Developed in the mid-1930s for the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force), the Saetta was one of its principal fighters during World War II. The prototype made its first flight in December 1937, and by Italy's entry into WWII in June 1940, some 156 were in service. A total of 1,151 were produced.
The Regia Aeronautica first employed the Saetta against the British on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Italian pilots also flew the MC.200 in Greece, North Africa, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The U.S. Army Air Forces fought against MC.200s in North Africa and over Italy itself.
The MC.200 on display was transferred from the Regia Aeronautica's 372nd Squadron in Italy to the 165th Squadron in North Africa during November 1942, just in time to be abandoned at Banghazi airfield following the battle of El Alamein. It appears that, in the press of circumstances, it remained in its 372nd markings. Captured by British forces, it was subsequently shipped to the United States where it was exhibited around the country to sell war bonds. Later obtained by the New England Air Museum, in 1989 it was purchased by a private owner who had it restored in Italy by a team from Aermacchi, the original builder, before its acquisition by the museum. It is displayed in the markings of the 372nd Squadron of the Regia Aeronautica that it carried at the time of its capture.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Two 12.7mm Breda machine guns Engine: One FIAT A.74 R.C.38 double row, 14-cylinder, air cooled radial engine of 870 hp Maximum speed: 313 mph Range: 355 miles Ceiling: 29,200 ft. Span: 34 ft. 8 in. Length: 27 ft. 6 in. Height: 10 ft. Weight: 5,275 lbs.