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A Pair of CR.42s in flight. [1]

The CR.42 Falco (Falcon) was an Italian fighter, and one of the few biplane fighter types to see service during World War II.



A development of his experimental CR.40 and CR.41 aircraft, the CR.42 was the last biplane fighter designed by Celestino Rosateli. This was at the request of the Italian Air Ministry, whose belief that highly manoeuverable biplane fighters still had a role to play had been strengthed by the achievements of biplane fighters during the Spanish Civil War.[2] The first prototype retained a traditional structure while embodying an increased proportion of high value materials, and first flew on 23rd May 1938, using a 14-cylinder Fiat A74R 1C 38 radial engine providing 840 hp at 12,465 ft (3,800 m), and carrying an armament of two 12.7 mm SAFAT Machine Guns. [3] The success of the test flights led to an order for 200 CR.42, which began to leave the Turin factory in February 1939.[N 1] Final production amounted to 1,781 CR.42s of all versions, including 150 night attack machines for the Luftwaffe during 1943-44.[4]


A CR.42 Falco on display at the RAF Museum in London..[N 2]

When Italy declared war on 10th June 1940, the Regia Aeronautica fighter arm had 272 CR.42s on strength. Aircraft from 3 Stormo attacked targets in Southern France and escorted bombing missions unti the signing of the armistice between France and Germany on 24th June.[4]

Fifty CR.42bis aircraft were assigned to 18 Gruppo Caccia Terrestre, which served as part of the Corpo Aereo Italiano (CAI). These flew on missions from Echeloo in Belgium against Great Britain between October 1940 and January 1941,[6] when the CAI was recalled to Italy. 50 CR.42s of 18 Gruppo were lost in the campaign,[4] including one example from 95a Squadrigilla, which was captured intact on 11th November 1940, and tested with British serial BT474.[6]

Other users

Belgium ordered up to 40 examples at the end of 1939,[4] receiving 25 [3] between January and May 1940.[6] These had been assigned to 3 and 4 Escadrille of the Aeronautic Militare by the time of the German onslaught of 10 May 1940, which resulted in most of Belgium's CR.42s being lost on the ground.[4] Hungary purchased 52,[3] out of an order of up to 68,[4] with 40 delivered between December 1939 and June 1940.[6] These were used in the campaign against Yugoslavia and the Invasion of the Soviet Union.[4] 72 were delivered to Sweden[3] during 1940-1941,[6] and assigned to Flygflottiij 9 at Gothenburg with the designation J 11.[4] [N 3]


  • Powerplant: One Fiat A.74 RC38 14 cylinder two row radial.
    • Fuel: Two tanks in fuselage between cockpit and engine bay, holding a total of 41 Imp Gal (460 litres).
  • Max speed: 267 mph (430 km/h) at 17,485 ft (5,330 m)
  • Time to 19,685 ft: (6,000 m) 9.11 min
  • Normal range: 482 miles (775 km)
  • Empty weight: 3,765 lb (1,708 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,033 lb (2,283 kg)
  • Span: 31 ft 9 7/8 in (9.70 m)
  • Length: 27 ft 1 3/5 in (8.27 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 9 1/2 in (3.59 m)[7]



  1. Ironically, this was two months after the departure of the tenth Fiat G.50 monoplane fighter.[2]
  2. This aircraft was the one landed at Orfordness by Pietro Salvadori on 11th November 1940.[5]
  3. Some examples may have later been passed to Finland.[6]


  1. Dodecaneso
  2. 2.0 2.1 World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 894 Sheet 20 (A-Z of Aircraft: Fiat CR.20 (Continued) to Fiat CR.42 Falco)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. Complete Book of Fighters. Salamander Books. 2001. ISBN 1-84065-269-1 Page 207.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 World Aircraft File 894 Sheet 21 (A-Z of Aircraft: Fiat CR.42 Falco (Continued) to Fiat G.18)
  5. Haining, Peter. The Chianti Raiders - The Extrordinary Story of the Italian Air Force in the Battle of Britain. Robson Books. 2005. ISBN 1 86105 829 2 Page 184
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Gunston, Bill. Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Salamander Books. 1988. ISBN 0-86101-390-5 Page 249
  7. Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. Page 209.

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