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)
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
Type: Two Seat
Ground Attack & Reconnaissance
Parano and Guiseppe Panzeri
Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda & S.A. Industrie Meccaniche E
Aeronautiche Meridionali (Breda) in Naples
(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.
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.
miles (1640 km) on internal fuel.
equipped 10,225 lbs (4650 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 14,881
lbs (6750 kg).
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).
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.
(MM 302 prototype initially with a single fin), Ba.88 (production),
Ba.88M (three modified aircraft).
flight October 1936; (first deliveries) between May and October 1939;
delivery (Ba.88M) 7 September 1943.
(Regia Aeronautica & Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana).