Breda Ba.65

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Breda Ba.65 Italian ground attack aircraft near Rome, Italy in 1939 . Photo Source 

Breda Ba.65

The Breda 65 Nibbio (Habicht) was a single-engine, Italian ground-fighting aircraft from 1935, which was used both in the Spanish Civil War and in the first years of the Second World War. The Ba.65, which was also delivered to several other countries, was far ahead of its time and proved itself quite well in its role as actually thought, but could not bring its full potential to bear because of inadequate engine power. Their last missions took place in late February 1941 in North Africa.

History : 

The Breda Ba.65 flew for the first time in September 1935. For the time, the machine based on a concept of Colonnello Mecozzi was an advanced concept: a two-seater battle aircraft, which was to attack targets on the front or directly behind them with guns and light bombs, Similar to the fact that the Soviet Air Force later realized with the Il-2. The Italian engine however suffered from the fact that the Italian engine industry could not provide an engine with sufficient power. The aircraft were built at Breda and Caproni.

In 1936, the Regia Aeronautica ordered 81 machines, which were later followed by others. However, the concept of direct ground support in the Regia Aeronautica was not undisputed, and many pilots were not adequately trained in depth. The hunting pilots, on the other hand, complained of the heavy control, the bomber pilots, in turn accustomed to less maneuverable machines, praised their agility. This ambiguous assessment of their fluency did not make the development of a coherent operational concept easier.

However, it quickly became apparent that the machine could barely lift with maximum bomb loading and was even very difficult to fly even with reduced cargo. For weight saving the guard tower was replaced by an open stand. Basically however the Ba.65 was easy to fly, only just too weakly motorized. Thirteen machines went directly into the Spanish Civil War, another eleven were delivered as replacement engines. The machines were used in the battles of Teruel and Santander by the nationalists of Franco.

In Spain the Ba.65 were used mostly as a hunting aircraft to intercept the SB-2 bombers supplied by the Soviet Union. The Fiat CR.32 double-decker hunters delivered by Italy were too slow for that. That is why the Ba.65 flew in Spain without rear shooters and without a bomb bay. Later, however, they were reinstated in their original role.

As a single-seater, the engine proved itself, so that from 1939 all Italian Ba.65 were only flown as single-seater. The production was however stopped in July 1939 after 218 machines. It was foreseen to use the Ba.65 only for bridging until the introduction of the successor model Breda Ba.88. The machines should actually be scrapped in 1940. Since the Ba.88, however, in contrast to Ba.65 proved to be a misconstruction, at the beginning of the Second World War the Ba.65 machines were moved to North Africa to fight British troops.

By early 1941, the engines had performed well in their original role by attacking British vehicles in the desert. The losses from flak fire were very high, but on the other hand, British hunting stalls across North Africa were still equipped with obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplanes, which were slower than the Ba.65. Until February 1941, most of the machines had either been lost or no longer ready for action. In the Cyrenaika, many machines were left as wrecks and later captured by the British, though they were unable to fly.

25 machines were sold to Iraq in 1938. During the military coup in 1941 they were used with little success against the British troops in the country.

Chile bought twenty machines and Portugal ten. Interestingly, even the Soviet Union bought ten copies of this type, which, however, were only tested; From the experience with these machines the basis for the application concept of the Il-2 was later developed.

The Ba.65 was a very advanced concept in 1935, but was unable to fully exploit its potential because of the lack of engine performance. A total of 281 machines were produced (of which 16 were the zero series).

Technical specifications :

Length : 9,30 m   
Wing span : 12.10 m
Wing area : 23.5 m²
Height 3.20 m
Engine : 1 × 18-cylinder twin engine Fiat A.80 RC.41 with 1000 hp (746 kW)
Top speed : 430 km / h
Distance : 550 km
Crew : 1 pilot
Service height : 6300 m
Empty weight : 2400 kg
Max. Flight weight : 2950 kg
Armament : 2 x 7.7 mm MGs, 2 x 12.7 mm MGs Breda SAFAT,
Hull shaft for 200-400 kg bombs, additional 200 kg on outer load carriers possible.
As a two-seater another 7.7-mm-MG either in the tower or in the open tailgate.
Los Cerrillos AFB, Chile, 1938. Source 

Operators :
Kingdom of Italy    
Spanish State

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