Background on the IMAM RO.37
The Industrie Meccaniche Aeronautiche Meridionali or IMAM Ro.37 design and production began in 1934. The IMAM Ro.37 was a biplane with unequal span wings and mixed construction of wood and metal, a fixed tail wheel and wheel spats for all three wheels. The aircraft required two crew members and was intended as a two-seat fighter/reconnaissance aircraft. The original Ro.37 utilized a 560 hp Fiat A.30 in-line engine that could reach 202 mph or 325 km/h.
An improved version, the Ro.37bis utilized a 560 hp Piaggio radial engine. The top speed was 205 mph at 16,405 ft with a service ceiling of 23,620 feet and a range of 696 miles. The Ro.37bis was armed with 2 fixed forward firing 7.7 mm machine guns and a flexible rearward firing 7.7 mm machine gun and could carry a bomb load of 397 pounds.
Meridionali Ro.37 Service Record
Both the Ro.37 and Ro.37bis were quite popular and over 635 were built (160 Ro.37 and 475 Ro.37bis). Export orders were received from Central and South American countries as well as Afghanistan and Hungary. In fact, the Afghanistan army utilized the aircraft up until the 2001 invasion.
The Ro.37 and Ro.37bis participated in the invasion of Abyssinia between October 1935 and the end of its occupation in 1941. The Meridionali Ro.37 also saw service in the Spanish Civil War.
When World War II started, 275 Ro.37 and RO.37bis were in service as follows:
- 30th Recon Flight at Palermo
- 120th Recon Flight at Tirana, Albania
- 122nd Recon Flight at Mellaha
- 136th Recon Flight at Tripoli
- 127th and 137th Recon Flights at El Adem
- 110th Recon Flight at Addis Abeba
- 27th Recon Flight at Casabianca
- 42nd Recon Flight at Bari
- 121st Recon Flight at Airasca
- 131st Recon Flight at Napoli-Capodichino
- 31st Recon Flight at Venari Reale
- 33rd Recon Flight at Bresso
- 39th and 40th Recon Flights at Venaria Reale
- 114th Recon Flight at Tornino-Mirafiori
- 118th, 123rd and 132nd Recon Flights at Levaldigi
- 129th Recon Flight at Mondovi
- 24th, 35th and 115th Recon Flights at Verona-Boscomantico
- 25th Recon Flight at Jesi
- 28th Recon Flight at Lucca-Tassignano
- 29th Recon Flight at Arezzo
- 32nd and 125th Recon Flights at Udine-Campoformido
- 34th and 128th Recon Flights at Parma
- 36th and 87th Recon Flights at Padova
- 38th and 116th Recon Flights at Gorizia-Merna
- 113th Recon Flight at Bologna-Borgo Panigale.
The Ro.37s experienced front-line action in the North African campaign, the Balkans and the East African campaign.
Retirement from Service
After withdrawal from front-line service, RO.37’s main role consisted of use as utility planes and ambulances. By the time of the Armistice in September 1943, the Regia Aeronautica completely retired the Ro.37 from service.
|Powerplant||(1) Piaggio P.IX RC.40, 9-cylinder, air-cooled, radial, piston engine 560 hp/ 418 kW|
|Maximum Speed||205 mph (330 km/h)|
|Max Ceiling||23,620 ft (7,200 m)|
|Range||696 miles (1,120 km)|
|Length||28.1 ft (8.56 m)|
|Height||10.4 ft (3.15 m)|
|Weight||Empty: 3,494 lb (1,585 kg) Max: 5,335 lb (2,420 kg)|
|Wing Area||337.46 Sq ft (31.35 m2)|
|Wingspan||36.4 ft (11.08 m)|
|Armament||(2) 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT machine guns fixed forward (1) 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun adjustable rear cockpit Bomb Load up to 397 lbs (180 kg)|