JOHAN VISSCHEDIJK COLLECTION
No. 9012. Ambrosini SAI.403 Dardo (Dart) (MM518) Italian Air Force
Photograph from Military Aircraft Photographs (MAP)

Ambrosini SAI.403 Dardo (Dart)

06/30/2009. Chief designer Sergio Stefanutti of the Italian manufacturer 'Societā Aeronāutica Italiana Ing. A. Ambrosini & Cie' designed the S.A.I.403, essentially a refinement of the S.A.I.207 lightweight fighter, and of similar wooden construction. The wing and tail surfaces were redesigned and the incidence of the tail plane rendered variable in flight; a fully-retractable tail wheel replaced the fixed and faired tail wheel; internal fuel and ammunition capacities were increased, while it was fitted with a 750 hp Isotta-Fraschini Delta R.C.21/60 Serie I-IV twelve-cylinder air-cooled inverted V-engine.

The S.A.I.403 was an exceptional fighter in several respects, and the prototype, completed in late 1942, possessed excellent handling characteristics and a performance higher than those of most contemporary fighters with twice the power. The structure was sturdy and facilitated mass production, and the use of wood made possible far greater dispersal of production, simplified repairs and conserved stocks of strategic materials.

In January 1943 an order was placed by the Italian Air Ministry for 3,000 S.A.I.403 fighters. This order supplanted that previously placed for 2,000 S.A.I.207 fighters, and 1,200 were to be produced by Savoia-Marchetti, 1,000 by Caproni, and the remainder by Ambrosini. Tooling had reached only the initial stages, however, when the armistice terminated all further work on this outstanding fighter.

Created June 30, 2009