Classic Airframes 1/48 FIAT CR.42LW
Night Fighting Hawk
by Jean Barby
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Designed as an interim fighter until the Italian monoplane fighters were available in sufficient numbers, the Fiat CR.42 was a modern biplane fighter that served the Regia Aeronautica in a multitude of roles including fighter, ground attack and night fighter duties.  The Fiat CR.42 was also used by several foreign air forces who put the plane to good use and production was even resumed by the Germans in 1944.

The CR 42 in German Service:
The FIAT CR 42 was considered  by the Luftwaffe as a suitable aircraft for night harassment and anti-partisan roles. This resulted in the German Rustungs-und-Kriegsproduktion Stab (Armaments and War Production Staff) ordering 200 CR 42LW aircraft from FIAT for German service. 

The CR 42L W was equipped with exhaust flame dampers and under wing bomb racks for four 110.2 Ib (50 KG) bombs. An American air raid on the FIAT factory in Turin destroyed several completed and semi-completed aircraft on the production line. This attack resulted in the completion of only 150 CR 42L Ws, with the Luftwaffe accepting 112 of those into service.  The first CR 42LW was delivered to
1. Staffel (Squadron) of Nachtschlachtgruppe (NSGr.; Night Attack Group) 9 at Udine, Italy in November of 1943. This squadron was previously equipped with Caproni Ca 314 light bombers for use against partisan forces in the Alps, Istria, and Croatia.

On 28 January 1944
2. Staffel of NSGr. 9 was formed and the group began operating from Bolsena in the Netturno area and against Anglo-American forces around Monte Cassino.  In February of 1944, nine additional aircraft under Hauptmann (Captain) Rupert Frost flew from Centrocelle, near Rome. On 30 April, five CR 42LWs were destroyed on the ground by American P-47 Thunderbolts attacking Rieti airfield. Shortly thereafter, 1. Staffel was reequipped with Junkers Ju 87D Stukas. CR 42s remained in 2. Staffel service until June of 1944.

The CR 42LW also equipped the newly formed 3. Staffel of
Nachtschlachtgruppe NSGr. 7 at Zagreb, Croatia in April of 1944. The group's other two squadrons operated a mix of elderly Heinkel He 46, Henschel Hs 126, and Dornier Do 17 aircraft on anti-partisan duties in the Balkans. By September, 2. Staffel was transferred to Pleso, Croatia and began operating 26 CR 42LWs alongside 3. Staffel already deployed there. The FIAT aircraft later equipped 1. Staffel, based at Graz, Austria. On 8 February 1945, NSGr. 7 lost three CR 42LWs to Allied fighters and a fourth to anti-aircraft fire.

When World War II ended in Europe, over 20 CR 42LWs remained with NSGr. 7's Gruppenstab (Group Staff) and
2. and 3. Staffeln based at Zagreb-Goriza. The first squadron remained at Graz.

Construction:
This model was built from the first (orginal) production Classic Airframes CR42 (not the new release), and it is no one's secret that the model had a lot of shortcomings. The excellent resin set from Italian Classic came to the rescue and it helped not in a small way to make a precise rendition of the plane. I had read the excellent book from D'Amico/Valentini "War over Italy" and I was thrilled with the profile of one CR42 used by the Germans to harass Allied troops on the Mt Cassino front. For that purpose I had to do some scratch-building on the undercarriage legs and also on the long exhausts, of Wellington type, which I built from plastic sprues. The painting is a base of RLM 76 for the undersides RLM 74 for the uppersurfaces. Blothches of RLM 75 were applied on the undersurface of the wings, blothes of RLM 76 and sand RLM 79 were sprayed on the fuselage giving the plane a Picasso, not a Monnet look. You can get the same result for very much less work with the
Italeri Kit and, of course of the new mold from Classic Airframes. Bye for now, jean.

References:
Punka, G., "FIAT CR 32/CR 42 in action" Aircraft Number 182,  Squadron/Signal Publications, 2000.



Technical Data:
Aircraft:
Fiat CR.42
Manufacturer: FIAT S.A.
Type:
Fighter
Year: 1939
Engine: FIAT A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
Wingspan:
31 ft 10 in (9.70 m)
Length:
27 ft 3 in (8.30 m)
Height:
10 ft 10 in (3.30 m)
Weight:
5,060 lb (2,295 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed:
273 mph (440 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6,000 m)
Ceiling:
34,450 ft (10,500 m)
Range:
490 miles (785 km)
Armament:
2 x 12.7mm SAFAT machine guns; 2  x 220.5 lb (100 kg) bombs
Crew:
1

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January, 2007
STORMO! 2007