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Fiat Br.20 Cicogna (Stork) Medium Bomber Aircraft

Though a capable bombing platform, the Fiat BR.20 Cicogna was simply outclassed at the start of the Second World War.

 Updated: 5/31/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

The Fiat BR.20 Cicogna (translated to "Stork") was a medium bomber in service with the Italian Air Force in the late inter-war years and early years of World War Two. Much like other inter-war designs however, the Cicogna was already outclassed by its contemporaries and fighter designs alike, relegating the design to limited effective duty. By early 1943, the design series as a whole would be removed from any frontline service, replaced by more capable Italian designs that followed.

The Cicogna was a twin engine design powered by Fiat-brand 1,000 horsepower radial piston engines. A full compliment of five crew operated the various systems and gun positions aboard the aircraft that included an internal bombload limit of 3,528 pounds and three defensive machine guns mounted in the nose, dorsal turret and a ventral gun position. The fuselage, at least outwardly, resembled the North American B-25 Mitchell to some extent, especially the high cockpit flight deck and twin tail fins. Unlike the B-25 however, the Cicogna was a rather average bomber design and utilized a traditional landing gear system with a retractable tail wheel (the B-25 utilized a tricycle design).

Appearing in force by 1937, the Cicogna was used in combat in Spain and crews gained valuable real-world experience. Additional examples were shipped to Japan with the JAAF. Actual combat results during the life of the Br.20 Cicogna were reportedly mixed. The main value in the system was in the capable bomb load but the machine itself was lightly-armed defensively and losses from crew mistakes and combat were common. An improved Cicogna appeared as the Br.20bis with new powerplants, a powered dorsal turret and additional 7.7mm defensive guns but the system was generally outclassed and removed from service by the middle years of the war. In all, some 600 BR.20 types were reportedly produced.

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Fiat Br.20M Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1936
Type: Medium Bomber Aircraft
National Origin: Kingdom of Italy
Manufacturer(s): Fiat - Italy
Production Total: 602

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 5
Overall Length: 54.72 feet (16.68 meters)
Overall Width: 70.73 feet (21.56 meters)
Overall Height: 15.58 feet (4.75 meters)

Weight (Empty): 14,330 lb (6,500 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 22,267 lb (10,100 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 2 x Fiat A.80 RC.41 air-cooled radial engines developing 1,000 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 273 mph (440 kph; 238 knots)
Maximum Range: 1,709 miles (2,750 km)
Service Ceiling: 26,247 feet (8,000 meters; 4.97 miles)

Armament / Mission Payload

1 x 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT type machine gun in nose
1 x 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT type machine gun in dorsal turret
1 x 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT type machine gun in ventral gun station.

Up to 3,528 lb of internally-held stores.

Global Operators / Customers

Kingdom of Italy; Imperial Japan; Hungary; Spain; Croatia; Venezuela

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

BR.20 - Initial Production Model; 233 total examples produced.
BR.20A Two Examples converted as racers.
BR.20C - Agusta conversion model; fitted with nose-mounted 37mm cannon; single example.
BR.20L - Long-Range Civilian Passenger Model; single example.
BR.20M - "Improved" BR.20; lengthened nose assembly; 264 examples produced.
BR.20bis - "Improved" Br.20 models; fitted with 2 x 1,250 horsepower Fiat A.82 RC.422S engines; powered dorsal turret; improved defensive armament; increased glazing on nose assembly.