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Macchi 200 Saetta

Macchi 200 Saetta

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

Sources:
Complete Book of World War II Combat Aircraft (Documents of History)
In the Skies of Europe: Air Forces Allied to the Luftwaffe 1939-1945
Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of WWII, Military Press, 1989.
The Encyclopedia of Weapons: From World War II to the Present Day
Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II
K. G. Munson, Enemy Aircraft (German and Italian) of World War II, Ian Allen, 1960.
Jonathon Thompson, Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-45, Aero, 1960.
William Green, Warplanes of the Second World War (10 vol.), Doubleday, 1960-68.
Nico Sgarlato, Italian Aircraft of World War II, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1979.
Roberto Gentilli, Macchi MC.202 In Action, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1970.
Giorgio Apostola, Aer. Macchi C.202, La Bancarella Aeronautica, 1995.
SPITFIRES OVER SICILY: The Crucial Role of the Malta Spitfires in the Battle of Sicily, January – August 1943 (Hurricanes Over Tobruk)
HURRICANES OVER TOBRUK: The Pivotal Role of the Hurricane in the Defence of Tobruk, January-June 1941