Thursday, 31 March 2011

Breda-Zappata BZ 308

I must say I have never seen or heard of this rare beast before until recently.  The Breda-Zappata B.Z.308 was an Italian airliner produced by Breda. The aircraft designer Filippo Zappata developed a four-engined civil transport for operation over both European and transatlantic routes.

Construction of the Breda-Zappata B.Z.308 was started during 1946 at Breda's Sesto San Giovanni works. The allied control commission halted the work, which was not resumed until January 1947. Further delays in the delivery of Bristol Centaurus engines delayed the first flight, which was on the 27th August 1948, piloted by Mario Stoppani. The B.Z.308 was a large low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction; the fuselage had an oval cross-section. It had a large tailplane with endplate fins and rudders, retractable landing gear. Powered by four Bristol Centaurus radial engines driving five-bladed propellers. It was designed for a flight crew of five, and 55 passengers in two cabins, a high-density model was planned with seats for 80. Although flight testing went well, financial problems and the realization that competition from American-built airliners would take a major share of the post-war airliner market, along with the pressures to close down the Aeronautical section of the Breda industries as requested by the Marshall plan, led to the project being abandoned. Breda stopped producing airplanes subsequently. Despite orders in 1950 from India, Argentina and Persia, only the prototype was built, allegedly also due to pressure from the allies for Italy to refrain from competing in civilian aircraft manufacture after the war.

The single aircraft ended up with the Italian Air Force in 1950. Itwas used to fly between Rome and Mogadishu until one day, following damage during a poor landing, it was abandoned in a field in Somalia before being broken up in 1954. It was also the first Italian transatlantic aircraft, and the first aircraft to fly into the new Malpensa airport in 1948.

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