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Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)

Kingdom of Italy (1936)
Picture of 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.


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 ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

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.

Any available statistics for the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






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

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
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 Impact
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 Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1240
1240


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: Kingdom of Italy
Service Year: 1936
Classification Type: Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Savoia-Marchetti
Production Units: 1,240
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Brazil; Croatia; Nazi Germany; Iraq; Kingdom of Italy; Lebanon; Romania; Spain; Yugoslavia; United Kingdom (ex-Yugoslav)
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
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.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
53.15 ft


Meters
16.2 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
69.55 ft


Meters
21.2 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
13.45 ft


Meters
4.1 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
16,755 lb


Kilograms
7,600 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
24,912 lb


Kilograms
11,300 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
3 x Piaggo P.XI RC 40 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,000 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
270 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
435 kph


Knots
235 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,243 mi


Kilometers
2,000 km


Nautical Miles
1,080 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
22,966 ft


Meters
7,000 m


Miles
4.35 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (1):

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

OPTIONAL:
Up to 2,756 lb of internal stores as well as 1 x external fuselage hardpoint for a torpedo.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Variants: 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.