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CANT Z.2003 C.O.

Started by comrade harps, April 09, 2014, 04:05:52 AM

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comrade harps

CANT Z.2003 C.O.
Squadriglia "Dino Ballacci"
Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana
Belorussia, Februrary 1944

The CANT Z.2003 was designed in the late 1930s to a requirement of the Regia Marina for a carrier-capable dive bomber. Intended to operate from the carriers Aquila and Sparviero, the abandonment of these unfinished ships in mid-1943 made the 27 extant CANT Z.2003s surplus and they were transferred to the Regia Aeronautica. By now thoroughly obsolete, their new owners assigned the planes to meet an urgent German request for renewed Italian air support on the Eastern Front. When Italy surrendered to the Allies in early September 1943, the air and support crews of 357 Squadriglia were training in Germany, where their CANT Z.2003s had been converted to Z.2003 C.O. (Cannone Orientale - Eastern Cannon) standard, with Bordkanone BK 37 cannon pods, additional amour and German radios. Challenged as to their allegiances, the unit's personnel selected continued service with the Axis rather than face being interned.

Following Mussolini's rescue and the establishment of his Italian Social Republic in northern Italy, the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) was formed, incorporating 357 Squadriglia as the Squadriglia "Dino Ballacci". Dino Ballacci was a famous Italian fighter ace (16 kills) who had been presumed killed on the Eastern Front in August 1943 (he was actually taken prisoner and wouldn't be returned to Italy until November 1944).

Sent to Belorussia, Squadriglia "Dino Ballacci" entered combat on 17 November, 1943 and remained active until disbanded on 23 March, 1944 with just 3 airworthy planes left in service. Their primary role was to employ the Bk 37s against Red Army tanks, although trains, other vehicles and strong points were also attacked. Built to demanding carrier specifications, they proved capable of withstanding tremendous punishment but heavy operational use under harsh conditions lead to the unit's demise through irreplaceable attrition.

An unusual feature of the CANT Z.2003 C.O. was the retention of the out under-wing hardpoints. These were not used in combat, but had been kept to enable the carriage of luggage pods, as the Italians had anticipated a nomadic campaign of airfield hopping. This proved to be the case, as the unit retreated with the Red Army's advance across Belorussia and Ukraine and was shifted along the line to meet demand, ending up in Romania, where they were disbanded.

From the outset, the CANT Z.2003 C.O. was seen as an interim solution to providing an Italian anti-tank plane for the Eastern Front. They were meant to be replaced in early 1944 by a Bk 37-armed version of the Caproni Ca.337, itself a converted dive bomber. However, poor industrial output combined with a low priority given to the resulting Ca.337 C.O. meant only that 5 had been completed before the Caproni factory building them was bombed in April, 1944, terminating production.



Love it, and the shattered weathering look is cool  :thumbsup:
Going to be finished in 2021 BEFORE I start any da*!#d new ones - CF-IDS Wolverine; Douglas Mawson; Bubba Wants a Fishin' Rig; NA F-100

Against the Wall - Maton Dreadnought; Fender Telecaster; Epiphone Les Paul Studio


Yup, the white wash just looks right! Great result (and idea, too)!


I like that.  :thumbsup:

I've built a fair few ANR subjects mmyself
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

Captain Canada

Very nice. The weathering sure does give the look of an aeroplane that's been through a hard fought campaign ! Love the wing shape.

CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?



comrade harps

This one grew out of my Japnese AsiaRama obession last year, being an Airfix Aichi D3A1 Val purchased for its decals. As I was turning Italian and German planes into Japanese ones, I was collecting a surplus of Japanese kits that needed to return the favour and a load of German and Italian decals that were tugging on my little grey cells.

Thank you for your kind words about this build.


Excellent work.  It looks f**ked!
Well done.

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..