Societa Idrovolanti Alta Italia (SIAI) was formed in 1915 and, post WWI, renamed Savoia after it absorbed the Societá Anonima Costruzioni Aeronautice Savoia, a company founded in 1915 by Umberto Savoia. Its first notable success was the Savoia S.12 that won the 1920 Schneider Trophy. Alessandro Marchetti joined Savoia in 1922 as their chief designer. His seaplane designs helped establish the company's growing reputation, such the incomparable S.55. The majority of their output was to be large land-based aircraft including the iconic SM.79. The company was renamed SIAI-Marchetti in 1943 and restarted aircraft production in the late 1950s until it was absorbed by Aermacchi in 1997.

Savoia Marchetti S.55. This innovative double-hulled flying boat first flew in 1924 and immediately started to achieve notable distance records. In Feb 1927, Francesco de Pinedo and his two man crew set off from Cagliari in a S.55 named 'Santa Maria', to start his epic 'Four Continents' flight. Despite losing Santa Maria in a refuelling incident en route, he was able to complete the 29,180 mile flight in 'Santa Maria II', landing in Ostia 124 days later to much acclaim. In the same year, Joao Ribeiro de Barros flew an all red S.55 named 'Jahu' from Santiago Island to Fernando de Noronha Island, Brazil. This aircraft is housed in the TAM 'Asas de um sonho' museum in Sao Paulo after undergoing a meticulous restoration. In 1933 Italo Balbo led a squadron of 24 S.55X's in a tight V-formation from Italy to America and back, stopping at various locations en route. This venture gave rise to the term 'balbo' for this type of formation flying. S.55's were used by the Regia Aeronautica as a long range bomber and patrol but were put into reserve by WWII. Despite such rich history no decent kits were available. With only toy-like 1/72 Delta2 and 1/96 Glencoe kits, this was an aircraft that really deserved a decent model. Dora Wings have done just that. It is a highly detailed 1/72 kit loaded with accurate scale appropriate parts. Some parts show hints of 3-D printed mastering and much care will be required during construction. Their first boxing has markings for "Jahu" and "Santa Maria" but corrections to the hull hatches & portholes are needed to depict Santa Maria accurately (there are plenty of good online images to help). Dora Wings released a second boxing for a Regia Aeronautica S.55 torpedo bomber and  will release the S.55A in a third boxing. Italiankits plan to release Balbo's ‘X’ variant, which had a more streamlined hull, fully enclosed cockpit and engine covers as seen in the second image.

Savoia Marchetti S.66. This was an enlarged version of the S.55 that first flew in 1931. It was powered by a trio of FIAT A.24R engines with seating in each hull for up to 11 passengers. 16 were in service with the Ala Littoria airline and the Regia Aeronautica used a few for search and rescue. No kits are known of this aircraft.

Savoia Marchetti S.73. A trimotor passenger aircraft that first flew in 1934 after a development time of just 4 months. This was due, in most part, to having same wing structure as the S.55. It was used widely in both the Ala Littoria and Belgian Sabena airline. The Regia Aeronautica used them for military transport duties. Although this aircraft was an obsolete design, it was cheap, rugged and easy to fly. A few Belgian S.73's were flown to Britain to serve in the RAF. The 1/72 Supermodel/Italeri SM.81 kit would make a good starting point for a S.73 conversion with just a few modifications to the fuselage required. The SEM Models conversion set is now discontinued.    

Savoia Marchetti S.74. Based on the S.72, this distinctive shoulder winged 25-seater airliner, powered by 4 Piaggio Stella radials, was one of the fastest passenger planes in service at the time. All 3 were operated by Ala Littoria and pressed into Regia Aeronautica service for transport use. Broplan released a 1/72 vacuform kit but has no decals. The SEM Models 1/72 kit has been discontinued.

Savoia Marchetti SM.75. When first built this was the largest aircraft built by Savoia and the first to feature a retractable undercarriage. Used extensively by Ala Littoria, most were commandeered for transport use. A military version was developed which shared some features seen on the SM.82. Broplan released three 1/72 vacuform kits covering the early, bis and RT variants. Italiankits also have a series of SM.75 conversion sets planned all based around the Italeri SM.82 kit

Savoia Marchetti SM.78. First flown in 1932, this is the last of the biplane flying boats of Italian origin. It was eventually replaced by the CANT Z.501 in 1938. Choroszy Modelbud’s 1/72 resin kit is well worth considering. It is well moulded but a bit fiddly.

Savoia Marchetti S.79 Sparviero. Considered to be Italy's most historic and important WWII aircraft, it became a true morale booster for the Italians after repeated success as a torpedo bomber. Originally designed for fast transport, passenger and air racing, it first flew in 1934. Its apparent high speed enabled it to establish many records and when in service, its ruggedness and operational capability meant it was well liked by all of its pilots, who give it the unofficial nickname of ‘Maledetto Gobbo’ (Damned Hunchback). Despite its rather obsolete design, it remained in service up until 1952, with over 1,300 built when production stopped in 1943.

In the past this aircraft was poorly presented in model form with only the poor 1/72 Airfix and 1/40 Artiplast kits to choose from. Most kits released since then have all been discontinued. Such kits are: E.P. Originals 1/48 resin kit (the first decent model you could get); Vintage Models re-issue of the same; Classic Airframe 1/48 kits (which covered the early and late versions); the Flashback re-issue of the Classic Airframe kit (with extra etch & resin parts) and the 1/48 Trumpeter model. In 2003 Italeri released the first in a series of 1/72 S.79 kits covering most variants but only one of these kits is still available. Airfix have re-issued their kit but it is for collectors only. One other interesting release is the Azur/Fromm 1/72 Jumo powered SM.79, a variant built for the Romanian airforce but that is discontinued too.

Savoia Marchetti SM.81 Pipistrello. Based on the S.73 civilian 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 through and even for a short while after. Italeri re-released the 1/72 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.

Savoia Marchetti SM.82.  Based on the SM.75 airframe and powered by a range of engines, it had a much deeper fuselage which allowed for a double deck. Although intended as a bomber, this aircraft turned out to be fine transporter. First flown in 1939, just over 500 were built. A large number were put into service with the Luftwaffe and 14 were used by the Ala Littoria and LATI airline. About 30 SM.82 continued in post war service with the AMI and not retired until 1960! There is a surviving example in the air museum at Viga di Valle. Italeri have released this 1/72 kit on three separate boxings and is worth adding to any Regia Aeronautica model collection. The flaps and bomb bay doors are best left in the down position (closing them up is rather difficult). Further improvements are to reduce the diameter of the cowl openings and replace the kit engines with more accurate aftermarket items.

Savoia Marchetti SM.83. This is a civilian version of the SM.79 bomber that first flew in 1937. About 23 were built and were operated by LATI and Sabena with seating for 4 to 10 passengers. The Regia Aeronautica commandeered the LATI aircraft for transport use. Italiankits have a conversion set for the Italeri S.79 kit in the works.

Savoia Marchetti SM.84. The SM.84 was intended to replace the SM.79. It  shared the same trimotor layout and wing platform but had a revised fuselage, uprated engines and more advanced features. However its increased weight and poor handling made it unpopular with its crew. Now discontinued, the Aviation USK model was a decent enough kit, although not without the usual limited-run shortcomings. Jean Barby’s expert build of Alitalianes ambitious 1/48 resin kit, also discontinued, can be seen on the stormomagazine website. SEM Models had a 1/48 resin in their catalogue, possibly a re-issue of the Alitaliane kit, but they have suspended operations.

Savoia Marchetti SM.85. First flown in 1936, powered by two Piaggio radials, the S.M.85 was considered the least successful Italian dive bomber design ever and all 34 aircraft were 'retired' in 1940 for being totally unsuitable for the role! RCR produced a 1/72 resin kit and Alitaliane a 1/48 kit but both are discontinued.

Savoia Marchetti SM.86. The SM.86 was another dive bomber prototype. Sharing little common with the SM.85, this all new design was powered by inline Walter Sagitta engines. With improved aerodynamics, tests proved it was a faster and more capable machine but no orders were placed despite the desperate need for dive bombers. A second prototype was built, powered by Isotta Fraschini Gamma engines. LF Models produced 1/72 resin kits covering both engine types.

Savoia Marchetti SM.87. A floatplane version of the SM.75 that was originally intended for the Argentine Corporacion Sud-Americana de Transportes Aereos. but political disputes meant the 4 SM.87 built were put into service with Ala Littoria instead. Powered by the reliable FIAT A80 engine, in place of the PW Twin Wasp, they served the Rome - Cagliari - Barcelona route. They were not used by the Regia Aeronautica, although I-INNO did suffer an air attack just before the Armistice. Aerofan #98 features an article on this aircraft. Broplan released a 1/72 vacuform model which was based around their SM.75 kit with additional float and engine parts.

Savoia Marchetti SM.89. A twin-engined prototype derived from the SM.84 trimotor. The forward fuselage section was reconfigured with the removal of the engine and the installation of heavy weaponry suitable for the ground attack role. The combined weight of this armament was too great, even with uprated engines, and no production order was placed. The 1/72 KPL vacuform kit is discontinued, but Italiankits have a 1/72 resin kit under their Italian Wings label.

Savoia Marchetti SM.91. This twin-boom long range fighter bomber prototype first flew in 1943. It was powered by two DB605 engines which gave it a top speed of 363mph. The crew sat in a centrally mounted cockpit nacelle and it was well armed. The only kit known is the discontinued 1/72 KPL vacuform kit.

Savoia Marchetti SM.92. This aircraft was an evolutionary variant of the SM.91. With no means of getting hold of the more powerful DB603 engine, the crew compartment was relocated to the port boom. With other tweaks to the airframe, this gave it a higher top speed of 382mph. Its first flight was post-Armistice so all tests were carried out under German control. The only kit known is the discontinued 1/72 KPL vacuform kit.

Savoia Marchetti SM.93. A dive-bomber prototype powered by a single DB605 engine. Its first flight was not until 1944. Its somewhat unusual cockpit design was due to the pilot being required to lay prone during flight. This was to avoid blackouts when pulling out of a dive, where speeds of up to 560 mph were possible thanks to the clean aerodynamics of the airframe. The project was abandoned after complaints about the prone position. Aerofan #93 features an article on this aircraft. Now discontinued, Legato issued a 1/72 resin kit which needed corrective work to the spinner and undercarriage to get a more accurate appearance.

Savoia Marchetti SM.95. This aircraft was intended as a replacement for the SM.75 trimotor but its first flight did not take place until 1943. Only two airframes were built before the Armistice. Production was resumed in 1945 with a total of 20 aircraft built. It was not entirely successful, being underpowered and its mixed construction prevented cabin pressurisation for high altitude flights. Its last flight was in 1954. Broplan released two 1/72 vacuform kits of this aircraft, covering both civil and military versions.


















go back


Model images are links to a build article