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Italy's Cant Z.501 Gabbiano "Gull" flying boat

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  • Cant Z.501 Gabbiano flying boat
  • Cant Z.501 Gabbiano flying boat
  • Cant Z.501 Gabbiano flying boat

Design

The Cant Z.501 Gabbiano ("Gull") was Italy's only major flying boat used in World War II. Civilian models of the Gabbiano were produced before the Regia Aeronautica selected it to be an armed reconnaissance / maritime patrol aircraft.

The CANT Z.501 was designed by Filippo Zappata in the early 1930s.

The Z.501 was a high wing flying boat. It had two lateral floats.

The Z.501's primary construction material was wood with fabric covering control surfaces.

Armament

The bombs were carried outside under the wing in racks. Typically these were four 352 lb bombs.

Nickname

The nickname for the Z.501s was Mammaiuto ("mamma help") which was given to it by Italian children who saw it.

Prototype

The Gabbiano first flew in August 1934 / 1934 at Monfalcone, Trieste.

Production

  • Cant Z.501 Gabbiano: 445
    • Manufacturer: Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico
    • Production: 1935 - ?, ? - 1942

Usage

The Gabbiano was used by Italy, Romania, and Spain.

Long Distance Records

From 1934 to 1935 the Gabbiano set several long distance records. These involved flying from Monfalcone (location of Cant's factory) to Eritea and then to Somaliland nonstop.

Mario Stoppani flew a CANT Z.501 2,560 miles / over 2,600 miles / 4,120 km from Monfalcone, Italy to Massausa, Ethiopia on October 19, 1934 in 26 hours and 35 minutes.

In July 1935 a Cant Z.501 flew 3,080 miles / 4,957 km from Monfalcone to Berbera, Somaliland.

Units

  • Squadriglie: 141a - 148a, 171a, 182a - 189a
  • Sezioni: 1a, 3a - 5a

World War II

There were 15 squadrons equipped with the 202 Gabbianos that were available at the start of World War II.

By the time of Italy's surrender there were only about 40 Z.501s left.
When Italy surrendered in September 1943 around 19 / 30 of the Z.501s went to the south and 40 went to the Luftwaffe.

Post War

A few Cant Z.501s served on in the Italian Air Force until 1950.

Specifications

  Cant Z.501 Gabbiano "Gull"
Type Bomber, Maritime patrol flying boat, Naval reconnaissance
Crew 4 - 5
Engine (Type) Isotta-Fraschini Asso XIR, Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI R2 C15, Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI RC 15, Isotta Fraschini Asso XI R2C.15
OR Isotta-Fraschini Asso 750 R
Cylinders V 12, 12
Cooling Liquid
HP Asso 750: 750
Asso XI: 880, 900
Propeller blades 3, 3 metal
Dimensions  
Span 73' 9.75", 73' 10"
22.5 m
Length 46' 11", 49' 1"
14.3 m
Height 14' 6"
4.4 m, 4.42 m
Wing area 667.36 sq ft, 667.4 sq ft
62 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,470 lb, 8,488 lb
3,850 kg
Loaded 13,000 lb, 13,090 lb, 13,117 lb, 13,135 lb
5,950 kg
Maximum load 15,510 lb, 15,542 lb
7,050 kg
Performance  
Speed 170 mph, 171 mph
Speed at 8,200' / 2,500 m 171 mph
275 kph
Speed - Cruising at 6,560' 149 mph
Climb to 13,120' / 4,000 m 16 minutes, 18 minutes
Service ceiling 22,965', 22,966', 23,000'
7,000 m
Range 620 miles, 621 miles, 1,490 miles, 1,600 miles
2,398 km, 2,400 km
Armament  
Bow 1: 7.7 mm MG
1: MG
Dorsal hull 1: 7.7 mm MG
1: MG
Rear engine nacelle 1: 7.7 mm MG
2: MG
Bombs 4: 353 lb
4: 160 kg
OR 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
Bombs on Struts 1,401 lb, 1,410 lb, 1,411 lb
640 kg

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