On the Bench: Pacific Coast Models 1/32 Fiat G.55 Centauro

The Fiat G.55 Centauro

The Fiat G.55 was one of the last – and best – fighters build and operated by Italy during World War II. On a one-on-one basis, the high-altitude interceptor tangled effectively with Allied P-47s, P-51s and Spitfires, packing a potent Daimler DB605 inline engine and substantial hitting power by way of three 20mm cannons and two 12.7mm machine guns. Extremely popular with Regia Aeronautica pilots, it suffered the same drawback as most late-war Axis fighters – production runs. Only around 300 were built, hardly sufficient to make a dent against the Allied war industry.

Like most Italian machines, however, the G.55 is a looker, with gorgeous lines and often striking camoflage. Including the scheme I’m planning to tackle:

The Pacific Coast Models Kit

Pacific Coast Models serves a very welcome niche in the 1/32 market, producing limited run kits of subjects often ignored by the more established companies. They were boxing the Spitfire Mk.IX before Tamiya’s came along, for example, and my first experience with them was through their Griffon-engined Spitfire Mk.XIV, which is a rather prominent late-war variant notably missing from Tamiya’s VIII, IX and XVI stable.

While I haven’t built the Spit XIV yet, I was blown away by what I found in the box. Very well-molded styrene that, if not up to Tamiya’s latest stuff, could certainly hold its own against Hobby Boss or Airfix’s latest kits. Detail bits – the cockpit, wheels, and so on – are done is gorgeous resin that’s as good as any I’ve ever seen, and supplemented by custom Eduard PE sets. Top it all off with Cartograf-printed decals and, well, the kits are interesting and a hell of a bargain.

The G.55 is in some ways more interesting than the Spitfire XIV, with, for example a resin instrument panel and, I kid you not, color photo-etch gauges. Individual ones.

Why the Fiat?

I’ve wanted to build an Italian fighter or two for some time, and the kickoff of an Italian Group Build on the FSM forums finally got me off my duff. Simple as that!

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