Imperial Japanese Army Air Force


In July 1937, when Japan entered into full-scale war with China (the Second Sino-Japanese War), the Japanese Army Air Force found itself short of modern long-range bombers, pending the delivery of the Mitsubishi Ki-21 'Sally', which was undergoing prototype trials at the time, and thus required the interim purchase of aircraft from abroad. Italy was willing to give priority to any Japanese orders over its own requirements, and offered both the Caproni Ca.135 and the BR.20 bombers in order to meet their needs.

Following an evaluation of both aircraft by the Japanese, it was determined that while the Caproni could not meet the Japanese requirements, the BR.20 closely matched the specification. In addition, the BR.20 had acquired a positive reputation as a relatively fast and durable aircraft in combat during the Spanish Civil War. Accordingly, during late 1937, an initial order was placed by Japan for 72 BR.20s; this was soon followed by another order for a further 10 bombers.

During early 1938, the first BR.20 were shipped to Dalian, Liaoning, in Japanese-controlled Northeast China, after which they were transported on for assembly and flight testing purposes. In Japanese service, the BR.20 (designated the I-Type (Yi-shiki)) was used to supplement and eventually replace the obsolete Mitsubishi Ki-1, equipping a pair of bomber groups (the 12th and 98th Sentai) located in Manchuria. The I-Type was heavily deployed on long-range bombing missions against Chinese cities and supply centers during the winter of 1938–39. The BR.20s were operating with no fighter cover at the extremes of their range and consequently incurred heavy losses from Chinese fighters, as did the early Ki-21s that shared the long-range bombing tasks.

The fabric-covered surfaces were viewed as vulnerable, even if the main structure of this aircraft was noticeably robust. Apostolo stated of the negative coverage: 'This may not have in fact been true, as the BR.20s had a metal-skinned wing and not fabric covering as claimed in the Japanese Press at the time'. Amongst Japanese pilots, the aircraft was considered to possess unsatisfactory range and defensive armament; however, the first Ki-21s that entered service were not much better, except for their all-metal construction and the potential for further development when better engines became available (both types initially used two 746 kW/1,000 hp engines).

The 12th Sentai was redeployed to the Mongolian-Manchurian border to fight in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, but when this conflict ended, in September 1939, the BR.20s were progressively withdrawn and replaced by the Ki-21. Despite having been phased out from operational service, the BR.20 was allocated the Allied reporting name 'Ruth'.

 Flight Simulators

   IL-2 Sturmovik 'Cliff's of Dover' Blitz

   IL-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad

   DCS World - has no 3D model


Regia Aeronautica Aces (World War II)
Ace No of Kills
Teresio Vittorio Martinoli22 kills
Franco Lucchini22 kills (1 in Spain)
Leonardo Ferrulli21 kills (1 in Spain)
Franco Bordoni-Bisleri19 kills
Luigi Gorrini19 kills
Mario Visintini17 kills
Ugo Drago17 kills
Mario Bellagambi14 kills
Luigi Baron14 kills
Luigi Gianella12 kills
Attilio Sanson12 kills
Willy Malagola11 Kills
Carlo Magnaghi11 kills
Angelo Mastroagostino11 kills
Giorgio Solaroli di Briona11 kills
Mario Veronesi11 kills
Fernando Malvezzi10 kills
Giulio Reiner10 kills
Giuseppe Robetto10 kills
Carlo Maurizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa10 kills
Massimo Salvatore10 kills
Claudio Solaro10 kills
Ennio Tarantola10 kills
Giulio Torresi10 kills
Adriano Visconti10 kills


 Italy Map


    Fiat BR.20 Cicogna Notes

  1. This was a mission flown against night-flying Superfortresses flown by a single Ki-100 piloted by Capt Masashi Sumita of the 18th Sentai.

    Fiat BR.20 Cicogna Citations

  1. Bignozzi, p. 10.
  2. Gunston 1994, p. 221.
  3. Ethell 1995, p. 66.
  4. Ethell 1995, p. 67.
  5. Matricardi 2006, p. 257.
  6. Lembo 2003, p. 8-26.
  7. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 291.
  8. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 292.
  9. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 307.
  10. Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) - General Aviation World Records: History of General Aviation World Records List of records
  11. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 293.
  12. a b c Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 294.
  13. Taylor 1980, p. 384.
  14. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 308.
  15. De Marchi 1976, p. 6.
  16. Angelucci and Matricardi 1978, p. 197.
  17. De Marchi 1976, p. 7.
  18. "David Scott Malden." Retrieved: 7 December 2007.
  19. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 310.
  20. De Marchi 1976, p. 10.
  21. De Marchi 1976, p. 8.
  22. De Marchi 1976, p. 9.
  23. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 311.
  24. De Marchi 1976, p. 12.
  25. Green and Swanborough 1982, p. 312.
  26. Donald 1997, p. 407-408.
  27. Andersson 2008, p. 266.
  28. "Fiat BR.20" (in Spanish). Retrieved: 8 December 2007
  29. Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1998. ISBN 0-7607-1022-8.

    Fiat BR.20 Cicogna Bibliography:

  • Andersson, Lennart.A History of Chinese Aviation: Encyclopedia of Aircraft and Aviation in China until 1949. AHS of ROC: Taipei, Taiwan, 2008. ISBN 978-957-28533-3-7.
  • Angelucci, Enzo and Paolo Matricardi. World Aircraft: World War II, Volume I (Sampson Low Guides). Maidenhead, UK: Sampson Low, 1978. ISBN 0-562-00096-8.
  • Bignozzi, Giorgio. Aerei d'Italia (dal 1923 al 1972). Edizioni "E.C.A. 2000" Milano.
  • De Marchi, Italo. Fiat BR.20 cicogna. Modena, Editore S.T.E.M. Mucchi, 1976.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Aerospace Publishing. 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  • Ethell, L. Jeffrey. Aircraft of World War II. Glasgow, HarperCollins Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-00-470849-0.
  • Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon, eds. "Fiat BR.20... Stork à la mode". Air International Volume 22, No. 6, June 1982, pp. 290–294, 307–312. ISSN 0306-5634.
  • Gunston, Bill. Aerei della Seconda Guerra Mondiale. Milano, Alberto Peruzzo Editore, 1984.
  • "Il CAI sul Mare del Nord" (in Italian). RID magazine October 1990.
  • Lembo, Daniele. "Fiat BR.20 una Cicogna per la Regia" (in Italian). Aerei nella Storia n. 29, April–May 2003, West-ward edictions.
  • Matricardi, Paolo. Aerei Mililtari: Bombardieri e da Trasporto 2.(in Italian) Milano, Electa Mondadori, 2006.
  • Massiniello, Giorgio. "Bombe sull'Inghilterra" (in Italian). Storia Militare magazine n.1/2005.
  • Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II. London: Bounty Books, 2006. ISBN 0-753714-60-4.
  • Sgarlato, Nico. "Il Disastro del CAI" (in Italian). Aerei nella Storia magazine, June 2007.
  • Taylor, M.J.H. (ed). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Jane's, 1980. ISBN 1-85170-324-1.

    Magazine References: +

  • Airfix Magazines (English) -
  • Avions (French) -
  • FlyPast (English) -
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) -
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) -
  • Klassiker (German) -
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
  • Osprey (English) -
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) -

    Web References: +

  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


This webpage was updated 21st December 2021