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"Torpedo Bomber (Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM-79)" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Intelligence report on the Italian Savoia-Marchetti (SM-79) torpedo bomber and its tactics, from the Intelligence Bulletin, January 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on foreign tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data on foreign tactics and equipment is available in postwar publications.]



The land-based Savoia-Marchetti (SM-79) bomber is the most widely used of several types of aircraft employed by the Italian Air Force. This aircraft has long been the mainstay of the bomber squadrons, and has been adapted successfully for torpedo-carrying purposes.

The SM-79 is a large, low-wing, tri-motored monoplane of metal and plywood construction. The engines, approximately 1,000 horsepower each, give the aircraft, when used as a bomber, a speed of almost 300 miles per hour. When a torpedo is carried, the plane has a top speed of about 200 miles per hour. The SM-79 normally carries a crew of four—two pilots, a radio operator, and a bombardier.

[Savoia-Marchetti (SM-79) Torpedo Bomber; Two Views and Recognition Silhouettes]
Savoia-Marchetti (SM-79) Torpedo Bomber; Two Views and Recognition Silhouettes

The depth settings of the torpedoes carried vary according to the size of the target. When employed against convoys, the aircraft carry torpedoes with several settings, the planes with deeper settings always attacking the larger vessels. These settings are adjusted by special torpedo mechanics and cannot be altered in flight.

An attack by torpedo bombers is usually made at dawn or dusk. Dusk is considered preferable since the aircraft may make a low, unobserved approach toward the target, which is silhouetted against the horizon. The attacks are always made from the east since this is the direction of poorest visibility. Daylight attacks are suicidal and are very seldom attempted.

Early in the war Italian aircraft torpedo attacks were usually made by individual aircraft and were not pressed home. Recently, however, these attacks have been better coordinated and many of them have been made at comparatively close range.

Torpedo squadrons are believed to have the highest morale of all units of the Italian Air Force. Their efficiency is such that Germany has sent squadrons to Italy for instructions in torpedo tactics. Italian aircraft torpedoes are believed to be superior to those of German design and are probably used by the German Air Force.

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