Rinaldo Piaggio S.p.A.
Founded by Rinaldo Piaggio in 1884, the Genoa based company built railway rolling stock and fitted out ocean liners. It absorbed the Pegna Bonmartini Costruzioni Navali-Aeronautiche in 1923, retaining ing. Giovanni Pegna as its designer-in-chief. He oversaw many advanced prototype designs before joining Reggiane in 1936. With ing. Giovanni Casiraghi, who had previously worked at the WACO Aircraft Company, taking charge of the design office thereafter, he continued the developement of the P.50 which was the springboard for the P.108, the only Piaggio design to see active duty during WWII. Post war saw Piaggio continuing to design innovative aircraft right up until the P.180 Avanti.
Piaggio P.16. Ing. Pegna introduced a lot of firsts in his 1932 tri-motor aircraft design. With an unusual elliptical inverted gull wing configuration, it had quite a unique appearance. Just one prototype was completed and although the Regia Aeronautica did place an order it was cancelled in favour of the P.23. Not kits are known of this aircraft.
Piaggio P.23M. A 1934 evolutionary development of the P.16, sharing the same wing design but powered by four Asso inline engines fitted in tandem on shoulder mounted wings. The fuselage had a watertight hulll-like shape intended for emergency landing on water, hence the M (Marino) suffix. Only two were built. No kit has ever been made of this interesting aircraft.
Piaggio P.23R This sleek and rather large trimotor transport design had nothing in common with the P.23M but it was possibly the most streamlined aircraft of the time. Originally powered with Asso inline engines it was subsequently fitted with Piaggio radials and went on to break two distance records with a 11,000lb payload towards the end of 1938. Was rumoured to be intended as a one way trans Atlantic bomber, probably for propoganda purposes. Would certainly make an interesting modelling subject.
Piaggio P.32. Using knowledge gained from his previous prototypes, ing. Pegna designed this advanced bomber with a reduced wing area, featuring leading edge slats and double trailing edge flaps. It proved difficult to fly as its under-powered Asso inline engines could not compensate for the high wing loading. The P.32 II had more powerful Piaggio radial engines. With only a dozen or so built of each variant, they were taken out of service in 1938. In 1937 Caproni built a more streamlined version of the P.32, designated Ca.405 Procelleria, which was intended for the Istres-Damascus-Paris Air Race of 1937. At the same time ing. Pegna, who had moved across to Reggiane, worked on a similar P.32bis design but this programme was halted after a fatal crash. LF Models released 2 rather pricey 1/72 resin kits of the P.32, covering both engine types. Although shape wise they are fairly accurate they do suffer from a lack of good quality detail parts. As the aircraft were of wooden construction, there is little panel line detail to worry about. They can, with some effort, still make an interesting addition to any RA bomber collection.
Piaggio P.50. Initiated by ing. Pegna before leaving the company, ing. Casiraghi took over its development. The 2 P.50 I prototypes had the same tandem Asso engine layout as the P.23M but ing. Casiraghi proposed a third prototype, the P.50 II which had a more conventional arrangement of 4 Piaggio radials on the leading edge of the wing. This design would lead directly to the P.108 design that followed. No kits were ever produced.
Piaggio P.108. Having established himself working on the P.50 prototypes, ing. Casiraghis P.108 bomber design was to be the only Axis 4-engined WWII bomber to enter service. A unique feature at the time were the remotely controlled gun turrets located just behind the two outer engines. Despite its obvious merits, such as easy controls, good flight characteristics and a very long range, Italy just didn't have the manpower or resources to produce them in sufficient numbers. Only 24 P.108B bombers were built, with an additional 6 P.108Cs built for commercial use and nine P.108Ts for troop & transport. Post Armistice, all remaining P.108C & P.108T aircraft entered Luftwaffe service who exploited its spacious interior. Flying Machines produced a very nicely done 1/72 P.108B model and its manufacturer Special Hobby also released a night bomber variant & the sole P.108A "artigliere' prototype, which had a large bore cannon installed in a restyled nose. All are highly recommended. Special Hobby have also recently re-released the P.108B with revised detail parts. Cunarmodel did a conversion set to build the P.108T which has since been re-issued by Italiankits. Click on the image to the right to find out more about this kit.
Piaggio P.111. Originally a high speed high altitude bomber prototype design, it's role was changed to that of a short lived high-altitude research aircraft, in parallel with the P.108 that was in development at the time. Powered by supercharged Piaggio P.XII radials built specifically for this aircraft, it first flew in 1941 and did over 100 test flights before being scrapped in 1943. No kits are known but it would make an interesting subject.
Piaggio P.119. This sole all-metal P.119 fighter prototype was a very advanced design in its day, with its Piaggio P.XV radial engine installed behind the cockpit for improved C of G. Although quite heavy, it had a large wing area and when first flown in 1942, it proved to be a very nimble and well-balanced aircraft. With all its firepower concentrated in its nose, it certainly would have packed a punch! Italian Wings issued a 1/72 resin kit of this aircraft, but it will need a serious amount of corrective surgery to be considered accurate with shape issues everywhere except for the canopy.