The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes

By Joe Coles (editor)

A brand new illustrated book from the highly acclaimed Hush-kit online magazine.

Friday, 8 September 2023

The fighter with no nation, the Fiat G.56



The G.56 had the misfortune to emerge after the country it was built for had temporarily ceased to exist. Italy’s aircraft industry was wholly located in the new Italian Social Republic, formerly the north of Italy, which was a German puppet state nominally ruled by Mussolini. As a result Italian aircraft design and production after mid 1943 was largely undertaken under German oversight.

Fiat’s earlier G.55, of which some 300 were built, had been rated by a German test commission as the best fighter in the Axis and Kurt Tank (designer of the superlative Focke-Wulf Fw 190) had nothing but praise for the aircraft after he test flew one in late 1943. The G.56 was essentially the same airframe mated to a considerably more powerful Daimler Benz DB 603 engine, this engine was considered too large to be fitted into the Messerschmitt Bf 109, and the Fiat was seen as a leading contender to use it. Daimler Benz accordingly supplied three DB 603s to Fiat in Turin and the first prototype G.56 flew in March 1944.


It was clear from the start that this was a terrific fighter, it was very fast, with an official top speed of 426 mph (the highest to be attained by an Italian designed fighter during the war), yet it retained the superlative handling that had so impressed Tank and other German test pilots. Unlike most Italian fighters, it was very well armed with three (German) 20-mm cannon, one firing through the propeller hub, the others in the wings. In official tests it proved to be superior to the Messerschmitt Bf 109K, Bf 109G and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and there was considerable German interest in the aircraft at even the highest levels. However, Italian production methods were not up to German standards and the man-hours required to build the Fiat were seen as prohibitive. Furthermore German industry was producing precious few DB 603s as it was and supplying them to a potentially unreliable ally when Germany’s war was rapidly going downhill seemed an unacceptable risk.

As a result G.56 production was never seriously contemplated by the German authorities, the DB 603 was used in a modified Fw 190 instead (the Ta 152), and only two examples of Fiat’s brilliant fighter ever saw the light of day. 


Engine unavailable, 

No spare industrial capacity, 


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