Macchi C.202 Folgore
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Macchi C.202 Folgore

One of the best Italian fighters of the mid-war years, Mario Castoldi's Macchi C.202 Folgore (thunderbolt) was developed from the radial-engined C.200, but was powered by a Daimler- Benz DB 601 produced under licence as the Alfa Romeo RA 1000 RC 411. First flown by Carestiato on 10 August 1940, the C.202 Series 1 production version entered service with the 1 Stormo at Udine in the summer of 1941, this unit arriving in Libya in the following November. The Folgore was a lowwing monoplane with inwardretracting landing gear and an armament of two 12.7mm Breda- SAFAT machine-guns in the nose; there was also provision for two 7.7mm guns in the wings. Engine production was slow and severely delayed the build-up of the Folgore in service.

The aircraft underwent very little change and development during its life span, and was produced in 11 series. It eventually served with 45 Squadriglie of the 1, 2, 3, 4, 51, 52, 53 and 54 Stormi in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, the Aegean and Russia. Production amounted to about 1,500, of which 392 were produced by the parent company and the remainder by Breda. In combat the Folgore proved to be well-matched with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.V in performance, but was badly undergunned and, although slightly superior to American fighters such as the Bell P-39 Airacobra, this armament deficiency prevented Folgore pilots from knocking down many Allied bombers.

Ultimate wartime development of the C.200/202 series of Italian fighters was the Daimler Benz-powered C.205; only 66 were in service by the time of Italy's withdrawal from the Axis. The C.205V Veltro (greyhound) would have been capable of meeting most Allied fighters on equal terms.

Macchi C.202 Folgore

Macchi C.202 FolgoreA three-view drawing (1640 x 1200)

Comments1-20 21-40
Barry, 31.05.2016

It's strange to think that Mario Castoldi could design such an aircraft, but never flew in his life.

Ron, 19.03.2015

RoF for the 7.7x56mm wing guns was 810 rpm each. 13.5 rps.
665+ rpm sync. 11.1 rps. M/V 730+ mps.

RoF for the 12.7x81mm was 700 rpm each. 11.67 rps.
575 rpm each sync. 9.58 rps. M/V 730-771 mps.

Paul Scott, 17.01.2015

A fine aircraft from Italy for WW2. Sometimes compared to the BF109, from some angles.

Ron, 30.09.2012

A P-38 dive speed from 36,000' reached 445 mph and was thus given a 0.675 Mach value.
That means they used 659.26 as Mac 1.
I don't know at what altitude this P-38 reached terminal dive but it needed over 10,000' to pull out.
If we use this 659.26 as the conversion formula, the MC 202 did Mach 0.867 at 571.7 mph, give or take. (all of my Mach numbers are thus subject to a higher value elsewhere on this site accordingly. (0.04 higher in this case)

walter12357, 19.10.2011 ho visto uno al museo di volandia, vicino malpensa in ottimo stato di conservazione

Ron, 22.05.2011

Another website uses 692 mph as Mach 1 conversion for dives.
So my Folgore 571.7 mph (920 km/h) terminal dive speed = Mach 0.826 for the MC 202.
Thus the aerodynamically refined Re 2005 at 609 mph = Mach 0.88, not 0.80 that I posted before!

Ron, 23.03.2011

One post said the Macchi had an unpleasant tendency to auto-rotate. I think it was the MC 202.

Dave, 03.02.2011

I'm a big fan of this plane, and still can't believe how poor the armament was. With the DB engine it was a natural fit to go with an engine mounted 20mm gun, just like the ME109s. What a difference that would have made!

Ben Beekman, 15.01.2011

Please allow a spelling correction in my comment: it's Macchi, not Macci. Thank you.

Ben Beekman, 15.01.2011

Since no figures are given here on the Macci C.202 Folgore specifications, how about these from William Green's book "Famous Fighters of the Second World War", dated June 1962:
Span: 34 ft. 8 1/2 inches.
Length: 29 ft. 1/2 inch.
Ht.: 9 ft. 11 1/2 inches.
Wing Area: 180.83 sq. ft.
Armament: 2 x 12.7 mm mg in fuselage and 2 x 7.7 mm mg in wings plus 2 x 110. lb., 220. lb., or 353. lb. bombs.
Power Plant: One Alfa Romeo "Monsoni" (DB 601A1) 1,175 hp @ 2,500 rpm for takeoff and 1,400 hp @ 2,400 rpm., Max. internal fuel: 91.85 U.S. gallons.
Weight: Empty 5,181 lb., Max. 6,636 lb.
Performance: Max. speed 309 mph at sea level; 324 mph @ 3,280 ft.; 352 mph @ 9,840 ft.; 370 @ 16,400 ft.
Service ceiling: 37,730 ft.
Normal range: 475 miles.
Number built: 1,500 Folgores and 262 Veltros, which were uprated improved Folgores, and powered by the DB 605, 1,475 hp for takeoff, engine.
Green says that had there been really large numbers of these Macci-Castoldi fighters available in North Africa during the air war, the outcome could well have taken a different course. However, the Italian aircraft industry had never been mobilized for mass production. And the Germans, principal suppliers of their imports, were too hard-pressed themselves to render adequate assistance. Thus the small production numbers quoted.

Ron, 06.11.2010

It's interesting to compare the Ki 61-I Tony with it's namesake, the MC 202 Folgore.
If only the Ki 61 could have had such sparkling climb rates.
Perhaps the earliest Ki 61-Ia did before it got 4x12.7-mm guns (both initially had 2x7.7-mm and 2x12.7-mm). The ammo load was less in the Tony but you'd expect a heavier internal fuel load would account for inferior climb of the Japanese fighter, but it's normal range was actually shorter than that of the MC 202! Go figure. Maybe the answer is that the Italian mechanics had better luck and experience with their version of the same German DB-601A inline engine.

nick, 13.10.2010

Wonder if anyone came across the original blueprints for this aircraft

Aaron, 26.09.2010

Wikipedia is like picking up a generic dictionary. It gives you generalizations on commonly published information. It does not delve into exact research tests. I am not dissing it. Wikipedia is a great sources of information, but if you start specializing into a particular field, you must dig deeper to get all the facts.
I have not studied maximum dive velocities of all the WW2 aircraft so I do not have anything to add to the conversation in that area. I'll leave that to the experts. I was able to find the article in Air Enthusiast Vol.2 No.1 covering the M.C.202 though. The following is from that article: It immediately established an ascendancy over the Hurricane and Kittyhawk. It could turn inside any of its opponents. (No actual test data given). The following is the specifications the article listed for the M.C.202 Folgore Series IX-XI: Engine-Alfa Romeo R.A.1000 R.C.41-I Monsoni 1075hp/T.O./2500rpm. Armament: 2x12.7mm. and 2x7.7mm. Maximum weight: 6766lbs. An initial climb rate is not listed but it states that 1000m was reached in 39sec. That translates to at just over 5046fpm to 3,280ft. and 2000m was reached in 1min. 28sec. which translates to over 4472fpm. avg. to that height. 3000m/2.67min. 4000m/3.53min. 5000m/4.7min. 6000m/just over 5.9min. Maximum Speed: 309mph/S.L. 324mph/1000m. 338mph/2000m. 352mph/3000m. 364mph/4000m. 370mph/5000m. 372mph/5600m. Range: 475mls/267mph. Service Ceiling:37,730ft. No paticulars given about the testing are given. The Folgore was originally introduced with just the 2x12.7mm couling guns. Wow, undergunned but I would like to see performance figures on that beauty.

Ron, 03.09.2010

Trust the mach numbers more than my mph dive speeds if both appear. I used the wrong ratio to translate. Sorry.
I can always cover my butt by arguing dive figures are not easy to measure accurately regardless.

Ron, 22.07.2010

Forgive my error when I said the Breda 12.7-mm MG was related to the Browning .50 Cal. Apparently it's not.
The Japanese IAAF used the Italian ammo in their Browning derived 12.7-mm Ho-103 Type 1 MG (if I'm not mistaken).
On the question of dive speed; indicated speed is not always actual (ground) speed. The point here for the MC 202 is that it out dove the contemporary Bf 109F-4.
Where Wikipedia got the 575 mph for the F2A Buffalo, I don't know. But that might be a trait that helps account for it's top notch kill ratio on the Finish front after it was obsolete by all rights.

Ronald, 23.09.2009

That's were it seems to point. The Italians do say 25% reduction. But the question remains - why should the Ho-103 be penalized 50%? It's lighter if anything, not heavier like the US .50 Cal - with less than 50% penalty, It should be closer to the Breda not worse than the Browning I would expect. Go figure.
On the dive speeds. When I read of the Fw 190A-4 captured and tested with the restriction of 466 mph redline (below 10,000') posted on the k/h indicator (in the metric dashboard of course), and then see later Allied test pilot dives of 594 to 609 mph recorded, probably for different variants of the Fw 190, I see the redline figure as meant for pilots in general to safely observe; and the higher speeds as the limits found by professional test pilots pushing the envelope. The Bf 109G reaching mach .78 (594 mph) is likely terminal velocity by a test pilot. However, it was uncomfortable over 440 mph which explains how a P-40 with a 480-510 mph limit could catch most Luftwaffe pilots in a sustained dive. I haven't heard that about any Folgores or Veltros. So the Macchi was right up there. Even the MC 200 was in the 500 mph class. But when I read of the Spitfire Mk XIV having the best mach speed of .89 or 677.5 mph (.85 red-line) and the Me 262 coming in second at mach .86 (.79 red-line), with the Me 163A rocket way back at 643 mph (mach .845), I start to wonder. And where is our P-51?
P-51B had .84 (.75 red-line), P-51D had .82 (.7 red-line). Not bad.

Leo Rudnicki, 20.09.2009

The only definition of "terminal dive speed" for aircraft is a hypothetical figure allowing unlimited distance. It isn't a real world parameter. The 575 mph figure for the Buffalo is particularly otherworldly. The flight manual doesn't list figures beyond 400 mph. although one pilot reported 500 mph ASI, which is subject to error in a dive and not considered reliable. He still had a prop so the figure is false. The high firing rate synchronized of the Breda-SAFAT could be a brochure figure used by the manufacturer to help sales and never confirmed by anyone. Rate of fire is an approximate number and synchronized even more so. The rule of thumb 25% figure for synchronized guns indicates 525 r/m but still approximate.

Ronald, 20.09.2009

A Wikipedia link of the MC 202 compares the terminal dive speed of the Bf 109F-4 at 906 km/h with the C 202 at 920 kph.
So, I apologize for saying it was the red-line speed when I should have said terminal dive velocity. I'm no expert on mach numbers but it should be about .75 I think (.72 for the F-4). Perhaps the figure elsewhere of 980 kph for the Bf 109F-4 or 609 mph (mach .8) just like the later Re 2005 Sagittario, had weighed on my mind as the terminal number.
The further down this road we go, the cloudier it gets.
When I stumbled on that link, I was really searching for more on the rate of fire for the Macchi cowl 12.7 mm guns.
I mean how could their synchronized rate be 575 r/m as published if the faster IJAAF Ho-103 dropped below that when cowl mounted? What I found there was even worse. So I'm still looking. Sometimes I think they give the unsynchronized rate in every case. Or else the Breda didn't have as strong a resemblance as the Japanese Type 1 to their Browning roots. If the P-40B got 425 r/m for a 750 r/m .50 cal. and the Ki 44 had cowl guns closer to the Breda an the same ammo had wing Ho-103s that got 900 r/m. So how come it's cowl Ho-103s didn't even get half that rate, but the 700 r/m Breda goes through 370 rounds in 35 seconds synchronized? That's what? 634.3 r/m!! 575 r/m looks better already. I know, its' all in the engine rpm.
If my 571.7 mph conversion is off, let me know.

Leo Rudnicki, 24.08.2009

I would like to know where these "red-line" figures were sourced and if the corresponding Mach numbers are available, please.

Ronald, 24.08.2009

Redline in the dive was 572 mph.

1-20 21-40

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