Aviation Historian 4
R.Simpson - The Riviera Touch
A superb Kodachrome image of Riviera c/n 0103, which was bought factory-fresh by a Norwegian owner in September 1965 and registered LN-NPA. It is seen here in September 1966 at a fly-in in Belgium, where it would be put on the civil register as OO-HPA in 1968. It subsequently went to Finland as OH-SRA but was destroyed in a crash in May 1989.
Riviera c/n 104, I-SIAI, in a variation of the standard colour scheme at Hannover Air Fair in May 1962. This aircraft was written off after an accident in April 1966.
The first prototype FN.333 at the Nardi factory, with its original rounded fins and undercarriage arrangement. Both of these, and the window configuration, would be changed on the FN.333-S.
The mainwheels of the first prototype retracted by means of a complex sequence of movements into wells set above the hull and below the engine compartment. This was simplified in later production Rivieras, on which the mainwheels were accommodated in the hull within a blister fairing.
Closely resembling the better-known Republic Seabee, the arguably more graceful Nardi FN.333 was a fine amphibian in its own right, although it was not to enjoy the healthy sales of the Seabee. This early production example wears the Italian equivalent of B Conditions markings, the prefix I-RAI being applied by the Registro Aeronautica Italiano (RAI) to aircraft under test.
A production FN.333 in the attractive red, white and black colour scheme that came as factory standard. To capitalise on the perception of the stylish Italian amphibian as a sophisticated European item of desire for the American market, the name Riviera was chosen and incorporated into the colour scheme.
One of only three currently airworthy Rivieras, VH-SAV (c/n 0101) was the first of the second and final production batch. It was sold in September 1964 to an owner in Australia, where it still flies.
The second of the FN.333-S production prototypes, I-EUST, which was built by Fiat in Turin and first flew in October 1956. Note the absence of a water rudder at the stern of the hull (this was added later) and the revised squared-off fins.
The prototype extends its undercarriage before coming ashore at the Linate seaplane base, close to the Nardi factory in Milan, in 1953. The prototype was fitted with a two-bladed Aeromatic air-controlled automatic variable-pitch propeller, but three-bladers were fitted to most production FN.333s.
The Riviera’s wide doors made the sometimes challenging embarkation and disembarkation from a waterborne aircraft relatively simple, although the type never adopted the Republic Seabee’s “docking/fishing door” in the nose.
The cockpit of one of the FN.333-S prototypes, the first of which (possibly given the temporary registration I-RAIE) made its first flight in December 1954. The view from the amphibian’s cabin was excellent, both the engine and the high wing being above and behind the occupants.
The FN.333 was of all-metal construction with a cantilever wing. The hull was built with nine watertight compartments, each of which could be separately inspected and drained. During the refinement of the airframe to production standards the thickness of the skinning was increased as a result of a change from metric gauges to American standards, resulting in a very robust airframe stressed to 8·5g.
This scale drawing of the FN.333 comes from an unidentified Eastern European modelling magazine of the 1960s/1970s.