Italeri 1/72 Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 III
Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) - ANR 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 III M.M.21448 Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) Gruppo Aerosiluranti “Buscaglia” 1a Squadriglia Commander Capitano Marino Marini (1911-1959):
The S.79bis (SM.79bis, SM.79-III “Serie III”, SM.79GA, SM.579) was the last Italian-production variant of the Spaverio, introduced late 1942 as a dedicated RAI torpedo bomber under fuselage Bombay doors nevertheless were retained a 1,000 Liter (260 US Gallon) fuel tank mounted in the bomb bay. Fitted with 746 kW (1,000 h.p.) Alfa Romeo 128 engines top speed was increased to 475 km/h (295 mph) facilitating speedy nighttime raids far as Gibraltar including ten (presumably) SM.79GA “long range” aircraft commanded by 1 Squadriglia Commander Capitano Marino Marini night of June 4-5, 1944 his aircraft the subject of my model build prior to the raid. Italeri kit build.

There is uncertainty regarding 1 Squadriglia Unit Fonts & Colors painted on Marini’s S.79 before the June 4-5, 1944 raid. According to Ferdinando D’Amico & Gabriele Valentini’s “Camouflage & Markings of the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana 1943-1945” (Classic Publications, Ian Allan Publishing 2005 pages 173 & 175), ANR Sparvieri sported different font styles & colors successively between December 1943-March 1944 (White/Red), April 1944-August 1944 (“Blue-Violet”). SKY & Tauro Model 1/72 scale RAI/ANR decal sets provide all combinations, Italeri Kit No.1243 S.79-III only the “Blue-Violet” variety, not particularly liking the latter I'd applied White/Red decals on my S.79bis under the assumption Marini’s aircraft possibly sported these before the June 4-5, 1944 Gibraltar Raid.

There also is uncertainty whether the Propeller Pitch Mechanism Covers of Marini’s aircraft were painted or left “Natural Aluminum” given most wartime photos of S.79bis aircraft showed them painted black or red, not particularly liking either color chose “Natural Aluminum” per the Italeri Kit No.1243 box top art – rightly or wrongly.

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 “B1-00” build Humbrol 91 MBG + 36% TFW replicating VOS2 was sprayed over topsides, TMM 1726 + 36% TFW replicating GAC1 over undersides.

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:
Italeri Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Serie III kit decals ANR Dual-Fasci for main wings (“B1-00”), SKY Models 72-003 S.79 decal sheet RSI Tri-Color Fuselage & Rudder Fin Flags, Unit Markings (“B1-00”), Alfa Romeo propeller blade brand markers (“B1-00”).

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 III
Manufacturer: SIAI-Marchetti
Type: Bomber
Year: 1943
Engine: Three Piaggio P.XI RC 40, 14-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,000 hp each
Wingspan: 69 ft 7 in (21.20 m)
Length: 51 ft 2 in (15.60 m)
Height: 15 ft 10 in (4.60 m)
Weight: 23,180 lb (10,500 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 295 mph (475 km/h)
Ceiling: 23,000 ft (7,000 m)
Range: 1,180 miles (1,900 km)
Armament: 4 machine guns; 1 20 mm canon; 1 torpedo
Crew: 6

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August, 2018
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