Super Model Fiat G.55S Silurante in 1/72 Scale

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. 

Sword Fiat G.55 Centauro of Capitano Ugo Drago in 1/72 Scale

This is the mount of Capitano Ugo Drago while he was serving as Commanding Officer of 1a Squadriglia, IIoGruppo Caccia 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.

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part V

Painting is one of my favorite parts of a build. This is one of the Sword kits wearing the segmented three-color scheme, with a fuselage stripe and Axis yellow recognition panel under the nose. There was a lot of masking required for this scheme, which was done with Tamiya tape.
The other palette used on this batch consisted of the standard Luftwaffe RLM 74 / 75 / 76 colors. The Mr. Color paints used were thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner and performed well.
I used Tamiya black wash to bring out the panel lines. This is best applied over a gloss coat, and any excess can be wiped away with a cotton swab and thinner. I use standard paint thinner for this, if you use a “hot” thinner like those intended for lacquers it will cut through all the paint layers.
This is the Supermodel Silurante with decals from the Sky Models sheet, which performed flawlessly. This was the only G.55 of the four which I could confirm wore the ANR fasces in the prescribed manner with both the outer axe heads facing forwards. Two of the others likely carried two “left-handed” insignia on the upper wings, the remaining example I couldn’t confirm either way.
While the paint coats were drying I went to work on the landing gear. The parts on the left are from the Supermodel kit, these are a bit clunky and like most kits of the era the legs are too thick. The middle gear are replacements built up from Albion tube and Evergreen sheet, with resin castings of the Sword wheels. The gear on the right are from the Sword kit.
When I get to this point I always get the feeling that the build is almost complete, but aside from the prop and the wheels there are still several “fiddlybits” left to make and attach. I began listing them all in my mind, but when I got to twenty I stopped counting.
A view into the cockpit showing the 3D printed seatbelts from Kits-World, KW3D72019. This was my first time using these, they really look the part. They are intended to be applied like decals, but they do have some heft to them which allows them to be draped around to a degree and looks more convincing than standard decals.
This is the Silurante with the torpedo in place. The torpedo was painted Alclad Burnt Iron, which turned out to be almost a black with very little of the iron look I was hoping for. It didn’t look bad though so I left it as it was.
Here are all four completed models together, the two Sword kits in the foreground, Special Hobby in the upper left, and Supermodel in the upper right. I really like the sleek look of the Centauro, and the design is much bigger than I expected it would be. Updating the Supermodel kit added some extra time to building the batch but it was fun to add all the little details.


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.

G.55 Construction Part I here:

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:     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!

Book Review Fiat G.55 Centauro

Fiat G.55 Centauro

Series:  Kagero in Combat Number 6

By Eduardo Manuel Gil Martínez

Softcover, 84 pages, bibliography, drawings, and color profiles

Published by Kagero, March 2021

Language: English

ISBN-10: ‎ 83-66673-25-1

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-83-66673-25-0

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!

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part IV

As I said in the last post, one of my motivations for throwing the old Supermodel kit onto the pile on the bench was to practice my scribing. I’m still not very good at it but I will never get any better if I don’t keep practicing. I scribed the wings, fuselage, and horizontal tail pieces separately to make things easier, then ran MEK down the scribed lines to eliminate burrs and scribed them again. Mistakes were filled with superglue and re-scribed. In the center of the wheelwell is a cast copy of the Special Hobby engine accessories section.
I cut out the wingtip navigation lights on all the models and replaced them with chips cut from a CD case. The openings were painted with a Sharpie and a small dot of paint for the appropriate light color, then the chip was superglued in place. Everything was then filed down and polished clear.
Not surprisingly, the Supermodel kit requires the most work. The wing gun covers are cast replacements as the originals were just not close to the correct shape. The fuselage is too wide which makes the fit of the canopy a problem, the windscreen portion needed some Perfect Plastic Putty to blend in. The cooling inlet in front of the exhausts is Aluminum from a pie tin, as are the fasteners. The oversized kit air inlet was replaced with tube.
Here’s a good view of the new wheelwells. The opening was too wide which allowed for boxing in the back and reducing the opening at the same time. The oil cooler was poorly shaped and open to the interior, so this was filled and a new cooler made from Evergreen.
The Silurante required a tall tail wheel strut to allow clearance for the torpedo, and the aircraft was provided with an aerodynamic fairing for the longer tailwheel. The Supermodel kit supplies a part for this, but mine had escaped sometime over the last 50 years so I plunge molded a replacement over the end of a paintbrush.
With the gaps and filling required all three kits needed a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws. Not surprisingly I found several and ended up sanding areas and re-priming three times before I was satisfied.
General chaos on the workbench as the models enter the painting stage. I like painting. There are a couple of tag-alongs which is often the case if the color pallets are the same. My plan is to have these finished in time for the next update.

Part V here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

One trick which will help with all the kits is to take the best bits from each and clone them. In my little corner of the modeling world this is done with resin casting. Most of these parts are from the Sword kit, and most will go into the old Supermodel kit.
To lengthen the Supermodel fuselage I cut horizontally in line with the cockpit combing and then down aft of the wing root termination. The fuselage was lengthened by 4mm, and then the rear of the cockpit was built back up by about 1mm. The exhausts were cut out and replaced with spares from Fine Molds Bf 109 kits.
The Sword kit at top needed only a few tweaks. I decided to skip the Special Hobby resin cockpit walls and build the detail out using Evergreen. The Supermodel kit got a mixture of resin clones and Evergreen details as there was nothing really provided in the kit.
Here is the detail added to the Supermodel kit. The main tub is largely resin casts of Sword cockpit parts, the sidewalls are Evergreen.
I added Oxygen bottles to all three kits, just visible in blue on the right side of the pilot’s seats. I also added the seat adjustment levers to the left. The belts are missing here, awaiting the arrival of sets of 3D printed belts from Hannants.
The 3-D printed seatbelts are like decals with some thickness to them. They arrived after the fuselages were closed up so they’ll be a little harder to install, but they look great on the sheet!

Part III here:

Fiat G.55 Centauro Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

WWII Italian aircraft are some of the more attractive designs of the period. I have a few in the stash, but oddly I have none in the display case, something which I will fix with this build. The Sword and Special Hobby kits are relatively new limited run efforts, while the ancient Supermodel kit is “mainstream” with locater pins, although the age of the molds makes this pretty much moot. “2 in 1” means different things to different manufacturers, Sword covers both interpretations by including two complete kits with parts to model two different versions. All of these are end-opening boxes, the old flattened Supermodel box best demonstrates one of the reasons why this is a bad idea.
This is a sprue shot of the Sword kit, you get two of these sprues to the box. Surface detail is finely engraved and looks great. The G.55 has engine accessories visible in the wheelwell similar to the Fw 190D, this is provided as a resin insert. In the lower left region of the sprue is a part for the shorter version of the vertical tail, to use this the molded-on tall tail must be removed with a razor saw. This kit was first issued in 2017.
The molding on the 2005 issue Special Hobby kit is a little softer, the parts a little thicker, the sprue gates a little thicker. Surface engraving is still nice.
Special Hobby provides several parts as resin castings and also a photoetch sheet for some of the finer details. These are often a mixed blessing, we’ll have to see which of these get used in the end.
The Supermodel kit was new in 1968. The Silurante was a modified version intended to carry a torpedo which necessitated splitting the radiator among other modifications. Back in the day, the cockpit detail consisted of a seat and a pilot, and the wheelwell was a hole. Surface detail is raised and the dimensions are suspect. Some modelers would call this kit “unbuildable” at this point but I see the challenge as an opportunity to hone my skills.
These are the fuselage sections taped together to compare profiles. In the foreground are the Sword and Special Hobby fuselages which match up very well. In the background are the Special Hobby and Supermodel kits. The most obvious problem is the Supermodel fuselage is about 4mm too short aft of the cockpit. This is fixable, but obviously the old Supermodel kit is not the ideal place to start if you want an accurate model out of the box.
These are the underwing parts. Sword on the bottom, Special Hobby in the middle, and Supermodel on top. Span-wise these compare well, but the Supermodel wing is too thick in chord. In addition, the old Supermodel kit has both shape and size issues with the wheel well cut-out. The other two kits compare well, both in size and detail.
Here are the wheels compared, Sword, Special Hobby, and Supermodel from left to right. The Sword wheels are closest to what can be seen in photographs.
The cockpit assemblies are a commentary on the progression of molding standards over the years. The dark gray parts are from the Sword kits, the shapes are good and the molding is good for a limited run kit. Special Hobby provides details in resin, they haven’t captured all the nuances of the prototype but the parts are functional. The Supermodel parts are an attempt at camouflaging the lack of any detail by inserting a pilot, but that was typical for the time.

Part II here: