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Fiat Cr.1

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Fiat Cr.1

Biplane Fighter Aircraft


The Fiat CR.1 appeared during the 1920s and featured an inverted sesquiplane wing design in which the lower span was given a wider span than the upper unit.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Kingdom of Italy
YEAR: 1924
OPERATORS: Kingdom of Italy; Latvia

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Fiat Cr.1 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 20.51 feet (6.25 meters)
WIDTH: 29.36 feet (8.95 meters)
HEIGHT: 7.87 feet (2.4 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 1,852 pounds (840 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 2,546 pounds (1,155 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Isotta-Fraschini Asso V8 engine developing 320 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 168 miles-per-hour (270 kilometers-per-hour; 146 knots)
RANGE: 404 miles (650 kilometers; 351 nautical miles)
CEILING: 24,442 feet (7,450 meters; 4.63 miles)

2 x 7.7mm machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Series Model Variants
• CR.1 - Base Series Designation; initial production model
• MM.1
• MM.2
• CR.2
• CR.5
• CR,10
• CR.10 Idro


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fiat Cr.1 Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/31/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The biplane fighter proved its worth in the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) as a stable gunnery and bomb-delivery platform. This wing arrangement continued to be the standard design choice for those aircraft emerging during the "Inter-war" years - it provided the necessary lift strength still lacking in monoplane forms. Fiat Aviazone, the concern that would go on to produce some of the more notable Italian fighters of World War 2 (1939-1945), managed its first fighter as a biplane during this period - the "CR.1".

Work began in 1923 in an effort to sell the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force) on a new, all-modern, high-performance fighter. The result was a fighter aircraft seating one and powered by a sole engine installation at the nose. By and large, the system was quite conventional for the period save for a few unique elements - it utilized an "inverted" sesquiplane biplane wing arrangement in which the lower element showcased a wider span than the upper element. Typically the two wings were of either equal-span or the upper unit was given greater span. The aircraft relied on a Warren-truss rigid wing bracing network with angled parallel struts while construction was largely of fabric-over-wood.

As with biplanes before it, the Fiat design held its single pilot in an open-air cockpit under and below the upper wing element so all-around views out-of-the-cockpit were limited. The engine drove a two-bladed wooden propeller (fixed pitch) and the static wheeled undercarriage was affixed to the airframe via struts. Standard armament became 2 x 7.7mm British Vickers machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. Power was from an Isotta-Fraschini Asso V8 engine developing 320 horsepower to which maximum listed speed became 168 miles per hour. Operational ranges were out to 405 miles and the reported service ceiling reached 24,440 feet.

Two prototypes were ordered by the Air Force from Fiat and these became "MM.1" and "MM.2". They were largely copies of one another save for a change to the rudder unit and the model of Hispano-Suiza engine fitted. The evaluation phase allowed the Fiat product to showcase its considerable handling, maneuverability, and straight-line speed to the point that Air Force officials were suitably impressed. The aircraft won out over a competing design from SIAI (the model S.52).

The prototype was finalized into the "CR.1" (carrying the initials of engineer Celestino Rosatelli / Casia Rosatlli) and this differed by using a smaller-area wing structure along with a new engine cowling fitting a revised radiator unit. An initial order of 100 aircraft were charged to the Fiat factory and these were produced from 1924 to 1925. In 1925, SIAI contributed 100 more aircraft and, from 1925 to 1926, forty more examples followed from Meridionali (OFM of Napoli) for a grand total of 240.

The initial Italian squadron to equip with the type was 1st Fighter Group and a dozen total squadrons were eventually arranged to field the new fighter by the middle of the decade. Latvia became the only foreign customer of the product while Belgium and Poland were interested enough in it to hold formal evaluations (neither would adopt it). Latvia ordered nine aircraft for service with its Air Force and Navy and these carried Hispano-Suiza HS8N8 series engines of 300 horsepower. The fleet would serve until 1936.

By the 1930s, the Italian models themselves were re-engined with Isotta-Fraschini Asso engines of 440 horsepower. The end of the line for the series arrived in 1937, just prior to the Italian commitment to World War 2 (1939-1945).

Beyond the standard fighter versions listed, the CR.1 appeared in several "one-off" prototypes. The CR.2 trialled the British Armstrong Siddeley "Lynx" radial engine while the CR.5 was fitted with the Alfa Romeo "Jupiter" radial and Lamblin radiator set. The CR.10 carried a Fiat A.20 V12 water-cooled unit of 410 horsepower with Lamblin radiator set. The CR.10 "Idro" was a converted floatplane form of the CR.10.

The CR.20 became a related, modernized version of the CR.1, completed with all-metal construction but retaining a biplane wing arrangement. The wings were now of typical sesquiplane arrangement with the upper assembly of wider span than the lower. The CR.20 of 1926 marked a considerable improvement over the line of 1924 and saw better export numbers with a larger stable of global operators.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (168mph).

Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Fiat Cr.1's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (240)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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