Piaggio P.108


Giancarlo Garello


La Bancarella Aeronautica


Scott Van Aken


Italian and English. Ali D'Italia #15

This is another of the fascinating books in the Ali D'Italia series. This time, it covers the only Axis operational 4-engined heavy strategic bomber, the Piaggio P.108. I know that several of you will think that the He-177 was also 4-engined, but it did not have four discreet engines powering four props. The FW-200 was not a strategic bomber but a maritime patrol aircraft. Now that the distinctions are out of the way....

The P.108 was basically designed from the outset as a strategic bomber, much like the US B-17 and British Lancaster. There are many similarities between the types as well including range, bomb load and defensive armament. Long before the B-29 and its remote defensive stations, the P.108 carried this type of defensive armament, though the barbettes were behind the outboard engines and not on the fuselage. 

The major differences between the types had to do with engines and numbers built. The Piaggio engines on the 108 were just not in the same horsepower category as the American and British engines of the time. In fact, underpowered aircraft was a major problem with the Italian aircraft industry during the war. In the P.108s case, you also had to add unreliability as the engines and fuel system caused a number of problems. One also must consider that the P.108s were basically hand built. In three years the Piaggio factory turned out 24 bombers. Boeing produced 16 in a day at the height of production.

The aircraft were also hampered by a lack of understanding of strategic bombing by the Italian Air Force command structure. Probably the largest raid only comprised a handful of aircraft. Not really enough. 

A transport version was also produced, and was very successful; nearly all of the production being used by the Germans in the eastern front. There was also a cannon armed variant designed for ground attack!

All this just touches on the history of this interesting aircraft. As with the other book on the SM.82, this one has lots of technical data, color profiles and period color photos. Superb line drawings as well as excerpts from the maintenance manual on various systems. A goodly number of clear photographs illustrate the various aircraft, and a short section in the back deals with the few models produced of this plane. In short, it is really everything that a modeler could ever want regarding researching this aircraft.

The book made for fascinating reading. If you have any interest in Italian WWII aircraft, or in some of the lesser known types of WWII, then this is a book you will enjoy.

Highly recommended!

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