Research Topics > Theoretical and Speculative Projects

The real Re.2007 story

(1/4) > >>

Skybolt:
Discussing the CC.2 in the Campini projects thread, the talk went on the Re.2007, a notorious fake. Since there is some interest in this and it seems that the "fekeness" ot the Re.2007 is not widely aknowledged, I give here a (somewhat lenghty explanation). Since we are in Secret projects, I attached some projects draft to helm me summarize the matter. Here we go.  Afinal warning: nothing of what follows is true: Italian aviation historians alla gree on this version since at least the late '80s...
What follows is the story of the Re2007. Story, not history, since the Re 2007 as is widely, and incorrectly, known, i.e. a late war prototype fighter powered by a Jumo jet engine, is a fantasy (even if the right word is "fake"...). First the facts and then the interpretation of them, since even fakes are done for a purpose, freak as it could look.
Just after the war italian aviation buffs knew that the Re.2007 existed and the way it looked. A perspective view is in picture 1, as published in the magazine "L'Ala" in February 1948. Actually, first mention of this project comes from a report written by Ing. Alessio, General Manager of Reggiane, in late 1945, describing the projects that were well advanced: this particular project was a mail and six passenger transport. Alessio described it as a derivative of the Re.2005, but in reality it derived from the Re.2000 and had a radial engine (see picture 4). Same article in L'Ala described also a Re.2008 like a racer derived from the Re.2005 (pic 2). Alessio didn't mention this but instead a single engine, single crew postal plane, wich was similary derived by the R.2005. In fact this was a straightforward derivative of the Re.2000 with a P&W or Wright 1500 Hp water-cooled radial (pic 3). Alessio described a third desing, a translatlantic flying boat, i.e the Ca.8000.

To summarize: Reggiane general manager said that he had in the wings (literally) a mail carrier, a mail and passenger carrier and a large transport. L'Ala attributed to the second one the Re.2007 designation (probably on Alessio input) and the Re.2008 to the racer.

Skybolt:
This scenario endured until the early '60s, Reggiane exited the aviation business and so the matter was more and more one of historical interest only.

Circa 1963 started circulating in the UK press news of a jet powered prototype almost completed during the last month of the war by Reggiane. There was fist a rough perspective sketch (pic 1) and then, in 1965 did appear (pic 2) an internal arrangement seen from the side and at the same time Ing. Roberto Longhi, former chief-designer of Reggiane and then working in the US in the airplane maintenenace, supplies and spare parts business.
In his letters, Longhi said that he started in late 1943 a project for the Re.2007, a swept wing, jet-powered (Jumo 004) fighter build using the better part of the Re.2006 second prototype. He went on describing the airfoils and other technical data. More, he gave details: the protoype was being built in a dispersed Reggiane site (probably Correggio), by October 1944 it was 70 per cent complete, that it was ordered transferred to Ponte San Pietro (near Bergamo, where the Design Office, Ufficio Tecnico of reggiane, had been transerred); that the trasfer happened by a lorry and interested both the Re.2007 and the first Re.2006 prototype; that just before entering Ponte San pietro factory, Count Caproni himself had phned Longhi to send the two prototypes to Taliedo, near Milan; that the two prototype and their construction designs were lost in the bombardment of Taliedo and the sack in the last days of the war; that Reggiane had requested officially two Jumo 004 from Junkers for use in the Re.2007, and he had his (Longhi) letter to Count Caproni dated 7 January 1944 reminding him a previouos verbal accord in this sense. More, in a later letter, Longhi said thai during 1947 and 1948, when in the US, he further worked on the Re.2007 concept and designed a more advanced airplane, even using area rule (no comment) and calling it Re.2008, This airplane had been presented in June 1949 to the Aeronautica Militare, after a first meeting with Valletta, General manager of the FIAT Group, who advised him of the non-interest by the Italian Air Force or the Ministry in advanced projects (BTW, FIAT was in that month bulding the first G-80 prototype....). The result was discouraging and Loghi said he decided to return in the US. In the same letter he attached a three view of the project (pic 3).

In 1968 Interconair Aviation & Marine published the first post-war study in the Reggiane fighter. Piero Prato, the author, tried to untangle all information he presumed to have and  established a new
nomenclature of the late Reggiane projects. During the research a three-view of the Re.2006 prototype was uncovered and so so he went:
Re.2006, Re.2005 derivative with a DB.603 and radiators in the wings
Re.2006P, derivative for mail transport with a liquid cooled radial, intended for post-war
Re.2006PP, derivative for mail a passenger transport with a liquid colled radial and larger fuselage, intended for post-war use
Re.2006C, race-oriented derivative, intended fot he Bendix transcontinental race post-war.
Re.2007, Jumo 004 fighter
Re.2008, unspecified engine Re.2007 evolution, circa 1948

The reconstruction seemed having sense, and it was known that imemdiately post-war some numbers (some say a couple, other more) of Jumo 004 were in Italy. Longhi in one of his letters said tnat in late 1945-early 1946 he was contacted by two Germans mercenaries offering him two Jumos (HIS jumos!!!).
Even the editors and publishers of the great "Profiles" series bought the story and produced a profile devoted to the Re2007.

Skybolt:
For a couple of years nothing happened, but a surge of aviation nationalism in political nostalgics who pointed out that Italy also had a wartime jet-powered fighter after CC.2 experiment. Then, the details given by Longhi started, as happens with wannabe fakers (mind you, Longhi was a great airplane designer and a remarkable man, but a naive faker) to work against him and a rain of letters and wittnesses started to pour in the Italian specialty press. First, the Re.2006 wasn't transferred by a lorrie but towed in a small trailer by the same small tractor used to move the airplane around in the factory; it was trasferred alone directly to Taliedo, (200 km... desperate times, desperate acts); this was the only Re.2006 prototype ever built (Germans were more interested in the seres production of the Re.2005), the second one wasn't even started so it could not have been converted; the Re.2006 wasn't destroyed at all until June 1946 when the Allied Aicraft Commission decided it was not interested in it and authorized (actually, asked) its demolition. Teachers at he Milan Polytechnic University learnt of the airplane and asked that after being partially dismantled it could be used for didactic purposes. For a certain number of year the remains of the Re.2006 remained at the University (there was no engine, the wing was sawed in two pieces, etc.), and only the leg of the main landing gear is still extant (in the Milan Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia, our Smithsonian...); the last straw was the demonstration that the Longhi letter to Count Caproni was a vulgar fake, simply it was written using the letterheaded paper used by Reggiane after the war.... Longhi was himself considerably naive, since he produced a ittle later letter to him by the President of Reggiane granting him a considerable incentive to develop and build the Ca.8000 liner, and in this one the letterhead was right... All this fact are summirezed much better than me by Govi in his manumanmtel history of Reggiane from Re.2000 to he demise, available in CD-ROM edition published by my dear frieng Giorgio Apostolo (publiser of Aerofan, BTW...), and now is widely known and accepeted in Italy at least. Longhi died in 1994, so now there is no one with an interest in furthering the fairy tale...

So this is the story of the Re.2007 fake, an airplane that existed in a very different form (Re2000 mail derivative) but that now in in a limbo, a limbo created manipulating the nomenclature to make room for the "fantastic" Re.2007. Now it is too late for changing the nomenclature once more, even if the Re2006 P and PP had nothing in common with the Re.2006.

A couple of side issues: as for the jet Re.2008, there is no known traces of the visit of Longhi, Caproni & Co to Aeronautica Militare  to tender the project. Since a number of other cmpanies tried the same and pretty much advertised the try (SAI Ambrosini, SIAI, FIAT, Castoldi at Breda, Piaggio with the P.136, and probably more) seems odd that with such an advanced project (similar to the Sabre...) Caproni would have not tried to start a fuss (NATO Treaty had been just signed and Italy was in). But early post-war history of the Italian aviation is in poor condition, so you never know (another intriguing research topic..). But I bet it wasn't an area ule compliant design...
In  the web of truths, half truths and fakes, Longhi made some mistakes. E.g., trying to support the existence of a Re.2007 in late wartime he firstly attributed to the translatlantic liner the designation Ca.2008, not seeing that in the same letter he produced as a proof it was officially designated Ca.8000. To correct his mistake, he tried to justify it as a ruse he made in his working notes to deny the Germans and the fascists the existence of the project. In so doing he actually made thins worse, because he had hust say  that the ca.8000 was a big project, occupying more than a third of all the Caproni design personnel and that by war end thay had completed the detailed designs of the construction parts and even desgned the machines and tools to make them (this is perfectly true: Caproni even contracted two architects to design the variuos internal accomadations etc.). Considering the amount of paper involved, is is impossible that German or Fascist authorities would have been tricked by Longhi referring to Ca.8000 with a designation reminding them a fighter.
Lastly, the Jumo 004 question. During late war there were Jumos in Italy, one of them is now in Milan at the above mentioned museum. How they had come? This was until a couple of years ago the only hole in the reconstruction of the true Re.2007 story. Then someone noticed that during late 1944 and 1945 in Udine (eastern Italy, then under direct control of Germany) were base a number of Arada 234 used for fast reconnaisance mission to uncover Allies operation and dispositions along the Adriatic coast. The Arados brought a certain number of spare engines with them.... There is no a definitive proof, but it is perfectly plausible (and give some credit to the Longhi story about mercenaries running around offering engines in late 1945 Milan...).

Skybolt:
Why Longhi did all this? I have a theory: he was a great and succesfull airplane designer, innovative and bold. He had worked early in his life with great aircraft manufacturer (Bellanca and Burnelli, just to mention two) in the US. He did extremely well in Italy from 1938 to 1945, in difficult conditions. Now, early 1960s, he was in the US doing a job that satisfied him economically (earning money was never a problem for Longhi) but not professionally. He looked and saw his former collegues in Italy all designing and being respected, even lecturing in universities (Gabrielli, Casiraghi), younger collegues (Stefanutti, Bazzocchi), in subordinate positions during the war, designed as well with much success. The Italian aviation was once more respected worldwide: G-91, MB-326, the Piaggio amphibian coming in the US, Agusta making copters with the world leaders, italian companies collaborating with his much admired German companies and friends.. .... He probably dreamt of returning and being again chief-designer in an Italian company, even FIAT or Macchi, that in his eyes had his beloved Re.2005 fraudolently excluded from production in the early Series 5 contest, that had rumoured him of having copied the Seversky P-35 in the Re.2000 design... Even Caproni was OK (most of Longhi letters was sent to Gianni Caproni, son of the wartime leader). But how? He was an outsider since more than ten years: he devised a plan, to reconstruct the past in a way that made him the absolute first and best in Italian jet fighter designs (area rule in 1948 !!!!). He found accomplices who drafted the fake designs on its inspiration... He fluently spoke english, at a time when in Italy few was similary able. And he knew that anglo-saxons respect the man who does the things and they trust what he says on what he did (and he did a lot, anyway). He tried, he almost succeded and ultimately he failed, tricked by the excessive details he gave. Italians are more cynical in this things, and Longhi had a lot of enemies, more: he made enemies of the people who worked for him. It was simple for them to  tell the damning thruth. He retired in 1970 and died in 1994. A remarkable man, and a tragic one.

lark:
This is a highly interesting story Sky'.
Can you mention the used sources ?

Thanks..

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version