Savoia-Marchetti SM81 Pipistrello radio-controlled trimotor model airplane (Denis Hefford)

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Savoia-Marchetti SM81 Pipistrello radio-controlled trimotor model airplane (Denis Hefford)

Savoia-Marchetti SM-81 Pipistrello radio-controlled trimotor aeroplane (Denis Hefford).jpg (i)
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Arch Two , Area 72
Arch Two, Overhead

A radio-controlled model of an Italian trimotor Savoia-Marchetti SM81 Pipistrello airplane. It's displayed overhead in Arch Two, near Puppet Corner.

Large SM.81 Pipistrello flying model

The Savoia-Marchetti SM-81

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 Pipistrello (Italian for "bat") bomber and military transport aircraft appeared in 1935, and participated in Italian conflicts in 1935/36, and then World War Two from 1939 onwards.

Adapted from a commercial SM passenger plane design, the Pipistrello was an adaptable workhorse (comparisons might be drawn with the American DC-10), and although it wasn't as fast as other planes that were in service by WW2, a number of Pipistrellos survived the war and remained useful planes afterwards.

The model shows the sightly jarring cylindrical upper gun emplacement - on other SM aircraft such as the later SM.79 Sparrowhawk (1937), an upper gun emplacement tended to be implemented as a smoothed "hump".


The plane carries the markings for 11 Squadriglia, 26 Gruppo, 9 Stormo 11 Squadriglia, 26 Gruppo, 9 Stormo, stationed in Ethiopia in 1936. It's sand-coloured, but with high-visibility red stripes across the upper leading surfaces of the wings, to make the plane easier for rescue teams to spot if it had to ditch in the desert.

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