Alitaliane 1/48 Savoia Marchetti SM.84
Torpedo Bomber
by Stephen Portelli


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This airplane was designed to replace the SM.79, but it was not quite able to match the earlier aircraft. Although the SM.84 was modern and generally a better airplane it was not an ideal combat aircraft like its predecessor. Its chief weakness was that it was not highly maneuverable. This became evident when it was used as a torpedo bomber. Nevertheless the 309 aircraft manufactured put in a good showing in the Mediterranean until the 1943 armistice. Some SM.84s were used in transport units after the war and remained in service until 1948.

The SM.84 was designed by Alessandro Marchetti who had designed SIAIís earlier tri-motor aircraft. The new plane kept the main plane of the SM.79 however the fuselage was more modern, the tailpane had twin-rudders for improved directional stability and a wider scope of fire for the rear gunner and engines that were more powerful. The SM.84 was a low wing monoplane with a frame of wood and steel tubing and skin of fabric, plywood and aluminum. The undercarriage was retractable and partially enclosed in the engine nacelles. Power was provided by three 1,000 hp Piaggio P.XI radial engines which drove three blade metal propellers with variable pitch. Defensive armament consisted of 4 x 12.7 mm MGs. Bombs could be carried inside the fuselage or under the wings. A maximum of 1 ton of bombs could be carried internally. Outside, the airplane could carry four rockets, various accommodations of bombs up to a maximum of 3,500 pounds or two torpedoes.

The prototype made its first flight on June 5, 1940. Earlier tests had already been carried out on a modified SM.79 with twin rudders and 860 hp Alfa Romeo engines. The new aeroplane, however, experienced various difficulties, especially in take-off, and the Piaggio P.XI engines did not prove to be very reliable. Nevertheless the SIAI-Marchetti SM.84 was ordered at once in large quantity, a first order for 246 aircraft being placed while the prototype was beginning test flights.

The first unit to receive the new tri-motor aeroplane was the 41st Bomber Group in February 1941. Several months later the 36th Torpedo Bomber Group received the aeroplane. The SM.84 served as a torpedo carrier until the autumn of 1942, when it was reassigned to bomber groups. Meanwhile the 84bis model had gone into production. This model had a modified wing, with positive dihedral, changes in the cockpit and in the ventilation of the engines and torpedo-launching controls.

After the 1943 armistice some of the SM.84s fell into German hands, but they saw little duty in the north. Ten aeroplanes were used by the Allies in the south in a transport group and these aircraft remained in service until the end of the war.





Construction

Jean Barbyís build was a great inspiration. I sent Jean a photo when I completed it originally a few years ago. He said it was only the second one (after his) he had ever seen built, after building it I can understand why, itís a rare, expensive but difficult kit to assemble requiring much work.



Technical Data

Aircraft: SIAI-Marchetti SM.84
Manufacturer: SIAI-Marchetti
Type: Bomber
Year: 1941
Engine: Three Piaggio P.XI RC 40, 14 cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,000 hp each
Wingspan: 69 ft 7 in (21.20 m)
Length: 58 ft 10 in (17.93 m)
Height: 15 ft 1 in (4.59 m)
Weight: 29,330 lb (13,288 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 268 mph (432 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
Ceiling: 25,900 ft (7,900 m)
Range: 1,137 miles (1,830 km)
Armament: 4 machine guns; 4,400 lb (2,000 kg) of bombs
Crew: 5

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