|KIT:||Airmodel 1/72 Fiat CR.25bis|
|KIT #:||AM 404|
|NOTES:||Vacuformed plastic with injected parts|
Ing.Celestino Rosaletti designed the Fiat CR25 as a multi all-purpose aircraft for use in Italy's North African territories. The CR-25 was a twin engine, three seat, long range escort fighter and reconnaissance monoplane. Bearing a marked resemblance to the BR-20 bomber of same designer it employed a two-spar, three-section wing mounted in low-mid positioned to a rectangular section welded steel tube fuselage.
The CR-25 first flew in 1937, and was powered by 840HP Fiat A.74 RC.38 fourteen-cylinder radial engines. Two prototypes were built followed by ten pre-production machines, one of which was used as transport by the Italian Air Attaché in Berlin. This was designated CR-25D. The other nine were designated CR-25 bis and these equipped the 173 Strategic Naval Reconnaissance Squadron. These nine aircraft formed one operational squadron and was based in Sicily from July through October 1942. Their role was to act as convoy escort between Sicily and the Italian peninsula. It is known that at times this type encountered opposing RAF Beaufighters which were on convoy strike and destroy missions from bases at ta'Qali and Hal-Luqa on the strategic island of Malta. On occasions the CR-25 was also employed on sneaky but very risky reconnaissance flights to Malta. This included photographing military installations around Hal-Luqa and Hal-Far airfields, coal dump areas at il-Menqa in Marsa, and the torpedo and Submarine Depot at l-Imsida besides the naval installations and Dockyard facilities at the Kottonera and Casal Paula area and other localities on the island. So daring was their mission that some of the CA-25 found their graveyard in the blue depth of the Mediterranean.
Operational strength in reality never exceeded six aircraft during the time due to lack of spares and replacement necessitating a short operational life for the squadron. The CR-25 bis escort fighter was fitted with two 12.7 mm Breda-SEFAT guns in the nose and a third 12.7 mm gun in power-operated dorsal turret. To extend its range extra fuel tanks were fitted in the internal bomb bay, which was originally designed to accommodate a maximum bomb load of 1550 Lbs. By October 1942, when an average of three machines were serviceable, the type was relegated to transport duties.
In 1940 work has been initiated on a more heavily armed variant, a CR-25 which also had a slight increase in wing area. However the basic CR-25 design was abandoned and further development ceased. The CR-25 had a maximum speed of 286 mph at 18,200 ft; a cruising speed of 245 mph, landing speed of 78 mph and normal range was 972 miles and a maximum range of 1305 miles. Service ceiling of 26,575 ft. Dimensions of all models were: Span 51'10", Length 44' 5.75", and Height of 11' 1.75" and a wing area of 421.8 Sq. ft.
The 1/72 scale model of the CR-25 bis made by Airmodel of Germany is kit NoAM-404 and comes in a box of reasonably strong cardboard with a painting depicting a twin formation of the aircraft in flight. The box art is basically black and yellow but is very striking on first sight as it exposes all the CR-25 characteristic design. Upon opening the box you will find a single injection moulded sprue having eight runner bars to which are attached no less then 28 injection moulded highly detailed parts in grey plastic. These will make up a pair of radial engine cylinders, cowlings, a pair of three bladed props, with separate spinners and two exhausts for each cowling. Other parts cater for a good layout for the crew compartments includes the seats, partitions, instrument panel, and control column, side instruments, etc., and other parts as wheels, rear gun etc. There is no difficulty in assembling these parts as they are in numerical sequence. In addition there are two sheets of white plastic containing the vacform parts for the fuselage halves, parts for the mainplanes and tailplanes, interior floor decking and separate wheel well doors for those who like me prefer to make the kit with lowered wheels. There is also a vacform sheet of clear acetate that contains the nose glazing, cockpit canopy with an integral astrodome, and a rear gun clear dome.
The three-page instruction sheet is very comprehensive, clearly printed and easy to follow complete with 4-view drawing. This can be enlarged by 141% to bring scale plans to a scale of 1/72. Also included are drawings to show the style of camouflage pattern that goes with the CR-25 and which invariably differed from other types of camouflage but which you could tell that that the style was associated with aircraft of the Reggia Aeronautica during WWII. In addition to the camouflage "bis" version, there is also a bonus for a different type of CR-25 with an overall silver scheme as used by the Italian Air Attaché in Berlin. The same aircraft could also carry camouflage as it was in fact finished later on in the war. Also there is a quick colour reference chart. The instruction sheet has an exploded view, which shows the interior of the crew compartment and position of the fitting of all the glazed parts.
During the assembly of the two fuselage halves, plastic locating strips as normally practiced with vacform kits should be added at the joint-line. The kit can obviously assemble as in flight or with the undercarriage in the down position. Detailing of the wheel wells may add to the authenticity of the finished model. Detail of how to achieve this is also suggested in the accompanying drawings. There is one item which is a DF loop and which I did not bother to fit in position over the cockpit area for the simple reason that all the photos that I have seen none seem to have this fitted on them. I also elected to replace the mast antenna with a sturdier steel needle in order to attach the wire that goes from top of the aerial to the upper tail fin leading edge. One has to be careful to separate the detail landing gear from the runner and to add the additional parts that were missing in the kit that goes with the undercarriage and are shown in the sketch included in the instructions. All in all one particular tricky stage is when it comes to fit the clear acetate parts in order to mar the clear panels, as super glue would be needed for this part.
I have preferred to fit the two front crew figures as it gives the model a scale and makes a more authentic display. Decal sheet provided is also detailed and trimming of carrier film is recommended. The decal sheet caters for any of the three CR-25 bis depicted in the instruction sheet but does not cater for the CR-25 transport version which after all carries the minimum of decals on it. I have added an extra set of windows to the port fuselage, which for some unknown reason only one was marked on the vacform fuselage halves of the kit.
The scale model of the CR-25 can only be obtained from Airmodel products via Matthias Simon, Horsteiner Weg 1, 63500, Soleigenstadt, Germany. Or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Your editor would like to mention that an injected kit of this aircraft was produced in 2003/4 by Special Hobby)
Careful assembly of the CR-25 bis turns it into an impressive model and Airmodel products must be highly praised for releasing the kit with injection-moulded parts which help a lot to bring this kit not beyond the capability of the average modeller.
Carmel J.Attard (Malta)
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