Initially developed by Savoia-Marchetti as a transport, the aircraft had evolved into a dedicated medium bomber by the time the S.79-I made its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During World War 2, it became Italy's most successful bomber, and the most produced, with around 1370 built between 1936 and early 1944. Although initially hampered by poor tactics, the S.79 bomber crews nonetheless scored sunk a number of Allied vessels, and provided a constant threat to Allied sailors in the Mediterranean in the early stages of the war. In East Africa and the Red Sea the Sparvieri were the most modern bombers in-theatre, proving a challenge to RAF and SAAF biplane fighters.
Using specially commissioned full-colour artwork, first-hand accounts and historic photographs, this volume chronicles the history of the S.79's war in the Mediterranean, North African, Balkan, and East African theatres.
A native of Rome, Marco Mattioli has been interested in military history since he was a teenager. In 1992 he joined the Italian National Journalist Order, after which he was employed as a writer for several leading Italian history publishers. A contributor to many important Italian history and defence magazines, as well as the author of a number of books on Italian military aviation, he wrote Osprey Aviation Elite Units 38: 53 Degrees Stormo and Osprey Combat Aircraft 106: Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Torpedo-Bomber Units. Richard Caruana is a Malta-based artist whose profile artwork is well known, and respected, in aviation modelling periodicals such as Scale Aviation Modelling and Scale Models. He has illustrated all of Osprey Aviation's Italian World War 2 titles.
Chapter 1 - Combat debut in Spain /Chapter 2 - 1940: War against France /Chapter 3 - Sparvieri over Malta and the Mediterranean, 1940-42 /Chapter 4 - Greece and the Balkans, 1940-41 /Chapter 5 - Sparvieri over the Desert, 1940-43 /Chapter 6 - Over East Africa and Red Sea, 1940-41 /Chapter 7 - Sparvieri in Transport roles /Appendices: A) S.79 bomber units, B) Awards to Italian S.79 crewmen and notable pilots, C) Allied warships hit by S.79s, D) Allied merchant ships hit by S.79s, E) Colour Plates Commentary