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Today in History

Restoration - Museo Storico of Bergamo
Photo by Alberto Casirati
   Designed in 1917 by Ansaldo engineer Giuseppe Brezzi, the Ansaldo A.1 Balilla was the first fighter aircraft developed by the Italians during World War I. In trials, Pier Piccio gave the Balilla a favorable review but criticized the gun installation, the narrow cockpit and several other details. 91a Squadriglia, received the first Balillas in the summer of 1918. But shoddy workmanship and a number of other problems led many Italian pilots to conclude the Balilla was unfit for combat.
   Italian ace Leopoldo Eleuteri was the only flyer to score a confirmed victory with the Balilla. Following the Armistice, many of these planes were exported to Poland and other nations.
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla Specifications
Country: Italy
Manufacturer: Società Giovanni Ansaldo
Type: Fighter
Entered Service: 28 June 1918
Number Built: 221
Engine(s): SPA 6A 6-cylinder, liquid cooled inline, 220 hp
Wing Span: 25 ft 2¼ in (7.68 m)
Length: 22 ft 5¼ in (6.84 m)
Height: 8 ft 3¾ in (2.53 m)
Empty Weight:
Gross Weight: 1,951 lb (885 kg)
Max Speed: 137 mph (220 km/h)
Ceiling: 16,405 ft (5,000 m)
Endurance: 1½ hours
Crew: 1
Armament: 2 machine guns
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla Units
Italian Air Service: 70a, 74a, 77a, 82a, 86a, 88a,91a, 241a, Sezione Difesa
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