Fiat A.74 radial
27 ft. 2 in.
31 ft. 10 in.
The Fiat CR.42, called Falco, was the world’s last biplane fighter aircraft. The aircraft was produced as a result of a mistaken belief by the Italian Air Ministry that fighter aircraft maneuverability would triumph over speed.
By the time the Fiat CR.42 entered service, it was already obsolete. It would be facing monoplane aircraft made from metal, with enclosed cockpits, and retractable landing gear. The Fiat CR.42 was made from wood, had fabric covered wings, an open cockpit, and fixed landing gear.
In 1941 a single Fiat CR.42 was produced that was equipped with a 1,000 h.p. DB 601 engine. It became the world’s fastest biplane and unofficial speed record holder with a top speed of 323 mph.
The Fiat CR.42 served a major role as a bomber escort for the Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) when Italy entered the Second World War. The biplane not only served in Italy, but with the air forces of Belgium, Sweden and Hungry.
Initially used over France as bomber escorts, Fiat CR.42 aircraft were eventually based in Belgium for Italian bombing attacks against England where they had heavy losses against modern British fighter aircraft.
The biplane fighters fared much better over the Balkans, Greece and North Africa, where most of the enemy aircraft that they encountered were other biplanes.
The Fiat CR.42 was among the most maneuverable of World War II aircraft and had excellent speed for a biplane, but it lacked the speed of monoplane fighter aircraft of its day.
The Fiat CR.42 continued in operations until the surrender of Italy in 1943.
A total of some 1,785 Fiat CR.42 aircraft were produced.