Breda Ba.65 A.80

Intended as an aeroplano di combattimento, capable of fulfilling the roles of interceptor fighter, light bomber, or reconnaissance/attack aircraft as required, the prototype Breda Ba.65 (MM 325) made its initial flight in September 1935, piloted by Ambrogio Colombo. It was a cantilever low-wing monoplane with main landing gear units retracting rearwards into underwing fairings. Basic structure of the fuselage and wing was of chrome-molybdenum steel alloy tubing, covered overall with duralumin sheet, except for the trailing edges of the wing, which were fabric-covered. The wing incorporated trailing-edge flaps and Handley Page leading-edge slats. A single fin and rudder tail assembly was strut- and wire-braced, and was of steel construction with light alloy skins.

An initial production order for 81 Ba.65s was placed in 1936, all powered by the French Gnome-Rhône K-14 engine of 700 hp (522 kW) as had been installed in the prototype. A batch of 13 aircraft from this production series equipped the 65a Squadriglia of the Aviazione Legionaria, the Italian air contingent sent to support the Fascist cause in the Spanish Civil War .The unit took part in operations at Santander in August 1937, then at Teruel, and in the battles for the River Ebro. Like the prototype these were single-seat aircraft, with the pilot's cockpit fully enclosed by a glazed canopy which tapered to the rear.

A Breda Ba.65 K-14 of the 65th Attack Squadron Aviacion del Tercio (Nationalist Air Force) - Puig Moreno 1938

Experience in Spain indicated that the Ba.65 was suited only to the attack role, and the type served thenceforth with most of the eight squadriglie attached to the two Regia Aeronautica assault stormi (wings), the 5° and 50°. A second series of 137 aircraft was built by Breda (80) and Caproni-Vizzola (57), before production ended in July 1939. They differed from the first production batch by having Fiat A.80 engines. Six Fiat powered Ba.65s and four more of the Gnome-Rhône powered version were sent to the Aviazione Legionaria in Spain in 1938.

Following Italy's entry into World War II in June 1940, Ba.65s were involved in the fighting in North Africa against the British. They had a low serviceability rate in desert conditions and put up an unimpressive performance. The last serviceable aircraft was lost during the British offensive in Cyrenaica in February 1941.

A large number of the Ba.65s serving with Italian units were of two-seat configuration, with an observer/gunner in an open cockpit above the trailing edge of the wing. A smaller number of the type had a Breda L type turret, but in either case the observer/gunner operated a single 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine-gun. While offensive armament could theoretically comprise up to 2,205 lbs (1000 kg) of bombs, the load usually carried was up to 661 lbs (300 kg) in the fuselage bomb bay or, alternatively, up to 441 lbs (200 kg) on underwing racks.

Exports included 25 Fiat powered Ba.65 two-seaters to Iraq in 1938, two of them dual-control trainers and the remainder with Breda L turrets; 20 Ba.65s with Piaggio P.XI C.40 engines to Chile later in the same year. 17 of them single-seaters and three dual-control trainers; and 10 Fiat powered two-seaters with Breda L turrets to Portugal in November 1939. A single Fiat powered production aircraft was tested with an American Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine in June 1937 in anticipation of an order from the Chinese Nationalist government, but this failed to materialise. The Iraqi Ba.65s saw limited action against the British during the 1941 insurrection in that country. 

(Breda Ba.65 A.80)

Type: Single Seat Ground Attack

Design: Breda Design Team

Manufacturer: Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda and also built by Caproni-Vizzola (57)

Powerplant: (Ba.65 A.80) One 1,000 hp (746 kW) Fiat A.80 RC.41 18-cylinder radial piston engine. (Ba.65 K-14) One 700 hp (522 kW) Rhone-Gnôme K-14 radial engine.

Performance: Maximum speed 267 mph (430 km/h); maximum speed (two-seat) 255 mph (410 km/h); service ceiling 20,670 ft (6300 m).

Range: 342 miles (550 km) on internal fuel.

Weight: Empty equipped 5,291 lbs (2400 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 6,504 lbs (2950 kg).

Dimensions: Span 39 ft 8 1/2 in (12.10 m); length 30 ft 6 1/4 in (9.30 m); height 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m); wing area 252.96 sq ft (23.5 sq m).

Armament: Two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) and two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Breda-SAFAT fixed forward firing machine-guns in the wings, plus up to 661 lbs (300 kg) of bombs in fuselage bomb-bay and up to 441 lbs (200 kg) of bombs on underwing racks.

Variants: Ba.65 (MM 325 prototype), Ba.65 (single seat), Ba.65 (two seat), Ba.65 (trainer). No official version designations were used since all aircraft were technically identical, and aircraft were identified simply by the engine used.

Avionics: None.

History: First flight September 1935; (first deliveries) 1937.

Operators: Italy (Regia Aeronautica), Iraq, Portugal, Chile.