The Silurante was a one-off effort to convert the excellent Centauro fighter into a torpedo-bomber. The radiator was split into two units, one under each wing, to allow the torpedo to be carried under the fuselage. The two machine guns in the cowling were removed to save weight, and the tailwheel was extended to allow clearance for the torpedo. The modified airframe (MM.91086) was tested in this configuration in March 1945 and was found to be a success, but it was not put into production due to the deteriorating war situation.
I have depicted the model in Luftwaffe day fighter colors of RLM 74 / 75 / 76. This is one of the options which match the tones in photographs and the scheme would be effective for over-water operations in these colors. The actual colors used by the ANR on the Silurante are unknown, and the aircraft is also depicted in a combination of Italian Dark Green over Sand.
This is the mount of Capitano Ugo Drago while he was serving as Commanding Officer of 1a Squadriglia, IIoGruppoCaccia at Cascina Vaga, May 1944. Drago had scored 4 victories while flying the CR.42 biplane early in the war, and eventually was credited with 17 aerial victories. 11 of his victories were scored while flying with the ANR. Drago survived the war and immigrated to Argentina.
The Sword kits are the most recent issue of the three. They are limited-run kits but still nice even without the locator pins. They are not Tamigawa kits but still go together well, with the exception of gaps at the wing roots. You get two complete kits in the box with decals for seven different machines, and the kits provide the option for both styles of vertical tails. Shapes look good, they have captured the outline of the G.55 well. This is the preferred place to start as it will be the most accurate out of the box and the easiest to build, plus you’re getting two kits for the price of one.
The decals are printed by Techmod and are of the best quality. However, if you follow Sword’s marking guides you will apply the flags backwards on the starboard side, and they do not provide wing fasces with the axe on the right side facing forward, which will certainly be wrong for some if not most of the schemes included.
The Special Hobby kit is another limited run effort and is a decade older than Special Hobby’s. The molding has thicker attachment points on the sprues and more pronounced mold lines, and the parts show a little less finesse and detail. Many of the finer parts are cast in resin, and there is a small fret of PE included as well.
The Special Hobby kit has some fit issues at the wing roots. The wheelwell is provided as a resin piece, and this also does not fit well between the wing halves which results in another seam to fill along the leading edge. The PE fret is stainless steel which makes it difficult to remove the parts, I wound up only using the radiator grids and sway braces and skipped all the rest. The shapes look good on the finished product though. It can still be built up into a nice model, just not as easily as the Sword kit.
Being much older, the Supermodel kit is surpassed by both the others and is not the best place to start to get an accurate, detailed model. It completely lacks any cockpit or wheelwell detail, so these will have to be added by the modeler. Panel lines are raised and the detail at the control surfaces is soft, so you will need to either ignore this or re-scribe the whole kit. I built it as a skills exercise and for the fun of adding the improvements.
The kit does have some glaring shape issues once you get to looking at it. The biggest of these is the fuselage is about 4 mm too short aft of the cockpit. This can be corrected with a little surgery. The wings are also too broad in cord, so you’ll need to reduce the trailing edge about 2 mm at the roots and 1 mm at the tips, and then thin the trailing edge from the inside. This will throw off the dimensions of the flaps and ailerons so those will have to be re-scribed at the very least. The fuselage appears thick and bloated compared to the other two and I couldn’t find an easy way to fix that. I think the wing is positioned a little bit too far forward on the fuselage, another issue which I left alone.
I knew what I was getting into when I opened the box and looked forward to tinkering with the Supemodel kit, but the Sword kit is where you want to start if you want an easier row to hoe and a better finished model.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Softcover, 84 pages, bibliography, drawings, and color profiles
Published by Kagero, March 2021
Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.3 x 11.6 inches
The Fiat G.55 Centauro (Centaur) was an Italian fighter built around the Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine. It was arguably the best Italian fighter of the Second World War, and evaluations conducted by the Luftwaffe found it superior to the Bf 109 and Fw 190 then in service. It was even considered for mass production in Germany, but it was estimated to take three times the man-hours to produce than the comparable Luftwaffe types. It first flew in 1943, but due to the chaotic war situation in Italy it was only produced in small numbers and those that did enter service fought with the fascist Aeronautica Nazionale Republicana (ANR). After the war production resumed for the Italian Air Force as well as exports to Argentina and Syria.
There are few modeling references available on the Centauro, so this recent work is appreciated. The text covers the development and operational history of the type. The book is well illustrated with black and white photos and/or technical drawings on every page. There are beautiful color profiles of six different aircraft, two of which include multiple views. There are also eight pages of line drawings, seven of which are nominally rendered in 1/48 scale. There is also a print of the cover artwork inserted loose which is suitable for framing.
On the down side, the translation could have used one more edit from a native English speaker familiar with aviation terminology. The text is still comprehensible but just doesn’t flow well. Of more relevance to modelers, the scale drawings are not reproduced to scale, the editors have chosen to expand the drawings to fit the page. This results in the drawings being slightly overscale and prevents them from being used directly by modelers, but being close in scale constitutes a trap for the unwary. In the photo below I have posed a 1/72 scale Sword fuselage half (which is the correct size) on the page for comparison, the same error is present on the 1/48 scale drawings. There are volumes in the Osprey aviation series and Anatomy of the Ship which share this error so it is always prudent to check the scale on drawings regardless of the source. An odd omission is the drawings do not cover the torpedo bomber variant which is popular with modelers.
Despite the problems there are few good references available on the G.55, and I feel the positives of this work outweigh the negatives. Recommended, just correct the size of the drawings before they get to the bench!
WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT― Thomas Jefferson