The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 Pipistrello was a heavy bomber in service with the Italian Air Force from 1935 to 1950. It first saw combat action in early 1936, in the Italo-Abyssinian War, in eastern Africa. It would also be used by the Republican Air Force during the Spanish Civil War. However, it was in the Second World War that it would be massively deployed in combat, carrying out bombing and transport missions in Greece and North Africa, used both by the Italians and Germans. The firm Savoia-Marchetti manufactured approximately 600 SM.1s.
This Italian bomber and transport aircraft was a low-winged monoplane, fitted with an all-metal fuselage and fixed landing gear. It was powered by three Piaggio PX.RC.15 radial engines, which generated 670 horsepower each. In flight, it developed a maximum speed of 212 miles per hour (346 km/h) and had a ferry range of 1,300 miles (2,000 km). The Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 was armed with six 7.7mm Breda defensive machine guns and could carry up to 4,410 lb (2,000 kg) of bombs.