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Italy's Cant Z.506B floatplane
Nickname: Airone ("Heron")

Photos

  • Cant Z 506b Airone floatplane
  • Cant Z 506b Airone floatplane

Design

The Cant Z.506B Airone was the military version of the Z.506 civilian transport.

The CANT Z.506B was a low wing monoplane, with three engines, and on top of floats. The wing and fuselage structure was wood and was covered in fabric lined wood.

The floats of the CANT Z.506B were made from metal and were connected by a faired steel tube structure to the wings and fuselage.

Even thought The Z.506B was of wooden construction it could handle Force 5 condititions.

Prototype

The prototype CANT Z.506 was flown by Mario Stoppani in 1936 and set eight seaplane records. These were done by flying up to two tons of cargo distances between 625 and 1,250 miles. When carrying two and five tons of cargo the Z.506 established two altitude records.

Production

The Cant Z.506 was built by Cant and Piaggio.

  • CANT Z.506, CANT Z.506 Serie I: 20
    • 1937: 32
  • CANT Z.506B: 324
  • Cant Z.506B Serie I: 32
    • 1938
  • Total: >320, 344
    • Manufacturer: Cantieri Riuiti dell'Adriatico, Monfalcone, Finale Ligure
    • Production: 1936 - ?, ? - January 1943

Variants

  • CANT Z.506: Civilian model used by Ala Littoria airline.
  • Cant Z.506A: Pilot seat was higher.
  • CANT Z.506B: First appeared in 1937.
  • CANT Z.506B Series XII: Had a beam position with two 7.7 mm machine guns and could also carry up to 2,200 lb - 2,645 lb / 1,200 kg bombs.
  • CANT Z.506S (Soccorso): Conversion to air sea rescue. Around 50 were converted.

Usage

World Records

In each year, 1936 and 1937, the CANT Z.506 set ten world records.

Mario Stoppani broke speed records by flying 191.539 mph for 3,105 miles, 198.7 mph for 1,242 miles, and 200.118 mph over 621 miles. The Cant Z.506 he flew used Alfa Romeo engine.

In 1937 a Cant Z.506B was used to fly non-stop from Cadiz to Caravelas, 4,362 miles It used Alfa Romeo 127 R.C. 55 engines. It also flew to an altitude of 33,818' carrying a 2,200 lb load.

Airline Use

The Cant Z.506A was used by Ala Littoria airline starting in 1936.

First Units

The 31st and 35th Naval bomber groups were first equipped with the Z.506B.

Spanish Civil War

In the Spanish Civil War the Italian Legion used some Z.506Bs.

Poland

Poland had taken delivery of one of the 30 Cant Z.506Bs it had ordered in 1938 in September 1939.

Entry Into World War II

There were around 95 / 97 Z.506s available in June 1940 and equipped two Regia Aeronautica groups (31° and 35° Stormi Bombardamento Marittimo). These were used against France and the Balkans.

Vulnerable to Attack

By 1941 the Cant Z.506B was switched to being a primarily coastal plane because it was found to be very vulnerable to enemy fighters.

Rescues

231 people were rescued by Cant Z.506s.

Hijacked

The only plane to be every taken over by POWs was a Cant Z.506B that was flown to Malta.

Luftwaffe Use

After the Italian surrender the Luftwaffe used about twelve Z.506Bs as ambulances and transports.

Power War Use

The Italian Air Force used some of the Z.506Bs until 1959.

Specifications

  Cant Z.506
Type Commercial Passenger
Passenger 12
Engine (Type) 3: Piaggio Stella IX RC
Cylinders Radial 9
  Cant Z.506A
Type Commercial Passenger
Passenger 18
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 126 R.C.10
Dimensions  
Span 86' 11"
Length 62' 1"
Height 22' 2.5"
Wing area 936 sq ft
Weight  
Empty 15,873 lb
Loaded 23,147 lb
Performance  
Speed 244 mph
Cruising speed 162 mph
Range 746 miles
  Cant Z.506B Airone "Heron"
Type Bomber, Torpedo bomber, Reconnaissance, Transport
Crew 5
Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, gunners (2)
Passenger 16
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romero 126 RC 34
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 750 each, 770 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 83' 11", 86' 11"
26.49 m, 26.5 m
Length 62', 63' 1.5", 63' 2", 64'
18.92 m, 19.25 m
Height 22', 22' 2.5", 24' 3.33", 24' 5", 24' 5.5"
6.77 m, 7.45 m
Wing area 914.6 sq ft, 936 sq ft
85 sq m
Weight  
Empty 18,040 lb, 18,298 lb, 19,290 lb
8,200 kg, 8,750 kg
Loaded 26,860 lb, 27,116 lb, 27,375 lb
12,210 kg
Maximum load 27,998 lb, 27,000 lb
12,700 kg
Performance  
Speed 227 mph, 240 mph
Speed at Sea Level 195 mph
312 kph
Speed at 13,120' / 4,000 m 217 mph, 226 mph, 229 mph
349 kph, 366 kph
Cruising speed 202 mph
Climb to 13,120' / 4,000 m 4 minutes, 14 minutes
Service ceiling 24,000', 25,750', 26,000', 26,240'
7,320 m, 7,850 m
Range 1,000 miles, 1,242 - 1,705 miles, 1,250 miles, 1,700 miles
1,600 km
Range with 1,102 lb / 500 kg load 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Maximum range 1,430 miles
2,300 km
Armament 4: MG
Dorsal turret 1: 12.7 mm MG
1: 12.7 mm Breda-Safat
Lateral 2: 7.7 mm MG
Ventral position 1: 7.7 mm MG
Ventral bay 2: 1,764 lb torpedo
2: 800 kg torpedo
OR 2,205 lb, 2,650 lb
1,000 kg
  Cant Z.506B Serie I
Armament  
Gondola - Rear 1: 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT MG
Turret - Upper 1: 12.7 mm MG
Bombs 1: 1,764 lb
OR 2: 1,100 lb
OR 2: 551 lb
OR 3: 110 lb
OR 4: 353 lb
3: 110 lb
OR 9: 110 lb
OR 9: 220 lb
OR 16: 44 lb
OR 16: 33 lb
OR  
Torpedo 1: 1,764 lb
  Cant Z.506B Serie XII
Type Bomber, Torpedo Bomber
Crew 5
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa-Romero 126RC 34
Cylinders Radial
Dimensions  
Span 86' 11.3"
26.5 m
Length 63' 1.5"
19.24 m
Height 24' 5.3"
7.45 m
Wing area 928.53 sq ft
86.26 sq m
Weight  
Empty 19,290 lb
8,750 kg
Maximum load 28,010 lb
12,705 kg
Performance  
Speed at 13,125' / 4,000 m 217 mph
350 kph
Cruising speed 186 mph
Climb to 13,120' 20 minutes
Climb to 13,125' / 4,000 m 20 minutes 6 seconds
Service ceiling 22,965'
7,000 m
Range 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Range with 2,095 lb bomb load 1,242 miles
Endurance 6 hours 26 minutes
Armament  
Dorsal 1: 12.7 mm, 12.7 mm Scotti
Beam 2: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT
Ventral 1: 7.7 mm MG
Bombs 2,200 - 2,645 lb, 2,646 lb
1,200 kg
OR  
Torpedo 800 kg
1,764 lb

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
  4. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-1945, Jonathan Thompson, 1963
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site