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

Photos

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber2:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber dropping its load of bombs:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber dropping its load of bombs

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber:
Italy's Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello medium bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Design

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 was developed from the SM.73 transport.1,2,3

The SIAI Marchetti S.M. 81 was the first three engine plane in use by the Italian Air Force.3

The S.M. 81 had a skeleton of wood and metal with a wood and fabric skin.3

Undercarriage

The S.M. 81 had a fixed undercarriage.3

Wings

The wings were set low.3

Prototype

The prototype of the SM.81 first appeared in 1934.1
The first S.M.81 flew on February 8, 1935.2,4

Production

  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81: 5352
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81B: 12
  • Total: 5343, 5362
    • Manufacturer: SIAI Marchetti3

Variants

  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81: Production model.1 Had Piaggio P.X radial engines (670 HP).1
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81B: Experimental.2 Had two Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI RC engines (840 HP).2

Usage

Italy and Spain used the S.M.81s.2

Ethiopia

S.M.81s were used in the bombing of Ethiopian troops.1,3

Spanish Civil War

Starting in 1936 the S.M.81 was used in the Spanish Civil War.1,2,3 They were used to transport General Franco's troops from North Africa.2

The S.M. 81 was viewed as a success in the Spanish Civil War but it never went up against any heavy enemy defenses.3

Start of World War II

There were ~3002 / 304 S.M.81s in service with Italy in June 1940.1,2 In the Mediterranean there were 147 and 59 in East Africa.1

Somalia

The 4° and 29° Gruppi were used in raids on Khartoum, Port Sudan, and Aden.1

Use in the Mediterranean

The 39° Stormo used S.M.81s to attack the British fleet.1 In the Western Desert the S.M.81s were used primarily as transports.1

The S.M.81s were often used as nighttime bombers.2

Mussolini

Benito Mussolini used a modified S.M.81 as his personal transport.2

The Units

The following bomber Stormi were equipped with S.M.81s: 7°, 8°, 9°, 14°, 15°, 37°, 38°, 39°1

The following transport Stormo was equipped with the S.M.81: 18°1

After the Armistice

There were four S.M. 81s that remained in the south after the Italian Armistice in September 1943.3

Post World War II

Some of the S.M.81s served in the Aeronautica Militare Italiana until 1951.2

Specifications

  Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Pipistrello2
Type Bomber2, Night bomber4, Reconnaissance4, Transport2
Crew 62
Passengers 18 troopers2
Engine (Type) 3: Piaggio P.X RC 352
3: Piaggio Stella X.R.C.4
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 125 RC 352
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 126 RC 342
OR 3: Piaggio P.IX2
OR 3: Gnome-Rhône 142
Cylinders Piaggio 35: Radial 92
Gnome-Rhône: Radial2
HP Piaggio XRC: 700 each2,4
125: 580 each2
126: 900 each2
Piaggio P.IX: 560 each2
Gnome-Rhône: 680 each2
Cooling  
Propeller blades 3 each2
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8"4, 78' 9"2
24 m2
Length 58' 4.75"2, 60' 1"4
17.8 m2
Height 14' 7.25"2, 15' 9"4
4.45 m2
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 13,900 lb2
6,305 kg2
Loaded 20,500 lb4, 20,503 - 23,040 lb2
9,300 - 10,450 kg2
Performance P.X engines2
Speed 210 mph4
Speed @ 3,280' /
1,000 m
211 mph2
340 kph2
Speed @ 13,120'  
Climb to 9,840' /
3,000 m
12 minutes2
Service ceiling 22,965'2
7,000 m2
Range 930 miles4, 1,243 miles2
2,000 km2
Armament Up to 6: 7.7 mm MG2
Dorsal turret 2: MG4
Ventral turret 2: MG4
Beam  
Bombs 2,200 lb4, 2,205 lb2
1,000 kg2
  SIAI Marchetti S.M. 813
Type Bomber3
Crew 63
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 125 RC 353
OR 3: Piaggio P.IX3
OR 3: Piaggio P.X3
OR 3: Alfa Romeo 1263
OR 3: Gnome-Rhône3
Cylinders Radial 93
HP 125: 680 each3
126: 900 each3
Gnome-Rhône: 1,000 each3
P.IX, P.X: 680 each3
Cooling Air3
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8"3
Length 58' 4"3
Height 14' 1"3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 23,190 lb3
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 3,280' /
1,000 m
 
Speed @ 13,120' 211 mph3
Climb to 9,840' /
3,000 m
 
Service ceiling 23,000'3
Range 1,118 miles3
Armament  
Dorsal turret 2: MG3
Ventral turret 2: MG3
Beam 2: MG3
Bombs 4,415 lb3
  Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81 Series 51
Type Medium bomber1
Crew 51
Passengers  
Engine (Type) 3: Alfa Romeo 126 RC 34 piston1
OR  
OR  
OR  
OR  
Cylinders Radial1
HP 780 each1
Cooling  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 78' 8.75"1
24 m1
Length 64' 3"1
19.58 m1
Height 14' 4"1
4.37 m1
Wing area 1,001.1 ft2 1
93 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 14,991 lb1
6,800 kg1
Loaded 23,148 lb1
10,500 kg1
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 16,405' /
5,000 m
209 mph1
336 kph1
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
19.27 minutes1
Service ceiling 21,600'1
6,600 m1
Range 1,243 miles1
2,000 km1
Armament  
Dorsal turret 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG1
Ventral turret 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG1
Beam 2: 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT MG1
Bombs 4: 1,102 lb1
4: 500 kg1

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site

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