Following the success of the C.R. 32 “Freccia”, which demonstrated remarkable reliability and operational efficiency during the Spanish Civil War, the Italian manufacturer Fiat developed, at the end of the 1930s, the new C.R. 42 “Falco“. This new single-seat biplane fighter retained, like its predecessor, the fixed landing gear and open cockpit, but incorporated important innovations, such as an alloy and steel frame covered with canvas and metal panels.
Thanks to its air-cooled, supercharged Fiat A.74 radial engine, the Fiat C.R. 42 could reach speeds of up to 400 km/h (250 mph). It stood out for its extraordinary maneuverability, highly valued by Italian pilots, although it faced the limits associated with the “biplane” configuration. Although it managed to successfully engage the Gloster Gladiators, it was soon rendered obsolete by faster and more heavily armed monoplanes such as the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. Several Fiat C.R. 42, accompanied by G.50 fighters and BR.20 and CANT Z 1007 bombers, were employed by the Italian Regia Aeronautica during the Battle of Britain, as part of the ‘Corpo Aereo Italiano’.
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