Airmodel 1/72 I.M.A.M. Ro 43 "Grillo"
Cricket - Shipborne Reconnaissance
by Enrico Calanchini

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This carrier-borne aircraft took part in the naval war operations in the Mediterranean. It was developed from a land aeroplane, the Ro 37. The Ro 43 was a catapult seaplane version of the Ro 37 reconnaissance aeroplane. It was assigned to naval reconnaissance squadrons and was also used as a ship-based observation aeroplane. Cruisers each carried two Ro 43s aboard, and battleships carried up to four of them. The aeroplanes were launched by catapult and landed on water. The Ro 43 was a composite-structure two-seat biplane with fold-back wings. It was powered by a 700 hp Piaggio P.XR radial engine. There was also a single-seat version, the Ro 44, which was built as a fighter but saw only limited duty. Ro 43s remained in service until September 1943.

This model represents Ro.43 MM 27148 in 1942 belonging to the RM cruiser Eugenio di Savoia with 2 other planes. Using catapults these planes were launched into flight for reconnaissance purposes, or as observers during naval engagements. When the missions were complete the plane would be taken on board by crane and repositioned on the catapults. Pilots were from the RA while observers were RM personnel. Armament consisted of two Breda Safat of 7.7 mm machine guns. The forward firing machine gun fired from inside the engine cowling through the propeller disc, while the other machine gun fired through the dorsal position firing rearward.

The kit I used here is a German manufactured vacuform kit by Airmodel. I bought this kit when it was first introduced to the market in the late '80s, at the time it was the only existing model of this plane in 1/72, and I decided to buy it along with the Ro 37, Ro 37a and Ro 44 that came out at about the same time. I began builidng the quartet in 1990 beginning with the Ro 44, then in 1992 I built the Ro 37, and then in 1998 the Ro 37a, and after 17 years in 2014 I finally built the Ro 43 - all these kits were difficult to build.

As with the other Airmodel kits, this kit required substantial work, mostly on the interior, the dorsal weapons area, all wing struts and floats. The lower wings and tail planes are hinged to the fuselage using metal pins. Wiring was made from sprue and the antenna modeled using fishing line 0.08 mm. Several details have been added with some attention paid to the detailed drawings available in the reference Ali D'Italia IMAM Ro.43/44. For painting Grigio Azzurro Scuro 3 was used, typical for seaplanes on upper surfaces and Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 for the lower surfaces. For paint selection I used Puravest. For decals I used Tauromodel 72-535. The beach trolley is scratchbuilt.

Other Ro.43 kits I have in my collection are the Aviation USK kit and the Pavla kit, however this vacuform kit intrigued me the most.

Construction photos:

Technical Data
Aircraft: Meridionali Ro 43
Manufacturer: S.A. Industrie Meccaniche & Aerondutiche Meridionali (I.M.A.M.)
Type: Reconnaissance
Year: 1936
Engine: Piaggio P.XR, 9-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 700 hp
Wingspan: 37 ft 11 1/2 in (11.57 m)
Length: 31 ft 10 in (9.71 m)
Height: 11ft 6 in (3.51 m)
Weight: 5,300 lb (2,400 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 186 mph (299 km/h) at 8,200 ft (2,499 m)
Ceiling: 21,600 ft (6,583 m)
Range: 678 miles (1,092 km)
Armament: 2 machine guns
Crew: 2

Additional Images

Ali D'Italia #12 Imam Ro.43/44 Aeronautica Cobelligerante - 1/48 - TU48571

December, 2015
STORMO! 2015