|Classic Airframes 1/48 FIAT CR.32 quater
by Vince Tassone
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|Just as the Spitfire and Mustang were symbols of Allied victory in the Battle of Britain and in the skies of Europe, the FIAT CR.32 represented the triumph of Nationalist Forces and their Axis Allies in the Spanish Civil War. The combat record of the FIAT CR.32 in the Spanish Civil War was remarkable. Of the 1,947 aircraft sent to the Republicans from Russia, France, the United States, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Britain 1,520 machines fell in combat to Nationalist pilots. To the Italian aviators of the "Tercio", 943 victories were credited and about 60 percent of these were achieved by fighter units solely equipped with the Fiat CR.32. Only 86 aircraft of all types were lost by the Italian air component in the SCW - a 10:1+ kill ratio.
In contrast, the Nationalist forces received 730 aircraft from Italy and 400 from Germany. In the skies of Spain, the Air Forces of Italy and Germany won a relatively 'easy' victory on a equal playing field, and although the war in Spain validated air tactics and equipment, it failed to manifest the enormous industrial potential of the British Commonwealth, the United States and Russia that would ultimately decide a far larger conflict only a few years away.
By WWII the performance of the CR.32 was limited, however the CR.32 continued to see service as a fighter during the early phases of the war with the Regia Aeronautica and was also pressed into service as a ground attack aircraft in North Africa. Despite its limitations, CR.32s claimed some notable successes. On 4 September, 1940, CR.32s of 163a Sq. CT based in Rhodes intercepted an attack by the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, claiming five out of the twelve Swordfish from 813 and 814 Squadrons FAA. Three other Swordfishes force landed. In East Africa CR.32s of the 411a Sq. on two occassions downed the much superior Hawker Hurricane of the SAAF while CR.32s of 410a Sq. claimed 14 British aircraft shot down by mid-April 1941.
However the Fiat CR.32 will forever be remembered for its role in the Spanish Civil War and as a symbol of Italian design excellence in the field of aviation.
This is the updated Classic Airframes FIAT CR.32 Kit# 4108. Although I have no reference point to compare this kit with the early release, the kit is thoroughly up to date with many beautiful parts including a single cast resin nose and PE bench-type boost ailerons and aileron control horns with cables which add greatly to the final appearance of the model. Also included are separate resin elevators and a separate resin rudder.
Given that the kit molds were cast in the early 1990's this kit is quite accurate and the dimensions can be confirmed against Ali D'Italia #4 Fiat CR.32.
Aircraft: Fiat CR.32
Manufacturer: FIAT S.A.
Engine: FIAT A.30 RA, 12-cyclinder V, liquid-cooled, 600hp
Wingspan: 31 ft 2 in (9.50 m)
Length: 24 ft 5 in (7.45 m)
Height: 8 ft 8 in (2.63 m)
Weight: 4,080 lb (1,850 kg)
Maximum Speed: 233 mph at 19,685 ft (375 km/h at 3,000 m)
Ceiling: 28,900 ft (8,800 m)
Range: 460 miles (760 km)
Armament: 2 machine guns
|I began construction with the cockpit interior. The cockpit is entirely cast in resin with PE instrument panels and gauges. To get the side walls and floor panels to fit neatly into position be sure to thin the resin sidewalls by removing entirely the molding blocks. What should remain is a very thin 1/16 inch wall, almost transparent. Performing this procedure ensures a nice fit to the fuselage halves. I'll discuss this step in more detail in my next article. I painted the cockpit interior grigio azzuro chiaro; consult the STORMO! Colourguide and the note provided by Riccardo Trotta regarding Fiat cockpit interior colors.
|Once the cockpit is complete, glue the fuselage halves together and tape each side to insure proper alignment. Next, cut down the molding block of the resin nose, but not all of it. Leave about 1/8 inch to use as a guide to attach to the fuselage and glue it into position using cynoacrylate.
At this point drill small locating holes in the fuselage and secure the wing and cabane struts to the lower wing using number 78-79 drill bits. This procedure will ensure proper alignment of the struts and wings and will ease assembly considerably.
Now on to painting, something I'm sure all of you zoomed in to read : ) ... this is by far the most complicated camo scheme I've done to date and what a fitting scheme for such a beautiful aircraft and model. I wanted to push the envelope so I chose the E3 camo scheme - Mimetiche Particolare - Filamenti Sfumati ad Andmento Irregolare Verde E Marrone su Fondo Giallo. This camo scheme was carried on Tenente Mario D'Agostini's machine, CO of the 163a Sq. Autonoma CT based in the Aegean, Rhodes-Gadurra, July 1940. Aside from the complexity of this particular camo scheme, noteworthy are the lack of the State Seal - House of Savoy coat of arms on the white cross of Savoy and the lack of a white fuselage band.
I used White Ensign Models Colourcoats for this job and thinned the paints considerably. I used a toothpick dipped 3-5 times for every half cup of thinner (half cup thereabouts to maintain a specific head to avoid splash) and a low pressure of 10-15 psi. There were no traces of overspray and I had complete control of the airbrush at all times, spraying over existing lines to get the color density I wanted. I really didn't hit my mark until the top wing, spraying sharp lines of 1/32 inch and thinner, again with no overspray and over prolonged periods of spraying. The WEM Colourcoats used were Giallo Mimetico 2, Marrone Mimeticvo 2 and Verde Mimetico 2. Undersides were painted Grigio Mimetico using Polly Scale USSR Topside Blue Gray FS. 36271. Front blades were sprayed aluminum while the backside of the blades were sprayed flat black.
All was not perfect however, as Chris pointed out the canopy area needs work, mainly due to the crash pad which is far too thick and forces the canopy to sit far ahead of the cockpit. I'm hoping I can talk Chris into vacuum forming another for me. There's also the problem of a curved top wing, which should be straight. I used a modified version of the Chris Busbridge 'heat treatment effect' and placed the wing in boiling water (yes I did that!) for about 15-20s until the wing straightened out. The top wing fabric effects are a little heavy, using 600 grit sand paper will fix that.
For decals I used a combination of the kit supplied decals printed by Microscale and the new Chris Busbridge 1/48 FIAT CR.32 Decals printed by Cartograph. The numeric markings for 163a Sq. CT should be white, however only the Chris Busbridge Fiat CR.32 decals offered the closest match for the markings of D'Agostinis intricate machine. Both kit supplied decals and Chris Busbridge decals went on beautifully. To avoid tears, shrinkage or silvering use Mr.Softner before applying the decals. Wait 20-30min until the decals are nearly dry and apply a second top coat of Mr.Softner. Both decal sheets are nearly the same, very high quality and I experienced no problems applying them.
Finally, as already mentioned, the PE sets are exquisite (if I may use this metaphor) and one of the high points of the kit. I hope Classic Airframes continue supplying completed aileron control horns and cables to new kits which add handsomely to the overall appearance of the model, not to mention being easy to add.
I really enjoyed this kit, other than the wing and canopy, this is a carefree kit with enough built in challenges and a myriad of color and camouflage schemes to keep the modeler happy for a long time indeed.
Apostolo, G. and Alegi, G., FIAT CR.32, Ali D'Italia, No. 4, La Bancarella Aeronautica, 1995.
Cattaneo, G., The FIAT CR.32, Profile Publications, No. 22, 1965.
Dunning, C., Courage Alone, The Italian Air Force 1940-1943, Hikoki Publications, 1998.
Postiglioni, U. and Degl'Innocenti, A., Colori e Schemi Mimetici Della Regia Aeronautica, II Edizione, CMPR, GAVS sez Roma, GMT, 2a Ristampa, 1997.
Punka, G., FIAT CR.32/CR.42 in Action, No. 172, Squadron/Signal Publications, 2000.
Waldis, P. and De Bortoli, M., Regia Aeronautica Caccia & Assalto 1940-1943 Parte I, Fighters & Ground Attack Units, La Bancarella Aeronautica, Torino, 2002.
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