11/30/2012. In 1936, Francis Lombardi flew the prototype of the low wing side-by-side two-seat L.3 monoplane, registered I-ABJR (c/n 1). It was a wood and fabric aircraft with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit and was powered by a 40 hp C.N.A. engine. Lombardi formed the Vercellese Industrie Aeronāutiche at Vercelli, Italy and, following an Air Ministry competition, the company gained a production contract for an L.3 derivative using the 60 hp C.N.A. D.IV engine; deliveries began in 1937.
The L.3 for the flying schools and other civilian users had an enclosed cockpit, but the main production order was for an open cockpit model for the Regia Aeronautica. This batch of 338 aircraft (serials MM56313 to MM56362, MM56373 to MM56627, MM56643 to MM56672 and MM56708 to MM56710) was built between 1940 and 1942 by AVIA (Azionara Vercellese Industrie Aeronautiche) as the company had be renamed in 1939.
In addition, AVIA built 10 units for the Croatian Air Force. Output of the L.3 was shared with Agusta who built 165 machines and, after the war, many of the surviving L.3s were civilianized for use by flying clubs. In 1947 AVIA resumed production of the L.3 (then named Aviastarlet) and was reorganized as the Francis Lombardi Co. in late 1947, following which the aircraft were referred to as the FL.3. Some 53 aircraft had been built when the company ceased production in 1949.
The pictured aircraft was produced in 1941, it has been on the Italian register as I-TOLB before it was registered as G-AGFT on August 21, 1984. Finished in Croatian markings, s/n 8110, it was flown in the UK, till it returned to Italy in 2009, being reregistered I-AGTF.