Alpha Flight Fiat 1/48 BR.20M
Italian Medium Bomber
by Jean Barby
Click the STORMO! Eagle to return to the Gallery
The Fiat BR.20 was modern and technically advanced when it appeared. It remained in production for almost seven years, and it was the standard Italian bomber of the Second World War.  More than 500 aircraft were built, higher than the average for multi-engine Italian aeroplanes at the time. This aircraft served on almost all fronts, including Africa, Russia, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and Northern Europe.  BR.20s were also used extensively in the Spanish Civil War where the plane's good operational range and speed rendered the plane virtually untouchable. In WWII BR.20s took part in the bombing raids on southern England in late 1940, as part of the Italian air corps stationed in Belgium. The planes flew 137 missions and dropped 120,000 lbs (60 tons) of bombs and suffered relatively few losses (5 BR.20s lost).  In North Africa and Russia the plane put in a good showing, and most losses were suffered through wear and tear.

Technical Data
Aircraft:
Fiat BR .20
Manufacturer:
Fiat S.A.
Type:
Bomber
Year:
1937
Engine:
Two Fiat A.80 R6 41, 18-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,000 hp each
Wingspan:
70 ft 8 in (21.53 m)
Length:
52 ft 10 in (16.10 m)
Height:
14 ft 1 in (4.30 m)
Weight:
21,850 Ib (9,900 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum speed:
286 mph (460 km/h) at 16.400 ft (5.000 m)
Ceiling:
29.500 ft (9,000 m)
Range:
1,860 miles (3,000 km)
Armament:
3 machine guns; 3,527 Ib (1.600 kg) of bombs
Crew:
5
Construction
The skillful Simone Semerraro from Porto-Gruaro has done it again! The BR20 and BR20M were long awaited in 1/48 scale by RA bomber afficionados.  And I have to say that this kit went together much better than the CANT I built from the same company a little while ago.  Some details need to be changed for a more accurate look, but all in all you have everything you need to built a beautiful Cicogna.

With a resin kit one must take some time to prepare and clean parts, fill bubbles and check for the presence of all parts.   For example, my kit was missing the prop hubs!  Beginning with the interior, a light grey was sprayed and the tubular frame darkened with a light spray of a darker shade of grey. I added some additional detail to the bomber belly because the bomb sight is plainly visible in the actual pictures of the aircraft.  Additional detail was also added to the flight deck using the Lela Press book (BR.20 issue) as a guide. The instrument panels once painted look very realistic - a high point of the kit.

July, 2007
STORMO! 2007
The aeroplane was designed in 1936 by Celestino Rosatelli, the designer of several other excellent Fiat aeroplanes. The BR.20 was a low-wing twin-engine monoplane. The structure was metal, and the covering was in duralumin and fabric. The aeroplane was powered by a pair of 1,000 hp Fiat A.80 RC 41 radial engines, driving three-blade metal propellers. The under-carriage was partially retracted into the engine nacelle. The aircraft provided more than was required by the government specifications for a twin-engine medium bomber and went into large-scale production. The government specification required a maximum speed of 240 mph (386 km/h), a bomb load of 2,640 pounds (1,200 kg), and a range of 600 miles (965 km). When the first production models were coming off the assembly line, two BR.20s were modified to take part in long-distance races. The two special BR.20As took part in the Istres-Damascus-Paris race in 1937, and although the planes did not win, they proved to be fast and capable of long-range flight. In 1939 another special BR.20 was prepared for an endurance flight, almost 3,000 miles (4,828 km) from Rome to Addis Ababa. With Maner Lualdi at the controls, the aeroplane set a world record for its category with an average speed of more than 250 mph (402 km/h).
This was the aircraft's last civil flight. In 1937 some BR.20s had been sent to Spain, where they remained in service for about a year and a half, until the end of the Civil War.  When Italy entered the Second World War the Fiat bombers were sent to France and then to the English Channel.

The final model was the BR.20bis which appeared in 1942.  A total of 15 were built in the first months of 1943.  The forward part of the fuselage was completely redesigned and new enigines were installed, two 1,250 hp Fiat A.82 RC 32s.  The aeroplanes performance improved significantly with this increase in power and the armament was also increased as a result.  The BR.20bis did not however see operational duty.
Gluing the fuselages together requires a lot of sanding to get a proper joint. I used super glue and accelerator because it forms a stronger bond than putty an allows you to rescribe the missing panels after some heavy sanding!

While the fuselage dries, complete the wings and rudder/stabilisors as these parts also require a certain amount of work to fit correctly. I then painted the white cross of savoia at this stage, by masking the rudders with tape.
The rest of the assembly is as any other model, however once again a certain amont of putty is needed.

The most painful and weak spot of the model are the transparencies. Being vacuum formed, are tricky to use. Many a dry fit is necessary before gluing them in place and some thin plastic card strips are used as shoulders, mounted against the fuselage, will help to stabalize positioning. Of course all the
machine guns were replaced with the set from L'Arsenal, available from Stormo. The propeller hubs were made for me by my old buddy A. Saccoccio and he also did the prop blades since the kit supplied props are rather poor.
Painting
The technic I used here is the same as the one you may find on
STORMO! for my S.84. The difference: the excellent book "Wings of Italy" gives colors shots of a BR20 and I followed quite closely the pattern of the blotches of Verde Mimetico and Marrone Mimetico. You must take your time, and you also must have cold beers in the fridge for the well deserved breaks. All the blotches have soft edges and when the tri-colors are done, I spray a mist of highly diluted Giallo Mimetico 3 to tie-in the whole paint scheme.
After a spray of Future the decals went on very well. Hannant's matt varnish gave the plane the operational look. Then it was time to glue the transparent parts and, using strips of decals painted during the painting process to cover the cockpit and turret frames.

The plane shown is BR.20M MM.21815, 1a Sq., 11 Gruppo, 13 Stormo used during operations against Greece and Yougoslavia in April 1941.