Breda Ba.88 RC.40 Lince

A propaganda triumph when its appearance was trumpeted by Mussolini's Fascist regime in 1936, the Breda Ba.88 Lince (lynx), designed by Antonio Parano and Giuseppe Panzeri, was a sleek all-metal shoulder wing monoplane with twin engine powerplant. The prototype (MM 302) , which had a single vertical tail assembly, made its maiden flight during October 1936 flown by Furio Niclot, Breda's chief test pilot. In April 1937 Niclot established two world speed-over-distance records, averaging 321.25 mph (517 km/h) over a 62 mile (l00 km) distance and 295.15 mph (475 km/h) over a 621 mile (1000 km) circuit. In December of that year he raised these speeds to 344.24 mph (554 km/h) and 325.6 mph (524 km/h) respectively.

A Breda Ba.88 Lince on an Italian airfield. Most of these aircraft saw service as decoy aircraft setup on airfields

The prototype, which had retractable tailwheel landing gear, and powerplant comprising two 900 hp (671 kW) Gnome-Rhône K-14 radials, was then given a modified tail unit with twin fins and rudders. Regarded as an aeroplano di combattimento, suitable for attack, long-range reconnaissance or bombing operations. The Ba.88 then had its military equipment and weapons installed. Immediately, performance and flight characteristics fell off dramatically, but by then production orders were already being executed. The first batch of 80, plus eight dual-control trainers, was built by Breda between May and October 1939. Problems with the prototype led to a number of weight-saving modifications, and more power was provided by the installation of 1,000-hp (746 kW) Piaggio P.XI RC.40 radials. On 16 June 1940, just after Italy's declaration of war on France and her allies, the Ba.88 had its first taste of action.

Twelve aircraft from the Regia Aeronautica's 19° Gruppo Autonomo made bombing and machine-gun attacks on the principal airfields of Corsica and three days later nine Ba.88s made a repeat attack. Analysis of these operations showed that the Ba.88 had only limited value, and any remaining doubts were settled when Ba.88s of the 7° Gruppo Autonomo joined action in Libya against the British. Fitted with sand filters, the engines overheated and failed to deliver their designed power. Attacks on targets at Sidi Barrani had to be aborted in September 1940, the aircraft failing to gain sufficient altitude or maintain formation, and reaching a speed less than half that claimed by the manufacturers.

By mid-November 1940 most surviving Ba.88s had been stripped of useful equipment and were scattered around operational airfields as decoys for attacking British aircraft. During this time, however, further batches of Ba.88s were being delivered, comprising 19 built by Breda and 48 by IMAM (Meridionali). Most went straight to the scrap yard.

Three Ba.88s were modified by the Agusta plant in 1942 to serve as ground-attack aircraft. Wingspan was increased by 6 ft 6% in (2.00 m) to alleviate wing loading problems, their engines were replaced by Fiat A.74s, nose armament was increased to four 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine-guns, and dive brakes were installed. These Breda Ba.88Ms were delivered to the 103° Gruppo Autonomo Tuffatori (independent dive-bombing group) at Lonate Pozzolo on 7 September 1943. They were flight-tested by Luftwaffe pilots, but that was the last heard of the Breda Ba.88 which represented, perhaps, the most remarkable failure of any operational aircraft to see service in World War II. 

(Breda Ba.88 RC.40 Lince "Lynx")

Type: Two Seat Ground Attack & Reconnaissance

Design: Antonio Parano and Guiseppe Panzeri

Manufacturer: Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda & S.A. Industrie Meccaniche E Aeronautiche Meridionali (Breda) in Naples

Powerplant: (Prototype) Two 900 hp (671 kW) Gnome-Rhône K-14 radial engines. (Production) Two 1,000 hp (746 kW) Piaggio P.XI RC.40 14-cylinder two-row radial piston engines.

Performance: Maximum speed 304 mph (490 km/h); service ceiling 26,245 ft (8000 m); climb to 9,845 ft (3000 m) in 7 minutes 30 seconds.

Range: 1020 miles (1640 km) on internal fuel.

Weight: Empty equipped 10,225 lbs (4650 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 14,881 lbs (6750 kg).

Dimensions: Span 51 ft 2 in (15.60 m); length 35 ft 5 in (10.79 m); height 10 ft 2 3/4 in (3.10 m); wing area 358.88 sq ft (33.34 sq m).

Armament: Three 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT fixed forward firing machine-guns and one 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Breda-SAFAT trainable rearward firing machine-gun plus up to 2205 lbs (1000 kg) of bombs in fuselage bomb-bay or three 441 lbs (200 kg) bombs carried semi-exposed in individual recesses in the fuselage belly.

Variants: Ba.88 (MM 302 prototype initially with a single fin), Ba.88 (production), Ba.88M (three modified aircraft).

Avionics: None.

History: First flight October 1936; (first deliveries) between May and October 1939; delivery (Ba.88M) 7 September 1943.

Operators: Italy (Regia Aeronautica & Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana).