The Reggiane Re.2001 Falco II was an Italian fighter aircraft, serving in the Regia Aeronautica during World War II.
A contemporary of the renowned Macchi C.202, the production of this type was to be limited to only 252, it was a flexible design that proved to be able to undertake a number of roles.
Thanks to its manoeuvrability it could dogfight with more powerful opponents like the Supermarine Spitfire.
The Reggiane Re.2001 was a development of the Re.2000 Falco I which had been rejected by the Regia Aeronautica primarily because of its unprotected fuel tanks in the wing, which were merely sealed voids between the spars, and secondly its engine.
This was the main problem the Falco II set out to fix, now having a 1,175 hp (876 kW) Alfa Romeo inline engine (a more powerful and reliable license-built German DB 601) rather than a 986 hp (735 kW) Piaggio P.XIradial engine.
Incorporating much of the Re.2000’s fuselage structure, even retaining the entire tail unit, the Re.2001’s wings were of semi-elliptical design with three spars in each wing.
The initial design had conventional fuel tanks with 544 l (120 imp gal; 144 US gal) total capacity (five tanks, one in the fuselage and the others in the wings).
The armament consisted of Breda-SAFAT machine guns, with two nose-mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) (up to 800 rounds) and two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) guns in the wings, (1200 rounds total).
The new Falco II was equal to the Macchi MC.202, but the Macchi fighter, having first call on production for the Alfa Romeo R.A.1000RC.41-1a (the license-built DB 601) was still produced in greater numbers.
The Re.2001 was then delayed because the Regia Aeronautica insisted on the fuel tanks being placed inside the wings, which required a substantial redesign of the wing structure.
The first order, amounting to 300 machines, was cut back with only 252 produced.
This number included 100 Re.2001 Serie I, Serie II and Serie III with armament variations, the Reggiane Serie IV fighter-bomber and 150 Re.2001 CN Caccia Notturna, night fighter.
Due to the wing redesign coupled with production delays, the first production aircraft were finally cleared for operational use in June 1941, nearly a year behind schedule.
Along with the fighter variant, two other main variants were developed to suit specialized roles.
The Re.2001 CB (Cacciabombardiere, Fighter-bomber) version produced from 1942 could carry a 100 or 250 kg (220 or 550 lb) bomb under the fuselage for the attack role.
The CN (Caccia notturno, Night fighter) version was adapted with the introduction of engine exhaust-flame dampers and a 20 mm (0.79 in) Mauser MG 151/20 cannon in two gondolas, one under each wing, although many fighters retained the original armament.
A total of 34 CNs were produced of the 50 ordered.
Prototypes, two built.
Second prototype had three-spar wing, modified canopy and fixed tail wheel.
First flight in May 1940
Re.2001 Series I
First production series operated as fighter-bomber and carrier trainer; also used for land-based catapult tests, 100 built.
Modified fighter-bomber produced from 1942, to carry two 100 or 160 kg (220 or 350 lb) bombs under the wings as well as bombs up to 250 kg (550 lb) under the fuselage for the attack role.
Re.2001 or Series II
Proposed ship-borne fighter version for the carrier Aquila, 50 built.
First addition of wing-mounted machine guns to development and optional cannon, able to carry a 600 kg (1,300 lb) torpedo or bomb as standard.
Re.2001 CN Series III & IV
Night fighter and fighter-bomber version, 74 built.
Optional bomb load of up to 640 kg (1,410 lb) or additional fuel tank on Series IV.
Two 20 mm (0.79 in) Mauser MG 151/20 cannon (60 rounds each) were fitted in two gondolas, one under each wing.
Experimental torpedo (carrying a 600 kg (1,300 lb) torpedo) fighter
Anti-tank version with lengthened tailwheel and two 20 mm (0.79 in) cannons, two built.
Modified fighter-bomber, with reinforced fuselage structure to carry a single 640 kg (1,410 lb) bomb with 120 kg (260 lb) HE, derived from a 381 mm (15.0 in) shell
(Made for the Littorio-class battleships).
A small number of the variant was built, two G/Vs took part in Operation Pedestal, this was the only use of the type.
Prototype version powered by 840 hp (630 kW) Isotta Fraschini Delta RC 16/48 engine, one built, first flight, 12 September 1942.
After tests when a top speed of only 478 km/h (297 mph) at 5,760 m (18,900 ft) was reached, the Regia Aeronautica cancelled the 100 variants on order.
Prototype (MM.438) version with repositioned radiators, one built, although flight trials were successful, proving to be the fastest of the Re.2001 variants, it was converted back to a standard Re.2001.
8.36 m (27 ft 5 in)
11 m (36 ft 1 in)
3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)
20.4 m2 (220 sq ft)
2,495 kg (5,501 lb)
3,280 kg (7,231 lb)
1 × Alfa Romeo R.A.1000 R.C.41-I Monsone,
V-12 inverted liquid-cooled piston engine,
864 kW (1,159 hp) (license-built Daimler-Benz DB 601Aa)
3-bladed constant-speed propeller
542 km/h (337 mph, 293 kn)
1,100 km (680 mi, 590 nmi)
11,000 m (36,000 ft)
Rate of climb
13 m/s (2,600 ft/min)
160.78 kg/m2 (32.93 lb/sq ft)
2 x 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns in upper cowling
2 x 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Breda-SAFAT machine guns in wings.