After the start of the Cold War, the North Atlantic Alliance was created in 1949. NATO’s declared goal was to "enhance stability and improve well-being in the North Atlantic region." However, as the first NATO Secretary General Ismay Hastings frankly put it, the real purpose of creating the organization was "... to keep the Russians aside, the Americans inside, and the Germans under ..."
Initially, the armies of the Western European states that were part of the organization were equipped mainly with American-made equipment and weapons. However, by the first half of 50's, in order to reduce the financial burden on the US and develop their own industry, the design and engineering schools, Italy and Germany received permission to develop some of their own weapons.
At the end of 1953, NATO military analysts based on data on the use of combat aviation in the Korean War developed requirements for a light single-seat aircraft supporting ground forces - NATO Basic Military Requirement No. 1 (abbreviated as NBMR-1). In the first half of 1954, this document was sent to all interested European and American aircraft manufacturers.
The aircraft, created under this program, was to inflict air strikes on enemy force groupings in tactical depth, airfields, ammunition depots and fuel and lubricants and act on communications. In addition, the characteristics of maneuverability and the view from the cockpit should have allowed the effective destruction of moving targets on the battlefield, as well as small sea targets. A promising aircraft was supposed to be able to conduct defensive air combat with existing and prospective Soviet fighters at low and medium altitudes. The pilot of the aircraft was supposed to be covered with frontal bulletproof glass, and also to have protection of the lower and rear walls of the cabin. Tanks with fuel, fuel lines and other important equipment were proposed to be placed in areas that were least vulnerable to shelling from the ground.
NATO generals wanted a plane with flight characteristics at the level of the American F-86 Saber, but more adapted for operations at low altitudes and having a better view forward — down. The avionics of the fighter-bomber should have been as simple as possible and include: a radio station, a friend-and-friend system, as well as TAKAN short-range navigation system equipment or a simple radio compass. The installation of the radar was not provided for the use of small arms and guns was supposed to use a gyroscopic sight.
The composition of the built-in weapons was not strictly regulated, it could be 4-6 machine guns of 12,7-mm caliber with 300 ammunition for cartridges per barrel, two 20-mm or 30-mm guns with ammunition for 200 and 120 shells, respectively. The aircraft was supposed to be able to suspend 12 unguided 76-mm missiles, or two 500-pound (225) kg bombs, or two napalm tanks, or two suspended machine-gun containers, weighing up to 225 kg each.
In other words, it required the cheapest possible combat aircraft with optimal combat data at altitudes up to 4000 meters, while being able to stand up for themselves in air combat. The competition was attended by leading European aircraft manufacturers. Projects were funded by the United States, France and Italy. After a preliminary review of all options, the AGARD Commission (the Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development - the advisory group for aviation research and development) selected three projects for building aircraft in metal and testing.
By 1957, the finalist firms had to build three prototypes each for comparative tests. The winning company received a contract for the construction of 1000 aircraft. The finalists who most closely meet the tactical and technical requirements include Italian FIAT G.91, as well as French Dassault Mystere 26 (future Еtendard IV) and Вг. 1001 Taop. The Northrop N-156 made a serious competition for these machines (on its basis, the T-38 TC and the F-5A fighter were created).
Dendard IV bomber
Experienced fighter-bomber Vg. 1001 Taano
The final competitive tests on the territory of the test center in Bretigny-sur-Orge passed in September 1957. Unlike its competitors, G.91 performed test flights ideally and was declared the winner of the competition. An important factor contributing to the victory was its low cost.
However, initially, the combat aircraft of the company Fiat was not all cloudless. The prototype G.91, which made the first flight of 9 on August 1956 of the year, crashed in the next test flight of 7 in February of 1957 of the year due to the flutter of the plumage. Test pilot Riccardo Bignmini safely ejected at an altitude of 900 meters. After this accident, the French government abandoned plans to adopt the Italian fighter-bomber and decided to develop its own Dassault Etendard. In addition, the British lobbied hard at the NATO leadership level for their Hawker Hunter as the main combat aircraft of the Allied air forces of the countries of the alliance. Great support in adopting G.91 was provided by the leadership of Italy, who ordered an experimental batch of aircraft for rapid assessment, without waiting for the results of the competition.
G.91 prototype for the first time detached from the runway in Turin
The flight data recorders survived the collision of the aircraft with the ground, and the specialists were able to carry out a detailed analysis of the causes of the incident. American and French scientists took an active part in this. A detailed study of the airflow conditions around the keel and the stabilizer in wind tunnels was carried out. By the time of the final tests, the Italian engineers were able to eliminate most of the shortcomings and bring the aircraft to an acceptable level of technical reliability. After losing the first prototype, a number of changes were made to the G.91 design. Increased tail area improved handling. Raised 50 mm lantern increased visibility from the cockpit.
The letter G in the designation of the aircraft appeared thanks to the project manager Giuseppe Gabrielli. Before the creation of G.91, this designer was already known as the creator of the first Italian jet TCB G.80. When designing G.91, in order to speed up and reduce the cost of work, a number of technical solutions borrowed from the American F-86K were used. Saber was produced in Italy from the middle of 1955. Italian G.91 was a lot like the 15% American fighter. The “Italian” had a similar low-lying wing with an 35 ° sweep along the 25 line of percent of the chords with a relative thickness from 6 to 6,6%. The built-in armament of the first version included four 12,7-mm machine guns. On the four wing nodes of the suspension housed a combat load of 500-680 kg.
In January, the 1958 of the year FIAT G.91 was approved by a single NATO fighter-bomber. This decision caused great displeasure to the British and French, who decided to build their own cars, regardless of the outcome of the competition. For this reason, G.91 was not widely used. Only Italy and the FRG expressed the intention to buy a new strike aircraft, who wanted to replace the F-84F Thunderstreak American fighter-bomber - difficult to operate and demanded capital runways.
In August 1958, the first G.91 began to arrive in the Italian Air Force, they were sent for military tests in the Reparto Sperimentale di Volo - the test center of the Italian Air Force and the tactical fighter group Gruppo Caccia Tatrici Leggeri 103. On the new aircraft, mainly studied the possibility of attacking ground targets and flights at low altitudes. Mastering the new car did not cause great difficulties even for not very experienced pilots. In 1959, the G.91 flights began on the runway of the Frosinone unpaved airfield, 1400 meters in length. At the same time, a set of measures was carried out for the emergency relocation of the aviation unit while removing it from the impact. Representatives of the Italian Air Force and NATO praised the aircraft in terms of its ability to operate from field airfields and the mobility of aviation ground services. All ground support equipment was freely transported on ordinary trucks and quickly turned around at the new airfield. Preparation of the G.91 for a combat departure from a new location (fueling, replenishment of ammunition, etc.) was carried out within 10 minutes. The engine was started by a starter with a pyro cartridge and was not dependent on ground equipment.
The key stage of the military trials became flights in the presence of the NATO commission, which was led by the German Luftwaffe General Johannes Steinhoff. For four days, G.91 made 140 flights from a dirt runway and from paved roads. At the same time, there were no serious failures that could permanently disable the aircraft. After the completion of this stage of military tests, it was decided to start the large-scale construction of a fighter-bomber.
The high reliability of the G.91 is largely due to the use of the successful Orpheus turbojet engine, a number of technical solutions and components used previously on the F-86, and very primitive for Western fighter jets.
G.91, designed for military tests, built in the number of 27 aircraft, differed pointed tip. Subsequently, four aircraft from this batch were converted into G.91R reconnaissance aircraft, and the rest were upgraded for use in the 313-th aerobatic squadron of the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori (Italian-Tricolor Arrows) and were designated G.91PAN (Pattuglia Aerobatica Nazionale.). national aerobatic team).
With the aircraft dismantled built-in machine guns, and in order not to disturb the alignment, they were replaced with ballast. A damping system was installed in the pitch channel of the flight control system and the colored smoke generators were suspended. In the 1964 year, G.91PAN changed Canadian-manufactured Saber and was used by Frecce Tricolori pilots until April 1982. Paradoxically, the upgraded aircraft of the experimental series served longer than many G.91 combatants.
The first serial modification delivered to the front-line units was the scout G.91R-1. Initially, the designer Giuseppe Gabrielli intended to keep only the built-in machine guns on the reconnaissance aircraft, but the Air Force representatives insisted on retaining the full set of weapons of the striking machine. Such a fighter-bomber could not only inflict a bombing attack, but also record its results on film. This allowed the command to more effectively plan the further course of the combat operation. An important factor was that, with an increase in the effectiveness of combat use, the fleet of combat aircraft was optimized due to the fact that one plane performed the functions of a reconnaissance aircraft and a fighter-bomber.
In the nose fairing G.91R-1, hinged on hinges, three Vinten F / 95 Mk.3 cameras were installed: one of them was directed forward, the other was vertically down, and the third, with two lenses, sideways. Cameras made it possible to take pictures of objects under the plane, from altitudes from 100 to 600 m, or to the left (right) of the plane, at a distance 1000 - 2000 m from the flight line. Built-in weapons remained the same and consisted of four 12,7-mm machine guns. Suspended armament is still slightly reduced and was placed on two pylons under the planes. It could consist of two 250-pound bombs, two napalm tanks or of various NAR caliber 70-mm, 76-mm or 127-mm. To increase the radius of action, instead of armament, two discharged fuel tanks with a capacity of 450 liters could be suspended. On production aircraft G.91R-1, the Orpheus 803 engine with increased thrust was used.
The second serial modification for the Italian Air Force G.91R-1AC had an ADF-102 radio compass. On the next Italian modification G.91R-1B, reinforced chassis, new brakes and tubeless pneumatics were introduced. These aircraft served until 1989, until the arrival of new AMX attack aircraft began.
For retraining and training pilots intended double G.91T modification. Double planes were produced in parallel with reconnaissance-strike machines and all the improvements were also introduced. The first G.91T took to the air in May 1960 of the year. After the successful completion of flight tests, Fiat received an order for a training version from the Italian Air Force on 66 aircraft.
Serial production of double G.91T-1 in Italy ended in 1974 year, just built 76 aircraft. The last ten G.91T-1 Srs.2 machines corresponded to the G.91T-3 variant developed for the Luftwaffe. The G.91 T-3 airplanes differed in their avionics and were heavier on the 100 kg. Thanks to the more advanced equipment, the G.91T-3 could carry the ground-to-ground AS-20 and AS-30. To improve visibility, the instructor's seat was raised by 50 mm, and the cockpit lantern got a more convex shape.
In March, the 1958 of the year on the G.91R plane took off the pilots from the Federal Republic of Germany, and the German experts in aerial reconnaissance got acquainted with the photo equipment in detail. 11 March 1959 was signed by the official representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany on the purchase of 50 G.91R-3 and 44 G.91T-3. In addition, a production license was acquired. In total, the enterprises of the Flugzeug-Union Sud aviation consortium, which included the firms Dornier, Messerschmitt and Heinkel, assembled the 294 of the R-3 aircraft. The Luftwaffe received almost 400 aircraft G.91, they were used as light attack aircraft and for training flights. Easy to operate, simple and reliable aircraft were very popular among the flight and ground technical personnel. Subsequently, after the rearmament of the Luftwaffe to the supersonic Starfighters and Phantoms, many pilots nostalgically recalled G.91.
Constructed in Germany G.91R-3 had differences from the Italian machines in the composition of the avionics and weapons. The combat potential of the West German attack aircraft increased significantly due to the installation of two 30-mm DEFA 552 airguns with 152 projectile each, instead of large-caliber machine guns. In addition, the Germans strengthened the wings and added two underwing pylons for the suspension of additional weapons. The armament of the aircraft included a guided missile "ground-to-ground» Nord AS-20. The use of 30-mm cannons significantly increased the capabilities of a bomber fighter to fight armored vehicles, and the use of a guided missile increased the combat potential in the destruction of point targets. The navigation capabilities of the G.91R-3 have increased thanks to the use of the TAKAN AN / ARN-52 radio navigation system, the DRA-12A Doppler velocity and drift angle meter, the computer and the aircraft angle indicator.
Based on German experience, Fiat built 1964 machines in the G.25R-91 version in 6 year. They differed from the previous modifications by air brakes of increased area and reinforced chassis. The composition of avionics corresponded to German fighter-bombers G.91R-3. To reduce the take-off distance to 100 meters, it was possible to install solid fuel boosters. Under the wing of the reinforced construction, two additional pylons were mounted for hanging the weapon.
Due to the fact that the German aircraft manufacturers were not ready for the rapid establishment of production, the first 62 G.91R-3 was built in Italy. In September, 1960, the aircraft overtook in Germany. A year later, on the basis of the 50 school of gunsmiths (50 Waffenschule) in Erding, the deployment of the 53 airborne reconnaissance squadron (Aufklarungsgeschwader AG 53) began.
Originally assembled in Germany at the Dornier plant, the G.91R-3 was supplied from Fiat in Turin by military transport planes in the form of prefabricated vehicle sets. The full production cycle was launched in Germany in the first half of 1961. The German G.91R-3 aircraft for the first time took off from the 20 ground on July 1961 from the runway at the Oberfaffenhofen airfield near Munich. Fighter-bombers G.91R-3 were the first combat aircraft built in Germany in the postwar period.
Serial production of G.91R-3 in Germany was carried out until the middle of 1966. At the beginning of 70-x in reconnaissance air squadrons, they were replaced by supersonic RF-104G. In the light bombing divisions in the first half of the 80's, they were supplanted by the American supersonic F-4F Phantom 2 fighter-bombers and the Alpha Jet light attack aircraft.
Despite the decision to develop their own fighter-bombers in the UK and France G.91 were tested in flight test centers in these countries, where they received a positive rating. For example, in England G.91 flew with British navigation systems, and the French experienced two G.91R-3 in Algeria. Under the extreme climate conditions of the Sahara desert, AS-20 ground-to-ground missiles were launched. During the tests, which lasted about two months, fighter-bombers performed flights at air temperatures up to + 46 degrees Celsius and relative humidity 10 percent. At the same time, G.91 demonstrated high reliability.
A certain interest in G.91 was shown by the US military. In 1961, the G.91R-1, G.91T-1 and G.91R-3 heavy C-124 transport aircraft were delivered to the United States. There they passed comparative tests with combat aircraft A-4 and F-5A at Fort Rucker air bases in Alabama and Eglin in Florida. Of particular interest was the double G.91T-1, they were supposed to be used as the TCB and aircraft of the advanced aviation gunners for heavy supersonic machines.
G.91 in the USA
Tests have once again confirmed the high reliability, ease of operation and ease of piloting G.91. But according to the flight characteristics of the Italian aircraft did not exceed the US, so the question of their purchase is no longer raised.
At the beginning of the 60s, the Italians tried hard to advertise G.91 at various air shows and weapons exhibitions, sometimes making quite risky demonstration flights. 19 June 1965 of the year during a demonstration flight of the serial G.91R-1B at the international air show in Le Bourget there was a tragic incident. Because of the mistake of the Italian pilot, who wanted to make the most impression on the audience, the plane fell on a parking lot located not far from the runway, destroying more 40 vehicles parked there and killing nine people.
Despite numerous positive reviews, G.91 was not widely used and the number of aircraft produced was limited to 770 units. Deliveries of specially built aircraft modification G-91R / 4 in the framework of US military assistance did not take place. The built-in armament of the G-91R / 4 corresponded to the Italian G.91R-1, while the outboard and avionics were performed according to the West German version of G.91R-3. A total of X-NUMX G-50R / 91s were built for Greece and Turkey, but the order was subsequently canceled, as the Greeks and Turks preferred the more modern American light fighter F-4A Freedom Fighter. The cost of building 5 planes to the Italians was compressed by the United States, and the planes themselves handed over the FRG for free.
At the beginning of 1966, the 40 aircraft from this lot the Germans sold to Portugal. The contract stipulated that the Portuguese did not have the right to use them outside the country. However, the leadership of Portugal, considering the African colonies an integral part of their territory, sent three squadrons to Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.
Guinea-Bissau-based eight 121 squadrons of the Tigers squadron from 1967, began to make regular combat missions against the guerrillas operating in the border areas with French Guinea and Senegal. At the same time as a combat load, they carried bombs and incendiary tanks. In addition, to protect against the Nigerian MiG-17, the Portuguese G.91 were used to escort passenger and transport aircraft.
G-91R / 4 Portuguese Air Force at a field airfield
As the guerrillas appeared, 23, 37 and 57-mm anti-aircraft guns and Soviet-made MANPADS Tigers began to suffer losses. In total, five G.91 were lost in Guinea-Bissau, two of which were hit by MANPADS. Since 1968, in Mozambique, two squadrons of G.91R-4 - 502-I "Jaguars" and 702-I "Scorpions", attacked troops of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and conducted air reconnaissance of partisan camps in neighboring Zambia. Anti-aircraft resistance was weak and during the six years of hostilities the Portuguese lost only one aircraft in Mozambique.
In 1974, the operational aircraft of the Jaguars squadron were transferred to the 93 Squadron of the Portuguese Air Force, based in Angola. There, before the start of 1975, they were recruited for infrequent patrol flights. When the Portuguese left the country, the four G.91R-4 in January 1976 left at the aerodrome of Luanda were incorporated into the Angolan Air Force. But in the absence of spare parts and qualified service, these aircraft quickly became unusable and were written off.
G.91R-4 for a long time formed the basis of the Portuguese Air Force. In 1976, the Federal Republic of Germany also transferred 33 combat G.91R-3 and 11 training G.91Т-3. These aircraft were received in payment for the rental of the Beja aviation base in Portugal. In the first half of the 80's, the Portuguese G.91 underwent upgrades. A new avionics appeared on them, the air-to-air AIM-9 Sidewinder and the air-to-ground AGM-12 Bullpap air armament were included in the armament. The last G.91 of the Portuguese Air Force served up to the 1993 year.
The combat experience gained in Southeast Asia demonstrated the inconsistency of the concept of a heavy multipurpose supersonic combat aircraft. It turned out that at a much lower cost light and relatively inexpensive combat aircraft are able to solve most of the tasks. These considerations forced us to return to the old, seemingly hopelessly outdated idea of creating a light submarine strike aircraft, and again recalled the well-established G.91. Specialists of the Italian Air Force came to the conclusion that the use of modern avionics and new engines will raise the possibilities of G.91 to a new level. To create an aircraft designed to provide direct support to the ground forces, moving targets on the battlefield and tactical reconnaissance, there is no need to begin a new development, and it is enough to carry out a deep modernization of the well-tested G.91.
In order to implement the required characteristics, Fiat took the combat training G.91T-3 as the basis for the double version, which had a more spacious and durable fuselage. An additional fuel tank was located at the site of the instructor, two General Electric J5-GE-85A turbofan engines were borrowed from the F-13A fighter (thrust of one 1200 kgf without afterburner and 1860 kgf - afterburner). The aircraft received a new enhanced chassis with larger diameter wheels and a larger wing with automatic slats throughout the span. The slats have significantly improved the maneuverability of the machine. They were produced when the flight speed was reduced to 425 km / h, and the lift force on the wing increased by 30 - 40%. With a take-off mass of 7800 kg, the length of the run-up of G.91Y did not exceed 900 meters.
Externally, the G.91Y differed little from other modifications of the G.91, but in many respects it was a new aircraft with significantly increased combat and flight characteristics. Two engines increased takeoff thrust by 60% and increased the survivability of the aircraft. The mass of the empty G.91Y increased by 91% compared to G.25, the take-off weight increased by more than half, while the weight of the combat load increased by 70%. The capacity of the fuel tanks has increased by 1500 L - despite the increase in fuel consumption, the flight range of the aircraft has increased.
G.91Y tests began in 1966 year. During test flights, it was possible to achieve a speed corresponding to M = 0,98, but flights were considered optimal in the altitude range 1500-3000 meters with a speed of 925 km / h.
A modern for those times sighting and navigation complex with ILS was installed on the aircraft. All the main navigation and sighting information was displayed on the windshield, allowing the pilot to concentrate on the performance of the combat mission. In the nose of the G.91Y, three cameras were mounted according to a scheme similar to G.91R.
The armament of the aircraft consisted of two built-in 30-mm DEFA 552 guns with 125 ammunition for shells per barrel, (rate of fire - 1500 rounds / min). Under the wing there were four pylons with an aerial suspension system. The armament could include AIM-9 Sidewinder guided missiles and AS-30 ground-to-ground missiles. In the future, the number of pylons with weapons was supposed to increase to six.
The light subsonic combat aircraft aroused great interest among representatives of the Air Forces of the countries of Western Europe, since G.91Y was cheaper than other aircraft of similar purpose. The question of a possible acquisition was discussed with representatives of Germany and Switzerland. The Fiat company specialists expressed confidence that the deeply modernized G. 91Y on the criterion of “cost-effectiveness” could surpass the Mirage 5 and F-5E supersonic aircraft. However, more famous and modern competitors have bypassed the “Italian”. Order in the number of 75 aircraft received only from the Italian Air Force. At the same time, the main motive was the support of their own industry, what not to say, but by the beginning of the 70's, despite the modernization, G.91Y was morally obsolete. However, this did not prevent the exploitation of these subsonic fighter-bombers before the beginning of the 90-s.