Italeri 1/72 CANT Z.506B
Airone (Heron)
by Jean Barby


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The CANT Z.506 established 10 world records in 1936 and another 10 in 1937. Like many other aeroplanes that took part in the Second World War, the CANT Z.506 was originally built for civil transport. In 1936 the first prototype was piloted to eight world seaplane records by Mario Stoppani. These records were established over distances of about 625 and 1,250 miles (1,000 and 2,000 km), with up to 2 tons (2.02 tonnes) of cargo. The aeroplane also established two altitude records with 2 and 5 tons (2.02 and 5.08 tonnes) of cargo. These records were broken again by the CANT Z.506 in 1937. The military version appeared after 15 civil aeroplanes had entered service with Ala Littoria.

The 506B model, christened 'Airone' (Heron), was designed as a torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aeroplane. It resembled the civil version in structure, a three-engine low-wing monoplane with floats. The only external differences were that the pilot's cockpit was raised and the fuselage was enlarged in the belly to accommodate the bomb-bay and a forward and rear observation post. The wing and fuselage structures were all-wood, and the aircraft was covered in fabric-lined wood. The two large fioats were metal and were connected to the wings and fuselage by a steel-tube structure in a fairing. The aeroplane was powered by three 750 hp Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34 radial engines that drove three-blade metal propellers. Its performance was particularly good for its class: a speed of about 225 mph (362 km/h) a range of about 1,700 miles (2,735 km) and a cargo capacity of about 2,650 pounds (1,202 kg) of bombs.

As soon as the first aeroplanes came off the assembly line of the Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, they were delivered to the 35th and 31st naval bomber groups. The aeroplanes were in such demand, even in reconnaissance units, that the Piaggio company also produced CANT Z.506s. The last CANT Z.506B was built by Piaggio in January 1943. Total production was more than 320 aeroplanes.

The 'Airone' saw more than 20 years of service. It first saw combat duty, albeit limited, during the Spanish Civil War. When the Second World War broke out there were 97 CANT Z.506s. They were assigned to two naval bomber groups and some reconnaissance units. The Z.506B saw limited service as a bomber, and it was reassigned to naval reconnaissance, convoy escort, and air-sea rescue duty. A special model Z.506S was developed for air-sea rescue duty. It could embark wounded men rapidly even in bad weather. The 'Airone' was also used after the 1943 Armistice. About 30 of them were assimilated into Allied forces. They continued to be used for air-sea rescue work in Italy until 1960.






Construction

The reboxing of this old Supermodel kit (Italeri CANT Z.506B 1/72 IT1360) does not correct the main mistakes of this kit which shows its age. Each wing is always 4mm short, the profiles of the wing tips and of the rudder are wrong, the canopy and the turret are more like an aquarium than glass enclousres, the floats are crying for their access hatches and straighteners, plus the details too big for 1/72 which need to be scratched buit! I used three Vector AR 126 to replace the strange engines from the kit! So its no picnic, but, in the end quite a decent "Airone" can be displayed. The Grigio Azurro Scurro is Gunze H-333 Extra dark sea gray plus 10%o, gunze Sky blue, the underside is Grigio Azurro chiaro H-312 from Gunze. Weathering was done with oils and filters. The model is CANT Z.506B Red 6, 287 Sq. at Elmas, Sardinia, sometime at the end of 1940 (white fuselage band) - April 1943. The unit began as a bombing unit but switched to reconnaissance duties in June 1940 and remained in Sardinian waters throughout the war assisting stranded airmen and seaman and watching for enemy shipping. In 1941 the unit had several battles with enemy aircraft, on 27 September, for example, a Z.506B looking for a SM.84 crew was attacked by six enemy fighters, shooting down two fighters to its gunners although the plane was forced down. It landed in the sea and the occupants waited with the bomber crew for 17 hours before rescue arrived. The unit also participated in the Malta convoy runs in the summer of 1942 looking for stray ships.




Technical Data

Aircraft: CANT Z.506B
Manufacturer: Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico
Type: Bomber
Year: 1937
Engine: Three Alfa Romeo, A.R. 126 RC 34 9-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 750 hp each
Wingspan: 86 ft 11 in (26.50 m)
Length: 63 ft 1 1/2 in (19.24 m)
Height: 24 ft 3 in (7.39 m)
Weight: 27,115 lb (12,299 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 226 mph (364 km/h) at 13,120 ft (4,000 m)
Ceiling: 26,240 ft (7,997 m)
Range: 1,700 miles (2,745 km)
Armament: 4 machine guns; 2,650 lb (1,200 kg) of bombs
Crew: 5

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December, 2018
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