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BR.20 Cicogna

Classic Airframes 1/48 BR.20 Cicogna Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2010 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject BR.20 Cicogna Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4131 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Nice detailing Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

BR.20
BR.20
BR.20
BR.20
BR.20
BR.20
BR.20
BR.20

The Regia Aeronautica issued a requirement for a new medium bomber that could cruise above 200 mph at 15,000 feet and above 230 mph at 16,400 feet, all with a range of 620 miles and carry a 2,600 pound bomb load. Several companies submitted proposals but it was Celestino Rosatelli of Fiat that proposed the best design and the Fiat was put into full-scale development in 1935. The aircraft was designated BR.20 after the designer (Bomardiere Rosatelli) and the first aircraft were delivered in 1936.

The BR.20 was a twin-engined monoplane powered by two Fiat A.80 radial engines rated at 1000 horsepower each. The aircraft was constructed around a tubular frame with duralumin skin covering the wings and most of the fuselage. The design incorporated variable pitch propellers and retractable landing gear to reduce drag and optimize power to achieve the required speed and range requirements.

While the BR.20 was a success, it was quickly overshadowed by the parallel development of the tri-motor SM.79 Sparviero. The type saw combat in the Spanish Civil War as well as exported to support the Japanese invasion of China. In Regia Aeronautica service, the BR.20 was pressed into combat as Germany began its Blitzkrieg. While the BR.20 did participate in the Battle of Britain, heavy losses led to their early withdrawal from that campaign with the survivors returning to Italy. By the time of the Armistice between Italy and the Allied powers, the BR.20 was still in service with the Regia Aeronautica, but mostly in training and logistics roles.

Classic Airframes is back with what may be their final kit - the BR.20 Cicogna in 1/48th scale. Co-developed with MPM in the Czech Republic, this kit has definitely evolved from the earlier kits produced by Classic Airframes and MPM or Classic Airframes and Sword. Let's take a look:

The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees, plus one tree of styrene clear parts and a bag of nicely cast resin parts. How does this differ from previous releases? In the past, the styrene parts were primarily for the exterior construction and the resin parts were used to detail out the interior. Not so here.

One other factor in earlier Classic Airframes multi-engine subjects is that interior detailing in styrene was nearly non-existent. This time around, the kit features more interior detailing and all provided as styrene parts. The resin parts are exclusively used to build up the two Fiat engines as well as provide separately molded wheel hubs.

The engineering looks similar as previous kits but closer inspection will show some serious improvements including a new wing/fuselage join which will be much stronger than the previous butt-joint approach from the past. The interior even provides blanking plates with tubular details to cover the wing roots from view on the inside and blend in with the surface detailing molded into the fuselage interior.

The Fiat engines really do look good and the individually cast cylinder heads are built up onto the crankcases. The styrene motor mounts and firewalls mount the engines onto the wings with the styrene cowling halves closing up power units. A pair of resin intakes and a single resin exhaust pipe round out each engine.

While there is more detail here, construction looks to be straightforward with no obvious challenges to be seen. The minimal use of resin in this kit will make the BR.20 far easier to build for those who haven't had much experience with multimedia kits.

The kit provides markings for six BR.20s:

  • BR.20, Handasai, IJA, circa 1939
  • BR.20, Manchuria, IJA, circa 1939
  • BR.20, Anking, IJA, circa 1938
  • BR.20, Yunchung, IJA, circa 1939
  • BR.20, 8th Sqn/25th Grupo, Regia Aeronautica, Forti, circa 1941
  • BR.20, 48th Sqn/37th Grupo, Regia Aeronautica, Yugoslavia, circa 1941

The decals are very nicely done, all in register, all using a single decal for a single marking - none of these markings require you to stack one decal atop another to complete the marking. Nice! The decals were printed by Cartograf. The profiles are in color for decal placement.

If this kit is indeed Classic Airframes' finale, it is a going to be a great build. While you might note the higher suggested retail than usual, this isn't surprising given the greater number of styrene parts provided.

Definitely recommended!

My most sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample!

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