click click click click click

Macchi MC.205 Veltro (Greyhound)

The Macchi Mc.205 flew for the first time in April 1942. Essentially, this Italian fighter had the same airframe of the Macchi MC.202 "Folgore," but its powerplant was the new and more powerful Daimler-Benz DB605 instead. This airplane immediately showed its excellent combat features, reaching a speed of 650 Km/h during trials. Armament was quite good with two 12.7 mm machine guns and two 20 mm guns (the only effective weapon against enemy bomber), followed later by model with even grater firepower. The Mc.205 reached the airfields in June 1943, with the first planes assigned to the 1st Stormo based on the island of Pantelleria and utilized over North Africa for defense of the last convoys directed to Tunisia. On their first sortie, 25 Mc.205 faced, with excellent results, much larger enemy squadrons of P.40s and Spitfires. Later, the "Veltro" were relocated from Pantelleria to Catania where they were used in support of MAS (torpedo boat) operations. Here, they role became solely defensive attempting to stop the ever increasing enemy bombers missions.


Italy's Finest World War II Fighter
Engineer Castoldi's youngest brainchild of its kind, and mass-produced by the Aeronautica Macchi company since 1942, the MC205 "Veltro" was indisputably the best Italian fighter used during World War II. Enemy fighters had finally met their match in the "Veltro". However, by the time it went into action it was too late. On top of this, it would have taken a lot more than a few "Veltro" aircraft to reverse Italy's sliding fortunes of war.

The Deed of Birth of the MC 205

Italian aircraft manufacturers could not manage to produce engines of the performance required throughout World War II. So it was that Mercedes Benz engines such as the DB 601 and DB 605 were produced under licence. The DB 605 was selected, of all engines, for the tender for the Italian 'third generation fighter'. Aer Macchi was the first company to get the new engine. Fiat and Reggiane had intended to fly their respective aircraft, G. 55 "Centauro" and Re 2005 "Sagittario" first, but Aer Macchi managed to beat them to it with the dedicated M.C. 205 V "Veltro". The first prototype MC 205, already carrying the armament peculiar to the aircraft Mk 1, was flown from the air base at Lonate Pozzolo in the area of Varese on 19th April, 1942. The Aer Macchi chief test pilot, Guido Carestiato flew it. However, Fiat was the company which actually won the tender announced by the Italian Air Ministry. Even so, Fiat managed to produce only few fighters of this model, and it was not until the war was coming to an end that they were introduced into service. This was due to the fact that Fiat was having difficulty, and was behindhand with, setting up assembly lines. As a matter of fact, although the "Centauro" was easier to manufacture than the "Sagittario" and the "Veltro", and just as efficiently armed, it was completely different from the G. 50 airplanes Fiat had been producing.

The C. 205 Vs Mk 1 of the I Flight Formation in the stalls divided by antifragment partitions (photo: Veltro, 1942-1981)


Comparative tests of the three aircraft revealed that the MC 205 V was faster than the Re 2005 and the G. 55 at medium and low altitude. It was also sturdier than its competitors. However, at an altitude of over 8,000 metres its performance dropped considerably, while the other two were still pretty manoeuvrable although carrying slightly heavier armament which included an additional Mauser MG 151/20 twenty-bore light cannon. The drawbacks of the "Veltro" were mostly due to the fact that the wings had been featuring more or less the same technical specifications since the Macchi C. 200 "Saetta" was produced. On the other hand, the total weight had been uprated from 2,350 to 3,408 kg, and the wing loading from 142.2 to 202.8 kg/m2 (cf. specifications of the C. 200 Mk 6 and the C. 205 V Mk 3). The trouble with Aer Macchi - unfortunately as well as with the whole of Italian military production - was its inability to manufacture tolerable quantities of airplanes - it produced only 1.5 fighters a day. This was partly due to the bombing, partly to the difficulty of finding strategic material. In effect, supplies were running low, and on the scene of the war engineers had no choice but to cannibalize unserviceable planes for the parts. What's more, production was not made easier by the technical specifications of the wing: spars and ribs formed a trellis-type frame that was a model of robustness, yet it took a lot of painstaking work. Which, of course, did not speed up the production rate.


The MC 205 V in Action
The "Veltro" proved itself to be Italy's most important and best known World War II fighter. It served its purpose when it fiercely stood up to enemy fighters. Which was testimony to Ing. Mario Castoldi's talent. One of the world's best aircraft designers, Castoldi benefited from the Schneider Trophy experience with the M.C. seaplanes nos. 33, 39, 52, 67 and 72 setting records and scoring triumphs.

Pilots of the fascist Social Republic (from the periodical Ali, april-may 1944)


The pilots of the fighter and interceptor units were actually equipped with a number of highly competitive airplanes. The only thing is that the aircraft were delivered to the squadrons too late, the writing being clearly on the wall for Italy's fortunes of war. In effect, the I Flight Formation got the first deliveries only three months before the Allied landing in Sicily - the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa had already surrendered to the Allies in the preceding month. The aerial battles started by the IV Flight Formation in the attempt to stop the bombings that preceded the Allied landing in Sicily were memorable. Up to 6 missions a day were logged. Not a few somersaults were performed by the aircraft due to the dozens of potholes in the landing strips which had not been restored to full working order.

Italy disunited. The MC 205 of the co-belligerent Air Force which fought on the same side as the Allies (from Veltro, 1942-1981) (da: "Veltro, 1942-1981")


The National Republican Air Force witnessed the best achievements of the C. 205 Vs that shot down dozens of enemy bombers in action over the industrial sites. Enemy bombers were intercepted not least thanks to the radar of the German detachment, JG 77 - a few Italian aircraft displayed the insignia from the JG 77.


1981. Making a Comeback
Just three MC 205 Vs have survived, including the "Veltro" housed in the Museum. The Museum's "Veltro" was lucky enough to start flying again in 1981 thanks to painstaking restoration work. After numerous problems, including the fact that a pilot today has trouble flying an aircraft from WWII, and a number of accidents culminating with an unlucky attempt at takeoff - the undercarriage failing to retract, and the aircraft being damaged in the course of an emergency landing -, finally on 21st April, 1981, on the occasion of an event organized by the Italian Air Force, together with Aer Macchi, the C.205 V was demonstrated at the air base at Cameri in the area of Novara.

The "Veltro" restored to flying condition in 1981


Finally, that afternoon the "Veltro" turned up escorted by two F.104 S aircraft from the 53rd Flight Formation followed by a MB 339. An aerial show was put on involving a flight of 3 and a solo aircraft. The two F.104s turned outwards and rapidly left the stage. The MB 339 rose vertically in the air to give way to WWII's best Italian fighter. Thanks to its powerful engine, the "Veltro" performed a series of spectacular manoeuvres, including vertical banked turns and slow speed rolls.

Yet another shot of the "Veltro", restored, in the process of being demonstrated


More celebratory flights followed. The next year the "Veltro", escorted by a MB 339, was flown by the same officer, Com. Bonazzi from Varese to Paris. After stopping in Switzerland and France to refuel, it featured in the Le Bourget Show taking this well-known event by storm. And so it was that the aircraft had to perform encores day in, day out. Which caused the engineers to worry, as well it might, given that they were responsible for keeping the vehicle in working order. Today Italy's best-known WWII fighter - which flew over Cameri in 1981 - is on display in the Milan Science and Technology Museum.



Data

Type

Macchi Mc.200

Macchi Mc.202

Macchi Mc.205

 

"Saetta"

"Folgore"

"Veltro"

Engine

Fiat A.74 RC.38

DB.601/A-1 o RC.41

DB.605/A o RC.58

Total HP

840

1,175

1,475

Wing span

m 10.68

m 10.58

m 10.50

Lenght

m 8.19

m 8.85

m 8.85

Height

m 3,51

m 3,02

m 3,05

Wing area

m2. 16,81

m2. 16,80

m2. 16,80

Weight

kg 1,778

kg 2,357

kg 2,524

Max weight

kg 2,208

kg 2,937

kg 3,224

Max speed

km/h 512 @ 5,000 m

km/h 600 @ 5,500 m

km/h 650 @ 7,400 m

Range

km 870

km 765

km 1.040

Max elevation

m 8,750

m 11,350

m 11,350

Armament

2 x 12,7mm

2 x 12,7mm

2 x 12,7mm
2 x 7,7mm

Crew

1

1

1

Total build

1154
(MM.44952 - MM.8843)

1.100
(MM.7709 - MM.92007)

250
(MM. 9288/9386 - 92153/92302

Home