Italeri 1/48 FIAT CR.42LW
Falco (Hawk)
by William Landelle

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Designed as an interim fighter until the Italian monoplane fighters were available in sufficient numbers, the Fiat CR.42 was a modern biplane fighter that served the Regia Aeronautica in a multitude of roles including fighter, ground attack and night fighter duties. The Fiat CR.42 was also used by several foreign air forces who put the plane to good use and production was even resumed by the Germans in 1944.

From October 1943 the Luftwaffe established night-time ground attack units : the « Nachtschlachtgruppe (NSGr) ». These groups were equipped with standard foreign designed planes pending the delivery of new Ju.87s. Luftwaffe pilots returning from the Eastern front tested the Caproni Ca.314 at Campoformido-Udine but these planes are not suitable to ground attack missions. The Luftwaffe finally placed an ordered for 200 FIAT CR 42 from Italy. These aircraft were denominated as the Fiat CR 42 LW, LW for Luftwaffe. The planes were designed to serve as a night fighter and ground attack roles. The Fiat CR 42 LW  were produced by the Fiat factory in Turin under German control after the Armistice of September 1943. After the bombing raids on the Turin Fiat factory by the Allies in 1944 only 112 of these Falcos were delivered to the Luftwaffe. NSGr 9 counted 47 Falcos into 2 staffels and remained in service until June 1944. The unit was based in northern Italy and were used at Anzio, Monte Cassino and in the Alps in anti-partisan missions.

Technical details
The FIAT CR.42 LW was built according to Luftwaffe's specifications:
   • exhausts with flame damper
   • armored bulkhead for the pilot seat
   • German radio
   • ultra-violet instrument lighting
   • air-intake with dust filter
   • short wheel fairing
   • two 12,7mm machine gun Breda Safat or 13 mm  MG 131
   • two ETC50 kg electrical German bomb racks, a single one under each wing
   • for two German SC 50 bombs

Camouflage and Markings
Planes were delivered from the factory with the « a ramarro » camouflage D1A of the Reggia applied at the Fiat factory during this time  (verde oliva scuro 2 and nocciola chiaro 4 bloches, underwing grigio azzuro chiaro 1). Pictures taken after the Fiat factories were bombed seem to show that national markings  (balkencreuz and swastika) were painted on the assembly line. In accordance with the directives of the Luftwaffe, Nachtschlachtgruppe (NSGr) planes received a night camo based on RLM74/75/76 likely field applied.

The subject of this article is based on an aircraft of Nachtschlachtgruppe 9 (NSGr.9) code number E8 and belonging to 2 Staffel (black letter K and red spinner). The red J is the aircraft number 10 of the Staffel. An original photo was taken at the Fiat factory after the Allied air raid by 150 B.24s of 15th USAAF on 25 April 1944 supported by P.47s of 325th FG. The number white 35 painted on fuselage is likely hand painted by a mechanic for a workshop registration. Other planes photographed after the raid had similar markings.


This model was built from the Italeri kit  n° 2640 C.R. 42 LW. I had to do some scratch buiding for the bomb rack ETC 50 VIIIb and the air intake which are not exact.

I used the SKYdecal sheet , there are no swatiskas in the Italeri decal sheet. Eduard photo etched parts for the seatbelts.

For this project I referred to the history of this unit based on Allied Intelligence Recording, Luftwaffe logs and the testimony of NSGr9 veterans written by Nick Beale « Ghost bombers – The Moonlight war of NSG 9 ».

Technical Data

Aircraft: Fiat CR.42
Manufacturer: FIAT S.A.
Type: Fighter
Year: 1939
Engine: FIAT A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
Wingspan: 31 ft 10 in (9.70 m)
Length: 27 ft 3 in (8.30 m)
Height: 10 ft 10 in (3.30 m)
Weight: 5,060 lb (2,295 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 273 mph (440 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6,000 m)
Ceiling: 34,450 ft (10,500 m)
Range: 490 miles (785 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm SAFAT machine guns; 2  x 220.5 lb (100 kg) bombs
Crew: 1

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March, 2013
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