The Reggiane Re.2000 Falco I was an Italian all metal, low-wing monoplane.
The type was used by the Regia Aeronautica and the Swedish Air Force during the first part of the Second World War.
The Reggiane Re.2000 is an Italian all metal, low-wing monoplane fighter aircraft.
It is the first aircraft to be designed by Reggiane to employ aluminium stressed skin construction, as opposed to the wooden or mixed wood and metal structures that had been traditionally used in contemporary Italian aircraft such as the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 (which had been previously produced by Reggiane under license).
The stressed skin fuselage was highly streamlined, save for the protrusions of the hard-rivetted finish.
The majority of the aircraft’s exterior, including the tail, was metal skinned; however, the control surfaces had fabric coverings.
In addition to the stressed-skin construction, Reggiane introduced several advanced features on the Re.2000, such as a modern structure, which was considerably more advanced than the ones used in Macchi’s and other Italian fighters of the time, along with an elliptical wing profile.
Overall, the design possessed greater aerodynamic sophistication in comparison to other Italian rivals such as the Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200.
The Re.2000 was furnished with retractable landing gear; the main gear retracted via the Curtiss method, the wheels rotating around to face flat within the wheel wells when retracted.
The atypical fairing covered the landing gear’s actuation mechanism, while the legs incorporated hydraulic shock absorbers and drag struts to effectively absorb loads; pneumatic brakes were also fitted.
The tail wheel was both retractable and steerable.
However, according to Cattaneo, the Re.2000 was afflicted by a major handicap in the form of the unavailability of reliable in-line engines of sufficient power; as such, the RE.2000 was able to represent only a limited advance over the Macchi C.200.
The Re.2000 was powered by a single Piaggio P.XI RC 40 radial engine, which was capable of generating a maximum of 986 hp (735 kW) of thrust; this drove a Piaggio-built three-blade constant speed variable-pitch propeller.
This engine proved to be a major weak point of the aircraft in service as it proved to be not altogether reliable.
Despite the limitation imposed by a lack of suitable engines, the fighter remained a relatively compact and balanced design.
The aircraft was furnished with an elliptical wing, the internal structure of which comprised a multi-cell configuration using a total of five spars, stress-skin covering, and integral fuel tanks within the centre section.
The wing made use of a modified N.38 airfoil section and was outfitted with Frise-type ailerons complete with static and aerodynamic balance, along with a split-continuous flap.
The cockpit of the Re.2000 featured a large backwards-sliding canopy; it is claimed that this canopy provided “almost unrestricted all-round visibility”.
The armament comprised a pair of 12.7 mms Breda-SAFAT machine guns, housing 300 rounds each, installed in the upper fuselage; in addition, provisions were made for the fitting of bomblet-dispensers.
It was also possible to install a gun camera, while a small internal bay could be used to hold a few 4.4 lb (2 kg) incendiary bombs.
This armament, while typical amongst Italian-built aircraft at the time, was relatively light in comparison to foreign-built rivals then being constructed; additional weapons, such as the installation of a pair of wing-mounted guns, was studied but never applied.
The Re.2000 had no fuel tanks contained within the fuselage; nevertheless, using the entirety of the wing’s internal volume for fuel tankage, it could house a maximum of 460 kg (640 L) of gasoline, providing it with a 900–1,100 km endurance, far in excess of its contemporary rivals built by Macchi and Fiat.
However, the Re.2000 was considered to be not as rugged as its Macchi-built contemporaries; specifically, its fuel tanks were considered to be vulnerable, which were not of the self-sealing variety then becoming popular in military service.
It has been claimed that this lack of durability had been a major factor when, following an official evaluation by the Regia Aeronautica, the service decided to reject the type.
In December 1939, a British commission, led by Lord Hardwick and Air Ministry representatives, arrived in Italy for the purpose of purchasing various pieces of military equipment; aside from items such as marine engines, armaments and light reconnaissance bombers, the delegation sought to procure of around 300 Re.2000s.
During January 1940, the Director of Aircraft Contracts confirmed the British order.
The German government issued its approval of the sale in March of the same year but withdrew its approval during the following month.
In light of this, the Italian and British governments then decided to complete the contract through the Italian Caproni’s Portuguese subsidiary as to side-step Germany’s objection; however, the British order was cancelled as a consequence of Italy’s entry into the Second World War on 10 June 1940.
Initial prototype, one built.
Re.2000 Series I
Production model, 157 built.
Series I had modified windshield and slight equipment changes.
Re.2000 Series II
Ship-borne version, 10 built. Series II had a 1,025 hp Piaggio P.XIbis engine and arrester gear.
Re.2000 (GA) Series III
Long-range fighter, 12 built. Series III had redesigned cockpit, increased fuel capacity and option of a 170L auxiliary fuel tank or a dispenser of 22 2 kg bomblets.
RE 2000 “Catapultabile”
Re 2000 aircraft modified for catapult launch from Regia Marina ships.
On the day of the armistice, 8 September 1943, 6 Re 2000 “Catapultabile ” were in service, with two on the battleship Roma and one each on the Vittorio Veneto and Italia (formerly the Littorio).
Hungarian designation for Series I.
Hungarian designation for modified license-produced Series I.
Héja IIs had a 986 hp WMK 14 engine and two Hungarian 12.7 mm Gebauer machine guns.
7.99 m (26 ft 3 in)
11 m (36 ft 1 in)
3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
20.4 m2 (220 sq ft)
2,090 kg (4,608 lb)
2,839 kg (6,259 lb)
1 × Piaggio P.XI R.C.40,
14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine
1,000 CV (986 hp; 735 kW) at 4,000 m (13,123 ft)
3-bladed Piaggio-D’Ascanio, 3.1 m (10 ft 2 in) diameter constant-speed propeller