Savoia-Marchetti S.55

The Italian Savoia-Marchetti S. 55, a wooden twin-hulled flying boat of somewhat unconventional design, earned worldwide fame through a series of record-breaking long-distance flights. Named after its designer, Alessandro Marchetti, and the Savoia company that built it, the S.55 was initially intended as a torpedo bomber for Italy’s naval air force, the Regia Marina.
Its t wo engines were mounted back-to-back on pylons above the wing centre-section, which linked the twin hulls and incorporated the open pilots’ cockpit in its leading edge. Bombs, mines, or torpedoes were suspended beneath. A gun position was fitted in the rear of each hull and the tail surfaces were carried on booms extending aft from the hulls. Some 200 military S.55Ms were built, and the S.55C commercial version appeared in 1925. But the aircraft’s most prominent use was in highly publicized mass-formation flights mounted by Italy’s Secretary of State for Air, General Italo Balbo.
The most spectacular of these involved Atlantic crossings. In 1930 Balbo led 12 S.55As, with 750-hp Fiat engines, on a 6.500 – mile flight from Rome to Rio de Janeiro.This feat was surpassed in 1933 when no fewer than 25 S.55Xs flew from Rome to Chicago, landing on Lake Michigan. The round trip of 11,495 miles to Chicago and back was completed with the loss of only two aircraft.

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