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Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)

Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft

Kingdom of Italy | 1936

"The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparrowhawk became the best Italian bomber of World War 2, particularly in the anti-shipping role."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/08/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-II Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft.
3 x Piaggo P.XI RC 40 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,000 horsepower.
270 mph
435 kph | 235 kts
Max Speed
22,966 ft
7,000 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
1,243 miles
2,000 km | 1,080 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-II Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft.
53.1 ft
16.20 m
O/A Length
69.6 ft
(21.20 m)
O/A Width
13.5 ft
(4.10 m)
O/A Height
16,755 lb
(7,600 kg)
Empty Weight
24,912 lb
(11,300 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft .
3 x 12.7mm machine guns
2 x 7.7mm machine guns

Up to 2,756 lb of internal stores as well as 1 x external fuselage hardpoint for a torpedo.
Notable series variants as part of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) family line.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,240 Units

Contractor(s): Savoia-Marchetti
National flag of Brazil National flag of Croatia National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of Iraq National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy National flag of Lebanon National flag of Romania National flag of Spain National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of Yugoslavia

[ Brazil; Croatia; Nazi Germany; Iraq; Kingdom of Italy; Lebanon; Romania; Spain; Yugoslavia; United Kingdom (ex-Yugoslav) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (270mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk)
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) Medium Bomber / Torpedo Bomber Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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