View Full Version : Macchi C.200 "Saetta" (and "some" C.202), flown by a British pilot. Comparative test

05-23-2009, 07:07 AM
Hi everybody. Here's an account written by a British wartime pilot, Squadron Leader D.H. Clarke, D.F.C, A.F.C in his interesting book "What were they like to fly", about a captured Macchi C.200 "Saetta" he flew in North Africa.
Mr. Clarke flew many types of planes, Spitfires, P47, Hurris, P40s etc...
There are some interesting "clues" about the C.202 too... and it's so interesting to see how feared it was among the Allied pilots who encountered it in the skies in 1941-43.

Weird thing in IL2... the C.202 can't outturn a P40...

read on!

I hope you'll enjoy this.

"Acid Test"
As soon as Rommel began to retreat from Alamein, nearly every pilot in 239 Wing was determined to find a serviceable German or Italian aircraft to play with. It was not long before a Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79 - "Desert Lily" - and later a Heinkel 111, were making regular Cairo runs taking Wing personnel on leave and returning loaded with luxuries of food and drink to share around the five squadrons (Nos. 450,250,3,260 and 112).
Bf.109's,Fiat C.R.42's and Stukas became commonplace; a Bf.108, Fiat G.50, Fieseler Storch and a Henschel 126 were amongst the rare acquisitions; but the one type which everybody wanted to fly remained elusive until the Italian capitulation in 1943 - the exceptional, but to us, accursed, Macchi C.202.

Sleek, supremely fast - the sight of their high, white-crossed fin would have struck fear into our hearts had the Italians pressed home their attacks. The odd pilot proved that the 202 was capable of mixing it in a dogfight - out-turning our P-40s with ease; but the majority would pull away effortlessly into a climbing roll or a roll off the top when things became at all hectic. There is nothing more exasperating, when you are caning fifty-four inches of boost out of an engine, than to see your enemy indulge in carefree aerobatics; but although we did our damnedest to get near enough to shoot at them,we seldom succeeded. Their aircraft was superior to ours on all counts. No wonder we wanted to fly one.

Throughout the advance I made a point of being the first to arrive at any captured airstrip, but the 202's had always been systematically destroyed: axes, sledge-hammers - even acid was used. There were always plenty of other types left in serviceable condition, but the Italians seemed to know that we wanted a 202 and they destroyed the lot! As far as I know only one was found - by the SAAF's - but they kept it to themlselves and I never had a chance to fly it.
Still, I did discover the next best thing - a Macchi C.200.

I found it at Sorman, an attractive palm-surrounded aerodrome on a hard-surfaced salt lake, halfway along the coast between Tripoli and Zuara. There were some 30/40 C.R.42's and Macchi 200's parked around the two white stucco hangars, every one badly damaged; but a 200 stood in solitary splendour, apparently newly delivered, and the only damage was a smashed windscreen, as though the pilot had childishly heaved a spanner at it before fleeing with the rest of the ground staff. Happily I chalked the squadron markings - LD - on its shiny fuselage, organised a fitter and rigger to give it a thorough check, and three days later I ferried it to our temporary airstrip at El Assa: Macchi C.200 MM 5285 was mine!

And what a beauty she was! Although in the end she tried to kill me, it was not her fault, and even now I look back on the few hours I flew in her with considerable pleasure.
The cockpit was roomy and open, with no sliding roof to obstruct vision. Instead, two Perspex flaps closed on each side so that when you were shut in it seemed as if your head was part of the external fittings, and that the rest of you was entirely separate inside.
With only a slim headfairing behind, visibility was perfect: without effort you could see right under the tail - a feat which could only be accomplished in a P-40 by sxcessive weaving or by opening the hood.
There was no bullet-proof windscreen, and although the seat of moulded armour-plate looked pretty it did not give the protection we had in British aircraft. Armament was poor, too: only two machine guns, which were concealed in the fuselage and fired through the airscrew - but ammunition indicators in the cockpit (a useful luxury), registering up to 370 round per gun, showed that a poor shot would have plenty of chances. The finger trigger to fire the guns was on the simple stick-type control column.

There were two airspeed indicators, with a pitot head on each wing-tip; rather confusing, but very interesting during a gliding turn. The rest of the instruments were efficient, but not so elaborate as in our fighters, and the only real peculiarity was the throttle lever which worked in reverse: a difficult point to remember when taxying! The engine, an 840 hp Fiat A.74 RC38 radial, was a joy of a sewing machine. I remember being astonished when, at only 1,700 revs, the indicator speed was 365 kms/h - nearly 230 mph! My impression was, and still is, that she was as fast as a Hurricane I, and certainly more manoeuvrable.
The take-off run was fantastically short after being used to our heavy P-40's. The handling qualities were finger-light under all conditions. I had some practice dogfights with Hurricane IIs, Kittyhawk III's and Spitfire V's and found I could turn inside all of them.
Although they were faster - the Hurricane only just - the Spitfire was the only one which could outclimb the Macchi 200.

The only bad habit I found in her was the way she dropped her starboard wing - suddenly, without warning - just before touch-down. It was odd, because she did not do it when test-stalled in the air. But it was her only vice, and the wide undercarriage prevented damage providing the hold-off was not too high. Otherwise it was best to make a wheel landing - a performance I have never liked.
Summing up, if the 202 bore any resemblance to my 200, then the Eyeties should have been knocking down our Kittyhawks like ninepins; and , earlier on in the war, the 200's should have done much better than they did.
I lost my Macchi on March 5th, 1943.

I taxied out for an exhibition dogfight, turned into wind, pulled the throttle open and eased the stick forward. The tail bumped once, twice, but instead of lifting as it should have done, it suddenly dropped and the nose cocked high into the air. I slammed the throttle forward and switched off, thinking I had hit a soft patch of sand.
But when I scrambled out of the cockpit and saw that the whole tail assembly had broken away from the canted fuselage I knew that I had been very, very lucky.
The Italians HAD used acid after all!





05-23-2009, 07:32 AM
The MC 200 in this account certainly bears no relation to the one we have in the sim does it?

The P40, Spit, and Hurri in the sim all out turn it handily.

05-23-2009, 08:50 AM
According to IL2 Compare 'our' MC200 is faster than Spit VB , Hurri2b and P40B/C up to 1km.

05-23-2009, 09:00 AM
Thanks for that nice reading.

In FB the 200 is vastly superior to the Hurricane, at least in terms of flight performance. It does outrun, outclimb and outturn it with little trouble. Only the MkII's stand a chance at high altitudes.

We don't know what SpitV it was compared to and while I don't know from the top of my head, I'm fairly certain the 200 outturns all P-40's rather easily.

05-23-2009, 10:27 AM
Thanks a million for that. Great read.



05-23-2009, 10:50 AM
I've 'flown' the Italian aircraft quite a bit and I find the MC200 turns only a little worse than the G50 (my fav http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif), while being 100-120km/h faster in cruise. It can keep up with the Hurricane at low altitude and if you fight it like a Zeke, you can do quite well.

The G50 and MC200 are very stable, not too much torque on t/o and very easy to land. The MC202 is another 100km/h faster than the MC200 but not as maneuverable. It needs a lighter touch otherwise it will get into a nasty spin which can be difficult to recover from.

The MC205, now that's a sweet ride, fast, lots of ammo for the cannon, a real Italian sports car! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

05-23-2009, 12:45 PM
Thanks for sharing, nice read!

Mc200 indeed seems superior to Hurricane in nearly every aspect, save guns. And let's not forget it can dive to 1000kph IAS without damage, so it can easily outdive virtually any opponent.

Interestingly, article says the Mc200 had ammocounters. I'm aware of these in later Macchis, I never seen them in 200 tho.

05-23-2009, 02:09 PM
Speaking of the Macchis...the MC205 is REALLY easy to fly at super high altitude...I think I can remember cruising in a MC205 at 12850-13850m for ages in it.And of course its a demon diver like even the MC200 and nice cannon armament AND fighting against La5s its vastly superior climb allows you to dive down from superior alt and safely zoom climb back .
But of course its achilles heel is the horrible lack of rear vision...

05-23-2009, 02:53 PM
Good read.

And according to Hardball, the 200 was around 50 kph faster than the Hurricane at sea level but slower at high altitude.

The 200 and 202 are fun to fly in Il-2 but their godawful weaponry really puts me off. The 205 is sooo much more fun and a real joy to fly.

05-23-2009, 08:22 PM
If you can stay behind your opponent it's actually cool to watch the Bredas sloooowly tear him apart http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gif .

05-24-2009, 02:45 AM
Originally posted by Sillius_Sodus:
If you can stay behind your opponent it's actually cool to watch the Bredas sloooowly tear him apart http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gif .

It happens very rarely in online dogfights, where you must quickly finish the target or you become a quick target for another Hurri/Spit.

Though I remember not a long time ago, it was on Ukded2, I disabled the engine of a P-40 with only ONE short burst from Mc 200. What a spectacular feeling http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

05-24-2009, 03:21 AM
with no sliding roof to obstruct vision

Are the photos of two different aircraft??


05-24-2009, 05:15 AM
Thanks for sharing, interesting read. It's anyway well-known, and easily found in literature, that the MC.202 dominated easily both Hurris and P-40s in the north Africa theater, and behaved well against Spitfires V.

The MC.202 pilots were known to be aggressive because of the confidence in their machine, and engaged also superior forces. The only limitation to its deployment and use was the low production of this beautiful fighter (1100 produced).
The additional 7.7 wing mounted guns of the VII series were often removed by the pilots, who did't appreciate the (small) weight increase. Interestingly, Italian pilots in Northern Africa considered the SAFATs adequate to the job, while conversely they deemed the .303 guns of allied a/c to be very weak.

MC.202 holds its own online, but only if you hit the pilot or any other vital part, otherwise almost any enemy a/c can survive the ridiculously light damage of Breda SAFATs.

MC.200 again Hurricane is one of my favourites, a lot of fun ... again the only issue are the weak guns, IMHO too weak to be credible, because of no HE bullets modeled for them ...



05-24-2009, 07:19 AM
Originally posted by WTE_Ibis:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">with no sliding roof to obstruct vision

Are the photos of two different aircraft??

Prototypes and earliest Saettas had usual canopy.

05-24-2009, 07:59 AM
Originally posted by Kocur_:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by WTE_Ibis:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">with no sliding roof to obstruct vision

Are the photos of two different aircraft??

Prototypes and earliest Saettas had usual canopy. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The first pic is a MC.200, the second an MC.202.


05-25-2009, 04:19 AM
I've read that the prototypes had canopy, but that italian pilots preferred to fly without, so the canopies where omitted from the production variants.
The reason for disliking the canopy was that the rather low quality of the perspex used at the time made the pilots vision poor. The perspex turned 'white' quite fast in the desert sun.


05-25-2009, 05:05 AM
On the related note:

E`Stelle Guidonia -
Bericht über Jagdflugzeug-Vergleichsfliegen bei der ital.
Report on fighter aircraft comparisons at the Italian Guidonia Test Centre.
February 1943.

German tactical trials comparing the Luftwaffe`s Bf 109G-4 and FW 190A-5 to contemporary Italian types Macchi 205 V,
Macchi205 N, Reggiane 2005 and Fiat G 55, in German.

http://kurfurst.org/Tactical_t...lle-Guidonia_de.html (http://kurfurst.org/Tactical_trials/109G-4_Guidonia/109G-4_vergl_Estelle-Guidonia_de.html)

05-27-2009, 03:15 AM
It's very interesting to note that he also flew a Fiat G.50 "Freccia", also in North Africa.

He states that it really wasn't nothing special...

There is a chapter about it in the book. Under the picture of the G.50 he writes:

" The Fiat G.50 was very similar to the Macchi 200 with regard to engine, armament, layout, etc.,but it wasn't in the same class with regard to flyability and performance"

He also ranks the Macchi C.200 among the top 6 best planes ever he flew (together with the Spitfire II, Hawker Fury, etc) , of about 50+ different types.

There's a very interesting chapter of an engagement against Bf.109s in that theatre and he really
states that that time the German pilots decided to get low and enter a turn dogfight against their Kittyhawks,
while he said that most of the time they BnZ whenever possible (who can blame them?)

This book is a very interesting and an amusing read, very recommended!

This is Mr. Clarke, the author of the book.

Taken from: http://www.oceanrowing.com/Gui...A.F.C.%20(Nobby).htm (http://www.oceanrowing.com/******ss_World_Records/D.H.%20Clarke%20D.F.C.,%20A.F.C.%20(Nobby).htm)


06-17-2009, 10:38 AM
I would like to post 2 video I realized some time ago in the Italian Air Force museum
of "Vigna di Valle".

It's a Macchi C.202 "Folgore".

I plan to go there and take some other vids of the Fiat CR 42, Macchi C.200, Savoia Marchetti SM79 and 82


Macchi C.202 VIDEO 1/2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBahMTOZL30)

Macchi C.202 VIDEO 2/2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmrqA8MAP5E)

06-21-2009, 07:19 AM
I just found an interesing "account" HERE (http://www.ww2f.com/north-africa-mediterranean/18299-p-40-macchi-202s-italian-airmen.html) written by a Canadian, about the C.202.

It says the Macchi was an " "Outstanding aeroplane"... Too bad the Italian pilots didn't use it aggressively
(it is the same statement told by Mr.Clarke interestingly.)

I hope you like it!


06-21-2009, 07:37 AM
i think they make good stories, but it is difficult to model planes on pilots accounts.

still a great read though, thanks for sharing.