Reggiane Sagittario

The last fighter Reggiane built was the best. The Re.2005 Sagittario, which many observers considered the beautiful fighter of the war, represented the final development of the formula that bad been initiated in the 1939 with the Re.2000 Falco. The Re.2005 was completely different in many respects. Although the wings were similar in plan, the structure and profile were altered and improved. The landing gear were new, with the wheels folding outward under the wings. The plane was heavily armed, with three 20 mm cannon and two 12.7 mm machine guns. The well balanced lines of the fuselage were aerodynamically perfect. Everything about the plane was designed to the most of the 1,475 hp (1100 kw) Daimler Benz engine. Overall the Re.2005's performance was superior to that of its direct rival, the Fiat G.55 Centauro. The only difficulty was a certain structural weakness in the rear section of the fuselage. This defect appeared in the first phases of its short operational life, and at one point all flights of this aircraft were suspended until this problem was corrected.

Work on the prototype aircraft began in 1941, and the first aircraft were ready in December. But four months were lost waiting for delivery of the engine. The engine was sent from Germany by rail but disappeared in transit. It was April 1942, before the new fighter was ready for test flights. The other two Series 5 planes were readied in the meantime, The Macchi MC.205V Veltro (greyhound) and the Fiat G.55 Centauro (centaur). The MC.205V made its first test flight on 19 April 1942, the G.55 on 30 April but it wasn't until 9 May that the first Re.2005 prototype took flight. The Reggiane fighter did make a flight the week before but it had been damaged in landing because of a weak landing gear strut. 

Test flights and comparative trials displayed the Re.2005's fine features. It was fast and manoeuvrable. At 6,600 feet the prototype flew at about 425 mph (686 km/h). Large scale production was not ordered immediately. Only 16 0-series and 18 pre-series were at first ordered. In February 1943, and order for 750 aircraft was finally placed, but only 48 Re.2005s ever came off the assembly line before the armistice was signed and production halted. 

The plane's operational career began in May 1943, when it was assigned to the 362nd Squadrigia of the 22nd Gruppo. The unit was sent to Sicily at the time of the Allied invasion. Late in June it was based in Capua and used in operations against Allied bombers until 26 August 1943. When the armistice was signed in September, many of the surviving Re.2005s were destroyed by their pilots to prevent them from falling into German hands. Mussolini's forces in the north did manage to get six of these aircraft which they used as trainers. Some aircraft (as many as 13) were captured by the Germans. Some sources maintain that these aircraft were used late in 1943 against Allied bombing raids on Berlin. Others believe that these planes were used as interceptors in defence of the Romanian oil fields. 

(Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario "Archer")

Type: Single Seat Fighter / Fighter Bomber

Design: Ingeniere Antonio Alessio and Roberto Longhi of Officine Meccaniche "Reggiane" S.A. (Caproni) based on their previous Re.2000 Series design

Manufacturer: Officine Meccaniche "Reggiane" S.A. (Caproni) in Reggio Emilia (48 aircraft)

Powerplant: One 1,475 hp (1100 kw) Fiat RA.1050 RC.58 Tifone 12-cylinder liquid cooled, inverted Vee engine (license built version of the Daimler Benz DB 605A-1).

Performance: Maximum speed 391 mph (630 km/h) at 22,800 ft (6950 m); service ceiling 40,000 ft (12190m).

Range: 786 miles (1265 km) with internal fuel.

Weight: Empty 5,732 lbs (2600 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 7,848 lbs (3560 kg).

Dimensions: Span 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m); length 28 ft 7 3/4 in (8.73 m); height 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m); wing area 219.59 sq ft (20.40 sq m)

Armament: Three 20 mm cannon and two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns plus up to 1,390 lbs (630 kg) of bombs.

Variants: Re.2005 Serie I Sagittario.

Operators: Italy (Regia Aeronautica, Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana), Luftwaffe (13 captured aircraft).