Fiat BR.20

The Fiat BR.20 Cicogna (Italian: "stork") was a low-wing twin-engine medium bomber produced from the mid-1930s until the end of World War II by the Turin firm. When it entered service in 1936 it was the first all-metal Italian bomber and it was regarded as one of the most modern medium bomber of the world. It had its baptism of fire in summer 1937, with Aviazione Legionaria, during the Spanish Civil War, when it formed the backbone of Nationalist bombing operations along with the Heinkel He 111. 

Fiat BR.20
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Fiat Aviazione
Production Period 1930 - 1936
Origin Italy
Country Name Origin Year
Italy 1936
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
China View
Croatia View
Hungary View
Italy 1936 1945 View
Japan View
Spain View
Venezuela View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Fiat Aviazione 1930 1936 500 View

It was then used successfully by the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War. When Italy entered war in 1940, the BR.20 was the standard medium bomber of Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force) but it was already showing its age. By 1942, it was mostly used for maritime patrol and operational training for bomber crews. More than 500 were produced before the end of the war.

In 1934, Regia Aeronautica requested Italian aviation manufacturers to submit proposals for a new medium bomber; the specifications called for speeds of 330 km/h (205 mph) at 4,500 m (15,000 ft) and 385 km/h (239 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft), a 1,000 km (620 mi) range and 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) bombload. Although Piaggio, Macchi, Breda, Caproni and Fiat offered aircraft that mainly exceeded the speed requirements (but not range), not all exhibited satisfactory flight characteristics or reliability. Accepted among the successful proposals, together with the trimotor Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 and Cant Z.1007, was the BR.20 Cicogna designed by Celestino Rosatelli, thus gaining the prefix BR, (for "Bombardiere Rosatelli").

The BR.20 was designed and developed quickly, with the design being finalised in 1935 and the first prototype (serial number M.M.274) flown at Turin on 10 February 1936. Production orders were quickly placed, initial deliveries being made to the Regia Aeronautica in September 1936.

When, at the end of 1936, the 13° Stormo Bombardamento Terrestre (in Lonate Pozzolo) was equipped with the "Cicognas" it was probably the most modern bombing unit in the world. Shortly after entering service with the Regia Aeronautica, the aircraft became central to the propaganda campaign lauding Italian engineering. In 1937, two stripped-down BR.20s (designated BR.20A) were built for entry into the prestigious Istres–Damascus air race gaining sixth and seventh place when S.M.79s scored the first place, leaving the Fiats far behind. They had a rounded nose similar to civil aircraft, and had all military hardware, such as defensive turrets, removed. The internal fuel capacity was increased to 7,700 L (2,034 US gal), bringing the maximum range to 6,200 km (3,850 mi). In 1939, a modified long-range BR.20 version (designated BR.20L) named Santo Francesco under the command of Maner Lualdi made a highly publicised nonstop flight from Rome to Addis Ababa at an average speed of 390 km/h (240 mph). It carried 5,000 l (1,321 US gal) of fuel, increasing the range from 3,000 km (1,864 mi) to 4,500 km (2,800 mi).

The main task of the BR.20 was medium-range bombing. It had many features that were very advanced for its time: with a maximum speed of over 400 km/h (250 mph) and a high cruise speed of 320 km/h (200 mph), it was as fast as aircraft like the Tupolev SB light bombers. The range and payload were also very good.

Role Bomber
Manufacturer Fiat
Designer Celestino Rosatelli
First flight 10 February 1936
Introduction 1936
Retired 1945
Primary users Regia Aeronautica
Number built Fiat BR.20 233
Fiat BR.20M 279 

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5
  • Length: 16.68 m (54 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 21.56 m (70 ft 8.75 in)
  • Height: 4.75 m (15 ft 7 in)
  • Wing area: 74.0 m² (796.5 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 10,100 kg (22,270 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Fiat A.80 RC.41 18-cylinder radial engine, 746 kW (1,000 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 440 km/h (273 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 340 km/h (211 mph)
  • Range: 2750 km (1,709 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 8,000 m (26,250 ft)


  • Guns: 3× 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns
  • Bombs: 1,600 kg (3,530 lb) of bombs

End notes