Ing.Celestino Rosaletti designed the Fiat CR-25 as a multi all-purpose aircraft for use in Italy's North African territories. The CR-25 was a twin engine, three seat, long range escort fighter and reconnaissance monoplane. Bearing a marked resemblance to the BR-20 bomber of same designer it employed a two-spar, three-section wing mounted in low-mid positioned to a rectangular section welded steel tube fuselage.
The CR-25 first flew in 1937, and was powered by 840HP Fiat A.74 RC.38 fourteen-cylinder radial engines. Two prototypes were built followed by ten pre-production machines, one of which was used as transport by the Italian Air Attaché in Berlin. This was designated CR-25D. The other nine were designated CR-25 bis and these equipped the 173 Strategic Naval Reconnaissance Squadron. These nine aircraft formed one operational squadron and was based in Sicily from July through October 1942. Their role was to act as convoy escort between Sicily and the Italian peninsula. It is known that at times this type encountered opposing RAF Beaufighters which were on convoy strike and destroy missions from bases at ta'Qali and Hal-Luqa on the strategic island of Malta. On occasions the CR-25 was also employed on sneaky but very risky reconnaissance flights to Malta. This included photographing military installations around Hal-Luqa and Hal-Far airfields, coal dump areas at il-Menqa in Marsa, and the torpedo and Submarine Depot at l-Imsida besides the naval installations and Dockyard facilities at the Kottonera and Casal Paula area and other localities on the island. So daring was their mission that some of the CA-25 found their graveyard in the blue depth of the Mediterranean.
Operational strength in reality never exceeded six aircraft during the time due to lack of spares and replacement necessitating a short operational life for the squadron. The CR-25 bis escort fighter was fitted with two 12.7 mm Breda-SEFAT guns in the nose and a third 12.7 mm gun in power-operated dorsal turret. To extend its range extra fuel tanks were fitted in the internal bomb bay, which was originally designed to accommodate a maximum bomb load of 1550 Lbs. By October 1942, when an average of three machines were serviceable, the type was relegated to transport duties.
In 1940 work has been initiated on a more heavily armed variant, a CR-25 which also had a slight increase in wing area. However the basic CR-25 design was abandoned and further development ceased. The CR-25 had a maximum speed of 286 mph at 18,200 ft; a cruising speed of 245 mph, landing speed of 78 mph and normal range was 972 miles and a maximum range of 1305 miles. Service ceiling of 26,575 ft. Dimensions of all models were: Span 51'10", Length 44' 5.75", and Height of 11' 1.75" and a wing area of 421.8 Sq. ft.
Sicily 1941 - contingent of Vichy AF machines en route to Syria
More photo finds including Piaggio P. 108, Fiat G12