Design of the Fiat G.50
cantilever low wing monoplane was begun by Guiseppe Gabrielli in April
1935. After extensive modifications, many ordered by the Italian
authorities, the first (MM 334) of two prototypes flew for the first
time a Marina di Pisa on 26 February 1937. Test pilot Giovanni de
Briganti reported a tendency to spin and this problem continued even
after series production had begun.
The G.50 was an all
metal aircraft, only the movable control surfaces being fabric covered,
with wide track inward retracting main landing gear units and a fixed
tailwheel. The latter was provided with a streamlined fairing but this
was often discarded in service use.
The prototypes and
first pre-production batch of 45 G.50 aircraft had a pilot's enclosed
cockpit with a rearward sliding canopy, but later production machines
had either an open or partially enclosed cockpit. Apart from the two
prototypes, a total of 778 machines were built, 350 being produced by
Fiat, which did not start building the type until November 1940, and
the balance of 428 by Costruzioni Meccaniche Aeronatiche SA (CMASA),
which was a Fiat subsidiary. The initial series-built G.50s were
characterised by modified flaps, reshaped vertical tail surfaces and an
open cockpit, built by CMASA (206) and Fiat (6), and 45 of the total
were exported to Croatia (10) and Finland (35).
G.50s formed the Gruppo Sperimentale de Caccia, which operated in Spain
with the Italian Aviazione Legionaria for a few weeks before the
Republican surrender to General Franco in 1939. When Italy entered
World War II, 97 G.50s were in service. They took part in the fighting
in southern France in June 1940 and then flew with the Corpo Aereo
Italiano (C.A.I.) in Belgium for operations against the UK between
September 1940 and January 1941. However the very limited range of the
G.50 reduced it to an almost non-existent role with the Corpo Aereo
Italiano. Subsequently the G.50 equipped 24th and 154st Gruppo moved to
Albania for operations against Greece.
The G.50bis, the first
example of which was tested on 9 September 1940, incorporated increased
fuel tankage to extend range, redesigned vertical tail surfaces, and
the glazed cockpit side panels to protect the pilot from the
slipstream. Production totalled 421, 77 of them built by CMASA. The
type was used in Croatia, but most G.50bis fighters went to North
Africa with the 2nd and 155th Gruppo, these aircraft being equipped
with carburettor sand filters.
Some G.50s were
converted as fighter bombers with underwing racks for bombs, including
anti-personnel bombs, and this version equipped the 50th Stormo in
North Africa. The final production variant was the G.50B, a two seat
dual-control fighter trainer development which had an unusual long
glazed canopy, the top section over the rear cockpit being open. The
prototype was flown for the first time on 30 April 1740, and CMASA went
onto build 100 examples during 1940-43. Single production prototypes
which did not enter production included the G.50ter powered by a 1,000
hp (746 kw) Fiat A.76 engine which, flown in July 1941, demonstrated a
maximum of 329 mph (530 km/h), but the G.50V powered by a Daimler Benz
DB 601 engine and flown during the following month attained an
astounding 360 mph (580 km/h) . The final prototype was the G.50bis
A/N, a two seat fighter bomber intended for operation on the aircraft
carriers Aquilla and Sparviero, conversions from merchant
ships which were never completed. Test flown for the first time on 3
October 1942, production G.50bis A/N aircraft would have been armed
with four 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns and carried a 551 lbs (250 kg)
In early 1943 the
G.50bis was in use with the 24th Gruppo in Sardinia, the 151st Gruppo
in Greece, and the 154th Gruppo in the Aegean. After the September
armistice between Italy and the Allies, only four G.50s remained in
flying condition, used as trainers by the air arm of the Fascist
republic still fighting beside Germany.
Apart from the 12
pre-production aircraft flown in Spain and the 10 G.50s supplied to the
Croat government, the only aircraft of this type to be exported were 35
G.50s bought by Finland in 1939. They were recieved too late for the
1939-40 winter war, but flew with some distinction against the USSR
during the Continuation War of 1941-44. Several survived the war, the
example being grounded in 1947.
G.50 Freccia "Arrow")
Type: Single Seat Fighter
Design: Ingeniere Giuseppe Gabrielli of
Aeronautica D'Italia S.A. (Fiat)
Manufacturer: Aeronautica D'Italia S.A.
(Fiat) in Turin and also by CMASA in Marina di Pisa starting in 1939
Powerplant: One 840 hp (626 kw) Fiat
A.74 RC.38 14-cylinder radial piston engine.
Performance: Maximum speed 293 mph (472
km/h); climb to 19,685 ft (6000 m) in 7 minutes 30 seconds; service
ceiling 32,265 ft (9835 m).
Range: 416 miles (670 km) with internal
Weight: Empty 4,354 lbs (1975 kg) with
a maximum take-off weight of 5,324 lbs (2415 kg).
Dimensions: Span 35 ft 11 1/2 in (10.96
m); length 25 ft 6 3/4 in (7.79 m); height 9 ft 8 1/2 in (2.96 m); wing
area 195.37 sq ft (18.15 sq m)
Armament: Two fixed forward firing 12.7
mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns.
Variants: G.50, G.50bis (modified).
G50B (two seat trainer), G.50ter (single prototype only), G50.bis A/N
(proposed carried based aircraft). Some G.50s were converted for use as
fighter bombers, but no seperate designation was assigned.
Operators: Italy (Regia Aeronautica,
Aeronautica Cobelligerante del Sud, Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana),
Croatia, Finland, Spain.