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Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81; SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81 bomber
Nickname: Pipistrello (bat)

Photos

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Design

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 was developed from the SM.73 transport.

The SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81 was the first three engine plane in use by the Italian Air Force.

The S.M. 81 had a skeleton of wood and metal with a wood and fabric skin.

Undercarriage

The S.M. 81 had a fixed undercarriage.

Wings

The wings were set low.

Prototype

The prototype of the SM.81 first appeared in 1934.
The first S.M.81 flew on February 8, 1935.

Production

  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81: 535
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81B: 1
  • Total: 534, 536
    • Manufacturer: SIAI Marchetti

Variants

  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81: Production model. Had Piaggio P.X radial engines (670 HP).
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81B: Experimental. Had two Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI RC engines (840 HP).

Usage

Italy and Spain used the S.M.81s.

Ethiopia

S.M.81s were used in the bombing of Ethiopian troops.

Spanish Civil War

Starting in 1936 the S.M.81 was used in the Spanish Civil War. They were used to transport General Franco's troops from North Africa.

The S.M. 81 was viewed as a success in the Spanish Civil War but it never went up against any heavy enemy defenses.

Start of World War II

There were ~300 / 304 S.M.81s in service with Italy in June 1940. In the Mediterranean there were 147 and 59 in East Africa.

Somalia

The 4° and 29° Gruppi were used in raids on Khartoum, Port Sudan, and Aden.

Use in the Mediterranean

The 39° Stormo used S.M.81s to attack the British fleet. In the Western Desert the S.M.81s were used primarily as transports.

The S.M.81s were often used as nighttime bombers.

Mussolini

Benito Mussolini used a modified S.M.81 as his personal transport.

The Units

The following bomber Stormi were equipped with S.M.81s: 7°, 8°, 9°, 14°, 15°, 37°, 38°, 39°

The following transport Stormo was equipped with the S.M.81: 18°

After the Armistice

There were four S.M. 81s that remained in the south after the Italian Armistice in September 1943.

Post World War II

Some of the S.M.81s served in the Aeronautica Militare Italiana until 1951.

Specifications

  Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello
Type Bomber, Night bomber, Reconnaissance, Transport
Crew 6
Passengers 18 troopers
Engine (Type) 3: Piaggio P.X RC 35
3: Piaggio Stella X.R.C.
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 125 RC 35
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34
OR 3: Piaggio P.IX
OR 3: Gnome-Rhône 14
Cylinders Piaggio 35: Radial 9
Gnome-Rhône: Radial
HP Piaggio XRC: 700 each
125: 580 each
126: 900 each
Piaggio P.IX: 560 each
Gnome-Rhône: 680 each
Cooling  
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8", 78' 9"
24 m
Length 58' 4.75", 60' 1"
17.8 m
Height 14' 7.25", 15' 9"
4.45 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 13,900 lb
6,305 kg
Loaded 20,500 lb, 20,503 - 23,040 lb
9,300 - 10,450 kg
Performance P.X engines
Speed 210 mph
Speed @ 3,280' /
1,000 m
211 mph
340 kph
Speed @ 13,120'  
Climb to 9,840' /
3,000 m
12 minutes
Service ceiling 22,965'
7,000 m
Range 930 miles, 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Armament Up to 6: 7.7 mm MG
Dorsal turret 2: MG
Ventral turret 2: MG
Beam  
Bombs 2,200 lb, 2,205 lb
1,000 kg
  SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81
Type Bomber
Crew 6
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 125 RC 35
OR 3: Piaggio P.IX
OR 3: Piaggio P.X
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 126
OR 3: Gnome-Rhône
Cylinders Radial 9
HP 125: 680 each
126: 900 each
Gnome-Rhône: 1,000 each
P.IX, P.X: 680 each
Cooling Air
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8"
Length 58' 4"
Height 14' 1"
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 23,190 lb
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 3,280' /
1,000 m
 
Speed @ 13,120' 211 mph
Climb to 9,840' /
3,000 m
 
Service ceiling 23,000'
Range 1,118 miles
Armament  
Dorsal turret 2: MG
Ventral turret 2: MG
Beam 2: MG
Bombs 4,415 lb
  Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Series 5
Type Medium bomber
Crew 5
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34 piston
OR  
OR  
OR  
OR  
Cylinders Radial
HP 780 each
Cooling  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8.75"
24 m
Length 64' 3"
19.58 m
Height 14' 4"
4.37 m
Wing area 1,001.1 ft2
93 m2
Weight  
Empty 14,991 lb
6,800 kg
Loaded 23,148 lb
10,500 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 16,405' /
5,000 m
209 mph
336 kph
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
19.27 minutes
Service ceiling 21,600'
6,600 m
Range 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Armament  
Dorsal turret 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Ventral turret 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Beam 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Bombs 4: 1,102 lb
4: 500 kg

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site