A leading Italian aeronautical designer and engineer, d'Ascanio is perhaps most widely recognized for his design of the Vespa motor scooter (1946) for the Piaggio company. He graduated in mechanical industrial engineering at Turin Polytechnic in 1914, joining the Technical Office of the Società d'Aviazione Pomilio in 1916. In 1925, with Peter Trojani, he founded his own company with the specific aim of designing helicopters. After some early setbacks the Italian Air Ministry commissioned a third prototype, which established new helicopter flight records for height, distance, and duration. In 1932 D'Ascanio joined Piaggio, a leading Italian manufacturing company involved in aeronautics, shipping, and railway engineering, where he was involved in aeronautical design. However, after the Second World War he was commissioned by Enrico Piaggio (1905–65) to design the Vespa, which became a phenomenal success in Italy and overseas. He also designed the highly versatile and successful Ape three‐wheeled scooter‐truck of 1948 and the less successful small two‐ or four‐seater Vespa 400 of 1957. He continued to design helicopters, including the PD 3 and PD 4 helicopters (1949–52).
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.