The Campini Caproni CC2 jet, also known as the Campini-Caproni N.1, was the first jet to come out of Italy. It was the world’s second jet plane. The Campini-Caproni CC.2 was the brainchild of Secondo Campini, who developed the jet with the help of the Caproni aircraft-manufacturing firm.
Secondo Campini presented the Italian Air Ministry with a design for what he called a “thermojet” engine in 1931. Three years later, on May 2, 1934, the Air Ministry signed a contract with Campini. He was to build two test airplanes by September 31, 1936. Campini was unable to build the aircraft on his own, so he enlisted the help of the Caproni aircraft-manufacturing firm.
Campini’s “thermojet” engine was different from a gas turbine engine, or “jet engine,” which is typically seen in other jets both then and now. The main difference between Campini’s thermojet engine and the traditional jet engine is essentially the presence of a piston engine in lieu of a turbine. When the Campini-Caproni CC.2 was built, the intake of this unusual engine was situated at the nose of the aircraft, while exhaust was expelled at the very rear. This left the Campini-Caproni CC.2 looking like a long tube with wings and a cockpit.
Campini and Caproni were unable to meet the deadline for their two test planes. However, the Italian Air Ministry was willing to extend it. The first plane was ready to fly on August 27, 1940. The Campini-Caproni CC.2 was a single monoplane that weighed roughly 8,025 pounds. It was just less than 40 feet long, had a height of 15.4 feet and a wingspan of 52 feet. It was able to reach an altitude of 13,300 feet and had a maximum speed of 223 miles per hour. The second plane flew on April 11, 1941.
While the design of the Campini-Caproni CC.2, or more specifically the thermojet engine, was interesting, it was not worthy of further development. The gas turbine engine was much more useful for military applications. The Campini-Caproni CC.2 lost engine power the higher it ascended, which rendered it useless for any practical use. It was tested as it was meant to be, but it was never developed further or fitted with weapons. After World War II, the Campini-Caproni CC.2 was placed in a museum.
The Campini-Caproni proved that Italy could build a jet and an innovative one at that. Unfortunately, it was beat by the Germans in both timing and performance. One of the prototypes is housed at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan today. The other has been lost.
Caproni-Campini N1 (CC.2), retrieved 7/24/10, militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=541
Jets45, Caproni-Campini CC-2 N.1, retrieved 7/24/10, tanks45.tripod.com/Jets45/Histories/CC-2/CC-2.htm