Gabriele D'Annunzio's S.V.A. 5 biplane, Cristoforo Colombo Airport, Genoa

Friday, November 02, 2001 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Across the Carnic Alps, the self-styled warrior-poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, flew with eleven Ansaldo biplanes of the 87a Squadriglia, in a dramatic long-distance bombing raid on Vienna, August 9, 1918. They arrived over the ancient capital of the Hapsburgs and rained down a lethal storm of ... leaflets ... encouraging the Viennese to go on strike.

The S.V.A. 5 was a fairly standard-looking biplane, its most recognizable features being the "W" shaped wing struts and the boxy, tapered fuselage that flattened out and practically merged with the tail fin. Powered by a 220-hp SPA 6A engine, it was fast enough and capable enough to take on multiple roles: bombing, reconnaissance, and fighting. It was of conventional fabric-covered wood construction.

Early Italian biplanes, such as the Savola-Pomillo, were unsuccessful. In 1916, designers Umberto Savola, Rodolfo Verduzio, and Celestino Rosatelli started from scratch, and laid out a new aircraft. Societa Ansaldo of Genoa and Turin, "Ansaldo," got the contract to build the planes and started in the prototype in December, 1916. After modifications to the radiator and the tail, the Ansaldo's workers at the Borzoli Mare factory, under director Brezzi, finished the first machine in March, 1917.