Cant Z.501 Gabbiano

In 1931 Cantiere Navale Triestino was reorganised as Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico (CRDA) and Marshal Italo Balbo, then Minister of Aviation in Italy, persuaded Ing. Filippo Zappatato return home from France to become the new company's chief engineer. His first design was the CRDA Cant Z.501 Gabbiano (seagull), a long-range reconnaissance bomber flying-boat of wooden construction, with fabric covering on the upper hull, wing and tail surfaces. Power was supplied by a 900 hp (671 kW) R2C.15 Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI 12-cylinder Vee liquid-cooled inline engine, driving a two-blade wooden or three-blade metal propeller, and its nacelle in the centre section was extended to include a cockpit for the flight engineer, who was also responsible for the operation of a 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Breda-SAFAT machine-gun. Two similar weapons were mounted in bow and dorsal positions, but on later aircraft the bow machine-gun was removed and the observer's position was fully enclosed. Racks were attached to the wing struts, inboard of the floats, and could carry a maximum load of 1,411 lbs (640 kg) of bombs.

A Cant Z.501 Gabbiano "Seagull" of the Squadriglie da Ricognizione Marittima (Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron)

The prototype made its first flight on 7 February 1934, and in October of that year Cant's chief pilot, Mario Stoppani, flew the aircraft 2,560 miles (4120 km) from the company's base at Monfalcone, Trieste to Massawa in Eritrea, a distance record for seaplanes. In July 1935, after France had taken the record, Stoppani regained it with a 3,080 mile (4957 km) flight to Berbera in British Somaliland.

The Z.501 entered squadron service with the Regia Aeronautica in 1936, and by the time Italy entered World War II on 10 June 1940 more than 200 formed the equipment of at least 17 squadrons and four flights. The Z.501 's operational debut was with a unit of the Aviazione Legionaria, based in Majorca and operating in support of the Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. A small number of Z.501s served with a coastal defence unit of the Romanian air force. A total of 454 was delivered before production ended in 1943.  

(Cant Z.501 Gabbiano "Seagull")

Type: Four or Five Seat Long Range Reconnaissance Bomber Flying Boat

Design: Chief Engineer Filippo Zappata of Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriadtico (CRDA) or Cant

Manufacturer: Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriadtico (CRDA) or Cant

Powerplant: One 900 hp (671 kW) R2C.15 Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI 12-cylinder Vee liquid-cooled inline engine.

Performance: Maximum speed 171 mph (275 km/h) at 8,200 ft (2500 m); cruising speed 149 mph (240 km/h) at 6,560 ft (2000 m); service ceiling 22,965 ft (7000 m); climb to 13,125 ft (4000 m) in 16 minutes.

Range: Cruising range 621 miles (1000 km) with full payload; maximum range (clean) 1,491 miles (2400 km).

Weight: Empty 8,466 lbs (3840 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 15,510 lbs (7035 kg).

Dimensions: Span 73 ft 10 in (22.50 m); length 46 ft 11 in (14.3 m); height 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m); wing area 667.38 sq ft (62.0 sq m).

Armament: Three 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Breda-SAFAT machine-guns (one used by the flight engineer in the engine nacelle, and one each in the bow and dorsal positions) plus up to 1,411 lbs (640 kg) of bombs. Later aircraft had the bow machine-gun removed and the observer's cockpit fully enclosed and bomb shackles were fitted at the intersection of the wing and float struts and these were capable of carrying up to four 353 lbs (160 kg) or two 551 lbs (250 kg) bombs.

Variants: None.

Avionics: None.

History: First flight 7 February 1934; (first deliveries) 1936.

Operators: Italy (Regia Aeronautica, Aeronautica Cobelligerante del Sud, Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana), Romania, Spain.