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Caproni

 

One of the companies forming part of the industrial empire founded by Count Gianni Caproni in 1908 was Caproni Vizzola, originally an important pilot training school, but from 1934 a design and construction organization as well. Company's founder, Count Gianni Caproni di Taliedo, built and flew his first aircraft in May 1910. Count Gianni Caproni di Taliedo designed his first heavy bomber in 1913. Caproni’s big biplane bombers had a demoralizing effect on ground troops during the Austro-Italian conflict, more by virtue of their size and threatening ap-pearance than their destructive power, and led to a series of immense triplane bombers during World War I. The first was designed in mid-1915 and was designated Caproni Ca. 40. A later development, the Ca.42.


At one time, largest aircraft manufacturer, the Caproni group comprised more than 20 companies, of which the principal aircraft building members were Aeroplani Caproni Trento, Caproni Aeronautica Bergamasca, Caproni Vizzola SpA, Compagnia Nazionale Aeronautica, Aeronautica Predappio SpA, and Officine Meccaniche Reggiane SpA. The Isotta-Fraschini aero engine company was also part of the group. After formation of Regia Aeronautica in associating with various partners until First World War. 1923 Caproni achieved success with such military aircraft as the Ca 1 -Ca 5 series of large tri-motor biplane and triplane bombers

 

The most prolific company in the group was the Compagnia Aeronautica Bergamasca, which began aircraft design in 1927, joining the Caproni group in the 'thirties. The chief designer was Cesare Pallavicino, formerly chief designer to Ernesto Breda, and initially the original designs produced by Bergamasca were given Caproni-Bergamaschi designations, but later "Berga- maschi" was dropped and aircraft emanating from the Bergamo works could only be identified by their type numbers, which were in the 300 series.

 

During the 1920s, a retrospective series of manu-facturer's designations was applied to war-time Caproni designs, in an endeavour to clarify different variants. Under this system the prototype Ca.1 was designated Ca 31 and the Fiat-engined Ca 1 was allocated Ca 32; to avoid confusion between the two systems.


Achieved an international reputation with the Ca 36, Ca 73 and Ca 74. The following decade produced the Ca 101, Ca 111, and Ca 133 range of aircraft and a series of multipurpose reconnaissance/light bomber/transport types, production of which was shared with the Bergamasca subsidiary.

 
In the mid 'thirties Caproni-Vizzola activities were expanded and a fully-equipped factory built. The plant was primarily engaged on sub-contract work building the Breda Ba 65 attack aircraft, but in 1938 its first original designs, the F.4 and F.5 single-seat fighters appeared, powered respectively by the 1,025-h.p. Isotta-Fraschini Asso 121 R.C.40 and the 840-h.p. Fiat A.74 R.C.38 radial. Designed by Ing. Fabrizi, a pre-production batch of fourteen of the radial-engined F.5 fighter was built immediately prior to Italy's entry into the war, but like most of Italy's fighters of this period the F.5 was under-powered (maximum speed being 326 mph) and under-armed (two 12.7-mm. guns). Nevertheless, a squadron was equipped with the F.5 for a short period and employed for the night defense of the area surrounding Rome.
 
One of the fourteen F.5 fighters was re-engined in 1941 with a 1,050-h.p. DB 601 engine. This conversion was designated F.6, but the most interesting development was the F.6Mz powered by the 1,250-h.p. Isotta-Fraschini Zeta engine (which was also to have been installed in the Reggiane Re 2004). The F.6Mz flew for the first time late in 1942 and was to have carried an armament of four 12.7-mm. guns or two 12.7-mm. and two 20-mm. guns. Maximum speed was 404 mph, but the Zeta engine was insufficiently developed for operational service, and the F.6Mz progressed no further than the prototype stage.

 

Early post-war publicity gained by Ca 60, an enormous eight-engined 'triple-triplane' of 1921, intended to carry 100 passengers, which was shared with the Bergamasca subsidiary.


Cantieri Aeronautici Bergamaschi had been absorbed by Caproni in 1931. Initially built Ca 100 and Ca 101, then built the new aircraft to the designs of Ing Cesare Pallavicino. Major production types during 1934-1944 were A.P.1 single-seat fighter, followed by the family of multi-purpose twin-engined aircraft: Ca 309 Ghibli; Ca310/310 bis Libeccio; Ca 311 Libeccio; Ca 312 bis Libeccio; Ca 314, and 316.


More than 2,500 examples of the Ca 100 training/touring biplane were built during the 1930s; the Ca 161 bis, a single-seat single-engined biplane, set an international altitude record of 17,083m that remains unbeaten today in its class. The Caproni-Campini CC-1 of 1940 was Italy's first and the world's second aircraft to fly by jet propulsion, though it was not powered by a turbine. During the Second World War the company was chiefly concerned with the production and development of the Ca 310-Ca 314 multipurpose twin-engined aircraft and with the Reggiane Re. 2000-Re 2005 series of single-seat fighters. During the lifetime of the group some 180 different types were built, in addition to licensed construction of almost as many by other designers.


The parent company went bankrupt in 1950. Aeroplani Caproni Trento survived the bankruptcy and in May 1952 flew Italy's first postwar jet light aircraft, the F.5, designed by Dott Ing Stelio Frati.

 

In 1969, Caproni - Vizzola began producing in his workshops 30,000 m² located near the airport of Milan – Malpenza.

 

Caproni Vizzola Costruzioni Aeronautiche SpA was formerly the Scuola Aviazione Caproni, the oldest flying school in Italy, and became the last surviving part of the company until bought by Agusta in 1983, producing the Calif series of sailplanes and finally the C22J Ventura two-seat very light basic trainer with two Microturbo turbojet engines, first flown 1980. Earlier it remodeled the Ca 133 for ambulance and military transport duties and assisted in production of the Breda Ba 65. Its first original design had been the F.4 single-seat fighter designed by Ing F Fabrizi, flown in 1940. Prototype F.6 had more powerful engine.

 

 


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