SIAI Marchetti SF-260, Flying with Air Forces around the World
Aircraft in detail 016, by R. Pied & N. Deboeck
HMH Publications, ISBN 978-2-931083-06-2
Two years ago in October 2019, the Belgian Air Force celebrated the SIAI Marchetti SF-260’s 50 years of service as primary trainer for future military pilots. The first aircraft were delivered in 1969 to replace the old SV-4bis biplane of the Elementary Flying School (EFS) then based in Goetsenhoven/Gossoncourt. By 1971, all 36 SF-260M (M for ‘Military’) had been delivered. A second batch of nine aircraft, SF-260Ds this time, was ordered at the end of 1991 to replace lost aircraft. In September 1996, the EFS moved to Beauvechain AB where it is still operating from today. The SF-260 is quite popular in Belgium not only for its colourful liveries but also thanks to the breath-taking demonstrations of the Red Devils aerobatic team gracing the skies during air shows in Belgium and abroad. The Belgian Air Force plans are to withdraw the SF-260 from service sometime around 2023.
HMH Publications have launched the Aircraft in detail series only three and a half years ago, so one can only say they are very active, as this is already the 16th book of this series and more are in the making!
The books have quite an unusual format of 24 x 24 cm and are published in full colour. All pictures are of the large format, which will be very helpful for us, modellers. All aircraft pictured are from recent years; so don’t look for camouflaged Belgian SF-260’s from the previous century. The text, in English, is limited to a strict minimum but photo captions are extensive where necessary. Most pictures do of course cover Belgian Air Force planes but there are also several pictures of Marchettis in other countries (Italy, the Philippines, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, etc). In fact, the plane has been operated by more than 30 air forces!
Throughout the 92 pages, the book is divided in several sections covering specific parts of the aircraft which is of course ideal when building a model: variants, forward fuselage, fuselage, wings, cockpit, front & main landing gear, SF-260 TP, tail section, maintenance (a dream for scratch builders) and ‘in action’ shots. There is of course a specific section dedicated to the Red Devils aerobatic team.
New kits in 1/144 and 1/72 of the SF-260 have recently reached the hobby shops and a 1/48 model should be available soon so this book comes at just the right time. So go and buy it, and above all, build a model of this superb airplane. Breaking news: two more Aircraft in detail books are due to come out in March and another one, about the A400M, in May…
Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by HMH Publications.