Miyazaki was fascinated by the seaplanes that raced for the Schneider Trophy in the 1920s. He explained in Helen McCarthy's 1999 scholarly biography, "I wanted to express my love for all these ships." A fun fact is that Miyazaki named Studio Ghibli, the company's name, after the Ca.309 Ghibli (meaning desert wind), twin-engine transport produced by Italy's Caproni aircraft company.
Porco Rosso is set in and around the Adriatic Sea in 1929, and is densely populated with stylized combat versions of several of these planes. Theeponymous, protagonist of Porco Rosso, a cynical world War I ace then mercenary pilot, also known as the Crimson Pig, flies a seaplane identified as a Savoia S.21. But, the real S.21 was an ungainly biplane that never raced in the Schneider Trophy.
Miyazaki also styled the airplane based on the Macchi M.33, a monoplane with a single engine housed in a nacelle mounted on struts above the sleek fuselage. In 1925, the M.33 was defeated in the Schneider Trophy by a Curtiss R3C-2, which, not so coincidentally, is the airplane (modified by Miyazaki into a fighter) flown by the antagonist of Porco Rosso.
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