No. 6346. Fiat G.59-4B (VH-LIX c/n 179)
Photographed at Avalon, Victoria, Australia, 1995, by Ian McDonell

Fiat G.59-4B

The Fiat G.59 was a development of the G.55. As spare parts for the Daimler-Benz DB 605A and license built Fiat RA 1050 engines were dwindling after WW II, Fiat adapted the G.55 airframe to take the 1,610 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin T.24-2. The prototype was a converted two-seat G.55B and designated G.55BM it flew for the first time early 1948. Also six single-seat G.55As and another six G.55Bs were rebuilt to G.55AM and G.55BM fighter-trainers, later redesignated G.59-1A and G.59-1B respectively. One G.59-1A was fitted with four wing-mounted 0.787 in (20 mm) Hispano cannons.

Basically similar to the G.59-1s were the G.59-2A and G.59-2B, Syria bought 26 G.59-2As with the four-cannon arrangement and four G.59-2Bs fitted with two 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine-guns. One G.59-2A was delivered to Argentina for evaluation. The G.59-3A was a prototype navigational trainer fitted with the 1,420 hp Merlin 500/20, the same engine was used in the final versions, the G.59-4A and G.59-4B, recognizable by the bubble canopies. Including the prototypes and the 12 rebuilt G.55s, Fiat produced 200 G.59s.

This particular aircraft was built in 1950 as a G.59-4B Srs.10 and served with the Italian AF, s/n MM53772, coded RS-25. When struck off charge the aircraft was placed in storage at Practica d'Mare AB, Italy. It was purchased by the late Guido Zuccoli at an auction held by the Museo Storico dell' Aeronautica Militaire Italiana at Vigna de Valle Air Base in November 1983. It was shipped to Fighter Rebuilders (now Sanders Aeronautics) at Chino, California, USA for restoration to flying condition. When the restoration was completed in July 1987 the aircraft was registered in the USA as NX59B. Finished in metallic gray with Italian roundels and marked G59B, it was named "Ciao Bella" (Beautiful Woman).

In 1989 it was shipped to Australia and registered VH-LIX on September 5. By 1995 the aircraft had been given a wholly fictional camouflage scheme resembling an Italian WW II fighter, the cat insigne looks like that of the Italian AF 51 Stormo and the name Centauro (Centaur) belongs to the Fiat G.55. The four-bladed propeller has been replaced by a three-bladed one. The aircraft can be flown in either a single-seat (as shown above) or two-seat (source unknown) configuration after a relatively straight-forward conversion process.

Created April 19, 2007