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Macchi 200 Saetta

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As holder of the world speed, height and distance records in the late 1930s, the Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) was perhaps blind to the fact that its service aircraft were lagging behind in terms of performance. During the Spanish Civil War, the success of Italian fighter and bomber types reinforced the air force's view of their aircraft. Consequently, the Macchi MC.200 was obsolete as soon as it entered service in 1939.

Known as the Saetta (Lightning), the MC.200 flew in prototype form for the first time on 24 December 1937. A cantilever, low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction (apart from fabric-covered control surfaces), the Macchi fighter had a retractable tail wheel and an enclosed cockpit.

Pilots liked its light controls and all-round manoeuvrability. The design's main weak point was its 649-kW (870-hp) Fiat A.74 RC.38 radial engine, which bestowed a top speed of just 502 km/h (312 mph) at 4500 m (14,800 ft)

Fighter development in the late 1930s had moved on rapidly, resulting in aircraft like the Bf 109 and Spitfire. They were powered by in-line, liquid-cooled engines that offered more power and greater streamlining and thus much higher speeds.

The MC.200's armament of two machine-guns was also inadequate -even when it was doubled to four in later aircraft. Entering service in October 1939, Saettas numbered 150 when Italy entered World War II in June 1940. Their first combat came in autumn, when Lightnings escorted bombers attacking Malta. Action over Greece and Yugoslavia followed a few served on the Eastern Front during 1941-42. However, it was in the deserts of North Africa that the type saw the most use.


Macchi 200 Saetta

Eastern front of Macchi 200 Saetta Macchi 200 Saetta Macchi 200 Saetta off the production line
From August 1941 until the spring of 1942, 51 Italian MC.200s of 22 degree Gruppo and later 21 degree Gruppo operated over Russia, mainly on air-to-ground sorties. Best known for its exploits in North Africa, the MC.200 was well-suited to desert operations, with its structural strength and short take-off run. Hurricanes and P-40s were its opponents. This aircraft was among the last batch of MC.200s built by Macchi. The fully enclosed cockpit was a feature of only the earliest production examples; Regia Aeronautica pilots preferred the traditional open cockpit to which they were accustomed.

Macchi 200 Saetta (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat fighter/fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Macchi
Maximum Speed 502 kmh (312 mph)
Maximum Range 870 km (541 mph)
Ceiling 8,900 meters (29,200 feet)
Loaded weight

1,895 kg (4,178 lbs)
2,590 kg (5,710 lbs)
Wing Area

10.58 meters (34 ft 9 in)
8.19 meters (26 ft 10 in)
3.50 meters (11 ft 6 in)
16.80 square meters (181 sq ft)
Engines One Fiat A.74 RC.38 radial piston engine which provides 649-kW (870 hp)
Armament Two fuselage-mounted Breda-SAFAT 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) machine guns
Two wing-mounted Breda-SAFAT 7.7 mm (0.303 cal) machine guns on later aircraft
294 kg (648 lbs) of bombs on field modified aircraft

Photo Gallery

I found this in my great uncles old home before it was torn down. Macchi MC 200 Saetta 92^ Sq. 8 Gr. 2 St. Campoformido Italy 1942. Model... Two Macchi MC200 yellow cowling 362^ Sq. Russia 1941 midstone/green 384^...

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