Gaetano Arturo CROCCO

Gaetano Arturo CROCCO was an Italian engineer born in Naples on Oct. 26, 1877. Since 1900, when, after the University and the Army Artillery Academy, he became Lieutenant of the Italian Army Engineers, he started experiments and studies in many different fields. He can be considered as a pioneer of the aviation and the father of aerodynamics’ studies in Italy. For teaching aerodynamics, with the support of Vito VOLTERRA, he founded in 1908 the Italian Central Aeronautical Institute, and later on, in 1912, he realized the first italian experimental wind tunnel, followed soon by a second one, and finally by a third, specially used for high wind speed (up to 200 km/h) till WWII.

During the long university career (1926-1952), Arturo CROCCO published more than 170 scientific studies, he got 30 patents and invented 50 different aeronautic instruments, many of them are still used today in the field of the aircraft flight stability. He was nicknamed the Airship-Man when, in 1908, with his colleague Ottavio RICALDONI, he studied and built in 1906 the first Italian Airship: the N.1, a 2700 m3 vessel with a new semi rigid structure.

In 1934,he was named Chief Engineer for the building of the new “aeronautic” city of Guidonia, which was the centre of Italian flight studies, researches and experiences and, at that time, one of the most advanced in Europe. He died in Rome on 19thJan 1968.

His natural curiosity brought him to deeply investigate the hydrodynamic effects on the speed on the hulls and the submerged surfaces of the boats. As consequence, during the period from 1905 to 1907, he built, with RICALDONI, the experimental boat “Idroplano“ or “Barchino Idroscivolante”, equipped with two “V” dihedral steel foils to lift the boat out of the water and aerial propellers to push it, a true ancestor of the modern hydrofoils. The small boat was built in wood by Cantieri Baglietto di Varazze, and was pushed to more than 70 km/h by a 80 h.p. Clement-Bayard engine. The 2nd specimen of this beautiful experimental boat is perfectly preserved and exposed at the Italian Aviation Museum, located not so far from Rome, near the same lake on which the experiments were carried out:

MUSEO STORICO AERONAUTICA MILITARE
AEROPORTO VIGNA DI VALLE
00062 - BRACCIANO ( Roma )
ph. and fax 00 (39) 6 99 80 11 55 / 6


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Pictures Courtesy of Stefano Dentice

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