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Fiat G.56

Fiat G.56

Fiat G.56

The Fiat G.56 was a fighter aircraft that combined the fuselage of the successful G.55 Centauro with a 1,750hp Daimbler Benz DB 603A to produce the fastest Italian fighter aircraft of the Second World War. The 275hp increase in power lifted the aircraft's top speed up to 426mph from the 391mph of the G.55. A single prototype was built, making its maiden flight in German occupied northern Italy during 1944. There was always a limited supply of the DB 603 engine, and the available production was all earmarked for German designs, so the G.56 never entered production.


1899-1911

The Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (aka FIAT), was born on July 11, 1899. Giovanni Agnelli was on the Board of Directors, but quickly distinguished himself as the Company’s innovator.So, he became Managing Director of Fiat in 1902.

In 1900, the first Fiat factory opened in corso Dante, in Turin, with a workforce of 150 people. It manufactured 24 cars during the first year, including the 3 ½ CV. When Italy hosted the first Car Tour of the country, nine Fiats crossed the finish line. That’s when the company had entered the world of racing.

In 1908, Fiat opened the Fiat Automobile Company in the US. At that time, a Fiat was a luxury item. Towards the end of Fiat’s early production period, the company underwent a few changes. The manufacturer began fitting its cars with electrical accumulators. Also, it patented the cardan transmission.

1912 to 1925

Under the new leadership of Giacomo Malle Trucco, construction of the Lingotto factory began. The works started in 1916 and they ended six years later. Immediately, the plant became the symbol of the automotive industry in Italy. At its time, it was also the largest factory in Europe, with an assembly line of five floors. During WWI, the company started supplying the Allied Forces with weapons, aircraft, and military vehicles.

After WWI, the company entered new sectors, like electricity, public transportation lines, and railway. By 1923, the Italian manufacturer was growing and developing. That’s when Giovanni Agnelli became its CEO. Several new car models were released, including the four-seat 509.

The company wanted to create industrial mass production in order to decrease the cost of their cars. As the company grew worldwide, Fiat also grew internally. They were quick to recognize their employees’ needs and established a health care plan, sports clubs, and specialized schools.

1926-1938

When Mussolini’s took the power, the history o Fiat changed. Fiat had to abandon many of its plans, especially the international expansion. In fact, the Italian dictator asked the manufacturer to focus on the local market. That’s when the company launched its first 500, aka the Topolino. Plus, the Mirafiori plant opened.


Fiat G.56 - History

Italy left the field of combat in September of 1943. At that time, there were Fiat G.55's in service on the front lines, although the number was but a few.

In September of 1943, was there any fighter in service of any nation that was superior to the G.55 in a dogfight?

Italy left the field of combat in September of 1943. At that time, there were Fiat G.55's in service on the front lines, although the number was but a few.

In September of 1943, was there any fighter in service of any nation that was superior to the G.55 in a dogfight?

Well, we could start with the Zero and the Oscar, continue with the Yak 9 and La.5, go on to the Spitfire Mk.5 or Mk.9, and add the Fw.190.

It does rather depend what you mean by a "dogfight", but this normally refers to a close-quarters attempt to outturn the opponent. I know of no reason to suppose that the G.55, nice aircraft though it was, was superior to these contemporaries in such close-quarters manoeuvring combat. Indeed, it would be in trouble trying to classically "dogfight" earlier Italian types such as the MC 200 and CR 42. If you extend the battle arena outside those parameters, to include high-energy tactics, then the Japanese and Russian types drop out as does the Mk.V Spit, but the P-51B, P-47 and Bf 109G would at least equal if not exceed the overall performance of the Fiat.

Such matters do rather tend to be subjective rather than objective, but if you rank contemporaries using parameters such as wing loading (low weight divided by wing area, low = good in turns) and power loading (power over weight, high = good in accelerations/climbs), max. speed (including variation with altitude) and climb rates, you can go some way towards a more objective judgement. If you can find a convincingly unbiased set of performance data for all types.

IMHO, the G.55 was a good fighter for its time, but not exceptional.

In December 1942 a technical commission of the Regia Aeronautica was invited by Luftwaffe to test some German aircrafts in Rechlin. The visit was part of a joint plan for the standardization of the Axis aircraft production. At the same time some Luftwaffe officers visited Guidonia where they were particularly interested in the performances promised by the Serie 5's. On December 9th, these impressions were discussed in a Luftwaffe staff meeting and raised the interest of Goering itself.

In February 1943 a German test commission was sent in Italy to evaluate the new Italian fighters. The commission was led by Oberst Petersen and was formed by Luftwaffe officers and pilots and by technical personnel, among them, the Flugbaumeister Malz. The Germans carried with them also several aircrafts included a Fw190A and a Me109G for direct comparison tests in simulated dogfights.

The tests began on February 20th. The German commission, not without a certain surprise, was very impressed by the Italian aircraft, the G55 in particular. In general, all the Serie 5's were very good at low altitudes, but the G55 was more than competitive with its German opponents also in terms of speed and climb rate at high altitudes while still maintaining superior handling characteristics. The definitive evaluation by the German commission was "excellent" for the G55, "good" for the Re2005 and "average" for the MC205. Oberst Petersen defined the G55 "the best fighter in the Axis" and immediately telegraphed his impressions to Goering. After listening to the recommendations of Petersen, Milch and Galland, a meeting held by Goering on February 22nd voted to produce the G55 in Germany.

The interest of the Germans, apart from the good test results, derived also from the developmental possibilities they was able to see in the G55 and in the Re2005. For the Re2005, the German interest resulted in the provision of an original DB605 with the new WM injection. This engine and a VDM propeller were installed on the MM495 prototype that was acquired by Luftwaffe and tested in Rechlin. The aircraft reached 700 km/h during a test with a German pilot, but the airframe was not judged sufficiently strong for these performances.

The G55 was bigger and heavier and was considered a very good candidate for the new DB603 engine. Other visits were organized in Germany during March and May 1943 in Rechlin and Berlin. The G55 was again tested at Rechlin at the presence of Milch. Gabrielli and other FIAT personalities were invited to visit German factories to discuss the evolution of the aircraft. The specifications of the German G55/II included the DB603 engine, five 20 mm guns and a pressurized cockpit. The suggestion of weapons in the wings, limited to one 20 mm gun for each wing, originated the final configuration of the Serie I, while the 603 engine was succesfully installed in the G56 prototypes.

As a concrete results of the German interest in the G55, the Luftwaffe acquired three complete G55 Sottoserie 0 airframes (MM91064-65-66) for evaluations and experiments giving in change three DB603 engines and original machinery for the setup of other production lines of the DB605/RA1050 RC58 I. Two of the Luftwaffe G55's remained in Turin, at the Aeritalia plants, where they were used by German and Italian engineers to study the planned modifications and the possible optimizations to the production process. Later these two were converted to Serie I and delivered to the ANR. The third one was transferred to Rechlin for tests and experiments in Germany. The DB603 engines were used to build the G56 prototypes.

The interest in the G55 program was still high after the Armistice: in October 1943 Kurt Tank, who previously personally tested a G55 in Rechlin, was in Turin to discuss about the G55 production. However, war events and the not yet optimized production process were the reasons for which the G55 program was eventually abandoned by the Luftwaffe. Early produced G55's required about 15000 manhours while there were estimations to reduce the effort to about 9000 manhours, the German factories were able to assemble a Bf109 in only 5000 manhours.

Pls quote your sources. I doubt you were one of the staff that tested the G.55 :) , so for all our interest, please quote your source(s)


History

The G.55 was designed by Giuseppe Gabrielli. The first - still unarmed - prototype of this aerodynamically improved model took off on its maiden flight on April 30, 1942 only the third and last had a cannon and four MG on board. Field testing began in March 1943, but by then the Italian Ministry of Aviation had already decided on series production.

However, this ended in September 1943 after 16 G.55 / 0 and 15 G.55 / 1 for the Regia Aeronautica , all machines produced after that went to the Fascist-Italian air forces of the Republic of Salò . By the end of the war, 274 Centauros had been produced, and 37 more were about to be completed. Thanks to its robust structure, excellent visibility, speed and good maneuverability, the pattern was very popular with pilots. In the spring of 1944 two prototypes were equipped with the German DB-603A engine after some changes to the nose section. This G.56 mentioned planes were, as it was found in tests in March 1944, equal to the best German and Allied aircraft that time, if not superior.

Due to the acute shortage of DB-603 engines, series production did not take place, however, one of the prototypes survived the war and was then used by Fiat as a test machine. The company also used leftover parts from the war production of the G.55 to build the G.55A , whose prototype first flew on September 5, 1946. This model differed from the G.55 only in the armament and the flight instruments. Fiat built 19 G.55A for Aeronautica Militare Italiana , while Argentina received 30 copies. The two-seat school version G.55B was built ten times for Italy and 15 times for Argentina the prototype was flown for the first time on February 12, 1946.


Fiat G.55

The Fiat G.55 Centauro (Italian: "Centaur") was a single-engine single-seat World War II fighter aircraft used by the Regia Aeronautica and the A.N.R. (Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana) in 1943-1945. It was designed and built in Turin by Fiat. The Fiat G.55 was probably the best type produced in Italy during World War II, (a subjective claim also frequently made for the Macchi C.205 Veltro) but it did not enter production until 1943.

During its short operational service, mostly under the Repubblica Sociale Italiana insignia, after the 8 September 1943 armistice, this powerful, robust and fast aircraft proved itself to be an excellent interceptor at high altitude. In 1944, over Northern Italy, the Centauro clashed with British Supermarine Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning, proving to be no easy adversary. Italian fighter pilots liked their Centauro but by the time the war ended, fewer than 300 had been built. (This is in comparison with, for example, the 34,000 Bf 109s built by the Germans.)

By 1939, all the main Italian aircraft factories had begun designing a new series of fighter, with inline engines as opposed to the radial engines that powered the Italian fighters in early World War II. This process brought to the first generation of Italian fighters equipped with the Italian-built copy of the Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine, the so-called Serie 1/2, whose most prominent representative was the Macchi C.202 Folgore. However, the process didn't stop, and already in 1941, designers shifted their attention on the new Daimler-Benz DB 605. Fiat designer Giuseppe Gabrielli, while experimenting a new version of his Fiat G.50 fighter, equipped with the DB 601, started a new design that was to be powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 605.

The first G.55 prototype flew on 30 April 1942,[5] piloted by commander Valentino Cus, immediately showing its good performance and flight characteristics. It was armed with one 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, installed in the hub with 200 rounds, and four 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns, two in the upper engine cowling and two in the lower part, with 300 rpg, in "Sottoserie O" airframes. This layout soon proved to be troublesome, both for rearming and for the servicing of the lower cowling mounted machine guns: for this reason, the two lower machine guns were removed, and replaced with a 20 mm MG 151/20 in each wing, in the later production series, the Serie 1.

The prototype flew to Guidonia, where it was put into trials against the other fighters of the so-called Serie 5 Macchi C.205V Veltro and the formidable Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario, all of them built around the powerful Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine. The trials showed that the Centauro was the 2nd best performer overall, and it won the tender set by the Regia Aeronautica. The C.205V was good at low and medium altitudes, fast and with good diving characteristics but its performance dropped considerably over 8,000 m (26,250 ft), particularly in handling. The Re.2005 was the fastest at high altitudes and best in dogfights, but suffered from a vibration which turned out to be a balance problem, this was corrected, but was still the most time consuming and technically advanced of the three to produce. The G.55 was chosen for mass production. The G.55 prototype reached 620 km/h (390 mph) full loaded without WEP (war emergency power), at 7,000 m (22,970 ft), a little less than expected, but had a strong airframe and was the best one regarding handling and stability at every altitude. The only negative assessment noted by G.55 pilots was the pronounced left-hand yawing at takeoff. This was partially remedied by a slight offset positioning of the vertical stabilizer to counteract engine torque.

A Fiat G.55 with ANR livery exhibited at the Museo storico dell'Aeronautica Militare di Vigna di Valle, on Bracciano lake, in Lazio region.

By early 1943, increased Allied bombing raids over Italy had showed that there was no suitable high-altitude fighter to deal with them effectively. The Macchi C.202's performance decreased above 8,000 m (26,250 ft), the typical altitude of the bombers and the MC.202's armament of two 12.7 mm (.5 in) machine guns was hardly adequate to bring down large bombers. Of the Serie 5 fighters, the Centauro showed the best high-altitude performance, due to its large wing surface area. Also its powerful armament, along with the generous ammunition supply (the G.55 had 250 rounds of 20 mm ammunition in the hub cannon as opposed to 120 rounds in the Re.2005) standardized in the production Serie I, was enough to bring down the US bombers.

The Regia Aeronautica commissioned the production of 1,800 G.55s, later raising that number to 2,400. A pre-production series of 34 examples was ordered: these aircraft were mostly based on the prototype, with minor changes to improve its flying characteristics. They had a different weapon layout, as stated above, with the two lower cowling machine guns moved into the wings. Only 19 of the 34 commissioned aircraft were built, and six of them were converted to the Serie I standard at the factory.

The production version, named Serie I, had the standard armament of three 20 mm MG 151/20s and two 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns, plus two underwing racks to bring either two bombs (up to 160 kg/350 lb) or two drop tanks (100 L/26 US Gal). At the date of the Armistice, 8 September 1943, 35 G.55s of all Series had been delivered, including three prototypes. Of these, only one was flown to South Italy to join the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force (a second G.55, MM.91150, was obtained by the Allies in summer 1944, when test pilot, Serafino Agostini, defected with an escaped British POW, an RAF captain sitting on his knees. The aircraft was then taken on charge by the RAF and transferred to the Central Fighter Establishment of Tangmere, Great Britain, on 17 March 1945, with the number VF204 applied, was put in the depot at Ford, then nothing was known anymore of it.

From that date on, the Centauro served with the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR), the air force of the fascist state created by Mussolini with the Germans' help in North Italy. It still not exactly known how many "Centauros" were eventually requisitioned by the Luftwaffe or those acquired by ANR. About 18 aircraft were expropriated by the ANR while 12-20 (but according to some official reports, 42) were requisitioned by the Germans.

The Fiat factory, in Turin under German control, continued production for about six months and when on on 25 April 1944, Fiat factories were heavily bombed (15 G.55s were destroyed[8] with some three-engined transport G.12s, BR.20 bombers and CR.42LWs ordered by the Luftwaffe), 164 "Centauros" had been completed, 97 of them being produced after the Armistice and delivered to ANR. Following the advice of Rustungs und Kriegsproduktion Stab (RuK), the German Control Commission, production was dispersed in small cities of Monferrato and production of parts were assigned to CANSA of Novara and AVIA in Vercelli. The parts were then assembled in Turin where the aircraft were to be flown by test pilots Valentino Cus, Rolandi, Agostini and Catella.[9] Production slowed markedly, and was stopped by the German authorities in September 1944. A total of 148 G.55s were delivered to the ANR and, when the factory was captured, 37 more examples were ready, while 73 were still on the production line, in various degrees of completion.

The first Centauro to see operational use was the third prototype. On 21 March 1943, the aircraft was assigned to 20° Gruppo (squadron), 51° Stormo (wing) CT, based on Roma-Ciampino, for operational evaluation. In May, the G.55 followed the unit to Capoterra, near Cagliari having its baptism of fire on 5 June 1943, against Allied aircraft attacking Sardinia. The two first pre-production series flew, respectively, on 10 April and in May 1943. In early June they were assigned to 353a Squadriglia (flight) CT based in Foligno, Umbria, were, until August, were transferred nine more aircraft. Pilots were delighted when they began to receive the new fighter in summer 1943.

In June, the first Serie I were assigned to Gruppo Complementare of 51° Stormo in Foligno, near Perugia, but in July the 11 G.55 of Gruppo Complementare were transferred to 353a Squadriglia, that already had in charge the "pre-series" machines, to operate from Roma-Ciampino Sud airfield. The 353a Squadriglia, commanded by Capitano Egeo Pittoni, flew many missions against the American bomber formation, but the flights were stopped when Rome was declared "Città aperta" (Open City). On 27 August, the Squadriglie 351a and 352a left Sardinia and arrived in Foligno to be re-equipped with G.55. But at the date of the 8 September the G.55 had not been delivered yet. During the first week of September, 12 Centauros had been assigned to 372a Squadriglia of 153° Gruppo in Torino-Mirafiori. On 8 September 1943, the date of Armistice, the Regia Aeronautica had received 35 G.55s. Only one of them flew to southern Italy, accepting the invitation of Maresciallo d'Italia Pietro Badoglio to surrender to Allied forces.

There still is not exact data about the G.55 captured by Luftwaffe or acquired by Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana. About 18 G.55s were acquired by ANR while 12-20, or even 42, according to some reports, were requisitioned by the Luftwaffe. The Centauro entered in service with the ANR a decision was made to produce 500 G.55s, of which 300 were G.55/I and 200 G.55/II Serie II, armed with five 20 mm MG 151/20s and no machine guns. Only 148 were delivered to the ANR units that, as the number of available G.55s dwindled, were progressively re-equipped with the Bf 109G, of various sub-versions, even though Italian pilots preferred the G.55 with cancellation of production being extremely unpopular.

The ANR had two Gruppi Caccia terrestre (fighter squadrons), the first was initially equipped with the Macchi C.205, from November 1943 to May 1944, then, re-equipped with the G.55/I in June 1944 until it switched to the Bf 109G starting from November 1944. The 2nd Gruppo was the main unit equipped with the G.55, of which it had 70 examples from December 1943-August 1944, before being progressively re-equipped with the Bf 109G.

The first unit in ANR to be equipped with G.55 was the Squadriglia Montefusco, in November 1943, operating from Piemonte until 29 March 1944, when it was absorbed by the 1st Gruppo and transferred in Veneto. The 2nd Gruppo was formed at Bresso. It was initially commanded by Lt Col Antonio Vizzoto, and later by Lt Col Aldo Alessandrini. It had three Squadriglie (the 4th, Gigi Tre Osei, the 5th, Diavoli Rossi, and the 6th, Gamba di Ferro). The unit operated near Milan and Varese until April 1944, then it was transferred near Parma and Pavia, then again near the Lake Garda (Brescia and Verona). At the end of May, the 2° Gruppo gave its G.55s to 1° Gruppo and re-equipped with 46 exI./JG 53 and II.JG 77 Bf 109G-6/R6[14]

With the ANR, the G.55s gave a good account of themselves against Allied fighters like the Spitfires and Mustang.

In December 1942, a technical commission of the Regia Aeronautica was invited by the Luftwaffe to test some German aircraft in Rechlin. The visit was part of a joint plan for the standardization of the Axis aircraft production. In the same time, some Luftwaffe officers visited Guidonia where they were particularly interested in the performance promised by the Serie 5 fighters. On 9 December, these impressions were discussed in a Luftwaffe staff meeting and raised the interest of Hermann Göring himself. In February 1943, a German test commission was sent in Italy to evaluate the new Italian fighters.[16] The commission was led by Oberst Petersen and was formed by Luftwaffe officers and pilots and by technical personnel, among them the Flugbaumeister Malz. The Germans also brought with them several aircraft including a Fw 190 A-5 and a Bf 109 G-4 for direct comparison tests in simulated dogfights.

The tests began 20 February 1943 with the German commission very impressed by the Italian aircraft, the G.55 in particular. In general, all the Serie 5 fighters were very good at low altitudes, but the G.55 was also competitive with its German opponents in term of speed and climb rate at high altitudes still maintaining superior handling characteristics. The definitive evaluation by the German commission was "excellent" for the G.55, "excellent" for the Re.2005 but very complicated to produce and "average" for the C.205. Oberst Petersen defined the G.55 "the best fighter in the Axis" and immediately telegraphed his impressions to Goering. After listening the recommendations of Petersen, Milch and Galland, a meeting held by Goering on 22 February 1943 voted to produce the G.55 in Germany.

German interest, apart from the good test results, derived also from the development possibilities they were able to see in the G.55 and in the Re.2005. Particularly, the G.55 was bigger and heavier and was considered a very good candidate for the new DB 603 engine, which was considered too large for the Bf 109's airframe. Other visits were organized in Germany during March and May 1943 in Rechlin and Berlin. The G.55 was again tested at Rechlin at the presence of Milch. Gabrielli and other FIAT personnel were invited to visit German factories and to discuss the evolution of the aircraft. The specifications of the German G55/II included the DB 603 engine, five 20 mm guns and a pressurized cockpit. The suggestion of weapons in the wings, limited to one 20 mm gun for each wing, originated the final configuration of the Serie I, while the DB 603 engine was successfully installed in the what became the G.56 prototype. As a concrete results of the German interest in the G.55, the Luftwaffe acquired three complete G.55/0 airframes (MM 91064-65-66) for evaluations and experiments providing three DB 603 engines and original machinery for the setup of other production line of the Italian copy of DB 605. Two of the Luftwaffe G.55s remained in Turin, at the Aeritalia plants, where they were used by German and Italian engineers to study the planned modifications and the possible optimizations to the production process. Later these two were converted to Serie I and delivered to the ANR. The third one was transferred to Rechlin for tests and experiments in Germany. The DB 603 engines were used to build the G.56 prototypes.

The interest in the G.55 program was still high after the Armistice. In October 1943, Kurt Tank, who previously personally tested a G.55 in Rechlin, having nothing but praise for the aircraft, was in Turin to discuss G.55 production. However, war events and the not yet optimized production process were the reasons for which the G.55 program was eventually abandoned by the Luftwaffe. Early production of G.55 required about 15,000 man-hours while there were estimations to reduce the effort to about 9,000 man-hours, the German factories were able to assemble a Bf 109 in only 5,000 man-hours. The DB 603 were instead to be used in Tank's own Ta-152 C.

The Regia Aeronautica employed torpedo bomber with success in the early war years, with the three-engine, SIAI-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero medium bomber inflicting considerable losses on Allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. By late 1942 the aging Sparviero was facing continually improving Allied fighters and anti aircraft defences.leading to the General staff exploring the idea of using a fighter aircraft for torpedo attacks. A fighter operating from Italian coasts with an operational range of 300–400 km (190-250 mi), would be capable of delivering a torpedo at high speed and evade enemy fighters or engage them after the attack run.

Fiat was asked to begin studies for a G.55 conversion to carry a 680 kg (1,500 lb) Whitehead torpedo, a shorter and more compact version of the standard weapon used by the SM.79. With the decision to develop a G.57, whose specifications included the capability of carrying torpedoes, all similar work on the G.55 torpedo fighter was suspended.

Later, after the G.57 project was dropped, and given the ANR's continuing need for an aircraft that could replace the SM.79, the ANR engineers undertook the task of converting the Centauro for the torpedo attack role. A production aircraft (military serial number MM. 91086) was modified to carry a 920 kg (2,030 lb), 5.46 m (17.91 ft) long torpedo. The radiator for the engine liquid cooler, positioned in the fuselage belly, under the cockpit area, was split in two, gaining a 90 cm (35 in) slot where two racks were mounted to carry the torpedo. The tailwheel strut was lengthened and equipped with a strengthened shock absorber, and a protective cone was added in front of the tailwheel. The two 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns were removed, leaving the aircraft with the three 20 mm cannons only as fixed armament. Weight: 2,600-4,100 kg

The aircraft, designated G.55S, first flew in August 1944 and was successfully tested in January 1945, piloted by Adriano Mantelli. Despite the cumbersome external load, performance was good and the handling acceptable. The ANR ordered a pre-series of 10 examples and a production series of 100 aircraft, but the conclusion of the war put an end to the project. The G.55S prototype survived the war and, after being converted back to the Serie I standard, it became the first G.55 to be delivered to the newly formed Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI).

The Fiat G.56 was basically a Fiat G.55 with a German Daimler-Benz DB 603 engine. Two prototypes were built, flight tests starting in March 1944. On 30 March, Commander Valentino Cus reached speeds of 690/700 km/h (430/440 mph). Official maximum speed was 685 km/h (426 mph) and the aircraft was armed with three 20 mm MG 151/20s, one firing through the propeller hub, the other two installed in the wings. While performance was excellent, the aircraft proving superior to both the Bf 109K and Bf 109G and Fw 190A, outmanoeuvring all types in testing, production was not allowed by the German authorities.

In 1946, Fiat restarted production of the G.55, using the large stock of partly complete airframes and components remaining in its factories. It was available in two versions, the G.55A, a single-seat fighter/advanced trainer, and the G.55B, a two-seat advanced trainer, whose prototypes flew on 5 September 1946 and 12 February 1946 respectively.

The AMI acquired 19 G.55As and 10 G.55Bs, while the Argentine Air Force purchased 30 G.55As, and 15 G.55Bs.

The production of these orders for G.55s for Italy and Argentina caused the available stocks of the Italian licence-built version of the DB 605 engine to run short. As there was still a demand for the aircraft, it was decided to convert the type to use the more readily available Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, with the first conversion flying in early 1948. The conversion was successful, and the AMI decided to convert its G.55s to Merlin power, these re-entering service at the Lecce flying school in 1950 as the G.59-1A and G.59-1B (single- and two-seat versions).

Syria placed an order for 30 similar aircraft, which by this time, were completely from new production as the stocks of G.55 components had been exhausted. Of these, 26 were single-seaters (designated G.59-2A) and the remaining 4 two-seaters (G.59-2B). A single G.59-2A was acquired by Argentina for evaluation, but no further orders followed from the South American republic.

The final versions were the G.59-4A single-seater and G.59-4B two-seater, which were fitted with bubble canopies for improved visibility. 20 G.59-4As and ten G.59-4Bs were purchased by Italy.


Italian Aircraft of WWII

Before the armistice of September 1943, G.55s had participated in the defence of Rome with the 353 Squadriglia of the Regia Aeronautica. The post armistice operations were mainly with the Fascist air arm's Squadriglia 'Montefusco' based at Veneria Reale, then with the three Squadriglie which formed the 2nd Gruppo Caccia Terrestre, but losses were heavy, as a result mainly of Allied attacks on the airfields. While the war was still in progress, Fiat flew two prototypes of the G.56, which developed from the G.55 to accept the more powerful Daimler Benz DB 603A engine. Built during the spring of 1944 they incorporated minor structural changes and had the fuselage mounted machine guns deleted. The first prototype survived the war and was used subsequently by Fiat as a testbed.

Fiat reinstalled the G.55 assembly line after the war, using wartime manufactured assemblies and components to produce the G.55A single seat fighter/advanced trainer of which the prototype was first flown on 5 September 1946. If differed from the G.55 only in instrumentation and armament. The armament comprised of either two wing mounted plus two fuselage mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns, or two 20 mm Hispano-Suiza cannon plus two fuselage mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns. The Italian Aeronautica Militaire procured 19 G.55As and 30 were supplied to Argentina, which returned 17 in 1948 for resale to Egypt, these being armed with four 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns. A two seat advanced trainer variant of the G.55 had been flown in prototype form on 12 February 1946 under the designation G.55B. The Italian Aeronautica Militaire aquired 10 of these, and 15 were sold to Argentina in 1948.


5. Heinkel He 280

The Heinkel team look pretty pleased with their revolutionary new aircraft as it is towed in after an early test flight. Their jolly mood was not to last.

Were it not for woeful official indifference, it is likely the Heinkel He 280 would have proved a significant problem for the Allies. As it turned out, the world’s first jet fighter saw neither production nor service.

Ernst Heinkel’s company were way ahead of the game in this field having flown the world’s first jet powered aircraft a few days before the war even started. When demonstrated in November 1939, the revolutionary new aircraft failed to impress Reichsluftministerium (RLM) grandees Ernst Udet (head of the Technological department) and Erhard Milch (Minister of Aircraft Production and Supply), a lack of response that infuriated Ernst Heinkel. It was also a premonition of things to come. Without the enthusiasm of the RLM, Heinkel was compelled to develop the new technology as a private venture. The Heinkel He 280 was the result, a purpose built fighter, powered by two of Heinkel’s own HeS 8 turbojets. Flown first as a glider, the new aircraft made its initial powered flight on the 30th March 1941, despite the lack of official support this was still over a year before the Me 262 and two years before the Gloster Meteor.

The He 280 first flew as a glider, here it is being towed aloft with fairings where the jet engines are to be fitted.

Demonstrated to Ernst Udet on the 5th of April, the He 280 again failed to make much of an impression. Despite being capable of over 500 mph in level flight, official interest was piqued only by the jet engine’s ability to run on relatively unrefined low octane fuel oil – even at that stage of the war, there was an acute awareness that Germany’s fuel supply was critical to its success. Heinkel however was denied funding again but continued to develop the aircraft despite the underwhelming response of officialdom. Eventually, in December 1943, now sporting two improved examples of the HeS-8 engine, the He 280 was once again demonstrated to RLM officials (not the unfortunate Ernst Udet though, he had shot himself back in November 1941). This time, to really make his point, Ernst Heinkel had arranged a mock dogfight with a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, arguably the best piston-engine fighter in service in the world at the time. The He 280’s massive speed advantage allowed it to trounce the Fw 190 and at last the RLM realised what an incredible machine they had on their hands and ordered 20 pre-production aircraft to be followed by an order for 300 more.

Early test flight under power, the engine cowlings have been left off to minimise the danger of leaking fuel pooling within and catching fire.

Unfortunately, despite their tardy enthusiasm for the project, the RLM had ordered Heinkel to stop work on the HeS 8 back in 1942 to concentrate on the more ambitious HeS 011, an engine that failed to make it into production before the end of the war. In the absence of an engine, Heinkel had been desperately seeking alternatives: the first prototype was re-engined with four Argus pulse jets, the same as fitted to the V-1 ‘doodlebug’ but crashed on its first test flight after the controls iced up. This incident led to the first genuine use of an ejection seat for a pilot to escape a stricken aircraft, the He 280 being the first aircraft to be fitted with such a device. Test pilot Helmut Schenk earned this dubious honour on the 13th January 1942. The other two alternative powerplants were the BMW 003 and the Junkers Jumo 004. The BMW was having developmental issues of its own so the He 280 was fitted with a pair of Jumo 004s. In this form it first flew on 16th March 1943. Despite the greater weight and size of the Junkers engine, the He 280 flew perfectly well in this form but it was too late, the Messerschmitt Me 262 fitted with the same engine was faster and generally more efficient. Two weeks later Erhard Milch cancelled the He 280 programme and Heinkel was instructed to concentrate on bombers.

The third prototype. This aircraft was captured intact in May 1945 at Heinkel’s factory complex at Wien-Schwechat, Austria. Its subsequent fate is unknown.

Though it needed work, the He 280 may have been the greatest overall missed opportunity in German aviation. The HeS 8 engine was underdeveloped when it first flew but its problems were overcome, even without official support or funding, only for it to be cancelled anyway. Had the He 280 programme (both engine and airframe) received official backing in 1941 it is not unlikely that the Luftwaffe could have been fielding a jet fighter, capable of over 500 mph and therefore effectively immune from interception by Allied fighters, by early 1943. This predates the advent of the P-51 Mustang as the premier long range escort fighter of the war and it is not hard to imagine its presence being rendered largely irrelevant by a force of un-interceptable jet fighters. Luckily for the world the Nazis failed to see the potential of this aircraft until it was too late for Germany as a whole and the Heinkel He 280 in particular. Meanwhile the Me 262 made history as the World’s first combat jet and Ernst Heinkel remained bitter about the whole sorry debacle for the rest of his life.

REASONS FOR CANCELLATION:

Inexplicable official indifference

Engine unavailable


Fiat G.56 - History

The Simpson (FFG 56) is the 46th Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate and is named for the Rear Adm. Rodger W. Simpson (1898-1964), who distinguished himself during World War II as a Destroyer commanding officer and Flotilla Commander. The keel was laid down on February 27, 1984, by the Bath Iron Works, in Bath, Maine. The ship was christened and launched on August 31, 1984, by Mrs. Grace Fowles Simpson Smith, the widow of the ship's namesake. USS Simpson was commissioned on November 9, 1985 Cmdr. H. Wyman Howard, Jr., is the first commanding officer.

On Simpson's first overseas deployment in Jan. 1988, the ship was assigned as an escort to U.S.-flagged merchant vessels in the Arabian Gulf. On April 18, she was a principle unit of Operation Praying Mantis responding to the Iranian mine attack on USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58). Operating in conjunction with two other Navy ships, USS Simpson was responsible for the destruction of an Iranian oil platform and sinking the Iranian Navy missile patrol combatant, Joshan.

USS Simpson departed Naval Station Newport for its third major deployment in December 1991. In the Mediterranean Sea, it rendezvoused with two CIS warships and conducted ship maneuvering exercises, the first such between U.S. and CIS forces. It then proceeded to the Red Sea to participate in the United Nations embargo against Iraq.

In August 1993, the Simpson deployed as part of the USS America (CV 66) Battle Group (BG). She participated in Operations Deny Flight and Provide Promise in the Adriatic Sea and U.N. Operation Continue Hope off the coast of Somalia. After a brief assignment in the Red Sea supporting U.N. sanctions against Iraq, FFG 56 returned to homeport in Feb. 1994.

In April 1994, the Simpson participated in Operations Support Democracy and Able Manner off the coast of Haiti in support of the U.N. embargo against Haiti. After returning to Newport, R.I., for three weeks, she shifted homeports to Norfolk, Virginia, in May. Enroute, the ship was tasked to return to the Caribbean Sea to participate in Operation Restore Democracy, finally arriving in Naval Station Norfolk in June 1994.

Upon completion of post-deployment maintenance, USS Simpson returned to the Caribbean to participate in Counter Drug Operations with the U.S. Coast Guard. She returned to homeport in December 1994 and deployed again to the Caribbean in February 1995, to continue counter-drug operations.

November 8, 1995 USS Simpson departed Norfolk for a scheduled Mediterranean deployment.

The Simpson celebrated the arrival of 1996 while inport Barcelona, Spain, as part of the Standing Naval Forces, Atlantic (SNFL). The guided-missile frigate operated in the Adriatic Sea in support of NATO Operation Sharp Guard, enforcing the U.N. Security Council's arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina. throughout the end of deployment. She also enjoyed port visits in Augusta Bay, Sicily Valencia and Palma de Mallorca, Spain Trieste, Italy Corfu, Greece Naples, Italy Toulon, France Genoa, Italy and Gibraltar, British overseas teritory. FFG 56 arrived in Bermuda on May 5 for a brief stop to embark family members for a Tiger Cruise Returned to homeport on May 8.

February 26, 1998 USS Simpson departed Naval Station Norfolk for a scheduled deployment as part of Standing Naval Force Mediterranean 98-1.

Conducting a group sail with the USS Caron, USS Laboon (DDG 58), and USNS Santa Barbara, the Simpson arrived at the Strait of Gibraltar in mid-March, ready to rendezvous with USS Underwood (FFG 36) for turnover and inchop to STANAVFORMED.

After participating in exercise Strong Reselvo '98, USS Simpson pulled into Portsmouth, England, for a scheduled port visit. The guided-missile frigate then underway enroute Amsterdam, Netherlands, and after two days of maintenance, departed for Hamburg, Germany. This continuous, fast paced, cycle of underway exercises and inport maintenance continued during Simpson's entire stay with STANAVFORMED including visits to Antwerp, Belgium Malaga and Cadiz, Spain Taranto, Italy Koper, Slovenia and Rhodes, Greece.

On June 16, with less than twenty four hours notice, the Simpson was tasked to go to the Adriatic Sea to assume duties as Undersea and Surface Warfare Commander for the USS Wasp (LHD 1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

July 2, USS Simpson returned to Naval Station Norfolk after more than a four-month underway period in the 6th Fleet AoR.

September 4, Cmdr. Gerald F. DeConto relieved Cmdr. Roland J. Mulligan as CO of USS Simpson.

August 2, 2001 Cmdr. Rodney A. Clark relieved Cmdr. Randall G. Bowdish as the 10th CO of Simpson.

May 30, 2003 Cmdr. Ricky L. Williamson relieved Cmdr. Rodney A. Clark as commanding officer of the FFG 56.

April 28, 2004 USS Simpson pulled into Port Everglades, Fla., to participate in Broward County Navy Days Ft. Lauderdale.

September 22, USS Simpson departed Naval Station Mayport for a western Atlantic deployment as part of NATO&rsquos Standing Naval Forces Atlantic (SNFL).

December 20, FFG 56 returned to homeport after a three-month underway period. The ship participated in numerous exercises with NATO and U.S. naval forces, and made 10 port calls in the United States, Canada and Bermuda.

January 27, 2005 Cmdr. John M. Uhl relieved Cmdr. Ricky L. Williamson as CO of the Simpson.

May 18, 2006 USS Simson departed Mayport to participate in a two-week multinational exercise Phoenix Express, in the Mediterranean Sea.

July 14, Cmdr. Luis A. Maldonado relieved Cmdr. John M. Uhl as CO of the USS Simpson.

April 20, 2007 The Simpson moored at HMNB Clyde in Faslane, Scotland, for a brief port call before participating in at-sea phase of exercise Neptune Warrior.

July 27, FFG 56 is currently participating in Operation Bold Step as part of HMS Illustrious CSG. More than 15,000 service members from three countries and 23 U.S. Navy ships will participate in a Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 07-2 "OBS", off the coast of Virginia to Florida, from July 26-31.

March 26, 2008 Cmdr. Edwin D. Kaiser relieved Cmdr. Luis A. Maldonado as CO of the Simpson during a change-of-command ceremony on board the ship at the Port of Oranjestad, Netherlands Antilles.

April 5, USS Simson, with embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46 Det. 7, returned to Naval Station Mayport after a six-month counter-narco terrorism deployment in the U.S. 4th Fleet AoR. The ship seized approximately 16 metric tons of cocaine and made port calls to Montego Bay, Jamaica Cartagena, Colombia Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Balboa, Panama and Oranjestad, Aruba.

July 2, USS Simson recently pulled into Castries, St. Lucia, for a six-day port visit.

April 9, 2009 FFG 56 arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, in support of the theater security cooperation (TSC) mission. The Simpson recently departed homeport in support of counter-drug operations.

June 2, USS Simpson provided assistance to Ecuadorian-flagged fishing vessel "Maley", in the eastern Pacific Ocean, that had been stranded at sea for 18 days, five days without food, and one day without water.

July 8, The guided-missile destroyer moored at Vasco Nunez de Balboa Naval Base in Panama for an 11-day mid-deployment upkeep.

October 5, USS Simpson returned to Naval Station Mayport after a six-month Counter-Illicit Trafficking (CIT) deployment in the U.S. 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AoR). The ship visited several ports including Salaverry, Peru Lima, Peru and Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

October 19, Cmdr. Jason R. Haen relieved Cmdr. Edwin D. Kaiser as the 15th commanding officer of Simpson.

May 30, 2010 FFG 56 arrived in Portsmouth, England, for a brief port call.

June 2, USS Simpson, along with USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29), arrived in Kiel, Germany, to participate in annual Kiel Week celebrations.

June 7, The Simpson departed Gdynia, Poland, after a three-day port call to participate in at-sea phase of exercise BALTOPS 2010.

May 6, 2011 Cmdr. Leonard H. Milliken relieved Cmdr. Jason R. Haen as CO of the USS Simpson during a change-of-command ceremony on board the ship at Mayport.

January 17, 2012 USS Simpson departed Mayport for a scheduled deployment in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West. The ship embarked two MQ-8B Fire Scouts, from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 60 Det. 4, for third at-sea deployment, of this Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), aboard a guided-missile frigate.

February 2, The Simpson departed Casablanca, Morocco, after a three-day port visit. The ship recently made a brief stop at Funchal, Madeira Island, to take on fuel and supplies.

February 7, FFG 56 pulled into Dakar, Senegal, for a routine port call to pick up fuel and supplies.

February 14, USS Simpson arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, for the first APS West visit.

February 18, The Simpson arrived in Tema, Ghana, for a three-day port visit.

February 26, USS Simpson pulled again into Lagos for a brief port call before participating in a multinational maritime exercise Obangame Express 2012, in the Gulf of Guinea, Feb. 27- 29.

March 10, The guided-missile frigate departed Dakar, Senegal, after a brief port call for fuel and supplies.

March 19, FFG 56 pulled again into Dakar for a routine port visit.

March 30, An MQ-8B was unable to achieve UAS Common Automated Recovery System (UCARS) lock on, a requirement for landing aboard a ship at sea, after returning from a maritime surveillance mission in support of APS. After multiple approaches and exhaustive troubleshooting by operators, the aircraft was positioned a safe distance from the Simpson and the flight was terminated. Subsequently, the crew performed a nighttime recovery of the aircraft.

April 10, USS Simpson arrived in Praia, Cape Verde, for a five-day port visit as part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) West.

April 19, The Simpson anchored again off the coast of Praia after conducting African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations.

April 22, The guided-missile frigate arrived in Dakar for a three-day port call before participating in a multinational exercise Saharan Express 2012, off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde and Mauritania.

May 8, FFG 56 pulled into Souda Bay, Greece, for the in-port phase of a multi-national maritime exercise Phoenix Express 2012.

June 16, USS Simpson departed Dakar, Senegal, after a routine port call. The ship recently visited Augusta Bay and Naples, Italy.

July 17, USS Simpson returned to homeport after a six-month deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AoR). The last port call was to Mindelo, Cape Verde.

In September, the Simpson commenced a Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) while pierside at Naval Station Mayport.

November 16, Cmdr. Christopher G. Follin relieved Cmdr. Leonard H. Milliken as CO of the FFG 56.

September 18, 2013 USS Simpson, with embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46 Det. 8 and four MQ-8B Fire Scouts, departed Naval Station Mayport for a scheduled Mediterranean deployment in support of AFRICOM Counter Terrorism, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions.

November 27, The guided-missile frigate recently pulled into Bari, Italy, for a scheduled port visit.

December 26, USS Simpson departed Piraeus, Greece, after a liberty port visit to Athens.

January 23, 2014 The Simpson moored at Pinto Wharf in Grand Harbour for a four-day port visit to Valletta, Malta.

February 15, FFG 56 arrived in Naval Support Activity Souda Bay at Crete, Greece, for a nine-day port call.

February 25, USS Simpson moored outboard the USS Elrod (FFG 55) in Augusta Bay, Sicily, for a brief stop to conduct turnover.

February 28, The Simpson moored at Dique de la Curra Pier in Port of Cartagena, Spain, for a three-day port call.

March 6, The guided-missile frigate moored at Citrus Terminal in Port of Casablanca, Morroco, for a three-day port call after participated in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the RMNS Hassan II (F 612) Brief stop at Funchal, Portugal, to refuel on March 11.

March 19, The Simpson moored at Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston, S.C., for a brief stop to embark friends and family members for a Tiger Cruise.

March 20, USS Simpson returned to Mayport after a six-month deployment.

April 4, Cmdr. Kenneth Anderson relieved Cmdr. Christopher G. Follin as the 18th commanding officer of Simpson.

September 3, FFG 56 departed Naval Station Mayport for Independent Deployer Certification Exercise (IDCERTEX) and in support of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) ARG's MEUEX.

November 14, USS Simpson, with embarked four MQ-8B Fire Scouts, departed homeport for its 14th and final deployment.

November 24, The Simpson participated in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the Moroccan navy frigate Sultan Moulay Ismail (FF 614), while underway in the western Mediterranean Sea.

December 2, USS Simpson recently moored at Fuel Pier in Augusta Bay, Sicily, for a brief port call to conduct turnover with the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58).?

January 28, 2015 The guided-missile frigate moored at Cruise Jetty in Port Louis, Mauritius, for a week-long port visit to participate in a multinational exercise Cutlass Express 2015.

May 27, USS Simpson moored at Liquid Cargoes Terminal in Port of Koper, Slovenia, for a four-day liberty visit.

June 14, USS Simpson returned to Naval Station Mayport after a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AoR) in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO).

July 17, Lt. Cmdr. Casey T. Roskelly relieved Cmdr. Kenneth Anderson as the last CO of Simpson during a change-of-command ceremony on board the ship at Mayport.

September 29, The last Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate held a decommissioning ceremony, after a 30 years of active servise, at Echo 3 Wharf, Naval Station Mayport.

September 30, USS Simpson (FFG 56) was officially decommissioned and stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register.

October 14, The ex-Simpson departed Mayport under tow en route to Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Office Philadelphia, Pa. The ship will be offered for foreign military sale.


Strikers 1945 Plus

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Strikers 1945 Plus © 1999 Psikyo.

After inserting quarters and hitting the Start button, the player chooses one of 6 planes (plus 1 hidden plane) or can opt for a random choice.

The available fighters are :
* P-38 Lightning
* Vought XF5U 'Flying Pancake'
* Spitfire Mk. VI
* Zero Type 52
* Focke Wulf Ta 152
* Fiat G.56
* XP-55 Ascender (Hidden)

The first 4 stages are in random order, while the last 4 are sequential. Players collect weapon powerups, bombs, and gold bars for points. Each plane has a unique 'supershot' which is charged by damaging enemies and fired by holding then releasing the fire button. Supershots can be stored, although the number varies from plane to plane. Using a Bomb results in a large friendly fighter swooping onto the screen and blocking shots while returning fire for a few seconds.

After the player beats the final boss, the game starts again from the beginning, albeit at a much higher difficulty level. All level are similar to the ones in Strikers 1945 II. Only one of the 4 bosses that are randomly chosen and the 6th boss is changed.

Runs on the SNK "Neo-Geo MVS" hardware.
Game ID : 0254

Main CPU : Motorola 68000 (@ 12 Mhz)
Sound CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 4 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Yamaha YM2610 (@ 8 Mhz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal
Video resolution : 320 x 224 pixels
Screen refresh : 59.19 Hz
Palette colors : 4096

Players : 2
Control : 8-way joystick
Buttons : 2
=> [A] Shot/Supershot, [B] Support attack

Released in December 1999.

This is an updated version of "Strikers 1945 II" and is exclusive to the Neo-Geo. This is Psikyo's first and only game developed and released for the Neo-Geo MVS (but was not released on the Neo-Geo AES home console).

The game forbids the initials 'SEX' or 'KKK' on the high score table. If you try, they get changed to 3 smileys.

* Play as Ascender : At the selection screen, highlight the '?' symbol and press Down+A+B.

* Play as Ascender (Alternate) : Highlight the '?' symbol and press Up, Down, Up, Down, UP(x4), Down. Ascender should appear.


Gameplay

After inserting quarters and hitting the Start button, the player chooses one of 6 planes (plus 1 hidden plane) or can opt for a random choice.

The available fighters are:

  • P-38 Lightning
  • Vought XF5U "Flying Pancake"
  • Spitfire Mk. VI
  • Zero Type 52
  • Focke Wulf Ta 152
  • Fiat G.56
  • XP-55 Ascender (Hidden)

The first four stages are in random order, while the last four are sequential. Players collect weapon powerups, bombs, and gold bars for points. Each plane has a unique "supershot" which is charged by damaging enemies and fired by holding then releasing the fire button. Supershots can be stored, although the number varies from plane to plane. Using a Bomb results in a large friendly fighter swooping onto the screen and blocking shots while returning fire for a few seconds.

After the player beats the final boss, the game starts again from the beginning, albeit at a much higher difficulty level. All level are similar to the ones in Strikers 1945 II. Only one of the four bosses that are randomly chosen and the 6th boss is changed.