P.108A serie 2
|This page is about the Italian strike aircraft P.108A serie 2. For the bombers, see P.108B serie 1 and P.108B serie 2.
The Piaggio P.108A Artgliere (lit. "Gunship") was an unusual variant of the P.108 heavy bomber. Designed in response to a requirement issued in November 1942 to supplement torpedo bombers in anti-shipping duties, the P.108A was armed with a massive 102 mm 102/35 mod.14 cannon (a bored-out version of the proven 90 mm 90/53 mod.41 anti-tank cannon) in its fuselage, one of the largest armaments ever fitted onto an aircraft at that time. To maximize the effectiveness of the gun, the plane was to be fitted with an analog computer to help in calculating the aim, as well as a 12-round autoloader. However, due to the worsened situation of Italy, frequent Allied bombing raids, and the realization that such an aircraft was more expensive than a traditional bomber while its theoretical effectiveness was questionable at best, only one prototype was built and tested before the program was cancelled in September 1943. The sole P.108A would later be captured by the Germans but presumably destroyed in a later bombing raid in 1944.
Introduced in Update 1.69 "Regia Aeronautica" initially as a rank III "strike aircraft", but gradually reduced to a rank I aircraft. The P.108A serie 2 is similar to the normal P.108s, but with a 102 mm anti-shipping gun containing 50 rounds, basically making it an oversized Hs 129 or PBJ-1H. However, the main reason for the Artgliere to be now pitted frequently against reserve biplanes and early monoplanes rather than being used for tank-busting (or boat killing) duties like the aforementioned planes is due to it being too big, too slow, too sluggish, and too hard to get its gun on target without being hit by any enemies. The 102 mm cannon was intended to be used against large and relatively defenseless target like an average cargo ship, something that the Artgliere will rarely come across outside of Simulator Battles. Managing to hit any ground vehicle with the first shot is considered a miracle, let alone against aircraft. Since the 102 mm is the only "offensive" armament it has, the P.108A is restricted to ground attack role, something that it performed rather poorly.
In an ironic twist, the P.108A is placed at such a low BR that it can be played as a pure gunship and keep true to its official nickname Artgliere, baiting any inexperienced pilots to chase your tail and hope that you can gun them down with your defensive turret. Though be warned; the plane is pretty much a sitting duck against those who know where to attack it.
It is difficult to compliment the P.108A's flight performance. It is for all intents and purposes a heavy bomber repurposed into a strike aircraft. It flies somewhat acceptably compared to other bombers but by strike aircraft standards it is poor. The P.108A is slow, turns poorly, and does not accelerate or climb well. Roll rate and energy retention are not really applicable for this aircraft. The sheer weight and bulk of the plane give it a large amount of inertia, so getting guns on target during a strafing run can be a major challenge due to its weak rudder and extremely sluggish controls. Once its altitude is expended, there is little chance of getting it back in a timely manner. Think twice about your speed and altitude before attacking a ground or naval target and avoid steep dives or you will be fighting with the controls in a futile attempt to pull up!
| Max Speed
(km/h at 3,049 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run
|Max Static G
|Optimal velocities (km/h)
Survivability and armour
- 8 mm Steel - Cockpit armour - instrument panel, pilot's seat, co-pilot's seat and floor plate below pilot
- 8 mm Steel - Armour plate protecting ammo located in wings
- 8 mm Steel - Side gunner armoured walls
- 8 mm Steel - Ventral gunner position
- Fuel tanks located in wings
While the P.108 series is not well known for its durability, the P.108A serie 2 is placed at such a low BR that it mostly faces enemies armed only with small-calibre machine guns, to which the plane is capable of absorbing huge number of rounds with. However, due to the lack of protection on the gunners, they can be easily knocked out. In an uptier where large-calibre machine guns and 20 mm autocannons are common, the P.108A serie 2 will not fare well against these enemies as they can easily dismantle you from higher altitudes.
Modifications and economy
- The first tier modifications to be unlocked should be Radiator and Fuselage repair, then Turret 7 mm. This is so you can improve the poor performance of the plane. The belts should be last as no matter what the defensive firepower of the plane with or with out the belts would still remain poor.
- The second tier upgrades should start with the Airframe so your plane is a bit more durable. Then get the New 7 mm MGs (turret) and Offensive 102 mm for increase in firepower and defensive armament. Finally go get the Compressor.
- The Third tier modifications should start off with the Engine, then unlock the Wings repair. Last of all unlock the Turret 12.7 mm.
- The fourth tier modification should start off with the New 12.7 mm MGs (turret) then Cover. And your last two modification should be Engine Injection and New 102 mm Cannons.
The P.108A serie 2 is armed with:
- 1 x 102 mm 102/35 mod 14 cannon, nose-mounted (50 rpg)
The only offensive armament the P.108A serie 2 has is a massive 102 mm 102/35 mod 14 cannon cannon mounted on the nose in a downward-pointing angle, intended to aiding the pilot to hit the ship without putting the nose down.
In theory, the 102 mm cannon is capable of one-shotting any plane it comes across, and crippling any ground or light naval targets. However, in practice, the cannon is largely useless against these targets due to relatively poor accuracy and awkward firing angles, as well as the difficulty in aiming it due to the plane's poor handling.
Thus, the only realistic usage of 102 mm cannon is against static targets, which can be hit (mostly) reliably at around 500 m range, though in doing so also means that you will effectively expose yourself to any aircraft above you or even AI AA guns on the ground that could hit you due to the plane's huge size.
The P.108A serie 2 is defended by:
- 2 x 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun, 2 x remote-controlled wing turret (300 rpg = 1,200 total)
- 1 x 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun, ventral turret (450 rpg)
- 1 x 7.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun, 2 x beam turret (400 rpg = 800 total)
The P.108A serie 2 retains the same defensive armament layouts as its bomber variant, the P.108B serie 2. Even at the BR of the P.108A, these guns are somewhat ineffective against lightly-armoured biplanes and early monoplanes due to the awkward convergence, though this will be main way of getting kills by baiting any inexperienced pilots into chasing it.
However, the P.108A's turret layout still retains fatal flaws of the lack of protection for the gunners, as they are bunched close together and can be easily knocked out in a well-aimed shot, leaving the plane defenseless. In addition, the complete lack of coverage at the frontal angles will leaves the P.108A at the mercy of any enemy pilot that approaches.
Usage in battles
The Piaggio P.108A Serie 2 is a four-engine strike aircraft. Despite being a strike aircraft, the 102 mm cannon is relatively inaccurate which means the targets that best suit this plane are large stationary targets that the cannon can penetrate and destroy. The plane's defensive firepower is relatively poor, so you should try to avoid enemy planes as much as possible. If an enemy plane is lining up to attack you from the front, try to swing your plane around and give him your tail so your gunners can shoot back at him. It is recommended to fly with squadmates or recruit an escort as a lone P.108A is easy prey for roving enemy fighters. Stay low and do not go above 1,900 m. Speed is key: try to maintain a speed of close to 200 km/h to give you wiggle room as your stall speed is 155 km/h despite the massive weight.
Bomber vs bomber gunfights are ill-advised because the P.108A's gunners are easy to knock out and their weapons do not deal a high amount of damage. Try to make the enemy bomber attack you from behind, or try to stay in front of and below him. It is possible to go low-level bomber hunting using the main cannon and its HE shell, but this is very situational and will most likely end up in you being hunted by enemy fighters. Enemy AI attackers can be hunted as they fly very predictably, but will often have potent defensive guns which can snipe your pilot as you pull up behind them. If you do manage to get a hit with the HE shell, 690 grams of TNT will blow even the largest aircraft out of the sky.
Ground Realistic Battles
In Ground RB, try to attack enemy vehicles from the side, preferably ones that are stationary and looking away from you. This is where they are the largest and there is less chance that your target will spot you before you can attack. Since the reloading of the 102 mm cannon is done manually, it will take a relatively long time to reload. A large ammo reserve means that you can take a couple of long-distance sniper shots as you get closer to your target. Make sure you can both hit the target and pull out of the dive or you will miss and crash. The large calibre gun, which was derived from the 90 mm 90/53 mod.41, will do significant damage to enemy tanks if it gets a hit. Try to aim for the crew compartment to maximise damage, or hit the engine to immobilise it for so you can swing around for another pass.
The aircraft is a very large target, its size and slow speed mean that enemy tanks have a chance to shoot you down with their coaxial machine guns and even their main cannon. The poor frontal armour will often get the pilot sniped or have its engines and fuel set alight on a low pass. Beware of enemy tanks that have roof-mounted machine guns. Many American vehicles like the M24 Chaffee, M4 Sherman, and the M10 GMC have .50 cal machine guns for AA defense. These will do a lot of damage to your plane and pilot. Try to keep your distance from these tanks and attack when they aren't looking.
Any enemy SPAA able to get its guns on target is dangerous. If there is an enemy SPAA present, circle outside of the battlefield and try to get your teammates to dispatch it before you start attack runs.
Despite anti-shipping being the P.108A's original design purpose, Naval battles are a poor game mode for the aircraft. Almost every target in Naval will have some sort of AI-controlled AA gunners that can hit you with pinpoint accuracy. It is recommended to go after vulnerable AI cargo ships and unsuspecting PT boats. On open waters and open skies, a P.108A is very easy to spot so player-controlled boats will most likely see you first and start evasive manoeuvres making them very difficult to hit. A lone Clemson-class destroyer like USS Litchfield can be a viable target as it has no AA armament, but will take multiple shots and multiple passes to destroy because of its large size.
Manual Engine Control
Auto control available
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- 102 mm cannon can prove devastating on a direct hit
- Large amount of ammo for the cannon
- Two turrets with two 12.7 mm guns each are placed on the distant engines allowing for more guns to face backwards
- Survivability of a four-engined heavy bomber
- Slow enough that enemy fighters have less time to fire and will often overshoot
- Atrocious flight performance
- Very poor turn rate, roll rate, climb rate, and energy retention, incapable of flying to intercept anything
- Will be outran and outturned by almost every plane it may face
- Difficult to take off without flaps due to low horsepower engines
- Massive target, very easy to spot and hit
- Prone to fuel tank fire due to tremendous fuel load
- Awful offensive capabilities
- Inaccurate downward-pointing cannon and sluggish handling make lining up shots very difficult
- No suspended ordnance options, thus leaving the unreliable 102 mm cannon as the only "offensive" option
- Relatively weak defensive armament, even for its BR
- Gunners are bunched together and easily knocked out
- Turrets on the engines cannot face forwards, making any head-ons a death sentence
The Piaggio P.108 heavy bomber series were the only strategic bombers to see service with the Italian military during World War II. The P.108 was developed prior to the war as a continuation of the earlier prototype Piaggio P.50. With long range and considerable bombload, the P.108 was supposed to offer the Regia Aeronautica the ability to attack ships and bases throughout the Mediterranean region, particularly at Gibraltar. The resulting aircraft was fairly advanced by the standards of the Italian industry, featuring all-metal construction, electric welding, and remote-control gun turrets on the outer engine nacelles. It looked somewhat like an Italian equivalent of the American B-17 Flying Fortress, which itself had been considered for license production in Italy. The P.108 first flew in late 1939.
The P.108 had its fair share of issues, largely related to its engines. During one test flight in February 1941, all four Piaggio R.XI engines of the P.108 prototype failed due to heavy icing. The pilot miraculously made a safe emergency landing. Later examples switched to the Piaggio R.XXII engine instead. The reputation of the bomber also took a hit when Bruno Mussolini, the son of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and the commander of a P.108 crew, died after a crash on August 7, 1941 caused by hydraulic and engine failure shortly after takeoff. The P.108 only entered combat service in 1942 and saw middling success at first; engine troubles aside, Italian crews were not prepared for the navigation and fuel management challenges that long range bombing missions entailed. By 1943, the P.108s began to encounter stiff resistance from enemy aircraft and several were lost to British fighters. After the Italian armistice, the remaining P.108s saw little service. The transport versions served to the end of the war.
The P.108A was a curious modification of the P.108B bomber variant developed in late 1942. It was designed to attack ships, and to this end it was equipped with an enormous 102 mm cannon in the lower part of the nose. The cannon was a bored-out development of the 90/53 cannon used by the Italian Army, capable of firing larger shells. The installation added two tons of weight to the P.108. The airframe was revised and a special gun sight was installed, later including an analog computer. The P.108A underwent extensive testing and was deemed an effective anti-ship strike aircraft. Plans were made to assemble 5 additional P.108As for a dedicated attack unit, but the Italian armistice halted them. Thus, only one P.108A was ever built. It fell into German hands and was evaluated by the Luftwaffe at their test center in Rechlin, Germany. It was damaged and later destroyed by Allied bombing some time after 1944.
The P.108 did not make a significant impact in World War II, only being produced in small numbers and encountering many obstacles during testing and operational use. It was used in Gibraltar, North Africa, and Sicily with mixed results. The P.108A avoided the developmental troubles of the bomber versions but never entered service, and the single prototype never fired its gun in anger. In spite of its faults, the P.108 can be credited with being the pinnacle of Italian bombers. It served as a basis for the improved P.133 design, which promised superior performance and armament but was canceled after the armistice and never built.
No P.108s are known to survive today.
- Similar aircraft fitted with a large-calibre gun
|P.108A serie 2
|P.108B serie 1 · P.108B serie 2
|Italy strike aircraft
|Ba.65 (K.14) L · Breda 88 (P.XI) · F.C.20 Bis · P.108A serie 2
|Ro.57 Quadriarma · SM.91 · SM.92
|◐Bf 110 G-4 · Hs 129 B-2 (Romania)