Savoia Marchetti

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 saw further success and helped establish the company's growing reputation, particularly the incomparable S.55. The majority of their output was to be large land-based transport and bomber 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 S.55. This innovative double-hulled flying boat first flew in 1924 and immediately established 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 reastoration. In 1933 Italo Balbo led a squadron of 24 S.55X's in a tight V-formation from Italy to Chicago and back again, giving rise to the term 'balbo' for this type of formation. 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 to choose from, this was an aircraft that really deserved a decent model. Happily Dora Wings have done just that. It is a nicely detailed 1/72 kit which is loaded with accurate scale-appropriate parts. Although not immediately apparent, some parts show hints of 3-D printed mastering so some 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 top image.

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. Flown by 'Ala Littoria' and the Belgian 'Sabena' airline. Even the Regia Aeronautica used a few for military transport purposes. 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 kit could make a good starting point for a S.73 conversion, although SEM Models did a conversion set but it is OOP.    

Savoia Marchetti S.74. Based on the S.72, this shoulder winged 25-seater airliner, powered by 4 Piaggio Stella radials, was one of the fastest passenger planes in service at the time. Only 3 were made for 'Ala Littoria' and used 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 issued 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.

Savoia Marchetti SM.78 First flown in 1932, this was to be 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 SM.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. First flown in 1934, its apparent speed enabled it to establish many records and when in service, its ruggedness and operational capability meant it was well liked by 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. 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. Click on the colour image to the right to find out more. Other kits included the inaccurate Airfix 1/72 kit 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 but 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. In 2003 Italeri released the first in a series of 1/72 S.79 kits covering most variants. As hinted at by the their 1/72 Macchi C.202 & C.205 models, they are quite nicely detailed and are relatively easy to assemble. There has been some comments of the pronounced 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 Italeri fuselage. One other interesting release is Azur/Fromms1/72 Jumo powered SM.79, a variant built for the Romanian airforce.

Savoia Marchetti SM.81. 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. The brainchild of gen. Italo Balbo, this aircraft was considered to be the finest purpose built transporter 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. It can be further improved by reducing the diameter of the cowl openings and 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 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 OOP, thet 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, 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 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 ever and despite a production of 34 units they were 'retired' in 1940 for being totally unsuitable for the role. RCR produced a 1/72 resin kit and Alitaliane a 1/48 kit. Both are OOP.

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 2 1/72 resin kits, covering both engine 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. Click on the model shown on the right for more details. Aerofan #98 features an article on this aircraft.

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 waponry 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. Italiankits produced a 1/72 resin kit of this aircraft 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. No kits are known of this aircraft.

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. No kits are known of this design.

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. Legato issued a 1/72 resin kit (now OOP) which needed corrective work to the spinner and undercarriage to get a more accurate appearance. Aerofan #93 features an article on this aircraft. Click on the last image to find out more about this odd looking kit.

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Model images are linked to detailed write ups and, in most cases, are archived SAMI reviews.