LF Models 1/72 Aeronautica Lombarda A.R.
Italian Mistel
by Richard Mendes


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The Aeronautica Lombarda A.R., (Assalto Radioguidato – Radio Guided Assault aircraft) was an inflight piloted then remotely radio-controlled land-based bomber (flying-bomb). Jointly designed by Ermenegildo Preti (1918-1986) and Stelio Frati (1919-2010) to meet the Regia Aeronautica Italia’s (RAI’s) need for a low cost aircraft capable of operating within enemy controlled airspace to attack Allied naval ships and land fortifications A.R. development ended with the September 8, 1943 Italian Armistice after two aircraft had been built along with four incomplete airframes which were seized by the Germans and subsequently destroyed except for the prototype whose fate is unknown.

The genesis of the A.R. lay in a Regia Marina requirement that was subsequently answered by the RAI General Ferdinando Raffaelli (1899-1981) who suggested the ARP program (Aereo Radio Pilotato - Radio Guided Aircraft) which used worn-out Savoia-Marchetti S.79s that were remotely controlled and laden with high explosives, flying them initially with aircrews who bailed out, a radio controller in a second aircraft taking over and guiding the plane to its target. On August 12, 1942 an ARP S.79 guided by a CANT Z.1007bis equipped with a radio controller and escorted by five FIAT G.50s was launched against Operation Pedestal (a heavily escorted relief convoy destined to Malta), the S.79's pilot bailing out after setting it on course to hit the convoy when the S.79's radio malfunctioned, cruising uncontrolled till crashing into Mount Klenchela in Algeria. In spite of this set-back the RAI pressed ahead with the ARP program shifting focus to purpose-built aircraft, timely responding Cantù Como-based Aeronautica Lombarda designed the A.R., building one prototype plus five pre-production aircraft procured in a 4.2 million lira RAI contract signed during November 1942. The planes were assigned the serial numbers (Matricole Militare) MM.75576-75581.

The mostly wood Aeronautica Lombarda A.R. single-engine monoplane was a marvel of design simplicity; the ovoid section wood-frame fuselage covered with plywood panels included a fully enclosed cockpit accessible through a jettisonable bottom trapdoor. An internally mounted 700 liter fuel tank along with attachment points for two un-finned 1000kg bombs positioned near the aircraft’s center of gravity behind and below the cockpit was fully enclosed with detachable plywood panels. The trapezoidal wood plank wings covered in plywood sheeting and equipped with fabric-covered ailerons were set at high positive dihedral to ensure the greatest possible flight stability. Operational A.R.s were to be powered by 1000hp FIAT A.80 radials from decommissioned FIAT BR.20s in simplified NACA section cowlings with three-blade propellers; detachable and reusable multi-wheeled springed trollies similar to those on early production Luftwaffe Arado Ar.234s were to be used for take-off.












Construction

The resin LF Models Aeronautica Lombarda A.R. model of the two-seat, fixed landing gear prototype is the only 1/72 scale model of this obscure RAI aircraft - an interesting counterpoint to the "by-eye" guided Luftwaffe Mistel composite aircraft insofar as being more akin to other WWII radio-guided bombs such as the Ruhrstahl SD 1400 ("Fritz X") and Henschel Hs 293.

Constructing the kit was difficult, the landing gear assembly made from hypodermic needles being the most challenging aspect. Painting was straightforward; fuselage interiors straight from the bottle Humbrol 148 Matt Radome Tan (Bianco Avorio 5) simulating light-colored plywood, exteriors Humbrol 91 Matt Black Green (Verde Oliva Scuro 2) and Testors 1726 Light Sea Gray (Giorgio Azzurro Chiaro 1) lightened by 36% with Testors Flat White enamels. The fuselage was "wrapped" with Humbrol 91 per internet photos of the prototype, Distintivo di Guerra tail crosses being laboriously painted on. The "non-standard technology" inkjet-printed kit supplied decals were employed, exercised great care putting them on; they're increasingly commonplace, all must be gingerly handled!





Technical Data

Aircraft: Lombarda A.R.
Manufacturer: Aeronautica Lombarda
Type: Bomber (Radio-Controlled)
Year: 1943
Engine: One Fiat A.80 R6 41, 18-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,000 hp
Wingspan: 26 ft 11/12 in (8.20 m)
Length: 46 ft 1/4 in (14.10 m)
Height: 10 ft 7/12 in (3.22 m)
Weight: 12,037 lb (5,460 kg) (Loaded)
Armament: Two x 2204.62 lb (1,000 kg) bombs
Crew: 2 (initially)

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November, 2018
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