Photos : Serge Van Heertum - S.B.A.P.

Text : Marc Arys - S.B.A.P.
courtesy of Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI)


(Serge Van Heertum through courtesy of AMI)

Italian Military Aerobatic School originated towards the end of the 1920's at Campoformido Airport, home of the Regia Aeronautica's 1st Fighter Wing.
The Commanding officer, Colonel Rino Corso Fougier, an aviation pioneer who first introduced aerobatics to military formation flying, managed to convince Regia Aeronautica's General Staff that a fully operational pilot could get the most out of his airplane in any aerial combat situation only if he stepped up his aerobatic skills, mastering his aircraft.
From that moment on many teams were formed within fighter units, all being committed with both training and formation display flying tasks, ready to perform in the most important air shows in Italy and abroad.
Many still recall teams such as Diavoli Rossi (Red Devils - not to be confused with the Belgian team flying the CM 170 Fouga Magister), Lanceri Neri (Black Lancers), Getti Tonanti (Thunder Jets), Cavallino Rampante (Rampant Horse), that have became legends in the world of military aerobatic formations. In 1961 the Air Force General Staff decided it was time to form a pemanent team made up of Italy's finest and most talented pilots. The location chosen to host the team was Rivolto A.F.B. in the North Eastern Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and by March of the same year, under the superb leadership of Major Mario Squarcina, the "313th Aerobatic Training Squadron", dubbed the "Frecce Tricolori" (litterally the Three Coloured Arrows) was officially inaugurated.
Today, boasting a ten ship formation (9 plus a solo), the "Frecce Tricolori" are the world's largest military aerobatic team and is regarded by many as being one of the most prestigious.
From the day it was formed the team has been welcomed and adopted by the people of Friuli Venezia Giulia as party of their society.


Aermacchi MB-339A/PAN (Serge Van Heertum through courtesy of AMI)


The actual mount of the 'Frecce Tricolori" is the Aermacchi MB-339A/PAN. The MB-339 jet trainer, produced by Aermacchi SpA of Varese, Italy, is in service with various air forces of a.o. Argentina, Dubai, Eritrea, Ghana, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria and Peru. The MB-339A, equipped with a Viper 632 engine,  was initially developed as a jetpowered trainer aircraft to cover the basic and advanced training requirements of the Italian Air Force flying schools. It has flown nearly 500.000 flying hours in different operational and climatic environments.

Main characteristics :

Maximum take-off weight : 5.900 kg Wing span : 10,25 m
Take-off weight : 4.315 kg Lenght : 10,97 m
Service ceiling : 14.630 m Height : 3,55 m
Maximum load factor : + 7g / - 3 g Take-off speed : 105 KIAS (195 km/h)
Time to 30.000 feet : 7'15" Landing speed : 98 KIAS (181 km/h)


Walkaround - 1


Aermacchi MB-339A/PAN   On the flight line

Beautiful tail line-up
    Pilot getting into his G-suit
Pilot fully equipped    

Strapped in and ready to go
    Logo on the aircraft in 2001
celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 'Frecce'
Nose detail with antenna and pitot-tubes   Head-on with view onto the nosewheel
Auxiliary fuel tanks   Fuel tank and flaps full down
Martin Baker Mk IT 10LK ejection seat   Detail of the headrest of the Mk IT 10LK
Detail of the static air port (probe)
Forward cockpit panel    


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