CAPRONI

Count Gianni Caproni set up first of many companies and subsidiaries 1907, as qualified electrical engineer. Built large biplane at Milan (27 May 1910) and a year later with Agostini set up flying school at Vizzola, plus expanding factory which built monoplane (15 June 1911). Caproni suffered serious illness, Agostini replaced by Carlo Comitti who formed Società Caproni e Comitti late 1911, replaced mid-1912 by Soc. degli Ing. Caproni e Faccanoni (builder of first Italian aircraft January 1909). Government interest lukewarm, though 1 squadron equipped with excellent 1913 monoplane (80 hp). Breakthrough was prototype Ca 30 bomber of 1914, 2 tractor and 1 pusher propeller driven by row of 3 engines in central nacelle. This led to giant factory at Milan-Taliedo where by 1919 were built over 1,000 more powerful 3-engined bombers, used extensively by Italy, France, UK and USA, with additional licence-production in France and USA. Airline versions appeared from 1919, but newer designs were needed, supplied by Ing. Rodolfo Verduzio's Ca 73 of 1924, first of series of inverted sesquiplanes (big lower wing, small upper wing). Several bomber and transport versions, and scaled-up Ca 90 (6 x 1,000-hp) was world's largest/heaviest aeroplane early 1929. Ca 97 high-wing monoplane of 1927 (1 x 400/500-hp) was used for many roles, and substantial numbers also built of Ca 100 biplane trainer, Ca 101 3-engined monoplane bomber/transport and derived Ca 102 (4 engines) and Ca 111 (1 engine). Other types Ca 113 aerobatic trainer, Ca 114 biplane fighter, Ca 123 low-wing airliner, Ca 132 3-engined airliner and Ca 161 height-record biplane. Verduzio's Ca 133, flown Taliedo December 1934, was developed Ca 101 of which 417 were built, plus 135 improved Ca 148. Conflenti's Ca 164 biplane trainer was used by Regia Aeronautica (280) and French Armée de l'Air (100). By late 1930s Gianni Caproni controlled 28 main manufacturing companies, including Isotta-Fraschini engine firm. Few aircraft made by S.A. Aeronautica Predappio did not take Caproni name, but others did, as follow. Compania Aeronautica Bergamasca, at Bergamo, produced 'Caproni-Bergamaschi' types, designed by Cesare Palavicino. These began with PL.3 and Ca 301 of 1934, latter being enlarged into AP.1 attack aircraft, 66 built 1936-8. Ponte San Pietro (Bergamo) works was then allocated type numbers from 300, but major twin-engined bomber was designated Ca 135 as it was to have been produced at main Taliedo plant; but only 110 built, all at Bergamo. Ca 306 Borea light transport (7 built 1936) led to major series of upgraded derivatives: Ca 309 Ghibli recon/bomber (243 built 1936-43); Ca 310 Libeccio recon/bomber (193), Ca 311 (345), Ca 312 (39), Ca 313 (271) and Ca 314 (404, all for Regia Aeronautica). Ca 331 night fighter (2 x 800-hp) of 1942 remained prototype. Officine Meccaniche 'Reggiane' based at Reggio, Emilia, produced 'Caproni-Reggiane' aircraft, designed mainly by Roberto G. Longhi. Re 2000 fighter (24 May 1939) was influenced by Seversky, 147 built (and 192 by MAVAG); Re 2001 Ariete I, June 1940 (237); Re 2002 Ariete II, October 1940 (about 200, 20 destroyed by bombing before delivery); Re 2005 Sagittario, May 1942 (34 pre-series only). S.A. Caproni-Vizzola, at Vizzola Ticino, Varese, was noted for single original design: F.4 (F for designer F. Fabrizi), flown July 1940, having been overtaken by F.5 with different engine, flown February 1939; further different engines fitted to F.6M (1941) and F.6Z (1943). After Armistice several factories remained open; main factory produced Ca 193 5/6-seat pusher (2 x 155 hp), but cost of this prototype bankrupted company on 2 February 1950. Caproni Trento, at Gardolo, remained solvent, flying F.5 light jet trainer designed by Stelio Frati on 20 May 1952. Against all odds, Caproni Vizzola Costruzioni Aeronautiche also remained solvent, mainly supporting military engines, and in 1969 began producing outstanding sailplanes designed by Ferrarin and Sonzio. These led to A.21J jet sailplane (January 1972) and from this to C22J side-by-side light twin-jet trainer (21 July 1980). Agusta bought Caproni Vizzola 1983, name disappearing.

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