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GIUSEPPE GABRIELLI 1903-1987 BY NICHOLAS J. HOFF ONE OF THE GREATEST airplane designers of Italy, Giuseppe Gabrielli died in his adopted home town of Turin in north- ern Italy on November 29, 1987. Born on February 26, 1903, in Caltanissetta, Sicily, Gabrielli was a southerner, but he moved north to study aeronautical engineering un- der Professor Panetti at the Polytechnic Institute of Turin. Except for short periods of time, he remained in this great industrial town for the remainder of his life, designing airplanes at Fiat and teaching airplane design at the Polytechnic. From the Polytechnic Institute of Turin he went to the Technical University of Aachen in Germany to continue his studies under the direction of Professor Theodore von Karman; the warm friendship that developed between the two outstanding men lasted until the death of van Karman in 1963. The Polytechnic of Turin conferred on Gabrielli the diploma in mechanical engineering in 1925, and the University of Aachen the doctorate in aeronautics in 1926. In 1927 Gabrielli was appointed instructor of aircraft de- sign at the Polytechnic Institute of Turin and was promoted to full professor in 1949. He remained there until the retirement age of seventy, teaching and doing research; one measure of his academic activities is 150 technical papers published. Almost simultaneously with the beginning of his academic 115
116 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES career, Gabrielli received an inclustrial appointment, be- coming assistant to Chief Designer Giovanni Pegna at the Piaggio Company in Genova. His assignment was the development of metal airplane structures; he had studied these in Aachen and they were also being adopted in the United States at that time. But Gabrielli did not give up his teaching; although he was living in Genova, he commuted one day a week to Turin to give his course at the Polytechnic. The first great success of the young engineer was the redesign of the Savoia-Marchetti S.M.S. 55 flying boat in aluminum alloy; the original wood S 55 became famous when several squadrons of it crossed the Atlantic in forma- tion under the command of General Italo Balbo in the 1930s. Gabrielli's metal structure had an ultimate load factor of 9 against the 7 of the original wood structure, yet it was I, ~ 68 pounds lighter. This achievement caught the eye of Giovanni Agnelli, the almost legendary founder-director of Fiat, the largest industrial concern of Italy. In 1931 he appointed the twenty- eight-year-old Gabrielli manager of a new department of the company. In this department Gabrielli developed a total of 142 airplanes of which 63 were manufactured and 17 mass-produced. Among them were the G 50 of 1939, the first Italian aluminum alloy monocoque monoplane fighter; its successor, the outstanding G 55 of 1943, which reached a high speed of 385 miles per hour but appeared too late to have an influence on World War IT; the G 80 of 1951, the first Italian jet fighter; and the G 9l, which won the North Atlantic Tread Organization (NATO) fighter competition of 1957. When in a reorganization of the Italian airplane industry Fiat gave up the manufacture of aircraft, Gabrielli continued his work for the company practically until the end of his life as chairman of the board of Fiat Aviazione, a builder of · . · airplane engines In Turln. Gabrielli was very much involved in the activities of na- tional and international organizations in aeronautics. He
GIUSEPPE GABRIELLI 117 was Italian delegate to the Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development of NATO; member of the In- ternational Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (Paris); president of the Association Internationale des Constructeurs de Materiel Aerospatial (Paris); member of various com- mittees of the National Research Council (Rome); vice- president of the Italian Navigation Institute; corresponding member of the Deutsche Akademie de Luftfahrtforschung and of the International Academy of Astronautics (Paris); honorary fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (London), and honorary member of the Societe des Ingenieurs de I'Automobile (Paris) and of the Association Franchise des Ingenieurs et Techniciens de I'Aeronautique et de I'Espace (Paris). He held membership in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Deutsche Geselischaft fur Luft- unit Raumfahrt. Gabrielli was corresponding member of the Deutsche Akademie der Lufffahrtforschung, mem- ber of the Flight Safety Foundation (New York), member of the board of directors of the Aerospace Industry Asso- ciation (Rome), and member of the Daniel Guggenheim Medal Board of Award. Gabrielli was elected a foreign associate of the U.S. Na- tional Academy of Engineering (NAE) in ~ 983. Among the major honors bestowed on Gabrielli were the Ludwig Prandt! Ring, the highest honor in aerodynamics in Germany; the knighthood of the Legion d'Honneur (France); and the knighthood of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy. Gabrielli is survived by Lydia, his wife of f~fty-one years. Through her he was a member of the most famous family of Italian aeronautical engineers, as his father-in-law was General Arturo Crocco, who had published papers on the theory of flight and built airships before World War I, and his brother-in-law was I~uigi Crocco, a great expert on aerodynamics and rocket propulsion. Luigi was a foreign associate of the NAE, and his biography was published on page ~01 of Volume 3 of these Memorial Tributes.
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