The Reggiane Re.2002 was a ground attack aircraft developed from the Re.2001 fighter. Work began on the new aircraft during 1940, and it made its first flight in October 1940. The most obvious difference between the two aircraft was the engine. While the Re.2001 used a high performance inline engine based on the Daimler Benz DB 601, the Re.2002 reverted to a radial engine, the Piaggio P.XIX RC. 45 Turbine-B (Whirlwind). There were two reasons for this switch. Radial engines were generally less vulnerable to damage from small arms fire, lacking the complex liquid cooling systems used by the inline engines. Second, there were never enough of the license built DB 601s, and the Macchi C.202 had first call on them.
The new engines provided a similar level of power to the DB 601 at altitude, where the Re.2002 could reach a top speed of 329mph, only ten mph slower than that achieved by the Re.2001. However, at sea level the new aircraft could only reach 267mph.
The Re.2002 carried the same four machine guns (two 12.7mm and two 7.7mm) as the Re.2001. It had the capacity to carry one 650kg (1,422lb) bomb under the fuselage and one 160kg (352.7lb) bomb under each wing, for a total payload of 970kg (2,138lb).
Reggiane received orders for 500 Re.2002s in two batches, although only around 225 were actually completed. Of those aircraft 76 were completed for the Germans after the Italian surrender. The first airframes were complete by the end of 1941. However, problems with the engines meant that the Re.2002 did not reach front line squadrons until July 1942.
The Re.2002 saw service with three different air forces. It entered front line service with the Regia Aeronautica in time to suffer heavy losses opposing the allied landings on Sicily. After the Italian surrender, the Luftwaffe used the Re.2002 against the French resistance, including the maquis of the Vercors plateau in south eastern France. Finally, the Co-Belligerent Air Force, fighting alongside the Allies in Italy, used 40 Re.2002s for ground attack missions in support of partisans in northern Italy and the Balkan.
Engine: Piaggio P.XIX RC.45 14-cylinder air-cooled radial
Span: 36 ft 1in
Length: 26ft 9.5in
Max Speed: 329mph at 18,000ft, 267mph at sea level
Range: 684 miles
Armament: two 12.7mm and two 7.7mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns
Payload: One 160kg (352lb) bomb under each wing and one 650kg (1,422lb) bomb under the fuselage for a total of 2,095lbs. Alternately it could also carry one torpedo.