The Fiat BR.20 Cicogna

Italy
Italy

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The Cigogna (Stork) was well designed, and entered service just 7 months after it's first flight. Start of the design to operation took only about 1 year. The fuselage was partly skinned with light alloys, partly with fabric.
The BR.20 saw action in the Spanish Civil War, where it performed well against older bi-planes which it could outrun. The improved version,, the BR.20M, was also used against France, the USSR, Malta, North Africa and even during the Battle of Britain. In the last battle there were heavy losses inflicted by the British fighters, and the Cicogna was relegated to nocturnal bombing mission, in which it proved unsuccesfull too. Thereafter it was withdrawn from the Battle of Britain without achieving real results.

Versions:

Further pictures:

The Fiat BR.20 Cicogna in full flight
The Fiat BR.20 Cicogna in full flight

 

Technical data on the Fiat BR.20 Cicogna
Powerplant 2 × Fiat A.80 RC.41 radials, rated at 1030 hp (767.85 kW) each Role during war
  • Medium Bomber
Length 53 ft 0.5 inch Height 14 ft 1.25 inch
Empty weight 14330 lb Operational weight 23038 lb max
Wing Span 70 ft 8.8 inch Wing Aspect ratio 6.28
Wing Area 796.56 sq ft Service ceiling 23620 ft
Maximum speed 267 mph at 13125 ft Cruising speed 213 mph at 15910 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 16,504 ft in 17 min 56 sec Range 770 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 796.3 Imp gal (596.3 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 0.303 inch gun trainable forward-firing in nose turret, 500 rounds
  • 2 × 0.303 inch trainable rearward-firing in dorsal turret, 500 rounds each, or
    1 × 0.5 inch trainable rearward-firing in dorsal turret, 350 rounds
  • 1 × 0.303 inch trainable rearward-firing in ventral hatch position, 500 rounds
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 3,527 lb of disposable stores carried in a lower-fuselage weapons bay. Generally comprising of:
  • 2 × 1,764 lb bombs, or
  • 2 × 1,102 lb bombs, or
  • 4 × 551 lb bombs, or
  • 12 × 441 lb bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 5: pilot, co-pilot, navigator/bombardier/gunner, radio operator/gunner, gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 10 February 1936 Operational Service September 1936 - 1945
Manufacturer Societā Anonima Aeronautica d'Italia FIAT (Fiat) Number produced 2.393 total, 992 this version
Metric system
Length 16.17 m Height 4.3 m
Empty weight 6500 kg Operational weight 10450 kg max
Wing Span 21.56 m Wing Aspect ratio 6.28
Wing Area 74 m² Service ceiling 7199 m
Maximum speed 430 km/h at 4000 m Cruising speed 343 km/h at 4849 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 5.000 m in 17 min 56 sec Range 1239 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 3.620 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 7,7 mm gun trainable forward-firing in nose turret, 500 rounds
  • 2 × 7,7 mm trainable rearward-firing in dorsal turret, 500 rounds each, or
    1 × 12,7 mm trainable rearward-firing in dorsal turret, 350 rounds
  • 1 × 7,7 mm trainable rearward-firing in ventral hatch position, 500 rounds
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 1600 kg of disposable stores carried in a lower-fuselage weapons bay. Generally comprising of:
  • 2 × 800 kg bombs, or
  • 2 × 500 kg bombs, or
  • 4 × 250 kg bombs, or
  • 12 × 200 kg bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Fiat BR.20  Cicogna
Fiat BR.20 Cicogna First production model, see above.
Number built: 238
Fiat BR.20M Cicogna M stands for Modificato, or modified. This version was an improved version of the BR.20. It featured a strengthened center fuselage, protective armor for the crew, longer nose (2 ft 3.5 in , 0,70 m) revised tailwheel, another dorsal turret with same gun (more aerodynamic), and other aerodynamic improvements. Because of these aerodynamic improvements performance was equal to the BR.20 despite the increased weight: empty weight 15,102 lb (6.850 kg) and max take-off weight of 23,038 lb (10.450 kg)
Number built: 264
Fiat BR.20bis Cicogna In 1942 the BR.20M was revised to offer increased performance, heavier defensive armament and improved armor protection. It was powered by 2 × Fiat A.82 radials, rated at 1,250 hp (932 kW) each. Length was increased to 57 ft 3 in (17.45 m), Wingspan increased to 71 ft 8.25 in (21.85 m) with an aspect ratio 6.37 and an area of 807.29 sq ft (75.00 mē). The nose was more glazed and generated less drag. The nose turret guns were replaced by 2 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) guns, and the ventral gun with a 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) gun. The dorsal turret became power operated, and another two 0.303 in (7.7 mm) trainable rearward-firing guns in blisters on the fuselage sides in line with the wing trailing edge. Further details are: Empty weight of 16,534 lb (7.500 kg), max take-off weight of 25,353 lb (11.500 kg), max level speed of 286 mph (460 km/h) at 16,405 ft (5.000 m), cruising speed of 230 mph (370 km/h) at optimum altitude, range of 1,243 miles (2.000 km), and climb to 13,125 ft (4.000 m) in 10 minutes 10 seconds
Number built: 10
Army type 1 Heavy Bomber model 100 (Japan) BR.20 Cicogna aircraft built for and delivered to Japan.
Number built: 82

Remarks:

The BR.20bis was stopped short in its production phase, because Italian air force had already decided to concentrate on the CANT Z.1018 bomber. The BR.20 performed well in the early stages of it's life, but like more succesfull pre-war (World War 2) aircraft, further development was neglected too long. The gap was never closed again.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00