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Fiat Ansaldo A.120 History and Specifications

by Jim H

Development of the Ansaldo A.120

The Ansaldo A.120 is a reconnaissance aircraft produced by Italy in the 1920s predominately for export markets. It originated from the A.115m and A.115bis parasol wing monoplanes. It first flew in the form of two prototypes in 1925 combining the parasol wing with a fuselage based largely on the Dewoitine D.1 and D.9 fighters built in Italy under license by Ansaldo. In 1926, Ansaldo became a subsidiary of Fiat.


The Fiat-Ansaldo A.120 consists of metal construction covered almost entirely with fabric. The A.120 was a simple parasol wing monoplane typical of European design in the mid-1920s. The type was based on a rectangular section fuselage carrying a nose-mounted engine and its associated radiator, the cockpits for the pilot and observer/gunner, and the tail unit.

Ansaldo A.120

The tail unit comprised of a braced structure including an aerodynamically balanced rudder and two aerodynamically balanced elevator halves. All three surfaces having wire trailing edges that resulted in a scalloped effect.

A standard cabane strut arrangement supported the wing over the fuselage and a large center section cutout in the trailing edge to improve the pilot’s upward field of vision. The wing carried outboard ailerons and braced to the lower longerons by two struts on each side. The airframe included a fixed tail skid landing gear.

Prototypes, Variants and Production

The two prototypes were the A.120 reconnaissance fighter using a 400 hp Lorraine 12Db Vee piston engine and the A.120bis reconnaissance airplane using the 400 hp Fiat A.20A Vee piston engine. In 1926, a revised A.120 debuted with an improved fuselage, tail unit, and landing gear. The new plane, the A.120 Ady, included the Lorraine engine but was evaluated with the Fiat A.20 and A.22 engines. The latter was selected in the A.22T form with a saddle-type radiator installation for the production model. Ansaldo built a total of 57 A.120 Ady.

Italian Aces of World War Two

A.120R was an improved version of the A.120 Ady with the A.22R Vee piston engine using a tunnel type radiator under the nose and featured a revised observer/gunner’s cockpit with a larger windscreen and rounded glazed side panels. Austria took six aircraft.

Foreign Orders

Austria ordered 6  and Lithuania ordered 12. Lithuania was the last operator of the type. Its surviving machines operating in the army co-operation role. The Soviet Air Force took custody of the aircraft and subsequently scrapped them following the annexation of Lithuania in 1940.

Ansaldo built a total of 77 units.


Model Ansaldo A.120Ady
Crew 2
Pilot and Observer
Powerplant (1) Fiat A.22
550 HP
Maximum Speed 158 mph (254 Km/h)
Max Ceiling 23,000 ft (7,000 m)
Length 28 ft 3 in (8.6 m)
Height 9 ft 2 in (2.8 m)
Wingspan 42 ft 0 in (12.8 m)
Weight Empty:
Armament (1) or (2) forward-firing 7.7. mm machine guns
(1) Rearward-firing 7.7 mm machine gun for observer
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