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Ansaldo A.1 Balilla (Hunter)

Kingdom of Italy (1918)
Picture of Ansaldo A.1 Balilla (Hunter) Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The Ansaldo A.1 Balilla became the first indigenous fighter design to come out of the Kingdom of Italy - this during the fighting of World War 1.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Ansaldo A.1 Balilla (Hunter) Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/7/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Ansaldo A 1 Balilla ("Hunter") was the first aircraft fighter design of Italian origins. In the early part of World War 1 (1914-1918), Italian forces consistently relied upon French-designed combat aircraft, leading the local Italian concern of Ansaldo to design, develop, and produce the "A.1" as a fighting biplane. The resulting aircraft offered exceptional performance (one of the fastest biplanes of the period) for its time in the air but reportedly held suspect handling qualities that did not endear the machine to its pilots. The A.1, named the "Hunter", appeared in the final stages of The Great War which helped to limit its availability and subsequent use - Italy becoming its sole primary operator for lack of anything better. Some of the stock did, however, find their war into American hands where they were converted as air racers and carried Curtiss D-12 engines (American World War 1 Ace Eddie Rickenbacker netted a national airspeed record in 1920 flying such an aircraft).

The Ansaldo A.1 Balilla was arranged as a basic biplane fighter design which relied on an over-under wing mainplane configuration. Struts were parallel installations at each member. The lower section ran into the lower fuselage with the upper section suspended over the aircraft. The engine was installed at the nose in the usual way but its oversized nature meant that views to the front were severely restricted. The engine drove a multi-bladed wooden propeller in typical fashion. The pilot sat in an open-air cockpit ahead of midships and the fuselage tapered towards the rear. The tail unit was made up of a single vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage consisted of two wheeled main landing gear members under the forward mass of the aircraft and a simple tailskid at the rear.

Power was from an SPA 6A water-cooled inline piston engine outputting 220 horsepower and driving a four-bladed propeller. Flight time for the platform amounted to 1 hour and 30 minutes and reachable speeds neared 140 miles per hour. Its service ceiling was a useful 16,400 feet, the aircraft making about 520 feet-per-minute to get there. Range was listed at 410 miles.

As was typical of fighter aircraft of the period, the Balilla carried the usual armament of 2 x 7.7mm (British) Vickers Machine Guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts over the nose. These were synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

Beyond the Corp Aeronautico Militare (Italian Air Force), operators icluded Argentina, Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Uruguay. Production totaled 307 units with 250 manufactured by Ansaldo and a further 57 by Polish-based Lublin under local license.

The Polish models were a post-World War 1 initiative begun in 1919 but these arrived to late to be used in the Russo-Polish War of 1919-1921. In 1920, the Russians also contracted for the same aircraft but these were not on hand in number until April of 1922 and served only until the middle of 1928.

Any available statistics for the Ansaldo A.1 Balilla (Hunter) Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter 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).




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 52 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (137mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 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 Ansaldo A.1 Balilla's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
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Pie graph section
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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
307
307


  * 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: 1918
Classification Type: Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Gio. Ansaldo & Co. - Italy
Production Units: 307
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Argentina; Belgium; Kingdom of Italy; Greece; Latvia; Mexico; Poland; Soviet Union; United States; Uruguay
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Ansaldo A.1 Balilla model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
22.47 ft


Meters
6.85 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
25.20 ft


Meters
7.68 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
8.30 ft


Meters
2.53 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
1,411 lb


Kilograms
640 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,951 lb


Kilograms
885 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x SPA 6A water-cooled in-line engine developing 220 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
137 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
220 kph


Knots
119 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
410 mi


Kilometers
660 km


Nautical Miles
356 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
16,404 ft


Meters
5,000 m


Miles
3.11 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
520 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
158 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
2 x .303 caliber Vickers machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• A.1 "Balilla" - Base Production Model Designation
• A.1bis
• Balilla Racer - Modified Post-War Variant; fitted with Curtiss D-12 engine for air racing in the United States of America.