Fiat CR.30

The Fiat CR.30 was the first entry in the series of biplane fighters that included the CR.32 and CR.42 Falco, and marked a clean break with the line of aircraft that included the CR.1 and CR.20.

Like the earlier aircraft the CR.30 was designed by Celestino Rosatelli, and it retained some features from the CR.20, including the Warren type 'W' struts between the wings and the distinctive tail.

The rest of the aircraft was new. The square tips on the wings and horizontal parts of the tail were replaced with rounded tips. The pilot's cockpit was located further back from the trailing edge of the wing - about half way down the fuselage. On the CR.20 and CR.1 the cooling radiator had been mounted about the engine, while on the CR.30 it was in the more familiar 'chin' position below the engine. Power was provided by the new Fiat A.30 RA 12-cylinder V inline engine, rated at 600hp.

The undercarriage was somewhat similar to that on the CR.20bis, but with streamlined spats covering the wheels themselves. In terms of size the new aircraft was longer than the CR.20 by almost four feet, but had a much reduced wingspan of 34ft 5 1/2in, compared to 43ft 1 3/4in on the CR.20. Like the CR.20, the new aircraft was a sesquiplane, with a larger upper wing and smaller lower wing.

Structurally the CR.30 was a typical aircraft of its day, with an all metal-framework (using steel reinforced duralumin). The nose was skinned in Dural, the rest of the aircraft in fabric. The prototypes were armed with two 12.7mm machine guns mounted in the nose, giving them more punch than most contemporary fighters, but most sources suggest that these were replaced by the standard .303in (7.7mm) guns in the production aircraft.

Four prototypes were built, and the first made its maiden flight on 5 March 1932. The new aircraft lived up to expectations. The extra power provided by the new engines was matched by the increase in both empty and loaded weights, but despite this the CR.30 reached a top speed of 218mph, well up on 161mph of the CR.20. It was also impressively manoeuvrable, a feature that would be retained in the CR.32 and CR.42.

The second and third prototypes were ready by the end of May, and the first and third aircraft were sent to the International Aeronautical Meet at Zurich in July 1932. There they won the speed circuit contests, with average speeds of 211.3mph and 205mph, and won the prestigious Dal Molin Cup for fighter aircraft. This success and others like it played a major part in building up the reputation of the Italian Air Force, which for most of the 1930s was believed to be one of the most powerful in the world. This image was enhanced in 1934 when a squadron of CR.30s made a tour of Europe while flying in formation.

The CR.30 was ordered into production for the Italian Air Force, with the first aircraft being completed in 1933 and delivered to the Regia Aeronautica in 1934. The CR.30 was soon superseded by the improved CR.32, although it remained in service in Libya, where the 2bd Stormo (Wing) operated it from 1935 until the last aircraft were retired in 1938. Sources differ on the total number of CR.30s produced, with figures of either 124 or 176 given.

Overseas Orders

Austria

Austria purchased three CR.30s and three CR.30Bs in 1936. After the German take-over two of these aircraft were given to Hungary.

China

Although efforts to sell the CR.30 to China failed, two did serve with the Chinese 3rd Air Corps.

Hungary

Hungary was the main foreign operator of the CR.30. The first two CR.30s were received in 1936. They were followed by one ex-Italian aircraft and ten CR.30Bs in 1938, and finally by two ex-Austrian aircraft, for a total of fifteen aircraft.

Paraguay

Paraguay ordered two CR.30s in 1937, using them as training aircraft.

Spain

Two CR.30s were given to the Spanish Nationalists during 1938.

Venezuela

Venezuela was given a single CR.30 in 1938

Variants

CR.30B

The CR.30B was a two-seat training aircraft based on the CR.30. The first two were produced by modifying two of the prototypes, and most of the remaining CR.30Bs were produced by converting existing aircraft. The main exceptions were twenty aircraft produced by CANSA to replace wartime losses.

CR.30 Idro (Sea)

The CR.30 Idro was a design for a twin-floatplane fighter based on the CR.30. Two prototypes were produced by converting existing aircraft, but no production followed.

Stats: CR.30
Engine: Fiat A.30 RA 12-cylinder V inline engine
Power: 600hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 34ft 5 1/2in
Length: 25ft 10 1/4in
Height: 9ft 1 1/2in
Empty Weight: 2,965lb
Maximum take-off Weight: 4,178lb
Max Speed: 218mph
Cruising Speed:
Service Ceiling: 27,845ft
Range: 528 miles
Armament: Two forward firing SAFAT .0303in machine guns

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 November 2010), Fiat CR.30 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_fiat_cr30.html

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