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The Smithsonian’s Macchi C.202

Updated on September 29, 2016
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The Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.View of the tail of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC., May 2000.View of the rear fuselage of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May2000.Mid-fuselage view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.Forward fuselage view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.Wing underside view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.Underwing roundel of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.C.202 of Regia Aeronautica 168ª Squadriglia, 54° Stormo CT c.1943.
The Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.
The Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000. | Source
View of the tail of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC., May 2000.
View of the tail of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC., May 2000. | Source
View of the rear fuselage of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May2000.
View of the rear fuselage of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May2000. | Source
Mid-fuselage view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.
Mid-fuselage view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000. | Source
Forward fuselage view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.
Forward fuselage view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000. | Source
Wing underside view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.
Wing underside view of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000. | Source
Underwing roundel of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000.
Underwing roundel of the Macchi C.202 in the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, May 2000. | Source
C.202 of Regia Aeronautica 168ª Squadriglia, 54° Stormo CT c.1943.
C.202 of Regia Aeronautica 168ª Squadriglia, 54° Stormo CT c.1943. | Source

The Smithsonian’s Macchi C.202

There is a Macchi C.202 Folgore suspended from the ceiling in the World War II gallery at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. It is one of the 3 remaining C.202s. The other 2 are on display in the Italian Air Force Museum in Vigna di Valle.[i] The service history of the Smithsonian’s C.202 is unknown. It was sent to the U.S. Army’s Technical Service Command at Wright Field, Ohio and assigned the Foreign Evaluation number FE-498. National Air & Space Museum technicians restored the aircraft in 1975. The aircraft was given the markings of the Regina Aeronautica’s 4⁰ Stormo, 10⁰ Gruppo, 90⁰ Squadriglia. The unit was active from 1940 until the end of World War II. 4⁰ Stormo claimed 500 victories.[ii] Aviation Historian Christopher Shores wrote, “Regina Aeronautica claims bore very little resemblance to the reality of the situation.”[iii] The C.202’s left wing is 21 centimeters longer than its right wing. The longer wing counteracted the airplane’s torque and propeller factor and lessened the tendency of the aircraft to swing on takeoff.[iv] The C.202’s engine was an Alfa Romeo R. A. 1000 R. C. 411 Monsonie, which was a license-built Diamler-Benz DB 601.

The C.202 made its first flight on August 10, 1940. C.202s began frontline service in July 1941. C.202 production ended in 1944.[v] Postwar versions of the Folgores were equipped with the more powerful Diamler-Benz DB 605 engine and redesignated the C.205 Veltros. The C.205 continued service until the Egyptian Air Force retired them in 1949.[vi] With a top speed of 372 mph[vii] and good maneuverability it was better than many of the Allied fighters in front line service in the Mediterranean Theater. It was deficient in firepower. Its twin 12.7 mm machine guns were inadequate against fighters and almost useless against bombers. A few C.202s were later fitted with two additional 7.9 mm machine guns, still inadequate. A few were later fitted with two 20mm cannons which gave them respectable firepower.

[i] Warbirds Directory by John Chapman & Geoff Goodall, © December 1992.

[ii] National Air & Space Museum web site: (http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?object=nasm_A19600332000)

[iii] Air Aces by Christopher Shores, © 1983 Bison Books, Page 7.

[iv] National Air & Space Museum web site: (http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?object=nasm_A19600332000)

[v] Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide, by Tony Holmes, © 2005 Harper Collins Publishers 2005.

[vi] National Air & Space Museum web site: (http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?object=nasm_A19600332000)

[vii] Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide, by Tony Holmes, © 2005 Harper Collins Publishers 2005.

Some Air Combat Involving the Macchi C.202

  • September 30, 1941 – Sottotenente Frigerio shot down an RAF Hurricane piloted by a Lieutenant Lintern. Later that day C.202 pilots Tenente Luigi Tessari and Sargento Raffaello Novelli shot down a Fulmar, despite a 5 Hurricane escort. The Fulmar was looking for Lt. Lintern, he was never found. Two seaplanes rescued the Fulmar crew.[i]
  • November 26 – In an air combat with RAF Hurricanes the C.202s shot down 3 Hurricanes, another 2 made crash landings at their base. The Hurricanes shot down 2 Macchis.[ii]
  • June 15, 1943 – Twenty C.202s attacked bomber formations of B-17s, B-25s, & B-26s, that had a P-38 escort. The C.202 pilots claimed a 4 engine bomber and a twin engine bomber. First Lieutenants Ray Crawford and Richard A. Campbell each shot down a C.202.[iii]
  • June 24 – Two C.202s claimed to have shot down a twin-engine Allied aircraft.
  • July 5 – Macchi C.202s engaged USAAF aircraft over Sicily. Capitano Franco Lucchini, an ace credited with 26 kills in World War II and Spain, fell to the guns of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Witnesses claimed Lucchini shot down an American fighter during this battle. The fighter escort shot down and killed Leonardo Ferrulli, another ace with 23 kills to his credit. Witnesses report he shot down 2 American fighters. [iv]
  • January 30, 1944 – 60 P-47s flew under radar and attacked the Villaorba airfield. The P-47s claimed almost 38 Axis aircraft including 6 C.202s.[v]


[i] Asisbiz (http://www.asisbiz.com/il2/MC-202/Macchi-MC202-Folgore.html)

[ii] Asisbiz (http://www.asisbiz.com/il2/MC-202/Macchi-MC202-Folgore.html)

[iii] Fifty-Three Stormo⁰ by Marco Mattioli (https://books.google.com/books?id=e2ao-InmCeYC&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=c.202+kills&source=bl&ots=sABOXh_Awc&sig=AgB-3xoVFAU1SOa29FmYr8pTaSo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEEQ6AEwCWoVChMIyuP8np7KyAIVS2s-Ch18rQzL#v=onepage&q&f=false)

[iv] Fighter Aces by Christopher Shores, © The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited 1975, Page 111.

[v] Fifteenth Air Force Story by Kenn C. Rust, © Historical Aviation Album 1976.

The Macchi C.202 vs P-40 Kittyhawk II

 
C.202
P-40 Kittyhawk II
Loaded Weight
6,766 lbs.
8,500 lbs.
Wing Loading
30 #/Sq.'
36 #/Sq.'
Engine Power
1,175 hp
1,600 hp
Maximum Speed
372 mph
362 mph
Armament
2x12.7mm Machine Guns
6x12.7mm Machine Guns
Sources: VIntage Aircraft Recognition Guide, by Tony Holmes, (c) Harpers Colllins Publishers, 2005. Luftwaffe Fighter Aces, by Mike Spick, (c) 1996

Macchi C.202 vs Spitfire VB

 
C.202
Spitfire VB
Loaded Weight
6,766 lbs.
6,650 lbs.
Wing Loading
30#/Sq.'
28 #/Sq.'
Engine Power
1,175 hp
1,440 hp
Maximum Speed
372 mph
374 mph
Armament
2x12.7mm Machine Guns
2x20mm, 4x7.6mm
Sources: Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide, by Tony Holmes, (c) Harpers Collins Publishers, 2005 Luftwaffe Fighter Aces, by Mike Spick, (c) 1996

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 17 months ago

      In World War II it was often a trade off. Putting more or heavier guns on a fighter made it less maneuverable. That issue was most accute with the Germans in 1944/45 who had to contend with heavy Allied bombers and their fighter escorts.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 17 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Maneuverability as well as maximum firepower is obviously the ideal when it comes to warplanes. Too bad countries have to concern themselves with such things. My wishes would have everyone spending money on infrastructure and things that would serve to better the lives of people on this planet...not help to destroy them.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 17 months ago

      The Italians were behind in aircraft development. In the mid-1930s many fighters still carried only 2 machine guns. By 1940 other countries had fighters with 6 to 8 machine guns or a combination of machine guns and cannons. The Italians put a premium on maneuverability. In World War II maneuverability was more important in most situations than firepower but without enough firepower more enemy aircraft make it back home.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 17 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Interesting that when this plane was first built it had insufficient fire power. For a fighter plane I would have thought that objective would have been a top priority. They finally added some canons from what you wrote which made them more effective. Good photos!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 23 months ago

      Because much of the Hurricane was fabric bullets could often pass through them without causing any real damage. 12.7 mm bullets could take down any WWII era fighter if they hit the right spot.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I was surprised the Maachi could take down a Hurricane as they were pretty sturdy aircraft.

      Excellent hub

      Lawrence

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 24 months ago

      Thank you, I'm glad you liked the article. There isn't as much about the Italian aircraft as there is about the aircraft of the other major WWII combatants. Hopefully more information will come out about them.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Brilliant. I enjoyed it. First class research and presentation. I knew nothing of this aircraft.

      Graham.