STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
OPERATORS: Brazil; Croatia; Nazi Germany; Iraq; Kingdom of Italy; Lebanon; Romania; Spain; Yugoslavia; United Kingdom (ex-Yugoslav)
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)
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.
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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.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (270mph).
Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-II Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
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