In the night of may 23 BR.20M made the first RAID on Malta. On the way back to the English night fighter Beaufighter undetected, was accompanied by Cicogna and boarding procedures to establish where they are based.
11 Jun Sicily came the second division armed bombers BR.20M 31st Gruppo from part of the 18th Stormo. Aircraft located at the air base Catania-Fontanarossa. While the airbase Gerbini for some time was able to hide from British aircraft, Catania-Fontanarossa was known, and this was the reason for the frequent raids of bombers from Malta.
From may to September 1941 Cicogna made a large number of bombing missions objects that are located in Malta. During air strikes, the Italians suffered considerable damage. Of the 25 bombers BR.20M half were lost in battle or accidents.
Thus, on 5 August over Malta was shot down the aircraft of the commander of the 99th Gruppo, considered one of the most experienced pilots of the Italian bombers.
By October 1941, the 43-th and 18-th Stormo suffered such high losses that were unfit for action, and the personnel division sent in Milano-Bresso to rest and re-form.
Worn part was replaced by the 55th Gruppo, in Gerbini and 116th Gruppo at Catania-Fontanarosa.
The results of the actions of the Italians could not satisfy the German high command. German transport ships were constantly attacked by British aircraft based on Malta. To increase pressure on the British, the Germans were forced to send in December 1941 the Mediterranean sea II Fliegerkorps. But it has not reduced the losses of the Italians.
Even though the bombers were escorted by German fighters, the number of BR.20M, remained in the ranks, steadily decreased.
By October 1942, composed of the 55th and 116th groups had only two serviceable BR.20M.
By December, the siege of Malta was lifted, and the bombers only occasionally attacked the facilities of the island.
55 Gruppo after replenishment and rest was transferred to the airbase in Milice (Sardinia). The group’s objective was control of the North African coast, exploration of marine communications. This task has gained urgency after landing in November 1942 in Algiers by the Anglo-American troops.
August 3, 1942, three BR.20M from the composition of the 38th Squadriglia arrived on the Eastern front. Three Cicogna joined the 71st Gruppo Osservazione, Aegea (air reconnaissance group) and was to act jointly with Salop Sa.311. 5 September arrived, three more BR.20M from the composition of the 43rd Stormo.
9 Dec surpassed another five of the bombers. From Cicogna arrived at the airport in Odessa, formed the 38th and 116 th squadron, which urgently sent closer to the front line.
The Russian winter has been very hard for newcomers with a warm Apennine Peninsula, the Italian aircraft sometimes had to fly with unharvested “frozen” chassis and non-functional guns, that at a meeting with Soviet fighters made them helpless.
By 11 December, continuing to develop the offensive at Stalingrad, Soviet troops reached the main airfields, which are based on the aircraft of the 71st Gruppo Osservazione, Aegea. It began a disorderly withdrawal of the Italian units and the relocation of aviation units on the rear airfields. On April 13, 1943, the date of the return of the Italians in their homeland, consisting of the 71st Gruppo had only six serviceable С1содпа. All the other BR.20M and Salop Sa.311 was lost.
By this time, Cicogna began to be transferred to training units. Remained in combat units, the bombers were based mainly in Yugoslavia and Albania. On 31 July 1943 remained in service 74 BR.20 and 151 BR.20M.
After the exit of Italy from the war, in September 1943, the country was divided in two. The South of the country occupied by the allied forces in the North formed Republica Sociale. Was divided, and the Italian air force. A small amount of BR.20 remained in the North, on the territory of the Republic and was requisitioned by the Germans, but fighting planes were not used. According to some reports, several cars were transported to Germany, but their fate is unknown.
In the South of the country was up to ten serviceable Cicogna, who entered the Raggruppamento Bomardamento Trasporto (transport-bomber group).
At least one BR.20 was in flying condition until 7 June 1946 and joined the Italian air force (Aeronatica Militare Italiana).
The story of BR.20 would be complete without mention of the attempt of the Italians to extend the life of the bomber. In February 1942, flew the prototype (serial number ММ456) BR.20bis.
The plane equipped with new engines FIAT A. 82 power 1250 HP at 4200 meters, changed the nose of the fuselage, increasing the area of glazing. The bomber got a new wing with large scale I. area, improved turret on top of the fuselage and two blisters with a 7.7-mm machine guns on its sides.
All of these changes slightly affected the characteristics of the aircraft, though, and increased its ceiling, speed and rate of climb. To complete serial production of the bomber in September 1943 he managed to collect 15 BR.20bis.
All in all, it was released 580 Cicogna (no BR.20bis), making it the most mass medium bomber in the Regia Aeronautical composition throughout the Second world war. The fame of BR.20 is second only to his contemporary three-engine Savoia Marchetti S. 79.
Description of the design of the aircraft Fiat BR.20
Twin-engine medium bomber FIAT BR.20 Cicogna was a cantilever plane-monoplane all-metal construction low wing, partially fabric covering.
The crew consisted of 5 — 6 people and include, as a rule, the pilot, the front of the arrow, Navigator, radio operator and also arrow top and bottom turret installations.
The fuselage is all-metal truss. His force consisted of steel pipes welded together. The cross section of the fuselage is rectangular in shape with rounded corners formed by the frames. Longitudinal power set consisted of longitudinal and diagonal stringers and spars.
The fuselage was assembled from three major sections: front, middle and back. In the front section with a large area of glazing placed nose rifle installation and working place of the Navigator. In the lower part of the front section of the fuselage there was a hatch emergency escape cabin gunner and Navigator, as well as the retractable landing lights. The covering section duralumin. On the cover of the cockpit was assigned to the front Desk of the cable antenna.
In the middle section of the fuselage, in the front part of it, was the cockpit, the workplace of the operator with the R. A. 5301 transmitter and receiver A. R. 5. At the bottom of the middle section, almost throughout its length, housed a bomb Bay, designed for horizontal placement of the bombs total weight up to 1600 kg. Sash bombolyuka opened with a turn to the right and to the left. The release gear rotor type is installed in the cabin of the Navigator. There was the bombsight the Jozza type G. 3.
The crew entered the plane through a door located on the left side of the fuselage, just behind the rear edge of the wing. In the upper part of the section there was a hatch emergency evacuation of the aircraft crew.
On the left (on the flight) side of the middle part of the fuselage housed two fuel tanks. To their right there was a passageway from the front of the fuselage at the rear. On top of the middle section was installed loop antenna of radiolucency P. 3N, back front cable to the antenna and to the left in the Central part of the section were fixed retractable generator.
From below, the rear section was located retractable small point (the so-called “jaw”), which, if necessary, fell down.
The rear section of the fuselage occupied the space between the front door and tail fairing. On top of it was mounted small glazed turret with two 7.7 mm machine guns, and starting with the 101st aircraft began to be equipped with a machine gun caliber 12.7 mm.
Bottom in the rear section housed the swiveling tail wheel covered with a fairing and tail unit.
In the first series bomber dural covering took 52,55 m2 of its surface, and plain — 13,41 m2. Starting with BR.20M square duralumin plating increased.
The wing is all-metal, two-Longarone, cantilever, low-lying. For technological reasons it was divided into three parts — a center section and two consoles. Wing profile is laminar, PASS, 63.
Spars — beam. Rib — truss. Maximum wing chord — 5182 mm.
In the center section of the wing housed Proektirovanie fuel tanks that can withstand falling bullets caliber 12.7 mm.
Engine mounts and nacelles of the engines mounted on the wing center section. Strut main landing gear was attached to the main spar. To reduce the landing speeds from the bottom of the console parts of the wing, their rear edge, mounted flaps type DAC, which at takeoff had been rejected at 20, and at landing — 45 degrees. The wing ailerons had trim tabs and supplied as the weight and aerodynamic compensation.
On the leading edge of the wing tip mounted navigation lights.
Tail — free-carrying, dvuhkilevoe. To give the Keeley the necessary rigidity they were also attached to the fuselage by two steel profiled struts.
The power range of the stabilizer, keels and rudders — metal, siding — partially aluminum, and partially plain.
Elevators and areas were supplied by the trimmers and had as the weight and aerodynamic compensation.
Chassis — tricycle, tailwheel. The main landing gear retracted into the engine nacelle with turn ago. In this part of the wheel remained unharvested, which protects the fuselage from damage during a forced landing. System the landing gear is hydraulic. Stand had masaustune suspension system. Main wheels were equipped with air drum brakes. The tail wheel is fixed, closed fairing.
The power plant consisted of two radial 18-cylinder engine air-cooled FIAT A. 80 RC41 1000 HP at the altitude of 4100 meters. The engines were equipped with three-blade metal variable-pitch propellers and constant speed of rotation of the FIAT-Hamilton with a diameter of 3.54 meters.
Six fuel tanks (two fuselage and four wing) housed 3622 liter of fuel.
Oil tanks (separate for each engine) with a capacity of 42 liters installed directly behind the engines in the nacelles.
Small arms was represented by three gun emplacements. Front (bow) consisted of a turret of type HI there installed one
7.7-mm machine gun Breda SAFAT ammunition 500 rounds (on late series aircraft mounted machine gun Breda SAFAT 12.7 mm).
The upper fuselage installation was a turret of type DR with dual 7.7 mm machine guns Breda SAFAT. Bombers starting with the 101st production car, mounted the turret of the type FIAT M. I with one
12.7-mm machine gun Breda SAFAT with 350 rounds of ammunition. In the later series and this turret was replaced by the electrified semi-Lanciani Delta with one machine gun Breda SAFAT 12.7 mm.
Lower retractable machine gun mount consisted of a 7.7-mm Breda SAFAT machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition, mounted on the king pin. On some machines instead of a 7.7 mm machine gun was mounted heavy Breda SAFAT 12.7 mm ammunition 350 rounds.
Bomber weapons weighing up to 1600 kg placed only in the bomb Bay, and external hardpoints, the aircraft had. Loading of bombs was carried out in the following versions: 2×800 kg kg 2×500, 4×250 kg, 8×150 kg, 16×100 kg. was Used and other options. The bombs in the bomb Bay was located in a horizontal position only.