By 1941, the well-established MC.202 “Folgore” fighter had started to show the first signs of its aging design compared to the much newer, more advanced, allied counterparts. Almost immediately, Italian engineers took up the task to find ways of improving the existing Folgore airframes in order to create a new stop-gap fighter before better designs could be created. The result of this undertaking was the phenomenal MC.205 “Veltro”.
The Veltro (eng; Greyhound) was the natural evolution of the MC.202 Folgore. The aircraft was designed in a time when Italy was facing an increase in allied bombings and struggling to maintain aerial superiority. The improved design allowed for combat at high altitude and vastly improved the lacking firepower of the previous model.
The new single-engined, all-metal, monoplane fighter was visually very similar to its predecessor, also adopting many of its features and merits, such as durability and agility. However, underneath the surface, it received an Italian version of the Daimler-Benz DB605 engine, which had already proven itself with later modifications of the well-known Bf-109. Furthermore, the firepower on later models was also improved; the wing-mounted low caliber machine guns were replaced by 20mm MG 151/20 cannons.
Due to a late introduction into the conflict, only around 260 MC.205 Veltros were built and nearly all were confined to the Mediterranean theatre where they were tasked with protecting strategic locations such as the islands of Sicily and Sardinia and later on, Rome itself. Nonetheless, unlike it’s predecessor and thanks to the various changes, it proved very successful at fending off allied bombing raids as well as presenting itself as a worthy adversary to the P-51D Mustang, something deemed impossible with the Folgore.