Before the Italian concern of Macchi developed its stable of frontline fighters for the Italian Air Force of World War 2, it established operations as a well-respected flying boat maker in World War 1 (1914-1918) beginning with the Macchi L.1 reconnaissance platform of 1915. One hundred examples of this aircraft were produced. Before long followed the L.2 platform and then the L.3/M.3 of 1916. This work lay the foundation for its two most recognized flying boats of the war -the M.5 and M.7 (the M.6 only achieved the prototype stage).
The engine of choice became an Isotta Fraschini V6 inline piston type outputting 260 horsepower. The engine drove a two-bladed propeller arranged as a "pusher" at the rear of the engine mount. The placement of the powerplant left much of the hull open for fuel and the like while also eliminating a primary visual obstruction witnessed in other aircraft designs of the period. Additionally, its high placement helped to clear sea spray. Performance included a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour with a service ceiling up to 23,000 feet. Endurance was up to three hours of flying time giving the aircraft a fairly good reach over water.
Armament was largely traditional for the period, a pair of 7.7mm Vickers machine guns fixed to fire forward and fitted to the bow section of the aircraft. The M.7 was actually intended as a flying boat fighter, combing altitude, range, and a serviceable armament load out to accomplish the role.
About 100 of the aircraft were ultimately produced by Macchi with the primary operator becoming the Italian Navy Aviation service. However, its involvement in World War 1 was very limited for fewer than twenty were on hand at the time of the Armistice in November of 1918. In the post-war drawdown, it was saw fit to sell off some of the stock to military customers such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Sweden where the aircraft continued to serve for a time longer.
Macchi engineers revised the design to produce the M.7bis mark, this variant specifically modified for air racing and given shorter, lighter wings. The design was an improvement for it was able to capture the Schneider Trophy of 1921. Come 1923 the M.7 appeared in another revised form as the M.7ter. This model was given a greater redesign that included a new empennage, revised wing elements, and a modified hull section. This model was taken on by the Italian Navy for a time and a sub-variant, the M.7ter with folding wings, was also seen.
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Macchi - Italy Manufacturer(s)
Argentina; Brazil; Kingdom of Italy; Paraguay; Sweden Operators
2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings at forward hull.
M.7 - Base series designation; original model of 1918.
M.7ter - Revised M.7 of 1923; new hull, wings, and tail section.
M.7ter AR - Subvariant of the M.7ter with folding wings for warship storage.
M.7bis - Modified racer platform with shortened, lightened wing mainplanes.
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