The Macchi 200 Saetta (Arrow) was designed by Dr. Mario Castoldi. Castoldi had designed seaplanes for the Schneider Trophy races and in 1934, his MC.72 captured two world speed records, including one for seaplanes with a top speed of 440.68 mph that lasted until 1984.
Dr. Castoldi started design of the MC.200 in the mid 1930’s after Italy’s East Africa campaign. The resulting prototype flew on 12/24/37 and was a low wing monoplane of all metal construction except for fabric tail control surfaces. The MC.200 had a retractable tail wheel landing gear, semi-enclosed cockpit and featured an advanced wing design in completely hinged trailing edges and having hydraulically actuated flaps being interconnected with the ailerons so that when the flaps were lowered, the ailerons were drooped simultaneously.
Power was provided by the Fiat A.74 RC.38 radial engine of 870 hp providing a top speed of 313mph, a range of 355 miles and a service ceiling of 29,200 ft. The prototype beat the Caproni Vizzola F/5, Reggiane Re.2000 and Fiat G.50 with a production contract in 1938. 1,153 were eventually built, including the AS tropical subversion as well as the CB fighter-bomber which could take 705lbs of bombs.
The MC.200 entered service with Italian squadrons in 1939 and was armed with 2 12.7mm Breda machine guns in the cowling firing through the propeller. Some later versions added 2 wing-mounted 7.7mm machine guns. The MC.200 saw extensive service over Malta, Greece, Yugoslavia the Western Desert, Sicily, Italy and Russia. Over Russia, MC.200s shot down 88 Russian planes for the loss of only 15. In 1943, some 23 MC.200’s were flown to allied airfields after the armistice and used by the pro-allied Italian air force. One example of this aircraft can be found at the USAF Museum (photo above). It originally had been found abandoned at Benghazi and is in the markings of the 372 Squadriglia.
Article by JDG
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