In one of the above posts we looked at one Italian record breaking aircraft .This however is by no means the only Italian record breaking aircraft, in fact during the 1930’s many international records of all types were won by aircraft that were“made in Italy”. One of the most notable was the Savoia Marchetti SM.79 originally designed as a fast transport , it was hoped that it would be an entrant in the MacRobertson England to Australia air race, unfortunately it was not ready in time to participate in this event, which was eventually won by the DH.88 Comet .
The first prototype Sm.79 , I-MAGO having originally flown with Piaggio motors was re-engined with 3- AR125RC35 engines of 650HP. ( photo 1). Having been refitted with the Alfa Romeo motors the SM.79 proceeded to set various speed records over 1000km and 2000km with various loads. (photo 3)each record was notched up on the tail of I-MAGO.
As the aircraft had missed out on the England – Australia race ,it was now decided that a squadron of SM79 corsa would participate in the Istres-Damascus-Paris race in August 1937. There were to be 6 aircraft of the Sorci –Verdi (green rats) squadron . The aircraft were decked out in the national racing colour of red with green flash trimmed in slim white stripe and with the 3 green rats on the fuselage sides(photo 2).For the race Bruno Mussolini was drafted into the squadron(photo4).
The main opposition in the race was expected to come from the DeHavilland DH.88 Comet and the specially built Breguet 470 12T Fulgar . Prior to the arrival in Damascus the Sqn Sorci Verdi was already ahead in the field . Upon arrival in Damascus one of the aircraft I-LICA hit a hole in the semi prepared strip and destroyed his undercarriage and could not continue . one other of the craft encountered engineproblems but continued anyway . Despite all problems the winner was i-cupa piloted by T. Con Cupini and Cap .Paradises . The squadron took the first 3 places on arrival back in Paris 9(photo 5).with the DH.88 in fourth place another SM.79 in fifth place and the final aircraft in eight place. Bruno Mussolini’s aircraft came in third.
The year following the Paris race 3 of the SM.79Cs were modified to SM.79T (transatlantic)(photo 6). Fuel capacity was increased for trans oceanic flight ,the plan being to fly the aircraft from Rome to Dakar and then across the Atlantic to Rio De Janeiro. The three aircraft that took part were I-BISE(photo 10), I-BRUN AND I-MONI, I-BRUN ( photo 9)was piloted by Bruno Mussolini and Mancinelli. Two of the aircraft flew directly to Rio the third I-Moni( photo 8) had a failure of the central engine and had to fly on the 2 outer engines it landed at Natal and followed the others to Rio 24 hours later , this plane actually stayed on in Brasil and served until late 1944/45.
It was after the success of the SM.79 in these raids that it was militarized receiving its characteristic hump ( photo 7)and went on to serve with honour in its various incarnations ,especially as a torpedo bomber.
The Sorci Verdi squadron served in Sicily and retained its Sm.79’s until the end of WW11, when they were replaced with CANT Z.1007bis.
Last edited by charley; 10-10-2007 at 01:01 PM.
Reason: photos in wrong order