Ro 41 progressing at Vigna di Valle

At the Italian Air Force Museum at Vigna di Valle near Rome, restoration of the sole surviving IMAM Ro 41 advanced trainer is finally making visible progress, thanks to the dedicated volunteers from the Gruppo Amici Velivoli Storici (GAVS) Rome chapter. Having test-rigged the extensively rebuilt wings and fitted the new-build ailerons, the team has now almost completed application of the fabric covering.

With more than 900 singleand two-seaters built by IMAM and its licensee Agusta (forerunner to the present-day Leonardo Helicopters), the nimble Ro 41 was the most successful aircraft of the company founded by Nicola Romeo in 1917 — one year before he acquired the Milan-based Alfa car business, for which he is best known. Italian pilots of the Second World War era earned their military wings on the Ro 41, which cemented its place in popular history as the flying star of the 1942 film I tre aquilotti, in which actor/director Alberto Sordi made his debut.

The sporty little Ro 41 after the recent covering of the lower wings at Vigna di Valle.

The museum’s Ro 41 is a complex recreation based on wings and cowlings from post-war Agusta production (a total of 25 examples were built after the war by Agusta) and a Piaggio P.VII engine from the museum reserve collection. Twenty years ago the museum agreed to a GAVS proposal to build a reproduction fuselage as the catalyst for the accumulation of original parts and other components to be reproduced or acquired by the volunteers. Since the project’s inception, original wheels, a propeller, fuel tank and instruments have all been incorporated. The Ro 41 has benefited from floors, a control column and other original fittings gathered from the wrecks of several Ro 37bis army co-operation biplanes recovered from Afghanistan during 2006.

The long-forgotten IMAM marque has enjoyed a strong renaissance in recent years. During 2011-12 the Italian Air Force Museum put on display the sole surviving Ro 43 seaplane, restored in-house, and the only complete Ro 37bis army co-operation biplane, restored by AREA after its epic recovery from Afghanistan.