Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero – Italian Medium Bomber
The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero was a medium bomber used by the Italian air force during World War Two. It is also named Savoia-Marchetti S.79 or S.79. The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, which means Sparrowhawk had three Alfa Romeo engines and had a wood and metal fuselage. It was built as a commercial aircraft and its first flight was in 1934. The distinctive dorsal hump on its fuselage made it easy recognizable, the crews liked the plane very much and gave it the nickname “il gobbo maledetto” – damned hunchback.
It had a crew of 6, pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer/gunner, radio operator, bombardier, rear gunner. Three Alfa 128 R.C.18 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines which gave is a max speed of about 460km/h. It had one to five machineguns, one forward Breda-SAFAT 12.7 mm machine gun was standard like the dorsal Breda-SAFAT 12.7 mm machine gun. The belly Breda-SAFAT 12.7 mm machine gun was optional like the two 7.7 mm machine guns in lateral “waist-gun” ports.
It had a bomb load of 1200 kg of could carry two external 450 mm torpedoes.
It was a fast low wing passenger aircraft with 26 world records on its name in 1937 to 1939, one is the fastest medium bomber in the world. It was converted into a military role afterwards and saw action during the Spanish Civil war and all other fronts where the Italian army fought during the war, like North Africa, Greece, Russia and more.
It was successful as torpedo bomber as well in the Mediterranean theater of war. The SM.79 was an outstanding aircraft and most likely the best-known Italian airplane of the Second World War. With 1240 built it was also the most produced Italian bomber of World War two. It remained in service until 1952.
There are only two complete Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 left, both in Italian Museums and both giving back from Lebanon. The SM.70 on the photographs below is made in 1942, fabrication number MM24499, and flew several combat missions before the Italian armistice in September 1943. It came in Allied hands thereafter and flew cargo missions until 1948. in 1949 it was obtained by Lebanon where it remained in service until 1959. It was donated to the Italian Air Force and on display at the Gianni Caproni Museum of Aeronautics in Trento.