The MC.202 Folgore (Thunderbolt), first flown August 10, 1940, was developed out of the MC.200 by substituting a much more powerful and streamlined inverted V-12 engine made by Alfa Romeo to a German Daimler-Benz design under license. The design had very good performance and served throughout World War II, being turned to the Allied side after Italy surrendered and began fighting with the Allies. The last few of over 1,100 built served Italy until 1948.
An even more advanced development was the MC.205 Veltro (Greyhound), equipped with a larger DB-605 engine. This machine had even better performance and addressed the MC.202’s most serious fault, its inadequate gun armament. Only 262 MC.205s were built, the first one flying November 1, 1942. Veltros became a standard fighter of the Italian Air Force in the post war years, the final ones being delivered in 1951 and not retired until the early 1960s. Considering this, it is surprising and disappointing that more of them didn’t survive to be preserved.
Two MC.202s and two MC.205s are preserved. One of each is in Italy’s air force museum near Rome, with that museum’s MC.205 having been restored to airworthy condition and operated until the 1980s. Another MC.202 is in the United States and the other MC.205 is in Milan.
Brought to the United States for evaluation during the war, this is the most intact MC.202/205 and the only one with an honest claim to originating from a single airframe, although the identity of that airframe had been obliterated by the time the National Air & Space Museum acquired it. It is painted as serial 9476 and has been on display at the NASM’s World War II gallery ever since the museum opened.
The National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan preserves this MC.205, painted as serial 9372. This machine is a composite restoration, having been built up from parts of MC.202s and MC.205s and trading parts with the other surviving MC.205, when the latter was airworthy, to keep it in the air.