Fiat Br.20 Cicogna (Stork) Medium Bomber Aircraft
Though a capable bombing platform, the Fiat BR.20 Cicogna was simply outclassed at the start of the Second World War.
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The Fiat BR.20 Cicogna (translated to "Stork") was a medium bomber in service with the Italian Air Force in the late inter-war years and early years of World War Two. Much like other inter-war designs however, the Cicogna was already outclassed by its contemporaries and fighter designs alike, relegating the design to limited effective duty. By early 1943, the design series as a whole would be removed from any frontline service, replaced by more capable Italian designs that followed.
The Cicogna was a twin engine design powered by Fiat-brand 1,000 horsepower radial piston engines. A full compliment of five crew operated the various systems and gun positions aboard the aircraft that included an internal bombload limit of 3,528 pounds and three defensive machine guns mounted in the nose, dorsal turret and a ventral gun position. The fuselage, at least outwardly, resembled the North American B-25 Mitchell to some extent, especially the high cockpit flight deck and twin tail fins. Unlike the B-25 however, the Cicogna was a rather average bomber design and utilized a traditional landing gear system with a retractable tail wheel (the B-25 utilized a tricycle design).
Appearing in force by 1937, the Cicogna was used in combat in Spain and crews gained valuable real-world experience. Additional examples were shipped to Japan with the JAAF. Actual combat results during the life of the Br.20 Cicogna were reportedly mixed. The main value in the system was in the capable bomb load but the machine itself was lightly-armed defensively and losses from crew mistakes and combat were common. An improved Cicogna appeared as the Br.20bis with new powerplants, a powered dorsal turret and additional 7.7mm defensive guns but the system was generally outclassed and removed from service by the middle years of the war. In all, some 600 BR.20 types were reportedly produced.