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     Italy's Fiat CR.40 Bi-plane

Fiat CR40

  Italy is a nation often overlooked when it comes to, well almost anything.   When there's aircraft such as the Phantasm, Mockingbird, and Firebrands rolling off assembly lines, what attention should be paid to an outdated bi-plane?     Because of it's sheer simplicity and capabilities of course.

 When Mussolini took power in Italy, it was envisioned to become a great Roman Empire.  To do that, it needed the modern day equivalent of Legions and modern equipment to arm them.    Italy struggled, upgrading weaponry across their army, navy and air force.     Their aircraft design however was somewhat lagging, and at one point, it purchased a group of sixty Devastators from Hughes Aviation.   The bi-planes were popular with the Italian pilots, their agility matching their own designs, while being more durable and packing heavier armament.      

Italy and Hollywood were always on friendly terms, sharing no animosity, and seeing an opportunity for healthy co-operation. In 1934 Mussolini requested, and was granted a contract to use the Devastator as a base for a domestically produced airplane.    I'l Duce almost shouldn't have bothered, as the end result shares only the barest of essentials.  Fiat produced the fighter, dubbed the Cr.40.       In some ways it was an improvement over the Devastator, however in some ways fell flat on it's face.

  The foremost consideration Fiat made was agility.   A favorite of Italian pilots, the intent was to beat the already agile Devastator.    At this it succeeded, however after that was achieved, many think the designers took a vacation.     The engine stuck in was of decent horsepower, but an older design, unsuited to pushing to the max, while sluggish to accelerate.      Armament, while adequate against the many older designs, and lightly armed European designs, was light by North American standards, and against newer aircraft.        Armor protection was higher than many Italian designs, giving it the ability to stand with fighters while it's light armament chipped away at them.  
 
The aircraft was made smaller, a ton and a quarter less than it's Devastator parent.   The designers kept the bi-plane style, however moved the upper wing ahead of the cockpit.   This, combined with upgraded rudders, has given the Fiat unprecedented agility.   It can match the GM Tempest, and can out-turn and out-maneuver almost every modern fighter in existance.

The downside being that it can be out-run by almost any fighter produced after 1935.   While a servicable, company produced engine provided enough horsepower to attain 240MPH flight, it simply pegs out there and cannot pull the fighter any faster.  it is also somewhat slow on the acceleration, many pilots simply flying the Fiat at 200MPH and making do with somewhat larger turn radius , rather than risk another plane getting behind them and being powerless to run.

It's armament consists or paired Breda-SAFAT 12.7MM machine guns, whcih although reliable, lack the muzzle velocity of American guns.  Only having two also limits it's firepower, although it's agility can often keep it out of danger, it also must stay in the fight longer to do damage.   Many Italian pilots load up with magnesium rounds, intending to exploit the four hardpoints, which they often load with AP rockets.      

The Fiat has proven so popular, that there are three variants, one, a slightly less agile, but better armed fighter version, which trades slight structural integraty to add a single 12.7MM Breda to the aircraft's nose, and added onto it's light trailing armor.        

The second is a ground attack version, trading agility for firepower, while being so loaded down with add-on's that it's top speed is only 202 MPH.   It adds a pair of .7.7MM's to the nose, while adding four hardpoints so it can carry a pair of 110kg (220LB) bombs under it's wings.

The Fiat is still under production, and the latest variant has installed a new engine, which though the same size, and same horsepower, is easily capable of pushing itself up to three hundred miles per hour for short periods, putting it alongside newer aircraft in capability.      

Even with those however, the new Macchi fighters are sure to cause the Fiat's cancellation sometime in the near future, as newer planes begin outflying the Fiat in addition to out-running and out-gunning them.

Users:

The Fiat Cr.40 has proved extremely popular with Italian pilots, and sees service across the Italian Empire.     Some also see service in the Spanish conflict, while a few others see service across Eastern Europe and the Middle East, sold to Italian allies, and to cement business agreements.        Rugged and easily repairable, they are often used with great affect in these areas, where many opponents are Great War surplus and lack armor of any sort.



Aircraft Statistics:

Name: Cr-40 Falco (Falcon)
Manufacturer: Fiat, Italy.
Class: Fighter-Fighter/ground-attack  Pusher.
Engine: Fiat.

Max Speed: 248MPH
Max Acceleration: 32.8FP/s
Max Decelleration: 69.3FPS.
Service Ceiling: 8,500 feet.
Max Range:  412 miles.

Crew: 1 Pilot

Weapons:  2 Breda-SAFAT 12.7X81MM machine guns.  Optionally, three on variant A, two additional 7.7MM Breda-SAFATs in the ground-attack version.

Game Statistics:

Base Target Number:  7
Hardpoints:   4 (Version B, 8)
Speed: 3    (Version B 2)
Acceleration: 1
Deceleration:  2
G-load:   5   (Version B and C 4)

Armor points:
Nose:  40
Leading Starboard:  40
Trailing Starboard:  20   (version B 30) (version C 40)
Leading Port:   40
Trailing Port:   20  (version B 30)  (version C 40)
Tail:  40

Weapons:  2X.50 calibers in gun positions 6 and 7.    4 hardpoints.
 Version B: 2X.30's in GP2-3 and 2X.50 in GP6-7.   8 hardpoints.
  Version C:  3X.50's in GP 2-6-7.   4 hardpoints.

Special Characteristics:
 Inferior Engine.    
 Light Stick.
 G-effeciant Cockpit.
VERSION D:  Replaces the inferior engine with a superior one.

Price:  
Main version $11,903
Ground Attack: $11,372
Version C:  $11,638
Version D:  $13,630

 About the model:     A Hughes Devastator with the wings moved forward.   Not big, maybe not worth the change ;-)   but it looked more I-talian to me.