The Piaggio P.108 B was the only heavy, four engined bomber to see service with the Italian air force (Regia Aeronautica) during World War Two. Due to the lack of production capacity of the Italian aviation industry, too few were built to play a significant role in this conflict. In total Piaggio built only 163 P.108 Bs, but this fact does not make the design less remarkable.

The Piaggio P.108 B (Bombardiere) was an all metal cantilever low-wing monoplane with an retractable undercarriage, driven by four Piaggio P.XII RC 35 18 cylinder radial engines, each producing 1350 hp. The first prototype was finished in October 1939 and had a very advanced defensive armament for its day. Not only had the Piaggio two 7,7 mm machine waist guns, a 12,7 mm machine gun in the lower turret and a similar weapon in the nose turret, it also had two remotely-controlled twin gun turrets on the outer nacelle of each wing. The first allied bomber with a similar armament was the Boeing B 29, which was developed four years later.   The bomb load of the Piaggio comprised of 3,500 kg, all carried internally in the bomb bay. In comparison, the Boeing B-17 'Flying Fortress' had a maximum internal bomb load of 2,200-kg.

The only unit of the Regia Aeronautica to fly the Piaggio P.108 B was the 274a Squadrilia Bombardamento a Grande Raggio (B.G.R.), the 274th Long-Range Bomber Group. This unit was formed in May 1941, around the first machines that came off the assembly lines.   After initial training and some familiarization with the plane the group became operational on  June 1942. The most spectacular raids with the Piaggio P. 108 B were flown during October 1942, when the Regia Aeronautica launched several night attacks on Gibraltar, from the airfield of Decimomannu on Sardinia.

Several versions were derived from the Piaggio P. 108 B, such as the P.108 A (Artigliere), which had a 102 mm anti shipping gun in itís nose, the P.108 C (Civile) airliner and the P.108 T (Trasporto). The last two versions had a newly designed fuselage of larger diameter, for the transportation of passengers or freight. These planes were hardly used by the Regia Aeronautica, the main user being the German Luftwaffe. In September 1943, after the Italian armistice, the Luftwaffe had captured all fifteen built P.108 Cs and P.108 Ts. They were deployed to the Russian front, as part of Luftflotte 2, where they performed sterling duty, among others during the evacuation of the Crimea in 1944.   In 1940 a seaplane version of the P.108 was designed, the P.108 B.I. (Bombardiere Idrovolanti), but this was never developed beyond the stage of a wooden mock-up.
Technical Data:
Aircraft:
Piaggio P.108B
Manufacturer:
S.A. Piaggio & Co.
Type:
Bomber
Year: 1942
Engine: Four Piaggio P.XII RC 35, 18-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,350 hp each
Wingspan:
105 ft (32 m)
Length:
75 ft 2in (22.92 m)
Height:
17 ft  (5.18 m)
Weight:
65,970 Ib (29,855 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum speed:
261 mph (420 km/h) at 12.800 ft (3,900 m)
Ceiling:
26,400 ft (8,050 m)
Range:
2,190 miles (3,520 km)
Armament:
8 machine guns; 7,700 Ib (3,500 kg) of bombs
Crew:
6

Additional Images
:
Special Hobby 1/72 Piaggio P.108B
Italian Four Engine Heavy
by Guy Shepherd
Click the STORMO! Eagle to return to the Gallery
April, 2011
STORMO! © 2011

Construction
At first I intended to build the box version which was the 108B II night fighter:
but as luck would have it all the parts to build the 108B early were all in the box. As this was a much prettier looking bird with a tempting camoflage, the choice was made. The special hobby kit comes with loads of excellent, perfectly molded resin pieces. The plastic does have the looks of a limited run kit and needed an all over rub down to get silky smooth. The Panel lines and features are all nicely recessed where appropriate.

The build went together very easilly with the minimum of filler needed anywhere. I fabricated the room behind the cockpit as i was convinced (albeit stupidly LOL) that it would be visible,
After what seemed like no time at all the plane was ready for paint. The picture of the model that really caught my eye was a profile on Wings Palette http://wp.scn.ru/. This plane was the plane in which Benito Mussolini's son died in a crash landing. For the paint i used Lifecolurs fantastic Italian paints.  and Sky models decal sheet 72-019 (Bomardieri Italiani) .

The camo, the C10A scheme, was fairly complicated but do-able with a litlle forethought and a steady hand. 1st up the undersides were painted Grigio Mimetico, and then masked. Next up I painted the entire top surface Giallo Mimetico 3. Then came the 1st of the tricky bits. I remember reading Jean Barby saying that good references were the key. If Jean says it, its true. Luckilly I had a decent pic from the Ali D'Italia book on the subject. So I attacked the 1st part of the 'Blobbles' the Verde Mimetico 3. Correct pressure and paint mix is the key to this stage also after aboiut 5minutes of painting ensure you wipe the tip of your airbrush to prevent paint build up. After this stage was finished I started on the last 'Blobble', Marrone mimetico.

With the painting finished i glossed the whole plane with Future floor polish and decalled the plane. I then gave the panel lines a light panel wash with oils mixed with odourless thinners and then finished off with a flat coat. This was a great build and i highly recommend it to all.