Italeri 1/48 Macchi C.200 Serie 1a
Saetta - Italian Thunderbolt
by Jean Barby

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Built to the single-seat interceptor requirement of Program "R" (for the modernization and expansion of the Regia Aeronautica), the MC.200, first flown in December, 1937, was the first Castoldi fighter design. Powered by an 870h.P. FIAT A.74 R.C.38 fourteen-cylinder radial engine the MC.200 was a beautiful machine, outstanding in every respect and superior to the Hawker Hurricane although only slightly slower in level flight; limited by the low-powered radial. Stability and maneuverability were superb, and diving performance was outstanding. In official trials at-Guidonia in 1938, the MC.200 surpassed all lts competitors, although closely followed by the Reggiane Re 2000. Ninety nine MC.200 fighters, named Saetta (Thunderbolt), were ordered as a result, with deliveries to start in 1939. The Saetta was an all-metal low-wing monoplane with oval monocoque fuselage, two-spar three-section wing, retractable landing gear, and Magni-NACA engine cowling with its characteristic rocker arm fairings. In order to give the pilot a good view forward, the cockpit was placed high on the hump-backed fuselage, an arrangement which further limited its speed to 314 m.p.h. at 15,744 ft.

The prototype and initial production machines featured an enclosed, transparent canopy and a retractable tailwheel; both features were dropped on later models, the former in deference to the wishes of veteran Italian pilots, the latter as an aerodynamic luxury not justifying the weight increase. Anti-turnover pylons, fitted just behind the cockpit, protected the pilots of the open machines. Still later a comproinise canopy arrangement of two transparent side flaps was fitted.

On June 10, 1940, 156 Saettas were in operation with the Regia Aeronautica (only 77 immediately serviceable). These equipped the 152o and 153o Gruppi of the 54o Stormo of the 2a Divisione C.T. at Atrasca, and the 6o Gruppo Autonomo of the 1a Divisione C.T. at Catanla. These units were followed as MC.200 exponents by the 1o Stormo, the 7o, 9o, 10o, 16o, 21o, 22o, 150o, and 157o Gruppi, and the 356a, 370a, 372a, 373a,and 374a Squadriglie C.T. during 1940-42. The Saetta was qualitatively, if not quantitatively, the most important fighter in Italian service, performing well in the Mediterranean, Greek, North African, and Russian theaters.

Modifications included the MC.200 A.S. (Africa Settentrionale) with sand filters and other special equipment for North African desert use, and the MC.200 C.B. (Caccia Bombardiere) fighter bomber with racks for up to 700 lb. of bombs under the wings. On the last production series a wing similar to that of the MC.202 was introduced, with two additional 7.7-mm. Breda-SAFAT machine guns.

As the MC.202's began to appear, however, the MC.200 was relegated to the fighter-bomber role. The.MC.200 continued in production untill the Armistice as the German DB 601A and the Italian manufacutured engines for the MC.202 were in short supply. In all, 1,174 Saettas were built. In July, 1943, some 77 remained in service; of these, 23 flew to Allied airfields to join the Co-Belllgerent Air'Force.

Performance of the standard production MC.200, with empty and loaded weights of 3902 lb. and 4850 lb., included a maximum speed of 312 m.p.h. at 14.750 ft., a cruising speed of 283 m.p.h., a landing speed of 78 m.p.h., a service celllng of 29.200 ft., and a range of 354-540 miles. The MC.200 climbed to 9840 ft. in 3 min. 24 sec. and to 16,400 ft, in 5 min. 52 sec. Later heavier models with additional armament weighed as much as 4175 lb. empty and 5715 lb. loaded, reducing performance slightly. Dimensions of all models were: span 34 ft. 8 1/2 in., length 26 ft. 10 5/8 in., height 11 ft. 6 in., and wing area 180.8 sq. ft.

The very first batch of Macchis 200 were easily the most elegant compared to the Fiat G-50 and the CR-42. They could be recognized by the non-compensated rudder, the retractable tail wheel with doors and an Hamilton standard propeller with a small cap. The 1a version had a compensated rudder, a fix tail wheel and a Piaggio propeller. Pavla has issued two sets in resin to provide the modeler to build either version. Both resin sets are very well done and they do improve the Italeri model a lot. One set, the one for the first Serie included two clear vac canopies which replace the kit supplied one as the kit canopy side front glasses are too short.

On the kit itself, a lot of work must be done to correct the wheel wells and to equiped it with the engine mounting arms with the can of worms of pipes and hoses which go to the Fiat A74 engine. A good doc is necessary. The pics show you how I did get this part corrected.

More details can be added depending on your skill and eagerness to paint your model! This paint scheme is typical of a Breda built plane, with the base being Verde Mimetico 2 (Gunze H-302), Bruno Mimetico (Aeromaster surviving jar) and then the dense mottle of Giallo Mimetico 4 ( Gunze Mid stone + 20%šof yellow). The undersurfaces are Griggio Mimetico from White Ensign. The 88o Squadriglia had the Savoia Cross surfaces increased and the tail cone painted white to act as a quick recco against Hurricanes. The 6o Gruppo was based in Catania during the winter of 1940, before flying into combat in the Balkans. Some details are missing on my final pics, but they are in place right now, complete pitots and right side venturi. Best regards from France.

C.200 88-5 taken at Catania in the winter of 1940-41. The white tail cone was adopted to rapidly identify the C.200 from Hurricanes.

Technical Data
Aircraft: Macchi MC.200
Manufacturer: Aeronautica Macchi S.p.A.
Type: Fighter
Year: 1939
Engine: Fiat A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
Wingspan: 34 ft 8 1/2 in (10.57m)
Length: 26 ft 11 in (8.19 m)
Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
Weight: 4,874 lb (2,208 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 319 mph (512 km/h) at 16,400ft (5,000 m)
Ceiling: 28,700 ft (8,750 m)
Range: 540 miles (870 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm SAFAT machine guns
Crew: 1

Additional Images

Special Special Hobby 48033 1/48 Aermacchi C.200

Italeri - Macchi C.200 - 1/48 - IT2676
Stormo Italain WWII Aces Part II Decals - STRM48002

Ali D'Italia #8 Macchi C.200

March, 2016
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