. Caproni Ca 310 Series

Dimensions: wingspan, 53 feet, 2 inches; length, 40 feet; height, 11 feet, 7 inches

Weights: empty, 6,730 pounds; gross, 10,252 pounds

Power plant: 2 x 470-horsepower Piaggio P. VII radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 227 miles per hour; ceiling, 22,956 feet; range, 1,025 miles Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine guns; 1,764 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1938-1945


he versatile Ca 310 was progenitor of a wide-rang­ing family of reconnaissance and lighter bomber airplanes. They served Italian interests well during World War II and were widely exported abroad.

In 1936 Cesare Pallavincino of the Caproni firm unveiled his new Ca 309 Ghibli (Desert Wind) light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. Its ancestry can be traced to the Ca 306 Borea (North Wind) of 1935, an extremely clean-lined commercial trans­port. Likes its forebear, the Ghibli was constructed of a metal-framework fuselage, wooden wings, and fabric covering. It also mounted fixed spatted land­ing gear, a glazed bombardier nose, and light arma­ment. The Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) ac­quired 165 for policing Italian possessions overseas. Given the success of the design, Pallavincino devel­oped a more capable version, the Ca 310 Libeccio (Southwest Wind), with retractable landing gear, an extended nose, and all-around better performance. Like most Italian aircraft of the period, the Ca 310 was light and somewhat underpowered yet pos­sessed delightful flying characteristics. The Regia

Aeronautica purchased 161 of these handsome craft by 1939, with several others being exported to Nor­way, Hungary, Spain, Yugoslavia, and Peru.

In service the Ca 310 proved to be versatile fighting machines, and they functioned as reconnais­sance planes, light bombers, and torpedo-bombers. They were widely employed throughout the Mediter­ranean theater and saw extensive service in Russia. The utility and soundness of the basic design gave rise to numerous other versions. These included the Ca 311, which introduced a glazed bombardier nose and was ordered by France and Belgium (England even contemplated their purchase). The next model, the Ca 312, had a glazed nose, heavier armament, and different engines. Germany purchased 905 of these machines as crew trainers but received only a handful before the Armistice. A final version, the Ca 314, featured inline engines, a bank of windows along the fuselage; it was intended for convoy pro­tection and naval reconnaissance. A total of 2,400 of all variants were produced, making them the most numerous Italian warplane of this period.