The Argentine Macchi MB.308Gs

LV-GGO was one of the many MB.308G built in Argentina from 1959 to 1960. (Photo via Francisco Halbritter.)

The MB.308 was a high-wing cantilever light plane designed by Ermanno Bazzochi for Aeronáutica Macchi and first appeared in 1946, achieving full production the following year. It accommodated pilot and co-pilot side by side, and had fixed tricycle landing gear, making it a superb mount for primary training and sport flying.

The MB.308 achieved considerable success at post-war sporting meetings and contests, with both private owners and aero-clubs. As expected, the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) also pushed it into service and for more than fifteen years it was the most widely used Italian-built light plane. The variants of the MB.308 included the two-seaters, powered by Continental C.85 and C.90 engines, and the funny looking MB.308 Idro equipped with floats. Later on, Macchi began production of a three-seater version, from which the Argentine MB.308G would evolve.

We make furniture… And airplanes too!!!

Established in 1891, the Argentine Company Germán Bianco, S.A. was famous for its magnificent carpentry products, whether it was furniture or complicated wooden structures. In 1944, as a result of its experience and knowledge, the company applied for a license to produce primary training sail-planes. After receiving the license from the government, the company built a hangar and a workshop at the village of San Andrés, near Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and began the construction of several Escuela 38, Grunau 9a and Grunau Baby sail-planes which were very well accepted by the aeroclub community of the region.

At this point, the sail-plane factory was transitioned into a division of Germán Bianco, S.A. and christened Fábrica Argentina de Aerodinos, S.A. (Argentine Factory of Aerodynos.) For a while, at least, the division enjoyed the sweet taste of success as sales went ballistic.

By the mid fifties, the Fábrica began a series of seemingly endless negotiations with Aeronáutica Macchi to acquire the right to produce one hundred MB.308s in Argentina. It is important to note that the MB.308, being a product of the post-war era, was made of non-strategic materials (i.e. wood) and thus very attractive to the Argentine company, who saw in the plane an excellent business opportunity at a relatively low cost. When Macchi finally accepted, three disassembled MB.308s, together with 85 detail part kits were shipped to Argentina so the Fabrica’s engineers could come to terms with the design and establish their own building patterns. With that stage complete, production began in late 1958.

LV-GHP (C/N 511) was still current by 2005. (Photo: Gabriel Pavlovic via Francisco Halbritter.)

The first Argentine-produced MB.308 rolled out in January 1959, at the Fábrica’s hangar at the Don Torcuato airfield (Buenos Aires), where a final assembly plant had been built. As expected, the private pilots and aeroclubs received the MB.308s very well, since, according to Mr. Francisco Halbritter’s article “El Macchi MB.308 en Argentina” it was a real bargain.

It’s interesting to note that all Argentine production was three-seaters, powered by Continental C.90 engines, making them MB.308G variants. The Fábrica marketed them as excellent mounts for business flying, crop-dusting, sport-flying and even medical evacuation!!!

Truncated Dreams and Hybrid Hopes

As mentioned earlier, the Fábrica’s goal was to produce one hundred MB.308s. However, due to complications within the Argentine economy, problems in the procurement of suitable wood and the ruthless competition posed by foreign aircraft firms (Cessna among them), only 46 examples were completed, with the last being delivered in 1967. A couple of years later, the German Bianco company was dissolved and its assets sold, leaving only good memories behind.

By 2005, only four MB.308Gs  were still flying in Argentina, with a handful more in restorable condition, but abandoned nevertheless. Surprisingly, during the course of this research work, Mr. Halbritter told us that, in the town of González Chávez (South of Buenos Aires), work was in progress to mate an MB.308G fuselage with the wings of a Fairchild M.62. This hybrid, aside from being a low wing cantilever plane, would be powered by a Subaru engine or even a Kinner K5.

MB.308G Technical Stuff

Wingspan: 10mts.
Long: 6.52mts.
Wing Surface: 15.72 square mts.
Height: 2.17mts.
Load Coefficient: 11.4 G
Max. Speed: 203km/h
Cruise Speed: 170km/h
Landing Speed: 65km/h

Empty Weight: 430Kg
Max. Load: 300Kg

Max. Ceiling: 4000mts.
Range: 720Kms.
Fuel Time: 4:30 Hrs.

Theoretically, the MB.308G needed only 60 meters for taking off and 55 for landing, making it a truly STOL airplane.

Macchi-Built MB.308Gs on the Argentine Civil Register

C/NRegistrationRegistration DateComments
5810LV-RZFFeb. 26, 1949Last registered to Roberto Vera. Still current by 2005.
5818LV-RZGFeb. 26, 1949Last registered to Leonidas Matteri.
Rebuilt as LV-X347. Still current in March 2014.
5916LV-GDZFeb. 26, 1949Last registered to Carlos Galina

Germán Bianco-Built MB.308Gs on the Argentine Civil Register

C/NRegistrationRegistration DateComments
501LV-GGOMar. 25, 1959Last registered to Americo Caseb
502LV-GGPMar. 25, 1959Last registered to Arnaldo Bianco
504LV-GGXApr. 20, 1959Last registered to Aeroclub La Consulta
505LV-GHGMay 20, 1959Registered to Renato Coda
506LV-GHHMay 20, 1959Registered to O. Murtagh y J. Pérez
507LV-GHIMay 20, 1959Registered to Aeroclub Centenario
508LV-GHMJun. 20, 1959Registered to Germán Bianco S.A.
509LV-GHNJun. 20, 1959Registered to La Helada, S.A.
510LV-GHOJul. 20, 1959Last registered to María C. Andreu
511LV-GHPJul. 20, 1959Last registered to Gorki Cocari.
Still current in 2005.
512LV-GHSOct. 20, 1959Last registered to Johan Mantle
513LV-GHTAug. 15, 1959Registered to Aeroclub Bella Vista
514LV-GHUOct. 20, 1959Registered to Carlos Anders
515LV-GIMOct. 20, 1959Registered to Iván Costa y G. Cancio
516LV-GHVOct. 20, 1959Registered to Germán Bianco, S.A.
517LV-GINJun. 1962Last registered to Héctor Dinucci
518LV-GIODec. 20, 1959Last registered to Carlos A. Corti
520LV-GIPFeb 20, 1960Last registered to Aeroclub Chacabuco
521LV-GJNSep. 1960Last registered to Francisco Wachs
522LV-GJONov. 1962Last registered to Carlos Pozzi
523LV-GJPLast registered to Gorleri Lottero
524LV-GJRRegistered to Germán Bianco, S.A.
525LV-GLRApr. 20, 1961Last registered to Aeroclub Villa Gesell.
Still current by 2005
526LV-GLSAug. 1961Last registered to Aeroclub Patagonés
527LV-GLTNov. 1962Registered to Aeroclub Esperanza
528LV-GLULast registered to Antonio Barel
529LV-HERJan. 17, 1962Last registered to Aeroclub Cruz Alta
530LV-HESJan. 20, 1962Registered to Aeroclub Vedia
531LV-HETJul. 1962Registered to Aeroclub Cosquin.
W/O Oct. 10, 1963
532LV-HEUJul. 1962Last registered to Gustavo Camin
533LV-HMLJul. 1962Registered to Germán Bianco, S.A.
534LV-HMMOct. 1963Last registered to Aeroclub Jachal
535LV-HMNNov. 1962Registered to Enrique Godoy.
Still current by 2005.
536LV-HMODec. 1962Registered to Aeroclub Villa María
537LV-HSEFeb. 1964Last registered to Milton Maldana
538LV-HSFFeb. 1964Registered to Centro Universitario de Aviación
539LV-HSGFeb. 1964Last registered to Carlos Schmidt
540LV-HSHAug. 31, 1964Last registered to Aeroclub Villa Gral. Belgrano
541LV-IFCMay 31, 1965Last registered to Aeroclub Mendoza
542LV-IFDMay 31, 1965Registered to Aeroclub Bahía Blanca
543LV-IWMMay 17, 1965Last registered to Aeroclub San Jorge
544LV-IYAApr. 14, 1967Last registered to Italo Leopel
545LV-IMXNov. 18, 1966Registered to Aeroclub Villaguay
546LV-IYGJun. 30, 1967Last registered to Aeroclub Monte Carlo

Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank John Davis, Francisco Halbritter and Sergio Bontti for their invaluable collaboration for this article.

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