THE SIAI-MARCHETTI-NARDI FN-333—FOR PIRATES OF THE RIVIERA PART 2
YESTERDAY, THE FN-333 RIVIERA’S heritage was described here as a rare amphibious aircraft, 26 produced in Italy, perhaps six in the world airworthy today. Here in Part 2, I offer tidbits of FN-333 lore, including a 1966 flight test in Flying magazine as well as my own GMax modeling of the aircraft.
On Researching the FN-333. The Riviera Archive proved to be a wonderful resource in my GMax modeling. For example, a translated SIAI Marchetti brochure of the era described the FN-333 as “all metal, 4-place with propulsive engine. Its high-wing, tail boom structure has been carefully studied, in order to provide for perfect land and water performance.”
The brochure cites advantages of the Riviera’s layout. Its high-mounted prop is free of the water. The pusher configuration leaves the view forward unobstructed. And engine noise is above and aft of the cabin.
In fact, the brochure continues, “… the high wing construction gives perfect visibility towards the ground. The sound-proof cabin interior has been obtained by covering all walls with soft material. The tapestry of the cabin and seat cover have been carefully studied, by famous Italian specialists, offering perfect color harmony and best quality. Special attention has been given to avoid corners and surface irregularities, which could endanger the safety of owners.”
A 1966 Flight Test View. In Flying magazine, June 1966, James Gilbert’s sidebar reads, “The Riviera: Private Pirate’s Galleon. Yo Ho Ho and a Cloud of Spray—At Least, Until You Are Up On the Step. Come On In; It’s Lovely.”
“Normally,” Gilbert reported, “you fly down final approach with power on, but the recommended short-field approach is an odd one: They say come in at 102 knots or 118 mph, i.e., faster than usual, but power off with full flap. This gives a rate of descent approaching that of a brick, but enough speed to flare.”
The Riv on the the Riviera. “Water landings are similar,” Gilbert said, “though you want to lower floats and flaps early to give yourself plenty of time to check around and be sure you hit the right lever…. After landing, don’t bring the yoke all the way back, but continue to fly the airplane with it until you run out of speed and fall off the step.”
“On takeoff from water,” Gilbert described, “again you do not want to pull the yoke all the way back as you would a floatplane. As you first apply power, the entire airplane seems to vanish under a deluge of water; there really is a great deal of spray until you get up on the step.”
He describes one takeoff: “A guy in a speedboat comes out to watch us, but returns quickly to his mooring, drenched.”
On Sound-Proofing. Gilbert begged to differ about the brochure’s “sound-proof cabin.” He reported, “Start the engine and you know it’s there. North Star’s [the U.S. agent] Mel Hunter told us that 60 percent of the engine noise comes in through the rear window, and they have hopes of reducing it in the future.
The Fun of a Reversible Prop. The SIAI-Marchetti brochure described “The RIVIERA will be delivered with HARTZELL 2-blade or 3-blade all-metal, constant speed propeller. Either of the above types has a reverse pitch device.”
Gilbert reported, “Taxiing the Riviera even on land has this fun gimmick of reverse power; you can back into that tight spot in the line, or back up to the edge of the hardtop for your run-up. It amuses the guys in the tower, if nothing else.”
And maybe bolsters your image as a Pirate of the Riviera. ds