Aviation Historian 28
G.Alegi - From Furniture to Fighter
This photograph, found in Francesco Ferrarin’s personal album in the ITAF Museum archives in the 1980s, was the first evidence of the then-unidentified fighter, which resembled a hypothetical Nieuport-Delage Ni.62 parasol-winged derivative. In part owing to the aircraft’s complete lack of markings, it would remain something of a mystery until 2010.
Possibly the only pilot to fly the Molteni monoplane, Capitano Francesco Ferrarin (cousin of the more famous Arturo) had been a reconnaissance pilot during the Great War, flying with the 87a Squadriglia. By 1943 he had risen to the rank of Colonel and honorary aide-de-camp to His Majesty King Victor Emmanuel III.
Taliedo airfield, near Milan, was home to the main Caproni factory, a Regia Aeronautica communications flight and the Milan Aero Club. The spectators gathered around the Molteni in this photograph at Taliedo suggest that it may have been taken on the occasion of the aircraft’s first flight, although exactly when that was is unknown. Note the original belly-mounted radiator for the Fiat A.20 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine.
Test flights of the sole Molteni monoplane revealed the need for various changes, including the fitting of the reinforced undercarriage visible here. By May 1929 the aircraft had been fitted with a horseshoe-style radiator, in place of the belly radiator seen here, presumably to reduce drag. No performance figures are recorded, but the large wing and inelegant drag-inducing radiator would suggest somewhat lacklustre speed and agility.
A poor-quality but rare photograph of the Molteni in flight at Taliedo. The type was also flown at the Montecelio test centre, near Rome, during its military acceptance flights. Silhouetted clearly against the Milan sky here, the original undercarriage was later replaced with the sturdier arrangement.
Bearing no markings of any kind, the Molteni is seen here at Taliedo during its test programme, with its original undercarriage and spoked mainwheels. With virtually no experience of aircraft manufacture, Molteni probably relied on the well-developed aviation supply network in the Milan-Varese region for specialist parts.