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IN “THE COOL World of Seaplanes,” Flying magazine, June 1966, James Gilbert summed up the FN-333 Riviera, “The ads talk about your being a private pirate in the Riviera, but that’s exactly what it makes you feel like: some kind of rollicking, rumbustious pirate.”
Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are SIAI-Marchetti-Nardi FN-333 Riviera tidbits.
A Good Many Names. You may recall Nardi because of its artful Italian wood-rimmed steering wheels. And Marchetti, as in the Savoia-Marchetti SM.55 flying boat and Italo Balbo’s squadron of SM.55 craft visiting the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.
But what about SIAI? It stands for Società Idrovolanti Alta Italia, Seaplane company of Northern Italy, dating from 1915. Just after World War I, SIAI was incorporated into Savoia, another Italian aircraft firm founded in 1915. In 1922, the Marchetti name was added as well, honoring chief designer Alessandro Marchetti. Yet another rebranding, to SIAI-Marchetti, occurred in 1943.
Tapping a Post-WWII Market? In 1952, Nardi developed a seaplane prototype, the design of which leaned conceptually on the Republic RC-3 Seabee. Like the Seabee, the FN-333 was an amphibious light plane, figured to satisfy ex-WWII pilots eager to acquaint their families with flight.
The problem was, most ex-WWII pilots were blessedly happy never to pilot an aircraft again.
According to Wikipedia, “By the end of production [after only two years, 1946 and 1947], a respectable 1060 Seabees had been built.” The FN-333 faired rather worse: Only 26 were built over its six-year production run beginning in 1962. Perhaps a half-dozen remain airworthy today.
For Pirates of the Riviera. According to Wikipedia, “Most of the 26 built by SIAI-Marchetti were sold to customers in the United States, but examples were also sold to Australia, Norway, and Sweden.”
My introduction to the Riviera craft came from Kenneth Munson’s Private Aircraft, one of the Pocket Encyclopedias of World Aircraft in Color, the source of many of my GMax modeling projects for inclusion in Microsoft Flight Simulation.
Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll discuss two other sources: an SIAI Marchetti brochure and a flight test in Flying magazine. I’ll also share more views of my GMax Riviera model.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021