Italeri 1/72 FIAT BR.20M
Cicgona (Stork)
by Richard Mendes

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The FIAT BR.20 Cicogna (Stork) was Italy’s first all-metal bomber though initially of mixed metal-fabric construction, designed by Celestino Rosatelli (1885-1945) whose C.29 racing seaplane and "CR" fighters, particularly the CR.32 & 42, were gaining increasing notoriety from 1929 onwards. The first mixed metal-fabric BR.20 prototype MM.274 flew on February 10, 1936.

The BR.20's origins lay in a 1934 request by the Regia Aeronautica (RA) for a new medium bomber capable of high speeds, long range, satisfactory payload, reliability & flight characteristics compared to contemporaries. Among those companies responding were Piaggio, Macchi, Breda, Caproni and FIAT, the latter completing its BR.20 design in 1935, not included was Savoia-Marchetti whose S.79 first flew on September 28, 1934 as a transport plane and then as a level bomber evolving into and more famously known as a torpedo bomber during WWII. Flight testing continued through 1936, the RA placing production orders in the meantime, that September 13° Stormo Bombardamento Terrestre (BT) received the first BR.20s for operational evaluation till June 1937 when three aircraft were dispatched to bases in Benghazi & Tripoli to conduct test flights under "tropical" conditions; initial production BR.20s differed from MM.274 having a finer nose, fuselage & tail details.

At the time of its service introduction in 1936 the BR.20 was quite advanced. FIAT introduced the all-metal BR.20M (Modificata – Modified) late in 1939 based on operational experience with the Aviazione Legionaria Espania and the Imperial Japanese Army combat operations with a redesigned glazed nose and a longer fuselage, aircraft weight increased as fabric sections were substituted for metal improving the resistance to flutter and engine vibration but at the expense of reduced top speed. Operating in all combat theatres as well as in Spain and northeastern China BR.20s/20Ms were bravely flown by their aircrews in the face of increasing Allied air superiorty.

The final production variant was the BR.20bis, a complete redesign with a fully glazed nose, retractable tail wheel, more streamlined fuselage & pointed fins though the principal changes were 1,250 h.p. Fiat A.82 RC 42 radial engines & heavier defensive armament. Production plans were delayed partly due to technical issues but preference for the CANT Z.1018 doomed large-scale production; 98 aircraft were ordered with just 15 built during spring 1943 after the bombing of FIAT’s Turin factory halting all further production.

Several experimental BR.20 versions were developed, including the BR.20C gunship with a 37 mm nose-mounted cannon, one aircraft modified with a tricycle undercarriage another as a radio guided flying bomb. Including those sold to Japan in 1938 at least 233 BR.20s were manufactured along with 264 to 279 BR.20Ms.


The 1/72 scale Italeri FIAT BR20/20M kit dates from 1971 being amongst the first wave of pre & WW II Italian aircraft subjects tooled & introduced by this Italian scale-model company since the 1962-vintage Artiplast FIAT G.55 Centauro. Well-detailed though raised rivet scribing is heavy the kit has been reviewed several times since its introduction so I won't submit my own other to say that having built five models since 1980 each "took doing" ala contemporary FROG & Matchbox kits, i.e., clunky but workable WITH patience, those discussed here are my final BR.20 builds.

The modeled aircraft is the well-known BR.20M artfully depicted in Chris Dunning’s "Regia Aeronautica, The Italian Air Force 1925-1945" (Ian Allen Publishing 2009) p.119 "1-5" MM.21915 1 Squadriglia, 11 Gruppo, 13 Stormo, Bir Dufan Libya, February 1942.

The late 1990s "IPMS-Italy Regia Aeronautica Color Chart" based on Umberto Postiglioni & Andrea Degl' Innocenti’s "Colori e Schemi Mimetici della Regia Aeronautica" (Trento, 1994) was employed in painting the BR.20s 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 closely-packed mottles of Humbrol 117 Matt U.S. Light Green (Verde Mimetico 3) & 142 Matt Field Drab (Marrone Mimetico 1; Testors Model Master 1702 Field Drab was substituted) was sprayed on.

Testors "utility" enamels White (36% scale perspective shading), Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Olive Green, Red, Rubber, Rust et. al. flat enamels also were employed as well as Polly Scale Flat Black, White, Dirt, Mud et. al. acrylic colors for weathering.

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 & 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 employed include Airfix Savoia-Marchetti S.79 kit House of Savoy markings over masked white-painted Savioa rudder crosses, Italeri FIAT BR.20 nose fasci, SKY Models 72-003 Main wing Tri-Fasci roundels, 72-019 flying unit markings & mascot art, Tauro Decals 72-513 aircraft type & M.M. number sets, yellow FIAT-made propeller blade markers.

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 & just as good), prefer semi-gloss finish over flat, detail "pops out" better plus aesthetically more pleasing in appearance.

Technical Data

Aircraft: Fiat BR.20
Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.
Type: Bomber
Year: 1937
Engine: Two Fiat A.80 R6 41, 18-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,000 hp each
Wingspan: 70 ft 8 in (21.53 m)
Length: 52 ft 10 in (16.10 m)
Height: 14 ft 1 in (4.30 m)
Weight: 21,850 lb (9,900 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 286 mph (460 km/h) at 16.400 ft (5,000 m)
Ceiling: 29,500 ft (9,000 m)
Range: 1,860 miles (3,000 km)
Armament: 3 machine guns; 3,527 Ib (1,600 kg) of bombs
Crew: 5

Additional Images

STORMO! Products

Ali D'Italia #23 Fiat BR.20

Ali D'Italia #25, FIAT BR 20M
Special Hobby - Fiat BR.20 Cicogna, 1/48 - SO48068

Italeri Fiat BR.20 1/72 - 1143

April, 2018
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