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

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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 I RAI “Uomo Elettrico” 193a Squadriglia, 87o Gruppo Bombardiere Terrestre, 30o Stormo Sciacca, Sicily 1941:
According to Dunning's "Courage Alone" (page 114), from June 1940 to June 1943 87 Gruppo consisted of 192a and 193a Squadriglia flying S.79, S.82 and CANT Z.1007bis bombers - the sole RAI group conducting day bombing raids over Malta between January and March 1941. During this critical period of the Maltese bombing campaign 193a Squadriglia famously sported "Electric Man" art painted on both sides of S.79 fuselage centers, P. Endsleigh Castle’s evocative centerfold art published in PROFILE Publications No.89 (Giorgio Apostolo 1966) becoming the bases of my Italeri kit build. Impossible to model in 1966 given limited published RAI research information, no aftermarket decals never mind 1/72 Scale Airfix or 1/50 Artiplast kits, only within the last few years has it become possible for me to model this notable airplane thanks to an abundance of research information, hobby paints & supplies, aftermarket decals well as the excellent Italeri S.79 Serie-II model kit.

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 “193 4” build Humbrol 63 Matt Sand (MS) + 10% TFY + 36% overall TFW replicating GM3 was sprayed over topsides, Humbrol 140 Matt Gull Grey (MGG) + 36% TFW replicating GM over undersides. Varying size & shape mottles of Humbrol 102 MAG + 36% TFW replicating VM1 were sprayed over topsides based on P. Endsleigh Castle’s art something taking far more time & effort to accomplish than had expected.

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:
Airfix Savoia-Marchetti S.79 kit black over white Tri-Fasci for main wings (“193 4”), House of Savoy tail markings over masked white-painted Savioa rudder crosses (“193 4” & “278 6”).

Italeri Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Serie II kit & SKY Models 72-003 S.79 decal sheet black outline & black over white Tri-Fasci for main wings (“278 6”), 72-003 Center Engine Cowling Fasci (“278 6”), 72-003 decal sheet “Electric Man” emblem, aircraft unit, type & M.M. number sets, Italeri S.79 kit Center Engine Cowling Fasci (“193 4”), Alfa Romeo propeller blade brand markers (“193 4” & “278 6”).

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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