Italeri 1/72 Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 II
Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) - Aerosiluranti
by Richard Mendes

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The S.79 was the best land-based torpedo bomber of World War II. Although more modern designs appeared later on, none were as effective as a torpedo carrier as this plane.

The Savoia-Marchetti S.79 (also SM.79) Sparviero (Sparrow Hawk) was Italy’s most produced multi-engine military aircraft following WWI, 1,240 were produced including one prototype built in 55 production series by Aeronautica Macchi, Aeronautica Umbra, Officine Meccaniche Reggiane, Savoia-Marchetti from 1936 till the September 3, 1943 Armistice; S.79bis (SM.79bis, SM.79-III, SM.79GA, SM.579) variants by SIAI (Società Idrovolanti Alta Italia - Seaplane Company in Northern Italy - the original 1915 firm name) - Marchetti after the September 23, 1943 formation of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) till 1945. Four SM.79L (L = Lebanese) aircraft were built by SIAI-Marchetti in 1946 for the Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Lubnaniyya as military transports two surviving today on static display at the Gianni Caproni Museum of Aeronautics Trento (MM.24499) and Italian Air Force Museum Bracciano (MM.45508). Much has been written about the S.79 particularly the Aerosilurante (Torpedo Bombers) so the history of this famous Italian warbird will not be repeated here other than to say most were employed as level bombers during the Spanish Civil War and over Malta during the early part of WWII, the former infamously by the Corpo Truppe Volontarie (CTV), three S.79s assigned to bomb Guernica on April 26, 1937 whilst under Legion Condor command.


S.79 II Regia Aeronautica Italia (RAI) 278 Squadriglia Aerosiluranti Al-Berka, Libya c. December 21, 1941:
According to Chris Dunning's "Courage Alone" (Hikoki Publications 1998 revised & updated 2009, page 191), 278a Squadriglia was formed in September 1940 and was one of the original RAI Reparto Sperimentale Aerosilurante units. On December 10, 1941 four aircraft were damaged by British artillery in Cyrenaica, Libya then presumably were flown to the Servizia Riparazioni Aeromobili e Motori (SRAeM) in Bernina, Italy for repairs possibly while there being fully or partially repainted returning to Libya just eight days later. On December 21, 1941 Squadriglia detachments were stationed at Al-Berka then Ain el Gazala, Libya for night raids over the Gulf of Sollum off Egypt operating either as torpedo or level bombers, on April 1, 1942 the unit joined 132o Gruppo in Sicily.

This S.79 model is based on artwork rendered by Ian Homes some years ago painted in Verde Oliva Scuro 2 (VOS2) and "Nero Fumo" (NF) base colors with 1941-era yellow engine cowlings presents a major research interpretation puzzle for me, either it was factory delivered solid VOS2, Verde Mimetico 1 (VM1) squiggles over solid VOS2 presumably with Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 (GAC1) undersides and/or a partial repaint generously assuming it was one of the four S.79s repaired at SRAeM even more so considering "NF" paint had been applied for night bombing operations after returning to Libya, something more easily accomplished whilst at SRAeM than on the move between Libyan airfields.

Homes' art description says "black" fasces were painted on the main wings though black outline over white disk are shown on the undersides, I'm surmising black outline fasces were on top, undersides black on white fasces might have been a tactical recognition aid given some photos and art renderings seen on RAI night bombers and fighters employing them. Because of uncertainty whether "278-6" operated either as a torpedo or level bomber I'd left off torpedo shackles and associated kit parts though pending additional research it's quite possible they’d been retained for both bombing roles.

The original 1/72 scale Italeri Savoia-Marchetti S.79 II kit dates from 2003, the first all-new offering in this scale since the 1967-vintage supposed Serie-II Airfix kit, better tooled, infinitely more accurate than the long stalwart Airfix offering, Italeri to their great credit has since released kits of the S.79 I (2004) - Bombardiere and S.79 III (2003) - ANR Aerosiluranti versions with parts for Aerosilurante aircraft (S.79 II and S.79 III kits only). The Italeri kits have been reviewed many times since their introductions so I won't submit my own other to say very good aftermarket detail parts have been marketed for them including "correct profile" resin tailfins and rudders, unfortunately they aren’t readily available so went “out of the box” with my builds.

For this build the late 1990s "IPMS-Italy Regia Aeronautica Color Chart" based on Umberto Postiglioni and Andrea Degl' Innocenti’s "Colori e Schemi Mimetici della Regia Aeronautica" (Trento, 1994) was employed in painting given near all colors have Humbrol & Testors enamel paint equivalents. Interiors of all model Fuselages, Landing Gear Housings, Mainwing et. al. interior parts were painted straight from bottle Testors Model Master (TMM) 1726 Light Sea Gray enamel approximating a (presumably darker) GAC1 per the STORMO RAI/ANR Color Guide interior color for Savoia-Marchetti aircraft prior to assembly.

For the “278 6” Humbrol 91 Matt Black Green (MBG) + 36% Testors Flat White (TFW) was sprayed over topsides for VOS2, Humbrol 102 Matt Army Green(MAG) + 36% TFW "squiggles" sprayed over topsides for VM1, "special mix" Testors Flat Black & White over undersides, Testors Flat Yellow (TFY) over Engine Cowlings per Ian Homes' art rendering.

Testors "utility" enamels White (36% scale perspective shading), Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Olive Green, Red, Rubber, Rust et. al. flat enamels also were employed as well as Polly Scale Flat Black, White, Dirt, Mud et. al. acrylic colors for weathering.

All spray work was accomplished with Testors Aztek A320 Single & A470 Double Action airbrushes, 9304CX 0.30, 9305CX 0.40, 9306CX 0.50 mm spray nozzles. Large-area spraying was accomplished with 0.50 & 0.40 mm nozzles, mottling & tight net spraying alternatively with 0.40 & 0.30 mm. Considerable effort was involved in spray painting much of it clearing off nozzle tip paint cakes & cartridge clogs each paint having distinctive behaviors requiring different solutions to achieve smooth flow with as few “spits” possible – ever persistent issues associated with RAI mottle camouflage painting!

Decals employed include:
House of Savoy tail markings over masked white-painted Savioa rudder crosses. Italeri Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Serie II kit and SKY Models 72-003 S.79 decal sheet black outline and black over white tri-Fasci for main wings, 72-003 center engine cowling Fasci, Alfa Romeo propeller blade brand markers.

The model was over-sprayed with Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss Clear Lacquer Finish thinned 50% with Klean Strip Lacquer Thinner (WAY cheaper than Model Master thinner & just as good), prefer semi-gloss finish over flat, detail "pops out" better plus aesthetically more pleasing in appearance.

Technical Data

Aircraft: SIAI-Marchetti SM.79
Manufacturer: SIAI-Marchetti
Type: Bomber
Year: 1937
Engine: Three Alfa Romeo A.R. 126 RC 34, 9-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 750 hp each
Wingspan: 69 ft 7 in (21.20 m)
Length: 53 ft 2 in (16.20 m)
Height: 13 ft 5t in (4.10 m)
Weight: 23,180 lb (10,500 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 267 mph (430 km/h) at 13,120 ft (4,000 m)
Ceiling: 23,000 ft (7,000 m)
Range: 1,180 miles (1,900 km)
Armament: 4-5 machine guns; 2,756 lb (1,250 kg) of bombs
Crew: 6

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August, 2018
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