Special Hobby + Italian Kits 1/72 FIAT G.59-4A
by Philippe Martin

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The G.59 could be considered as the fruit of a technological exercise, designed to show what the Italian aeronautical industry was capable of, and what it would have been capable of during the Second World War if it had been adequately backed. About 200 of this aeroplane were built by Fiat (some 50 of them as single-seat aircraft fitted out for combat went to the Syrian Air Force) and the Aeronautica Militare started using them as advanced trainers in 1950.

The project which was to give rise to the G.59 was headed by the chief designer of the Fiat aviation division, Giuseppe Gabrielli, soon after the end of the war. In that period the Turin firm had reopened its own assembly lines, and startedoverhauling its unused G.55s and building a batch of 16 Centauro aircraft, for which there was still an unfinished order. This programme was to some extent overshadowed with the request by the Aeronautica Militare to develop a more advanced version of the famous wartime fighter. After a series of studies aimed at fitting the aeroplane with an Isotta-Fraschini Delta RC.40 engine, the solution came with the availability of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines built by Packard. In 1948 Giuseppe Gabrielli started work on the prototype, using a Packard engine taken from a P-51D Mustang belonging to the Aeronautica Militare, and fitting it to the air-frame of a G.55 already converted to a two-seat version. Designated the G.59B, this aeroplane took to the air later that year, and at the end of the tests and trials it went into production with an initial order for 30 aircraft from the A.M.I. This version was designated G.59-1B.

The next version was the G.59-1A, a single-seat aircraft produced in 1949, and fitted with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 500/20 engine, which was to be used throughout production. Compared with the preceding series, the aeroplane had only a few structual and minor modifications necessary for the installation of the different engine. The G.59-1As and 1Bs went into service in early 1950 with the Lecce flying school.

Using the Merlin 500/20 of the G.59-1A, 1950 saw the production of the third variant of the basic aircraft, the G.59-2B. Only 19 of this two-seat version were built. This series gave rise to a further single-seat version (G.59-2A) which was developed as the result of an order placed by Syria for the construction of a combat variant. As a result the aircraft fitted with four machine-guns in the wings and two mountings for bombs or for additional fuel-tanks; 36 were built, of which 26 were bought by the Syrian Air Force. One also tested by Argentina.

The final basic version of the G.59 was also the aircraft produced in the greatest numbers: the G.59-4B which appeared in 1951, along with the derivative single-seat version, the G.59-4A; of these, 85 and 30 were completed respectively. The former went to the Aeronautica Militare, the latter were partly exported, some going to Syria. The main feature of the G.59-4 was the adoption of a "bubble" cockpit hood. In addition, for export purposes, it could be fitted with four 20 mm cannon.

Post War Fiats: G.48, G.59 and G.61
In 1948 Fiat, considering that replacing the DB.605/RA.1050 would increase export prospects, explored the possibility of building the G.55 with different engines available from Air Force stocks or from the American military surplus market. Each new engine gave rise to a new designation. The variant powered by an Isotta Fraschini Delta RC.40, for instance, was initially designated as the G.55AD and BD (respectively in its single-seat and two-seat versions) but then became the G.48A and B. Fitting the Packard V-1650/7 would have produced the G.55AP and BP, later renamed G.61A and B. The only version proceeded with was the Rolls-Royce Merlin-powered G.55AM/BM, which was built in quantity as the G.59A/B.

G.59 construction was as follows:
G.59-1A - Rolls-Royce Merlin powered single-seat advanced trainer converted from G.55s
G.59-1B - Rolls-Royce Merlin powered two-seat trainers converted from G.55s
G.59-2A - 30, new production, Rolls-Royce Merlin powered single-seaters with 4 x 20 mm cannons and underwing pylons to carry bombs or fuel tanks. 26 sold to Syria and 1 to Argentina
G.59-2B - 19, new production, Rolls-Royce Merlin powered two-seat trainers, 4 sold to Syria
G.59-3A - 1 prototype for navigation training
G.59-4A - 30, new production, Rolls-Royce Merlin powered single-seaters constructed in 1951, 20 for the Aeronautica Militare Italiana, fitted with bubble canopies and lowered fuselage behind the cockpit
G.59-4B - 10, new production, Rolls-Royce Merlin powered two-seaters for the Aeronautica Militare Italiana, fitted with bubble canopies

Its worthwhile to point out that the Merlin powered G.59 was inferior in almost every respect to the original Daimler-Benz powered plane.

FIAT G.59-4A S3-07 in AMI Service

FIAT G.59-4A Prototype


The last variant of the G.55 Centauro family, the G.59-4A was certainly the last propeller-driven fighter built in the world but at a time of jets it only served as a trainer with the AMI.

Constructed using the Italian kits Fiat G.59-4A resin kit IKW7214 for the Special Hobby 1/72 Fiat G.55 with some additional scratch-built enhancements. The subject is RR-80 G.59-4A at Vigna di Valle Air Force museum which got me interested in the G-59 in general.

Technical Data

Aircraft: Fiat G.59-4A
Manufacturer: Fiat S.p.A
Type: Fighter/Advanced Trainer
Year: 1951
Engine: One Rolls-Royce Merlin 500/20, V-12, liquid-cooled, 1,420 hp
Wingspan: 38ft 10in (11.85m)
Length: 31 ft 1 in (9.47 m)
Height: 12 ft 1 in (3.78 m)
Weight: 7,630 Ib (3,460 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 368mph at 20,400ft (593 km/h at 6,200 m)
Ceiling: 37,700ft (11,500 m)
Range: 620 miles (1,000 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm (0.5 in) SAFAT machine guns / (2A) 4 x Hispano-Suiza 20mm canons
Crew: 1

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September, 2019
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