This morning Comitato Idroscalo di Desenzano del Garda officially publicly unveiled a full-scale mock-up of the Macchi M.C.72 hydroracer.
The M.C.72 was an hydroracer designed by Mario Castoldi for the 1931 edition of the Schneider Trophy.
This plane was equipped with a Fiat AS.6 engine (which was made with 2 twin tandem engines) with 2 counterrotating propellers. The engine generated a lot of heat, which had to be dissipated with heat sinks on the floats, on the wings and part of the fuselage.
Unfortunately, the development of this plane turned out to be quite troublesome, and 2 deadly accidents claimed the lives of test pilots Giovanni Monti and Stanislao Bellini. The plane was not ready in time for the Schneider Trophy, which was won by the United Kingdom with the Supermarine S.6B.
The floatplane was then used by Reparto Alta Velocità (High-Speed Detachment) based in Desenzano del Garda (in the same place where this replica is on display) to break the speed record. The record was broken on 23 October 1934 by Maresciallo Francesco Agello with a speed of 709,209 km/h. It remained the fastest airplane in the world until 1939, when the record was broken by the Heinkel He 100. Due to a waning interest in seaplanes, the M.C.72 still remains the fastest piston-powered seaplane (the fastest seaplane is the prototype Convair F2Y Sea Dart, the only supersonic seaplane ever built).
The Italian aviation industry was unable to capitalize on the design of the M.C.72, and the Royal Italian Air Force entered WW2 with obsolete aircraft, such as the Fiat C.R.42 biplane.
English designers used the Supermarine S.6B as a basis for the Spitfire and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.
The original record-setting airframe is on display in the Italian Air Force Historical Museum in Vigna di Valle, near Rome. This mock-up will be on display at the Italian Air Force 100th Anniversary Airshow in Pratica di Mare, 17th/18th June.
This mock-up is equipped with electric motors to spin the propellers.
In the Idroscalo there is also a full-scale mock-up of a Ansaldo SVA 5, a Great War bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. It became famous for the Flight over Vienna organized by poet Gabriele d’Annunzio on 9 August 1918.
The Idroscalo also hosts several memorabilia from the Schneider Trophy era.
Fiat A.20 engine