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Pacific Coast Models' 1/32 scale
Macchi C.200 Saetta

by Ian Robertson


Macchi C.200


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The C.200 Saetta was a workhorse for the Regia Aeronautica throughout WWII, serving in every theater of the war for Italy until its surrender. In the Mediterranean theater the Saetta proved an effective adversary for the Hawker Hurricane, P-40, and early Spitfires. A unique feature of the C.200 and its two well known successors, the C.202 Folgore and C.205 Veltro, was the unequal wing length designed to compensate for engine torque rotation. This innovation enabled pilots to fly the aircraft without constant control corrections for engine torque. (Aside: It’s also amusing to show someone, lets say your wife, the unequal wing lengths and then complain that the model you just bought is really messed up).



Here I present a Pacific Coast Models 1/32 C.200 Saetta in the markings of a fighter from the 364a Squadriglia, 150o Gruppo Autonomo, 1942. A photograph of the port side of this aircraft appears on page 42 of Osprey’s “Italian Aces of WWII”, while a photo of the starboard side can be found on page 35 of “Regia Aeronautica Caccia & Assalto 1940-1943, Part II” by Waldis and De Bortoli. This latter book also features a complete color profile of the aircraft.

PCM’s kit – What’s in the Box?

The kit is an excellent example of just how far short-run kits have come in recent years. The light grey styrene parts, made by MPM, feature finely recessed panel lines and plenty of detail. The plastic is a bit softer than what you get in a Tamiya or Hasegawa kit, but it remains easy to work with. Some large ejection stubs in the inside surfaces of the fuselage and wings require removal, but this is not problematic.

The resin parts are excellently crafted, and include a well detailed cockpit, straightforward engine, and a superb one-piece cowl.



In general, the photoetch parts are reserved for those places on the model that really benefit from them. For example, the unique seatbelt/bondage apparatus and the instrument panel. However, I found the photoetch for the landing gear (apart from the oleo scissors) fiddly and more than I wanted to deal with. Your mileage may vary.

Two vacuform canopies are provided in the kit. Ironically, the particular Saetta I chose to build (the markings were included on the decal sheet) had an early style canopy that was not included in the kit. A minor modification was necessary (see below).

The decals were produced by Skymodels and printed by Cartograf. Six attractive marking options are provided, and they span a wide range of camouflage styles for the C.200.





Let me start by emphasizing this is an excellent kit and I thoroughly enjoyed building it. It is a great example of just how good a limited run kit can be, and how subjects that many doubted would ever be produced are now getting a chance to shine in 1/48 and 1/32 scale. Of course there is always room for improvement, and it’s important to realize that this kit is not intended for beginners. However, it is well within the reach of modelers with moderate experience, especially those with some experience using resin and photoetch. This model took me three weeks from start to finish.


Construction begins with the resin cockpit. The parts are very well detailed and fit together quite well, although the assembly is not without a few challenges. First, I had difficulty installing the seat properly because it bumped into a cross bar on the rear bulkhead. After careful consideration of the instructions to see if I was assembling the parts incorrectly (I don’t think I was), I opted to remove the cross bar and re-install it slightly lower to accommodate the seat. A clear diagram of the completed seat assembly would have been welcome in the instructions.



Another area of difficulty I had with the cockpit was determining how far down in the fuselage it should sit. It seemed obvious at first, but when I positioned the cockpit so that the top of the rear bulkhead met the spine of the fuselage, the control stick extended too high. I opted to remove a small section from the middle of the control stick to adjust its height so that it looked correct within the cockpit. Again, it’s not quite clear to me where the error occurred.

Despite these difficulties, the cockpit tub looks great when finished and installed in the fuselage. Unfortunately, in my haste to seal up the fuselage I forgot to take photos of the completed cockpit.

Engine/Undercarriage Bay

The engine/undercarriage bay is an area on the model that begs for detail in the form of wires and hoses. Following color photographs in the Aviolibri book “Macchi MC.200 Saetta, Pt 1” by Maurizio Di Terlizzi (who, incidentally, was responsible for verifying this kit’s dimensions and accuracy during production), I added the necessary plumbing to this area. The entire engine/undercarriage bay assembly was then inserted into the fuselage. The rear bulkhead of the undercarriage bay, which also serves as the wing spars, bowed slightly during installation.



To correct this problem, and to avoid later problems with wing alignment, I wedged two wooden dowels between the cockpit and the bulkhead to force the bulkhead and wing spars forward into proper position (see photo).


The lower wing section was attached to the fuselage as shown in the instructions (panel 1 in photo). When I added the upper sections of each wing I found the alignment to be fine, but the port wing was about 1mm too short while the starboard wing fit perfectly. To adjust the port wing’s length I added a strip of styrene to the edge where it meets the wing root (panel 2 in photo).



This simple fix solved the length problem and retained continuity of all the panel lines between the upper and lower surfaces of the wing. I also sanded off the raised reinforcement strips on the wing roots (both wings) and replaced them with pieces of sheet styrene (panel 3 in photo).


At this point I added the vacuform canopy because I wanted to fare it into the fuselage prior to painting. Some careful filling and sanding was required, but this effort paid off in the final result.

Because the aircraft I was modeling had an early style canopy, it was necessary to add a small flap of clear plastic (not included with kit) to the rear edge of the canopy frame on each side of the canopy.

Engine and Cowling

The next major step in construction involved the engine and its cowl. The resin engine is crisply detailed and easy to assemble. The heads of the engine cylinders appear simpler in the kit than in the photos I’ve seen of C.200 engines, but for me they were fine and indeed may be accurate if different engine configurations were used on the C.200. I added styrene rods to the front of the cylinders.

Attaching the cowl assembly to the main fuselage is a critical step in construction because if anything defines the look of the C.200, it’s the way the engine mounts on the fuselage. Unfortunately there are no alignment pins to assist in the process. Proceed with caution! I first attached the cowl to the fuselage loosely with masking tape and then positioned and glued the machine guns in place. Once the guns were solidly attached I removed the cowl and then reattached it with 5-minute epoxy. The machine guns helped me orient the position of the cowl, and the slow-setting glue allowed me to make last minute adjustments before the bond became permanent.

It is up to the modeler’s discretion whether to attach the cowl before or after major painting. I opted for the latter, but I’m not sure it makes much of a difference. Adding it before painting lessens the amount of handling afterward. Something to consider.

Landing Gear

The final major step in construction was the landing gear. I found the gear covers and associated photoetch fiddly, and the instructions were vague about the positioning of the covers. However, with some careful test fitting the landing gear assembly goes together reasonable well.



In the future I think I will replace the photoetch for the gear with scratch-built styrene components. I find styrene easier to work with than photoetch.



Painting and Markings


The cockpit was painted in Polly Scale RAF interior green (a reasonable match for Italian cockpit green) and then treated with washes and chalk pastels. The seat was painted in Alclad aluminum and then given a black wash (Tamiya acrylic).

The exterior of the model was primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 from a rattle can and then polished lightly with a micromesh sanding cloth. The fuselage band and tail cross were painted white and masked for the remainder of the camouflage painting.

I painted the model with a variety of acrylic paints, primarily Polly Scale acrylic and Model Master acryl. I mixed my own version of Nicciola Chiarro (hazelnut tan) using the top of a White Ensign Models paint tin as a color guide. I can’t provide the exact formula (it evolved during the painting process), but I did use the following colors: Polly Scale Hazelnut Tan, Polly Scale Israeli Khaki, and Model Master #4 Brown (a reddish brown color). My mixture is slightly less pinkish than that shown on the WEM paint lid, but it matched well with other Italian color chips I have.

Once the Nicciola Chiarro mix had dried I applied the dark green mottles freehand using Polly Scale Italian Olive darkened with a touch of black. The underside of the model was painted Polly Scale Italian Light Blue-grey. Various dark washes were used for weathering.

The cowl ring was painted Alclad copper with a hint of aluminum. This was followed by a wash of burnt umber/raw sienna, and then a wash of black. Finally, I applied Polly Scale flat clear with a brush to remove the shine.

The propeller blades were painted Alclad aluminum of the front and flat scale black on the back, based on my interpretation of photographs of the aircraft.


The decals for this kit worked beautifully. Be careful with the placement of the until emblem (three birds flying over the palm tree). Photographs reveal the placement to be slightly different than that shown in the instructions. Also note that the number “364” is slightly incorrect in the decals. According to photographs, the top of the #3 should curve down, whereas on the decal it is straight. I corrected this error with a scrap piece of white decal on each side.



Photographs suggest that the symbol typically seen in the center of the tail cross on Italian aircraft was absent in this aircraft. While it is possible that in the photos the symbol was bleached out due to overexposure, I was not convinced one way or the other. I opted to add the symbol on my model.



The antenna wire is stretched sprue and the tension spring is from a light bulb filament.


Images of the completed model were taken outdoors in natural light with a Nikon Coolpix 5400 digital camera. The “sharpen edges” tool of Adobe Photoshop was used to restore some of the clarity and crispness lost during image compression.



Pacific Coast Models has jumped into the fast-growing 1/32 arena with an outstanding choice of modeling subject in the Macchi C.200 Saetta.

This clunky aircraft oozes character, and the PCM kit captures the look very well.



For my money this kit is well worth the price given the generally good fit, detailed resin parts, photoetch, and marking options. This C.200 definitely won’t be my last in 1/32 scale, and I am very much looking forward to PCM’s C.202 Folgore and C.205 Veltro down the line!



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Italian Aces of World War 2
Aircraft of the Aces 34
Author: Giorgio Apostolo
Illustrator: Richard Caruana
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 November 25, 2000
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1841760781
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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 15 September, 2005
Last Updated 15 September, 2005

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