The Fiat G50 Freccia was Italy’s first all-metal monoplane fighter. As was the unfortunate case with many Italian fighters, it was underpowered and under-gunned. Designed by Giuseppe Gabrielli of the Fiat Company, it was a modern enough machine, with features like retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit, however, it had a radial engine and limited weaponry which made its usefulness questionable.
In 1938, twelve G50 were sent to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Pilots found it to be a maneuverable aircraft but disliked the canopy and so it was removed in successive models. The G 50 went into regular service with the Italian Regia Aeronautica as well as the Finnish air force in 1939. Italian production was slow however, and by the time Italy entered the war in June of 1940 only 97 Freccia – or Arrows – were combat ready.
When compared to the Me 109s of their German allies or the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF, the Fiat G50 Freccia was not a competitor. In fact, when they were deployed in the Battle of Britain it was common for pilots of G50s to avoid direct combat whenever possible.
Strangely, the Fiat G50 Freccia design was kept and some improvements added a larger fuel tank, re-designed tail and attachable bomb-rack for a new version called the G 50 Bis. Ground-attack became a feature but the overall performance of the plane was not changed in a serious way.
Freccias were used to mediocre effect in campaigns over Greece and North Africa and were decommissioned almost immediately after Italy surrendered. Finland, surprisingly, was able to squeeze value out of the G 50, using it to good effect against the Soviets. It remained in front-line service until 1947.
774 Freccias were built.
|Power Plant||1 x 840-horsepower Fiat A74 RC38 radial engine|
|Max speed:||486 km/h ( 302 mph)|
|Ceiling:||10,750 m (35,269 ft.)|
|Range:||1,000 km ( 621 mi.)|
|Weight (empty):||2,015 kg ( 4,442 lb.)|
|Weight (loaded):||2,500 kg ( 5,511 lb.)|
|Wingspan:||11 m ( 36 ft. 1 in.)|
|Length:||8.28 m ( 27 ft. 2 in.)|
|Height:||3.57 m ( 11 ft. 9 in.)|
|Armament:||2 x 12.77 mm machine guns|
|Service||1938 – 1943|