Single engine two-seat fighter, light bomber or reconnaissance aircraft
the Italian bomber king of WWI, tried around 1937 to exceed his business.
At this time we see not only the sale of the Caproni-Bergamaschi Ca.135
medium bomber to Hungary and Peru, but also activities to sell the Ca.135
and the multi-purpose airplane Ca.310 to Belgium. The Belgian firm SABCA
acquired the licence to sell these two planes. The Belgian Air Force, at
that time, was still equipped with the old Fairey Fox two-seat light
bomber biplane, but was looking to replace it with a modern design.
Although Fairey had a strong foothold in Belgium in form of an own plant
(Aviations Fairey), SABCA and Caproni in 1938 made a new agreement to
develop a competitor to the contemporary Fairey design Battle.
got obliged with the construction of the airframe, while SABCA had to care
for engine, propeller and armament, and so the Ca.335, called "Maestrale"
(northwest wind, in French "Mistral"), was drafted by Caproni chief
engineer Cesare Pallavicino. His performance is interesting by the way, he
designed some particular aircrafts: Breda 15/18/19/27/33/39, CAB
A.P.1/C.P.3/P.L.3/P.S.1, Caproni Ca.135/Ca.308/Ca.309, after the Ca.335
the Ca.331 and Ca.355. After the war he designed the famous scooter "Lambretta",
before going to Argentina, where he created the I.Ae.30 "Namcu", a very
fast two-engined fighter similar to the De Havilland "Hornet".
chose a clear cantilever low-wing design for a crew of two. The
observer/rear gunner, sitting under a "greenhouse" glass roof in the rear
fuselage, could also perform as auxiliary pilot, having a set of controls
of his own. The construction contained of steel tubes, the fuselage was
covered with aluminium plates, the wing with plywood. The whole back edge
of the wing was covered with flaps, thus caring for short landing
The aircraft was powered by the French Hispano-Suiza HS 12Y
twelve-cylinder V-engine, delivering 860 hp and allowing to install a 20mm
cannon firing through the propeller hub. Armament was completed by two
wing-mounted 7,7 mm machine guns and a flexible one for the second crew
member. A small bomb bay could carry two 50 kg bombs, while ten 10 kg
bombs were to be mounted externally.
From the beginning, the
aircraft was designed to serve as fighter, light bomber or reconnaissance
aircraft. The airplane was completed at Caproni´s factory in Ponte San
Pietro and flew for the first time on February 16th, 1939, with test pilot
Ettore Wengi at the controls. In June that year, it was dismantled and
sent by train to SABCA in Belgium. The next month, it was on display at
the Salon International at Brussels.
After fitting the missing
equipment, the flight tests continue in Belgium under the civil
and painted with Belgian
from September 19th on, with SABCA´s chief test pilot Paul Burniat at the
controls. With a speed of 501 (other source says even 515) km/h and a
ceiling of 10.500 m, the aircraft showed very fine performances. Nothing
negative is said about the flight characteristics, so it can be assumed
that the tests ran smoothly. On January 13th, it is demonstrated at Evere
to the Belgian Militaire Vliegwezen/Aéronautique Militaire. The
responsibles were quite delighted and told an option for 24 samples to be
produced. On this occasion or another, the S.47 was also shown to foreign
SABCA had purchased the manufacturing licence on
November 30th, 1939.
On January 1940 the
Sabca S.40 was officially presented at Evere airfield to the Belgian
authorities as well as to representatives of several foreign countries.
March 14th, 1940, the S.47 was flown together with the SABCA S.40 training
aircraft to Orleans-Bricy (French test center), to be presented to
officers of the French Armée de l'Air. There, because of bad weather
conditions, the aircraft is slightly damaged in a landing accident, when
it collided with a truck.
Neither in Belgium nor in France,
have been done to set up a production of the S.47 before the German troops
arrived. In Orleans, the never-repaired S.47 fell in German hands on June
13th, 1940. Caproni made a request to get the airplane back, but the
Germans (nobody can say who exactly or why) turned it down. The final fate
of the prototype is unsure, one contributor says it was still seen in
Orleans in April 1942, the other says mid-1943. Probably it was scrapped
there, it was surely not brought to Germany.
One can say in
mid-1940, the Regia Aeronautica had no interest in the type and did not
support Caproni´s request. Also, the Ca.335 followed Belgian
requirements, not Italian ones. Another difficulty surely was caused by
the French inline engine, while Italy had nothing of its own to replace it
and deliveries from defeated France were unsure or at least politically
Text and research by
Holger Bergman - Additional information by "Ghiblie", Charles Mali, Luc
Vanden Eynde and Daniel Brackx