Fiat CR.42 – Regianni Re.2000 – Aermacchi MB-326H
Let’s take a wander around the gallery of aircraft of sundry nations.
The idea of this gallery is to house the aircraft not made in the big aircraft manufacturing nations and the general rule is that if we get to more than about twenty aircraft made by any of those nations we will open a new public gallery for them. At the moment The Netherlands is the most likely contender with fifteen aircraft and I guessed Japan would be next because of the range of aircraft it designed and made during World War II. On a whim I did a count and found that Japan and Italy are on an equal level with eleven aircraft each. The difference is, of course, that all the Japanese aircraft are military while we have two or three civil aircraft among the Italian aircraft. So let’s have a look at three of those eleven Italian aircraft, even though the three that catch my eye were military.
Fiat CR.42 in 1/72 by Matchbox
This aircraft was among the last of the biplane fighters, along with the British Gloster Gladiator. It was a development of the earlier Fiat CR.32 with a radial engine which made it look much stockier. They were very strong and remarkably agile so Allied pilots soon learned not to dogfight them but to instead use their speed against them. After they were outclasses as fighters they were used as night fighters and ground attack aircraft. After the Italian armistice in September 1943 they were used as trainers by the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force and some were also captured and used by the Germans in ground-attack operations.
This model was made by Steve Pulbrook using the Matchbox kit that was published in 1996. It is a reboxing of the much older Revell kit that was first published in 1965 and I made not much later. For its age it is not a bad kit except that there is no cockpit to speak of, which is a bit obvious in an open cockpit. If you come across this kit, or already have it in your collection and want to make it, I’d recommend this article on the IPMS Stockholm website that give good detail on how to upgrade the old kit. Alternatively, you could pick up the much newer Italeri kit of the CR.42 which, according to IPMSUSA, ‘comes about as close to perfection as a kit can’.
Reggiane Re.2000 in 1/72 by Italeri
This aircraft was designed to compete in an Italian Air Force competition for a new fighter. The designers took their inspiration from the American Seversky P-35 which the Re.2000 superficially resembles. In tests it outperformed contemporary aircraft such as the latest Italian fighters and the German Messerchmitt Bf109E. Due to some technical problems the Italian government did not immediately order the Re.2000 into production so it was offered for sale internationally and was ordered by the Swedish, Hungarian and British governments and used by the Swedish and Hungarian air forces. The Re.2000 was the launching point for several developments of the basic design, ending with the Re.2005 which was one of the best Axis fighters, and one of the best looking too.
This model was also made by Steve Pulbrook, this time using the Italeri kit. The kit dates from 1971 and has appeared in Italeri and Supermodel boxes. Other options, if you want to make a model of this aircraft, is the Legato kit from 2005, the Special Hobby kit from around the same time and Sword kit, which was released as recently as 2018. I have the Supermodel/Italeri kit in my collection and it isn’t bad, and gets good reviews from IPMSUSA and Fine Scale Modeller. You might also want to look at the Sword kit which has also outstanding reviews in Hyperscale, and also comes in several of the later versions of the original Re.2000 design.
Aermacchi MB.326 in 1/72 by Supermodel
This aircraft was one of the most successful aircraft of its type in the second half of the Twentieth Century. It was developed in the 1950s as a complete trainer for military pilots, sold to more than ten countries and made under licence in Australia, South Africa and Brazil. In Australia it was manufactured by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Hawker Aircraft and served with the Royal Australian Air Force until 2001. They were also used by the RAAF aerobatic team, the Roulettes, from 1970 to 1989.
This model was made from the old Supermodel kit which dates from 1996 and has since been offered in a boxing by Italeri. I thought there was nothing really wrong with it apart from the cockpit which is very spartan for something that is so well exposed under that large canopy. I replaced it with an aftermarket resin cockpit that worked out nicely. To make the Supermodel/Italeri kit into the Australian MB.326H version you will also need to get the larger wing tip tanks and some nice decals. Hawkeye offer a few very colourful options including a nice blue and white RAN scheme, but if I was making another one of these I might go for either the Roulettes scheme or the standard grey and green scheme operational scheme. Fine Scale Modeller says this is an enjoyable kit to make, and I’d agree.