World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of P-51 Mustang
World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of T-34/85
World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of Fw-190
World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of Churchill
wwiivehicles.com ©2017
Search:
Italy's flagItaly's Royal Airforce marking

Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81; SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81 bomber
Nickname: Pipistrello (bat)

Photos

  • Savoia Marchetti S.M. 81 Pipistrello bomber
  • Savoia Marchetti S.M. 81 Pipistrello bomber

Design

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 was developed from the SM.73 transport.

The SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81 was the first three engine plane in use by the Italian Air Force.

The S.M. 81 had a skeleton of wood and metal with a wood and fabric skin.

Undercarriage

The S.M. 81 had a fixed undercarriage.

Wings

The wings were set low.

Prototype

The prototype of the SM.81 first appeared in 1934.
The first S.M.81 flew on February 8, 1935.

Production

  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81: 535
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81B: 1
  • Total: 534, 536
    • Manufacturer: SIAI Marchetti
    • Production: ? - March 1938

Variants

  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81: Production model. Had Piaggio P.X radial engines (670 HP).
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81B: Experimental. Had two Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI RC engines (840 HP).
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81/T: Transport.

Usage

Italy and Spain used the S.M.81s.

Ethiopia

S.M.81s were used in the bombing of Ethiopian troops.

Spanish Civil War

Starting in 1936 the S.M.81 was used in the Spanish Civil War. They were used to transport General Franco's troops from North Africa.

The S.M. 81 was viewed as a success in the Spanish Civil War but it never went up against any heavy enemy defenses.

Start of World War II

There were ~300 / 304 S.M.81s in service with Italy in June 1940. In the Mediterranean there were 147 and 59 in East Africa.

Somalia

The 4° and 29° Gruppi were used in raids on Khartoum, Port Sudan, and Aden.

Use in the Mediterranean

The 39° Stormo used S.M.81s to attack the British fleet. In the Western Desert the S.M.81s were used primarily as transports.

The S.M.81s were often used as nighttime bombers.

Mussolini

Benito Mussolini used a modified S.M.81 as his personal transport and was called the Taratuga (tortoise).

The Units

The following bomber Stormi were equipped with S.M.81s: 7°, 8°, 9°, 14°, 15°, 37°, 38°, 39°

The following transport Stormo was equipped with the S.M.81: 18°

After the Armistice

There were four S.M. 81s that remained in the south after the Italian Armistice in September 1943.

Post World War II

Some of the S.M.81s served in the Aeronautica Militare Italiana until 1951.

Specifications

  Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello
Type Bomber, Night bomber, Reconnaissance, Transport
Crew 6
Passengers 18 troopers
Engine (Type) 3: Piaggio P.X RC 35
3: Piaggio Stella X.R.C.
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 125 RC 35
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34
OR 3: Piaggio P.IX
OR 3: Gnome-Rhône 14
Cylinders Piaggio 35: Radial 9
Gnome-Rhône: Radial
HP Piaggio XRC: 700 each
125: 580 each, 680 each
126: 900 each
Piaggio P.IX: 560 each
Gnome-Rhône: 670 each, 680 each
Cooling Piaggio P.X: Air
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8 2/3", 78' 8", 78' 8.9", 78' 9"
24 m
Length 58' 4.75", 58' 4.8", 60' 1", 60.1'
17.8 m
Height 14' 7.2", 14' 7.25", 15' 9", 15' 11.25"
4.45 m
Wing area 998.9 sq ft, 1,000.7 sq ft
92.8 sq m
Weight  
Empty 12,787 lb, 13,900 lb, 14,300 lb
5,800 kg, 6,305 kg
Loaded 20,500 lb, 20,503 - 23,040 lb, 23,100 lb, 23,149 lb
9,300 - 10,450 kg, 10,500 kg
Performance P.X engines
Speed 210 mph
Speed at 3,280' / 3,281' / 1,000 m 211 mph
340 kph
Climb to 9,840' / 3,000 m 12 minutes
Service ceiling 22,960', 22,965', 22,966'
7,000 m
Range 930 miles, 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Armament Up to 6: 7.7 mm MG
5: 7.7 mm / 0.303" Breda SAFAT MG
Dorsal turret 2: MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
Ventral turret 2: MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
Lateral Hatches 1: 7.7 mm MG
Bombs 2,200 lb, 2,205 lb, 2,640 lb
1,000 kg
Bombs - Maximum 4,400 lb
  SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81
Type Bomber
Crew 6
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 125 RC 35
OR 3: Piaggio P.IX
OR 3: Piaggio P.X
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 126
OR 3: Gnome-Rhône
Cylinders Radial 9
HP 125: 680 each
126: 900 each
Gnome-Rhône: 1,000 each
P.IX, P.X: 680 each
Cooling Air
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8"
Length 58' 4"
Height 14' 1"
Weight  
Loaded 23,190 lb
Performance  
Speed at 13,120' 211 mph
Service ceiling 23,000'
Range 1,118 miles
Armament  
Dorsal turret 2: MG
Ventral turret 2: MG
Beam 2: MG
Bombs 4,415 lb
  Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Series 5
Type Medium bomber
Crew 5
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34 piston
Cylinders Radial
HP 780 each
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8.75"
24 m
Length 64' 3"
19.58 m
Height 14' 4"
4.37 m
Wing area 1,001.1 sq ft
93 sq m
Weight  
Empty 14,991 lb
6,800 kg
Loaded 23,148 lb
10,500 kg
Performance  
Speed at 16,405' / 5,000 m 209 mph
336 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 19.27 minutes
Service ceiling 21,600'
6,600 m
Range 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Armament  
Dorsal turret 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Ventral turret 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Beam 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG
Bombs 4: 1,102 lb
4: 500 kg

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930-1945, Jonathan Thompson, 1963
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site