Walkaround - Aerfer Sagittario II
Vigna di Valle Air Force Museum
by Fabrizio D’Isanto

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On December 4, 1956, for the first time, an aircraft designed and built in Italy exceeded supersonic speed in a dive. The aircraft was the Sagittario II, a light fighter designed by Sergio Stefanutti in the first half of the 1950s, aimed at equipping the AMI. This did not happen, as the Fiat G.91 was selected at the competition held by NATO in 1953 for the production of a tactical support fighter. As a result the Sagittario remained at the prototype stage. Stefanutti had started thinking about this project in earnest in 1949, and in spite of numerous financial problems had built an initial propeller-driven experimental aircraft (the 1952 Freccia). This was designed to study the behaviour of the wing, then a jet-powered prototype (Sagittario I), which flew in January 5, 1953. The Sagittario II flew in 1956, and the Ariete and Leone prototypes derived from it.

The Sagittario II was a light-fighter prototype, the first development of what was later to become the Ariete II and Leone, entries for a light attack aircraft requirement to be produced by NATO, and funded primarily by the USA. Only the Sagittario II and the Ariete II left the drawing boards with the Sagittario II becoming the first Italian aircraft to break the sound barrier.

This series of aircraft were designed by Ing. Sergio Stefanutti, a gifted engineer, known for his briliant light-weight fighters of WWII such as the SS.4 and the SAI 207, which thanks to careful aerodynamic design and refinement, provided exceptional performance despite the low engine power availble.

Powered by a Rolls Royce Derwent providing 1,650 kg of thrust and placed in the front of the aircraft, the plane reached 1,050 km/h. The plane was manufactured by AERFER of Pomigliano D'Arco in Naples. AERFER being the combined entities of Industrie Meccaniche Aeronautiche (AER) Meridionale (aerospace) IMAM and Officine Ferroviarie (FER) Meridionali (railway construction).

Technical Data

Aircraft: Aerfer Sagittario II
Manufacturer: Industrie Meccaniche Aeronautiche Meridionale & Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali
Type: Fighter
Year: 1956
Engine: One Rolls-Royce Derwent 9 turbojet, 3,640 lb (1,650 kg) thrust
Wingspan: 24 ft 7 in (7.5 m)
Length: 31 ft 2 in (9.50 m)
Height: 6 ft 8 in (2.02 m)
Weight: 7,275 lb (3,300 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 625 mph (1,006 km/h)
Ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,000 m)
Range: ---
Armament: 2 x 30 mm canons; 1,100 lb (500 kg) of bombs
Crew: 1

December, 2017
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