Special Hobby 1/72 FIAT CR.25bis
Long Range Fighter
by Chris Busbridge

Click the STORMO! Eagle to
return to the Gallery

The FIAT CR.25 was a twin-engine multi-role aircraft serving in very small numbers for the Regia Aeronautica (RA) before and during World War II. Of mixed wood, metal and fabric construction the first of two prototypes flew on July 22, 1937 powered by 858hp Fiat A.74 R.C.38 14-cylinder radial engines the same as those powering contemporary Caproni Vizzola F.5, FIAT G.50 and Macchi C.200 fighters.

In 1936 FIAT established an independent engineering team headed by Celestino Rosatelli (1885-1945) to design a new multi-engine aircraft capable of executing strategic reconnaissance and light bombing missions with long range escort fighter capability. During flight tests in 1937 one of the two CR.25 prototypes attained a top speed of over 300 mph (483 km/h) comparable to the German Messerschmitt Bf 110 first flown on May 12, 1936 and the British Bolton Paul Defiant the RA placed an order for 40 aircraft as long-range escort fighters.

Around when the CR.25 order was placed RA attention shifted towards getting Piaggio P.XI-powered Breda Ba.88 ground attack/reconnaissance and P.VII-powered Caproni Ca.310 reconnaissance aircraft into production unfortunately at the expense of the CR.25, ten long range escort fighters being manufactured armed with three 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns one in a dorsal turret as the CR.25bis, less than that many serving with the 173a Squadriglia Ricognizione Strategica Terrestre based in Sicily up till the July 1943 Allied Invasion. Despite positive operational reports from pilots as well as a FIAT proposal to resume CR.25 production no further RA production orders were received.

Aside from the two prototypes and ten CR.25bis long-range escort fighters one of the latter was converted to a VIP transport for the Italian air attaché in Berlin as the CR.25D. In 1940 FIAT reportedly manufactured and flew the CR.25quater with longer wing span and heavier armament no further development taking place.


The Kit
I bought Airmodel's 1/72 Fiat Cr.25 kit a while ago. Although I have built vacform kits before, I just never got around to starting it. With this Special Hobby release, I probably never will! This kit is well moulded, with clean and evenly engraved panel lines. Fabric effect is nicely rendered throughout. Internal detail is rather basic (no sidewall detail for example). This is a shame as the cockpit canopy and nose glazing parts are very clear and thin. A possible way around this is to purchase the cockpit detail set from either ItalianKits or Alitaliane (other sets available are replacement cowlings & u/c and posable elevator and rudder parts). The decals are nicely printed and the instruction sheet is easy to follow. The painting guide gives a fair description of the complex mottle scheme, but it may pay to look elsewhere for better references. Unfortunately, the very useful Ali d'Italia booklet is now out of print.

The Build
With such a basic interior, the fuselage is quickly assembled. The cut out in the fuselage for the nose glazing is a bit generous, so I shimmed it out with strips of plasticard to get a better fit. All the other items such as the wings and horizontal stabilizers fit without the need for putty. The resin engines are a laborious process, as each cylinder has to be glued onto the crankcase before being made ready to fit onto their wing fairings. The engine cowls are the only items that spoil the show. The radius of the curved section around the cowling front needs to be increased (and its aperture increased as well). Photo references or Carmel's article will help when correcting this feature. Another problem is the undercarriage. The legs are spaced too far apart to get a snug fit onto each wheel or to capture each wheel. I carefully removed the interlinking framework, made them about 0.5mm shorter in width, then drilled small hole at the end of each leg to take a length of rod as an axle. Only then could each leg be re-assembled and fitted into each wheel well.

Colors and Markings
With the main assembly complete and what little cockpit detail there was dealt with, the rest of the glazing is installed and masked with Tamiya tape. Grey primer is sprayed on and any flaws checked, which was hardly any in this case. The lower surfaces where sprayed with Xtracolor X134, allowed to dry and then a base coat sprayed on the upper surfaces for the mottle, using Humbrol 63. The mottles are sprayed using Humbrol 149 for the Green and 118 for the brown. Needless to say this was by far the most time consuming and delicate process of the whole build. I had a good photograph from which to match the scheme, which I did as closely as I could. This allows me to tune into the mottle technique and then it carry over onto areas hidden from view. All aircraft in this squadriglia sported a very similar pattern. One variation is the cowlings. Most had yellow cowlings to start with which, in most cases, were gradually over painted with Dark Olive Green to reduce visibility. Anyone unable to contemplate tackling such a complex scheme could try modelling earlier incarnations of this aircraft, which included a civilian transport and a touring aircraft, each with simpler plainer markings. No decals are known for these unfortunately.

When satisfied with the results, I prepared the model with Future before applying the decals, which worked fine. All that's left is to added the mid turret and nose guns as well as the mast and wheels.

In summary, a seemingly easier build than AirModels vacform kit, apart form the issue with the cowling shape and undercarriage fit. Anyone who is a dab hand with an airbrush should find this a very satisfying build. It is quite a good looking aircraft as well. As Carmel states, Ing. Rosatelli has borrowed a few design cues from his larger creation, the Br.20. Anyone who has the Italeri kit should consider building a Cr.25 to put alongside... just to compare!

Technical Data

Aircraft: Fiat CR.25
Manufacturer: Fiat S.A.
Type: Fighter Bomber
Year: 1937
Engine: 2 × Fiat A.74 R.C.38 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 841 hp each
Wingspan: 52 ft 6 in (16.00 m)
Length: 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m)
Height: 10 ft 10 in (3.3 m)
Weight: 14,606 lb (6,625 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 280 mph (450 km/h)
Ceiling: 26,080 ft (7,950 m)
Range: 930 miles (1,500 km)
Armament: 3 × 12.7 mm (0.500 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns; 661lb (300 kg) of bombs
Crew: 2-3

Additional Images

STORMO! Products

September, 2020
STORMO! © 2020