From Italy to the USA
Pomilio PE, 1071 built which reached most Corpo Aeronautico Militare units as reconnaissance planes
Fabbrica Aeroplani Ing. O. Pomilio was funded by the Polilio brothers in 1916, became the main supplier for reconnaissance planes, their various models equipped about 30 squadrons of the Italian Air Force. They also built versatile bomber/reconnaissance planes in association with Savoia. But in 1918, they sold their company to Ansaldo, that acquired their assets, and emigrated to the USA.
Pomilio PC (1917)
Due to rapid development of fighters, the need to defend reconnaissance planes led to devise faster, better armed models. In particular engineers searched for an adequate propulsion system, allowing greater speed and agility to disengage more easily from a fight. In this area, some late Ansaldo models were so fast they were sometimes used as fighters. But the Pomilio brothers studied the concept and went with a fast and agile reconnaissance, two seat biplane of conventional design, the PC. It was designed to meet the need expressed by the army to equip squadrons with a national production model. In early 1917 the prototype was ready and presented to a military commission. It passed all tests, and soon was adopted for production. However in service the PC revealed insufficient flight characteristics, in particular instability which was good for a fighter but a liability for an observation model, requiring some corrections during production (see PD). In particular the Pomilio Brothers added a ventral fin under the fuselage.
Design-wide, the PC was very conventional, two-bay biplane, single or two-seats in tandem, pilot at the front and observer/gunner behind. However the front tractor engine had its radiators and cooling system placed on the sides. The landing gear was a conventional fixed front bicycle and skid. The Fiat A.12 engine was a six-cylinder in-line water-cooled unit rated for 200 hp (147 kW) and well cowled due to the radiators being relocated on the sides, and driving a fixed pitch wooden bladed propeller.
The 131th Squadron and 132th Squadron took delivery of the first PCs in the second half of July 1917. Production was therefore limited as it was seen as a stopgap before the PD arrived, so about 70 planes.
In addition to its military service, a Pomilio PC was used as a postal plane on the Rome-Turin opening in May 22, 1917. It was piloted by Mario de Bernardi, pomilio Company chief test pilot, and landed after a 4 hours, 3 min. flight but it also had troubles keeping a steady course between the two cities.
Pomilio PD (1917)
The Pomilio PC as seen above was a relatively fast but instable machine, conventional and with a fixed tailskid landing gear, open cockpits in tandem and 260 hp (194 kW) Fiat A.12 tractor engine which entered service in june 1917. The Pomilio PD indeed introduced a tail fin and a ventral fin to help stability as well as other improvements. The engine's cylinder heads were exposed, whereas the radiator was placed in front of an upper wing. It was first was flown in June 1917, at the same time the first PC arrived in service. Overall, 431 PD were manufactured including 93 dual control trainers since there were still some flight issues that required good training. But the PD was just a step forward, and soon a new model, the PE replaced in in the end of 1917 and in 1918, in larger quantities. In all 545 PC and PD were delivered to the Italian Army, cumulating hundreds of hours of reconnaissance.
Pomilio PE (1917)
This last model was a an improvement of the PD, fitted with more powerful Fiat A.12bis for improved performances, a fully cowled engine, a vertical radiator at its front rather on the sides like previous models. The late production models in 1918 had their triangular fin replaced with a larger trapezoid unit. The PE entered production in October 1917, and a grand total of 984 were made at V-day including 103 trainers, but the production went on after the war as well, for a grand total of 1071 planes. Changes were made throughout the production run. curcially the 1918 planes had an addition two forward-firing synchronized machine-guns while the observer received a standard Lewis machine gun, which can hold more ammunitions. So this model was used both by the Corpo Aeronautico Militare and until the late 1920s by the Regia Aeronautica.
Crew: 2 (pilot, observer)
Length: 8.95 m (29 ft 4¼ in), Wingspan: 11.80 m (38 ft 8½ in), Height: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
Gross weight: 1535 kg (3384 lb)
One Fiat A.12bis six-cylinder inline piston engine, 224 kW (300 hp)
Performance: Maximum speed: 195 km/h (121 mph), Endurance: 3 hours 30 min, Service ceiling: 5000 m (16,405 ft)
Additional views, model
Pomilio FVL-8 (1918)
Soon after their arrival to the USA, the Pomilio brothers setup a workshop and proposed a design of their own to the Engineering Division of the Aviation Section of U.S. Signal Corps, by then still in need for such planes for operations in Europe. The FVL (For "Fighter Victory Liberty, 8 cylinders") was a one-seat biplane fighter aircraft built with a wooden framework, covered in plywood, well profiled and streamlined from the engine cowl to the tail. It was powered by a Liberty 8 engine, rated for 290 hp, driving a four-bladed propeller and giving a top speed of 133 mph (214 km/h). The fuselage was particular in having an ovoid section, attached to both planes by struts rather than having the fuselage attached to the lower wing. A solution chosen to lower drag. The FVL 8 first flew in February 1919 and six more were ordered for evaluation but no order was passed. The FVL-8 was 21 ft 8 in (6.60 m) long by 26 ft 8 in (8.12 m) of wingspan and 8 ft 2 in (2.48 m) high, weighting 1,726 lb (783 kg) up to 2,285 lb (1,036 kg).
Pomilio BVL-12 (1919)
Their last plane was an American experimental single-engine, two-seats biplane bomber ordered by the US Army Engineering Division, based on the proposed design of Ottorino Pomilio after the war ended. This plane was powered by 400 hp (298 kW) Liberty V12 (top speed 111 mph or 179 kph), and had an equal-span wing. But it was original as its lower wing was attached to the fuselage by struts. But trials soon shown poor performance; therefore production was limited to six evaluation models, the first flying in mid-1919.
Fabbrica Aeroplani Ing. O. Pomilio
About the Pomilio PE