Thursday, 3 February 2011

CANT Z. 506 seaplane


A lovely selection of negatives from the collection of a Luftwaffe officer and offered for sale on Ebay.de recently featured this Italian WWII seaplane, the CANT Z.506. It was designed pre-war as a 12 to 14-seat transport twin-float machine, powered by three 455 kW (610 hp) Piaggio Stella IX radial engines. It was derived from the larger and heavier Z.505 seaplane.[3] The Z.506 entered production in 1936 as the Z.506A, powered by more powerful 560 kW (750 hp) Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34 nine cylinder radial engines. Armament was a 12,7 (0.5 in) Breda-SAFAT machine-gun in the dorsal position and three 7,7 mm (0.303 in) machine-guns, one in the ventral position and two on the sides of the fuselage. It had a crew of 5.  Flown mostly by Mario Stoppani, the Z.506A set a number of altitude, speed and distance records for its class between 1936 and 1938, including speeds of 191.539 mph (308.25 km/h) over 3,107 (5000 km) and 198.7 mph (319.78 km/h) over 1,243 miles (2000 km), and 200.118 mph (322.06 km/h) over 621 miles (1000 km). It subsequently flew 3,345.225 miles (5383.6 km) in a closed circuit. It carried a load of 4,409 lb (2000 kg) to 25,623 ft (7810 m.) and 11,023 lb (5000 kg) to 22,693 ft (6917 m). A military version was developed as the Z.506B and a larger version of the Z.506A was built in 1937 as the Z.509.


The Z.506B was first used as a reconnaissance/torpedo bomber in the Spanish Civil War. On the outbreak of World War II, 97 aircraft were operational with two Stormi da Bombardamento Marittimo (sea bombing units) and some Squadriglia da Ricognizione Marittima. 31° Stormo B.M. "autonomo" with 22 planes was based at Cagliari Elmas, in Sardinia; 35° Stormo B.M., with 25 Z.506 in Brindisi, Puglia. The Cant Z. 506  was used extensively in 1940-41 in France and Greece and under went its baptism of fire on 17 June 1940, the day after French bombers had attacked Elmas base, killing 21 airmen and destroying a number of Cant. Z.501s. On the evening of 17 June, four 506Bs from 31° Stormo attacked targets in Northern French Africa, dropping two 250 kg and three 100 kg bombs each. One of the most important operations was the battle of Punta Stilo. In the war against Greece the Cant seaplane was used against coastal targets and the Corinth canal. It played an important part in the conquest of many Greek islands, including Corfu, Cephalonia and Zante. Due to its vulnerability against fighters, it was restricted to use by 'recce' units, such as the Squadriglie da Ricognizione. Later in the war, it was used in maritime patrol and air-sea rescue missions. A special air-sea rescue version, the Z.506S Soccorso, was produced; it was used in small numbers by the Luftwaffe.





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