Profile Publications No. 89 The Savoia Marchetti S.M.79

Post-war Italian Air Force S.M .79. (Photo: via C.R. Seeley) The new version, the S.M.79-III (sometimes re­ferred to as the S.579), was produced in relatively small numbers in northern Italy, and was in effect a generally cleaned-up modernisation of the familiar Sparviero. The ventral gondola was removed, im­proved airscrews with lengthened hub cylinders were fitted, the exhaust manifold pipes were extended, new and improved radio was installed, and the forward- firing machine gun was replaced by a 20-mm. cannon. Equipping a Gruppo Aerosiluranti led by Captain Faggioni, these S.M.79-lIIs carried out widespread attacks against Allied shipping in the Mediterranean. Captain Faggioni met his death, however, in a shipping strike at Nettuno, after which the group was led by Major Marini. Perhaps this officer's most outstanding attack was the night raid on Gibraltar on 4th— 5th June 1944. The Sparviero had, in its time, been employed in a number of roles. It was used for strategic recon­naissance and, towards the end of the infighting North Africa, for close support duties but un­doubtedly one of its most bizarre tasks was that of emulating a radio-guided bomb! After the British capital ships had turned back after escorting the “Pedestal” convoy towards Malta, they hove to off the Algerian coast and at once became the target for this singular S.M.79. Devised by Generale Ferdinando Raffaelli, this aircraft was filled with explosive and piloted oft' the ground by a pilot who subsequently baled out as soon as the Sparviero had assumed its pre-determined course. An attendant aircraft, a Cant Z. 1007-11, then assumed control and guided it towards the British fleet by radio. Although a fault developed in the radio, which caused the S.M.79 to crash on the slopes of Mount Klenchela on the Algerian mainland, Generale Raffaelli was encouraged to develop a cheap, expendable guided flying bomb, a project that resulted in the manu­facture of the A.R., a simple wooden monoplane powered by a 1,000-h.p. Fiat A.80 radial, built by Aeronautica Ambrosini and flight-tested in June 1943. After the end of the war in Europe, all the remaining S.M.79s were transferred to the transport role, being taken on by the Corrieri Aerei Militari, pending the resumption of regular commercial services. Thereafter a few survivors were employed for communications, PRINTp r?n !"rn NCi Lf N,D,© Proflle Publications Ltd., P Printed by H,lls &Lacy Ltd., London and Wntford training and target drone duties until 1952. Three S.M.79s were sold to the Lebanon in 1950 and, registered L-l/l, L-112 and L-II3, were instill regular use by the Lebanese Air Force as transports in 1959. A total of 1,330 Sparvieri was built between 1934 and 1944, perhaps small by comparison with Allied production figures, yet these aircraft nevertheless represented almost twenty percent of the total Italian production effort of this period. It won unstinted praise from its crews for its excellent handling qualities and—perhaps of more significance —achieved undenied respect from its adversaries. A©G. postolo, 1966. SPECIFIC A T ION (Data from Technical Manual C.A .289 of theM inistero dell’A nero au tica, issued 1940, applicable to production series 15 aircraft in the serial blocks M M 22546-M M 22565, and M M 23838-M M 23877.) Powerplant: Three Alfa Romeo 126 R C 34, double row, nine-cylinder engines rated at 750 h.p. at 2,300 r.p 11,000 ft. Three-blade constant speed Savoia M archetti propellers. Dimensions: Wing span 69 ft. 6 in .length 53 ft. I fin .height 13 ft. 5 j in .wing area 656-6 sq. ft. Weights: Em p ty, 15,310 lb .loaded, 23,643 lb .normal useful load, 8,333 lb. Wing loading, 4-29 Ib./sq. ft .power loading, 9-85 k g ./h.p .specific pow er, 36-5. Performance: Max. speed at: Cruising speed at: Climb to :Sea level 3.280 ft. 6.560 ft. 9.840 ft. 13.120 ft. 16.400 ft. 19.680 ft. 9.840 ft. 13.120 ft. 16.400 ft. 19.680 ft. 3.280 ft. 6.560 ft. 9.840 ft. 13.120 ft. 16.400 ft. 18,045 ft. 223 m.p.h. 227 m.p.h. 238 m.p.h. 251 m.p.h. 267 m.p.h. 261 m.p.h. 252 m.p.h. 227 m.p.h. 230 m.p.h. 231 m.p .h. 232 m.p .h. 3 min. 8 5 min. 589 min. 1513 min. 1519 min. 4524 min. 21 at 2,060 at 2,100 at 2,170 at 2,260 at 2,395 at 2,320 at 2,240 at 2,070 at 2,070 at 2,070 at 2,070 sec. sec. sec. sec. sec. sec. r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .r.p.m .Service ceiling, 21,325 ft .maximum range at 16,400 ft., and 211 m.p.h .,2,050 miles stalling speed, 80 m.p.h .take-off run ,897 ft. landing run ,with brakes, 1,148 ft. landing run ,without brakes, 1,640 ft.
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