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Italy's Fiat CR.42 fighter, C.R. 42
Nickname: Falco (Falcon)

Photos

  • Fiat CR.42 Falco fighter

Design

Most major counties were moving towards monoplane fighters, however Celestino Rosatelli of Fiat put forward a design for the CR.42. It was based on the CR.32 that was from the early 1930s.

Wing

The wings were rigidly braced and constructed in two sections that were joined as the centerline with support above the fuselage. They were manufactured from light allow and steel with a fabric covering. Ailerons were only on the top wing.

Fuselage

The fuselage was made from steel tubing. From the cockpit forward were metal panels covering the frame. The rest of the fuselage was fabric covered. The tail wheel was in a faired mount and was not retractable.

The fuel tank was located in the rear of the fuselage behind a fireproof bulkhead.

Pilot

The pilot was located in a cockpit that was behind a cutout in the top wing.

Undercarriage

The landing gear were faired for better aerodynamics.

Only the prototype had a retractable tail wheel.

Engine

The engine powered a three bladed metal variable pitch propeller.

The air cooled was chosen as it was less vulnerable to enemy fire.

Ground Attack

As the C.R. 42 was withdrawn from fighter duties some were modified by the addition of wing supports to allow for the carrying of two 220 lb bombs.

Prototype

First flown in January 1939 and entered service in November 1939.
First flew in 1939.
The CR.42 first flew on May 23, 1938.

The ICR.42 was first flown in 1940.

The CR.42B was flown for the first time in 1941.

After the prototype's test flight Italy ordered 200, Belgium 34, Hungary 50, and Sweden 72.

Production

  • Fiat C.R. 42:
  • Total: 1,781, 1,784
    • Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.
    • Production: 1939 - 1943, February 1939 - June 1943, ? - early 1942

When Italy surrendered there were still 64 CR.42s in service.

Variants

  • Fiat CR.42: Main fighter variant.
  • Fiat CR.42AS (Africa Settentionale): Fighter bomber version. Used in North Africa.
  • Fiat CR.42CN (Caccia Notturna): Night fighter. Had searchlights. Engine exhausts had fireproof bulkheads.
  • Fiat CR.42DB, CR.42B: Prototype with Daimler-Benz DB601 V12 engine (1,010 HP). Maximum speed 323 mph / 520 kph.
  • Fiat I.C.R.42: In 1940 one had two floats added.

Usage

Belgium (25 in 1940), Finland, Germany, Hungary (52 in 1939-1940), Italy, and Sweden (72 between February 1940 and September 1941) used the CR.42.

First Unit

The 53rd Gruppo was equipped with the C.R. 42s in May 1939.

World War II

There were three Stormi that were equipped with CR.42s in September 1939.

When Italy entered the war in June 1940 there were 300 / 330 CR.42s in service with four Stormi in the Mediterranean and two Squadriglie in Italian East Africa.

Belgium

Over half of the CR.42 that Belgium had were destroyed on the ground by the Luftwaffe. However, they did shoot down three German aircraft.

Battle of Britain

Italy based 50 CR.42s in Belgium for use against England. There were heavy loses.

Greece

There was one Gruppo of three Squadriglie that were equipped with CR.42s during the campaign in Greece.

East Africa

51 CR 42s were sent to the 412° and 413° Squadriglie in East Africa.

Africa

The 5°, 15°, and 50° Stormi Assalti used the CR.42 until November 1942.

Armistice

There were still 113 CR.42s (64 usable) left when the Italians surrendered in September 1943. Some of these were converted into trainers and were used into the 1950s.

Hungary

In 1941 Hungary ordered 68 CR.42s that were used in Yugoslavia. They were later used against the Soviet Union.

Sweden

The Swedish Air Force used the C.R. 42 and designated it the J 11. Many in Sweden thought it was superior in the air to the British Gladiators, designated the J 8, that were also being used. However, the CR.42s were harder to service and wore out faster.

Specifications

  Fiat CR.42 Falco
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Fiat A.74 R1C.38 piston
Fiat A.74 RC38
Cylinders Two row 14, Radial, Radial 14
HP 840
Cooling Air
Propeller blades 3, 3 metal
Dimensions  
Span 31' 9.75", 31' 9 7/8", 31' 9.9", 31' 10"
9.7 m
Length 27' 2.75", 27' 7/8", 27' 1", 27' 1.2", 27' 2", 27' 3"
8.26 m, 8.27 m, 8.3 m
Height 10.01", 10' 3/8", 10' 9 7/8", 10' 10", 11' 9"
3.05 m, 3.3 m, 3.59 m
Wing area 241 sq ft , 241.1 sq ft
22.4 sq m
Weight  
Empty 3,763 lb, 3,784 lb, 3,929 lb, 3,933 lb
1,707 kg, 1,782 kg, 1,784 kg
Loaded 5,049 lb, 5,060 lb, 5,070 lb
2,295 kg, 2,300 kg
Maximum load 5,302 lb
2,405 kg
Performance  
Speed 261 mph, 267 mph
420 kph
Speed at 6,560' / 2,000 m 244 mph
393 kph
Speed at 13,120' / 4,000 m 266 mph, 267 mph
428 kph
Speed at 19,685' / 6,000 m 273 mph, 274 mph
441 kph
Speed - Cruising 214 mph
344 kph
Climb 2,400'/minute, 2,402'/minute
731 m/minute, 732 m/minute
Climb to 9,840' 3 minutes 53 seconds
Climb to 13,120' / 4,000 m 5 minutes 26 seconds, 5.4 minutes
Climb to 19,680' / 19,685' / 6,000 m 8 minutes 40 seconds, 9 minutes
Service Ceiling 33,135', 33,136, 33,300', 33,456', 34,450'
10,100 m, 10, 150 m, 10,500 m
Range 481 - 630 miles, 482 miles, 485 miles
775 km, 780 km
Range with auxiliary fuel 490 miles, 630 miles
1,014 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT MG, 12.7 mm MG, 12.7 mm Safat MG
Rounds 400 each
Under wing (some aircraft) 2: 12.7 mm MG
Bombs 437 lb, 2: 220 lb
198 kg, 2: 100 kg
  Fiat CR.42bis Falco
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
  Fiat CR.42ter Falco
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 12.7 mm MG
  Fiat CR.42AS Falco
Armament 2 or 4 12.7 mm MG
Bombs 2: 220 lb
2: 100 kg
  Fiat ICR.42
Type Seaplane
Engine (Type) FIAT A.74 R.C. 38
Cylinders Radial
HP 840
Dimensions  
Length 28'
Weight  
Empty 4,070 lb
Loaded 5,335 lb
Performance  
Speed 262 mph
Service Ceiling 31,150'
Range 598 miles

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, General Editor Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  5. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  6. Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-1945, Jonathan Thompson, 1963
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site