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SM.79 Kit

Italeri 1/72 SM.79 Sparviero I Serie Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2006 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject SM.79 Sparviero I Serie Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1261 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best SM.79 in any scale Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $30.00

First Look

SM.79 Kit
SM.79 Kit
SM.79 Kit
SM.79 Kit

The Savoia Marchetti SM.79 is probably the most recognizable aircraft to serve in the Italian Air Force during World War II. While it was officially named 'Sparviero' (Sparrow Hawk), it was also known as the 'Gobbo' (Hunchback) due to its unique silhouette. Its designers followed the same design philosophy as other international civil aircraft designers of the era including Junkers and Ford - three engines provide a good balance between performance and safety.

Originally designed as a civil transport, the SM.79-I set records in international competitions during the mid-1930s. The SM.79-I was powered by three 750 hp Alfa Romeo engines. In the late 1930s, the Italian Air Force began receiving the SM.79-II powered by three 1,000 hp Piaggio P.XI RC.40 engines. One additional domestic variant was produced - the SM.79-III that was essentially an SM.79-II with a forward-firing 20mm cannon and no ventral gondola. Over 1,300 Sparvieros were produced through 1944.

The SM.79 was used as a bomber and transport during the Italian alliance with Nazi Germany, but it gained its 'fame' as a torpedo bomber in the Mediterranean. The Sparviero was responsible for sinking several Royal Navy destroyers and the heavy damaging of a battleship and the aircraft carriers Indomitable, Victorious and Eagle.

Here is Italeri's answer to the various SM.79 kits that have been released over the last few years. Who better than the Italians to get this unique Italian bomber captured in scale? Italeri has really done it with this release.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on two parts trees, plus a third containing the clear parts. The detailing on the kit is scribed and quite nice. This is the first Sparviero kit that has captured the look of a fabric-covered aircraft. While the depressions between the ribs and stringers are more obvious in-flight, they still provide some eye-catching detail, especially the horizontal stabs.

The flight deck is well-done with a cockpit bulkhead and the rear bulkhead of the main cabin dividing up the forward interior. Pilots seats and control yokes are provided as well as an instrument panel. I'm not certain how much of this will be visible when the cockpit transparency is installed, but you'll know the details are in there.

You have options to install machine guns in the waist, ventral gondola, and dorsal main cabin. The dorsal gun cover is molded closed, but you'll see the gun inside.

The two (non-Italeri) 1/48 Sparviero releases had some problems with the nose profile that angles down from the windscreen to the number two motor mount. This kit looks to have captured the look correctly.

This is the first of the Sparvieros to feature an open bomb bay! Nice! The main entry door can be positioned open or closed, and if open, has the steps available for the inside of the door.

Markings are included for four examples:

  • SM.79, 28-17, Spanish Civil War
  • SM.79, 28-11, 29 Gruppo, Palma Majorca, Oct 1937
  • SM.79, 18-7, 18 Sqn/27 Gruppo/8 Stormo, Sardegna, 1941
  • SM.79, 29 Gruppo, Palma Majorca, May 1937

While 1/72 scale is a bit small for my eyes anymore, I will be using the nice engineering of this kit as a reference for my 1/48 Sparviero project. If you're a 1/72 scale builder, you're in luck as this kit is the best SM.79 in any scale to date.

My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!