Fiat BR.20: the emperor’s new groove

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On February 1 1939 Chinese Nationalist forces of the 893rd corps located near Shayang shot down a low flying Japanese Fiat BR.20. This Br.20 was no ordinary BR.20 however. It was a special variant piloted by then famous Japanese pilot Major Yuzo Fujita and his copilot Lieutenant Fukujiro Takahashi carrying military personnel on a test flight to Hankou. It was supposedly a gift to the emperor of Japan by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and was named “Emperor (天皇)” by Mussolini himself. Colonel Hirotaro Watanabe (one of the personnel on this flight) was an envoy to Italy and helped Japan select the Br.20 as its next bomber and supposedly had a close relationship with Mussolini. Furthermore being a special aircraft it was apparently stripped of some of its bomber function and had lavish furnishings installed.
When nearby Chinese forces got near the crash site the Japanese crew had killed a boatman and stole his boat in their haste to make an escape. When trying to get them to surrender one of the Japanese crew members opened fire and a firefight ensued, killing all of the Japanese. The documents they carried were recovered and their bodies were stoned by local villagers for killing the boatman. They were then wrapped in cloth and buried.
As for the plane it was damaged but was repaired enough to be deemed flight worthy and a makeshift runway was made near the shore where it crashed. The destination this time would be the aircraft repair factories in Chengdu. The pilot for the flight was captain Lee Yong-Moo (이영무), who would later become one of the founders of the South Korean Airforce. Mud was smeared on the Japanese roundels so as to not get shot down by friendly AA fire, however as the plane got up to speed the mud flew away and Chinese AA crew near Yichang shot her down shortly afterwards. She was repaired again, this time repainted with Chinese roundels and headed off to Chengdu. When it got there further work was done by the eighth and eleventh aircraft repair factories to bring it back to its bomber state. Afterwards the refurbished BR.20 was shown off at an aviation exhibition nearby. Unfortunately the Japanese located its position and was bombed shortly afterwards.


Length: 16.17 m
Wingspan: 21.56 m
Height: 4.75 m

Net weight: 6500 kg
Total weight: 10,100 kg

Engine: 2 x Fiat A.80 RC.41 radial 18 cylinder air cooled engine, 1000 HP each

probably 2 x 7.7mm Breda Safat
1 x 12.7mm Breda Safat (In M.1 type turret)

1,000 lbs bombs

In game

In game it would perform more or less the same as the Italian Fiat BR.20 and would give low tier China more bomber variety. Coupled with its fairly interesting story it’d be a great aircraft to have in game either as a tech tree or premium vehicle.

Photo spam:



China Airforce Magazine Issue 28 June 1, 1939 (w/ English translation)


Capture the “Mikado”

The previous report was about a heavy bomber from the repair factory near Shayang in the east of Yichang. It was stated that it was an enemy aircraft observing the front line at the time. It was forced to land in our positions due to bad weather (or mechanical failure). In addition to the pilot and officers, there was additional personnel. While chasing them they attacked and frightened the villagers on a fishing boat. They tried to paddle across the mojiang river to escape but were intercepted by our local military police on both sides of the river bank. The enemies in the fishing boat attempted to retaliate using the machine gun detached from the plane but due to the significant firepower disparity at that time they were all immediately killed by our forces. After the aircraft was inspected and repaired by our personnel it flew to the rear at the beginning of this month (March) and was stored as a reference for display. The aircraft in question is the Italian made “Fiat No. 20” heavy bomber. We have successfully shot down over twenty of these planes in both Sichuan and Gansu. All of them were of this specific aircraft type.

It was a cloudy noon on the battlefield and suddenly amidst the fragments of warfare, we heard the distinct sound of an engine — a noise that allowed us to discern the type of aircraft. From the eastern sky, about eight hundred feet above, came a peculiar plane that seemed to be mocking us. We had encountered these before in the air. At that moment we all instinctively fixed our gaze on it. As it maneuvered twice in the space above us we got a clear view of everything about it. Despite its newly painted ‘party (KMT) insignia’ under both wings, it couldn’t hide the ‘red japanese flag’ mark at the top end of the wing tip (refer to the photo). Especially those two tail sections, both rudders, though they had also been repainted with our blue and white insignia, it was unmistakable, leading us to believe in the report of ‘flight intelligence.’ A murmur slipped out from our lips, 'This is the captured enemy aircraft, the Emperor’s aircraft!’

The next afternoon the weather gifted us with a drizzle, allowing us to reach the spot where it was parked, wet with rain. ‘Ah, ha, so that’s it! It’s not some remarkable thing after all!’ This was the first impression of an airborne warrior on it. ‘This is its blind spot!’ (refer to picture one) ‘Let me capture a photo of its blind spot for reference and research when we return… and then one from a closer distance to observe its rear firepower,’ I continued, following Captain Yuan’s lead.

Another evening the photos caught everyone’s attention and unanimously they all agreed… ‘This is exactly where we should target our attack.’ So let’s now discuss its capabilities and a general overview, as indicated in the picture, to allow comrades who haven’t seen its true face to study it so when they encounter it they can strike with precision.

Its name is ’ Fiat, B20.’ It’s an Italian product, the latest heavy bomber acquired after the complete destruction of the Kisarazu air group. It boasts two 1000-horsepower engines, a three-blade propeller, twin tail fins, retractable landing gear, cruising at 260 kilometers per hour, with a maximum speed of 360 kilometers per hour. It holds approximately 11 and a half hours of fuel. The upper part of the fuselage and wings is made of metal while the lower part is covered in canvas. It has fuel tanks mounted on both sides of the fuselage, between the engine and the fuselage. Additionally there are two smaller tanks between the pilot and the rear gunner, covered with rubber and wire mesh to reduce the risk of fire from bullet hits.

The nose is equipped with a small-caliber machine gun that can move within a 90-degree angle upwards, downwards, forwards, and approximately 180 degrees sideways. The mechanism appears to be electrically controlled but observation from the seat seems uncomfortable and inconvenient. Beneath the rear gun there is a smaller gun with limited movement radius and a manually loaded magazine, making precise shooting control seemingly challenging from that position. A larger-caliber gun seems to be mounted upwards at the rear (the gun has been removed, but judging by the loading mechanism, it appears smaller than the American Browning). It’s an improved automatic loader and the gun’s rotation, together with the gunner’s seat and windshield, is electrically controlled. Hence its range of motion covers a half-circle above and behind the aircraft but shooting directly upwards is inconvenient and there is limited movement to the front, rear, left, and right at an angle of about 30 degrees, due to the size of its tail and tail fins. The blind spots for shooting are considerable; attacking the dead zone of the twin tails is most advantageous, providing numerous aiming and attacking opportunities. There’s also a 45-degree dead zone in the front bottom (where the front gun cannot lower, the rear gun cannot raise, and the rear upper gun is obstructed by the fuselage and wings). However it lacks the coverage and shooting opportunities of the rear attack. The dead zones lie within the triangular plane formed by the two engines and the rear gun."

“This type of aircraft with its poor quality is prone to faults, thus limiting its ability to undertake consecutive missions. The previous bombing incidents, which resulted in significant damage, involved this particular aircraft type. Moreover in various locations around the beginning of this year similar incidents occurred multiple times. We successfully shot down five on 115 (January 15) in Chongqing (one near Chongqing, and the remaining four, damaged, were lost in the mountains). In Lanzhou we sequentially shot down fifteen on 210 (February 10) and 223 ( February 23). Our side incurred no losses in terms of personnel or aircraft. This stands as the greatest victory for our air force since the beginning of the resistance, marking a good omen to the second phase of our resistance. It further solidifies our position as leaders in the skies during this phase. With a pragmatic spirit we’ve set records by destroying enemy aircraft, resulting in the demise of 140 enemy aerial personnel. This signifies an auspicious start for us and marks the beginning of the enemy’s downfall. Comrades, let’s continue our efforts! Defend our nation’s airspace and retaliate against the attackers!”


If you have any more pics or information about the plane (especially in Japanese service or Italian records) please feel free to post it!




國軍虜獲機 FIAT BR.20(伊式重爆) @ gkjlai的部落格 :: 痞客邦 ::


作者: 萨苏

空小網友會: 抗戰時 中國的空軍


some photos about chinese BR.20.
A group photo about ROCAF pilots(left 1) with European foreigner.


the crowd watch Br.20
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nice thanks for the photo!

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+1 in the standard tech tree, since it’s not an overused aircraft.

+1 as this is not US, Japan or USSR plane for China. It give them pure Iternationality