Click on any of the aircraft company links below for a brief history and any kits produced.
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Other points of interest
The fasce device that appears on Regia Aeronautica aircraft is thought to have Estrucan origins. The Ancient Roman magistrates used it as a symbol of power and they were carried by lictors. It's a thick bundle of reeds tightly bound by a red leather strap to make a cylinder encasing a single-headed axe. The protruding blade symbolised the power of capital punishment. The fasce blades on the wing insignia always faced towards the wing tip and the full colour fuselage fasce, applied as a decal, always faced towards the nose of the aircraft. Together with the Savoy Crest that appeared on the aircraft rudder, these complex graphics are very difficult to print as a decal. The blue background, in most cases, is usually far too bright and the crest over simplified. The best I’ve seen are those printed for Pacific Coast Model kits.
Some Italian aircraft manufacturers used the initial of their designers surname in its designation. Hence Z for CANT aircraft (designed by ing. Zapatta), C for ing. Castoldis Macchi designs and G for ing. G. Gabrielli FIAT aircraft. Ing. Rosatelli FIAT aircraft featured a lower case ‘r’, hence Br.20, Cr.25, Cr.32, Cr.42 and so on. In most other cases the first two letters of the company name were used, so RE for Reggiane, Ca for Caproni and Ba for Breda and so on. Piaggio had a designer named ing. Pegna but the P designation stayed even when ing. Casiraghi took over.
The attractive and always tasteful unit artwork was often inspired or designed by its pilots and appeared on nearly all aircraft. No saucy nose art or even kill markings were allowed! Most widely known is the ‘cavallino rampante’ which first appeared on the aircraft of Italy’s WWI leading air ace, Francesco Baracca. Practically all 10° Gruppo had this device. It was subsequently donated to Enzo Ferrari by the Baracca family. Other long lived symbols, such as ‘diavolo rosso’, ‘the archer’, ‘scarecrow‘ & ‘black cat’ are still seen on modern day AMI aircraft. The ‘vespa arrabiata’ has been adopted by this site. Pacific Coast Models used the ‘gigi tre osei’ symbol as part of their branding.
Despite the rather specialist nature of the Regia Aeronautica, there was a surprising amount of printed material. Unfortunately most have since gone out of print and may be hard to track down. The best reference source has always been the bi-lingual titles published by Giorgio Apostolo Editore and La Bancarella Aeronautica. This includes the reknowned ‘Ali d’Italia’, ‘mini Ali d’Italia’, ‘Ali e Colori’, ‘Ali Straniere in Italia’ series and the ‘Aerofan’ magazine. Other books to mention are: Chris Dunning ‘Courage Alone’, J. Thompson ‘Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-1945’, and U. Postiglioni & A. Degl’Innocenti ‘Colori Schemi Mimetici della Regia Aeronautica 1935-1943’. Honourable mention also must go to IBN Editore, their Aviolibri dossier series and the modelling guides authored by Maurizio di Terlizzi, where he showcases his modelling expertise and great depth of knowledge. Books published under the ‘Aeronautica Militare - Ufficio Storico’ banner are Italian language only. Osprey also print a series of booklets mainly on the theme of air aces.
Allied and Axis aircraft in Regia Aeronautica service
Aircraft either supplied or commandeered from other air forces would normally have their ID markings over-sprayed with what was to hand leaving the rest of the original scheme intact. Such aircraft included the Dewoitine D.520, Leo 451, Bf 109G, Bf 110, Dornier Do 17 & 217, Storch, Ju87 & Ju.88. One exception was a captured Yugoslavian fabric-wing Hurricane which had a full Regia Aeronautica scheme. The Pacific Coast Models’ 1/32 kit, the Classic Airframes 1/48 kit and the latest 1/72 Airfix kit are all suitable for this scheme.
Theatre of operations
Their first campaign took place in Ethiopia, from Oct 1935 until Feb 1937 where it met little opposition. Some aircraft were also sent to Spain ’ to serve alongside the Luftwaffe. It gave the Regia Aeronautica a chance to try out some of their newer aircraft such as the FIAT G.50 and Br.20. Operations in the Middle East and East Africa were to follow but perhaps the most intense was the Western Desert campaign aided by and then in support of Rommel. Other operations were Battle of Britain, Malta, Greece & Yugoslavia, the Eastern Front and Sicily. Their very last mission was the defence of Frascati, Rome just before the Armistice. The Regia Aeronautica disbanded and split in two... the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana in support of the Axis campaign to the north of Italy and the Co-Belligerante in support of the Allies to the south. In 1946, the monarchy of Italy was abolished and the ‘Kingdom of Italy’ was no more. What aircraft remained was to become the Aeronautica Militare Italiana... but that’s another story!