It is perhaps surprising at first sight that, having been the second nation to fly an air-breathing jet-propelled aeroplane, Italy did not feature among the leading nations in this field of technology. But in truth the Caproni-Campini N.1 was no more than an ingenious freak which employed a conventional piston engine to drive a variable-pitch ducted-fan compressor with rudimentary afterburning. As such it did nothing to further gas turbine research, and was to all intents and purposes a technical dead-end.
The N1 (CC.2) WW2 aircraft was created through the merging of the design of Secondo Campini with the capability of production by the Caproni aircraft firm. It featured a basic piston propulsion engine that utilizes a fan compressor system for added fuel combustion. This made the N1 to have an afterburn characteristic.
The N1 (CC.2) was designed as a large aircraft which can accommodate a crew of two. It was low-wing monoplane with a single vertical tail surface. An open intake was located in the extreme forward position while the extreme rear has an exhaust that could be jettisoned during flight. The aircraft also featured fully retractable landing gear and had straight-wings. Since it was not a full-blown turbojet aircraft, the power of the N1’s lone piston engine can only allow it to achieve a top speed of 375 km/h (233 mph).
The two-seat low-wing N.1 (sometimes referred to as the CC.2) was first flown at Taliedo on 28 August 1940 by Mario de Bernadi. A number of set-piece demonstration flights was undertaken, including one of 270km from Taliedo to Gindoma at an average speed of 209km/h, but it was clear from the outset that use of a three-stage fan compressor driven by a piston engine would limit further development, and the experiment was abandoned early in 1942 when Italy was faced with sterner priorities. The N.1 survives today in the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, Milan as a monument to ingenuity if not sophisticated technology.