Fiat CR.42 Falco


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Fiat CR.42 Falco

Often compared in concept and design with the Gloster Gladiator, against which it frequently fought in 1940-1, the Fiat CR.42 Falco (falcon) biplane did not first fly until 1939, however, and such an anachronism is difficult to understand. Employing the same Warren truss system of interplane struts as the 1933 CR.32, from which it was developed, Celestino Rosatelli's CR.42 was powered by a 626kW Fiat A74 R1C 38 radial and had a top speed of 441km/h. By September 1939 the Falco equipped three stormi and, while the RAF was hurriedly reducing its Gladiator strength, the Regia Aeronautica was increasing its CR.42 inventory, so that when Italy entered the war in June 1940 there were 330 in service with four stormi in the Mediterranean plus two squadriglie in Italian East Africa. The Falco first saw combat in the brief French campaign, and later 50 aircraft accompanied the Corpo Aero Italiano to bases in Belgium for attacks on southern England at the end of the Battle of Britain, suffering heavily to the guns of RAF Hurricanes. In the Middle East the Falco fared better, however, being more of a match for the widelyused Gladiator; during the Greek campaign one gruppo of three CR.42 squadriglie was committed and, except on a few occasions, acquitted itself well; but when Hawker Hurricanes eventually arrived the Italian biplane losses mounted steadily. In East Africa 51 crated CR.42s were received to supplement the 36 aircraft delivered to the 412a and 413a Squadriglie, but in due course they were destroyed in the air or on the ground, although they took a heavy toll of the antiquated aircraft of the RAF and SAAF. In the Western Desert CR.42 fighters were joined by the CR.42AS fighter-bomber version adapted to carry two 100kg bombs, and these continued in service with the 5, 15 and 50 Stormi Assalti until November 1942. A total of 1,781 CR.42s was built (some serving in Sweden and Hungary), but at the time of the Italian armistice in September 1943 only 64 remained serviceable.

Fiat CR.42 Falco

 ENGINE1 x FIAT A.74 R1C 38, 626kW
  Take-off weight2295 kg5060 lb
  Loaded weight1782 kg3929 lb
  Wingspan9.7 m32 ft 10 in
  Length8.27 m27 ft 2 in
  Height3.59 m12 ft 9 in
  Wing area22.4 m2241.11 sq ft
  Max. speed430 km/h267 mph
  Ceiling10200 m33450 ft
  Range775 km482 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 12.7mm machine-guns

Fiat CR.42 FalcoA three-view drawing (662 x 1062)

Anonymous, 29.06.2022 01:29

"Often compared in concept and design with the Gloster Gladiator, against which it frequently fought in 1940-1..." An awful lot of ink has been expended comparing the CR.42 with the Gladiator. The only trouble is that the Gladiator came out in 1934 and the RAF already considered it to be obsolete by 1939, when the CR.42 first flew. The only reason the RAF was still flying the Gladiator during 1939-40 was because they were still available, and they did not have enough fighters in their inventory at the time not to use them. However, Fiat already had an all-metal, low-wing monoplane fighter with retractible landing gear and enclosed cockpit before the C.R.42 ever even flew, namely the Fiat G.50. Under the circumstances, one cannot help wondering what the Italian Air Force was thinking to have preferred the CR.42.


Graham Clayton, e-mail, 26.12.2021 13:14

The CR.42 fought alongside the Luftwaffe, fought as a part of the Luftwaffe, and fought against the Luftwaffe.


Barry, 02.12.2010 17:57

Belgium received 34, Hungary at least 40 amd Sweden 72.
The one off CR42B had a 1010 hp DB601A inverted vee engine which gave it a top speed of 323 mph reportedly making it the fastest ever bi-plane fighter!


ZR, 06.12.2008 19:47

Of course yes, it had a full throttle height of 3800m, where the Military Power output was about 618kW @ 2400rpm.
The same engine was installed on the Macchi C200 and the Fiat G50


rafair, e-mail, 20.02.2008 13:11

Was the A74 engine supercharged ?


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