Classic Airframes 1/48 IMAM Ro. 37 A30
RA Recce Aircraft - Part I
by Davide Splendore
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The Meridionali (formally IMAM) Ro.37 was designed in 1934 with production commencing the same year. The Ro.37 was a biplane of unequal span and of mixed construction, wood and metal, with a fixed tail wheel and wheel spats for the main landing gear. The plane had a crew of two and was designed as a two-seat fighter/reconnaissance aircraft. The first production aircraft was powered by 550-hp Fiat A.30 RA in-line engine.  An improved version of the aircraft, the Ro.37bis was powered by a 560-hp Piaggio radial engine; with a top speed of 205 mph at 16,405 ft and a service ceiling of 23,620 feet and a range of 696 miles. The Ro.37bis was armed with 2 fixed forward firing 7.7mm machine guns and a flexible rearward-firing 7.7mm machine gun and could carry a bomb load of 397 pounds.  Both the Ro.37 and Ro.37bis were quite popular and over 635 were built (160 Ro.37 and 475 Ro.37bis).  Export orders were received from Central and South American countries as well as from Afghanistan and Hungary.  The Ro.37 and Ro.37bis were both used in the Spanish Civil War from 10/36 and were used extensively by the Regia Aeronautica during the invasion of Abyssinia between 10/35 and 5/36 and the subsequent occupation of that country until 1941.

When World War II began 275 Ro.37 and Ro.37bis were in service as follows: 30th Recon Flight at Palermo; 120th Recon Flight at Tirana [Albania]; 122nd Recon Flight at Mellaha; 136th Recon Flight (Tripoli); 127th and 137th Recon Flights at El Adem; 110th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Addis Abeba; 27th Recon Flight at Casabianca; 42nd Recon Flight at Bari; 121st Recon Flight at Airasca; 131st Recon Flight at Napoli-Capodichino; 31st Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Venari Reale; 33rd Recon Flight at Bresso; 39th and 40th Recon Flights (Ro.37s) at Venaria Reale; 114th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Tornino-Mirafiori; 118th, 123rd and 132nd Recon Flights at Levaldigi; 129th Recon Flight (mix Ro.37bis / Ca.311) at Mondovi; 24th, 35th and 115th Recon Flights (Ro.37) at Verona-Boscomantico; 25th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Jesi; 28th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Lucca-Tassignano; 29th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Arezzo; 32nd and 125th Recon Flights at Udine-Campoformido; 34th and 128th Recon Flights (Ro.37) at Parma; 36th and 87th Recon Flights (Ro.37) at Padova; 38th and 116th Recon Flights at Gorizia-Merna; and 113th Recon Flight at Bologna-Borgo Panigale.

The Ro.37 saw front-line action in the North African campaign, the Balkans and on the Eastern Front.  After the aircraft were withdrawn from front-line service, Ro.37's were used as utility aircraft and for the transport of wounded troops. By the time of the armistice on 9/8/43, the Ro.37 had been completely retired from RA service.

The Kit
I had the honor of receiving this kit as a gift from
M+ and therefore I put in an extra effort into doing a good job.  The kit is the Classic Airframes Ro.37 1/48 (the kit actually measures out exactly to 1/50 scale) and is finished in a medium quality, grey soft plastic with recessed panel lines; the level of detail is modest. The kit is also avaiable in the bis version (the radial engine variant).  The bis version kit is the same as the Ro.37 but requires some fitting of the forward fuselage to construct this variant. The kit contains a nice set of photo etched parts, but does lack seat belts although this detail is easily added. The kit also comes with resin parts, very well fabricated, such as the seats, tail wheel and rear S.A.F.A.T. machine-gun are all very high quality. The decal sheet decal is also high quality, but is missing the factory senticles applied to the tail and the MM serial numbers  which do not correspond to those in use by IMAM. Overall a well engineered kit.

This kit was constructed out of the box with some modifications to render it accurately.  This biplane has a fairly copious and open cockpit. The cockpit framing was substantially enhanced with plasticard 0,6 millimeter rods and sprues.

As illustrated below, the the sides of the fuselage were tided  up, and internal structures and spars added using plasticard.

In order to obtain the correct detail, line drawings were used from the IMAM handbook, published in a GAVS bulletin. The instrument panel was supplied as a PE part.

The internal cockpit was finished in an anticorrosion green and silver for structural parts. The color selection was arrived at from various articles I had collected.

After finishing the interior I applied an oil wash and the customary dry brushing of raised detail parts.
At the end of painting the cockpit interior I glued the fuselage sides which did not present any great difficulty.
Passing unto the wings, I wanted to reproduced some of the detail around the access hatches in the center plane section of the top wing which functioned as a stroage area.  I also cut out the ailerons and positioned them away from the straight line position to give some added "life" to the model as well as adding footsteps to the left side of the fuselage.
After having assembled the fuselage, it was necessary to fill and eliminate hardpoints used to support the radial engine variant.
The fuselage was somewhat lacking in detail so I added air ducts, stoppers to the engine cowling, and fairings for the rigging.  I also cut out the elevators for an added effect.  Finally I glued the bottom wing in place to complete the main assembly.
The positioning of the top wing was rather difficult, I had to create a jig to get the two wings aligned and centered.

The wings of the Ro 37 had a complex rigging system, every entry point is protecetd by a fairling/cap anchored to the wings, this part is not included in the kit and cannot be omitted, therefore it was necessary to scratch build it.

The main rigging was made of guitar strings and electrical wire 0,09 inches thick, while the secondary rigging was made of thread 0,1 millimeter thick.

Assembly continued with the wheels which are beautifully done with PE spokes and wheel covers.
Painting, Conclusions and Never Before Seen In-Flight Photos
May, 2006
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