Fiat G.55 Centauro
The Centauro (centaur) was a development of the G.50 with a Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 inline built under licence in Italy. The type evolved from the DB 601-powered G.50V, and the first of three prototypes was flown on 30 April 1942.
The Fiat G.55 Centauro (centaur) was an all-metal low-wing monoplane single seat fighter designed by Giuseppe Gabrielli, with fully-retractable landing gear and a raised cockpit.
Flight trials confirmed that this was an excellent fighter, but production was slow to start and only a few of the eventual total of 200 aircraft had been delivered before Italy’s armistice with the Allies in September 1943.
The third prototype (MM 493) was the only one to carry armament, comprising one engine mounted cannon and four fuselage mounted machine-guns. It was evaluated under operational conditions from March 1943, but by then the Italian air ministry had already decided on mass production of the G.55.
However, only 16 G.55/0 preproduction and 15 G.55/1 initial production aircraft had been delivered to the Regia Aeronautica by September 1943, production from then being for the Fascist air arm flying alongside the Luftwaffe. Before wartime production ended 274 more were completed and a further 37 were abandoned at an advanced construction stage.
Most G.55s thus fought with the fascist air arm on the German side in northern Italy. Three prototypes and eight pre-production aircraft were followed by about 185 G.55 Series 1 fighters. There were also about 10 examples of the G.55S torpedo strike fighter, but none of the G.55 Serie 2 bomber destroyer with five 20-mm cannon. After the war 85 more aircraft were delivered as G.55A single-seat fighter trainers and G.55B two-seat advanced trainers.
Before the armistice of September 1943, G.55s had participated in the defence of Rome with the 353º Squadriglia of the Regia Aeronautica. The postarmistice operations were mainly with the Fascist air arm's Squadriglia 'Montefusco', based at Venezia Reale, then with the three squadriglie which formed the 2º Gruppo Caccia Terrestre, but losses were heavy, as a result mainly of Allied attacks on the airfields. While the war was still in progress, Fiat flew two prototypes of the G.56, which was developed from the G.55 to accept the more powerful Daimler-Benz DB 603A engine. Built during the spring of 1944, they incorporated minor structural changes and had the fuselage mounted machine-guns deleted.
The first prototype survived the war and was used subsequently by Fiat as a test-bed.
G.55 exprimentally fitted with torpedo
FIAT G 55 Centauro
Engine: Fiat RA 1050 RC. 58 Tifone (DB 605 A), 1455 hp
Length: 30.741 ft / 9.37 m
Height: 10.269 ft / 3.13 m
Wingspan: 38.878 ft / 11.85 m
Wing area: 227.228 sqft / 21.11 sq.m
Max take off weight: 8198.2 lb / 3718.0 kg
Weight empty: 5799.2 lb / 2630.0 kg
Max. speed: 340 kts / 630 km/h at 22,965ft
Service ceiling: 41667 ft / 12700 m
Wing load: 36.08 lb/sq.ft / 176.00 kg/sq.m
Range: 648 nm /1200 km
Armament: 3x MG 151 20mm Mauser, 2x MG 12,7mm Breda-SAFAT, 320 kg (706 lb) Bomb.