Fiat CR.32

The Fiat CR.32 was an Italian biplane fighter used in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. This nimble little Fiat was compact, robust and highly manoeuvrable and gave impressive displays all over Europe in the hands of the Pattuglie Acrobatiche. The CR.32 fought in North and East Africa, in Albania and in the Mediterranean theatre. The CR.32 saw service in the air forces of China, Austria, Hungary, Paraguay and Venezuela. Used extensively in Spanish Civil War, it gained a reputation as one of the outstanding fighter biplanes of all time. But then it was overtaken by more advanced monoplane designs and was obsolete by 1939.

Fiat CR.32
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Fiat Aviazione
Production Period 1934 - 1936
Origin Italy
Country Name Origin Year
Italy 1933
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Austria View
China View
Germany View
Hungary View
Italy 1933 1953 View
Paraguay View
Spain View
Venezuela View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Fiat Aviazione 1934 1936 1052 View

The Fiat CR.32 was designed by Celestino Rosatelli. Derived from earlier Fiat CR.30 designs, the CR.32 was a more streamlined and smaller biplane fighter. The prototype MM.201 first flew the 28 April 1933 from the Fiat company airstrip at Turin.

The fuselage had same structure as the CR.30, utilizing aluminium and steel tubes covered by duraluminium on the nose up to the cockpit, on the back, in lower section under the tail, and with fabric on the sides and "belly". The wings and tail also had mixed structure, with aluminium frame covered by fabric. A notable feature was that the lower wing was shorter than the upper wing making it sesquiplane. Ailerons were only on the upper wings. Armament included initially two 7.7 mm (.030 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns (later two 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT), located on top of the engine cowling, with 350 rounds each.

The engine was the water-cooled Fiat A.30 R.A.. Designed in 1930, it was a 60° V 12, producing 447 kW (600 hp) at 2,600 rpm, inspired by the American Curtiss D-12. It drove a 2.82 meter two-blade metal propeller with variable pitch ("a passo variabile") but only adjustable on the ground, not in flight. The engine did not use the usual avio-petrol but a mixture of petrol (55%), alcohol (23%) and benzole (22%). The main fuel tank, located between the engine and cockpit, carried 325 liters. There was another small tank (25 liters) in the "torpedo" fairing in the center of the upper wing.

Although fully instrumented, the RA.80-1 radio was optional.

The new biplane was an instant success. After a period of testing. The first production orders were received in March 1934, and the type soon equipped the 1°, 3° and 4° Stormi of the Regia Aeronautica.[4] The CR.32 was well liked by its crews, being very maneuverable and having a strong fuselage structure.

The Fiat biplanes were used for many aerobatic shows, in Italy and abroad. When foreign statesmen visited the Holy City, the 4° Stormo, Regia Aeronautica élite unit, based in Rome, put on impressive displays with formations of five or 10 aircraft. In 1936, air shows were organized in other European capitals and major cities, and, during the following year, in South America. When the team returned a brilliant display was put on in Berlin.

Role Fighter
Manufacturer Fiat
Designer Celestino Rosatelli
First flight 28 April 1933
Introduction 1933
Retired 1953 Spanish Air Force
Status Retired
Primary users Regia Aeronautica
Hungarian Air Force
Spanish Air Force
Chinese Nationalist Air Force
Produced c. March 1934 – February 1936
Number built 1052
Variants Fiat CR.42

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 7.47 m (24 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 9.5 m (31 ft 2.25 in)
  • Height: 2.36 m (7 ft 9 in)
  • Wing area: 22.1 m² (237.88 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,455 kg (3,210 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 1,975 kg (4,350 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Fiat A30 RA-bis V12, 447 kW (600 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 360 km/h (224 mph)
  • Range: 781 km (485 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 8,800 m (28,870 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 9 m/s (1,822 ft/min)


  • Guns: 2 × 7.7 mm (.303 in) or 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns
  • Bombs: Up to 100 kg (220 lb)

End notes