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The Fiat G.55 Centauro (Italian: "Centaur") was a single-engine single-seat World War II fighter aircraft used by the Regia Aeronautica and the A.N.R. (Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana) in 1943–1945, designed and built in Turin by Fiat. The Fiat G.55 was arguably the best type produced in Italy during World War II,[1] (a subjective claim also frequently made for the Macchi C.205 Veltro as well as for the Reggiane Re.2005 "Sagittario") but it did not enter production until 1943,[2] when, after comparative tests against the Messerschmitt Bf 109G and the Focke-Wulf 190, the Luftwaffe itself regarded the Fiat G.55 as "the best Axis fighter".[3]

During its short operational service, mostly under the Repubblica Sociale Italiana insignia, after the 8 September 1943 armistice, this powerful, robust and fast aircraft proved itself to be an excellent interceptor at high altitude. In 1944, over Northern Italy, the Centauro clashed with British Supermarine Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning, proving to be no easy adversary.[4] Italian fighter pilots liked their Centauro but by the time the war ended, fewer than 300 had been built.[1] By comparison, the Germans produced 35,000 Bf 109s.

Notes

  1. Includes 75 built postwar
  2. Egyptian and Syrian aircraft used Machine guns in the wings instead of cannon

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ethell, Jeffrey L. Aircraft of World War II. Glasgow: HarperCollins/Jane’s, 1995. ISBN 0-00-470849-0, p. 65.
  2. Jackson, Robert. Aircraft of World War II – Development – Weaponry – Specifications. Enderby, Silverdale Books. 2003. ISBN 1-85605-751-8 pp. 76–77
  3. Arena, Nino. Fiat G55 Centauro – Fiat G59(in Italian). Modena, Italy: Mucchi Editore, 1994. p. 23.
  4. Angelucci, Enzo and Paolo Matricardi. World Aircraft: World War II, Volume I (Sampson Low Guides). Maidenhead, UK: Sampson Low, 1978. ISBN 0-562-00096-8. p. 234.

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