Classic Airframes 1/48 FIAT CR.32
Austrian Freccia
by Chris Busbridge
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The FIAT CR.32 occupies a special place among the immortals in aviation history. It was one of the last combat biplanes ever built and when it appeared in 1933, the plane designed by Celestino Rosatelli was an immediate success because of its performance.  The plane was used in the Spanish Civil War with good effect and would inspire technicians and military men to concentrate on the biplane formula for several more years to come, despite advances made in monoplane design. The aircraft was developed in four variants, the bis, ter and quater reaching a grand total of 1,212 aircraft manufactured.  Aside from large orders placed by the Regia Aeronautica, many foreign customers lined-up to buy the aircraft and would eventually see service in Austria, Spain, Hungary, China, Venezula, Paraguay as well as Germany.

This is a revised re-issue of the Classic Airframe kit released a few years ago. It's a welcome return, as it was always a fine kit. The bonus this time around is the inclusion of extra resin items and a revised breakdown of parts to further enhance the accuracy of the kit. The biggest change is the decision to mould the entire engine section of the fuselage in resin, rather than smaller nose part used in the older kit. Other additional resin parts are rear stabilizers (with separately molded elevators) and a rudder. Another good feature are separately molded wheels, even though the original integrally molded spats and wheel parts have been retained on the sprue, as have the rear stabilizers. Another added extra is a colored etch set for some of the cockpit detail, namely the seat belts and instrument panel. A second non-coloured sheet is supplied for the aileron 'winglets' and actuator arms, plus a few smaller cockpit items. The decal sheet is printed by Microscale and is well laid out. The windshield is injection molded, in place of the vacu-form version provided in the original release.

The cockpit is built using a combination of old and new parts. Most of it is from the original, but the new colored etch parts certainly liven it up. However the instrument panel is too wide to fit. The upper section of the fuselage side walls will need to be thinned down for it to do so.

After fitting the fuselage halves together, which has already had the rudder removed, the resin front section is offered up. The general fit is good. As I chose to do the aircraft featured on the boxtop, I felt it was safe to also assemble the undercarriage, lower wing and rear stabilizer/rudder as well. With each prop blade looking a little on the thick side, I chose to thin them down on the back face to get a more realistic look. The upper wing appeared to have an excessive dihedral, so it was corrected by pouring very hot water over the part and placing it upside down on a flat surface while it cooled down. The faring in the middle prevents it from being completely flattened, thus giving the correct dihedral. It will also prevent any problems placing the struts.

For the silver dope scheme, I used Alclad II White Aluminum, over a grey primer decanted from a spray can. As a silver finish tends to hi-light any flaws I was pleased to see that, in this case, there are mercifully few of them. I could detect only a few minor flow marks on the upper wing. The struts were painted black and applied to the upper wing, being mindful of the fact that each one had a specific location.

After successfully mating the upper wing to the rest of the model, it was just down to the smaller details, such as the step, Venturi tube and gun sight. The injection moulded windshield was offered up, but this is where I found a bit of a problem. What with the revised protective leather molding around the cockpit aperture, it's thickness did not allow me to place it correctly. This is perhaps a instance where the vacform canopy from the original model should have been retained. Fortunately, as it's such a simple structure, it was easy to fabricate a new one from clear sheet stock.

This is a very enjoyable kit to build, with just enough 'built-in' challenges, intentional or not, to help increase the sense of satisfaction when completed. The silver scheme really suits this aircraft.  With this model being the Cr.32 'export' release, there is a future Spanish and Regia Aeronautica version to look forward to as well!
Technical Data:
Fiat CR.32
Manufacturer: FIAT S.A.
Year: 1935
Engine: FIAT A.30 RA, 12-cyclinder V, liquid-cooled, 600hp
31 ft 2 in (9.50 m)
24 ft 5 in (7.45 m)
8 ft 8 in (2.63 m)
4,080 lb (1,850 kg)
Maximum Speed:
233 mph at 19,685 ft (375 km/h at 3,000 m)
28,900 ft (8,800 m)
460 miles (760 km)
2 machine guns

Additional Images

Feburary, 2006
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