Background on the IMAM Ro.57
The IMAM Ro.57 was one of many attempts made in the 1930s through the 1940s by Italian engineers to supply the Regia Aeronautica with a modern heavy fighter, suitable to support – and even substitute – the slow and old Fiat CR32, CR42 and G50. Designer Giovanni Galasso opted for a twin-engined aircraft due to the Italian motor industries’ inability to produce powerful engines.
During the first International Aeronautical Journalists’ Congress in Guidonia, Rome in May 1939, Italian and foreign pilots tested the prototype and appreciated its qualities. The IMAM Ro.57 faired better than the Macchi MC.200 in almost all the performances. However, its weaponry soon became an issue since the aircraft mounted only two 12.7 mm Breda Safat machine guns.
Ground Attack Variant
The Regia Aeronautica started production of the IMAM Ro.57, believing the twin-engined fighter performed better than a single-engine one. The Ro.57 resembled the British Westland Whirlwind, powered by two 880 hp engines, but considerably more powerful with four 20 mm guns.
In 1941, IMAM proposed a new version, the IMAM Ro.57bis, mounting two 20 mm guns and a 500 kg bomb. However, the increased armament of the aircraft affected weight and hampered performance. Despite this, the Regia Aeronautica ordered 90 units for dive-bombing. In February 1943, the first aircraft deployed to the Rome-Ciampino-based 97° Gruppo Autonomo.
End of Service Life
Pilots disliked the Ro.57 and the new aircraft did not serve in any further missions. In July 1943, all Ro.57s redeployed to Crotone in southern Italy, where on 13 July 1943 an American air raid destroyed 10 out of 15 aircraft. This bombing put an end to this aircraft’s service with the Regia Aeronautica.
|Powerplant||(2) Fiat A74 RC.38 radial engines 840 HP at 3800 mt (each)|
|Maximum Speed||311 MPH (501 Km/h) at 5250 mt|
|Max Ceiling||25,590 ft (7,800 m)|
|Range||745 miles (1,200 km)|
|Length||28 ft 10.5 in (8.8 m)|
|Height||9 ft 6 in ft (2.9 m)|
|Wingspan||41 ft (12.50 m)|
|Weight||Empty: 7,694 lb (3,497 kg) Max: 11,000 lb (5,000 kg)|
|Armament||Two Breda-SAFAT 12.7 mm machine gun|