Today has a 0 in it so it’s time to look at the Peugeot 501! Except there’s little available about it in English so let’s look to the skies instead. Let’s also look to the water while we’re at it by exploring the CANT Z..501.

CANT stood for Cantieri Aeronautici e Navali Triestini or Trieste Aeronautical and Marine Works but it’s appropriate in this case as the 501 couldn’t. Do very much very well that is. It did manage to achieve a distance record in 1934 when a particularly patient crew spent 26 hours flying from Italy to what we now call Eritrea, chosen because it was in the Italian empire of the time.

The 501 was intended for rescue and anti submarine duties but it wasn’t terribly good at either. A bomb load of four 50kg or two 160kg bombs was completely inadequate for the one and the fact that the boat part of its flying boat designation wasn’t up to scratch either (despite being made of wood in traditional marine manner) didn’t help with the other.

Add to that low speed, limited defensive capability and an unfortunate tendency to deposit the overhead engine nacelle onto the cockpit during a heavy landing and we understand why many were shot down or lost through accidents.

The 501 did achieve the distinction of causing the loss of a pursuing fighter which stalled while following it.

The Z501 was powered by a single Isotta Fraschini engine from the motor manufacturer of that name, and the world would be a better place if we still had cars with names like Isotta Fraschini and Hispano-Suiza.

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Like the rest of Italy the 501 took part in WW2 on both sides. In 1943 the Italians decided to switch to the winning side and some planes flew with the Allied Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force while other remained with the fascisti. Note the fascisti on the underside of the wing below.

Note the gun position at the back of the engine nacelle, a thing rarely seen. Yes, that’s a guy sitting on the bow.

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