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

Photos

  • Fiat G.55 Centauro fighter

Design

The Fiat G.55 Centauro was designed as competition to the Macchi MC.205 and Reggiane 2005.

The G.55 was an all metal fighter.

Constructions

The G.55 had a metal frame with metal covers except over the control surfaces which were fabric.

Engine

Was originally designed to use the Fiat A38 engine, but was fitted with a license built Daimler-Benz DB 605.

Undercarriage

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

Pilot

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

Prototype

The prototype was first flown on April 30, 1942.

Production

Production of the Fiat G.55 started in early 1943.

  • Fiat G.55 prototypes: 3
  • Fiat G.55/0: 8
  • Fiat G.55/I: ~105
  • Fiat G.55/II: 1
  • Fiat G.55S: 10
  • Fiat G.55A/B (postwar): 85
  • Total: 212
    • Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.

Variants

  • Fiat G.55: Main fighter model.
  • Fiat G.55/0: Had one 20 mm Mauser MG 151 cannon and two 12.7 mm machine guns in the nose and two 12.7 mm machine guns in the wings.
  • Fiat G.55/1: Had one 20 mm Mauser MG 151 cannon and two 12.7 mm machine guns in the nose and two 20 mm Mauser MG 151 cannons in the wings.
  • Fiat G.55/II: Bomber interceptor. Five 20 mm cannons.
  • Fiat G.55S (Silurante - "torpedo fighter"): Design as a torpedo bomber. Did not see service. Was to carry a Whitehead Fiume torpedo (2,167 lb).
  • Fiat G.56: Was to use the Daimler-Benz DB 603 engine and would have been the fastest Italian fighter. Only two were built before production was cancelled. Maximum speed was 426 mph / 685 kph.
  • Fiat G.55A: Postwar fighter.
  • Fiat G.55B: Postwar trainer. Had two seats. Didn't fly until 1946 and ten were supplied to the Aeronautica Militare Italiana and 15 to Argentina.

Usage

First action was in the defense of Rome in 1943. The 353a Squadriglia was the first one to receive the G.55s.

Serafino Agostini, a Fiat test pilot, flew a British POW to safety in a G.55.

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

After the Italian Armistice

After the Italian government surrendered to the Allies some (150) G.55s were used by the Aviazione Nazionale Repubblicana (Fascist Republic Air Arm).

After the War

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

Specifications

  Fiat G.55
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Daimler Benz DB 605A
Cylinders Inverted V 12, V 12
HP 1,475
Cooling Liquid
Propeller blades 3 metal variable pitch
Dimensions  
Span 38' 10", 39' 10.5"
Length 30' 8 7/8", 30' 9"
Height 10'3.25", 12' 4"
Wing area 227.1 sq ft
Weight  
Empty 5,940 lb
Loaded 8,162 lb, 8,200 lb
Performance  
Speed at 22,960' 385 mph
Speed at 24,300' 385 mph
Climb to 19,680' 7 minutes 12 seconds
Climb to 26,240' 10 minutes 11 seconds
Service ceiling 41,700', 42,640'
Range 745 - 1,024 miles, 1,025 miles
Armament  
Propeller 1: 20 mm Mauser
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 12.7 mm MG
2: 20 mm Mauser
  Fiat G.55/I Centauro
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Fiat RA 1050 Tifone (Daimler-Benz DB 605A) piston
Fiat RA 1050 RC-58 Tifone (Daimler-Benz DB 605A)
Fiat RA 1050 TC58 Tifone (Daimler-Benz DB 605A)
Cylinders Inverted V-12
HP 1,475
Cooling Liquid
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 38' 10", 38' 10.5"
11.85 m
Length 30' 8.9", 30' 9"
9.37 m
Height 10' 3", 10' 3.2", 10' 3.25"
3.13 m
Wing area 227 sq ft , 227.23 sq ft
21.11 sq m
Weight  
Empty 5,786 lb, 5,798 lb, 5,952 lb
2,630 kg, 2,700 kg
Loaded 8,179 lb, 8,180 lb, 8,197 lb
3,520 kg, 3,710 kg, 3,718 kg
Performance  
Speed 391 mph
603 kph, 630 kph
Speed at 22,965' / 7,000 m 385 mph
620 kph
Cruising speed 348 mph
560 kph
Climb 3,300'/minute
1,006 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' / 6,000 m 7 minutes 12 seconds
7.2 minutes
Climb to 26,250' / 8,000 m 10.2 minutes
Service ceiling 41,667', 41,700', 42,650'
12,700 m, 13,000 m
Range 744 miles, 746 miles
1,200 km
Maximum range with auxiliary fuel 1,025 miles
1,650 km
Armament  
Propeller 1: 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20e
1: 20 mm
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20e
2: 20 mm
2: 12.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Bombs under wing 2: 352 lb
2: 160 kg
  Fiat G.55S
Type Torpedo Bomber
Weight  
Empty 5,954 lb
Loaded 9,702 lb
Performance  
Speed 374 mph
Armament  
Torpedo 1: Whitehead Fiume 2,167 lb

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
  5. Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-1945, Jonathan Thompson, 1963
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site