Special Hobby 1/72 Piaggio P.108B
Four Engine Heavy Bomber
by Milan Vuković


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This was the Italian 'Flying Fortress'. The aeroplane was built in late 1939, but it did not complete its first mission until June 9, 1942, and the few aircraft built had little occasion to show their outstanding qualities. The P.108 was unique in the history of Italian aviation as it was the only four-engine strategic bomber, and was one of the best bomber designs of WWII.

The designer of the aeroplane was Giovanni Casiraghi who worked in the United States from 1927 to 1936. On the basis of this experience he designed a radically new aeroplane. The P.108 was an all-metal low-wing bomber with a retractable under-carriage. Power was provided by four 1,350 hp Piaggio P.XII radial engines. Defensive armament consisted of four 12.7 mm machine guns installed in pairs in two remote-controlled turrets in the engine nacelles, two 7.7 mm guns on the sides, and a 12.7 mm machine gun in a ventral turret. The aeroplane could carry a maximum of 7,700 pounds (3,492 kg) of bombs inside the fuselage.

The Italian Air Force had nothing else like it and the aeroplane aroused the interest of the authorities as soon as it appeared. During the ministerial competition of 1939 it won out over another interesting design, the four-engine CANT Z.1014. The prototype first took to the air on November 24, 1939. It performed extremely well in a series of tests and required refining in only a few small details, but it took some time for pilots and crew to get used to the new aircraft. The aeroplane was delivered to a single unit, the 274th long-range bomber Squadron and the aeroplane became operational on June 9, 1942, when it went out on a maritime search-and-bomb mission in the area of the Balearic Islands.

During the last year of Italy's participation in the war, the P.108 was used only occasionally. Among the targets of the 274th Squadron were Gibraltar and Algeria. The Algerian raid took place during the Allied invasion of North Africa. After September 1943 most of the aeroplanes fell into German hands, but they did not use the aeroplane in combat. A total of 24 aircraft were built between November 1939 and August 1943.

Several variant models were developed. These included the P.108A, which carried a 102 mm cannon; the P.108C, a civilian version to be used on South American flights; and the P.108T, a military transport that could take-off with an all-up weight of 32 tons (32.51 tonnes). Nine examples of this transport model were built. German transport units used this variant until the end of the war.







Construction

The Special Hobby 1/72 P.108B kit has been around for some time in different boxings including the Mr.Kit offering. I built my P.108B from the P.108A (Artigliere 102/40) variant and opted to do a more colorful camouflage scheme (CMPR C10) with the very interesting nose section of this plane. Like some other Special Hobby boxings (e.g., Fiat G.55A), this boxing has all the parts to build a P.108B (or a P.108A). As any short-run model, the kit has some complexity with resin parts, no location pins etc is actually very easy to build. One should study the instruction sheets carefully and online builds, dry fit a lot and the build will be enjoyable. Great plus for this model is phenomenal transparent parts and very good quality decal sheets. Downside of the model is some injection mould marks on some parts of the tail surfaces, as well as uncomplete moulding on several cowling halves (luckily there is enough cowlings for 8 engines, so no worries).

Painting was done with H&S Evolution airbrush with 0,2mm needle in the following steps:
Base color was Humbrol 81 Pale yellow matt as Giallo Mimetico 2.



Then, a mix of Gunze H7 and H17 to represent Marrone Mimetico 53193.



and at the end I believe it was Gunze H302 as Verde Mimetico 2.



Final coat was sprayed with Tamiya clear gloss mixed with Tamiya flat base.

Technical Data

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 lb (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 lb (3,500 kg) of bombs
Crew: 6

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July, 2018
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