In an unbroken history dating back to the period before WW1 Aeronautica Macchi has produced more than 7000 aircraft of its own design. Approximately 10% of the total have been examples of the MB-326 family of jet trainers and light attack aircraft.
Dr.Ing. Ermanno Bazzochi who was Airmacchi’s technical director and chief engineer began design work on the MB-326 as a two-seat basic trainer during 1954 and the first two prototypes flew on 10th December 1957. The aircraft was powered by one 1,750-lbst Bristol Siddeley (later Rolls Royce) Viper 8 turbojet. The second prototype and the 15 pre-production aircraft ordered for the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI) were each powered by the first standard engine, the Viper ASV 11 turbojet at 2,500 lbst.
Following its acceptance of the aircraft AMI received 85 production trainers during February 1962 intended for all stages of flying training. The MB-326 is based on an airframe that is simple and robust. Instructor and student pilot sit in tandem in pressurised cabin of lightweight ejection seats, the instructor’s seat to the rear being slightly higher than the student at the first seat.
The MB-326 has been built in many variants and from the beginning of the programme was seen as possessing potential for development with a light attack capability. Initially offered in the proposed MB-326A variant with six under wing hard points for a variety of external stores but AMI at the time had no requirement for such a type but similar aircraft were exported to Ghana and Tunisia.
Four unarmed MB-326D trainers were delivered to Alitalia as pilot trainers. Several countries bought and built under license more than 800 examples. MB-326H with full armament capability was assembled or license built in Australia by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Other types such as MB-326M were assembled or license built in the Transvaal by the Atlas Aircraft Corporation for the South African Air Force by which type is known as Impala Mk 1. The MB-326 GB was ordered for the Argentine Navy and also for the Air Forces of Brazil, Zaire and Zambia. Other variants were delivered to Paraguay and Togo.
In 1981 the “Macchino” as the MB-326 was nicknamed by the Italian pilots, was supplemented in the training role by MB-339A and later operated in same liaison units up to 1994, when it was finally withdrawn. During its service life the MB-326 visited places like Hal Luqa, Malta and other airfields on the Italian mainland and was based in Ciampino, Grazzanire, Decimomanno, Gioia del Colle, Pratica di Mare and
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Type of kit: Airmacchi MB-326
Kit No: 1308
Cost: 12 Euro
This is the same model issued by Supermodel back in 1990 of Italy with the main difference being in the revised decal sheet. The kit is molded in pale grey styrene and comes with a reasonable cockpit comprising crew seats, instrument panels for both crew, consoles and decals for the instruments. The seats do not look quite the type to me being on the narrow side but Pavla Models of the Czech Republic makes justice to the otherwise a good kit by providing a complete replacement cockpit interior parts in resin and a very clear vac form canopy. Some time ago Aeroclub also made metal seats for the type but I go for recent Pavla issue which one finds among their wide range of resin detail parts at this scale of 1/72.
The Italeri kit of the MB-326 comes with an under fuselage air brake that can be mounted in the extended position. This if fitted in this form would be preferably dealt with after the undercarriage is fixed to ensure clearance from the ground. Antennas and stores are also in the kit box but one needs to refer to photos of the particular type being built to ensure the correct stores and aerials are put on if any. Surface detail is raised rather than engraved making it difficult to restore if these are removed with excessive wet and dry.
The kit has three decal options, namely a R.Australian AF team “Roulettes” based at East Sale Air Base, Victoria; another belonging to the Brazilian AF. Squadron “Centauro” Santa Maria Air Base circa 1998 and any from three squadrons serving with Aeronautica Militare Italiana namely 609 Squadriglia at Grazzanise, 1990, 603 Squadriglia at Ghedi 1989 and another of Scuola Vole (flying school) at Galatina.
In line with the release of the kit by Italeri, Pavla Models, as mentioned earlier have released a resin detail kit C72-103 consisting of highly detailed instrument panel, ejection seats, cockpit coaming, tiny side instruments items, correct ejection seats, canopy lifting device and all these are with colour caption guides in both Czech and English language.
Construction starts with preparing the resin parts to replace the less detailed kit ones of the Italeri model. These items were painted accordingly and gently fitted in the forward part of the fuselage, completing the cockpit in doing so. Some lead weight was added in accordance to the kit instructions. The exhaust pipe was added and the fuselage was closed. Assembly of the wings and tail planes was a straightforward job. Fitting the undercarriage items, air brake that I preferred to close, followed. Reference was made to the book Volume II Jet. Venti Anni di Aeronautica Militare Italiana meaning (ghoxrin sena tal-qawwa tal-ajru taljana) by Frans Storaro 1978-1999.
In this book there is the orange MB-326 picture on page 66 and 67 in same squadron markings that I chose to make mine. These showed that the aircraft lacked the under fuselage long antenna as well as the semi circle aerial fitted to the tail fin and so I have left these out. Finally I cut and fitted the Pavla clear vac form canopy using Klear, after I trimmed it to a perfect match at its location.
Colour and markings.
Model was finished in Compucolor International Orange after first giving a spray base coat of Model Master insignia white. Then after a coat of Klear I applied decal markings for machine No 99 Aeronautica Militare Scuola Vuolo 61 Sturmo, Galatina (LE). Decal sheet also contained white stencilling which were common to all the three different schemes for the Macchi kit.
I quite enjoyed building the model and it stands out every time I placed it next to a line-up of a Starfighter, Tornado and a Typhoon all in Italian AF markings.
Carmel J Attard
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