|Supermodel 1/72 SM. 81 Pipistrello
by Luca Bossi
|The SIAl-Marchetti SM.81 was a typical Italian bomber. It appeared in the mid-1930s and represented a real step ahead in Italian military aviation. It was fast, well armed, and had a long range, and was the first three-engine aeroplane in the Italian Air Force. It was greeted with enthusiasm when it appeared in 1935, and its performance during the war with Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War demonstrated that it was a good aeroplane. A total of 534 were built.
The SIAl-Marchetti SM.81 remained in service throughout the war. It served on several fronts, in the Mediterranean, in Africa, and in Russia. It was transferred from bombing to transport duty. The SM.81 had started out as a transport aeroplane. For the aeroplane on which the bomber was based was the SIAl-Marchetti SM.73, a commercial transport aeroplane that had made its successful debut in 1934. The bomber had the three-engine monoplane configuration of its predecessor. It was a low-wing aircraft with fixed under-carriage. The skeleton was wood and metal, and the skin was wood and fabric. Different kinds of engines were mounted in different models of the aircraft: the Piaggio P.IX and P.X engines, 680 hp and 700 hp respectively; the Alfa Romeo 125 and 126, 680 hp and 900 hp respectively; the 1,000 hp Gnome-Rhone. Defensive armament consisted of six machine guns, four of them installed in two turrets, one in the dorsal position and the other, retractable, in the ventral position, and two installed on the fuselage sides. The standard bomb load was 1 ton (1.01 tonnes), but 2 tons (2.02 tonnes) could be carried by reducing the aeroplane's range.
When the SIAl-Marchetti SM.79 went into service, the SM.81 was gradually withdrawn from front-line duty in metropolitan territory and was reassigned to the African and Russian fronts, where it saw duty as a transport aeroplane. After the 1943 armistice, four SM.81s remained in the south. The others served in two transport units in the 'Salo' Republic of Italy. Only two SM.81s survived the war.
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Aircraft: SIAl-Marchetti SM.81
Engine: Three Alfa Romeo 125 RC 35. 9cylinder radial. air-cooled. 680 hp each
Wingspan: 78 ft 9 in (24.00 m)
Length: 60 ft 1 in (18.31 m)
Height: 14 ft 4 in (4.47 m)
Weight: 23.190 Ib 110.505 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum speed: 211 mph (340 km/hl at 13.120 ft (4.000 m)
Ceiling: 23.000 ft (7.000 m)
Range: 1,200 miles (1,931 km) Armament: 6 machine guns; 4.415 Ib (2.000 kg) of bombs
This is a SM.81 of 213a Squadriglia, 24o Gruppo, 21o Stormo Bombardamento Terrestre (Spain - 1938 Aviacion Legionaria).
I built this kit straight from the box with the camouflage inspired from a few photos in sequence (perhaps a propaganda film) about a plane nicknamed "soso", in close formation with two other SM. 81s, none with the same camouflage. The plane I modeled is marked with specials markings (note the left wing, fuselage and rudder).
|Colours and Markings
The camouflage consists of the standard pre-war metropolitan scheme of bianco avorio, oversprayed in a verde and marrone mimetico disruptive pattern, each area sprayed in the opposite color (base green, paddel brown and vice-versa). Undersurfaces are bianco avorio. The plane also carried the red friezes on undercarriages. I used exclusively a mixture of Tamiya basic colours, Gunze and Humbrol. Markings were applied using simple masks I made myself.
Profile Publications n°146 "The Savoia Marchetti Sm 81" 1967
Delta Editrice Parma "il Pipistrello della Regia "
CMPR - Club Modellistico Plastico Ravenna (Italy) n°3/95