SEM Model 1/72 Macchi C.205N2
Orione
by Philippe Martin


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By late 1942, the C.202 was facing far superior opposition and the search for improved performance became immediate. The DB601, from which its engine was derived, was already out of production in Germany. Plans for the Germans to overhaul worn-out Italian engines fell through. Production of the RA 1000 by Alfa-Romeo never exceeded 50 units per month, which had to be shared with Reggiane. This meant that airframes often had to wait for engines forcing Macchi to keep the C.200 in production well into 1943.

Logically, a more powerful engine which could be supplied in relatively large numbers had to be found. Equally logically, the DB605, the 1475hp uprated 601, was chosen. A prototype mating the 605 to the C.202 airframe first flew on 19 April 1942, called the C.202bis. The only visible differences from a standard Folgore were a retractable tailwheel, twin cylindrical oil coolers replacing the single, chin mounted cooler on the Folgore and a blunter spinner for the Piaggio 2001 propeller. It retained its C.202 serial, M.M.9487, incorrectly painted as 9287. The second prototype was M.M.9488. The new fighter was ordered into production well before that first flight because of the obvious ease of transition on C.202 production lines and the justified confidence in its performance and handling. It was eventually dubbed the C.205V, for Veltro (Greyhound). Production was authorized in the following batches:

Builder Quantity M.M.
Serie I Macchi 100 9287-9386
Serie II Fiat 150 90050-90149
Serie III Macchi 150 92153-92302
Serie VI Macchi 300 98218-98232

Fiat started producing the DB605 as the RA 1050 R.C.58 Tifone (Typhoon), tooling up to full production rapidly. Nevertheless, Veltros only appeared in small numbers, Serie I Veltros had the late C.202 armament of two cowl-mounted 12.7mm machine guns and two 7.7mms in the wings. The first of those were delivered in early 1943 to 1o Stormo. These were followed on Macchi's lines by Serie III which mounted two 20mm cannons in the wings in the place of the rifle-calibre machine guns. Before the Armistice, 77 Serie III Veltros were completed. No Serie II Veltros were ever finished because Fiat's Turin works were largely demolished by Allied bombing in December 1942. The C.205V was judged an excellent fighter, fast and only slightly less maneuverable than the Folgore. Its main drawback was high altitude performance, which suffered because it retained the relatively small C.202 wing, which was later corrected in the N1 and N2 prototypes.

The C.205V was always considered by the RA as an interim fighter. At the same time that the Veltro was ordered into production, specifications were issued for the so-called Serie 5 fighters (after the last digit of the 605), which resulted in the Fiat G.55, Reggiane Re.2005 and Macchi C.205N Orione. The prototype Orione (Orion) first flew on 1 November 1942, serialled M.M.499. It was an entirely new airframe, with a powerful armament of one 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub and four 12.7mm guns; two standard cowl-mounted machine guns and two above the wing roots. A second Orione prototype, M.M.500, eliminated the wing-mounted machine guns, replacing them with two more 20mm cannons. The Orione flew well and was ordered into production however the contract for 1,200 aircraft was eventually cancelled in the spring of 1943 when the RA changed its mind and opted for the Fiat G.55.









Construction

The Macchi C-205 "Veltro" is well known by WW II fighter enthusiasts, it was a Macchi C.202 modified to receive a DB.605 engine more powerful than the original 601. What is less known is that Macchi also created a "Super 205" Orione.

Constructed in two prototypes (N1/N2), the 205N was larger than the Veltro by 70 cm in wingspan as well as in length, thus improving its high-altitude performance, indispensible for intercepting Allied heavy bombers then ranging across Italy. This imposing size brought it closer to the Fiat G.55 and allowed it to carry a heavier armaments fit.

The first C-205 N-1 prototype was equipped with an impressive arming of four Breda machine guns on the fuselage above the engine and in the side gondolas in addition to a 20mm gun firing from the propeller hub. The N-2 had a more discreet but no less dangerous layout carrying three 20mm guns and two 12.7mm machine guns. The C.206 would not see service however, as would the C.207 with a DB.603 engine.

We share with Fabrizio Catalano, the owner of SEM Model, the same passion for Italian aviation and especially an interest for little known aircraft of this great age in aviation. In proposing to modelers two Oriones (N1/N2) fills an important gap in the history of Macchi fighters.

The building of the Orione N-2 is without major difficulties, apart from the installation of the upper part of the cockpit which requires large filling and the wing-fuselage connection. The level of detail is much better than the Italeri C-202 and C-205, the main difficulty of the Macchi fighters is the layout of the wheel-well areas which are replete with complicated piping and electrical fits, with the Italeri kits you need to disassemble the wheel wells and add this detail from scratch which can be quiet time consuming and difficult, however with the SEM Model Orione, just paint!

Technical Data

Aircraft: Macchi C.205N2
Manufacturer: Aeronautica Macchi S.p.A.
Type: Fighter
Year: 1943
Engine: Damiler Benz DB 605A-1, 12-cylinder V, liquid-cooled 1,475hp
Wingspan: 37 ft (11.29m)
Length: 31 ft 2/3 in (9.65 m)
Height: 10 ft 2/3 in (3.25 m)
Weight: 8,364 lb (3,794 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 390 mph (628 km/h) at 21,300 ft (6,500 m)
Ceiling: 38,700 ft (11,800 m)
Range: 590 miles (950 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm (0.5 in) SAFAT machine guns, 3 x 20 mm cannons
Crew: 1

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September, 2017
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