Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero


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Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero

Developed from an eight-seat commercial airliner of 1934, the three-engine Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero entered service as a conventional medium bomber with the Regia Aeronautica in 1937, and served operationally with the Aviacion del Tercio alongside the Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. Also in 1937 the S.M.79 embarked on trials at Gorizia as a torpedo bomber, being equipped to launch a single 450mm naval torpedo from an offset rack under the fuselage. The following year trials with paired torpedoes led to the adoption of the S.M.79-II aircraft as standard torpedo bomber equipment. Following Italy's entry into the war in June 1940, when Sparvieri (sparrowhawks) equipped 14 stormi based in Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and Libya, the aircraft was constantly in action in the anti-shipping role, its first action being an attack by 19 S.M.79s of the 9 and 46 Stormi on French shipping off the Riviera coast on 13/14 June.

During the invasion of Crete S.M.79s of the 92 Gruppo and the 28la Squadriglia were active against Allied shipping in the Aegean, after which most aircraft were redeployed to Libya for operations against British naval forces and convoys in the Central Mediterranean as well as the naval base at Malta. Among the ships of the Royal Navy sunk by S.M.79s in the Mediterranean were the destroyers HMS Husky, HMS Jaguar, HMS Legion, and HMS Southwall, while the battleship HMS Malaya and the carriers HMS Indomitable and HMS Victorious were all struck by torpedoes launched by the Italian torpedo bombers; the majority of these ships were hit during the attacks on the Operation 'Pedestal' convoy which sailed with 14 merchant ships and heavy escort for the relief of Malta. Among the famous Italian pilots of the Sparviero were men such as Capitani Buscaglia, Cimicchi, di Bella and Melley, An improved version was the S.M.79-III without the ventral gondola but with a forward-firing 20mm cannon.

Despite the obvious value of the S.M.79 to the Axis forces in the Mediterranean, the aircraft (like so many Italian aircraft) suffered from poor servicing facilities, and it was unusual for even as much as half the available strength of Sparvieri to be fit for operations at any given time. Nevertheless the S.M.79 was acknowledged as being among the best torpedo aircraft to serve in the Mediterranean theatre during World War II.

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 Sparviero

 ENGINE3 x Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34, 582kW
  Take-off weight10480 kg23105 lb
  Empty weight6800 kg14992 lb
  Wingspan21.2 m70 ft 7 in
  Length15.8 m52 ft 10 in
  Height4.3 m14 ft 1 in
  Wing area61.7 m2664.13 sq ft
  Max. speed430 km/h267 mph
  Ceiling6500 m21350 ft
  Range1900 km1181 miles
 ARMAMENT3 x 12.7mm machine-guns, , 1 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1250kg of bombs

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 SparvieroA three-view drawing (702 x 1139)

Ravenscroft, 24.02.2012 03:48

Interesting this sleeker plane came before the older-looking S.M.81


Naga, 09.08.2011 21:31

Most likely the Axis, since most Axis-supplied aircraft were flown as part of the insurgency against the British, although I was led to believe the crews were either Italian or German.


Naga, 19.04.2011 21:49

I'm not exactly sure about the Sparviero but some text books call the Pipistrello the Kanguru and vise versa. Heard the Iraqis flew the older model twin-engine variants, which side were they on?


Ben Beekman, e-mail, 19.03.2011 03:13

For those who are interested, You Tube has some interesting newsreel films of Italian aircraft in combat during the war in the Mediterranean. The SM.79 is shown during a torpedo attack, for example. It looks like it was capable of carrying not one but two torpedos! Very interesting films, they show the great enthusiasm and esprit d'corps of the much maligned Italian military.


Barry, 03.12.2010 17:50

The lower profile in the 3 view drawing shows the two engined SM79B which came in various sub-types such as the SM79-JR. This model was powered by two Junkers Jumo 211Da inverted vee 12 liquid cooled engines which were rated at 1,220h.p. It was license built in Romania and served with the Royal Air Forces of Romania on the Eastern Front.


almac, e-mail, 18.09.2010 22:44

I have suspected for many years that the SM79 was one of two tri-motor suspects (the other the JU52)accused by Albania of overflying that Communist Balkan nation in the early 1950s. The Albanians filed several complaints with the United Nations, naming both Italy and Yugoslavia as mounting the operations with three-engined aircraft. An anticommunist agent who was airdropped intothe Albanian mountains in 1950 also said he parachuted out of an Italian trimotor.


antonio valentim, e-mail, 02.01.2010 19:09

E um dos avioes mais bonitos em desiner...e foi uma verdadeira maquina de matar..gostaria de receber mais informacos e fotos deste aviao, fotos do interior da aeronave....e fotos de bat


FRANZ, 11.11.2008 18:37

Its nickname was "Il gobbo maledetto" = "the goddam unchback"


edik154, 18.07.2007 19:34

You can see it in "Museo Storico dell'Aeronautica Militare", Vigna di Valle - Rome).


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