Savoia

Societa Idrovolanti Alta Italia was formed in 1915. Its first notable success was the Savoia S.12 that won the 1920 Schneider Trophy. Ing. Marchetti joined Savoia in 1922 and became their chief designer. His seaplane designs saw further successes and established the company's growing reputation, particularly the incomparable S.55. Renamed Societa Italiana Aeroplani Idrovolante in 1936 the majority of their output was to be large land-based transport and bomber aircraft. The S.79 Sparviero is perhaps their most famous WWII aircraft design.

Savoia S.55. This iconic double-hulled flying boat captured the public imagination after the epic 1931/1933 Decenalle flotillas to North America led by Gen. Italo Balbo. A highly successful publicity campaign and a hugely impressive achievement for the time. Some S.55s did see military service and there is a surviving S.55, named 'Jahu', that is currently housed in the TAM 'Asas de um sonho' museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For some time the Delta2 1/72 S.55X kit was the only around but it is a very crude toy-like model. See the top image. The 1/96 Glencoe Savoia kit is even more toy-like, complete with a clear blue wave-shaped display mount. If there ever was an aircraft that deserved a decent model, it had to be this one. Happily Dora Wings have done just that. It appears to be very well researched and is loaded with accurate, nicely detailed parts but care will be need during assembly. One of the decal options is for the surviving all red 'Jahu'. Dora WIngs have parts for a militarised S.55 in the box and is the subject of their second release of the same model. It's not known if they plan to release the ‘X’ version which had a few changes to the airframe such as fully enclosed cockpit & engines and a streamlined fairing between the hull and wing structure.  

Savoia Marchetti S.74. Based on the SM.72, this shoulder winged 25-seater airliner, powered by 4 Piaggio Stella radials and flown by Ala Littoria, was one of the fastest passenger planes in service at the time. Only 3 were made and all were commandeered by the Regia Aeronautica for transport use in the North Africa campaign. Broplans 1/72 vacuform kit was fairly easy to assemble even though, due to sheet size limitations, the rear fuselage section was a separate part. SEM Models had two SM.74 1/72 resin kits in their range, in either the Ala Littoria or Regia Aeronautica markings, but they have suspended production.

Savoia Marchetti SM.75. The largest aircraft built by Savoia at the time and the first to feature a retractable undercarriage. Used extensively by Ala Littoria, most were commandeered for transport use, just like the S.74. A military version was developed which shared some features seen on the SM.82. Broplan isssued three versions of this aircraft and Italiankits released a SM.75PD conversion to be used with the Italeri SM.82 kit, as did SEM Models. The second image shows the Broplan kit built for a SAMI review.

Savoia Marchetti S.M.78 is a medium sized 1930s maritime biplane, but did not see widespread service mainly due to the Cant Z.501 entering service at the same time. Choroszy Modelbud’s 1/72 resin kit is well worth considering as it is very well moulded but it is a bit fiddly.

Savoia Marchetti S.79 Considered to be Italy's most historic and important WWII aircraft, it became a major morale booster for the Italians after repeated success as a torpedo bomber. It remained in full production throughout the war. It acquired the unofficial nickname of ‘Maledetto Gobbo’ (Damned Hunchback). Somewhat inexplicably, this aircraft had been poorly presented in model form for some time. For a short while, the best model was the E.P. Originals 1/48 resin kit which Vintage Models re-released with a few extras. The third image on the right shows this kit. Other kits included the inaccurate Airfix 1/72 kit, of which the fourth image shows a much reworked example I spent an inordinate amount of time and efffort on, and the very poor 1/48 SMER (ex-Artiplast) kit. This situation was resolved with a series of Classic Airframe 1/48 limited run releases, covering both the early bomber and late torpedo versions. They are hard to find these days. ItalianKits produced 1/48 & 1/72 Corsa conversion sets, which included decals printed by Cartograf. Flashback re-issued the Classic Airframe kit as a limited run with additional Eduard brass etch and resin parts. At more or less the same time, Trumpeter issued a 1/48 model. It is a worthy effort but it is not quite to the same standard set by Classic Airframes. There is a very strange over-scale fabric effect on the fuselage & tail surfaces and cockpit detail is poor by comparison. The cowlings are not quite the right shape and neither are the stabilisers. The one bonus of this model is the separately moulded control surfaces. A welcome development was a series of 1/72 S.79 kits by Italeri, covering most variants. As hinted at by the quality of their Macchi C.202 & C.205 models, they are quite nicely detailed and are relatively easy to assemble. There has been some critisism of the fuselage fabric detail but in view of its relatively cheap price they are still excellent value. Pavla released a Corsa conversion which requires surgery to the fuselage. See the fifth image on the right. One other interesting release is the a 1/72 Jumo powered S.79 from Azur/Fromm, a variant built for the Romanian airforce.

Savoia Marchetti SM.81. Based on the SM.73 civilain tri-motor airliner, this militarised version was powered by various radial engines and at least three types of cowls, including a Magni-NACA cowl. It saw extensive service leading up to WWII and soldiered on throughout it and even for a short while after. Italeri re-released the Supermodel SM.81 kit with engraved panel lines and improved fabric detail as well as a variety of cowls. Falcon produced 2 types of replacement canopies that can further enhance its overall appearance. The engines should be replaced by more accurate aftermarket versions as the kit parts are rather generic. It is entirely possible to backdate the model to the SM.73, but it will require some surgery to the fuselage in order to open up the passenger side windows and close up the turret postions. Ignore the Tauro model decal instructions for the conversion, they're wrong. Ask me how I know!

Savoia Marchetti SM.82. The brainchild of gen. Italo Balbo, this aircraft was considered to be the finest purpose built transports of WWII. The Germans commandeered about half of them. Based on the SM.75 airframe it had a much deeper fuselage which allowed for a double deck. Italeri have produced a 1/72 kit which is definitely worth adding to any Regia Aeronautica model collection. The flaps and bomb bay doors are best left in the down position though and it can be further improved by reducing the diameter of the cowl openings they re much too wide. The one piece engine parts are best replaced with more accurate aftermarket items.

Savoia Marchetti SM.84. The SM.84 was intended to replace the S.79 but it was so unpopular with its crew it was relegated to a supporting role. Now OOP, the Aviation USK model was a decent enough kit, although not without the usual limited-run shortcomings. It can be seen in the sixth image on the right. Jean Barby’s expert build of Alitalianes ambitious 1/48 resin kit, now OOP, can be seen on the stormomagazine website. SEM Models had a 1/48 resin in their catalogue, possibly a re-issue of the Alitaliane but they have suspended operations indefinitely.

Savoia Marchetti SM.85. Powered by two Piaggio radials, the S.M.85 was Italy's only dedicated dive bomber design to have made it into service, albeit unsuccessfully... all were withdrawn in favour of the Stuka. RCR produced a 1/72 resin kit and Alitaliane produced one in 1/48 scale. Both are OOP.

Savoia Marchetti SM.86. The SM.86 was a single prototype design based on the SM.85 powered by inline Walter Sagitta engines in place of radials. With its improved aerodynamics, test showed it was a faster and more capable machine but no orders were placed. LF Models have two 1/72 resin kits, either Walter or Delta inline engined types.

Savoia Marchetti SM.87. A floatplane version of the SM.75 that saw service with Ala Littoria. 4 were built. Broplan released a 1/72 vacform model based on their SM.75 kit with additional float and engine details. The model shown in the penulitmate image was built for a SAMI review article. Aerofan #98 features an article on this aircraft.

Savoia Marchetti SM.89. A twin-engined prototype derived from the SM.84 trimotor, powered by Piaggio P.XII RC35 radials. Italiankits produced a 1/72 resin kit of this aircraft under their Italian Wings label.

Savoia Marchetti SM.93. Another dive-bomber prototype powered by a single DB 601 engine. This one is somewhat unusual in appearance because the pilot lay prone during flight to prevent blackouts when pulling out of a dive. Tested by the Luftwaffe but abandoned in 1943. Legato issued a 1/72 resin kit but it needed corrective work to the spinner and undercarraige get a more accurate appearance. Aerofan #93 features an article on this aircraft. The last image shows the kit I built for a SAMI review article.