SMER's Macchi M.C. 200 Saetta (Lightning)
Italian Lightning In Russian Skies

By: Vince Tassone
I acquired this kit from a friend who purchased it from Hannants, across the pond in the UK for about 3 pounds (roughly $7CDN). The kit is boxed and marketed as a 1/48 scale model of this aircraft, however its really a 1/50 scale model.  This is obvious from a comparison of the fuselage halves to the 1/48 scale drawings in the C.200 "Saetta" - Ali D'italia Monographs," the model is out by approximately inch lengthwise, a significant difference. The kit contains approximately 35 parts and was probably first introduced in the 1970s or even earlier - it looks allot like an early Airfix-style kit. Building the kit required some considerable effort, the kit being rough indeed and is no Saturday afternoon build. The kit contains very little in the way of detail.
I began construction by removing the original panel lines which were raised and then etched-in recessed ones using the reverse edge of a #11 Exacto knife. I replaced the original kit tail-wheel using a spare one from a HobbyCraft Bf109G - the new tail wheel looked a bit oversized for the model and something smaller might have been better. The inside wheel wells are completely void of detail and aren't enclosed, so while peeking from underneath the front of the aircraft one sees the open-cockpit. The cockpit interior also lacks detail and I needed to add a control stick. I replaced the front canopy with an extra one I had from a Hasegawa 1/48 M.C.202 and modified it somewhat by cutting-back the angle to the fuselage. The molding halves were offset by approximately 1/16 inch so the landing gear needed heavy sanding to get the intended rounded effect. The pilot is useless. The engine cowling came in two halves and holes were present in some areas, which needed to be patched using putty. The engine cowling had no notches to guide the placement of the engine so I added them. Flash was present on virtually every part and sprue and I spent allot of time sanding.
The aircraft depicted is a MC.200 Seria III serving with 22o Gruppo operating on the Eastern Front near Odessa USSR in Nov. 1942. The model was painted using Polly Scale (Acrylic) Middle Stone for Giallo Mimetico 4 (FS 30266) splotches, Humbrol enamel Foliage Green for Verde Mimetico 2 (FS 34097) and Polly Scale British Sea Gray for Grigio Mimetico (FS 36293). I used Polly Scale RLM 2 for the yellow theatre markings and painted the white triangular shaped insignias located on the leading edge of the wings-peculiar to Italian Aircraft that operated in this theatre. The cockpit interior was painted (FS 34227) anti-corrosion green. I used charcoal/brown pastels to highlight some of the panel lines as well as the gun housing on the engine cowling and the weathering effects beneath the aircraft. A black wash was applied to the ailerons and engine cowling areas. The decals reacted well to setting solution and I had no problems applying them to the model.
Overall it took approximately 30 hours to build the kit. After all was said and done the finished model looked rather good, and was good enough to win at our local show, first place. The proportions of the model make for a very convincing model indeed and represent well the lines of this classic fighter. If your willing to put-in the extra effort, replacing a few parts here and there, the kit makes an interesting model of Macchi's early WWII fighter plane.
Additional Images:
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This was the best fighter available to the Italians at the beginning of WWII.  The plane was used in several theaters and was used on the Eastern front until the end of 1942.  On the Eastern Front the Saetta racked-up impressive dog-fighting statistics with the CSI (Corpo Spedezione Italiana) claiming 88 Soviet aircraft destroyed in air combat for the loss of only 15 Saettas. With superlative flight characteristics, an excellent climb rate and diving speed, the Saetta is generally considered a successful design and in the same class as the early Hawker Hurricanes.