Italeri 1/48 Macchi C.200 Serie 1a
Saetta (Lightning)
by Jean Barby

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This aeroplane was undoubtedly the best fighter Italy had ready at the beginning of the war. The Macchi MC.200 was the first combat aeroplane designed by Mario Castoldi, who had built a series of important racing aircraft. Until 1941, when the MC.202 appeared, the MC.200 was the main front-line Italian fighter. It was used on all fronts and proved to be agile and sturdy, and although it was armed with two machine guns, the 0.5 caliber guns provided greater hitting power and a longer trajectory than contemproary 0.303 guns found on British aircraft. Few modifications were carried out during the course of its production, and a total of 1,151 planes were built between June 1939 and July 1942.

Mario Castoldi began the project in 1937, and his experience in building seaplane racers proved invaluable (he designed the Macchi M.39, which won the Schneider Trophy in 1926, and his most recent plane, the MC.72, set a world speed record for its class in 1934 which still holds today). His MC.200 design combined the massive nose of the radial engine with a small slender fuselage, and the result was an aeroplane that was extremely advanced aerodynamically. The aeroplane was all-metal, and the under-carriage was retractable. The first models had a closed cockpit, while later ones had an open cockpit with a windshield and rear fairing. Power was provided by an 870 hp Fiat A.74 RC 38 14-cylinder radial engine, which drove a three-blade metal propeller with variable pitch. Standard armament at the time consisted of two 12.7 mm machine guns behind the engine cowling and synchronized to fire through the propeller disc.

The prototype took to the air on December 24, 1937, but it took some time to resolve all the problems (including initial stability difficulties). It was accepted by the authorities in 1938 and went into large-scale production. The first aeroplanes started coming off the assembly line in the summer of 1939, and when Italy entered the war, there were 144 aircraft in service with fighter units. The Macchi MC.200 reached full operational efficiency only late in 1940. The profile of the wing was changed for aerodynamic reasons, and the sliding canopy was removed from the cockpit so that the pilot could bail out more easily. The aeroplane was first used in large-scale operations on the Greece-Albania front, where the aeroplane was in direct competition with the British Hurricane, in which it was superior to. The MC.200 later saw duty in Africa and Russia, and in these operations proved to be sturdy and reliable.

When the newer MC.202s appeared, the MC.200 was gradually reassigned to other duties. It saw service in attack, escort, and, in Italy, interceptor missions. In September 1943, most of the 52 survivors went south to join the Allies, while a few went north. They were used as trainers and remained in service until 1947.


This build appeared in Air Modeller Magazine. This is Macchi C.200 Serie 1a, Red 2, 372a Sq., 153o Gruppo, 54o Stormo June 10, 1940 Vergiate, Italy. This unit contained some Spanish Civil War veterans but their planes were technically not ready at the beginning of hostilities, moving later to Bari in November for operations against Greece. The kit I used is the Italeri 1/48 C.200 Serie 2a although you should use the Special Hobby 1/48 C.200 Serie 1a. The Italeri 1/48 C.200 is a good kit, if you can find one. The colors I used are Giallo Mimetico 4 (Gunze Middlestone), Verde Mimetico 2 (Gunze H-302) and Bruno Mimetico from Aeromaster. I used oil paints and chalk powder for weathering and all insignias are applied by hand/masked. The Fiat A.74 is from Vector.

Technical Data

Aircraft: Macchi MC.200
Manufacturer: Aeronautica Macchi S.p.A.
Type: Fighter
Year: 1939
Engine: Fiat A.74 RC 38, 14-cyclinder radial, air-cooled, 870hp
Wingspan: 34 ft 8 1/2 in (10.57m)
Length: 26 ft 11 in (8.19 m)
Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)
Weight: 4,874 lb (2,208 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 319 mph (512 km/h) at 16,400ft (5,000 m)
Ceiling: 28,700 ft (8,750 m)
Range: 540 miles (870 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7 mm SAFATs (0.5 in)
Crew: 1

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