Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1

(^24) MACCHI M.C. 72
Macchi M.C. 72
Max speed: 440mph (709.2km/h)
Engine: 1 x Fiat AS.6 Liquid-
cooled 24- cylinder
Power: 2,850hp
Wingspan: 31ft 1in (9.48m)
Length: 27ft 3.5in (8.32m)
Height: 10ft 9in (3.3m)
The need for speed
The Macchi M.C. 72 broke its own speed
record on 23 October 1934 when it
achieved an average speed of 440mph
over three passes. This record remains the
fastest speed ever attained by a piston-
engine seaplane. The M.C. 72 held the
world speed record for all aircraft for over
 ve years. 


n 23 October 1934, Francesco Agello
and the scarlet Macchi Aeronautica
M.C. 72 achieved the absolute world
speed record for a piston-powered seaplane;
a record which still stands to this day.
Italian racing pride was hurt when the
Schneider Trophy was irretrievably lost to the
British in 1931, but Italy was determined to at
least regain the absolute speed record. Prior
to losing the trophy, Macchi Aeronautica had
already developed the powerful but unreliable
M.C. 72. Unfortunately, the aircraft’s engine was
pushing the boundaries of available technology
and su ered from serious problems, which led
to two fatal accidents. These tragedies resulted
in an Italian request to postpone the 1931
races, but the British refused so Italy pulled out
of the competition. 
Nevertheless, the team was convinced that
it had the fastest aircraft and by early 1933 the
engine problems had been resolved. The  nal
design of the M.C. 72 used contra-rotating
propellers powered by a modi ed FIAT AS.6

Macchi M.C. 72

supercharged V24 engine generating some
Warrant O cer Maresciallo Francesco Agello
was selected to  y the M.C. 72 on its record
attempts. On 10 April 1933, the ground crew
pushed the M.C. 72 down the slipway into Lake
Garda and Agello  ew the  ve required laps
over a 1.86 mile (3km) course. The aircraft lived
up to expectations and it was quickly con rmed
that it had beaten the previous absolute world
speed record by some 17mph, with an average
lap speed of 425mph. Despite the euphoria of
the moment, the Italians were convinced that
they could go faster.
After a further series of delays,  nally on
23 October 1934 Agello was ready to try again.
This time he completed the circuit at an average
of 440mph, a world record for piston-powered
seaplanes. After this success, the M.C. 72 was
never  own again.

Above: The powerful Macchi M.C. 72 still holds a
seaplane speed record today.
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