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Fiat BR. 20

Aircraft in Focus Series
Pawel Babinski
Books International, 1999
ISBN 83-7219-058-5
Aviation Usk Price: $15.95

Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl

The Fiat BR. 20 was a workhorse for Italy during the early years of the war. A classic design dating back to the early 1930s. The design focus was on a fast plane with a long range and by developing it off of an existing airliner Fiat was able to best its competitors and put the BR. 20 on the table first.

The life of this twin-engined bomber is an interesting one. It performed admirably in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and that performance led Japan to order 72 BR.20s to use in combat over China. These were delivered and again performed well, suffering only when facing huge odds. But by the time the Second World War kicked off in Europe, the BR.20 was already starting to feel its age. During the Battle of France the plane did well but suffered against the fighters of the French Air Force. This was made even more obvious as the war moved on and the BR.20 found itself facing Spitfires and Hurricanes. Still, the speed of the plane and the courage of the crews led many BR.20s to succeed in their planned missions.

This book does an excellent job of covering the life of this plane, both in combat history and in technical notes. There are lots and lots of photographs, all black and white, that show this plane in all areas of conflict, including the Spanish Civil War and in Japanese service. The technical overview is punctuated with close-up photos as well, and a complete set of scale drawings are also included. Rounding out this nice collection is a series of color profile illustrations showing the wide variety of color schemes worn by the Fiat BR. 20.

If you're interested in Italian aviation, or just successful twin-engined bombers, this is definitely a book you'll want to pick up.

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