Planet Model 1/72 Breda 44
Light Transport
by Richard Mendes


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The Società Italiana Ernesto Breda Ba.44 biplane was based on the de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide short range airliner, both planes flying for the first time in 1934. In 1933 Breda obtained a license from de Havilland to build a modified version of the Dragon Rapide incorporating different wings, cockpit and empennage layouts and powered by the Italian Colombo S.63 engine though de Havilland Gipsy Sixes powering the Dragon Rapide ultimately were employed on production aircraft.

Compared to the 727 Dragon Rapides built prior to WWII, six Ba.44s were known to have existed although 11 probably were built, four going to Ala Littoria airlines on its Albanian routes, the sole prototype first flown in June 1934 with Colombo engines subsequently sold to the Regia Aeronautica Italia (RAI MM.267 ) flying as a VIP transport and air ambulance in Libya. Paraguay ordered three Ba.44s in 1933 but acquired just one employing it as an air ambulance and transport during the 1932-1935 Chaco War then decade later flying with the Paraguayan Líneas Aéreas de Transporte Nacional airline as the last airworthy Ba.44 till 1947.

When Italy entered WWII the four Ba.44s produced for Ala Littoria: I-ARIA, I-AURA, I-EURO, I-ORIO, were requisitioned by the RAI, militarized as troop transports, retaining their civil registrations even after being camouflaged and decked-out in standard RAI war markings. These purportedly were flown by the 611 Squadriglia in the Balkans prior to Italy invading Albania as well as during the Greek campaign, two surviving up till the September 1943 Italian Armistice no further information as to where and in what condition.





Construction

The early 2000s vintage Czech made all resin Planet Models Breda Ba.44 remains the only 1/72 scale model of this pre-WWII Italian transport. In 2015 Enrico Calanchini built a super-detailed version of the ex-Ala Littoria complete with a scratch-built interior, unable to replicate his work nor having the time I chose instead to build sister ship I-AURA "out of box" though employing EZ Line thread to simulate the wing brace wiring. The kit was relatively easy to build though it took more than some doing to cut, fit, glue on the clear vacuform passenger window/cockpit canopy parts. The kit propeller and spinner parts are poorly molded though I chose to keep them unlike Enrico Calanchini who fabricated new prop and spinner parts; the kit lacked the forward engine cowling to fuselage bracing rods so had to fabricate these.

Paint
The late 1990s "IPMS-Italy Regia Aeronautica Color Chart" based on Umberto Postiglioni and Andrea Degl'Innocenti’s "Colori e Schemi Mimetici della Regia Aeronautica" (Trento, 1994) was employed in painting the Breda Ba.44 given near all colors have Humbrol enamel paint equivalents. Humbrol 63 Matt Sand + 10% Testors Flat Yellow (Giallo Mimetico 3) was sprayed over topsides, 140 Matt Gull Grey (Grigio Mimetico over undersides. Small mottles of Humbrol 117 Matt U.S. Light Green (Verde Mimetico 3) and 118 Matt U.S. Tan + a "dash" of Testors Flat Red (Bruno Mimetico) were sprayed over all topsides. Testors "utility" enamels White (36% scale perspective shading), Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Rubber et. al. flat enamels also were employed.

All spray work was accomplished with Testors Aztek A320 Single & A470 Double Action airbrushes, 9304CX 0.30, 9305CX 0.40, 9306CX 0.50 mm spray nozzles. Large-area spraying was accomplished with 0.50 & 0.40 mm nozzles, mottling and tight net spraying alternatively with 0.40 & 0.30 mm. Considerable effort was involved in spray painting much of it clearing off nozzle tip paint cakes & cartridge clogs each paint having distinctive behaviors requiring different solutions to achieve smooth flow with as few “spits” possible – ever persistent issues associated with RA mottle camouflage painting!

Decals
Kit decals were employed in building the Breda Ba.44 model though the large House of Savoy crests were needed for the Distintivo di Guerra rudder crosses those on Tauro Models Sheet 72-546 well sufficing.

The model was over-sprayed with Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss Clear Lacquer Finish thinned 50% with Klean Strip Lacquer Thinner (WAY cheaper than Model Master thinner and just as good), prefer semi-gloss finish over flat, detail "pops out" better plus aesthetically more pleasing in appearance.

Disaster Averted!
The Breda Ba.44 model was constructed early in 2017 along with a display case fabricated to protect it from the elements. On August 15, 2018 the case was inadvertently dropped breaking the model into several parts, tempted to toss it out I chose instead to repair it successfully doing so that same day, and shown below are photos taken near year before the drop and immediately following its repair:

Before



After



Technical Data

Aircraft: Breda 44
Manufacturer: Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda
Type: Transport
Year: 1934
Engine: Walter Major-Six, in-line, air-cooled 190hp
Wingspan: 43 ft 8 in (13.3 m)
Length: 33 ft 11 in (10.34 m)
Height: 10 ft 1 in (3.07 m)
Weight: 4,774 lb (2,165 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 140 mph (225 km/h)
Ceiling: 15,580 ft (4,749 m)
Range: 335 miles (539 km)
Armament: ---
Crew: 2

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October, 2018
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