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Weapons of World War Two

The Liberation of Mussolini (Sep 1943)

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

Berlin, night from the 25th to the 26th April 1945. The superb capital of that which should have been the Reich of the Thousand Years agonizes. There is practically no building which has not been affected by the devastating fury of the war. During day time the sky looks grey due to the smoke from the explosions and the dust which rises from the ruins; during night time it looks red due to the fires and the explosions of bombs and grenades. In this hell, thousands of men are facing each other in the last encounters of the war. In the German side they are teenagers from the Hitlerjugend, old men from the Volksturm, small groups of fanatics or desperate who represent what remains of the large armies which had dreamed with parading in London and Moscow. There is nearly no support from heavy weapons for them, and the aerial cover is nothing else than a far memory. But shortly before the dawn, in the sky of the East-West Axis, the great artery of Berlin which starts on the Brandenburg Gate, it can be heard within the explosions the insistent hum of an aircraft which gradually descends, as it wanted to land. Indeed, after a fast descent, the aircraft lands near a group of few persons who await it while staying under cover. The pilot's seat is occupied by Hanna Reitsch, a famous aircraft test pilot who, being a fervent nazi, has wanted to meet the Fuhrer in his refuge at the Chancellery, and who has brought General Ritter von Greim, chief of the VI Luftflotte, along with her, so that he could receive the last orders. The aircraft which has been used for this travel half way between heroicity and madness is the Fieseler 156 "Storch" ("Stork"), a small aircraft designed for reconnaissance and liaison. The origin of this aircraft dates back to the first studies carried out in 1935, but its entry into active service would not be effectuated before the end of 1937. It was a monoplane aircraft of single engine and high wing. Its structure was a mixed one: metal for the framework, wood for the control surfaces and fabric for the coating. The engine, an Argus AS 10C of eight cylinders in inverted V, was capable of providing a maximum power of 240 horsepower. But the most interesting characteristic of the "Storch" was without any doubt, besides its maneuverability, the capability of landing and taking off in stretches which were so short as to be considered prohibitive for the aircraft of that time. Thanks to a complex system of high-lift devices placed along the leading and the rear edges of the wings, the aircraft could take off in a run of little more than 50 meters, while 20 meters were enough for landing. If there were favorable conditions (headwind of about 13 kilometers/hour), the take-off run decreased below 50 meters, while 15 meters were enough for landing. A landing gear fitted with a high-absorption suspension allowed landings and take-offs in unprepared terrains. For landing in very rough terrains it was studied and prepared a special version, the E, whose landing gear was fitted with tracks. This extraordinary aircraft, always under particular wind conditions (particular, but not exceptional, such as a 13-kilometer/hour headwind for reduced landings), was as well capable of remaining almost immobile in the sky, practically like a helicopter. This was possible because the minimum speed of the Fieseler 156 was slightly inferior to 50 kilometers/hour. These characteristics led it to be considered by many to be the first STOL (Short Taking-Off Landing) aircraft in the history of aviation. Produced in little less than 3000 exemplars, the Fieseler 156 took part in operations during the entire war by granting excellent service in every front, being used for liaison, reconnaissance, observation, ambulance and aerial command.

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch
Entry into service: 1937

Wingspan: 14.25 meters

Wing area: 27 square meters

Length: 9.90 meters

Height: 3.05 meters

Full load/Empty weight: 1320/930 kilograms

Payload/Crew: 390 kilograms/2-3

Engine: Argus As 10C 3 of 240 horsepower

Time to reach 750 meters of altitude: 4 minutes 1 second

Cruising speed: 150 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed: 175 kilometers/hour

Service ceiling: 4600 meters

Defensive armament: One orientable MG 15 7.92-millimeter machine gun

Operational range: 390 kilometers

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