LF Models 1/72 Caproni-Bergamaschi Ca.331B/CN
Raffica (Wind Gust)
by Richard Mendes

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The Caproni-Bergamasche Ca.331 Raffica (Wind Gust) was a metal monocoque twin-engine aerial observation reconnaissance, bombing and night fighting monoplane originally designed in response to a 1937 Regia Aeronautica (RA) specification for a high performance twin-engine aerial observation reconnaissance aircraft in part to replace the aging Industrie Meccaniche e Aeronautiche Meridionali (IMAM) Ro.37 observation reconnaissance biplane. Designed by Cesare Pallavicino (1893-1976) the Ca.331 powered by Isotta Fraschini Delta 12-cylinder inverted V air-cooled engines competed with the Aeronautica Umbra S.A. AUT.45 designed by Felice Trojani (1897-1971), Construzioni Aeronautiche Novaresi S.A. (a FIAT subsidiary) FC.20 designed by Giacomo Mosso (1903-1988), Societa Aeronautica Italiana (SAI) Ambrosini SA.9 and Industrie Meccaniche e Aeronautiche Meridionali Ro.61, the RA authorizing construction of two prototypes each of the AUT.45 (subsequently cancelled), Ca.331 and FC.20 in 1938 for flight testing the Ca.331s being assigned serials MM.427 and 428.

The first Ca.331 prototype MM.427 alternatively known as the Ca.331A or Ca.331 O.A. (Osservazione Area) featured an aerodynamically clean glazed fuselage nose pilot, observer/gunner, radioman/gunner crew, 770hp Isotta Fraschini Delta III RC.40 12-cylinder inverted V air-cooled engines, four 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns one each mounted in wing roots, dorsal turret, ventral mount, internal bomb bay with 1,000kg bomb capacity along with two bomb racks mounted under each mainwing (bomb weights not known). Reportedly first flown with Piaggio propellers at Ponte San Pietro Bergamo, Lombardy Italy on August 31, 1940 (Johnathan W. Thompson 1964 et. al.) or August 3rd (Wikipedia Italy early 2000s Ca.331 article (Editor's Note: Wikipedia should not be relied upon as a source of accurate information) by Caproni test pilot Ettore Wengi flight performance was acceptable, fitted with Alfa Romeo propellers early in 1941 overall performance subsequently exceeded expectations.

In spring 1941 Caproni-Bergamaschi delivered MM.427 to Regia Aeronautica (RA) Guidonia Montecelio for flight testing, exhibiting good all-round performance the RA nevertheless rejected it for series production because of its duralumin construction at a time when Italy had to import near all of it from Germany as well as the air-cooled Isotta Fraschini Delta engines which were not considered suitable.

Whilst MM.427 flight testing was occurring at Guidonia, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium Luftwaffe et. al. senior German military officials were present including Werner Mölders (1913-1941) flying it shortly before his death as well as Hermann Göring (1893–1946) witnessing a special flight demonstration in January 1942. Suitably impressed with its performance capabilities the RA allowed MM.427 to be flown to Rechin, Germany for evaluation. The Luftwaffe subsequently became enamored with the Ca.331A to the extent of interest in a combat training version with dual controls as the Ca.331G. At the time of the September 8, 1943 Italian Armistice MM.427 was at the Caproni company airfield at Taliedo, Milano Italy, seized by the Germans it was disassembled and shipped to Germany.

The second prototype MM.428 alternative known as the Ca.331B or Ca.331 C.N. (Caccia Notturna) night fighter featured a stepped cockpit with substantially less nose glazing, pilot, observer/gunner, radioman/gunner crew, four fuselage nose mounted 20mm Mauser MG 151 cannon, four 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns two fuselage nose mounted one each in dorsal turret and ventral mount, design provision to carry 500kg bombs, 616 additional liters of fuel. First flown at Ponte San Pietro in summer 1942 with 800hp Isotta Fraschini Delta IV the Ca.331B exhibited good flying characteristics but was too slow as an interceptor fighter, its engines subsequently replaced with 850hp IVs with two-stage superchargers in spring 1943, the RA then ordering 1,000 aircraft following the November 1942 Allied Operation Torch but subsequently cancelling it in January 1943. At the time of the September 8, 1943 Italian Armistice MM.428 like MM.427 was at the Caproni company airfield at Taliedo, Milano Italy, seized by the Germans it too was disassembled and shipped to Germany.

Prior to the September 1943 Italian Armistice Caproni-Bergamasche was constructing a second Ca.331B prototype with two 20mm Ikaria MG FF cannon and four 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns mounted in the fuselage nose, under construction at the time of the armistice the Germans seized it as well, disassembling and shipping it to Germany. Other models of the Ca.331 were proposed for production with German or Italian versions of Daimler-Benz 12-cylinder inverted V inline liquid-cooled and Italian Isotta Fraschini Zeta 24 18-cylinder "X" air-cooled engines promising top speeds up to 644kmh as well as radar-equipped versions all development ending with the Armistice.


The LF Models 1/72 Caproni-Bergamasche Ca.331A MM.428 and Ca.331B MM.429 resin models - the only ones available in this scale - have been in and out of production since the early 2000s. In 2009 I purchased them to build after gaining enough experience building resin models in 2012 I successfully did so fortunately without serious problems.

The model kit castings were of acceptable quality though considerable time and effort was expended on separating parts from resin sprues particularly the Isotta Fraschini Delta engine nacelles and fronts, sanding and putty filling them to fit. Fuselage interior detail alas was minimal; clear vacuform cockpit and "greenhouse" canopies and fuselage windows were of good quality, unusual for "limited runs", lacking aileron, tailplane elevator and rudder actuator parts made them along with crew hand holds bars over the Ca.331B's upper forward fuselage from scratch with sheet styrene plastic and nylon fishing line years before switching to EZ Line stretch thread.

Painting the Ca.331B model was straightforward; Humbrol 91 Matt Black Green replicating Verde Oliva Scuro 2 and Testors Model Master 1726 Light Sea Gray replicating Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 both lightened 36% with Testors Flat White enamels over the exteriors.

Interiors were painted Humbrol 78 Matt Cockpit Green and Testors Flat White 50/50 enamels lightened 36% with Testors Flat white replicating Verde Anticorrosione, white Identification Bands painted around rear fuselages, Testors Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Olive Green, Red, Rubber, Rust et. al. flat enamels employed as detailing colors.

All spray work was accomplished with Testors Aztek A320 Single and A470 Double Action airbrushes, 9304CX 0.30, 9305CX 0.40, 9306CX 0.50 mm spray nozzles. Large-area spraying was accomplished with 0.50 and 0.40 mm nozzles, mottling spraying alternatively with 0.40 and 0.30 mm. Considerable effort was involved in spray painting much of it clearing off nozzle tip paint cakes and 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!

The LF Model Caproni Ca.331B kit decals were of "non-standard technology" manufacture had considerable difficulty applying them though none were irretrievably damaged whilst doing so. Both aircraft were 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: Caproni-Bergamaschi 331(B) CN
Manufacturer: Caproni Aeronautica Bergamasca
Type: Fighter
Year: 1942
Engine: Two Isotta Fraschini Delta IV inverted 12-cylinder V, air-cooled, 840 hp each
Wingspan: 53 ft 9 21/32 in (16.4 m)
Length: 38 ft 6 7/32 in (11.74 m)
Height: 10 ft 5 31/32 in (3.2 m)
Weight: 14,992 lb (6,800 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 314 mph (505 km/h) at 17,400 ft (5,300 m)
Ceiling: 26,550 ft (8,090 m)
Range: 994 miles (1,600 km)
Armament: 4 × 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns + 4 x 20mm canons; 1,102 lb (500 kg) of bombs
Crew: 3

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