Italian Arms & accomplishments in WW2 have often been derided. This is sometimes unfair, and the S.M.79 achieved a record in action that speaks well of it's toughness and of the courage of it's crews. It was by far the most important Italian offensive Warplane of the conflict, and was one of the few Italian machines to be produced in substantial quantities. The famous company SIAI Savoia-Marchetti, which had been responsible for many Bombers, Airliners & Flying Boats, had by the 1930's come to the conclusion that the preferred number of engines for Bombers & Transports was 3. In early 1934 its management decided that, despite the great success of a design which gave rise to the S.M.73 Airliner and S.M.81 Bomber and Multi-Role Military Machine, they could manufacture a more modern and faster aircraft with a more highly loaded wing and retractable Landing Gear. This was the S.M.79, and the prototype, with Civil Registration I-MAGO, flew for the first time in late October 1934. Within a few months it was re-equipped with Alpha Romeo 125 Engines with greater power (750 hp each) and quickly set an impressive list of World Class Records for speed, Useful Load & Distance. Like most Italian aircraft of the day the S.M.79 had mixed construction. The Fuselage was welded from Steel Tubing, the covering being Light Alloy forward, part Light Alloy and part Plywood on top and Fabric elsewhere. The wing was all wood, and it's small size was offset by trailing edge flaps & drooping ailerons & leading edge slats. Over the next 4 years various engines were fitted for Italian & export customers, and for some countries twin engined versions were produced. The Iraq Bomber variant of 1938 had 1000 hp FIAT A80 engines and a glazed nose for the bomb-aimer, while the Romanian version used on the Eastern Front in 1942 had 1300 hp Jumo 211 engines and was as fast as the Tri-Motors. The first major production model for the Regia Aeronautica was the S.M.79-I, all types of the Aircraft having the name "Sparviero" (Sparrowhawk). Production built up fast from December 1936, and most of the early 79-I bombers served with the Aviacion Legionaria in the Spanish Civil War, soon achieving an impressive reputation. The normal crew comprised 2 pilots side by side, a radio operator and flight engineer further back (The latter manning the dorsal gun) and a bomb-aimer in the lower rear compartment. The bomb-aimer had a ventral blister in which he either lay prone or else stood with his legs in 2 retractable fairings projecting vertically downwards. He had comprehensive instruments and his own temporary rudder control during the bombing run, plus automatic camera. First flown in October 1939, the much more powerful S.M.79-II was the chief war-time version, built not only by the parent company but also by Aeronautica Macchi and OM Reggiane. This ensured output that more than kept pace with attrition and enabled the Regia Aeronautica to build up a formidable "Sparviero" force, of which a growing proportion were "Aerosiluranti" (Air Torpedo) Squadrons. These units were amongst the hardest-worked in the mediterranean theatre, and by mid 1943 had sunk 86 Allied ships totalling 708,500 tonnes. The final production model was a highly refined machine, because, though it had less powerful engines, the 79-III was if anything faster than earlier versions and also had a greater fuel capacity and longer range. Manufacture continued at much reduced rate until 1944. By this time the once proud force of the Regia Aeronautica had been dispersed or shot down. Some Sparvieros were sequestrated on the spot by the Luftwaffe and used with German or Italian crews as regular Luftwaffe Utility Transports. Some served in the newly created ARSI, the Air Arm of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana which continued to fight on the side of the Axis. A few found their way to the Allied side and served with the Co-Belligerent Air Force against German Forces. S.M.79's in formation, S.M.79-II with Torpedoes on the ground & Airborne.