The SM.81 first appeared in 1935 and represented a real step ahead in Italian military aviation.  The SM.81 was fast, modern, well armed and had a long range with good payload and was the first three engine aircraft for the Regia Aeronautica. The aircraft was received with great enthusiasm when it  appeared and its performance in Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War demonstrated the good qualities of the aircraft.  A total of 534 were built and were used extensively in WWII, although mostly in transport units.

This model was built straight from the box using the kit clear parts and decals. Note, I carefully trimmed away the film from the Squadron numerals as it was quite yellowish.  The discerning eye will eventually note the undersized 'fasces' roundels - the kit ones did not react well to Solvaset, so I snaffled a pair from the old SMER CR-32 Freccia.  The only additions to the model were some pieces of strip styrene to simulate mostly unseen internal ribbing and an engine cowling brace formed from stretched sprue. The DF loop was replaced with an appropriately sized piece of photo-etch and the antennae riggings are 1 kg. fishing line pulled to tautness through the fuselage.

The model was finished with acrylics for ' Verde Chiaro' AeroMaster RLM Lichtgrun; for 'Verde Oliva Scuro' Tamiya Field Grey XF-65. The undersides were done with Tamiya Sky Grey XF-19. The theatre band and the rudder crosses were done with MM Header White. You can see from the pics that the ailerons, elevators, rudder and the entry and emergency doors are all positionable - neat features on a very basic kit!

The model represents an Alfa Romeo 125-powered machine of Squadriglie 218, operating in the anti-shipping role from Sicily in early 1942. A kit-supplied torpedo is in place.

Technical Data:
SIAI-Marchetti SM.81
Manufacturer:  SIAI-Marchetti
Year: 1935
Engine: Three Alfa Romeo 125 RC 35, 9-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 680 hp each
Wingspan: 78 ft 9 in (24.00 m)
60 ft 1 in (18.31 m)
14 ft 4 in (4.47 m)
23,190 lb (10,505 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed:
211 mph (340 km/h) at 13,120 ft (4,000 m)
23,000 ft (7,000 m)
1,200 miles (1,931 km)
6 machine guns ; 4,415 lb (1,000 kg) of bombs

Additional Images:
SuperModel 1/72 SM.81 Pipistrello
Mussolini's Bat
by Bob Aiken
Click on the STORMO! Eagle to return to the Gallery