Fiat C.R.42 first flew in 1933, with some 1 309 being built and was a refinement of the C.R.30 being much smaller and faster.  This aircraft proved to be an excellent biplane fighter, being fast, robust and nimble and armed with two 7.7mm machine guns mounted on the side of the cowling.  It was easily recognizable with its closely cowled engine, annular radiator beneath the propeller and Warren wing bracing and cockpit well behind the wing.  This aircraft performed very well during the Spanish Civil War on 1939 but unfortunately, Italy neglected to continue with further development of modern fighters.

During 1940, some 294 of these aircraft were still in front line service primarily in North and East Africa but the South African Air Force and Royal Air Force Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hurricane fighters easily out performed this aircraft and defeated large numbers of them during aerial combat.  The superiority that the Fiat C.R.32 fighter had enjoyed in Spain had been quickly eclipsed.  During and after the Campaign in East Africa (1940-1941), a large variety of captured Italian military equipment including a number of Fiat A-30 engines, was sent back to the Union of South Africa for testing, evaluation and in many cases, used for instructional purposes.

The engine on display is recorded as having come from 65 Air School at Youngsfield in Cape Town.  This engine was disposed of to a scrap yard at Salt River during 1945 and recovered again by the SAAF Museum in November 1980.

Technical Details

Engine: 600 hp (440kW) Fiat A.30 RA 12 Cylinder Engine in V Configuration
Speed:  233 mph (375 km/h)
Operating Ceiling: 28 800 ft (8800 m)
Range: 422 miles (680km)