"Italy's Spitfires"

Macchi-Castoldi MC 202s

The MC 202 Folgore (Thunderbolt) was the exact Italian equivalent to the Spitfire.

R J Mitchell designed the Spitfire using knowledge and experience gained from designing Supermarine's Schneider Trophy racing seaplanes.
Mario Castoldi designed many of Italy's formidable contenders in the Schneider Trophy races, especially the amazing MC-72, which, through teething problems with the engine, was not ready in time for what became the last of the Schneider Trophy races. The MC-72, however, went on to take the world seaplane speed record, which stood, I believe, into the 1950s.

Mario Castoldi's fighter design was initially seriously underpowered with its 870 hp Fiat radial engine in the Saetta, but blossomed into a fast and beautiful handling fighter when re-engined with the 1175hp Daimler-Benz DB601 engine, built under licence by Alfa-Romeo.
Fortunately for the Allies, the MC202 was never produced in sufficient numbers to cause us too much trouble;  it was a formidable opponent, being fast and manoeuvrable, if somewhat lightly armed for the time.

When I did this pastel sketch, which measures 17.5"x10.75" (image), or 23"x16.5" including mount, I knew which 'Stormo' these Folgores were from, but I can't find the reference right now.
I often try out an idea as a pastel sketch, to see if the composition and colours 'work', before I set out do do an oil painting, and this is one of those sketches, ie, not intended to be in any way a 'finished painting', but a way of trying ideas before committing considerably more time on an oil painting, and then finding it doesn't 'work' as well as anticipated.
For commissions, I have found it virtually essential to produce a pastel sketch first, in order to have a 'discussion document' from which the client and myself can finalise details for the required oil painting. Otherwise, there is a risk that the oil painting will need lots of re-working, which, apart from wasting valuable time, is undesirable because one can see, somehow, that a re-worked painting lacks 'conviction' and coherence.

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