Macchi MC.202 Folgore


Mario Castoldi hand been convinced from the earliest days of the MC.200 flight testing that full potential of the design would be achieved only by the installation of and inline engine. This opinion was confirmed during August 1940 when the prototype Macchi MC.202 (MM 445) was tested with an imported Daimler Benz DB 601A-1 engine. The prototype was first flown on 10 August 1940, and its initial trials were so impressive that it was ordered into production without delay.

Macchi MC.202 Serie III Folgore of the 378th Squadriglia, 155 Gruppo, 51th Stormo

Generally similar in overall configuration to the MC.200, the MC.202 Folgore (thunderbolt) introduced a new fuselage structure with an enclosed cockpit, similar wing, but retained the tail unit and landing gear of its predecessor. However, the single MC.202 prototype, which was basically a re-engined MC.200 airframe, was flown with a retractable tailwheel. Because of the degree of commonality there was little delay in starting production, the first deliveries being made in the spring of 1941. Built alongside the MC.200 by Macchi, Breda and SAI-Ambrosini, early series aircraft were powered by imported DB 601A-1 engines until such time as Alfa Romeo had a licence built version in production as the FA.1000 RC.41-1 Monsone (monsoon). However, it was limited manufacture of this engine which restricted the number of MC.202's to a total of about 1,500 when production ended in 1943, and so the MC.200 continued to be manufactured simultaneously, instead of being supplanted completely by the Fogore. Like its predecessor, the MC.202 was built in similar MC.202AS and MC.202CB tropicalised and fighter bomber variants respectively, plus a single MC.202D experimental aircraft which introduced a revised radiator for the engine cooling system.

Undoubtedly the best wartime fighter to serve in large numbers with the Regia Aeronautica, initial deliveries of production aircraft were made in November 1941 to units operating in Libya. The Folgore also took part in action against Malta and Allied convoys in the Mediterranean and in September 1942, was deployed in some numbers on the Eastern Front. They played a significant role in the defence of Sicily and southern Italy against bombing attacks launched by the USAF, but were less effective as attrition had reduced the total number available. 

(Macchi MC.202 Folgore "Thunderbolt")

Type: Single Seat Fighter Interceptor

Design: Ingeniere Mario Casoldi of Aeronautica Macchi

Manufacturer: Aeronautica Macchi with plants in Varese-Schiranna and Lonate Pozzolo. Also built by Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda in Milan and SAI Ambrosini

Powerplant: One 1,175 hp (876 kw) Alpha Romeo RA.1000 RC.41-I Monsone 12-cylinder inverted Vee engine.

Performance: Maximum speed 370 mph (595 km/h) at 16,405 ft (5000 m); service ceiling 37,730 ft (11500 m).

Range: 475 miles (765 km) with internal fuel stores.

Weight: Empty 5,181 lbs (2350 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 6,636 lbs (3010 kg).

Dimensions: Span 34 ft 8 1/2 in (10.58 m); length 29 ft 1/2 in (8.85 m); height 9 ft 11 1/2 in (3.04 m); wing area 180.84 sq ft (16.80 sq m)

Armament: Two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns in the upper engine cowling but later series had two wing mounted 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns mounted in the wings. One production batch added a 20 mm cannon beneath each wing.

Variants: MC.202 (prototype), MC.202AS (tropical), MC.202CB (fighter bomber). MC.202D (experimental aircraft).

Operators: Italy (Regia Aeronautica, Aeronautica Cobelligerante de Sud, and Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana), Luftwaffe (small number ex-Italian)