SEM Model 1/72 IMAM Ro.63
Italian Storch
by Richard Mendes


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The Industrie Meccaniche e Aeronautiche Meridionali (IMAM) Ro.63 was a mixed wood, metal and fabric constructed single-engine aerial observation reconnaissance and light transport aircraft with Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) performance briefly used operationally in North Africa during WWII.

In 1938 the Regia Aeronautica Italia (RAI) purchased a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch from Germany for evaluation subsequently that November inviting Italian aircraft manufactures to design a simply constructed airplane capable of transporting two air crewmen plus a medical stretcher case with attendant. Three design proposals were presented; Avio Industrie Stabiensi (AIS, Castellammare di Stabia, Italy-based Caproni subsidary) C.4, Caproni GDL (later withdrawn), IMAM Ro.63 the latter designed by Giovanni Galasso (1897-1984) powered by a 300hp Isotta Fraschini Beta 6-cylinder inline air-cooled engine eventually being selected for production.

After considerable delay in June 1940 the high-wing IMAM Ro.63 de facto prototype RAI serial MM.11591 powered by a German 280hp Hirth HM 508D 8-cylinder inverted V air-cooled engine with a variable pitch two-bladed propeller was flown for the first time by Aldo Ligabo. Performing better than the low wing AIS C.4 during RAI Guidonia Montecelio flight testing its STOL performance was near similar to the three-seat Fieseler Fi 156C-1 aerial observation reconnaissance and communications aircraft but possessing longer range and faster speed though unlike C-model Storches was unarmed. Early in 1941 the RAI ordered 100 Ro.63s then later an additional 50 but due to unavailability of 300hp Isotta Fraschini Beta engines as well as other suitable Italian types the RAI halted production after just 5 aircraft serials MM.11592-11596 were built in favor of buying imported Fi 156s.

Operational History
During the summer of 1941 the RAI assigned an undetermined number of Ro.63s to the 27 Squadriglia 1 Gruppo Osservazione Aerea (OA) based at Rome-Centocelle Airport and 132 Squadriglia 76 Gruppo OA based in Zuara, Libya for aerial observation reconnaissance those of the latter supporting Regio Esercito Italiano field operations whether any were employed as air ambulances isn’t known. Few in number Ro.63s soldiered on in RAI service well into 1943 attrition taking its toll though one was airworthy on July 31, 1943 nothing known of its subsequent fate. Shortly after WWII Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI) Capitano Manfredi proposed resuming Ro.63 production with different engines, the AMI presumably asking IMAM whether they could, because of wartime destruction of IMAM’s production facilities as well as Ro.63 design drawings and production records the effort was subsequently abandoned.


















I.M.A.M. Ro.63 MM.11591

Construction

Resin 1/72 scale models of the IMAM Ro.63 marketed under the Italian Wings and SEM Model labels have been in "limited" production since the early 2000s those of SEM Model's since 2013 - the only ones in this scale. On March 5, 2017 I purchased the SEM Model kit building it contemporaneously with their CANSA FC.20 kit during November and December 2018.

A relatively sturdy, simple kit with 31 resin parts and a vacuformed cockpit canopy some difficulty was encountered building it particularly fitting and gluing the cockpit canopy well as cabin door windows fabricated from clear sheet plastic those provided with the kit are too small. The one-piece molded fuselage, mainwing, tailplane and rudders are well detailed, cockpit interior is spartan, crew seats, instrument panel and aileron steering yoke being provided though a yoke mount column and rudder pedals had to be scratch built from sheet plastic. The clear plastic vacuform cockpit canopy was very thin as well as too short on lower port and starboard sides clear plastic shims had to be cut and glued on to properly fit on fuselage taking great deal of time and effort. The main landing gear assembly went on ok though lacked sway bars fabricated these from spare plastic parts, kit also lacked pitot tubes chose not to fabricate them given period Ro.63 photographs don’t clearly show where they’re located.

Painting the IMAM Ro.63 required good deal of artistic judgement particularly with respect to what mimetico pattern to spray on well as “hiding” thickly molded fuselage crew cabin framing. The crew cabin interior and canopy frames on Ro.63s likely were painted Verde Anticorrosione but chose to spray paint the crew cabin interior a Testors Flat Black and White "special mix" light gray to "blend in" with a "special mix" dark gray sprayed on canopy and crew cabin frames and cabin window facings. Period photos of Ro.63 MM.11591 show a closely packed mimetico pattern presumably Giallo Mimetico 3 base with Verte Mimetico 3 and Bruno Mimetico mottles though those of built models up on the Internet show larger ones spread farther apart, exercising artistic judgement decided to paint mine representing Ro.63 MM.11593 decals for which cut from SKY Model sheet spares a "regularized" pattern of Humbrol 63 Matt Sand +10% Testors Flat Yellow replicating Giallo Mimetico 3, Humbrol 117 Matt U.S. Light Green replicating Verde Mimetico 3, Humbrol 118 U.S. Matt Tan + 10% Testors Flat Red replicating Bruno Mimetico enamels with Humbrol 140 Matt Gull Grey replicating Grigio Mimetico undersides each color shade lightened 36%, white Distintivo di Guerra crosses painted on rudder sides and fuselage identification band, Testors Flat White Testors Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Olive Green, Red, Rubber, Rust et. al. flat enamels employed as detailing colors.

The SEM Model kit decals were well made though tad thick few problems encountered whilst applying them the entire model subsequently over-sprayed with Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss Clear Lacquer Finish thinned 50% with Klean Strip Lacquer Thinner (WAY cheaper than Model Master thinner and just as good), prefer semi-gloss finish over flat, detail “pops out” better plus aesthetically more pleasing in appearance.





Technical Data

Aircraft: Meridionali Ro.63
Manufacturer: S.A. Industrie Meccaniche & Aeronautiche Meridionali (I.M.A.M)
Type: Reconnaissance
Year: 1939
Engine: Hirth HM 508D inverted V-8 air-cooled piston engine, 190 kW (250 hp)
Wingspan: 44 ft 3 1/2 in (13.5 m)
Length: 31 ft 6 in (9.6 m)
Height: 7 ft 8 2/3 in (2.35 m)
Weight: 3,267 lb (1,482 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 126 mph (203 km/h)
Range: 560 miles (901 km)
Crew: 2-3

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February, 2019
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