This aeroplane was undoubtedly the best fighter Italy had ready at the beginning of the war. The Macchi MC.200 was the first combat aeroplane designed by Mario Castoldi, who had built a series of important racing aircraft. Until 1941, when the MC.202 appeared, the MC.200 was the main front-line Italian fighter. It was used on all fronts and proved to be agile and sturdy.  Few modifications were carried out during the course of its production and a total of 1,151 planes were built between June 1939 and July 1942.

Mario Castoldi began the project in 1937, and his experience in building seaplane racers proved invaluable (he designed the Macchi M.39, which won the Schneider Trophy in 1926, and his most recent plane, the MC.72, set a world speed record for its class in 1934 which still stands till this day). His MC.200 design combined the massive nose of the radial engine with a small slender fuselage, and the result was an aeroplane that was extremely advanced aerodynamically. The aeroplane was all-metal and the under-carriage was retractable. The first models had a closed cockpit, while later ones had an open cockpit with a windshield and rear fairing. Power was provided by an 870 hp Fiat A.74 RC 38 14-cylinder radial engine, which drove a three-blade metal propeller with variable pitch. Standard armament at the time consisted of two 12.7 mm machine guns behind the engine cowling and synchronized to fire through the propeller disc.

The prototype took to the air on December 24, 1937, but it took some time to resolve teething problems (includding initial stability difficulties). It was accepted by the authorities in 1938 and went into large-scale production. The first aeroplanes started coming off the assembly line in the summer of 1939, and when Italy entered the war, there were 144 aircraft in service with fighter units. The Macchi MC.200 reached full operational efficiency only late in 1940. The profile of the wing was changed for aerodynamic reasons, and the sliding canopy was removed from the cockpit so that the pilot could bailout more easily. The aeroplane was first used in large-scale operations on the Greece-Albania front where the aeroplane was in direct competition with the British Hurricane. The MC.200 later saw duty over Malta, North Africa and Russia and in these operations proved to be sturdy and reliable.

When the newer MC.202s appeared, the MC.200 was gradually reassigned to other duty. It saw service in attack, escort and in Italy, interceptor misssions. In September 1943, most of the 52 survivors went south to join the Allies, while a few went north. They were used as trainers and remained in service until 1947.
PCM 1/32 Macchi C.200 Saetta
Italian Lightning
by Alain Saccoccio/Jean Barby
Click on the STORMO! Eagle to return to the Gallery

July, 2012
STORMO! 2012
Technical Data:
Macchi MC.200
Manufacturer: Aeronautica Macchi S.p.A.
Year: 1939
Engine: Fiat A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
34 ft 8 1/2 in (10.57m)
26 ft 11 in (8.19 m)
11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
4,874 lb (2,208 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed:
319 mph (512 km/h) at 16,400ft (5,000 m)
28,700 ft (8,750 m)
540 miles (870 km)
2 machine guns

Additional Images:
Model constructed by Alain Saccoccio from France (Marseilles Jean's home town).  Model from the original PCM model, only a mere 20% remains, the remaining 80% was scratch built. This was an interesting joint venture with the following contributors:

Paint by
Jean Barby
Transparencies made by
Jean Bodson
Stencils by
Georges Olivereau
Breda SAFAT by
Jacques Druel from l'Arsenal