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Savoia Marchetti S.M. 81 Pipistrello

n by Mark Davies

The Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 81 Pipistrello (nicknamed "Bat ") was an Italian bomber/transport aircraft of the Second World War developed from the Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 73 passenger airliner of the mid-1930s. Largely obsolescent with its three 700-horesepower Piaggio P.X RC.35 radial piston engines, it nevertheless was a large and handsome flying machine.

I enjoy building older kits, and this one was no exception. Back in the early 1970s the Italian firm Supermodel released a series of 1/72 Italian WWII aircraft. Some of them are unique up to this day as the Italian subjects do not get kitted very often. This kit is the Supermodel Savoia-Marchetti S.M. 81 which offers a choice of engines and markings. I wanted a quick build following a more involved build of the Airfix S.M. 79 whilst I was going through a bit of an Italian tri-motor phase. A Cant Z1007 will probably be next in the series.

Generally the kit went together fairly well, although the undercarriage and exhausts were quite tricky to fit. I scratch-built some interior details, including a canvas sun-blind extended on one side of the cockpit, and folded concertina-style on the other. This was made rom lead foil. I used Falcon’s excellent replacement canopies, and refined the guns.

Esci decals were used as they enabled me to complete what I thought was quite an appealing scheme.


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