Aeritalia G.91

From Academic Kids

The Aeritalia G.91, also known as the Fiat G.91 and nicknamed Gina was an Italian fighter aircraft that was intended to serve as standard equipment for NATO air forces in the 1960s. It was eventually only adopted by three - the Italian Air Force, West Germany's Luftwaffe, and the Portuguese Air Force but enjoyed a long service life that extended over thirty-five years.

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Contents

Development

In 1953, European aircraft manufacturers were invited by NATO to submit aircraft for evaluation for the "LWSF" (Light Weight Strike Fighter) role. The aircraft first flew on August 1 1956 and the competing designs were evaluated in 1957. Besides the G.91, these included the Northrop N156, Dassault Etendard IV, Sud-Est Baroudeur, Aerfer Ariete and Bregeut Taon. Despite the G.91's impressive performance in trials, the French government preferred to pursue development of the locally-designed Etendard, and the British government ignored the competition to concentrate on Hawker Hunter production for the same role. In fairness, it should also be pointed out that the Italian government also ordered the G.91 for the Italian Air Force before the results of the competition were known. (These pre-production machines would later go on to serve for many years with the Italian aerobatic team, the Frecce Tricolori).

Service history

Aeritalia built 174 G.91s for Italy, plus 144 for Germany (including 50 that had been ordered and then cancelled by Greece and Turkey). Another 294 were built in Germany by Flugzeug-Union Süd (a consortium of former competitors Messerschmitt, Heinkel, and Dornier). The type was also considered by Austria, Norway, Switzerland, and even the United States Army, which briefly evaluated the type as a possible Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft before relinquishing all fixed-wing aircraft operations to the USAF.

From 1961, Portugal began to purchase the G.91 to deploy to her former African colonies of Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Angola in the close-support role. The first 40 were purchased second-hand from the Luftwaffe out of the aircraft that had originally been produced for Greece and which differed from the rest of the Luftwaffe G.91s sufficiently to create maintenance problems. The aircraft replaced the F-86 Sabres, which were withdrawn following US protests over the use of these aircraft that had originally been supplied for defensive purposes. Portuguese G.91s continued in this role until the withdrawal from Africa in 1975.

Portugal finally phased out the last of her G.91s in 1993, and Italy in 1995. There are numerous examples preserved in museums around the world.

Users

  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Angola

Variants

Trainer and reconnaissance variants were produced right from the start of G.91 production, but the basic design of the aircraft remained virtually unchanged throughout almost the entire production run of the aircraft.

G.91Y

An additional 67 aircraft built by Aeritalia were significantly uprated from earlier versions. These aircraft, designated G.91Y replaced the original Britol Siddeley Orpheus engine with two General Electric J85 units. The G.91Y first flew in 1966 and displayed a vast improvement in speed, range, payload, and maneuverability. It increased maximum speed to 600 kt (1,110 km/h, 690 mph, Mach 0.91). The machine guns were replaced by a pair of DEFA 552 30mm cannon with 125 rounds per gun.

Specifications (G.91R)

General Characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: 10.3 m (33 ft 9 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.56 m (28 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 4.0 m (13 ft 1 in)
  • Wing area: 16.4 m² (177 ft²)
  • Empty: 3,100 kg (6,830 lb)
  • Loaded: 5,440 kg (11,990 lb)
  • Maximum takeoff: 5,500 kg (12,100 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1x Bristol Siddeley Orpheus 803, 22.2 kN (4,990 lbf) thrust

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 1,075 km/h (668 mph)
  • Range: 1,150 km (715 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 13,100 m (43,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 30 m/s (6,000 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 331 kg/m² (67.8 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/Weight: 0.42 lbf/lb, 4.1 N/kg

Armament

  • 4x 12.7 mm Browning machine guns
  • up to 500 kg (1,100 lb) of bombs, rockets, or gunpods on four underwing pylons

Related content

Comparable aircraft: F-5 Freedom Fighter - Folland Gnat


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