This French fighter was one of few aircraft to serve on both sides during the Second World War. The Dewoitine D.520 first entered service in early 1940, before the German Blitzkrieg rampaged across France. After the fall of France, the fighter served both the Vichy French and Free French air forces. When Vichy French forces in North Africa sided with the Allies in late 1942, a number of these aircraft served briefly in Tunisia. The Allies quickly phased these out in favour of types like the Spitfire and P-39 Aircobra.
The Regia Aeronautica also employed some captured D.520s in the defence of Italy. Its 20mm cannon made it a decent gun platform to take on large American daylight bombers like the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator. Unfortunately, the French-built cannons were not compatible with Italian-built ammunition, meaning the Italians were dependent on French depots for their supply. After the 8 September 1943 Italian armistice, both the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force and the German-backed Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana used the type.
Type: single-seat fighter
Powerplant: one 930hp (693kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 12-cylinder Vee engine
Performance: maximum speed 540km/h (336mph); climb to 4000m (13,125ft) in 5 minutes 49 seconds; service ceiling 11,000m (36,090ft); range 1540km (957 miles)
Weights: empty 2125kg (4685lb); maximum take-off 2790kg (6151lb)
Wingspan: 10.2m (33ft 6in)
Length: 8.76m (28ft 9in)
Height: 2.57m (8ft 5in)
Armament: one 20mm (0.79in) fixed forward-firing cannon in the nose, and four 7.5mm (0.29in) fixed forward-firing machine guns in the leading edges of the wing
The following Regia Aeronautica units used the Dewoitine D.520 in the defence of Sicily and southern Italy:
- 161 Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre
- 162 Squadriglia
- 164 Squadriglia
- 371 Squadriglia