The birth of the torinese aircraft industry

01 Aereo Fuseri rif

The early years of the 20th Century were characterised by the enormous zest for “modernity”, for scientific discoveries and for technological innovations, and these were the years in which Turin became the centre of industrial revolution where a new enthusiastic desire for novelty was perceptible in the air.

Turin’s traditional industries - cloth and confectionery - were gradually giving way to the new mechanical opportunities, in particular the automobile industry, and this new direction provided fertility and cultural preparation for aviation-linked initiatives. Thuse, in those earliest years of Italian aviation, Turin already possessed the skill to strike the spark which initiated the “heavier than air” aircraft industry, destined to spread rapidly to other parts of Italy.

In the wake of Faccioli’s experiments in Venaria, a number of small workshops were opened, and between 1909 and 1910, on the initiative of young, enthusisatic but mostly inexperienced designers, adventured into the world of aeronautics with mixed success.

  • Bruno Foco

Bruno Foco from Turin, the son of a postman, and without having attended an adequate course of studies, at the age of 18 years became interested in the problems of aeronautics, and intrigued by Faccioli’s experiments at Venaria, between 1908 and 1909 built an experimental biplane.

This aircraft had a wingspan of 10 meters and a wing area of 60 m2; its canard type control surfaces had a total area of 20 m2.

Given the materials used for the construction, the aircraft turned out to be heavier than expected, which kept him from having success.

Foco began the construction of a second biplane very similar to the first, for which he employed much lighter materials. There is no record that this was completed.

02 New Foco 1

  • Luigi Martino

Giving it the designation of “quadricell biplane”, Luigi Martino (a mechanic in the state railways) designed an aircraft made up of two biplane cells in tandem. The wing area was 62 m2 with a total weight of 460 kg. The project included two rear vertical rudders having symmetrical and parallel action, actuated by means of a steering wheel, which was also used to steer the wheels of the undercarriage. The design and then the construction began in 1905 in Scalenghe, in the Azzario workshop with the collaboration of three willing friends, Roncuzzi, Negro and Varalle. The engine used for the first ground tests was a 45/50 hp Anzani, later replaced by an engine designed and built by Martino himself in Turin, in the workshop of the night school in Via Ormea. 

After four years of study and modifications, the flight tests of the “quadricellular” took place at Venaria towards the end of 1909, but with little success.

03 New Martino quadricellare

  • Bortolotti Roberto , located at 53 Corso Oporto (today Corso Matteotti) who developed an aircraft with a two-cyli2nder air-cooled 18 hp engine with technical assistance from Ramassotto. This flew successfully in Turin, in the Parade Square on the 27th of May 1910, but never got past the prototype stage.

  • Ferrero & Tiboldo. who designed and began to build a monoplane but never completed it.

  • Aluffi & C. who in 1910, also constructed a monoplane which had no moveable flight surfaces, but was controlled through wing-warping. It essentially consisted of the wing and a rigid horizontal tail, and was powered by a 25 hp Anzani engine, but never managed to fly.

  • Navone C. (via Superga 18) who built a monoplane inspired by the French “Demoiselle”, but with a most original tail and ailerons on the trailing edges of the wings. This never flew either.

  • Bruno & Geninatti (via Roma 30) built a monoplane in 1910; much care was lavished on this – it had a complicated undercarriage built from nickel-plated tubes and wooden skids. Each wing was in two parts sustained by 12 metal cables while the tail consisted of two semi-circular units acting as tailplane and rudder. This excessively heavy aircraft was another one that never got off the ground.

The last 4 of factories these exhibited at the Turin Aeronautical Exposition held from the 8th to the 24th of April 1910.

04 Bruno e Geninatti

  • Robiola

  • Since 1909, the Turin physician Dr Attilio Robiola had begun to study and to design means of aerial locomotion based on the observation of the flight of birds at the end of which he devised “an airplane that cannot overturn”, that is, an “autostable aircraft”.

    Robiola patented his system in Germany (1909) and in the uk (February 29, 1912, Patent no. 1910/27876) with the title “Improved control system for aircraft and submarine boats”.

    As a practical application of his studies, between 1912 and 1913 he built an interesting aircraft, which he called a "Hydromultiplane", which was so described by the British newspaper Independent in 1914: “A new kind of flying machine, the Robiola multiplane, is built on this principle (auto-stability) and is entirely of metal, with six wing planes, one above the other”.


05 New IdroMultiplano Robiola

He was able to obtain the cooperation of the Aviators Battalion, which gave him two 80 hp Gnôme engines, and attempted test flights at Mirafiori in November 1913, but without success because of its excessive weight (about 1 ton) due to which his project foundered without appeal.

After the attempt with this aircraft, Robiola gave up aeronautics, although during the 1920’s he obtained patents for several engine designs.

Robiola described his theories in a 30 page booklet entitled “The Robiola hydroaeroplane – Edison’s Theory in harmony with the principles devised and applied by Dr Robiola” published in Pavia by the Tipografia Succ. Bizzoni in 1912.
Amongst the constructors of aviation accessories, could be found the following:


  • Perrino Pier Alfonso (via Schina 8).
  • Maccagno A. (via Baretti 28).
  • Maffei ing. G.A. (via Sacchi 28 bis) – makers of propellers.
  • Officine Meccaniche Subalpine of Levi e Vernetti in via Moncalvo 7 e 8.
  • O. Fusa & C. (via Cernaia 15) – loose items and accessories.
  • Fabbre Gagliardi & C. in Corso Re Umberto 62-64 (own premises) – aviation accessories.
  • Feroldi (via Volta 1-2) – aviation carburettor manufacturers.
  • Corrado e Taverna – articles for aircraft.
  • Giuseppe Damiani – aircraft wheels and tyres.
  • M. Fabry in corso Sommeiller 25 – aerial navigation instruments.


However, alongside these basic and experimental activities, a number of industrial concerns were also emerging.

06 Pubb Maffei 

07 pubb Damiani

08 Pubb Fabry

09 Pubb Gagliardi

10 Pubb Fusa

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