The C.R. 42 was developed from the well proven C.R. 32 by Celestino Rosateli, the FIAT engineer who also fathered the B.R.20 Cicogna bomber. The design was finalized on the 840hp FIAT A.74R engine and the first prototype took successfully the air on May 23rd, 1938. Entering in production one year later, the pilots enjoyed the highly manouvrable C.R.42, however its maximum speed (267mph) was more than 16% slower compared to the Hawker Hurricane prototype which had flown three years earlier.
It clearly marked the culmination of the line of attractive and successfull biplane fighters, but it was clear that its days were numbered and the Italian aircraft industry clearly failed to recognize this. Eventually the Regia Aeronautica ordered 1800 Falcos from 1939 till mid 1943, making it the most produced Italian fighter aircraft of the conflict; but which resulted in various production delays of much more modern designs like the Fiat G.50, Macchi MC.200 and 202. Falcos served best in their interceptor role over the Mediterranean but were also employed as escort fighters and fighter-bombers in North Africa and Italy.
Today's model features a Fiat C.R.42 of the 95a Squadriglia, 18o Gruppo, 56o Stormo CAI, based in Maldegen, Belgium, 1940. It formed part of the 50 Falcos which were sent (together with G.50s and B.R.20s) to Belgium as part of the Corpo Aereo Italiano, to take part on the Battle of Britain.
The first 18o Gruppo emblem displays three white arrows and the "Ocio che te copo!" quote meaning (Beware! I can kill you.)
LeoModels is a totaly new company in diecast aircraft, and so far, their models are only being distributed as part of the Aeronautica Militare collection released in Italy last year. Many interesting subjects (over 50) with scales that vary from 1/200 to 1/100. The Falco is in 1/72, just right for my BoB collection :)
First thing I noticed was the painting of the Italian mimetic colours: there is no spray-effect finish of the irregular spot pattern on the fuselage, not too surprised. However, looking at the actual aircraft photo, the brown/green pattern on the wings seems rather similar, which is good news. The undersurface should be in natural metal but a light grey has been used instead. Screw holes could have been hidden somehow; also the exhaust ports should be in black rather than brown and the main wing struts should be in a lighter grey.
Markings are well done and nothing seems to be missing or misplaced. The Casa regnante dei Savoia emblem is visible, as well as the tiny serial numbers stencils on the fuselage. The minor wing struts are missing, however there are pitot tubes and aileron cables on the wings. Cockpit: Difficult to photograph but the windshield looks good and inside there are gunsight, seat and control bar.
Overall this is much better quality compared to the IXO italian fighters I have allready, and I really hope LeoModels will consider more 1/72 scale subjects in future.
Back to the real aircraft, below are three of the four remaining C.R.42 airframes in the world, with a complete static 4th example on display in Linköping, Sweden.
Swedish variant Swedish J 11 being restored to flying condition at Duxford and part of the Fighter Collection...photo taken in 2009, but aircraft hasn't seen much progress as of today.
..the Italian Air Force Museum Falco at Vigna di Valle, Rome.
(source: C.R. 42 Falco photographic reference manual by Italeri)
..and finally a couple of blurry shots taken in 2007, of the RAF Museum's Falco, which is a well known Battle of Britain warbird that crashed on a beach in Suffolk, in November 1940. It's also the subject of the model but which has been surprisingly restored with the wrong camouflage and markings.