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Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)

Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)

Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft


The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparrowhawk became the best Italian bomber of World War 2, particularly in the anti-shipping role.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Kingdom of Italy
YEAR: 1936
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Savoia-Marchetti
OPERATORS: Brazil; Croatia; Nazi Germany; Iraq; Kingdom of Italy; Lebanon; Romania; Spain; Yugoslavia; United Kingdom (ex-Yugoslav)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-II Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 53.15 feet (16.2 meters)
WIDTH: 69.55 feet (21.2 meters)
HEIGHT: 13.45 feet (4.1 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 16,755 pounds (7,600 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 24,912 pounds (11,300 kilograms)
ENGINE: 3 x Piaggo P.XI RC 40 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,000 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 270 miles-per-hour (435 kilometers-per-hour; 235 knots)
RANGE: 1,243 miles (2,000 kilometers; 1,080 nautical miles)
CEILING: 22,966 feet (7,000 meters; 4.35 miles)

3 x 12.7mm machine guns
2 x 7.7mm machine guns

Up to 2,756 lb of internal stores as well as 1 x external fuselage hardpoint for a torpedo.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo

Series Model Variants
• SM.79P - Prototype Model Designation; fitted with 3 x Paiggo Stella radial engines (610hp); retractable tailwheel assembly.
• SM.79-I - Initial Production Model fitted with Alfa-Romeo 126 RC 34 radial engines (780hp).
• SM.79-II - Torpedo Bomber Model Designation fitted with Piaggo P.XI RC 40 (1,000hp) or FIAT A.80 RC 41 (1,030hp) radial engines; provisions for 2 x torpedoes.
• SM.79-III - Improved SM.79-II model with improved armament setup and sans ventral gondola position.
• SM.79B - Export Model of the SM.79-I but fitted with only 2 engines.
• SM.79C - Conversion Model of the SM.79-I sans ventral and dorsal positions.
• SM.79T - Similar to SM.79C model.
• SM.79JR - Romanian Export Model fitted with 2 x Junkers Jumo 211Da inline engines.
• SM.79K - Yugoslavian Export Model based on the SM.79-I base model.
• SM.83 - Civilian Passenger Transport Model Designation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/8/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero series of tri-engined bombers was the best bomber for the Italian Axis power in the Second World War. Aptly named the "Sparrowhawk", the system was double-effective in the anti-shipping role (due mainly to its speed for an aircraft of this type), able to carry up to two 17.7 inch torpedoes. It achieved notoriety at some levels, despite being consistently overshadowed by its German counterparts in terms of successful aircraft and bomber designs.

The SM.79 became a further development of existing tri-motor passenger aircraft, with the SM.79's role directly evolving into a military one. Initial prototypes were actually based on an eight-seat passenger model designated as the SM.79P, and would be fitted with lower-powered 610 horsepower radials from Piaggo Stella. The base system featured a retractable tail wheel design and a variety of other systems that improved its standing in the eyes of military strategists. Thusly, a militarized model of the SM.79 was engineered featuring a redesigned cockpit cabin with an extended top-fuselage position, usually referred to as a gondola. Offensive and defensive machine gun arrays were integrated into the system as well, providing more of a punch regardless of what role the bomber would be called to fulfill.

Following the German lead, the Italians utilized the Spanish Civil War to showcase and train their weapons and crews in a combat setting against a vastly underpowered foe. The SM.79 was featured as a traditional bomber and showcased in the role of torpedo bomber to good success. The torpedo version found enough success to warrant improved powerplants from either Piaggo (1,000hp) or Fiat (1,030hp).

The SM.79 was crewed by a group of four, having access to five total machine guns (3 x 12.7mm and 2 x 7.7mm) in various fuselage positions. Crew entry was through a rather traditional looking side fuselage door. The airframe was fitted with a low-monoplane wing design and sat on two large from landing gear systems with a single tail wheel at rear. The overall design appearance was very much like transport aircraft of the time, though at second glance, the myriad of defensive and offensive armaments would soon change the perspective of the unknowing observer.

Several variants also emerged, pushing total production numbers to a reported 1,370 in all. Variants included several export versions featuring only two of the traditional three engines and varying powerplants depending on the customer.

In all, the SM.79 Sparviero was a capable machine with roots in traditional aviation engineering - regarded in some circles as the best of the torpedo aircraft of the war on any side. Though not a spectacular traditional bomber by any means, the system still found a way to shine before and through the Second World War in the hands of very capable Italian bomber crews in the anti-shipping role throughout the Mediterranean Theater.


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: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (270mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-II Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)'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 (1,240)
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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