The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Italian for sparrowhawk) was a three-engined Italian medium bomber developed and manufactured by aviation company Savoia-Marchetti. It could be the best-known Italian aeroplane of the Second World War. The SM.79 was easily recognizable due to its distinctive fuselage dorsal “hump”, and was reportedly well liked by its crews, who nicknamed it il gobbo maledetto (“damned hunchback”).
The SM.79 had been originally developed during the early 1930s as a cantilever low-wing monoplane employing a combined wood-and-metal structure. It had been designed with the initial intention of producing a swift eight-passenger transport aircraft, capable of besting even the fastest of its contemporaries at that time, however, the project quickly attracted the attention of the Italian government for its potential as an armed combat aircraft. Performing its first flight on 28 September 1934; between 1937 and 1939, early examples of the type established 26 separate world records, qualifying it for some time as being the fastest medium bomber in the world. As such, the SM.79 quickly became regarded as an item of national prestige in Fascist Italy, attracting significant government support and often being deployed as an element of state propaganda. Early on, the aircraft was routinely entered into competitive fly-offs and air races, seeking to capitalise on its advantages, and often emerged victorious in such contests.
The SM.79 first saw combat during the Spanish Civil War; in this theatre, it operated without fighter escorts, normally relying on its relatively high speed to evade interception instead. While some issues were identified, and in some cases resolved, the SM.79’s performance during the Spanish deployment was encouraging and stimulated demand for the type, including a decision to adopt it as the backbone of Italy’s bomber units. Both Yugoslavia and Romania opted to procure the type for their own air services, while large numbers were also procured for the Regia Aeronautica. Almost 600 SM.79-I and –II aircraft were in service when Italy entered the Second World War during May 1940; thereafter, these aircraft were deployed across every theatre of war in which the Italians fought.
Airfix first released this model kit in 1967. This release dates from 1980.