Cantiere Navale Triestino (CNT) was founded in 1908 by the Cousilich family. Their Cantieri Aeronautici e Navali Triestini (CANT) aircraft division was set up in 1923. When CNT merged with Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino in 1929 and renamed Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico (CRDA), the CANT division remained. Filippo Zappata (1894-1994) was their renowned chief aircraft designer, working with them from 1933 to 1942. His 500 series were all water based and the 1000 series were land based. One notable feature of their aircraft was their all-wood construction due, in part, to the shipbuilding origins of the company. All aircraft production had ceased by 1944 but the shipbuilding continued and is now part of the Fincantieri group.
CANT Z.501 Gabbiano. This was Zappatas initial 500 series design. This large single-engined reconnaissance aircraft broke many distance records after its debut in 1934. It had a long range thanks to good fuel economy from its Isotta Fraschini Asso XI engine. Despite being slow and vulnerable, it served throughout WWII and was not retired until 1949. Now discontinued, the 1/72 Italeri kit was a popular model although the Ali d’Italia guidebook does show up various errors to its shape, such as the ailerons, canopy and engine cowling. White Ensign Models produced a very comprehensive etch set for this model which has many structural parts for detailing its rather sparse interior.
CANT Z.504. 1934 single engined two-seat prototype, built in response to a Regia Marina request for a reconnaissance seaplane. With the IMAM Ro.43 selected for this role, no orders were placed. Choroszy Modelbud produced a decent 1/72 resin kit of this aircraft.
CANT Z.506 Airone. First built in 1935, this was Zappatas most successful seaplane design. Originally used as an airliner for Ala Littoria, it was redesigned as a bomber which required an all new fuselage. It was very popular with its pilots as it had very stable handling in rough seas. As well as a bomber, it had a variety of other roles including search & rescue, hospital & ambulance duties and reconnaissance. The last known Z.506 was retired as late as 1959 and there is an original WWII example preserved in the air museum at Vigna di Valle near Rome. In 1986, Supermodel released a basic 1/72 which has since been upgraded by Italeri with improved internal & external details and an enlarged decal sheet. Broplan also produced a vac-form conversion of the original airliner variant. The discontinued 1/48 Alphaflight Z.506B resin kit is a challenging build, should you be lucky enough to track one down, but it is well worth the effort.
CANT Z.511. The design of this large elegant 4-engined seaplane was initiated in 1937 but its first flight was not until 1940. It was originally designed for commercial use, mainly for flights to Latin America but during wartime it was adapted for long range maritime transport and patrol. Only 2 were built. No kits are known but it would make an impressive model.
CANT Z.1007 Alcione. Perhaps the most widely known CANT designed by Zappata. Despite its all wood structure being effected by extreme temperature changes, it was the best bomber in Regia Aeronautica service and performed very well on long range reconnaissance missions as well. The initial trimotor was powered by Isotta Fraschini Asso engines and displayed much promise during testing, but a bis variant was introduced with more powerful Piaggio radial engines. This was to be the most numerous type with 450 built, with a twin-tail version introduced during production. A ter variant was also built with uprated engines. Both the 1/72 Supermodel and 1/48 Alphflight resin kits are discontinued and the Broplan 1/72 vac-form kit of the early Asso engined version is in limited supply. The Supermodel kit had many outline faults but it is worth tracking down the Alphaflight kit.
CANT Z.1011. This rather boxy design was the second land based bomber designed by Zappata. Just 5 of these twin-engined aircraft were built and were used for transport purposes as the Regia Aeronautica had already selected the Z.1007 trimotor for the bomber role. There are no known kits.
CANT Z.1012. A 1930 three-engined monoplane used by the diplomatic corps. Both Mussolini and Italo Balbo were thought to have flown in this aircraft. There are no kits known of this aircraft.
CANT Z.1015. A prototype of a modified Z.1007 that was initially thought to be for long distance mail delivery duties but possibly intended as a fast bomber. It had uprated Piaggio engines which gave good performance figures, with a top speed of 347 mph recorded. Italian Wings produced a 1/72 resin kit in the past but it is OOP
CANT Z.1018. An elegant twin-engined bomber that was to be the last CANT aircraft design. Although the project had started in 1939, it suffered a protracted development programme with all kinds of engine issues and complaints about the high cockpit position and narrow fuselage. In 1942, after numerous changes ordered by the Regia Aeronautica, Zappatta accepted an offer to join Breda and put forward 4 more proposals based on the Z.1018. Of these, the BZ.301 and BZ.303 were progressed under German control but it all was too late. With production hampered by Allied bombing, all factory remnants were demolished during 1944, so only a few pre-series machines ever made it into service. There was a mini Ali dItalia booklet printed that gives a brief outline of the rather tragic history of this fine looking aircraft. KPL's 1/72 vacuform kit is discontinued as is the Legato 1/72 resin kit which was accurate shape-wise but had poor detail & canopy parts.
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