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Italy's Fiat G.55 fighter
Centauro (Centaur)

Photos

Fiat G.55 Centauro fighter:
Italy's Fiat G.55 Centauro fighter

Design

The Fiat G.55 Centauro was designed as competition to the Macchi MC.205 and Reggiane 2005.1

The G.55 was an all metal fighter.4

Engine

Was originally designed to use the Fiat A38 engine, but was fitted with a license built Daimler-Benz DB 605.1

Undercarriage

The undercarriage was wide and gave excellent ground handling.1 The oleos were retracted inward.1 The gear could be retracted completely.4

Pilot

The cockpit was mounted high and afforded the pilot high visibility.1 The canopy opened to starboard.1

Prototype

The prototype was first flown on April 30, 1942.1,3

Production

Production of the Fiat G.55 started in early 1943.3

  • Fiat G.55 prototypes: 33
  • Fiat G.55/0: 83
  • Fiat G.55/I: ~1053
  • Fiat G.55/II: 13
  • Fiat G.55S: 103
  • Fiat G.55A/B (postwar): 853
  • Total: 2123
    • Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.4

Variants

  • Fiat G.55: Main fighter model.1
  • Fiat G.55/II: Bomber interceptor.3 Five 20 mm cannons.3
  • Fiat G.55A: Postwar fighter.3
  • Fiat G.55B: Postwar trainer.3,4 Had two seats.1,3,4 Didn't fly until 1946 and ten were supplied to the Aeronautica Militare Italiana and 15 to Argentina.1
  • Fiat G.55S: Design as a torpedo bomber.1,3,4 Did not see service.1,4
  • Fiat G.56: Was to use the Daimler-Benz DB 603 engine and would have been the fastest Italian fighter.1,3 Only two were built before production was cancelled.1 Maximum speed was 426 mph / 685 kph.3

Usage

First action was in the defense of Rome in 1943.1 The 353rd Squadron was the first one to receive the G.55s.4

Serafino Agostini, a Fiat test pilot, flew a British POW to safety in a G.55.1

Only 30 of the G.55s became operational before the Armistice.4

After the Italian Armistice

After the Italian government surrendered to the Allies some (1504) G.55s were used by the Aviazione Nazionale Repubblicana (Fascist Republic Air Arm).1,3,4

After the War

In the 1950s it was produced and was used by the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI).1 These were used by Argentina, Egypt, Israel, and Syria.3 Around 100 G.55s were sold to Argentina and Syria.4

Specifications

  Fiat G.554
Type Fighter4
Crew 14
Engine (Type) Daimler Benz DB 605A4
Cylinders V 124
HP 1,4754
Cooling Liquid4
Propeller blades 3 metal variable pitch4
Dimensions  
Span 38' 10"4
Length 30' 9"4
Height 12' 4"4
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 8,200 lb4
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 24,300' 385 mph4
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling 41,700'4
Range 1,025 miles4
Maximum range with auxiliary fuel  
Armament  
Propeller 1: 20 mm Mauser4
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG4
Wings 2: 20 mm Mauser4
  Fiat G.55/I Centauro1,2,3
Type Fighter1,2,3
Crew 11,2,3
Engine (Type) Fiat RA 1050 Tifone (Daimler-Benz DB 605A) piston1
Fiat RA 1050 RC-58 Tifone (Daimler-Benz DB 605A)2
Fiat RA 1050 TC58 Tifone (Daimler-Benz DB 605A)3
Cylinders Inverted V-121,2,3
HP 1,4751,2,3
Cooling Liquid1
Propeller blades 33
Dimensions  
Span 38' 10"1, 38' 10.5"2,3
11.85 m1,2,3
Length 30' 8.9"2, 30' 9"1,3
9.37 m1,2,3
Height 10' 3"1, 10' 3.2"2, 10' 3.25"3
3.13 m1,2,3
Wing area 227 ft2 1, 227.23 ft2 2
21.11 m2 1,2
Weight  
Empty 5,786 lb1, 5,798 lb2, 5,952 lb3
2,630 kg1,2, 2,700 kg3
Loaded 8,179 lb3, 8,180 lb1, 8,197 lb2
3,520 kg1, 3,710 kg3, 3,718 kg2
Performance  
Speed 391 mph1,2
603 kph1, 630 kph2
Speed @ 22,965' /
7,000 m
385 mph3
620 kph3
Cruising speed 348 mph3
560 kph3
Climb 3,300'/minute3
1,006 m/minute3
Climb to 19,685' /
6,000 m
7 minutes 12 seconds2
7.2 minutes3
Climb to 26,250' /
8,000 m
10.2 minutes3
Service ceiling 41,667'2, 41,700'1, 42,650'3
12,700 m1,2, 13,000 m3
Range 744 miles1, 746 miles2,3
1,200 km1,2,3
Maximum range with auxiliary fuel 1,025 miles3
1,650 km3
Armament  
Propeller 1: 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20e1
1: 20 mm3
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG3
Wings 2: 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20e1
2: 20 mm3
2: 12.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG1
Bombs under wing 2: 352 lb1
2: 160 kg1

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, General Editor Chris Bishop, 1998
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
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