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 GLENCOE MODELS reissues of one of the most amazing-looking airplanes ever built, the SAVOIA-MARCHETTI SM-55X

  SM-88

Catalog number 05503  -  Scale 1:96

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In the early days of air travel there were few airfields because of the cost, particularly in rural areas. As aircraft grew larger, they require longer and more expensive runways.  So it made sense to develop planes that could land on water.  Oceans, bays, and even rivers became airfields.  In those early days every nation, with an aircraft industry, began building large seaplanes and flying boats.  Italy was no exception.

One of the most impressive seaplanes from this era was the Savoia-Marchetti SM.55.  Designed by Alessandro Marchetti in 1923, the SM.55 was initially planned as a torpedo bomber.  Two years later, Marchetti turned his attention to a civilian version.  By 1928, there were several variants which accommodated up to six passengers in each hull. A few even made their way to the United States, where at least one was built under license in New York.

The last version of the SM.55 series was the SM.55X with an experimental concave hull bottom, three bladed props, a smoother fairing, and several other design improvements.
The SM.55s set 14 records for speed, altitude, load carrying, and distance. This aircraft family made many dramatic long range journeys across the Soviet Union, to Brazil, and to Japan and during 1933 they made their most famous voyage.  A fleet of 25 SM.55Xs flew from Italy to America covering the 6100 miles in 47 hours and 52 minutes. There were four squadrons each designated by a color – red, green, black, and white. Each aircraft was overall white with trimmings and flashes of their squadron color.  The flight was commanded by a famous aviator of the time, Italo Balbo.

The SM.55Xs that made the trans-Atlantic flight carried a Pioneer change course indicator; Sperry artificial horizon and Marconi radio transmitters and receivers.  This was extremely advanced technology for its time.

The SM.55 was built entirely from spruce and ash with a plywood covering. The cabins, propellers, engines and hatch seals were made from aluminum. On the SM.55X, there were eight watertight compartments in each wing.  They were powered by two 500h.p. Isaotta Franschini ‘Asso’ water cooled engines. This gave the aircraft a maximum speed of 165 mph (265 kph) and a range of 1,245 miles (2,000 km). Wingspan:  79 ft (24 m)   Length:  54 ft (16.50 m)

 

 


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