DAN SHUMAKER COLLECTION
No. 8633. CRDA Cant Z.501 Gabbiano Italian Air Force
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 1701

CRDA Cant Z.501 Gabbiano

08/31/2011. Designed by Filippo Zappata, the Z.501 Gabbiano (Gull), the prototype of this four/five-seat light reconnaissance-bomber flying boat was flown for the first time at Monfalcone, Trieste, Italy, in 1934. In October of that year, the Gabbiano established a World Record for seaplanes by flying from Monfalcone to Massawa, Eritrea, a distance of 2,560 mls (4,120 km) non-stop. Subsequently beaten by a French aircraft, the record was regained by the Gabbiano in July 1935 when it flew from Monfalcone to Berbera, Somaliland, a distance of 3,080 mls (4,957 km).

In its original production form, the Gabbiano carried a defensive armament of three 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Breda-SAFAT machineguns, one mounted in an open bow turret and the others mounted in semi-enclosed positions in the engine nacelle and rear fuselage. Later, the bow cockpit for the observer was enclosed and the nose gun removed. Bomb racks were attached to the bracing struts between the hull and the wings, these carrying two 551 lb (250 kg) or four 353 lb (160 kg) or 220 lb (100 kg) bombs.

Construction was entirely of wood, the wings and control surfaces being fabric covered, and the powerplant was a 900 hp Isotta Fraschini Asso XI R2 C15 twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled V-engine. The Gabbiano first entered service with the Squadriglie da Ricognizione Marittima (Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron) of the Regia Aeronautica Royal Air Force) in 1936, and when Italy entered WW II in June 1940, a total of 202 flying boats of this type was in service.

After the Armistice in 1943, the (southern) royalist air force, known as the Aviazione Cobelligerante Italiana, continued to operate nineteen Gabbiano flying boats, and others continued in service with the (northern) republican air force, then known as the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana.

Created February 28, 2009