Oxford AC037 Italian Fiat G.55 Centauro Fighter - Capt. Giovanni Bonet, Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, Venaria Reale, Italy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Neutrals never dominate events. They always sink. Blood alone moves the wheels of history."
- Italian Dictator, Benito Mussolini
The Fiat G-55 Centauro, arguably the best Italian production fighter of the Second World War, was designed around requirements issued by the Direzione Generale Costruzioni de Ministero in 1941, which intended to provide the Regia Aeronautica with a first line fighter equal to any being produced by the Allies.
The Italian aircraft industry had long been committed to building highly maneuverable and structurally sturdy aircraft which routinely turned out to be under powered and ineffectively armed. The Centauro would be a departure from these shortcomings.
In June of 1943, the G-55 began leaving the assembly line. It was powered by a Fiat R.A. 1050 R.C. Tifone, a license built 1,400hp Daimler-Benz DB 605A engine, and armed with one engine-mounted and two wing-mounted 20mm Mauser MG 151 cannons and two fuselage mounted Breda Safat 12.7mm machine guns.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of an Italian Fiat G.55 Centauro Fighter that was piloted by Capt. Giovanni Bonet of the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, then deployed to Venaria Reale, Italy, during 1944. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 6.5 inches
Length: 4.75 inches
Release Date: August 2013
Historical Account: "The Other Rising Sun" - At the beginning of the twentieth century, Italy was at the forefront of aerial warfare. During the colonization of Libya in 1911, it made the first reconnaissance flight in history on October 23rd, and the first ever bombing raid on November 1st.
During World War I the Italian Corpo Aeronautico Militare, then still part of the army, operated a mix of French fighters and locally-built bombers, notably the gigantic Caproni aircraft. The Regia Marina (the navy) had its own air arm, operating locally-built flying boats.
The Italian air force became an independent service - the Regia Aeronautica - on March 28th, 1923. The Fascist regime of Mussolini turned it into an impressive propaganda machine, with its aircraft, featuring red-and-buff "rising sun" livery on the wings, making numerous record-breaking flights. It reached its zenith when two fleets of flying boats, led by General Italo Balbo, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1931 and 1933 respectively. During the latter half of the 1930s, the Regia Aeronautica participated in the Spanish Civil War, as well as the invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).
When World War II began in 1939, Italy had the smallest air force among the three major Axis powers. With a paper strength of 3,296 machines, only 2,000 were fit for operations, of which just 166 were modern fighters, the Macchi MC.200 and Fiat G.50, although still slower than their potential Allied opponents. While numerically still a force to be reckoned with, it was hampered by an inadequate local aircraft industry; technical assistance by its German ally did little to improve the situation.
The last mission of the Italian Regia Aeronautica was the defense of USAF bombing on Frascati - Rome in September 8th 1943. The Regia Aeronautica officially ceased to exist when Italy became a republic on June 2nd, 1946, succeeded by the Aeronautica Militare.