Macchi C.202 Folgore (Thunderbolt) Single-Seat Fighter Aircraft
The Macchi C.202 Folgore proved an outstanding fighter design, lacking only proper armament to contend with the new breed of enemy fighters and bombers.
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The Macchi C.202 Folgore ("Thunderbolt") served as one of the top Italian-designed fighters during the critical middle years of World War 2. The C.202 series, powered by an inline engine, was a further Macchi development of the radial-engined C.200 Saetta monoplane fighter. The C.202 was instantly improved by way of a license-produced version of the German Daimler-Benz DB 601 series engine with Alfa Romeo handling local Italian production as the RA-1000-RC-411. Alongside the Fiat G.55 "Centauro", the Macchi C.202 "Folgore" proved one of the best Italian fighter designs of the war.
The original Macchi C.200 "Saetta" fighter series developed by Macchi engineer Mario Castoldi suffered from an underpowered radial engine, hampering performance and still using an open-air cockpit from a bygone era of flight. As such, Castoldi took to improving his design as early as 1938 while production deliveries began in 1939. However, it would not be until 1940 that a better powerplant became available - the German Daimler-Benz DB 601 A-1 series inline engine - and this was fitted to a base C.200 Saetta body with some modifications to the airframe. The cockpit was now enclosed and the fuselage refined over that of the original model. The wings, undercarriage and tail section were all retained from the original C.200 design. Resulting evaluations shown the new design to be quite promising with excellent performance to boot - proving Castoldi's original design sound just lacking in a suitable powerplant. First flight of the prototype was recorded on August 10th, 1940 and subsequent testing ensued. The new model was shaped under the new designation of C.202 "Folgore" and the Italian government quickly ordered the type into production using an Italian license-built version of the German engine (importing the German engine was a difficult proposition under the ongoing Allied bombing campaign). To facilitate production efforts, both the C.200 and the C.202 were produced side-by-side in Italian factories - the C.202 essentially the direct successor to the C.200.