Macchi MC.200 Saetta
First flown on 24 December 1937 by Giuseppe Burei, the prototype featured an enclosed cockpit and retractable tailwheel, both features being disliked by most service pilots and were eliminated from the MC.200A1 initial production model. The Mario Castoldi designed radial-powered Fiat C.200 Saetta (lightning) arrived in service in 1939.
The first C.200 unit, the 4° Stormo, expressed a preference for the CR.42 and reverted to the biplane in 1940. The MC.200A2 was equipped two 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-guns in the wings. When Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940, two home-based stormi were combat-ready with the C.200, being first flown in action over Malta in September that year.
The C.200, named the Saetta (lightning), equiped the 1°, 2°, 3°, 4° (in mid-1941) and 54° Stormi, and the 8°, 12°, 13°, 21" and 22° Gruppi. The attrition suffered by all Italian air force units quickly reduced the number of C.200s. Some 51 Saettas of the 22° Gruppo operated in the Odessa zone of the Eastern Front from August 1941 onwards, proving capable of matching the older Soviet fighters in the early stages of that campaign. By the time of the Italian armistice in September 1943 the Regia Aeronautica's total inventory of serviceable C.200s stood at only 33.
Production by Macchi, Breda and SAI Ambrosini totaled 1,153 aircraft in 25 series, and other variants were the MC.200AS tropicalised fighter and the MC.2000B able to operate as a fighter-bomber with 320 kg (706 lb) of bombs or as a long-range escort fighter with drop tanks. The MC.201 variant was to have had the 746-kW (1,000-hp) Fiat A.76 RC 40 in a modified fuselage.
Macchi MC 200 Saetta
Engine: Fiat A. 74 RC.38, 858 hp
Length: 26ft 10.5 in / 8.19 m
Height: 11.483 ft / 3.5 m
Wingspan: 34 ft 8.7in / 10.58 m
Wing area: 180.835 sq.ft / 16.8 sq.m
MTOW: 5711.0 lb / 2590.0 kg
Normal T/O weight: 2200 kg / 4,850 lb
Weight empty: 4178.5 lb / 1895.0 kg
Max. speed: 271 kt / 502 km/h at 14,765ft
Cruising speed: 246 kt / 455 km/h
Service ceiling: 29199 ft / 8900 m
Wing load: 31.57 lb/sq.ft / 154.0 kg/sq.m
Max range: 470 nm / 870 km
Armament: 2x MG 12,7mm Breda-SAFAT, 2x MG 7,7mm