PCM 1/32 Macchi C.202

KIT #: 32-002
PRICE: $59.95 MSRP when new
DECALS: Eight Options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Currently out of production


The failure of the Italian aircraft industry to develop a high‑powered domestic aircraft engine led to the situation where  all the fighter aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica after the Fiat C.R.32 were outperformed by their opponents.  It is nearly impossible to look at the Macchi C.200 and realize that it had a pedigree in Schneider Cup air racing history that was as important as that of the Supermarine Spitfire, with its sire being the incredible Macchi C.72 racer, the fastest seaplane racer to ever fly.  Unfortunately, the C.200 was saddled with the low‑powered Fiat A.74 radial and a requirement that the pilot be provided maximum visibility, resulting in the aircraft’s humpbacked appearance, so that all this aeronautical DNA appeared wasted.  However, the next development of the basic design regained all the grace and look of speed associated with the M.52 and M.C. 72 racers Mario Castoldi had created.

      All it took to accomplish this was the replacement of the Italian engine with a German Daimler‑Benz DB601A, one of the finest piston aero engines ever designed and built, which Alfa‑Romeo had acquired a license to produce in November 1939.  Unfortunately, Alfa‑Romeo never seemed to get things right with their version of the engine ‑ the R.A.1000 R.C.41 Monsone (Monsoon) ‑ which presented nothing but problems and a complete lack of mechanical reliability when produced, with a production rate that never exceeded 50 a month.  This forced Macchi to rely on an ever‑dwindling and never reliable supply of German engines for their fighter 

 First flown on August 10,1940, with its German engine providing in excess of 1,000 horsepower that increased top speed from the C.200's 315 mph to 370 mph, and with a graceful, streamlined fuselage, the Macchi C.202 was the immediate equal of such aircraft as the Supermarine Spitfire and later the North American P‑51 in terms of overall performance.  It could more than hold its own with the P‑38 Lightning, and was superior to the Hawker Hurricane, P‑40 Warhawk, and P‑39 Airacobra.  The Folgore could turn inside all its opponents including the Spitfire, which was the only Allied fighter that could outclimb the Castoldi fighter. With finger‑light aerodynamic controls and outstanding maneuverability, its only fault was that its armament was too light: originally set at two 50‑caliber machine guns with 400 rpg each mounted in the fuselage and firing through the prop, this was supplemented in later production batches by the provision of a single 30‑caliber machine gun with 500 rpg in each outer wing.

      While the C.202 Folgore (Lightning) could equal its opponents on an individual plane‑vs‑plane level, the Italian aviation industry was incapable of anything approaching real mass production.  Thus, between its appearance in the Spring of 1941 and the end of the Italian fascist state in September 1943, only

1,200 C.202s, in 11 series were produced in total.  Of these, Macchi produced 392, with the rest being built under license by Breda and SAI Ambrosini. Even with this, by the Spring of 1942 the Folgore outnumbered all other fighters in the inventory of the Regia Aeronautica.

      Delivery of the first production aircraft, C.202 Series I, to 1º Stormo C.T., a specially formed conversion unit in Udine, commenced during the summer of 1941.  The C.202s made their combat debut on the Libyan front on November 25, 1941. Two further Folgore‑equipped Gruppi arrived in Libya following the failure of the second British Western Desert offensive that December. The Folgore’s next appearance was over Malta with the  51º Stormo C.T. in early 1942, flying from bases in Sicily.  Beyond service in North Africa and Sicily, the C.202 was in limited service on the Eastern Front with the 21º Grupo after November 1942, where a total of 18 C.202s operated with a force of 48 C.200s.  Together with the three Squadriglia of C.200s, the Folgores achieved an 88 to 15 victory/loss ratio by the time the unit was withdrawn from the Eastern Front in February 1943 following the defeat at Stalingrad.

 Following the Armistice in September 1943, C.202s were used by both the Italian Co‑Belligerent Air Force operating with the Allies, and with the Aviazione Della R.S.I. which continued to operate with the Germans.  The C.202 was used as a trainer in the north, while it was operated in limited service in the South while engines were available, flying with the Balkans Air Force.

After the war, 41 C.202 airframes were fitted with license‑built Daimler‑Benz DB 605 engines and sold to Egypt as C.205 Veltros.

       The C.202 illustrated both the promise and the problems of the Italian aviation industry.  As a design, it was excellent, and the equal of its opponents.  Unfortunately the industrial base of Italy could not provide the airplane in the numbers needed.

Sergente Maresciallo Ennio Tarantola:

Ennio Tarantola was born in Como on January 19, 1915. During his youth, he worked as a banana seller for the Colombo‑Poggi firm at Piazza Cavour, where he gained the nickname “Banana,” which he used for the rest of his life.

Tarantola joined the Regia Aeronautica a Sergente Pilote in September 1936 and volunteered for service in the Spanish Civil War, where he flew with the XVIth “La Cucaracha’ Gruppo C.T., equipped with the Fiat CR.32.

He claimed his only victory, a Polikarpov I-15 “Chato” on January 20, 1938, and was awarded two Medaglie d’Argento al Valore Militare for his Spanish service.  Returning to Italy, he joined the 155a Squadriglia, equipped with the CR.32.

Tarantola was one of the first Italians trained to fly the Ju-87B Stuka, known to the Italians as the “Picchiatelli.  He flew the Ju-87 operationally with the 209th and 239th  Squadriglie Autonoma Bombardamento a Tuffo from March to October 1941.   He participated in the June 29, 1941 attack by Italian and German dive‑bombers on the destroyer HMAS Waterhen and was one the pilots who claimed a hit on the ship.

HMAS Waterhen was abandoned, then a salvage party from HMS Defender went on board.  The ship was sunk during an air attack while being towed by HMS Defender on June 30, during which attack Tarantola was shot down, surviving in his dinghy for 18 hours before being rescued.

Tarantola requested a return to fighters and on November 4, 1941, he joined the 151st Squadriglia of the 20o Gruppo C.T., which was equipped with Fiat G.50s and based in Tripoli.  On December 5, 1941, he claimed a Curtiss P-40 for his second victory.

At the end of the month, the 20th Gruppo returned to Italy to re-equip with the then-new Macchi C.202.  Assigned to the 51st Stormo, the unit was transferred to Sicily for the attack on Malta in the spring of 1942.  Tarantola’s airplane was marked with the inscription “Dai Banana!” (“Come on, Banana!”).

Beginning in July, Tarantola began to increase his score, shooting down a Spitfire on July 1, and a second on July 4.

Over Malta, Tarantola often flew as wingman to Squadriglia commander Capitano Furio Niclot Doglio, making shared claims with Niclot over Spitfires on July 7 and 10; in the latter fight, his C.202 was badly shot-up, but he was able to return to base.  He continued flying with Niclot, scoring another Spitfire on July 25.  On July 27, Niclot  was shot down and killed by George Beurling in a combat in which Tarantola was wounded.

            Tarantola claimed a Spitfire shot down on October 11, 1942, one of four claimed that day by Italian pilots, though the RAF records show no losses, while the Italians lost one C.202 shot down by Spitfires.

On October 14, flying a second mission over Malta, Tarantola’s airplane was hit so badly that he had to parachute into the sea off the Sicilian coast. 

 20th Gruppo was pulled back to Ciampino Sud outside Rome in December.  After five months of rest and re‑equipment they moved to Capoterra, Sardinia, in May 1943.  On June 28, Tarantola claimed a P‑40, and claimed a P‑38 on July 30.

On August 2, 1943 Tarantola took part in a major fight over Sardinia, flying five missions that day against P‑40s of the  325th Fighter Group and P‑38s from the 14th Fighter Group, claiming two P-38s shot down over Capo Pula.

After the Italian surrender Tarantola joined the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR), flying with the Squadriglia Complementare “Montefusco‑Bonet”, where he flew the Macchi C.205 and the Fiat G.55.  On April 24, 1944, seven G.55s and two C.205s - one G.55 flown by Tarantola - intercepted 117 B‑24s of the 304th Bomb Group, escorted by 45 P‑47s of the 325th FG, that attacked the Aeritalia aircraft factory in Turin.  As they  attacked the bombers, the ANR fighters were jumped by P‑47s. Three G.55s were shot down and Tarantola parachuted after being badly wounded; he did not return to flight status until the summer of 1945.

During the war, Tarantola claimed on victory in Spain and 11 in wartime service with the Regia Aeronautica and the ANR.  He received a third and fourth Medaglie d’Argento al Valore Militare, two Medaglie di Bronzo and five Croce di Guerra, and was promoted twice “for war merits.”  He remained in the Italian Air Force until the early 1970s, retiring to Cesenatico where he died on July 30, 2001.


            PCM’s Macchi C.202 Folgore was the second major release by this company in 1/32, following the release of their C.200 Saetta, and followed soon thereafter by the C.205 Veltro.  These were the last PCM kits done by MPM.

            The first C.202 I got in 2006 ended up in the round file when the resin parts turned out to be too small to fit the rest of the model.  I had already noted that MPM had tried for too much commonality with the C.202 and C.205 kits, since the horizontal stabilizers and elevators were for the C.205 and differed in significant visual detail from the C.202, which used the same ones as the earlier C.200.  Additionally, the spinner was undersized and would not match up with the forward fuselage, in addition to being the wrong shape for the C.202, being more for the C.205.

             I ran across this kit shelf-sitting at a local hobby shop here in Los Angeles last fall, and decided to pick it up.  I had a lower forward fuselage part from the 21st Century Toys kit, which would likely be the right size if the resin part was still undersize.  As it turned out, this kit had a part that fit.


             These kits are by MPM, and the fit stinks (as it too often does with MPM kits).  I had to dremel out the interior of the fuselage in the vicinity of the cockpit to allow the very nice resin cockpit to fit in the fuselage.  As mentioned, the resin lower nose part fit, and only needed some Mr. Surfacer to fill the joint.

             The cockpit was painted with Xtracrylix British Interior Green, which is a good approximation of the Italian color.  There is lots of nice detail to the cockpit, in both resin and photoetch.

             The wing sub-assembly was difficult, and I had to do a lot of trimming of the wheel well bulkheads to get them to fit inside the fuselage.  Once I did, there were huge gaps on the upper wing/fuselage joint.  I ended up using some Evergreen rod to fill the gaps.  I also needed two very large rubber bands to wrap wingtip-to-wingtip around the wing to bring up the dihedral to the correct amount. I applied copious amounts of cyanoacrylate glue over the joint after the Tenax set up, hitting the C-A with accelerator, to strengthen the joint and maintain the dihedral.  A considerable amount of Bondo putty and Mr. Surfacer was used to get the joints smoothed over, after which I rescribed the lost surface detail.

             I filled in the mass balance on the elevators, and rescribed the elevators correctly for the C.202, and installed these.  The resin radiator mostly fit, though I needed a lot of Bondo and Mr. Surfacer to smooth the joint where the rear of the radiator assembly fits to the fuselage just aft of the wing.

             I ended up using a spinner for a Rotol prop from a Hasegawa Spitfire V kit, which I filled with cyanoacrylate and then reshaped, to get a spinner that would both look right and fit to the nose with the correct size.



             I pre-shaded the model with airbrushed flat black, then painted the white fuselage band and vertical fin, which I masked off.  I used Tamiya “Sky Grey” for the lower color, and a mixture of Tamiya “Flat Earth” and “Flat Yellow” for the Nocchiola Chiaro 4, and a mixture of Tamiya “Black Green” and “Deep Green” for the Verde Oliva Scuro 2.  The “smoke rings” were freehanded with my airbrush; I don’t know why so many modelers are afraid of doing this scheme themselves and feel they have to resort to decals - any look at any Italian airplane with this camouflage will reveal the smoke rings are not nice and neat, they were applied with spray guns with no attempt at neatness or uniformity.  When this was dry, I gave the model a coat of Future.


             The decals are the best part of the kit, being printed by Cartograf.  They are in perfect register, and go on without any difficulty.


             I gave the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish, then assembled and attached the landing gear and attached the prop and canopy in the open position.  I applied exhaust stains with Tamiya “Smoke.”


            Definitely not an easy kit, but the result looks good.  I did this same airplane with the 21st Century Toys kit in 2007, using parts from the failed PCM kit.  This kit looks overall better than the 21st Century kit in terms of detail.  I personally think the Macchi C.202/205 are the best-looking Italian fighters of the war, and this kit catches that.

Review kit courtesy of my wallet.

Tom Cleaver

January 2010

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