Fiat G.55 Centauro Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) Markings

Part way through my builds of the Fiat G.55 Centauro I unexpectedly ran into a decal problem.  The markings for the Italian Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) aircraft consisted of wing insignia in four locations with Italian flag markings on the fuselage, with a smaller flag marking used as a fin flash.  The wing fasces were handed, the outer axe blade on each wing was to face forward.  Likewise, the green field on the national flag was to be forward on the fuselage sides.  Those were the official specifications.

The ANR port wing insignia applied as specified, with the outer axe head facing forward. This is what I refer to as “left-handed” in the text.

As the build progressed I got to looking at the decals provided in the Sword kit.  This is an excellent sheet with markings for seven aircraft, and I intended to use markings from this sheet on three of the four builds.  However, the wing insignia were all “left-handed”, with no insignia having the axe head on the right facing forward.  I remembered Brett Green on Hyperscale had done a review of the Sword kit when it first came out, and that kit contained a small “errata” decal sheet with mirrored insignia.  Review here:  https://www.hyperscale.com/2017/reviews/kits/sw72104reviewmd_1.htm     I figured my errata decals were still in the box, but a search came up empty.  I emailed Sword but received no response, so I ordered another set of Centauro kits from Hannants to get the errata sheet.

The decals from the 2022 Sword Centauro kit. All the wing insignia are “left-handed” and the fuselage flags will be wrong on the starboard side if installed as shown. All the artwork and placement guides in the kit repeat these errors. The fuselage flag problems can be fixed by simply flipping the decals, but the wing insignia cannot be installed any other way.

When the Hannants order arrived the Sword kits only contained the decal sheet I already had – no errata sheet, money wasted.  I checked the Hyperscale review again and for the first time noticed the 2017 kits had the wing fasces reversed, they were all “right-handed”.  Sword had tried to fix the error from the first release, but had made a new error in the opposite direction.  I tried contacting Sword again to ask if they had any of the 2017 right-handed sheets laying around, but again my email received no response.

Turns out there are not many ANR decals on the aftermarket.  I had Sky Decals sheet 720024 in the stash which has one set of the mirrored wing insignia.  I found another sheet from Kora intended for the MC.200 which had repeated the error in the other direction – all their fasces were right-handed.  I ordered these from Hannants.

Sky Decals sheet 720024 has one set with both left and right ANR insignia in the upper left.
The Kora decals (set 72072) with all right-handed ANR wing insignia.

What a mess!  While waiting for the second Hannants order to arrive, I began checking references and discovered another wrinkle.  The Italian insignia were applied using metal stencils.  Unlike most air forces, it appears the national insignia were often applied in the field instead of the factory.  There are several examples of ANR (and earlier Italian aircraft) operating with complete fuselage insignia and squadron codes, but no wing fasces.  I don’t know how temporary this situation was, but it appears in photographs more often than you’d expect.

Fuselage markings and squadron codes on aircraft of the “Montefusco” squadron, but no wing insignia. These aircraft are in the process of removing Luftwaffe insignia to replace them with ANR markings.

Now here’s the odd thing – it appears the ANR was not really fastidious about following their own insignia regulations.  Turns out in many cases the insignia were not applied “handed” at all, and the left-hand insignia was often applied to the upper starboard wing.  I only saw one photograph with the right-hand insignia applied to the upper port wing, but several the other way around, along with several with both types as per the regulations.

A Centauro in the three-tone segmented scheme displaying a non-regulation left-handed fasces on her starboard wing.
Remains of a Centauro in the herringbone scheme with two left-handed fasces.

For my builds, I went with the “wrong” left-handed insignia in all four wing positions on my three-tone and herringbone schemes as seen in the photos above.  I didn’t find a good photo of the wings for my RLM camo build but was also obliged to go with non-regulation markings there because I didn’t have the decals to do it otherwise.  The torpedo-carrying Silurante was photographed with regulation fasces so I used the mirrored Sky Decals markings on that one.

Artists often render profiles using the regulation mirrored fasces, likely because that is what the official regulations state and therefor that must be what is “right”.  Decal and kit manufactures are all over the map, with many giving the modeler one style or the other and reversing the colors of the Italian flag on one side of the fuselage or the other.  Sword seems to be mightily confused as they have corrected one mistake with another and have still gotten their art wrong in any case, plus I was not happy that they ignored my emails.

So, what’s the bottom line?  Always check your references, and avoid saying “all”, “never” and “always”.  (Except when saying “always check your references”).  It does appear that the left-handed ANR insignia is predominantly seen on the port upper wing, but the upper starboard wing can be seen sporting either style.  The “flagpole” is forward in the direction of flight, so the green field on the Italian flag should be towards the nose. I hope all this makes sense and is of use for anyone modeling an ANR subject!

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