February 2023

Macchi MC.200 Saetta

Gloster Sea Gladiator

Link to Website Index:

Aeronautica Macchi MC.200 Saetta (Arrow / Lightning)

81 Squadriglia, 6 Gruppo, 1 Stormo. Trapani-Milo Air Base, Sicily, December 1940.

Hobby Boss 1/72  with Xtradecal markings

Link to Website Index:

<<Link to previous month  Link to Next Month >>

© www.gengriz.co.uk

The Macchi MC.200 Saetta entered service with the Regia Aeronautica in August 1939.  Designed by Mario Castoldi (hence the “MC”) , it was a modern and fast metal skinned monoplane that would see service throughout the war, but it received a lukewarm welcome from experienced Italian pilots who preferred the older biplane Fiat CR.42 for its agility.  They also disliked the enclosed cockpit so much that later versions had an open or semi open cockpit reinstated.  

Flying from Sicily, the MC.200s of 88, 79 and 81 Sq. saw the type’s first combat over Malta on 11 June 1940, acting as escorts to SM.79 bombers attacking the island’s dockyard and Hal Far airfield.  Met by the tenacious and very agile Gloster Sea Gladiators of the Hal Far Fighter Flight, they did not fare well despite their far superior speeds, with the first MC.200 lost to a Sea Gladiator on 23 June 1940.

With the arrival of Hawker Hurricanes in July 1940, the Saetta was more evenly matched in speed and agility (although the Gladiators also continued to harry them and their bombers), but the less powerful armament of the Italian aircraft counted heavily against it.  Nevertheless, the Saetta performed well against the Hurricane until their withdrawal from Sicily to join the Axis assault on the Soviet Union.

Building the Hobby Boss Saetta Kit:

Kits of the Saetta are a little short on the ground in 1/72 scale, with an ancient Revell offering seemingly the only alternative to this simple Hobby Boss kit.  This is very surprising given the importance of the type to the Italian Air Force. Fortunately the Hobby Boss kit is reasonable, although it is one of their lower end models with very few parts. It does have several shortfalls, the most obvious of which is the lack of the long gun barrels extending forward to the cowling.  Probably quite easy to fix if you can find some suitable perforated barrels to fit.  

Its other obvious vice is the lack of the inner undercarriage doors and the small sections on the outer ones.  These can be easily fabricated from plastic card and the small sections can be used to provide some very useful strengthening of the main undercarriage, which is otherwise very weak.  

Out the box, the kit comes with a set of markings for one aircraft that attacked Malta , plus one from the Eastern Front, fighting against the Soviets in Ukraine.  As always with Hobby Boss, these are nicely printed and easy to apply.  

The suggested colour schemes are typically complex Italian ones, which I suspect will put many modellers off.  I used a set of Xtradecal ones that were equally complex, but slightly more colourful.  This aircraft has a particularly thick white cross on the tail, for which Xtradecal provide some decals, but recommend you paint.  I used the decals, but they were right to suggest painting as I had to get the white paint out to tidy it up in any event.

This is a very simple but pleasant kit of an important Italian WW2 type.  Until or unless you can find something better on the market, it comes recommended.

Part 2

Link to February 2023 Part 1 (Gloster Gladiator) >>

February 2023 - Part 1

Below: As well as escorting SM.79 bombers over Malta, MC.200s flew alongside Italian Ju-87 Picciatello dive bombers like the one modelled below.  

Background picture:  One of Malta’s iconic harbour defences