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Breda BA.64

Breda BA.64

Largely as the result of the enthusiasm and dedication of Colonel Amedeo Mecozzi, the Italian air force devoted considerable effort during the early and mid-1930’s to the development of its assault air arm. Several requirements for such aircraft were issued and Breda submitted a design from Antonio Parano and Giuseppe Panzeri of a combat aircraft capable of being a fighter, light bomber or reconnaissance aircraft. The new airplane was designed as a cantilever low-wing all-metal monoplane with a wire braced tail unit. The pilot’s cockpit was placed well forward on the upper fuselage to provide excellent forward and downward fields of vision, in line with the leading edges of the wing roots. Yet the Ba.64 was at best a traditional type reflecting the gradual emergence of the advanced monoplane to succeed the traditional biplane, as shown by the prototype’s being fitted with a fixed tail wheel landing gear.

The prototype first flew in 1934 with a 700 hp Alfa Romeo Pegasus radial engine. The second prototype soon followed completed to single-seat fighter configuration but with semi-retractable main landing gear units and an armament of four 7.7mm machine guns in the wings. The semi retractable landing gear meant that in their rearward retracted position, they yielded a significant reduction in drag while the lower half of the wheels meant the airplane would suffer relatively little damage in the event of a wheels up landing.

Flight trials revealed an indifferent performance despite the use of a variable pitch three bladed propeller. It was decided to place a limited production order that combined the two-seat accommodation of the first prototype with the semi-retractable landing gear of the second. Production of 42 aircraft was completed in 1936 and these aircraft served with the 5th and 50th Stormos up to 1939 when the 27 operational Ba 64s were withdrawn from front-line service. The remaining aircraft were used in various secondary roles until the last 4 were scrapped in 4/43.

Specifications
Powerplant One 650 hp Alfa Romeo 125 RC.35 radial engine or one 610 hp Piaggio Stella IX radial engine.radial engine or one 610 hp
Horsepower 610 or 650
Typical Range 559 Miles
Max Range 932 miles
Crew (2) Pilot and Observer/Gunner
Cruising Speed 174 mph
Max Speed 217 mph at 13,125 ft.
Service Ceiling 22,965 ft
Armament Two 12.7mm fixed forward firing machine guns and two 7.7mm fixed forward firing machine guns in the wings, one 7.7mm trainable machine gun in the rear cockpit and up to 1,199 lbs of disposable stores

Article by JDG, Photo and Specifications courtesy JDG and Alberto Rosselli

Sources:
Wings: London Blitz to Pearl Harbor – CD-ROM (Discovery Channel Multimedia: Wings)
Elke Weale, Combat Aircraft of World War II, Bracken Books, 1985.

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