The MC.202 Folgore (lightning) was a direct descendant of the MC.200 that retained the same wing and controls, along with parts of the fuselage, but being powered by the inline Daimler Benz DB601 (later license built by Alfa Romeo). The MC.202 was delivered to operation groups in 1941, after the prototype flew in 1940 and had an enclosed cockpit. The MC.202 was armed with 2 12.7mm Breda machine guns in the cowling and 2 7.7mm machine guns in the wings. Some later versions had the 7.7mm machine guns replaced by 20mm cannon. The MC.202’s top speed was 372 mph, range of 475 miles and had a service ceiling of 37,730ft.
The MC.202 clearly proved superior to the P-40 and Hurricane and met its match with the Spitfire and Mustang. By late 1942, MC.202s outnumbered other fighters in the Regia Aeronautica. The MC.202 saw service in the North Africa campaign, Malta, Sicily, and over Italy. There were 2 main subversions, the AS for tropical service and the CB fighter-bomber. After the armistice in 1943, MC.202s flew with both Italian air forces. This was arguably the best Italian fighter to see large-scale service during the war.
There are only a few restored examples of the MC.202 left, one being in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC and is a late model MC.202 painted in the markings of the 90th Squadriglia, 10th Gruppo, 4th Stormo in Libya in 1942.
|Wingspan||34 ft, 8 1/2 inches|
|Length||29 ft, 11 1/2 inches|
|Range||475 miles at 267 mph at 21,320 ft|
|Height||9 ft, 11 1/2 inches|
|Engine||Alfa Romeo R.A. 1000, 12 cyclinder inline, 1075 hp|
|Max Speed||372 mph at 18,370 ft|
|Armament||Breda SAFAT .50′ MG, optional (2) 7.7mm Breda-SAFAT wing MG|
Article by JDG
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