Omega Models 1/72 I.M.A.M. Ro.51
R-Programme Prototype
by Enrico Calanchini


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One of the immediate prewar generation of Italian fighter monoplanes, the Ro 51, employed the same 840 h.p. FIAT A.74 R.C.38 fourteen-cylinder radial engine that powered its competitors, was the first monoplane designed and built by Meridionali appearing in 1938. Initially fitted with fixed spatted landing gear, the Ro 51, with a top speed of only 290 m.p.h. at 16,400 ft., was not successful in obtaining production orders, these being given to the FIAT G.50, the Macchi C.200, and later, the Re 2000 Serie II and III. The wing of the Ro 51 was all-wood with plywood covering, the fuselage was all-metal, and the tail surfaces were of fabric-covered welded-steel tubing. Two 12.7-mm. Breda-SAFAT machine guns were mounted relatively low in the fuselage, firing through ports in the sides of the engine cowling. The first prototype flight MM. 338 took place in 1937 at Capodichino (Naples).

On a second prototype rearward-retracting landing gear rather similar to that of the Sever sky P-35 was fitted. A third prototype was built as a floatplane, intended as a replacement for the Ro 44. The main float was attached to the fuselage by a modified N-strut arrangement consisting of six members, while the wing floats were each attached by a single strut. Both the second and third machines featured larger vertical tail surfaces than the original. No Ro 51 variant went into production.

Performance of the second prototype, which weighed 3674 lb. empty and 4620 lb. loaded, included a maximum speed of 304 m.p.h. at 16,400 ft., a cruising speed of 255 m.p.h., and a landing speed of 78 m.p.h. Range was 745 miles and ceiling 29,530 ft. Climb to 19,680 ft. required 7 min. Dimensions were: span 32 ft. 0 1/2 in., length 24 ft. 5 2/3, in., and height 9 ft. 0 1/4 in.









Construction

The Omega Model kit is the only existing product with three boxes in the three different ones versions made as prototypes, the first with fixed landign gear is the one that I reproduced, the other two differ, one for the retractable landing gear by modifying the first and another in the seaplane version, both with increased drift. Returning to the model produced by Omega Models in 1:72 scale it is composed of not many resin parts of good quality, and respects the general measures capturing the lines of the aircraft well. Corrections were limited to the emptying with milling of the covers wheels and replacement of these, because they are printed in one piece, the rebuilding of the cowling, the improvement of the Fiat engine, and the affixing of an air intake sub-new from scratch, the interior of the passenger compartment plus the straps of the RCR. The singular decomposition of the elements of the fuselage involves alignment with a good amount of filler and wet smoothing. The color in Ivory Khaki is obtained from the Puravest range ad airbrush, while the markings in red I painted them using masks because those of the decals are inaccurate and also very delicate. Of course, as typically in the aging and prototypes the dirt was not there, especially in this case where I intended to reproduce the first M.M. 338 as the one exposed to 1938 Aeronautical Exhibition in Zurich.

Technical Data

Technical Data
Aircraft: Meridionali Ro 51
Manufacturer: S.A. Industrie Meccaniche & Aeronautica Meridionali (I.M.A.M.)
Type: Fighter
Year: 1937
Engine: FIAT A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
Wingspan: 32 ft 1 in (9.78 m)
Length: 24 ft 5 2/3 in (7.46 m)
Height: 9 ft 0 in (3.25 m)
Weight: 4,620 lb (2,092 kg)
Maximum Speed: 304 mph at 16,400 ft (489 km/h at 5,000 m)
Ceiling: 29,530 ft (8,800 m)
Range: 745 miles (1,100 km)
Armament: 2 machine guns
Crew: 1

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July, 2018
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