BILL PIPPIN COLLECTION
No. 12127. Fiat G.56 Luftwaffe
Source unknown

Fiat G.56

10/31/2013. The success of the G.55 Centauro powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 engine prompted Ing. Giuseppe Gabrielli to take advantage of the increased power offered by the DB 603A twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled inverted V-engine an enlarged version of the DB 605 with certain improvements and offering 1,750 hp for takeoff and 1,510 hp at 18,700 ft (5,700 m) to achieve an even higher performance with the basic Centauro design. A DB 603A was, therefore, installed in a production G.55/I airframe to form the prototype G.56 single-seat interceptor fighter which was flown for the first time on March 28, 1944.

Although no major changes were made to the basic structure of the Centauro apart from some strengthening of the engine mounts, the installation of the larger DB 603A engine increased the overall length by some 4.5 in (11.4 cm), and the additional 340 lb (159 kg) weight of the new powerplant forward of the center of gravity necessitated some rearrangement of the fighter's equipment to compensate for this. Armament consisted of three 0.787 in (20 mm) Mauser MG 151 cannons and two 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Breda-SAFAT machineguns.

The G.56 was tested by both Italian and German pilots, and in mock dog-fights with the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A, it proved itself superior on every count, although maneuverability was slightly inferior to that of the G.55. However, by this stage of the war, the German aero engine industry was finding some difficulty in fulfilling Luftwaffe requirements for the DB 603 engine, and there was little likelihood of any substantial deliveries being made to Italy. In consequence no preparations for the quantity production of the G.56 fighter were initiated, and before prototype trials had been completed, northern Italy had been overrun by the Allies.

Created October 31, 2013