Macchi C.205

The Macchi C.205 (also known as MC.205, "MC" standing for "Macchi Castoldi") Veltro (Italian: Greyhound) was an Italian World War II fighter aircraft built by the Aeronautica Macchi. Along with the Reggiane Re.2005 and Fiat G.55, the Macchi C.205 was one of the three "Serie 5" Italian fighters built around the powerful Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine. The C.205 was a development of the earlier C.202 Folgore. With a top speed of some 400 mph and equipped with a pair of 20 mm cannon as well as 12.7 mm Breda machine guns, the Macchi C.205 Veltro was highly respected by Allied and Luftwaffe pilots alike. Regarded as the best Italian aircraft of World War II , in action it proved to be extremely effective, destroying a large number of Allied bombers and capable of successfully clashing on equal terms with such renowned fighters as the North American P-51D Mustang, a capability which encouraged the Luftwaffe to use a number of these aircraft to equip one Gruppe.

However, while the C.205 was able to match the best Allied opponents in speed and maneuverability, it was introduced late in the conflict. Moreover, due to the poor Italian industrial capability of the time, only a small production run was delivered before the end of the war. Like the Spitfire, the Veltro was tricky (in its construction) and thus slow to build. Italy's highest scoring ace, Adriano Visconti, achieved 11 of his 26 credited victories in the few weeks he was able to fly the Veltro, with the top scoring 205 Sergente Maggiore pilota Luigi Gorrini shooting down 14 enemy aircraft plus six damaged with the C.205.


Macchi C.205
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Aermacchi
Production Period 1942 - 1944
Origin Italy
Country Name Origin Year
Italy 1942
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Croatia View
Egypt 1943 1950 View
Germany View
Italy 1943 1947 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Aermacchi 1942 1944 262 View

The C.205, known initially as the C.202bis, was similar to the previous Folgore, but there were many differences in the fuselage: the tail was larger, the cockpit and its hump were redesigned, the antenna mast was bigger and some modifications were made to the wings.

The C.205 was a single-seat, all-metal, monoplane fighter, intended primarily as an interceptor but with ground attack and escort capabilities. The long nose housed the DB605 engine which drove a three-blade, constant-speed metal propeller, with the main fuel tank situated between the engine and the cockpit. The radiator was located under the centre section of the fuselage beneath the cockpit while the short rear section housed the radio equipment, oxygen cylinder and an 80 L (20 US gal) reserve fuel tank. The wings were made of light aluminium alloys and steel, having two spars and three sections, housing two additional fuel tanks, and the fully retractable wide-set main undercarriage gear. Apart from the all-metal flaps in the inner wing, all the other control surfaces were metal-framed and fabric-covered. Veltros had self-sealing fuel tanks, an armoured seat, and armoured windscreen as standard. The cramped cockpit possessed a limited field-of-view, but some examples were fitted with a rear-view mirror.

The 827 kg/1,823 lb (normal) payload consisted of the fully equipped pilot (85 kg/187 lb), fuel (307 kg/677 lb), two Breda machine guns and two Mauser MG 151/20 cannon (60 and 84 kg/130 and 185 lb respectively), 740 rounds of 12.7 mm (.5 in) ammunition (76 kg/168 lb), 500 rounds of 20 mm ammunition (100 kg/220 lb), and other sundry items such as oil (33 kg/73 lb), oxygen cylinder (12 kg/26 lb) and radio equipment. Additionally, 100 L (30 US gal) fuel tanks or 160 kg (350 lb) of bombs could be carried on two underwing hardpoints. Due to a lack of passenger transport aircraft, modifications were made to a C.205 to enable it to carry eight passengers in the belly of the fuselage and, among others, three pilots of 51° Wing (including Adriano Visconti) made the journey from Sardinia to Italy after the Armistice in this manner. Veltros originally had "tropical" pattern camouflage, with a sand brown base coat and irregular black-green lines all over their surface. Those in service with Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana were painted an overall dark green (nearly black), while others adopted a variation of the "tropical" pattern.

The C.205 entered production only five months after its maiden flight and began reaching front line units in February 1943. At the end of April, the 1° Stormo, based in Pantelleria, is the first unit to enter action with the C.205, on Mediterranean, escorting maritime and aerial convoys to and from Tunisia. During their first sortie, 22 C.205 clashed with very good results against more numerous formations of Curtiss P.40 and Supermarine Spitfires. During the next few months, C.205s of the Regia Aeronautica were involved in several major engagements with some of the 4,000 Allied aircraft that were stationed in the Mediterranean at that time. At the end of May, because of the vulnerability of Pantelleria, the 1° Stormo was moved to Sigonella airfield, in Sicily, and on the minor airstrip of Finocchiara, 15 km South-East of Ragusa. On June 8, 1943, 15 C.205 of 1° Stormo escorted three torpedo-bombers attacking Allied ships which were shelling Pantelleria's defenses. At the end of June, the Stormo had no more serviceable Veltros. On 24 June, 1° Stormo left Sicily for Osoppo first, and Ronchi dei Legionari later, and was replaced by 4° Stormo. Few pilots returned to Udine, while the remaining aircraft joined other units. 4° Stormo, that had left Africa in January 1943, was re-equipped with Macchi C.202s and C.205s on the airfields of Campoformido (10° Gruppo) and Bresso (9° Gruppo). It was then moved on Rome-Ciampino airport. On 9 July 1943 (the eve of the Allied invasion of Sicily), 4° Stormo was based in the Catania plain, with a complement of 10 Veltros and 38 Folgores (no Italian unit was equipped with Veltros alone). Later it received a batch of a further 10 C.205s. The Italian pilots flew as many as six sorties per day, but on the 14th of July, with the first Allied paratroopers landing on the Catania plain, 4° Stormo was forced to retreat to Crotone airfield in Calabria after setting fire to four or five damaged C.205s that could not be repaired in time.

51° Stormo fought with some success over Sardinia, (apart from the battle of 2 August) but sustained many losses, especially at the end of July and the beginning of August. 3° Stormo C.T., commanded by Tenente Colonnello Tito Falconi, also had the chance to use the "Veltro" in combat. At the time it was based on Cerveteri airstrip with the task to defend Rome, 83a, 85a and 95a Squadriglia, 18° Gruppo (of 3° Stormo) all received a number of C.205s. Commander Falconi assigned them to the most eminent pilots: Sergente Maggiore Luigi Gorrini, Tenente Franco Bordoni-Bisleri and Maresciallo Guido Fibbia. The 3° Stormo used the new type effectvely to intercept American bombers and fighters in the sky of Latium. "The Macchi fighter possessed some excellent qualities, and the Italian pilots made optimum use of the aircraft which had a maximum speed of 644 km/h (400 mph)."  One of the greatest British fighter pilots of World War II, Group Captain Duncan-Smith DSO DFC respected both the Macchi and the Italian airmen:

  • In general the standard of flying of the Italian pilots was very high indeed, and in encounters with Macchi 205s particularly we were up against aircraft that could turn and dog-fight with our Spitfires extremely well.

Like its predecessors, the first Veltros were insufficiently armed, but the aircraft often performed well in combat. Guido Carestiato said about the C.205, that it was the "best Italian fighter that he knew" and many pilots like the C.205 "ace" Luigi Gorrini,[15] scored 19 or 24 victories (in return, he was downed four or five times). Gorrini claimed 12 victories in July 1943 and several of them were with the Veltro.

Role Fighter
Manufacturer Aeronautica Macchi
Designer Mario Castoldi
First flight 19 April 1942
Introduction February 1943
Retired 1947 (Italy)
1950 (Egypt)
Primary users Regia Aeronautica
Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana
Luftwaffe
Produced September 1942 - May 1944
Number built 262 
Developed from Macchi C.202


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 8.85 m (29 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.58 m (34 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.05 m (10 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 16.80 m² (180.8 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,581 kg (5,690 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 3,408 kg (7,513 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,900 kg (8,600 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Fiat RA.1050 R.C.58 Tifone liquid-cooled supercharged inverted V12 engine, 1,475 hp (1,100 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 640 km/h (345 kn, 400 mph) at 7,500 m (24,600 ft)
  • Range: 950 km (515 nmi, 590 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 11,500 m (37,730 ft)
  • Wing loading: 202.9 kg/m² (41.55 lb/ft²)

Armament

  • Guns:
    2 × 12.7 mm (.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns, 400 rpg, in the nose
    2 × 20 mm MG 151 cannon, 250 rpg, in the wings
  • Bombs: 2 × 160 kg (350 lb) bombs

End notes