Intech 1/48 Fiat G.55 Centauro Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||December 2008||Manufacturer||Intech|
|Subject||Fiat G.55 Centauro||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||-||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting late war Italian fighter||Cons||Raised rivet detail; Next to nil interior; Solid control surfaces; No wheel well interior detail; Thick clear canopy; Lot of flash on parts|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Fiat G.55 “Centauro” was an Italian WWII fighter aircraft. Some aviation experts consider it the best single seat fighter produced for the Italian Air Force. The Fiat G.55 was a redesigned version of the Fiat G.50 “Freccia”. Differences included a DB 605 A-1 engine, a refined fuselage and a redesigned wing, built in 2 sections, bolted together at the centerline for greater efficiency. Metal stressed skin was used and the metal framed aerolons were fabric covered.
The 1st prototype was flown on April 30, 1942 and production started at the beginning of 1943. The initial model was the G.55/0, which had a 20mm MG 151 cannon and 4 x 12.7mm Breda SAFAT machine-guns. The “O” model was succeeded by the “I” model, which held three 20mm MG 151’s and two Breda SAFAT’s. Deliveries of the G.55 to the 53rd Stormo and the 353rd Squadriglia of the 20th Gruppo just started when Italy surrendered to the Allies on September 8, 1943. Because of Italy's surrender, the G.55 did not see combat with the Regia Aeronautica. However, factories which were building the G.55’s were still under the control of the Republica Sociale Italiana (SAIO Republic) in northern Italy, and several thousand were ordered. The G.55 became the RSI’s standard aircraft for their air force. Shortages began to develop as the DB 605 A-1 engines became scarce and only 105 Fiat G.55’s were produced by the time the Allies over-ran all of Italy.
Other models developed and based on the G.55 were the G.55/H with five 20mm cannons and the G.55S torpedo fighter, which carried one 2,176 lb Whitehead Fiume torpedo beneath the fuselage. Both of these variations of the G.55 frew in 1944.
After the war, production of the G.55 resumed for foreign export and the newer G.55/A’s and G.55B’s were built. Fiat reinstalled the production lines to produce the G.55A armed with eigher two wing-mounted 12.7mm machine-guns or two 20mm cannons, plus the two 12.7mm machine-guns in the cowling. Nineteen went to the Italian Air Force and 30 were supplied Argentina. Argentina returned 17 that were then sold to Egypt in 1948, being armed with four 12.7mm machine-guns. A 2-seat trainer version, the G.55B was built in 1946 with 10 of these going to the Italian Air Force and 15 to Argentina in 1948.
Intech was a Polish model company based in Krakow. I don’t know if they are still in business anymore. My kit was purchased a good 20 years ago or better and is now out of production.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art is an illustration of the model made up and posed against a scene of a group of B-24’s.
Inside the box is a single cello-bag that contains all the parts trees. It is held shut with Scotch tape. A decal sheet and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a single sheet, folded in the center to create 4 pages in 8 ¼” x 11 ¾” format.
Page 1 of the instructions begins with a one paragraph history of the G.55 in Polish and English. The bottom of the page has a single exploded drawing to use for assembly of the model. There are very few parts in the kit and this drawing is not too busy therefore.
Page 2 and 3 give three 2-view painting and marking schemes.
A Fiat G.55 of the 2nd Squadriglia 11th Gruppon Caccia “Diavoli Rossa” (Red Devils), June 1944, with the RSI. The aircraft is in a cammouflage of a base of light green (Verde chiaro, FS14260) with spots of dark green (verde scuro, FS34092) above and grey (grigio, FS36373) below. It carries the RSI tri-color postage stamp like insignia on the fuselage and sides of the rudder. It has a white fuselage band and the yellow fuselage number 7. The squadron marking of a red devil is on the side of the cowling. The wings carry the RSI style facist insignias on top and bottom of the wings.
A Fiat G.55 that flew with the Luftwaffe in 1944. It is overall dark green (verde scuro, FS34096) above and gray (grigio, FS36373) below. It carries the black and white German national crosses on the fuselage and above and below the wings, with a white outline swastika on the tail. The spinner is black.
3. A Fiat G.55 of the 1st Squadriglia 11th Gruppo Caccia at Cascina Vega (Pavia) in April of 1942. It is in a splinter camouflage of red-brown (terracotta, FS20100), light green (verde chiaro, FS14260) and sand-brown (sabbia, FS33481) above and light gray (gigio chiaro, FS36424) below. It carriers the tri-color postage stamp like RSI insignia on the fuselage sides and the rudder and the black and white RSI style wing markings of squares with 2 axes on them. It also carries a fuselage number of a thin red 7.
The bottom of page 3 has Intech’s street address and the listing of the colors to use.
Page 4 has Intech’s address repeated and the statement that they have been around since 1988. The rest of the page has names of other aircraft that I assume Intech did kits of. However, just the names of them are given and nothing else. No kit numbers or what scale they would be. Listed are:
- Fokker D.XXI
- Reggiane Re. 2000 Falco
- Dewoitine D.520c
- De Havilland Sea Venom
- Ju 87G Stuka
- Hurricane (no version mentioned)
- Spitfire Mk. IX LF
- Mikoyan Fulcrum MiG-29 fighter
- Zero (no version mentioned)
- Bloch MB-152
- MIG-17 PF
- MIG-21 SM/MF
- Bristol Beaufort
- Me 109G
- Wellington Mk.Ic
- Fokker F.VIIb
I also remember that Intech had some of the old Johan molds, after that company went out of business. One of those kits was a 1/72nd scale Zero that could be built with or without floats.
The main parts in the kit are molded in medium gray plastic. Detail is of the raised rivet variety, although the rivets are not all that heavy. This might not please some modelers. The control surfaces are all molded solid and would take surgery to make them separate. The cockpit is very Spartan, with only a pilot and seat offered. Scratch builders would want to do something more there for sure. The fuselage cockpit walls have some stringers molded into them. The clear canopy is very thick and flash is abundant on parts. Those of us with AMS can go wild fixing this model up. It is not a total dog, but needs help sorely. Novices or young modelers would find it an easy build out of the box.
Parts begin with 2 loose fuselage halves. These have the radio antenna post molded to them and the exhaust stacks. The stacks will look better if they are drilled out.
The wing halves are next, with the lower wings being full span and the upper wings being individual and on a sprue with the tail wheel. Half of the wing guns and the pitot tube are molded into the leading edges of the top and bottom wing halves. The pitot tubes were badly bent in shipment and with gentle coaxing were straightened back out. One of the guns had broken off. I think these items would be better replace with some small tubing or stretched sprue at least.
Finally, there is what can be called a parts tree. It holds the horizontal tail surfaces, the main wheels, the main landing gear legs, the propeller, drop tanks, landing gear doors, under body air scoop, pilot figure, pilot seat, propeller base plate and propeller retainer and a couple landing gear struts.
Clear parts consist of a loose canopy part and a two part desk stand. I haven’t seen these stands in aircraft kits in over 20 years. Not since Airfix used to include them in all their aircraft kits.
The decals, already described above, complete the kits contents. They do include the swastikas for the tail of the German marked scheme. However, that marking has been censored on the boxart into a solid square. This is because of the restriction of displaying the mark in Germany where the kit was also marketed.
I can only recommend this kit to beginning modelers. It is very rudimentary in parts and a very easy build. Scratch builders can go nuts on it, putting more…and better detail on it.
Classic Airframes has a 1/48th of the Fiat G.55 as kit no. CAF467. At one time, there was another 1/48th scale kit in resin with white metal and PE parts and a vacuformed canopy, by Vintage Models brand. I understand that that one is out of production now too.