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Savoia-Marchetti SM 81

by Edmundo Abad


Savoia-Marchetti SM 81


Supermodel's 1/72 scale SM 81
is  available online from Squadron.com




The Savoia-Marchetti SM 81 was an Italian three-engined, fixed gear Bomber/Transport. It started its career in the 1930s, flying with the Regia Aeronáutica in Abyssinia campaign and with the Aviazione Legionaria in Spanish Civil War.

This aircraft was developed from SM 73 civilian airliner before the Second World War.

With fixed landing gear and low speed, the SM 81became obsolete from the moment of Ital’s entry to the Second World War. Although its mixed construction made it so robust that it could absorb remarkable damage in combat, it was soon replaced in the bomber role by the S.M. 79.


Production of the SM 81 stopped in March of 1938, after 534 exemples had been delivered. The 304 that remained in service were used for troop transport (18 men). In this role, S.M. 81 was relegated to operating in North Africa and AOI (Africa Orientale Italiana) , where she demonstrated herself useful enough that production resumed in 1943. This versión was designated S.M. 81/T.

The Italian armistice in September of 1943 meant that only 80 of these additional aircraft were constructed, of which only four they remained in south Italy. At least two complete units from transport still came equipped with this material in the R.S.I. (in Italy of the North called Reppublica Sociale Italiana).

As a historical curiosity, it is worth remembering that a S.M. 81 was used as the personal aircraft of il Duce, Benito Mussolini. This versión received the unsuitable name of "turtle".

Various radial engines were employed, comprising the Alpha Romeo 125 RC 35 or 126 RC 34 respective from 650 HP and 680 HP, or Piaggio P.X RC.35 from 670 HP.







3 Alfa Romeo 125 R.C. 35 of 650 HP





340 Km/h to 1000 m operating
7000 m
2000 Km


Max to the takeoff 


5800 Kg
10.500 Kg


Wing span
Wing Surface


24 m
17.8 m
4.45 m
92.8 m˛




5 Breda-SAFAT machine-guns from 7.7 milimeters and 2000 kg of bombs.

(Source: Italian Wings – Nei Cieli di Guerra, Giorgio Apostolo Editori, Milano, Italia. And others)



The Model

This is my Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 Pipistrello (Bat) from Supermodel in 1:72 scale. It is finished as a Night Bomber of 218 Squadriglia of Italian Regia Aeronáutica.

The SUPERMODEL kit of SM 81 is molded in soft yellow plastic and is moderately detailed. I took one year and four months to assemble it.


The cockpit is made up of a base with two pilot seats & figures, control columns and an instrument panel with decal sheet. Two gunner/bomber is also provided for the foward and central fuselage post. The model has nicely detailed engines, machine guns, moveable turrets and separate control surfaces.

There are two versions. A version with Piaggio engines and other with Alfa Romeo engines. I built the Alfa Romeo version.



Painting and Decals

I used Humbrol colors to made Italian Continental Camoufage (without spots): Matt Dark Green 33 for the upper surfaces, Matt Light Grey 65 for the bottom and others for details.

The decals are of the 218 Squadriglia, Night Bomber of Italian Regia Aeronáutica, provided with the model. (For this version, the decals are too provided by Sky Models).


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Description and Images Copyright © 2001 by Edmundo Abad
Page Created 28 September, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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