Caproni Ca.331

The Caproni Ca.331 Raffica ("Gust of Wind" or "Fire Burst") was an Italian aircraft built by Caproni in the early 1940s as a tactical reconnaissance aircraft/light bomber and also as a night fighter.


Caproni Ca.331
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Caproni, Milan
Origin Italy
Country Name Origin Year
Italy 1940
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Caproni, Milan 3 View

In response to a 1938 Italian Air Ministry requirement for a new tactical reconnaissance aircraft with combat capability, Ing Cesare Pallavacino of the Caproni company?'?s Caproni Bergamaschi subsidiary began design of the Ca.331 O.A. (O.A. standing for Osservazione Area, Italian for "Area Observation"), also designated Ca.331A, in October 1938. It was innovative for Caproni in being of all-metal construction. The Ca.331 O.A. prototype, a twin-engine low-wing monoplane with an unstepped cockpit and glazed nose, had duralumin stressed skin on both its fuselage and wings, and its wings were of an inverted gull-wing configuration. It had two Isotta-Fraschini Delta RC.40 engines rated at 574 kilowatts (770 horsepower) each. The aircraft employed a three-man crew of pilot, observer/gunner, and radioman/gunner, and was armed with four 12.7-millimeter (0.5-inch) Breda-SAFAT machine guns -- two of them in fixed mounts in the wing roots firing forward, one in a dorsal turret, and one in a ventral mount. The Ca.331 O.A. also had a bomb bay capable of carrying up to 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) of bombs and four external bomb racks under its wings.

The Ca.331 O.A. prototype first flew on 31 August 1940, at Ponte San Pietro with Caproni test pilot Ettore Wengi at the controls. Its original Piaggio propellers proved inadequate, but their replacement with Alfa Romeo-built propellers in 1941 resulted in the aircraft having improved performance which, in fact, exceeded expectations. In 1941, Caproni Bergamaschi delivered the prototype to the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force), which began official tests at Guidonia Montecelio with good results. However, the Regia Aeronautica handed the aircraft back to Caproni Bergamaschi without a production order. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) then requested control of the aircraft for trials at its test center at Rechlin in Germany. Although the Luftwaffe was impressed with the aircraft—probably more so than the Italians—no German order for it resulted.

Variants

  • Caproni Ca.331 O.A. (or Caproni Ca.331A) : Tactical reconnaissance aircraft/light bomber prototype (one built)
  • Caproni Ca.331 C.N. (or Caproni Ca.331B) : Night fighter prototype (two built)
  • Caproni Ca.331G : Proposed German dual-control assault trainer (none built)

Role Reconnaissance aircraft, bomber, and night fighter
National origin Italy
Manufacturer Caproni
Designer Ing Cesare Pallavacino
First flight Ca.331 O.A.: 31 August 1940
Ca331 C.N.: Summer 1942
Primary user Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force)
Number built


General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 11.7412 m (38 ft 6.25 in)
  • Wingspan: 16.4021 m (53 ft 9.75 in)
  • Height: 3.2068 m (10 ft 6.25 in)
  • Wing area: 38.50 m2 (414.4 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 4,599 kg (10,140 lb)
  • Gross weight: 6,800 kg (14,992 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Isotta-Fraschini Delta IV piston inverted air-cooled V-12 piston engine, 630 kW (840 hp) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 505 km/h; 273 kn (314 mph) at 5,303.5 m (17,399.9 ft)
  • Range: 1,600 km; 864 nmi (994 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 8,092 m (26,550 ft)
  • Time to altitude: 3,999 m (13,120.1 ft) in 9 minutes 35 seconds

Armament

Guns:

  • Original armament : 
    6 x 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns in the stepped "solid" nose.
    2 x 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns machine guns in dorsal and ventral defensive positions.
  • Tested with
    2 x 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns machine guns and 4 x 20 mm (0.8 in) Mauser cannon.  or
    6 x 20 mm (0.8 in) Ikaria cannon in a ventral bulge.
  • Studies made for
    1 x 37 mm (1.5 in) cannon in a ventral bulge.
  • Hardpoints: 2 with provisions to carry combinations of:
  • Bombs: 2 x 100 kg (220 lb)
  • Other: 2 x underwing tanks
  • Bombs:
    In the bomb bay
    1,000 kg (2,205 lb) of small bombs.
     
    or
    1 x 500 kg (1,102 lb) bomb.
     
    and
    1 x 519 l (137 US gal) auxiliary fuel tank.

End notes