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Old 21st January 2015, 17:58
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Fiat CR 32

Fiat CR 32 is one of the most interesting biplanes during the latter half of 1930´s. It saw action in Spanish Civil War and in Sino-Japanese War and was used by Regia Aeronautica even during the WW2.

Somehow it seems that it is easier to find references about the combat history of this plane than about the plane itself. Celestino Rosatelli is nowadays rather forgotten aircraft designer (wiki reference only in Italian) - maybe because his creations Fiat CR 20, 30, 32 and 42 fighters as well as BR bombers were perhaps not the very cutting edge of military aviation technology at the advent of WW2. Nevertheless his creations played a not small role in various war theaters including South America (Gran Chaco war), Spanish Civil War, China (Rosatelli planes were used by both sides - Fiat BR 20 was in Japanese use, wheras CR 32 was in Chinese) and during WW2 in Europe and Africa.

The very name of CR 32 owes its name to its designer - it was an abbreviation of Caccia Rosatelli (Fighter Rosatelli) and in Spain the spell of letters CR led to nickname Chirri for the CR 32. Sometimes also a nickname Cricket has been used of Fiat CR 32, but this is probably a misunderstanding of nickname Chirri, which is not related to grasshopper and its chirring voice.

If asked from Italian and Spanish CR 32 pilots and mechanics in later half of 1930´s it was a good plane - able to operate from rough airfields, easy to maintain, good manouverability and able to cope with technically superior monoplane Polikarpov I-16 during the Spanish Civil War. Fiat CR 32 was even hailed as "a plane which saved its pilot". It has been estimated that Fiat CR 32 was even too successfull in Spanish Civil War - it made the Italian decision makers to believe that biplane design was competitive still in early 1940´s and thus Rosatelli´s new biplane creation Fiat CR 42 became the main fighter of Regia Aeronautica by 1939/1940 although the best days of biplane fighters were already over.

However, critical views of Fiat CR 32 were presented also even during its glorious service in Spain. Soviet test pilots tried one Fiat CR 32bis and their evaluation was rather negative. Soviet biplane fighter I-15 was declared better than Fiat CR 32:

Flight in this aircraft was laborious. On taxiing it swung to the right and on leaving the ground it was unstable and gained altitude slowly. In rate and climb it was quite inferior to Polikarpov I-15. It was difficult to complete a turn and on reversal - this demanding good coordination of pilot´s movements. It demanded extensive training for a pilot of average ability. The Polikarpov I-15 surpassed the CR 32 in flying and handling qualities. At altitudes over 2000 meters the speed of Fiat CR 32 was less than that of I-15.

As can be seen the pilot opinions of Fiat CR 32 are contradictory as it is with many other airplanes. And this makes it perhaps even more interesting.

I wonder if anyone knows good references of Fiat CR 32 when it comes to the plane and its designer? - hopefully in English/Spanish.

If someone is interested about the combat history of Fiat CR 32 then I recommend:

Alfredo Loguloso 2010: Fiat CR 32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War.

Last edited by GuerraCivil; 23rd January 2015 at 13:41.
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