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1/72 Airfix Savoia Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

n by Mark Davies

The SM. 79 was one of the most important Italian bombers of World War II. Before the war it established numerous records in its racing and military versions, and served with a number of diverse countries from the mid-30’s until after World War II. It was also developed in twin engine guise, with a distinctly different fuselage and engines. SM.79’s served widely as a day and night bombers; but it was a land-based torpedo bomber that the type earned its place in military aviation history, being regarded by many as one of the finest torpedo bombers of the war.

I have always had a soft spot for the SM. 79 due, I think, to its combination of historic interest, fine lines with a touch of quirky ugliness and many appealing colour schemes. I can remember building the Airfix kit as a kid in the 60's in the UK. My second kit was manufactured under license in New Zealand (my home), in the same pale blue plastic as my 60’s kit. It cost NZ$5.00 (a bit over US$3.00) second hand. I decided I'd have to build whilst I waited for the new Italeri kit to arrive in case I lost motivation after the newer kit's release.

My SM. 79 has added scratch-built interior detail and a superb Falcon vac-form canopy and hump that corrects Airfix's incorrectly profiled hump. I re-profiled the rear of the engine nacelles and widened them here their upper surfaces blend into the wings.

To more accurately reflect the original, I mounted the engines on cone-shaped supports obtained from a Super Model SM. 81 and the engine nozzles from a monogram Snap-Tite F-14! Airfix's incorrect 14-cylinder engines were replaced with resin copies of MPM's Blanheim engines, which in this scale look very convincing as 9-cylinder Piaggios.

Other corrections and modifications included the bombardier's gondola, which was partly made form a modern drop tank and scribed leading edge slats. I also refined the undercarriage doors, tail-plane struts, DF loop, pitot tube, cowlings etc and added hypodermic needles for guns.

Decals were mainly ESCI, I used bare metal for the bands around the cowling, and a combination of Xtracolor, Modelmaster, Gunze and Humbrol paints.


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