The next in the Reggiane series was the Re.2002 Ariete II (Ram II) fighter-bomber. This went back to a radial engine of 1,175 hp built by Piaggio and had a top speed of 329 mph and a range of 685 miles. The Re.2002 was an agile and sturdy plane and was the best fighter and attack bomber in the Italian Air Force. The Luftwaffe liked the aircraft so much, they decided in 1943 to develop a version with the FW190 radial engine, but the plan was never carried out. A total of 255 planes were built, 149 for the Regia Aeronautica and the rest for the Luftwaffe.
The Re.2002 was developed in 1940 and used the wing system of the Re.2001 with a remodeled fuselage to accommodate the radial engine. Armament consisted of 2 12.7 mm machine guns in the cowling and 2 7.7mm machine guns in the wings and up to a 1,102lb bomb attached to the belly and 2 352 lb bombs under the wings. The prototype flew in October 1940, but did not reach squadrons until March 1942.
The 5th Dive Bomber Group became operational in July 1943 and were used in the defense of Sicily and Italy. 40 Re.2002 continued the war after the armistice on the allied side until the summer of 1944. Germany seized the rest and new production and used them against the French resistance fighters.
Article by JDG
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