7 years

Variants

  • Fiat BR.20:
  • Fiat B.R.20A: Civilian model. Took part in civilian distance races.
  • Fiat BR.20L: Civilian model.
  • Fiat BR.20M: New nose and stronger wing. Added additional armament. Included more armor. Nose was redesigned.
  • Fiat BR.20II / Fiat BR.20bis: Had Fiat A.82 RC 32 radial engines (1,250 HP). Nose was redesigned. Additional armor added. Did not see combat.
  • Fiat Nichii Type C8 Mikado, TB-98: Exported version to Japan.

Usage

Italy, Japan, Spain, and Venezuela used the B.R.20.

The 13° Stormo BT received the first BR.20s in September of 1936.

In March of 1937 the 7° Stormo BT received its first BR.20s.

Units:

  • Stormi: 7°, 13°, 37°, 38°, 43°
  • Gruppi: 25°, 71°, 99°
  • Squadrilglie: 51a, 69a

Long Distance Races

In 1937 two BR.20As were used in the Istres-Damascus-Paris race.

In 1939, piloted by Maner Lualdi, Giuseppe Mazzochi, and E. Valente flew a specially built BR.20L almost 3,000 miles from Rome to Addis Ababa. His average speed was over 250 mph which was a world record for its category.

Spain

The 7° and 13° Stormo BTs / 35° Gruppo Autonomo da Bombardamento took their BR.20s to Spain in 1937. They were there for about a year and a half.

Japan

Japan ordered 100 BR.20s.

In 1938-1939 85 BR.20s were shipped to Japan. Japan used these BR.20s in China.

The Japanese paid for them with soya beans.

Venezuela

One BR.20 was shipped to Venezuela in 1938.

Entry into War

In June 1940 there were four stormi that flew 148 BR.20s, the 7°, 13°, 18°, and 43°.

Battle of Britain

In Belgium there were 80 BR.20s that were used in raids against England in October and November 1940. They were members of the 13° and 43° Stormi. They suffered heavy casualties. Within 300 hours 20 of the 80 were shot down.

North Africa

The Fiat engines were unsuitable in the desert conditions of North Africa.

Italian Armistice

There were only 67 BR.20s in service at the time of the Italian Armistice.

Specifications

  Fiat BR.20 Cicogna
Type Bomber, Medium bomber
Crew 5, 5 - 6
Engine (Type) 2: Fiat A.80 RC 41
Cylinders Radial, Radial 18
HP 1,000 each
Cooling Air
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 metal each
Dimensions  
Span 70' 8", 70' 8.75", 70' 9"
21.56 m
Length 52', 52' 9.75", 52' 10"
16.1 m
Height 14' 1", 14' 1.25"
4.3 m
Wing area 796.5 sq ft, 796.6 sq ft
74 sq m
Weight  
Empty 14,300 lb, 14,330 lb
6,500 kg
Loaded 21,850 lb, 22,220 lb, 22,266 lb, 22,500 lb
10,100 kg
Performance  
Speed 267 mph, 268 mph
Speed @ 13,125' /
4,000 m
267 mph
430 kph
Speed @ 16,400' 268 mph
Cruising speed 217 mph
Climb to 6,560' 6 minutes 30 seconds
Climb to 13,120' 14 minutes
Climb to 13,125' /
4,000 m
13.55 minutes
Climb to 19,680' 22 minutes 30 seconds
Service ceiling 23,616', 24,935', 29,500'
7,600 m
Range 1,193 miles, 1,800 miles, 1,860 miles, 1,863 miles
1,920 km
Armament 3: MG
Nose 1: 7.7 mm MG
1: 12.7 mm MG
Dorsal 1: 7.7 mm MG
Turret - Dorsal 1: 12.7 mm MG
Ventral 1: 7.7 mm MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
1: 12.7 mm MG
Bombs 2,200 lb, 3,527 lb
1,600 kg
  Fiat BR.20A
Type Civil Transport
Weight  
Empty 14,080 lb
Loaded 28,149 lb
Performance  
Speed 270 mph
Service ceiling 18,040'
Range 3,850 miles
  Fiat BR.20L
Type Civilian Racer
Weight  
Empty 13,706 lb
Loaded 24,376 lb
Performance  
Speed 276 mph
Service ceiling 21,320'
  Fiat B.R. 20M Cicogna
Type Medium Bomber
Crew 5
Engine (Type) 2: Fiat A.80 RC41
OR 2: Fiat A.80 RC20
Cylinders RC41: Radial, Radial 18
HP RC41: 1,000 each
RC20: 1,100 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 70' 8.5", 70' 8.75"
21.55 m, 21.56 m
Length 54' 8", 55' 0.75"
16.66 m, 16.68 m
Height 14' 1.25", 15' 7"
4.75 m
Wing area 796.5 sq ft
74 sq m
Weight  
Empty 14,330 lb, 15,070 lb
6,500 kg
Loaded 22,270 lb, 22,990 lb, 23,038 lb
10,100 kg, 10,450 kg
Performance  
Speed at Sea Level 273 mph
440 kph
Speed 267 mph
Speed at 13,450' / 4,100 m 255 mph
410 kph
Cruising Speed 211 mph
340 kph
Climb 900'/minute
275 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' / 6,000 m 25 minutes
Service Ceiling 22,140', 23,600', 26,245'
7,193 m, 8,000 m
Range 1,242 miles, 1,709 miles
2,750 km
Armament  
Nose 1: 12.7 mm MG
1: 0.5" / 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT MG
Turret - Dorsal 1: 0.5" / 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT MG
Ventral 1: 0.5" / 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT MG
Bomb Load 3,528 lb
1,600 kg
  Fiat B.R. 20bis Cicogna
Engine (Type) 2: Fiat A.82 RC32
2: Fiat A.82 R.C.42S
Cylinders Radial 18
HP 1,250 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 71' 8.25"
Length 57' 3"
Height 14' 1.75"
Wing area 807.3 sq ft
Weight  
Empty 16,500 lb
Loaded 25,300 lb
Performance  
Speed at 16,400' 286 mph
Cruising speed 230 mph
Climb to 13,120' 10 minutes 10 seconds
Climb to 19,680' 15 minutes 30 seconds
Service ceiling 30,176'
Range 1,242 miles
Armament 2: 7.7 mm MG
3: 12.7 mm MG

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-1945, Jonathan Thompson, 1963
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site