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Ansaldo A 1 Balilla (Hunter) Biplane Fighter Aircraft

 Updated: 7/18/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Ansaldo A 1 Balilla (Hunter)  
Picture of Ansaldo A 1 Balilla (Hunter) Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The Ansaldo A.1 Balilla became Italy's first true indigenous fighter design to emerge in World War 1.

The Ansaldo A 1 Balilla ("Hunter") was the first aircraft fighter design of Italian origins. Italian forces consistently used French-designed aircraft in the early years of the war, leading the Ansaldo Italian firm to create the A.1 as a biplane fight with exceptional speed for the time but suspect handling qualities that did not endear the machine to pilots. Additionally, the A 1 appeared in the final stages of the First World War, limiting its use to post-war defense of Italy. Some models found their war into American hands and were converted to air racers fitted with a Curtiss powerplant. Still others would see combat at the hands of Russian and Polish flyers in the Russo-Polish war in 1920.

The Ansaldo A 1 Balilla was a basic biplane fighter design but sported a four-blade propeller system tied to a 220 horsepower SPA 6A water-cooled in-line engine. A single pilot saw behind the biplane wing structure and had good visibility forward and above. Armament consisted of two 7.62mm British Vickers machine guns mounted forward of the cockpit seating area in a forward-firing fixed position. Flight time for the system amounted to 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Ansaldo A 1 Balilla (Hunter) Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1918
Type: Biplane Fighter Aircraft
National Origin: Kingdom of Italy
Manufacturer(s): Ansaldo - Italy
Production Total: 108

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 22.47 feet (6.85 meters)
Overall Width: 25.20 feet (7.68 meters)
Overall Height: 8.30 feet (2.53 meters)

Weight (MTOW): 1,951 lb (885 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

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

Maximum Speed: 137 mph (220 kph; 119 knots)
Service Ceiling: 16,404 feet (5,000 meters; 3.11 miles)

Armament / Mission Payload

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

Global Operators / Customers

Kingdom of Italy; Poland; Imperial Russia; United States

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

A 1 Balilla - Base Production Model Designation
Balilla Racer - Modified Post-War Variant; fitted with Curtiss K-12 engine for air racing in the United States of America.

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