With the Reggiane
Re.2002 Ariete II the designers went back to the radial engine. In this
sense the Re.2002 was the direct successor of the 1939 Re.2000 Falco,
but it had the technical and structural features of the Re.2001. The
Re.2002 was an agile and sturdy plane, and it played an important role
in operations during the last months of Italy's participation in World
War II. It was the best fighter bomber and attack plane in the Italian
Air Force. Its fine qualities were also acknowledged by the Luftwaffe
which decided in 1943 to develop a version of the Re.2002 powered by a
1,600 (1194 kw) BMW engine that powered the Focke-Wulf Fw.190 fighter.
However this plan was never carried out. When Italy withdrew from the
war in 1943, the Germans took over about 60 of the Re.2002's for use in
their attack units. Total production reached 255 aircraft, 149 for the
Italian Air Force and the rest for use in the Luftwaffe.
The Re.2002 project was
developed in the summer of 1940 by Reggiane designers Longhi and
Alessio. They decided to adapt the basic structure of the Re.2001 to a
different engine. The Daimler Benz inline engine that powered the
Re.2001 was always in short supply because Alfa Romeo was slow in
producing the Italian version and deliveries from Germany were limited.
The Re.2002 therefore was powered by a new Piaggio radial, the 1,175 hp
(876 kw) P.XIX RC.45 14-cylinder air cooled engine. Thus the wing
system and the empennage were those of the Re.2001, but the fuselage
was remodelled to accommodate the larger radial engine. Armament
consisted of a pair of 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns in the forward
fuselage section, synchronized to fire through the propeller disk, and
two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns in the wings. A belly support
permitted the plane to carry a 924 lbs (420 kg) or a 1,102 lbs (500 kg)
bomb, and two 352 lbs (160 kg) carried in racks under the wings.
The prototype of the
Re.2002 first took to the air in October 1940. It was an excellent
plane and in some respects was superior to the Re.2001. But making
final refinements in the aircraft, especially in the engine took a
considerable amount of time, and it was in September 1941, before the
Italian Air Force placed and order for 200 aircraft. The first planes
were delivered in March 1942, but they did not become operational
immediately. The 5th Diver Group became operational in July 1943, when
a series of missions were carried out to try to block the Allied
invasion of Sicily.
After the 1943
armistice, about 40 Re.2002s continued operations with the Allies until
the summer of 1944. Mussolini's forces in the north made almost no use
of the aircraft. The Luftwaffe took 60 planes to Germany, 40 of them
being brand new. The German planes were eventually used in France in
operations against the Maquis.
Seat Fighter Bomber
Ingeniere Antonio Alessio and Roberto Longhi of Officine Meccaniche "Reggiane"
S.A. (Caproni) based on their previous Re.2001 Ariete design and the
necessity to revert back to the use of radial engines
Officine Meccaniche "Reggiane" S.A. (Caproni) in Reggio Emilia
1,175 hp (876 kw) Piaggio P.XIX RC.45 radial engine.
Maximum speed 329 mph (531 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5487 m).
Range: 685 miles
(1105 km) with internal fuel.
5,270 lbs (2390 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 7,850 lbs (3650
36 ft 1 in (11.00 m); length 26 ft 10 in (8.20 m); height 10 ft 4 in
(3.15 m); wing area 219.59 sq ft (20.40 sq m)
12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns and either two 7.7 mm (0.303
in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns or two 20 mm cannon plus one 1,410 lbs
(640 kg) bomb.
Re.2002 Serie I Ariete II (only 50 aircraft of this type were in
operational service with Italian units at the time of the Allied
invasion of Sicily, but 60 aircraft were built and delivered to
(Regia Aeronautica), Luftwaffe.