SEM Model 1/72 C.N.A. PM.1
by Richard Mendes

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The Compagnia Nazionale Aeronautica (CNA) PM.1 was an Italian light sport and training aircraft its design greatly influencing development of the post-WWII Macchi MB.308.

In September 1938 the Regia Aeronautica Italia (RAI) and Reale Unione Nazionale Aeronautica (Royal National Aeronautical Union - RUNA) jointly issued a specification for a new light aircraft capable of sports touring and as a military basic pilot trainer a competition subsequently being held attended by several aircraft manufacturers as well as technical institutes such as the l'Istituto di Costruzioni Aeronautiche del Politecnico di Milano (Aeronautical Construction Institute of Milan Polytechnic - PoliMi). On the initiative of PoliMi Professor Bassi his students Ermanno Bazzocchi (1914-2005) (who would go on to design the iconic MB.326 and MB.339) and Vittorio Calderini were commissioned to design a modern compact high-wing single-engine, two-seat airplane with enclosed cockpit as the Politecnico di Milano Modello 1 (Milan Polytechnic Model 1 - PM.1) subsequently presenting it before the RAI for assessment.

Incapable of manufacturing the PM.1 on its own Polimi engineer Ambrogio Colombo advised Professor Bassi to make arrangements with an aircraft manufacturing company to build it, subsequently resolving conflict of interest issues associated with the RAI-RUNA joint specification in impartially awarding of a 100,000 lira contract to build the PM.1 prototype. Anxious for a resolution Bassi asked RAI Capo dello Stato Maggiore Generale Giuseppe Valle (1886-1975) to award it, he subsequently granting it to CNA.

In February PM.1 construction commenced; high-grade spruce wood then in short supply was needed as well as a suitable engine, "technical and bureaucratic vicissitudes" further hampering construction progress for months till finally on October 25, 1939 the prototype assigned RAI serial MM.417 powered by a 60hp Compagnia Nazionale Aeronautica "D" opposed 4-cylinder air-cooled engine piloted by Ireneo Di Cresenzo first flew at RAI Roma Urbe due north of the city’s center. Following initial fight testing the PM.1 was flown to RAI Guidonia Montecelio to undergo performance evaluation commencing November 30, 1939 air ace RAI Capitano Adriano Mantelli (1913-1995) flying it amongst others favorably comparing its performance to the AVIA FL.3 two-seat cabin monoplane then in production.

Italy's entry into WWII led to the suspension of further PM.1 development to prioritize construction of other aircraft types till and finally on August 16, 1942 the RAI ordered 10 aircraft, five to be delivered in January 1943 and the rest in February. Many delays in production followed finally on July 19, 1943 the CNA factory near Rome was bombed, destroying all the airframes leaving MM.417 then in Turin as the type's sole survivor. After the September 8, 1943 Italian Armistice the PM.1 continued flying presumably with the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana till summer 1944 whilst parked at Aeroporto di Reggio Emila it was damaged during a bombing raid rendering it unflyable. Surviving WWII, Bazzocchi purportedly recovered its "D" engine to power the first Macchi MB.308 prototype he designed first flying on January 19, 1947, ironic indeed considering he'd co-designed the PM.1 as well!

C.N.A. PM.1 MM.417


The 1/72 scale SEM Model CNA PM.1 resin kit released in 2016 is the only one available in this scale on March 18, 2017 I'd bought one to build, doing so in November 2018.

A relatively sturdy, simple kit with just 11 resin parts and a vacuformed cockpit canopy, constructing it was fraught with difficulty particularly with respect to fitting and gluing on the cockpit bulkhead and canopy as well as cabin door windows fabricated from clear sheet plastic. The one-piece molded fuselage, mainwing, tailplane and rudders are adequately detailed though it would have been nice had there been more as well as a crisply molded mainwing "slot" where the vacuform canopy slipped in fair amount of filing required to straighten its sides never mind the wing top around it upsloping to port giving a lopsided appearance viewed head on.

Assembling the mainwing-fuselage-bulkhead kit parts, the latter too tall and brittle was nightmarish, much trimming of them required for good fits. Whilst gluing on cabin windows the mainwing popped off the fuselage damaging it and bulkhead several hours subsequently spent repairing and gluing them back on. The cockpit interior is Spartan; cockpit bulkhead with molded-in pilot and copilot seats and instrument panel, joysticks and rudder pedals had to be scratch built from sheet plastic. The vacuform cockpit canopy molded from thin clear plastic is very thin well as too short on the lower starboard side, clear plastic shims had to be cut and glued on to properly fit on fuselage taking great deal of time and effort. The resin tailskid’s too short and brittle, would easily break, I fabricated a sturdy one from spare plastic parts, though tad out of scale. The main landing gear assembly went on OK although lacking sway bars fabricated these from spare plastic parts, kit likewise lacked pitot tubes fabricated them from spare parts as well.

Painting the CMA PM.1 was very straightforward all spray work being accomplished with Testors Aztek A320 Single and A470 Double Action airbrushes, 9304CX 0.30, 9305CX 0.40, 9306CX 0.50 mm spray nozzles. The cockpit interior and canopy frames were sprayed Light Gray (1:5 Testors Flat Black and White enamels) the entire exterior model sprayed Humbrol 148 Matt Radome Tan replicating Bianco Avorio 5 this after analyzing period photos of The Real McCoy in light of the RAI authorizing its use on training aircraft, the propeller Testors Flat Black and White "special mix" with Flat Silver spinner Testors Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Olive Green, Red, Rubber, Rust et. al. flat enamels employed as detailing colors.

The SEM Model kit decals are well made though tad thick, a few problems encountered whilst applying them the entire model subsequently 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.

Technical Data

Aircraft: C.N.A. PM.1
Manufacturer: Compagnia Nazionale Aeronautica
Type: Trainer
Year: 1939
Engine: CNA D.4 air-cooled flat four, 60 hp
Wingspan: 34 ft 8 1/2 in (10.57m)
Length: 23 ft 2 in (7.07 m)
Height: 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Weight: 1,279 lb (580 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 112 mph (180 km/h)
Ceiling: 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
Range: 373 miles (600 km)
Crew: 2

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January, 2019
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