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CR.32 file photo [10986]


Primary RoleBiplane Fighter
Maiden Flight28 April 1933


ww2dbaseDesigned by Celestino Rosatelli, the first CR.32 biplane fighter took flight on 28 Apr 1933 at Turin, Italy. CR.32 fighters had aluminum and steel tubes for framing, covered by duraluminium, aluminum, and fabric skin. The first production order was issued in Mar 1934, and they entered service shortly after. Before the Italian Air Force issued its order, however, the model had already generated international interest. The Chinese Air Force made an order for 16 units as early as 1933. In the Italian Air Force, these new fighters received good reviews for being maneuverable and having strong fuselage structure. In the spring of 1936, an order for 45 units was issued by Austria. Venezuela ordered 9 units in 1938, modified with larger radiators to suit the warmer climate. Four of them were built for Paraguay, also in 1938. Finally, again in 1938, Spanish firm Hispano Aviacion purchased a license to build them, which would go on to built 100 examples under the designation HA-132-L Chirri.

ww2dbaseOn 21 Aug 1936, CR.32 biplane fighters downed their first enemy in combat during the Spanish Civil War, merely three days after they arrived in the country; during the Spanish Civil War, Italy sent somewhere between 380 to 405 CR.32 fighters, 127 to 131 of which were delivered directly to Nationalist Spanish forces. Six of them were captured by the Republican Spanish forces, one of which was taken by the Soviet Union for further evaluation. In China, the 16 CR.32 fighters were deployed against the invading Japanese forces effectively, although there were difficulties acquiring the quality of fuel that their engines required. The few numbers meant that by late 1937, all of them were lost. The Austrian CR.32 fighters were absorbed into the German forces after the annexation; the German Luftwaffe saw little use for these biplanes, and gave them to Hungarian later in the war.

ww2dbaseIn May 1939, only one year before Spain would be involved in the European War, two-thirds of Italian Air Force's fighter strength were of CR.32 fighters, 294 of which were in Italy and North Africa while a further 34 were in Italian East Africa. Despite being biplanes, they saw extensive action in the early days of the European War. Their first WW2 combat missions were against British Blenheim bombers, and they performed admirably, with six CR.32 fighters downing two Blenheim bombers without any losses. They were even known for downing the more advanced British Hurricane fighters. Their early successes would prove to be short-lived, however, as monoplanes quickly overpowered them, relegating them to rear duties as the war went on.

ww2dbaseDuring the design's production life, about 1,200 of them were built by Fiat in Italy.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Sep 2010


MachineryOne Fiat A30 RA-bis V12 engine rated at 600hp
Armament2x7.7mm or 2x12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns, up to 100kg of bombs
Span9.50 m
Length7.47 m
Height2.36 m
Wing Area22.10 m²
Weight, Empty1,455 kg
Weight, Loaded1,975 kg
Speed, Maximum360 km/h
Rate of Climb9.00 m/s
Service Ceiling8,800 m
Range, Normal781 km


Italian CR.32 biplane fighter at rest, date unknownItalian-built CR.32 fighter during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
See all 3 photographs of CR.32 Biplane Fighter

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CR.32 Biplane Fighter Photo Gallery
Italian CR.32 biplane fighter at rest, date unknownItalian-built CR.32 fighter during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
See all 3 photographs of CR.32 Biplane Fighter

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