Macchi MC.72

Designed by Mario Castoldi, the MC.72 was the fastest piston-driven seaplane ever built, although it endured many setbacks before proving itself a world-beater. Macchi built this lean and deadly racer as Italy’s entry for the 1931 Schneider Trophy contest.
It was powered by a supercharged Fiat AS.6 engine, comprising two lightweight 12-cylinder Fiat AS.5s combined in tandem on a common crankcase, each driving one half of a contra-rotating propeller. This engine and propeller combination caused persistent problems. The seaplane’s maiden flight in June 1931 was aborted after two minutes. Then in August, in the run-up to the Schneider Trophy, a modified MC.72 crashed, killing its pilot. Italy was forced to withdraw from the contest. Before the end of the year another of the seaplanes had
exploded in the air during an attempt on the world speed record.
Undeterred, the Italians set about resolving the MC.72’s powerplant problems, a prolonged effort during which they enlisted the help of
British fuel expert Rod Banks. Finally, on 23 October 1933 Warrant Officer Francesco Agello, the last survivor of the experienced Macchi seaplane pilots, took the aircraft through the 438mph barrier to set a new absolute world speed record of 441mph. No piston-engined seaplane has ever been able to surpass his record.