|Maiden Flight||1 October 1940|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseUpon winning a contract from the Italian air force Regia Aeronautica, Roberto Longhi and Antonio Alessio headed up a project to create the next fighter design following the relative success of Reggiane's Re.2000 Falco I design. In Oct 1940, the first prototype of the Re.2002 Ariete design took flight, only three months after the maiden flight of Re.2001 Falco II design. Because the design allowed a relatively high payload, it was immediately decided that the design would make a good attack aircraft. In Sep 1941, an order for 200 aircraft was placed, and delivery began in Mar 1942. The design also interested the Germans, who ordered 300 units in late 1942.
ww2dbaseOn 29 Jun 1941, the prototype of the Re.2003 reconnaissance aircraft took place. Based upon the Re.2002 design, the prototype had a lengthened fuselage so that a second seat could be installed, under an elongated canopy. In Dec 1941, an order for 200 of the reconnaissance aircraft was issued by the Italian military, but it was canceled in 1942. No Re.2003 was ever manufactured.
ww2dbaseThe Re.2002 Ariete fighters saw significant service during the Allied invasion of Sicily, Italy. They were deployed to strafe Allied naval vessels supplying the invasion force, but suffered 14 losses in the air in the first four days of the invasion, plus several more on the ground. On 3 Sep 1943, they operated against the British landing in Calabria in Southern Italy, losing three in combat.
ww2dbaseWhen Italy surrendered, only 255 Re.2002 Ariete fighters were built. Since that number was not even enough to satisfy Italian needs before the war ended, none of the units ordered by Germany was ever delivered. However, the Germans did operate them starting in Sep 1943, taking control of serviceable machines after the Italian surrender. Many of the German-operated Re.2002 Ariete fighters were used in ground attack roles against French Resistance fighters.
|Machinery||One Piaggio P.XIX RC 45 Turbine radial engine rated at 1,175hp|
|Armament||2x12.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns, 2x7.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns, 3x100kg or 3x250kg bombs|
|Wing Area||20.40 m²|
|Weight, Empty||2,400 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||3,240 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||530 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||10,500 m|
|Range, Normal||1,100 km|
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943