Italeri + Italian Kits 1/72 Fiat CR.42B
Biposto
by Philippe Martin


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Although not formerly part of the "R" Program undertaken by the Regia Aeronautica to update its aircraft in 1939, the FIAT CR.42 was nonetheless ordered into production as a replacement for the ageing CR.32 and as a transition aircraft until tactics and teething problems could be worked out in the new crop of Italian monoplane fighters. Aside from the fairly large orders placed by the Regia Aeronautica, a significant number of foreign orders were also placed by Belgium, Hungary and Sweden.

In Belgium the CR.42 was used in the defense of the country in May 1940 claiming 9 aerial victories for the loss of only two Fiats in combat, including kills registered against Bf.109Es. In Hungary, the FIAT CR.42 achieved some notable successes and was the combat aircraft with the best kill / loss ratio employed by the Hungarians in WWII. In the war against France, on June 13, 1940 FIAT CR.42s shot down three Bloch 152s and five Dewoitine D.520s for the loss of 5 FIATs. FIATs were again successful over more modern types such as the lumbering Hurricane; on July 13, 1940 Capitano G. Bobba of 74a Sq., 23o Gruppo shot down a Hawker Hurricane flown by Plt Off D. Sudgen and downed three more Hurricanes between 13 July and 28 November 1940 using CR.42s. To further reinforce a RA belief in the type (and the importance of maneuverability in aerial combat) stood the successes of the CR.32s in the Spanish Civil War against which modern monoplanes such as the I16s were bested; and this seemed to justify a force at least partially equipped with the type in the Battle of Britain. Indeed CR.42s sustained few losses due to combat in the BoB; most losses were due to its limited range. At the end of 1940 however, the increasing gap in the performance of the CR.42 and the newer monoplanes, together with the relative abundance of the modern Italian monoplanes, ended the CR.42s brief career as a RA frontline fighter. The FIAT CR.42 soldiered on through the rest of the war as a ground attack aircraft; and what many veteran RA pilots would fondly refer to as a "legendary aircraft."

FIAT CR.42B
During 1943 a number of CR.42s were modified into two-seat, dual control trainers. A longer engine mounting and aft fuselage resulted in a fuselage length increase of 12.6 inches (320mm) over the CR.42 fuselage. An instructor's cockpit with duplicate flight controls was added behind the regular CR.42 cockpit, which was used by the student. Several CR 42B (Biposto; two-seat) trainers served with the Aeronautica Militare (post-war Italian Air Force) until 1950. At least one CR.42B was known to have been on charge with the ANR. The CR.42B was obtained from the CR.42 by replacing the engine mounting with another, longer one, and dividing the fusleage behind the pilot's housing to insert a new section making up the second cockpit. The student sat in the forward cockpit while the instructor sat aft. The armament remained unchanged (2 x SAFAT 12.7mm cal.) although ammunition was reduced to 300 rounds per weapon.








FIAT CR.42B Biposto, Z-I6, Italy 1946.


Construction

This is the FIAT CR-42 Biposto Italeri + Italian Kits Conversion Kit. In need of more trainers, in 1943 Agusta (today AgustaWestland) was commissioned to construct a two-seat trainer from Fiat CR.42s that were still available in fairly large numbers from Regia Aeronautica stockpiles. The armistice temporarily suspended work on this plane. In 1945 however work resumed and Agusta subcontracted Caproni to convert about forty Falco single-seaters into the two-seat configuration. A dozen bipostos were in use with the AMI in June 1946 and some were still in service as late as 1950.

Following an earlier conversion to make a CR.42DB (Damiler-Benz 601A powered CR.42), I came upon the new Italian kits resin fuselage (IKW7218 see below) for the CR.42B. The idea being similar to constructing a CR.42DB, that is being able to easily obtain a very different variant of the Falco from the excellent Italeri kit. An alternative kit that could be used also is the Alpha Flight 1/72 CR.42 which is hard to find nowadays and the Revell model that's rather rough.



Technical Data

Aircraft: Fiat CR.42B
Manufacturer: FIAT S.A.
Type: Trainer
Year: 1943
Engine: FIAT A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
Wingspan: 31 ft 10 in (9.70 m)
Length: 29 ft 4 in (8.94 m)
Height: 10 ft 10 in (3.30 m)
Weight: 5,071 lb (2,300 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 267 mph (430 km/h)
Ceiling: 34,450 ft (10,500 m)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm SAFAT machine guns
Crew: 2

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December, 2018
STORMO! 2018