Three-engine SIAI Savoia-Marchetti S.79 “Sparviero” medium bomber, first series, issued 1936.
A mixed-construction monoplane with a retractable landing gear system including tail wheel. Crew: 4-5. Created in the SIAI (Societa Idrovolanti Alta Italia) design firm, led by Alessandro Marchetti, as a passenger aircraft. The prototype S.79 in passenger configuration (civil designation I-MAGO) made its first flight on October 8, 1934.
The prototype S.79 bomber (serial number M.M.20663) first flew on July 8, 1936. Serial production began in November 1936.
The S.79 was powered by three 9-cylinder radial air-cooled Alfa-Romeo 126RC34 engines with 780 hp and a metal variable-pitch SIAI propeller.
The typical wide box-shaped fuselage of passenger planes was retained. But the characteristic dorsal “hump” in the fuselage was implemented and became the S.79’s lifelong hallmark. Because of this, the aircraft earned the nickname “Gobbo” (“Hunchback”).
In front of the “hump”, a fixed 12.7-mm Breda SAFAT machine gun with 350 rounds of ammunition was installed. The pilot directed the machine gun’s fire. In the rear of the hump, a pivoting 12.7-mm Breda SAFAT machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition was installed.
In the tail section, under the bomber’s fuselage, a pivot mount was installed with a 12.7-mm Breda SAFAT machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition. In addition, a 7.7-mm Lewis machine gun with a rotary magazine (and 485 rounds of ammunition) was installed inside the fuselage. It was specially installed so that it could move from one side of the aircraft to the other. The gun was fired through large rectangular blisters located on the plane’s port and starboard side.
The bomb bay was located in the central part of the fuselage and was offset slightly to the right to allow access to the aircraft’s tail section. It could accommodate up to 1,200 kg of bombs in various combinations (2 x 500 kg, 5 x 250kg, 12 x 100 kg, or 12 12kg canisters of small fragmentation bombs). All of the bombs were hung vertically, except the 500 kg bombs, which were installed at an angle.
Once officially approved, the bomber was called the S.79 “Sparviero” (“Hawk”), but the name failed to stick, and combat units continued to call the plane the “hunchback”.