During the development of the RE 2001, Reggiane started to consider the option of a radial engine version.
The reason was the possbile shortage of inline engines. The radial engine had to be a national produced one.
RE 2002 was then powered by the new Piaggio radial engine, more powerful than the one installed on the RE 2000. One more advantage was the less chance of being damaged during combat by hits in the water cooling system.
The disadvantage was the bigger fuselage front section that was limiting the performances in terms of speed. For that reason the engine cowl was designed to be tighter.
First flight took place in October 1940.
During the development major problems were encountered regarding reliability of the Piaggio engine.
The aircraft was mainy used as fighter bomber.
It was used mainly in the following areas: - Sicily/Calabria against Allies - Greece/Albania, also used to defend italin troops in Cefalonia - France, in Provence, RE 2002's were used by Luftwaffe against french partisans