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Italy's Piaggio P.108 heavy bomber

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Piaggio P.108 heavy bomber C-B:
Italy's Piaggio P.108 C-B heavy bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Piaggio P.108 heavy bomber C-B:
Italy's Piaggio P.108 C-B heavy bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Design

The P.108 was Italy's only four engine strategic bomber. It was designed by Giovanni Casiraghi who worked in the United States from 1927 to 1936.

The Piaggio P.108 was an all metal design. The P.108 had retractable landing gear.

Defensive Armament

There were remotely controlled barbettes in each of the outer engine nacelles.

Prototype

The P.108 prototype first flew on November 24, 1939 / 1939.

Production

  • Piaggio P.108: 1
  • Piaggio P.108B: 163
    • Deliveries started in late 1941.
  • Piaggio P.108C: 16
  • Piaggio P.108M: 1
  • Piaggio P.108T: 1, 9
  • Total: 24, 182
    • Production: November 1939 - August 1943

Variants

  • Piaggio P.108A (Artiglieri): Anti ship. Had 102 mm cannon installed in the nose. Captured by Germans and used for testing.
  • Piaggio P.108B (Bombardiere): Long range bomber.
  • Piaggio P.108C (Civile): Civilian transport. Could carry 32 passengers. Could carry 16 at night. Were later taken over by the Regia Aeronautica and modified to carry 56 soldiers.
  • Piaggio P.108M (Modificato): Carried four 20 mm cannons and four 7.7 mm machine guns in the nose.
  • Piaggio P.108T (Transporto): Transport. Converted P.108C. Loading doors and ventral hatch were installed.
  • Piaggio P.108T2: Cargo or passenger transport. Could carry 48-60 passengers. Never built.
  • Piaggio P.133: Prototype bomber with more powerful engines and could carry larger bomb load. Never built.

Usage

Italy and Germany used the P.108.

Initial Accidents

As pilots and crew were unaccustomed to the style of aircraft there were several accidents with the first operational squadron.

First Use

The P.108's first mission was on June 9, 1942. It was a search and bomb naval mission near the Balearic Islands.

Gibraltar

The P.108 was used in attacking Gibraltar in early 1942 at night.

Benito Mussolini's son Bruno was killed in a P.108 while attacking Gibralter.

Eastern Front

Some P.108s were used on the Eastern Front.

Anti-Convoy

In the Mediterranean the P.108s were used against Allied convoys.

German Use

The Germans captured around 17 P.108s when Italy surrendered. They were not used on combat missions.

Specifications

  Piaggio P.108
Type  
Crew  
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 4: Piaggio P.XII RC35
Cylinders Radial 18
HP 1,500 each
Cooling  
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 104' 11.75"
32 m
Length 73' 1.5"
22.29 m
Height 19' 8.25"
6 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Piaggio P.108B
Type Bomber, Heavy bomber
Crew 6, 7
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 4: Piaggio P.XII RC 35
Cylinders Radial 18
HP 1,350 each
Cooling Air
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 105'
Length 75' 2"
Height 25' 3"
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 38,195 lb
17,325 kg
Loaded 65,885 lb, 65,970 lb
29,885 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 12,800' 261 mph
Speed @ 13,780' /
4,200 m
267 mph
430 kph
Cruising speed 199 mph
320 kph
Climb  
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
21.1 minutes
Service ceiling 26,400', 27,890'
8,500 m
Range 1,550 - 2,187 miles, 2,190 miles
2,495 - 3,520 km
Armament 8: 12.7 mm MG
Remote controlled turrets on outboard engines 4: 12.7 mm MG
Sides 2: 12.7 mm MG
Belly 1: 12. 7 mm MG
Bombs 7,700 lb, 7,716 lb
3,500 kg
OR  
Torpedo 3: 18"
3: 45.7 cm
  Piaggio P.108C
Type Transport
Crew  
Passengers Day: 32
Night: 16
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
HP  
Cooling  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Piaggio P. 108 C-B
Type Long range bomber, Transport
Crew  
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 4: Piaggio P. XII R.C. 35
Cylinders  
HP 1,200 each
Cooling  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 108' 3"
Length 81' 6"
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 59,000 lb
Performance  
Speed 290 mph
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 2,500 miles
Armament  

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site