The Fiat CR.42 Falco

Italy
Italy

side view front view under view

The Falco was the last of its kind (bi-plane fighter) to be designed, built and flown operationaly. Some countries and companies still believed firmly in the biplane concept, and were awakened rather rudely by much more powerfull and nimble enemy aircraft. The CR.42 Falco was such a victim. The fact that the CR.42 was even considered to be a match in upcoming battles was the fact that many pilots were convinced that the agile biplane had some operational advantages over even the most maneuverable of monoplane fighters. But even in the Italian airforce there were contradictions,since the Fiat G.50 Freccia monowing had entered service 2 months before the CR.42 Falco

Versions:

Further pictures:

The Fiat CR.42 Falco
The Fiat CR.42 Falco

 

Technical data on the Fiat CR.42AS Falco
Powerplant 1 × Fiat A.74 R1C.38 radial, rated at 840 hp (626.21 kW) Role during war
  • Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Night-Fighter
Length 27 ft 1.6 inch Height 11 ft 9.33 inch
Empty weight 3763 lb Operational weight 5070 lb typical,
5302 lb max
Wing Span 31 ft 9.88 inch Wing Aspect ratio Bi-plane
Wing Area 241.11 sq ft Service ceiling 33300 ft
Maximum speed 267 mph at 17485 ft Cruising speed 235 mph at 19685 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 13,125 ft in 5 min 26 sec Range 448 miles typical,
631 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.50 inch SAFAT gun fixed forward-firing in nose, 400 rounds
  • 2 × 0.50 inch fixed rearward-firing in blisters under lower wing, 1 gun each side
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 441 lb carried on two underwing hardpoints, each carrying a 220 lb bomb Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1 Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 23 May 1938 Operational Service April 1939 - 1945
Manufacturer SocietÓ Anonima Aeronautica d'Italia FIAT (Fiat) Number produced 1.781 total, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 8.27 m Height 3.59 m
Empty weight 1707 kg Operational weight 2300 kg typical,
2405 kg max
Wing Span 9.7 m Wing Aspect ratio 1
Wing Area 22.4 m² Service ceiling 10150 m
Maximum speed 430 km/h at 5329 m Cruising speed 378 km/h at 6000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 6.000 m in 5 min 26 sec Range 721 km typical,
1015 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns
  • 2 × 12,7 mm SAFAT gun fixed forward-firing in nose, 400 rounds
  • 2 × 12,7 mm fixed rearward-firing in blisters under lower wing, 1 gun each side
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 200 kg carried on two underwing hardpoints, each carrying a 100 kg bomb Torpedoes/rockets -

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

Different versions of the Fiat CR.42  Falco
Fiat CR.42 Falco First production model. Powered by 1 × Fiat A.74 R1C.38 radial, rated at 840 hp (626 kW) at 12,465 ft (3.800 m) and driving a three-blade propeller of the constant-speed type. It was armed with 1 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) and 1 × 0.303 in (7,7 mm) guns, fitted on the upper nose.
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat CR.42bis Falco Identical to the CR.42, but armed with 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) guns, fitted on the upper nose.
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat CR.42ter Falco Identical to the CR.42, but armed with 2 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) guns, fitted on the upper nose, and 2 × 0.50 inch (12.7 mm) guns in blister fairings under the leading edges of the lower wings
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat CR.42AS Falco Based on the CR.42CB, fitted with tropical dust/sand filters."AS" stands for "Africa Settentioniale" (North Africa)
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat CR.42CB Falco Converted from the CR.42, fitted with 2 underwing racks for 2 × 220 lb (100 kg) or 2 × 110 lb (50 kg). "CB" stands for "Caccia Bombardiere" (fighter-bomber)
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat CR.42CN Falco "CN" stands for "Caccia Notturna" (night-fighter). It was fitted with exhaust flame dampers, radio, and small underwing searchlights.
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat CR.42LW Falco Identical to the CR.42AS Falco, built for the Luftwaffe (LW)
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total
Fiat J 11 Swedish designation for the CR.42 Falco.
Number built: unknown, 1.781 total

Remarks:

Despite being totally obsolete, the fighter still managed to interrest foreign countries. Export numbers of the CR.42 Falco are: Belgium 24, Hungary 68, and Sweden 72 (locally known as J 11's). It saw like other Italian planes also action during the Battle of Britain, but heavy losses occurred forcing the Italians to withdraw their fighters. It was further used extensively during the Greek and Aegean campaings, and in the North African Theatre. In both areas it suffered losses from the British. Actually, during the beginnings of the Desert War in North Africa did the CR.42 perform well, until modern aircraft were flown in for the RAF.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

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