This was the best biplane of WWII and was used in a multitude of roles.   Although not formerly part of the 'R' program undertaken by the Regia Aeronautica to modernize its frontline aircraft, the RA nonetheless ordered the CR.42 into production.  Experiences gained in the Spanish Civil War showed that a highly maneuverable biplane and well trained pilots using sound tactics could still obtain good results. This was seen clearly in aerial combat between the Russian I-16 monoplane and the Fiat CR.32.  Considered the best fighter of its time the I-16, and despite markedly superior overall performance to the CR.32,  I-16s were easily handled by the agile biplanes. The CR.42 also served as an interim fighter to replace the ageing CR.32 until peak operational efficiency could be achieved with the new crop of Italian monoplane fighters.

At the end of 1939, the RA began a program to update its fighters, known formely as the 'R' program which resulted in the production three indeginous monoplane fighters, the Fiat G.50, Reggiane Re.2000 and the Macchi MC.200. However, the Italian experiences in Spain could not be overlooked which suggested that an updated biplane could still perform valid combat service.  These experiences were in fact justified early in the war with clashes against the lumbering Hurricane and Gladiators over Malta and Greece as well as claims in the Battle of Britain. In the brief Battle of France, on June 15, 1940 CR.42s destroyed eight French fighters, three Blochs and five Dewoitines for the loss of five  CR.42s.  Over the deserts of Libya the CR.42 performed well against the Gladiator and was the best fighter in East Africa with a number of notable Italian aces flying the plane such as Mario Visintini.  Only till the appearance of the Spitfire and a change in tactics was the CR.42 finally retired as a frontline fighter.  Beginning in early 1941, the CR.42 was gradually replaced by the MC.200 and G.50 and continued to the end of the war as a ground attack aircraft.  Although the Italians suspended CR.42 production in 1943, the Germans resumed production into 1944.  The CR.42 acquitted itself well against the faster monoplanes of the day and will forever be immortalized as a classic biplane fighter with large appeal to kit builders and aviation enthusiasts alike.

Construction
This is the Classic Airframes 1/48 CR.42 and likely the best kit on the market.  Overall there were no major difficulties during construction, however take care when mounting the cabane struts to the forward  fuselage which are reversed in the instructions.  Also take note of the alignment of the wing struts and cabane struts which form a 'W' and should be alignment next to each other and angled slightly forward. The top wing should be mounted slightly forward of the lower wing with the leading edge just past the end of the engine cowling.  The landing gear needs a little attention to get a squatted appearance.  That is, the kit supplied landing gear sits high and the angle needs to be modified slightly outward - use the Ali D'Italia as a reference.  This is very easy to correct however if you omit this step the model appears to sit tall.  As noted elsewhere on the web, the oil cooler intakes as well as the outlet scoops in the rear of the wing are missing, a curious oversight however it doesnít take away from the overall appearance. Iím sure an aftermarket set will become available given how well this kit is selling and the immense interest around the subject.

Construction began with the cockpit interior which was covered in a
previous article. A point of interest is the omission of guide pins between the fuselage halves which allow a tight fit between the two halves and works well at minimizing the amount of sanding. The lower wings fit neatly onto the underside fuselage. The radial engine fits into a slot provided in the forward fuselage so the engine fits exact and tightly into position. The single piece plastic air filter is modified and cut to adapt the resin AS sand filter. The bomb racks come as separate resin pieces and fit exactly into position although take note of the locations, forward of the lower wing. The bombs are also cast in resin and are exact and fit nicely underneath the lower wing. The canopy is clear and accurate.
Classic Airframes 1/48 Fiat CR.42 AS
Desert Falco
by Vince Tassone
Click on the STORMO! Eagle to return to the Gallery
Technical Data:
Aircraft:
Fiat CR.42 AS
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

Additional Images:
The gun barrels were constructed from stretched sprue and fit the fuselage apertures nicely.  Thin threads of stretched sprue were used for rigging.  The kit was finished in Humbrol 118 for Nocciola Chiaro and Polly Scale Verde Oliva Scuro 2 for the so called Lizard scheme.  The undersides were finished in Polly Scale Grigio Azzurro Chiaro.  The decals are manufactured by Microscale and react well to setting solution. The plane depicted is from the 15o Stormo d'Assalto, Barce, Cyrenaica, October 1942.

I very much enjoyed building this kit and it ranks as one of the best kits Iíve built.  The overall accuracy and appearance of this kit make it a show stopper and a must for any serious collector or builder of RA subjects.  I'd like to thank Jules Bringuier and Classic Airframes for providing the review sample of this superb kit. Highly Recommended.

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