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CR.42 Falco file photo [5249]

CR.42 Falco

Primary RoleBiplane Fighter
Maiden Flight23 May 1938


ww2dbaseThe CR.42 Falco ("Falcon") biplane were designed by Celestino Rosatelli as the replacement to the successful CR.32 biplane which performed admirably during the Spanish Civil War under the banner of the Spanish Nationalists. Although the design was still that of a biplane (specifically, sesquiplane, because her wings were of unequal size), it incorporated some modern elements of fighter design, such as duraluminum alloy and steel framing and streamlined fuselage. The design lacked capacity for armor and radio, given that the goal of the design aimed for a very light and very agile resulting aircraft.

ww2dbaseCR.42 Falco fighters were deployed to the Italian air force, Regia Aeronautica, in spring of 1939. When Italy entered the European War in Jun 1940, 143 aircraft were in service. They flew bomber escort missions against targets in Southern France, scoring their first kills on 15 Jun. On 11 Nov 1940, CR.42 Falco fighters took part in a raid on Britain, one of the very few similar missions they took since they were vulnerable against British fighters and they were too slow to effectively keep up with the rest of the air fleet. As hostile fighters evolved to more modern designs, they were slowly transferred to North Africa, where they were still valuable in reconnaissance and ground attack roles.

ww2dbaseProduction of the CR.42 Falco fighters ceased in 1942. Some of the aircraft produced were upgraded variants with enhancements such as increased firepower, additional seat for training use, and capability for night fighting. When Italy surrendered in 1943, 60 were in flying condition. When Germany took over northern Italy after the surrender, 200 CR.42 aircraft were ordered under the designation CR.42LW, where LW stood for Luftwaffe, the German air force. 150 were eventually produced, and 112 of them entered German service. In total, 1,784 units were built.

ww2dbaseSome CR.42 Falco aircraft were exported. 72 were delivered to Hungary between 1939 and 1941, where they fulfilled ground attack and training roles. 25 were delivered to Belgium, some of which actually downed a small number of the superior German aircraft during the German invasion in 1940. Sweden received 72 aircraft between 1940 and 1941, which were retrofitted with radios, light armor, and ski landing gear; designated J 11, these Swedish versions of the CR.42 fighters performed poorly due to the cold weather and poor war time maintenance procedures.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Nov 2007

CR.42 Falco Timeline

6 Mar 1940 The first of thirty-four FIAT CR.42 Falco biplane fighter aircraft ordered by the Belgian government in Sep 1939 entered service with the 3√®me Escadrille de Chasse. This unit had twenty-five CR.42 aircraft available when the Germans invaded on 10 May 1940 but lost thirteen machines destroyed by Ju 87B dive-bombers during the opening Luftwaffe attack, and the survivors played little part in the subsequent defence of Belgium.


MachineryOne Fiat A.74 RIC38 14-cyl air-cooled radial engine rated at 840hp
Armament1x7.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun or 2x12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns
Span9.70 m
Length8.25 m
Height3.06 m
Wing Area22.40 m²
Weight, Empty1,782 kg
Weight, Loaded2,295 kg
Speed, Maximum441 km/h
Speed, Cruising399 km/h
Rate of Climb11.80 m/s
Service Ceiling10,210 m
Range, Normal780 km

MachineryOne Fiat A.74 RIC38 14-cyl air-cooled radial engine rated at 840hp
Armament4x12.7mm machine guns, optional 2x7.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns
Span9.70 m
Length8.25 m
Height3.06 m
Wing Area22.40 m²
Weight, Empty1,782 kg
Weight, Loaded2,295 kg
Speed, Maximum441 km/h
Speed, Cruising399 km/h
Rate of Climb11.80 m/s
Service Ceiling10,210 m
Range, Normal780 km

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
21 Jun 2011 08:30:46 AM

The CR-42 Falco (Falcon) was powered by a
Fiat air-cooled 870hp radial engine, driving a three-bladed Hamilton-Fiat propeller.
Armed w/2x12.7mm Breda machine guns w/400 rpg. Some fighters were modified to carry
2x12.7mm machine guns mounted in pods under the wings and 2x200kg (440lb) bombs mounted in under wing hardpoints.
Served with the Regia Aeronautica, long after
it should have been retired, by more modern types, and was kept in service until Italy's armistice in 1943. The CR-42 was used by the Germans, as a night-fighter & ground attack aircraft.

During the war, Italy modified forty CR-42s
into two-seat trainers after the war, the survivors along with some singe-seaters, soldiered on as trainers into the 1950s.

A floatplane version was built and tested.
Another version was powered by a in-line liquid-cooled DB-601 engine, but never put into service. Total production about 1,800

Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary and Germany
Sweden retired its CR-42s in 1949
2. Anonymous says:
26 Oct 2017 10:58:59 AM

The Germans employed the CR.42 as a night harassment fighter in the eastern front

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