Classic Airframes 1/48 FIAT CR.42
AOI Aces Mount
by Vince Tassone
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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 Fiat CR.42 represented the culmination of a design formula that had begun in the 1920s. Designed by Celestino Rosatelli, the Fiat CR.42 was an aerodynamically refined aircraft, its clean lines hinted at what might have been had the fighter developed along the same lines as the Grumman F4F Wildcat;  the F4F having started out life as a biplane.  The Fiat CR.42 was used as a fighter by the Regia Aeronautica in the early phases of WWII over France, the English Channel, Greece and North Africa.  The Fiat CR.42 was also deployed to East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana AOI) in two squadrons (412a Sq., 413a Sq.) and there the Fiat CR.42 would rack up impressive dog fighting statistics eventually yielding the highest scoring biplane ace of WWII, Mario Visintini (17 confirmed and 2 shared destroyed, 1 probable, 32 shared destroyed on the ground).

A highly respected aviator by both sides, Mario Visintini caught the imagination of the Italian public in a dramatic rescue.  On 12 December the 412a Squadriglia launched an attack on the advanced airstrip at Gaz Regeb. On this day a SM.79 flown by Tenente Colonello Liberati led five CR.42s over the airfield, three of the CR.42s making an attack on parked Hawker Hardys destroying K4053, K4308, K4055 and K4307. Capitan Raffi, CO of the 412a Squadriglia, while making an attack on one aircraft on the ground was hit in turn in the oil sump by ground fire from the Sudan Defence Force detachment guarding the airfield. Trailing smoke, Raffi turned to base, however the engine seized immediately forcing him to land his aircraft just outside the airfield.  Under fire, Tenente Visintini landed alongside his COs plane, took his CO aboard (seated on Raffi’s knees) after dispensing with his parachute, he took off setting fire to the crippled COs CR.42. Visintini and Raffi both returned safely to Asmara.







                                                                                                           


                                                  
Visintini and Raffi on their safe return to Asmara

On 16 January 1941 Visintini was promoted to Capitan and was made Commander of 412a Squadriglia.  On 10 February after completing a ground attack mission near Keren, and after destroying a Hurricane while flying over the area of Sabarguma searching for two missing airmen, Visintini accidentally crashed his aircraft into a mountain under low visibility conditions. Visintini was 26 years old.

Construction:
This is the Classic Airframes 1/48 FIAT CR.42 kit no. 474.  The combined use of accurately cast  resin pieces, photo etched parts and precision molded plastic make this kit the best on the market. I began construction as most do, starting with the cockpit.  Please refer to
CA FIAT CR.42 Cockpit and Engine Assembly for construction details.   The cockpit sidewalls and interiors were painted Grigio anti-corrosion (I used Grigio Azzurro Chiaro, refer to the note provided by Riccardo Trotta in the STORMO! ColorGuide on Fiat cockpit interior colors).  The cockpit is an intricate assembly of photo etched parts that assemble easily and well.  The instrument panel comes as two parts plus the gun sight.  To ease assembly, first attach the cockpit frame to one of the side walls  Then assemble the instrument panels one at time angled slightly to get a good fit. This procedure avoids having to sand down the sidewalls as well as assuring a tight fit between the fuselages halves.  Do take note, interior work is not lost since the cockpit is fairly open and most of the detail is visible.

When building these kinds of kits, tape is your friend.  To ensure a precision fit between the fuselage halves, tape the fuselage halves together before cementing.  Also use strips of tape to accurately guide the placement of the engine to the engine cowling as shown below.














The canopy is oversized, and to fix this problem use a blow dryer with low heat  and carefully squeeze the two sides of the canopy until they fit snuggly to the fuselage apertures.

For the camo scheme I used the
Colourcoats Regia Aeronautica paint line for upper surface colors. The plane was finished in the C1 camo scheme: Giallo Mimetico 3, Verde Mimetico 2 and Marrone Mimetico 3.  After applying the mottle scheme I sprayed a thin layer of a very diluted shade of Marrone Mimetico to tie in elements of the camo scheme; using Marrone Mimetico also had the added-benefit of correcting the shade of Giallo Mimetico 3 to a slightly orange tinge (less yellow).  The undersides were painted using Polly Scale Fr. Lt. Blue Gray FS.36231.

The front of the propeller blades were painted Humbrol Polished Aluminum 27002 while the back of the blades were finished in Polly Scale RLM 22 Night Black.  The propeller blades were then sprayed with a Polly Scale Flat.  Rigging was made from stretched sprue and painted Polly Scale graphite. The guns were made of stretched sprue and sized exactly to the Ali D'Itallia drawings. 

On to decals.  Here I used
STORMO! Decals. The Decals are printed by Cartograf of Italy.  Not because the decals are my own, however Cratogragf print the best decals in town.  These decals simply don't shrink, something I find with just about every other manufacturer of decals.  The benefit of this 'design characteristic' is that I can apply as much Mr. Mark Softer as needed to remove any traces of water;  the end result being the decals look virtually painted on.   To apply the decals, apply an undercoat of Mr. Mark Softer, then apply the decals over the fluid and let dry for about 20-30mins.  Apply a second coat of Mr. Mark Softer over top the decals and let the decals sit for 1-2 hrs. Apply Mr. Mark Softer as needed to remove all traces of water.  In keeping with the theme of this article I modeled Mario Visintini's plane, the highest Scoring Biplane Ace of WWII with (16 + 1 Spain) confirmed kills.  Mario Visinitni's plane is believed to have carried a green white and red spinner (flag colors).  I marked off areas of the spinner and applied those colors using Polly Scale paints. 

Well what to say, I love this kit, the plane and its history.  The only thing I can say on the down side is that the images provided here don't do justice to the actual model, it really stands out and having a model of this famous Italian WWII Ace is satisfaction indeed!  Recommended lest I say.

References:
Apostolo, G. and Alegi, G., FIAT CR.42 Ali D'Italia, No. 1, La Bancarella Aeronautica, 1995

Gobbi, G., The Regia Aeronautica in A.O.I. 1939/41, STORMO! Magazine, May, 2006

Gustavsson, Håkan, Håkans Aviation Page, http://user.bahnhof.se/~surfcity/index.html

Massimello, G. Apostolo G., Italian Aces of World War Two, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces, No.34, 2001

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





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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June, 2006
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