The Meridionali (formally IMAM) Ro.37 design and production began in 1934. The Ro.37 was a biplane with unequal span wings and mixed construction of wood and metal, a fixed tail wheel and wheel spats for all three wheels. It was crewed by two and was intended as a two-seat fighter/reconnaissance aircraft. Originally, the Ro.37 was powered by 700-hp Fiat in-line engine.
An improved version, the Ro.37bis was powered by a 560-hp Piaggio radial engine; the top speed was 205 mph at 16,405 ft with a service ceiling of 23,620 feet and a range of 696 miles. The Ro.37bis was armed with 2 fixed forward firing 7.7mm machine guns and a flexible rearward firing 7.7mm machine gun and could carry a bomb load of 397 pounds.
Both the Ro.37 and Ro.37bis were quite popular and over 635 were built (160 Ro.37 and 475 Ro.37bis). Export orders were received from Central and South American countries as well as Afghanistan and Hungary.
The Ro.37 and Ro.37bis were involved in the Spanish Civil War from 10/36 and were used extensively by the Regia Aeronautica during the invasion of Abyssinia between 10/35 and 5/36, and occupation of that country until 1941.
When World War II started, 275 Ro.37 and RO.37bis were in service as follows: 30th Recon Flight at Palermo; 120th Recon Flight at Tirana [Albania]; 122nd Recon Flight at Mellaha; 136th Recon Flight (Tripoli); 127th and 137th Recon Flights at El Adem; 110th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Addis Abeba; 27th Recon Flight at Casabianca; 42nd Recon Flight at Bari; 121st Recon Flight at Airasca; 131st Recon Flight at Napoli-Capodichino; 31st Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Venari Reale; 33rd Recon Flight at Bresso; 39th and 40th Recon Flights (Ro.37s) at Venaria Reale; 114th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Tornino-Mirafiori; 118th, 123rd and 132nd Recon Flights at Levaldigi; 129th Recon Flight (mix Ro.37bis/Ca.311) at Mondovi; 24th, 35th and 115th Recon Flights (Ro.37) at Verona-Boscomantico; 25th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Jesi; 28th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Lucca-Tassignano; 29th Recon Flight (Ro.37) at Arezzo; 32nd and 125th Recon Flights at Udine-Campoformido; 34th and 128th Recon Flights (Ro.37) at Parma; 36th and 87th Recon Flights (Ro.37) at Padova; 38th and 116th Recon Flights at Gorizia-Merna; and 113th Recon Flight at Bologna-Borgo Panigale.
The Ro.37s saw front-line action in the North African campaign, the Balkans and on the Eastern Front. After they were withdrawn from front-line service, RO.37’s were used as utility planes and ambulances and at the time of the armistice on 9/8/43, had been completely retired from service.
Article: JDG, Photo Courtesy: ijzamot
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