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Weapons of World War Two

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

Berlin, night from the 25th to the 26th April 1945. The superb capital of which should have been the Reich of the thousand years agonizes. Practically there is no building which has not been affected by the devastating fury of the war. The sky is gray during daytime because of the smoke from the explosions and the dust that rises from the ruins; during nighttime it is red because of the fires and the explosions of the 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 Volksturm, small groups of fanatics or desperate that represent what remains of the large armies that had dreamed with parading in London and Moscow. For them there is nearly no support of heavy weapons, and air cover is nothing else than a far memory.

But shortly before the dawn, in the sky of the axis East-West, the great artery of Berlin that starts on the Brandenburg Gate, it can be heard within the explosions the insistent hum of an aircraft that descends more and more, as it wanted to land. Actually, after a fast descent, the aircraft lands near a group of few persons who wait for it under cover. At the controls is Hanna Reitsch, famous aircraft test pilot who, fervent nazi, has wanted to meet the Fuhrer in his refuge of the Chancellery, and has brought with her General Ritter von Greim, chief of the VI Luftflotte, so he could receive the last dispositions. The aircraft used for this travel half way between heroicity and madness is a small reconnaissance and liaison airplane, the Fieseler 156 "Storch" (Stork).

The origin of this aircraft dates back to the first studies made in 1935, but its entry into active service would not come before the end of 1937. It was a single-engined monoplane of high wing. Its structure was a mixed one: metallic for the framework and wooden and fabric for the coating and the steering surfaces. The engine, an Argus AS 10C of eight cylinders in inverted V, was able to provide a maximum power of 240 horsepower. But the most interesting characteristic of the Storch was without doubt, apart from its maneuverability, the capability of landing and taking off in so short stretches that were considered prohibitive for the aircraft of that time.

Think that, thanks to a complex system of flaps placed in the leading edge of the wing and to the length of the inner half-wings, the aircraft could take off in little more than 50 meters, while for landing 20 were enough. If besides there were favorable wind conditions (headwind of about 13 kilometers/hour), the takeoff distance descended below 50 meters, while for landing 15 were enough. A landing gear with a high-absorption suspension allowed landings and takeoffs in unprepared terrains. For landing in very rough terrains it was studied and prepared a special version, the E, with the landing gear fitted with tracks.

This extraordinary aircraft, always in particular wind conditions (particular, but not exceptional, such as the 13 kilometers/hour headwind for reduced landings), was able as well to remain almost immobile in the sky, practically like a helicopter. Think that the minimum speed of the Fieseler was slightly inferior to the 50 kilometers/hour. These gifts made it to be considered by many the first STOL (Short Taking-Off Landing) aircraft on the History of Aviation. Produced in little less than 3000 exemplars, the Fieseler took part in the entire war serving in every front, being used for liaison, reconnaissance, observation, ambulance service and as air command post.

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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