|Fiat G.55 Centauro was a development of the previous G.50 Freccia fighter. Besides improved aerodynamics, it featured the 1475hp Daimler-Benz DB 605A piston engine (which Fiat manufactured under licence as the RC.58 Tifone). The first of three prototypes (MM491) were flown on 30 April 1942. The type was ordered into production, but only 16 G.55 Sottoserie 0 (pre-production model) and 15 G.55 Serie I were delivered to the Regia Aeronautica (RA) before the armistice in September 1943, the production thereafter being organised for the Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana (ANR), the Fascist air arm flying alongside the Luftwaffe. Before wartime production ended, 274 more were completed. Combined with the Italian design phylosophy, the new engine enabled superior handling, as well as high speed. Alongside the Macchi C.205, the G.55 was undoubtedly the best Italian fighter during World War II, but the Italian war industry was unable to producs it in suficient numbers due primarily to the lack of available raw materials. Folling the war, production resumed until 1948 and the type was exported to Argentina, Syria and Egypt.|
Aircraft: Fiat G.55 Serie I
Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.
Engine: Daimler Benz 605A, 12-cylinder V, liquid-cooled, 1,475hp
Wingspan: 38 ft 10 1/2 in (11.85 m)
Length: 30 ft 9 in (9.37 m)
Height: 12 ft 4 in (3.77 m)
Weight: 8,200 lb (3,720 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 385 mph (620 km/h) at 24,300 ft (7,400 m)
Ceiling: 41,700 ft (12,700 m)
Range: 1,025 miles (1,650 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7mm (0.5 in) SAFAT machine guns, 3 x 20 mm cannons
|Special Hobby’s 1/72 Fiat G.55 Centauro Sottoserie 0
by Aleksandar Andric
|Click the STORMO! Eagle to return to the Gallery|
|The Special Hobby 1/72 Fiat G.55 is a typical short-run kit, featuring a vacuformed canopy, resin and photo-etched parts. The only negative aspect is that the plastic is a bit on the thick side, so its not an easy build. However, it is pretty accurate when compared to the plans in Ali D’Italia #10 – Fiat G.55“. The plan can be constructed in two versions: the production model and the Sottoserie 0. There were some differences between the pre-production model and the standard fighters:
-The pre-production planes were armed with one 20mm Mauser MG 151/20 cannon firing through the spinner and four 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine-guns around the nose arae, while the production model had three 20mm cannons (two in the wings) and two machine-guns in the nose.
-There were some slight differences in the shape of the rudder, trim tabs and the rudder counterbalance
-The preproduction model had three fairings (two of them being the empty shell ejection chutes) on the underside of the fuselage, immediately below the cockpit.
As usual, construction begins with the cockpit, which is beautifully molded in resin. The detail is magnificent for this scale, the only thing I added was some wiring and levers to the fuselage sides. The seat, rudder pedals and control stick are molded integrally with the floor, which is pretty amazing, but is prone to breaking off in the box during transport. Luckily, mine was still intact, although the box was falling to pieces. After painting the cockpit and closing it, I realized that the gunsight was not included in the kit, so it had to be built from scratch. In this kit, the Sottoserie 0 nose and rudder are given in resin, but the plastic nose and rudder have to be cut off from the fuselage. I chose to modify the kit rudder instead of replacing it, because it has the fabric detail, which the resin part lacks. Some detail also had to be scratch built from aluminum in the nose area (see the exhausts) and the fuselage/nose cowling joint was modified to give it that characteristic gap.
|When assembling the wings, I noticed the trailing edges were way too thick (one has to remember this is a short-run kit), so they had to be sanded down considerably. This caused unexpected troubles, since the wings would no longer fit in the fuselage. The back of the resin wheel wells also had to be sanded very carefully in order to make them fit inside. But, after some putty and sanding it all came to place. The "zero-series" fighters didn't have wing guns, so all wing panels covering them and empty shell openings had to be filled with putty. The navigation lights were also scratchbuilt, because it always looks better than to just paint them on as the instructions suggest. After a couple hundred failures, I finally managed to get it right. It sure gave me a lot headache, but I think it’s well worth the effort. The resin whell wells are nicely detailed, but I chose to throw in some more detail by adding some structure and wiring. The kit undercarriage legs are inaccurate. They are rounded above the wheels (like on Macchi fighters), but should be more square in shape. This means some more scratch building ...|
Stormo © 2008
|The radiator flap had to be scratch built from aluminum (from soda cans), because the kit part is too thick for the scale. The flap support rods were also scratch built from styrene. Three small fairings (which were present only on the "zero series" aircraft) are nicely done in resin, but they should be located on special panels, which partially overlap the surrounding panels. These panels were made out of aluminum.
Several different propellers (Fiat spinner was retained) of various manufacturers were tested on the second prototype (which I chose to build): Fiat-Hamilton, Piaggio, German VDM. Since the plane on the photos I used for reference has the VDM propeller installed, I replaced the kit propeller with Quickboost VDM propeller intended for Bf-109G-6. The rest of the construction was pretty straightforward.
|The second prototype was painted in the then standard Fiat camouflage scheme consisting of Verde Oliva scuro 2 (Dark Olive Green - FS 34052) with large mottles of Nocciola Chiaro 4 (Light Hazel Brown - FS 30219) for the upper surfaces and Grigio Azzurro chiaro 1 ( Light Blue Gray - FS 36307) for the lower surfaces. After masking the canopy, I first sprayed the cockpit color over it, and then proceeded with painting the camouflage. This way the cockpit color will show on the inner side of canopy frames. I used my own color mixes of various manufacturers (Humbrol, Molak, Model Master. I first sprayed the lower color, then masked it off and added the upper green. The mottles were sprayed with Revell’s “Master Class Professional” airbrush, which I had used for the first time on this model, and the result looks pretty good to me. Then the white fuselage stripe was masked and painted. It is always best to apply light colors (such as yellow or white) in a couple of light coats, rather than a single thick coat. After sealing the paint with a coat of of gloss lacquer, I applied the decals. The kit decals are printed by Aviprint. They are perfectly thin and have minimum carrier film. They went on smoothly with some Mr. Hobby’s Mark Softer. A second gloss coat was applied before accenting the panel lines with my own mix consisting of chalk pastels, water, and a few drops of black drawing ink. A final flat coat of lacquer sealed everyting and the model was ready for the finishing touches.
The antenna wire was made out of 0.08mm thick fishing nylon. Pitot tubes (the second prototype had two – one on each wing) were made out of medical needles and some wire.
Well, as this is my first short-run model, I’m pretty satisfied with the result. I must admit that it dragged on for more than a year due to various reasons, but I enjoyed the build and plan to do many more short-run kits in the future.
-Ali D’Italia #10 – Fiat G.55 (P. Vergnano, G. Alegi)
-The Camouflage & Markings of the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana 1944-45 (G. Valentini, F. D'Amico)
-STORMO! Color Guide (http://www.stormomagazine.com/RegiaAeronauticaColorsinWWII_3a.htm)
-Regia Aeronautica Italiana (http://www.finn.it/regia/)
-R. Trotta’s excellent 1/48 build article (http://www.hyperscale.com/features/2001/g55rt_1.htm)