Some aviation experts consider the FIAT G55 Centauro the best
single seat fighter produced for the Italian air force in World War Two. The
Fiat G55 Centauro was a redesigned version of the G50 Freccia. Differences
included a DB 605 A-1 engine, an improved fineness ratio of the fuselage and a
redesigned wing, built in 2 sections ,bolted together at the centerline for
greater efficiency. Metal stressed skin was used and the metal framed airlerone
was fabric covered.
The first prototype was flown on April 30, 1942 and production started in the
beginning of 1943. The initial model was the G55/0 which held a 20mm MG 151
cannon and (4) 12.7mm Breda SAFAT machine guns.
The “O” model was succeeded by the “I” model which held three 20mm
MG151’s and two Breda SAFAT machine guns. Deliveries of the G55 to the 53rd
Stormo and the 353rd Squadriglia of the 20th Gruppo just started when Italy
surrendered to the Allies on September 8, 1943. Because of Italy’s surrender,
the G55 did not see combat with the Regia Aeronautica. However, factories which
were building the G55’s were still under the control of the Republica Sociale
Italiana (Salo Republic) in northern Italy, and several thousand were ordered.
The G55 became the RSI’s standard aircraft for their air force. Shortages
began to develop as the DB 605 A-1 engines became scarce and only 105 FIAT
G55’s were produced by the time the Allies overran all of Italy.
Other models developed based on the G55 which were the G55/II with 5 20mm
cannons and the G55/S Torpedo Fighter, which carried one 2,176 lb Whitehead
fiume torpedo beneath the fuselage. Both of these variations of the G55 flew in
After the war, production of the G55 resumed for foreign export and the newer
G55/A’s and G55/B’s were built. Fiat reinstalled the production lines to
produce the G.55A armed with either 2 wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns or 2 20mm
canon plus the 2 12.7mm machine guns in the cowling. 19 went to the Italian air
force and 30 were supplied to Argentina. Argentina returned 17 that were then
sold to Egypt in 1948, being armed with 4 12.7mm machine guns. A 2-seat trainer
version, the G.55B was built in 1946 with 10 going to the Italian air force and
15 to Argentina in 1948.
Model Fiat G55 single seat interceptor
Max Speed 385 mph
Ceiling 42,650 Ft
Range 746 miles
Horsepower 1,475 hp Fiat R.A 1050 (DB605 A-1)
Length 30' 10 1/2?
Height 10' 3 1/4?
Weight 8,179 lbs (Loaded)
Engine Fiat RA.1050 RC 58 Tifone (license-built Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1) V-12
inline liquid-cooled piston
Armament 20mm MG151 (250 rounds), 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun
Article by Adam Savery