In 1940 the Italian Ministry dedicated to aeronautical affairs issued a specification for the supply of a new hydroplane to be used in the role of maritime bomber to replace the old CANT Z.506. The CRDA CANT, the same as the CANT Z.506 and CANT Z.1007 bombers, through the engineer Zappata Filippo and at its construction was registered with the number M.M.23289, or the 12th of the IV production series. It made its first flight on August 3, 1940 with pilot Stoppani Mario (famous Italian aviator and test pilot of the time) and was found to be valid. In 1941 it was sent to the Experimental Center for seaplanes and naval armament but the competition for which it was created never came to an end and therefore the vehicle was sent back to the manufacturer and was reconverted as a land bomber.
The CANT Z.516 was fitted with three three-bladed P.XI RC.40 engines which were capable of delivering a power of 1,000 HP (735 kW) which allowed the vehicle to reach a maximum speed of no less than 415 km/h for a range of 1,500 km and a ceiling equal to 8,200 m of altitude.
The hydro-bomber was armed with two 12.7 mm Scotti machine guns positioned in the rotating dorsal turret and two 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT lateral ones. The bomb load was considerably reduced compared to the aircraft from which it was derived, i.e. the CANT Z.1007, but it still amounted to 800 kg of bombs.
Length: 18.38 m (60 ft 4 in)
Wingspan: 24.8 m (81 ft 4 in)
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Wing area: 75 m2 (810 sq ft)
Empty weight: 9,800 kg (21,605 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 13,600 kg (29,983 lb)
Powerplant: 3 × Piaggio P.XI R.C.40 liquid cooled inverted V-12, 750 kW (1,000 hp) each
Maximum speed: 415 km/h (258 mph, 224 kn)
Cruise speed: 365 km/h (227 mph, 197 kn)
Range: 1,500 km (930 mi, 810 nmi)
Service ceiling: 8,200 m (26,900 ft)
Armament: 2 × 12.7 mm (0.5 in) machine gun in rotating dorsal turret; 2 × 7.7 mm (0.303 in) hand controlled machine guns
Bombs: 800 kg