Potez 634

Potez 634

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Potez 634

The Potez 634 was an alternative designation given to ten two-seat training aircraft ordered in the first production contract for the Potez 631 fighter. The aircraft were first ordered in a letter of intent in May 1937. This order was confirmed with a formal contract on 16 December 1937.

Potez 633 B2 Grec

The Potez 633 was manufactured for export only. Hellenic Air Force placed an order for 24 aircraft, of which 13 were received, but one of them was destroyed during delivery. Thus, the 12 remaining airplanes joined the 31st Bombardment Squadron in 1938. With the onset of World War II, the 12 remaining aircraft were withheld by the French. In early 1941, the Potez 633 was painted in the standard variant Dark Green / Light Earth / Light Blue. The roundels were painted on the fuselage and lower surfaces of the wings.

Contact Information

Hellenic Air Force General Staff
227-231 Mesogion Avenue, Postal Code 155 61, Cholargos (Map)
Tel. Exch: +30 210 659 3399
Fax: +30 210 642 8239

HAF Spokesman
Tel.: +30 210 659 1040-1041
Fax: +30 210 654 6906
e-mail: spokesman@haf.gr

Potez 25

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/17/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Potez began making aeroplanes after the close of World War 1 in 1919. Its first work involved repurposing SEA IV twin-seat military fighter aircraft into the SEA VII civilian guise. From this came a far-reaching history that would see the company producing aircraft during the Second World War (1939-1945) and into the Cold War (1947-1991) before closing its doors for good in 1967. Back in 1925, the concern introduced a new modern biplane design as the "Potez 25" and this went on to have a healthy service life with around 4,000 examples produced.

Taking the earlier Potez 15 biplane as a starting point, company engineers looked to developing a larger, heavier version with stronger performance characteristics suited for a variety of over-battlefield roles. The revised aircraft emerged with a Hispano-Suiza 12Ga W-12 series engine of 451 horsepower through a single prototype known as the "1925 Experimental". The aircraft carried a crew of two seated in tandem in a pair of open-air cockpits behind the upper wing element. The wing mainplanes were of uneven span (sesquiplane) with the upper section decidedly wider than the lower and the corresponding parallel struts generated a single-bay arrangement. The wheeled undercarriage was fixed during flight (a tail skid bringing up the rear) and the engine, mounted at the nose, drove a two-bladed wooden propeller in the usual way. The tail was of traditional arrangement, utilizing a single vertical fin with the horizontal planes seated at the top of the aft fuselage sides.

The prototype was completed in 1924 and this year also saw its first flight recorded. The aircraft saw deeper testing into 1925 and proved itself to French Air Force authorities who ordered it into serial production to fulfill a reconnaissance role. A second form was developed as a bomber-reconnaissance platform.

Standard armament became 2 x 7.7mm machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts at the upper forward fuselage and a single 7.7mm machine gun in the rear cockpit on a trainable mount. Up to 200 kilograms of drop stores could be carried for the bomber role.

Due to the glut of post-military aircraft in the world market following World War 1, Potez faced the challenge of selling its new large biplane to mildly interested parties. As such, it became common to feature the type in the various air races permeating the globe in an effort to showcase the design's true potential. In this way, the Potez 25 was able to secure first place in several mainly European air races and the marketing ploy worked in Potez's favor, the Potez 25 becoming a successful commercial venture for the French aircraft-maker.

Of the 4,000 Potez 25 systems built, 2,500 were produced in France alone with the rest taken on by foreign operators from Afghanistan to Belgium and Uruguay to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Croatia managed to capture forty-two Yugoslav Air Force examples. The Soviet Union trialled the aircraft through two examples but elected for a local design for their needs instead. The series was also used by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) while 300 aircraft were built in Poland for the Polish Air Force. The series was used by Paraguay in the Chaco War against Bolivia and a sole Finnish example, taken on for evaluation, managed an amazing 700 hours in the air.

The Potez 25 witnessed a large collection of designations associated with the line - differing mainly in their respective engine fits - beginning with the standard two-seat observation variant as the Potez 25 A.2. These carried a Salmson 18CmB or Lorraine 12Eb engine fit of 520 horsepower. The Potez 25.5 was a version fitted with the Renault 12Jb and 100 were built to this standard. The Potez 25.8 became the reconnaissance-bomber form and these were powered by a Farman 12Wc W-12 engine of 500 horsepower. Various other designs existed including a two-seat trainer (Potez 25.55) of which 40 were built, a long-range model (as the Potez 25GR) carrying a Lorraine 12Eb W-12 engine of 450 horsepower, and a floatplane prototype (the Potez 25H - two being built with Gnome-Rhone Jupiter radial piston engines).

The Potez 25 design was officially retired during the 1940s and managed service with some twenty air forces militarily and succeeded in the private market before the end.

Seeking photo of USS Whitehurst (DE-634)

Jason Atkinson 19.12.2019 12:12 (в ответ на John Kauten jr)

Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

Photographs of various Navy ships and activities dating from 1940 to 2007 are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). Please contact RDSS via email at [email protected] .  Their web page is Photographs and Graphic Works in College Park, Maryland . See also their blog entitled How to Research: Photographs Relating to World War II Navy Ships for more information.

We searched online and located photographs of the USS Whitehurst on the following two websites, however none of them are labeled as being from May 1945

The following organization might have pictures or be able to advise you regarding further research sources.


The war was cast by Republican sympathizers as a struggle between tyranny and freedom, and by Nationalist supporters as communist and anarchist "red hordes" versus "Christian civilization". [82] Nationalists also claimed they were bringing security and direction to an ungoverned and lawless country. [82] Spanish politics, especially on the left, were quite fragmented, since socialists and communists supported the republic. During the republic, anarchists had mixed opinions, but major groups opposed the Nationalists during the Civil War. The Conservatives, in contrast, were united by their fervent opposition to the Republican government and presented a more unified front. [83]

The coup divided the armed forces fairly evenly. One historical estimate suggests that there were some 87,000 troops loyal to the government and some 77,000 joining the insurgency, [84] though some historians suggest that the Nationalist figure should be revised upwards and that it probably amounted to some 95,000. [85]

During the first few months both armies were joined in high numbers by volunteers unfortunately, there are no scholarly estimates available. Starting August both sides launched own and similarly scaled conscription schemes, resulting in further massive growth of their armies. Finally, final months of 1936 recorded arrival of foreign troops, International Brigades joining the Republicans and Italian CTV, German Legion Condor and Portuguese Viriatos joining the Nationalists. The result was that in April 1937 there were some 360,000 soldiers in the Republican ranks and some 290,000 in the Nationalist ones. [86]

The armies kept growing. The principal source of manpower was conscription both sides continued and expanded their schemes, the Nationalists drafting somewhat more aggressively, and there was little room left for volunteering. Foreigners hardly contributed to further growth on the Nationalist side the Italians scaled down their engagement, while on the Republican side influx of new interbrigadistas hardly made up for losses, suffered by these units on the front. At the turn of 1937/1938 both armies achieved numerical parity and equalled about 700,000 each. [87]

Throughout 1938 the principal if not exclusive source of new men was draft at this stage it was the Republicans who conscripted more aggressively. In mid-year, just prior to the Battle of Ebro, the Republicans achieved their all-time high commanding the army of slightly above 800,000 people this was already no match for the Nationalists, who numbered 880,000. [88] The Battle of Ebro, fall of Catalonia and collapsing discipline produced massive shrinking of the Republican troops. In late February 1939 their army was 400,000 [89] compared to more than double that number of Nationalists. In the moment of their final victory, the latter commanded over 900,000 troops. [90]

The total number of Spaniards serving in the Republican forces was officially stated as 917,000 latest scholarly work estimates the actual number as "well over 1 million men" (1.2m?), [91] though earlier historiographical studies claimed the Republican total (including foreigners) of 1.75m. [92] The total number of Spaniards serving in the Nationalist units is currently estimated at "nearly 1 million men", [91] though earlier works claimed (foreigners included) the total of 1.26m. [93]


Only two countries openly and fully supported the Republic: Mexico and the USSR. From them, especially the USSR, the Republic received diplomatic support, volunteers, and the ability to purchase weapons. Other countries remained neutral, said neutrality being a great source of distress to the intelligentsia in the United States and United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent in other European countries and to Marxists worldwide. This distress led to the International Brigades, thousands of foreigners of all nationalities who voluntarily went to Spain to aid the Republic in the fight they meant a great deal to morale but militarily were not very significant.

The Republic's supporters within Spain ranged from centrists who supported a moderately-capitalist liberal democracy to revolutionary anarchists who opposed the Republic but sided with it against the coup forces. Their base was primarily secular and urban but also included landless peasants and was particularly strong in industrial regions like Asturias, the Basque country, and Catalonia. [94]

This faction was called variously leales "Loyalists" by supporters, "Republicans", the "Popular Front", or "the government" by all parties and/or los rojos "the Reds" by their opponents. [95] Republicans were supported by urban workers, agricultural labourers, and parts of the middle class. [96]

The conservative, strongly Catholic Basque country, along with Galicia and the more left-leaning Catalonia, sought autonomy or independence from the central government of Madrid. The Republican government allowed for the possibility of self-government for the two regions, [97] whose forces were gathered under the People's Republican Army (Ejército Popular Republicano, or EPR), which was reorganized into mixed brigades after October 1936. [98]

A few well-known people fought on the Republican side, such as English novelist George Orwell (who wrote Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the war) [99] and Canadian thoracic surgeon Norman Bethune, who developed a mobile blood-transfusion service for front-line operations. [100] Simone Weil added herself for a while to the anarchist columns of Buenaventura Durruti, though fellow fighters feared she might inadvertently shoot them because she was shortsighted, and tried to avoid taking her on missions. By the account of her biographer Simone Petrement, Weil was evacuated from the front after a matter of weeks because of an injury sustained in a cooking accident. [101]


The Nacionales or Nationalists — also called "insurgents", "rebels", or, by opponents, Franquistas or "fascists" (see: the Nationalist faction) — feared national fragmentation and opposed the separatist movements. They were chiefly defined by their anti-communism, which galvanized diverse or opposed movements like falangists and monarchists. Their leaders had a generally wealthier, more conservative, monarchist, landowning background. [102]

The Nationalist side included the Carlists and Alfonsists, Spanish nationalists, the fascist Falange, and most conservatives and monarchist liberals. Virtually all Nationalist groups had strong Catholic convictions and supported the native Spanish clergy. [102] The Nationals included the majority of the Catholic clergy and practitioners (outside of the Basque region), important elements of the army, most large landowners, and many businessmen. [82]

One of the rightists' principal motives was to confront the anti-clericalism of the Republican regime and to defend the Catholic Church, [102] which had been targeted by opponents, including Republicans, who blamed the institution for the country's ills. The Church was against the Republicans' liberal principles, which were fortified by the Spanish Constitution of 1931. [103] Prior to the war, during the Asturian miners' strike of 1934, religious buildings were burnt and at least 100 clergy, religious civilians, and pro-Catholic police were killed by revolutionaries. [104] [105]

Franco had brought in the mercenaries of Spain's colonial Army of Africa (Spanish: Ejército de África or Cuerpo de Ejército Marroquí ) and reduced the miners to submission by heavy artillery attacks and bombing raids. The Spanish Legion committed atrocities—many men, women and children were killed, and the army carried out summary executions of leftists. The repression in the aftermath was brutal. In Asturias, prisoners were tortured. [106]

Articles 24 and 26 of the 1931 constitution had banned the Society of Jesus. This proscription deeply offended many within the conservative fold. The revolution in the Republican zone at the outset of the war, in which 7,000 clergy and thousands of lay people were killed, deepened Catholic support for the Nationalists. [107] [108]

The Moroccan Fuerzas Regulares Indígenas joined the rebellion and played a significant role in the civil war. [109]

Other factions

Catalan and Basque nationalists were not univocal. Left-wing Catalan nationalists sided with the Republicans, while Conservative Catalan nationalists were far less vocal in supporting the government due to anti-clericalism and confiscations occurring in areas within its control. Basque nationalists, heralded by the conservative Basque Nationalist Party, were mildly supportive of the Republican government, although some in Navarre sided with the uprising for the same reasons influencing conservative Catalans. Notwithstanding religious matters, Basque nationalists, who were for the most part Catholic, generally sided with the Republicans, although the PNV, Basque nationalist party, was reported passing the plans of Bilbao defenses to the nationalists, in an attempt to reduce the duration and casualties of siege. [110]

Abū Bakr

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Abū Bakr, also called al-Ṣiddīq (Arabic: “the Upright”), (born 573—died August 23, 634), Muhammad’s closest companion and adviser, who succeeded to the Prophet’s political and administrative functions, thereby initiating the office of the caliph.

Of a minor clan of the ruling merchant tribe of Quraysh at Mecca, Abū Bakr purportedly was the first male convert to Islam, but this view is doubted by a majority of Muslim historians. Abū Bakr’s prominence in the early Muslim community was clearly marked by Muhammad’s marriage to Abū Bakr’s young daughter ʿĀʾishah and again by Muhammad’s choosing Abū Bakr as his companion on the journey to Medina (the Hijrah, 622). In Medina he was Muhammad’s chief adviser (622–632) but functioned mainly in conducting the pilgrimage to Mecca in 631 and leading the public prayers in Medina during Muhammad’s last illness.

On Muhammad’s death (June 8, 632), the Muslims of Medina resolved the crisis of succession by accepting Abū Bakr as the first khalīfat rasūl Allāh (“deputy [or successor] of the Prophet of God,” or caliph). During his rule (632–634), he suppressed the tribal political and religious uprisings known as the riddah (“political rebellion,” sometimes translated as “apostasy”), thereby bringing central Arabia under Muslim control. Under his rule the Muslim conquests of Iraq and Syria began, although it is not clear whether he himself was aware of these military forays from the beginning.

The first written compilation of the Quʾrān is said to have taken place during Abū Bakr’s caliphate, after the deaths of several Quʾrān reciters in the Battle of Yamama raised the possibility that parts of the text could be lost and ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (Abū Bakr’s eventual successor as caliph) urged Abū Bakr to have the Quʾrān written down.

During his last illness, Abū Bakr was nursed by ʿĀʾishah. As he requested, he was buried in ʿĀʾishah’s apartment, close to where her husband, the Prophet Muhammad, had been buried in accordance with Muhammad’s reported utterance that a prophet should be buried where he dies.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Noah Tesch, Associate Editor.

Potez 634 - History

Boyhood and Girlhood
Digital History ID 634

Author: John Heckewelder

Annotation: A Moravian minister describes childrearing practices among the Indians of Pennsylvania.

Document: The first step that parents take toward the education of their children, is to prepare them for future happiness, by impressing upon their tender minds, that they are indebted for their existence to a great, good and benevolent Spirit, who not only has given them life, but has ordained them for certain great purposes. That he has given them a fertile extensive country well stocked with game of every kind for their subsistence, and that by one of his inferior spirits he has also sent down to them from above corn, pumpkins, squashes, beans and other vegetables for their nourishment all which blessings their ancestors have enjoyed for a great number of ages. That this great Spirit looks down upon the Indians, to see whether they are grateful to him and make him a due return for the many benefits he has bestowed, and therefore that it is their duty to show their thankfulness by worshipping him, and doing that which is pleasing to his sight.

They are then told that their ancestors, who received all this from the hands of the great Spirit. must have been informed of what would be most pleasing to this good being. and they are directed to look up for instruction to those who know all this, to learn from them, and revere them for their wisdom and the knowledge which they possess this creates in the children a strong sentiment of respect for their elders, and a desire to follow their advice and example. Their young ambition is then excited by telling them that they were made the superiors of all other creatures, and are to have power over them great pains are taken to make this feeling take early root, and it becomes in fact their ruling passion through life for no pains are spared to instill into them that by following the advice of the most admired and extolled hunter, trapper or warrior, they will at a future day acquire a degree of fame and reputation, equal to that which he possesses that by submitting to the counsels of the aged, the chiefs, the men superior in wisdom, they may also rise to glory, and be called Wisemen, an honourable title, to which no Indian is indifferent. They are finally told that if they respect the aged and infirm, and are kind and obliging to them, they will be treated in the same manner when their turn comes to feel the infirmities of old age.

When. instruction is given in the form of precepts, it must not be supposed that it is done in an authoritative or forbidding tone, but, on the contrary, in the gentlest and most persuasive manner: nor is the parent's authority ever supported by harsh or compulsive means no whips, no punishments, no threats are ever used to enforce commands or compel obedience. The child's pride is the feeling to which an appeal is made, which proves successful in almost every instance. A father needs only to say in the presence of his children: “I want such a thing done I want one of my children to go upon such an errand let me see who is the good child that will do it!” The word good operates, as it were, by magic, and the children immediately vie with each other to comply with the wishes of their parent.

In this manner of bringing up children, the parents, as I have already said, are seconded by the whole community. The whole of the Indian plan of education tends to elevate rather than depress the mind, and by that means to make determined hunters and fearless warriors.

They are to learn the arts of hunting, trapping, and making war, by listening to the aged when conversing together on those subjects, each, in his turn, relating how he acted, and opportunities are afforded to them for that purpose. By this mode of instructing youth, their respect for the aged is kept alive. [Initiation ceremonies]

By certain methods which I shall presently describe, they put the mind of a boy in a state of perturbation, so as to excite dreams and visions by means of this they pretend that the boy receives instructions from certain spirits or unknown agents as to his conduct in life, and he is informed of his future destination and of the wonders he is to perform in his future career through the world.

When a boy is to be thus initiated, he is put under an alternate course of physic and fasting, either taking no food whatever, or swallowing the most powerful and nauseous medicines, and occasionally he is made to drink decoctions of an intoxicating nature, until his mind becomes sufficiently bewildered, so that he sees or fancies that he sees visions, and has extraordinary dreams, for which, of course, he has been prepared before hand. He will fancy himself flying through the air, walking under ground, stepping from one ridge or hill to the other across the valley beneath, fighting and conquering giants and monsters, and defeating whole hosts by a single arm. Then he has interviews with the Mannitto [Manitou] or with spirits, who inform him of what he was before he was born and what he will be after his death. His fate in this life is laid entirely open before him, the spirit tells him what is to be his future employment, whether he will be a valiant warrior, a mighty hunter, a doctor, a conjurer, or a prophet. There are even those who learn or pretend to learn in this way the time and manner of their death.

When a boy has been thus initiated, a name is given to him analogous to the visions that he has seen, and to the destiny that is supposed to be prepared for him. The boy, imagining all that happened to him while under perturbation, to have been real, sets out in the world with lofty notions of himself, and animated with courage for the most desperate undertakings.

Source: John Heckewelder, Account of the History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Natives who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (1819), 98-103, 238-41.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

The Princeton Elks Lodge was instituted on Dec 13, 1900. According to the Princeton Daily Clairion, "There will be Elks from Evansville, Mt Vernon, Vincennes, New Albany, Terre Haute, Podunk, Squeedunk, Hunkerdunk and most every other place this side of the other place."
The first stated meeting of the Princeton Elks was held in the Red Men Lodge Hall on Dec. 18, 1900. Old minutes indicate the Elks met in rented halls until 1906 when the present structure was purchased. The "Harrington Property" as it was called, was purchased for the stately sum of $3,000.00. The home was built by the Joseph Devin family sometime prior to 1853. The Devins were known for their hospitality to dignitaries and celebrities visiting Princeton. The purchase was reported to the Lodge on May 9, 1906 with the Grand Opening slated for April 31 - May 1 of 1907.
The formal dedication was held on May 1, 1907 with officers from Vincennes Lodge #291 initiating 17 new Brothers into the Order.
During the flu epidemic of 1918, the members turned the Elks Home over to the Red Cross for hospital purposes exclusively for influenza patients. This lasted from late October till late December of that year.
The Home was open 24 hours a day after the Tri State Tornado which destroyed the southern part of Princeton. Food, drink and cots were available to weary relief workers and those left homeless by the twisters.
Following WW II, a dining room was added onto the structure. The new room seated 120 people and was formally dedicated on August 12, 1948.
The membership continually upgraded the facility, remodeling, redecorating and modernizing. The Lady Elks Auxillary, which came to be by Lodge direction in 1909, played a major role in both decorating and fund raising for remodeling on the structure. The exterior went through various facelifts until the 1990's when a renovation was undertaken to give this grand old building more of the look it had in its' early days. The work is ongoing but the results have been worth it.
The Princeton Elks Lodge has served Princeton and Gibson County for over 100 years. The projects have been as diverse as the ideas of the membership and their hard work and dedication continues today

What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

No, I'm not going to get into Taranto in this TL, adds to much complexity if I start to rework the whole of WW2. I'm trying to limit the butterflys and just keep this (relatively) tightly focused on Finland, altho there's a bit of a flow-on effect for Estonia and then for Poland as we get into WW2 (Poland plays a bigger part post-Winter War). But outside the confines of the Baltic I am trying not to influence or change anything.

Thing of the Finnish influence on Taranto as being "Hey chaps, that's a great ide by Jove. Why don't we do something like that to those damned Eyeties!"

Then you should move this to the ASB section, because with the changes you've put in place, the butterflies are going to be huge.

Don't get me wrong, I think your doing a good job so far, but your basically assuming that Finland exists in a bubble where nothing much outside it will change. At the moment, I don't see much incentive for major powers to do anything different.

That being said, your basic premise is to have Finland to better in the Winter War. Meaning the Soviets will likely do worse. Are you talking hold the Soviets off another two days and kill one or two more of their divisions worse, or hold them off another month or two and kill another quarter million to half million troops worse.

In the context of World War 2 as a whole, even killing a half million more Soviet troops isn't going to matter much in the end. That being said, half a million more Soviet troops dead in Estonia and Finland are half a million troops that aren't going to be around, one way or the other, when the Germans pay the Soviets a visit come 1941.


Then you should move this to the ASB section, because with the changes you've put in place, the butterflies are going to be huge.

Don't get me wrong, I think your doing a good job so far, but your basically assuming that Finland exists in a bubble where nothing much outside it will change. At the moment, I don't see much incentive for major powers to do anything different.

That being said, your basic premise is to have Finland to better in the Winter War. Meaning the Soviets will likely do worse. Are you talking hold the Soviets off another two days and kill one or two more of their divisions worse, or hold them off another month or two and kill another quarter million to half million troops worse.

In the context of World War 2 as a whole, even killing a half million more Soviet troops isn't going to matter much in the end. That being said, half a million more Soviet troops dead in Estonia and Finland are half a million troops that aren't going to be around, one way or the other, when the Germans pay the Soviets a visit come 1941.

At times I fear you may be correct. The deeper I get into this, the more the butterflies. What happens for example if the Italians are busy providing major assistance to Finland? Is this more likely to keep Mussolini neutral with regards to the UK and France, particularly if they encourage him? if that happens, Mussolini is likely to stay around like Franco. On the other hand, what the heck! I'm going to try and work around that without changing to much in the way of what really happened outside Finland as far as the Winter War is concerned.

That said, my intention is to minimise the butterflies and you're correct that there's not much incentive for major powers to do anything different. I'm going to more or less try and keep it like that. Once the fighting starts, there won't by much more assistance from the major powers than in OTL - a few small volunteer units like the ANZAC one I wrote up - which may grow in size to a Commonwealth Brigade once the Canuck and Brit battalions show up, but Finland's on their own, more or less as OTL. A bit more assistance from the minor league (Scandanavia, Italy, Spain, Hungary) and some changes with regard to Poland which I've mentioned here and there.

However, the earlier discussion on the Norway scenario cleared up a few things there which will lead me to minimise those particular butterflies and I'll try to keep up with that approach going forward. Basically throw out the ideas and see what you guys think before I go to far with it.

Re the Soviets, my plot has Stalin die towards the end of the Winter War (Sept 1940 to be more precise). Change of leadership will happen. The basic premise is the Soviets get toasted in the Winter War but the change in leadership lets them be more prepared, one offsets the other. But of course without Stalin the Red Army would likely fight more intelligently. As you said, butterflies.

Anyhow, we'll see how it goes. That's a fair way down the tracks, its taken me 6 months to get this far, it'll probably be another 6 months of writing before we get to the start of the Winter War and thats only if I can keep up writing at this pace


A butterfly net is a perfectly legitimate tool for the forum when the goal is to study a very limited field.

Some people think the primary purpose of the ASB forum is to contain anything that is implausible, but we all know that's not what the ASB forum is in reality. In reality, the ASB forum is for any work that is non-serious. That's why the board saw fit to create the writers' forum.

However this TL doesn't exactly fit into the writers' forum either. Given its heavy focus on technical specs and the fact that its a serious piece of speculation, I think this is the correct place for the TL.


Observation, Army Co-operation and Medical Evac Aircraft - 1938

Development of this aircraft dated back to 1936 when the RLM issued a specification to the German aircraft industry calling for a plane specially suited to the short-range reconnaissance role. This specification was initially taken up by Arado, Blohm & Voss (Hamburger Flugzeugbau Division), Focke-Wulf, and Henschel. Each of these firms was able to base their design on previous aircraft and experience with this specific aircraft type and they were able to submit designs to the RLM within a short time. The requirement was to replace the Heinkel He 46 already in service with the Luftwaffe by an aircraft designed to make use of the most modern technology. This included on the one hand the use of a powerful engine, good characteristics over the speed range, optimal vision for the crew and, on the other hand, protective and defensive features for the crew.

After various changes to the basic design, a contract for a preproduction series AradoAr 198A-0 was finally granted in July 1937. For the Ar 198 a crew of three, consisting of pilot, gunner/radio operator, and observer, was planned. Due to the required optimal vision and high speed, a fully-enclosed crew compartment was built into the design. Tactical reconnaissance put a high emphasis on ground vision and the observer's position was positioned below the wing plane for unobstructed vision, while the pilot and rear gunner were enclosed in an extensively glazed cabin above the wing plane. In this generously laid-out crew compartment there was an accessible connection to each crew position which resulted in good communications between crew members.

The entire forward fuselage structure, inclusive of the crew compartment, was of steel tube construction with the engine bearer included in this construction. Formers, light-metal fillets and a light-metal skin allowed for an aerodynamically advantageous shape. The rear fuselage was of an all-metal monocoque construction and purely as a tail-boom with no equipment for tactical missions installed. The first flight of the Arado 198 V1 took place in March 1938 at the Arado factory airfield at Warnemünde. During the early flights a marked instability in the projected low-speed range about all axes was noticed. It was thought that this was due to the large extension of the lower fuselage and consequently the layout was markedly changed for the second and third prototypes. In order to correct the flight characteristics the wings of the Ar 198 V1 were fitted with automatic slats which resulted in noticeable improvement in flight characteristic which also demanded considerable experience of the pilot.

The joint Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL evaluation team flew this first prototype in July 1938 and generally rated it highly. Althought it demanded considerable experience to fly, performamce was excellent, as was visibility.

The Arado Ar 198 had a crew of 3 and was powered by a single BRAMO 323 A-1 Fafnir 900hp engine with a maximum speed of 223mph, a ramge of 672 miles and a service ceiling of 26,250 feet. Stall speed at sea level was approx. 70mph and landing speed with fully extended flaps was 55mph with a required runway fully loaded of 600 m and for landing from of 510 m

OTL Note: The assembly process for the aircraft also proved complex, with an associated high cost of production. Arado also had insufficient production capacity and this led the RLM to put a halt to the mass-production of the Arado Ar 198. Continued evaluation of the Ar 198 however, was not cancelled by that decision. The second prototype was completed and turned over to the Luftwaffe Flight Test Center at Rechlin. Soon after some very sucessful test flights this aircraft crashed on the landing approach when the starboard automatic slat came off, damaging the wing and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing on rough ground. Damage to the airframe was such that restoration of the machine was not carried out. The Arado Ar 198 V1, however, after the elimination of a few faults, was flown for a long time with increasing enthusiasm on the part of its assigned crew. The third prototype was only 80 per cent completed and then used for static tests.

Blohm & Voss BV141 (Germany)

In 1937, the German Air Ministry - the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) - issued a specification for a single-engine reconnaissance aircraft with optimal visual observation characteristics. The preferred contractor was Arado, but the request prompted the Focke-Wulf company to work up an alternative idea - the Focke-Wulf Fw 189, a twin-boom design with two smaller engines and a central crew gondola, while the Chief Designof of Blohm & Voss, Dr. Richard Vogt, proposed something far more radical - the uniquely asymmetric BV 141. A perspex-glazed crew gondola on the starboard side strongly resembled that found on the Fw 189, and housed the pilot, observer and rear gunner, while the fuselage on the port side led smoothly from the 746 kW (1,000 hp) Bramo 123 radial engine to a tail unit. The tailplane was symmetrical in the BV 141 V1 prototype.

At first glance, it would seem that the displacement of lift vs weight, and thrust vs drag, would have induced tendencies to yaw and roll requiring continual trimming to control, but the aircraft actually proved very stable and maneuverable. Indeed, Dr. Vogt had calculated that the greater weight on one side of the aircraft could be easily cancelled out by factoring in the torque of the propeller. The aircraft's design prompted a mixed response from the RLM and had no impact on their decision to build the Fw 189. Indeed, an urgent need for BMW 801 engines for use in the Fw 190 fighter aircraft further reduced any chance that the BV 141 would see production. Three further prototypes and an evaluation batch of five BV 141As were produced for the Luftwaffe, but the assessment was that they were underpowered. By the time a batch of 12 BV 141Bs were built with the more powerful BMW 801 engines, they were too late to make an impression, as production of the Fw 189 was already well along. The BV 141B had the starboard tailplane virtually removed to improve the rear gunner's field of view.

The Blohm & Voss BV 141 had a crew of 3 (pilot, observer and rear-gunner) and was powered by a single BMW 801 radial piston engine of 1,560 hp. It had a maximum speed of 272mph and a range of 745 miles with a service ceiling of 32,800 ft. Defensive armament for the Luftwafee consisted of. 2 × 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns and 2 × 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns.

OTL Note: Several wrecked BV 141s were found by advancing Allied forces. One was recovered by British forces and returned to England for examination. None survive today.

The BV 141 prototype first flew in February 1938. The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL team evaluated this aircraft and conducted a series of test flights over April/May 1938. The performance was found to be good and the observation visibility excellent although STOL capability was lacking. Overall though, the design was rather too radical for the Finns and while it remained in consideration, it was as a “possibility” rather than up for firm consideration.

Fiesler Fi 156 Storch (Germany)

In the summer of 1935, Fiesler Chairman Gerhard Fieseler, Chief Designer Reinhold Mewes (who specialised in STOL aircraft) and Technical Director Erich Bachem (later the creator of the Ba 349 Natter VTO fighter) designed the ultimate in practical STOL aircraft, the Fieseler Fi 156. It was no mere exercise, and was seen as fulfilling numerous roles both in civil life and for the recently resurgent Luftwaffe. The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Stork) was a remarkable STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft, a three-seat, high-winged machine with the wing liberally endowed with slats and flaps and a stalky landing gear arrangement, well suited to cushioning arrivals at unprecedentedly steep angles. Fieseler's chief designer, Reinhold Mewes, decided for ease of maintenance that the airplane should be completely conventional in its construction, and so utilized a steel tubing and fabric fuselage with wooden wings. The engine was the then-common Argus As 10C inverted V-8 aircooled 240-hp model.

Aerodynamically Mewes decided to go to the other extreme and use the most advanced techniques available to produce the ultimate in slow speed performance. Accordingly, the big 46-foot wing had full-length fixed slats (projected movable slats never materialized), Fowler-type flaps that increased wing area by 18 percent, and ailerons that drooped with the flaps when they were extended past 20 degrees. The wings could be folded back along the fuselage, allowing it to be carried on a trailer or even towed slowly behind a vehicle. The long legs of the landing gear contained oil and spring shock absorbers that compressed about 450 mm (18 inches) on landing, allowing the plane to set down almost anywhere. In flight they hung down, giving the aircraft the appearance of a very long-legged, big-winged bird, hence its nickname, Storch. With its very low landing speed the Storch often landed "in place" or sometimes even backwards, if the wind was blowing strongly from directly ahead.

The first Fi 156 V1 prototype flew in the spring of 1936, a braced high-wing monoplane of mixed construction, with a conventional braced tail unit and fixed tailskid landing gear with long-stroke main units, it was powered by an 240 hp (179 kW) Argus As 10C 8-cylinder inverted-Vee air-cooled piston engine, and its extensively glazed cabin provided an excellent view for its three-man crew. As with the Fi 97, the key to the success of this aircraft was its wing incorporating the company's high-lift devices, comprising in the initial production series a fixed slot extending over the entire span of the wing leading edge, with slotted ailerons and slotted camber-changing flaps occupying the entire trailing edge. The Argus As 10C V8 engine gave the plane a top speed of only 175 km/h (109 mph), enabling the Storch to fly as slow as 50 km/h (32 mph), take off into a light wind in less than 45 m (150 ft), and land in 18 m (60 ft). In response to the prototype, in 1937 the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Reich Aviation Ministry) put out a tender for a new Luftwaffe aircraft suitable for liaison, army co-operation - today called Forward Air Control - and medical evacuation to several companies.

Designs from from Messerschmitt (the Bf 163) and Siebel (the Si 201) and an auto gyro from Focke-Wulf (the Fw 186) based on Cierva technology were submitted, but the Fieseler entry was by far and away the most advanced in terms of STOL performance, needing a take-off run of only about 200 ft (60 m) and landing in about one-third of that distance. The first Fi 156 prototype was followed up by the second V2 prototype and then the third V3 prototype, the ski-equipped V4, plus one V5 and ten Fi 156A-0 pre-production aircraft. Flight testing of the first three prototypes (Fi 156 V1, V2 and V3) showed that the capability of this aircraft more than exceeded its STOL expectations, with little more than a light breeze blowing it could take off inonly a few feet. One of these prototypes was demonstrated publicly for the first time at an international flying meeting at the end of July 1937 in Zürich, by which time the general-purpose Fi 156A-1 was in production. The Storch repeatedly demonstrated full-load take-offs after a ground run of never more than 148 ft (45 m), and a fully controllable speed range of 32-108 mph (51-174 km/h). Service tests confirmed that Germany's armed forces had acquired a superb 'go-anywhere' aircraft.

It was immediately ordered into production by the Luftwaffe with an order for 16 planes, and the first Fi 156A-1 production aircraft entered service in mid-1937. Fieseler then offered the Fi 156B, which allowed for the retraction of the leading edge slats and had a number of minor aerodynamic cleanups, boosting the speed to 208 km/h (130 mph). The Luftwaffe didn't consider such a small difference to be important, and Fieseler instead moved on to the main production version, the C. The Fi 156C was essentially a "flexible" version of the A model. A small run of C-0s were followed by the C-1 three-seater liaison version, and the C-2 two-seat observation type (which had a rear-mounted MG 15 machine gun for defense). Both models entered service in 1939. In 1941, both were replaced by the "universal cockpit" C-3, suited to any role. Last of the Cs was the C-5, a C-3 with a belly hardpoint for a camera pod or drop tank. Some were fitted with skis, rather than wheels, for operations on snow. Other versions of the Fi 156 were the C-3/Trop, which was a tropicalised version of the Fi 156C-5, and the Fi 156D which was an air ambulance version. The first two Fi 156D models were the D-0 pre-production aircraft, and the D-1 production aircraft, powered by an Argus As 10P engine. The designation Fi 156C-1 applied to a variant intended to be deployed in liaison and staff transport roles, and the Fi 156C-2 was basically a two-crew reconnaissance version carrying a single camera. Some late examples of the Fi 156C-2 were, however, euipped to carry one stretcher for casualty evacuation. The final production variant was an improved casualty evacuation aircraft with an enlarged loading/unloading hatch for a single stretcher. Ten unusual pre-production aircraft were built under the designation Fi 156E-0, intended for operation from rough terrain with the standard landing gear was replaced by main units that each incorporated two wheels in tandem, the wheels of each unit, being linked by pneumatic rubber track.

It must be admitted that the Storch was large for its job, and the US Army Piper L-4 Grasshopper, its mass-produced equivalent, did most of the same tasks on 65 hp (48 kW) instead of 240 hp (179 kW). On the other hand, it could be argued that the aircraft bought by the RAF for the same duties was the Westland Lysander which, despite the best efforts of Westland could not come anywhere near the German aircraft's STOL qualities even with nearly 1,000 hp (746 kW). The truest test is perhaps an aircraft's influence on history. Immediately, the Storch had emulators in at least 10 countries, US examples including the Ryan YO-51 Dragonfly, Vultee L-1 Vigilant and Bellanca O-50, and even a version adopted by the Soviet Union. It added up to a vehicle that could go almost anywhere and do a remarkable number of things. Tests against fighters appeared to confirm that, at around 34 mph (55 km/h), it was a very difficult target for fighters. There was almost trouble when Udet's camera-gun film showed not one picture of the elusive Storch. Another Fi 156A-0 was tested with three SC-50 (50 kg/110 lbs) bombs, with aim marks painted on the Plexiglas windows, while another did successful trials against a U-boat with inert 298 lbs (135 kg) depth charges. Less unexpected were supply-dropping tests and trials with smoke apparatus.

The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL Team evaluated the aircraft and carried out a series of flight tests early in 1938. As expected, the Fi 156 rated highly, with the STOL performance in particular impressing the the test team. Excerpts from the Flight Test reports written at the time reveal some of the impressions that aircraft made on the Test Pilots:

“…..nothing could possibly convey its general ungainliness. It stands so high off the ground that an average man can barely see in the side windows…”

“…..once in the cockpit, the nose didn't even begin to block my vision because I was sitting so high above it. The cockpit area is huge, big enough to stand up in, and it's cluttered with cranks, wheels and levers, all labeled in German. The stick and rudder are where they should be, but the rudders are big cast-aluminum footprints with safety straps of their own and the stick resembles a telephone pole. The flaps are lowered by a crank, not a dainty little crank, but a man-sized Model "T" Ford type crank that sticks out of the left wall. By winding in the Aus direction, wing-size boards flop out of the trailing edges and the ailerons race to catch up. In the spar carry-through structure over the pilot's head is a pointer that indicates how much flap is hanging out, and in this airplane, any flap at all is a lot……”

“….. I must have made at least 15 takeoffs and landings, all of them incredibly short and none of them where I wanted them to be. On takeoff, I found that even with the correct trim, I couldn't pull back hard enough to come even close to stalling it. As soon as I had a minimum of 35 knots, I could pull back all I wanted and do nothing but climb. I had absolutely no head-wind component and my initial climb angle was nearly 45 degrees. This airplane really will leap off the ground. Taking off three-point in a headwind, I doubt that it would need more than 20 feet to get off, although I was using close to 100 most of the time……”

“……To make short-field landings on a chosen spot, you usually like to get the airplane slow enough so you have to use power to drag it in. I was constantly frustrated in the Storch, because I never got it slow enough to need power. Almost every landing was power-off, and eventually I was so exasperated that I was approaching at 25 knots indicated. At that speed, I needed power to soften the touchdown, but it still wasn't slow enough to hang on the prop. …… the really hot-shot German Pilot that instructed us in the Fi 156 would come creeping in over the trees at practically zero airspeed, letting it fall on command and catching it at the last moment with a burst of power….."

“….. I tried to stall it while at altitude and found that it not only refuses to stall, but as long as I had the slightest amount of power in to give it elevator effectiveness, I could easily fly the airplane where I wanted while holding the stick all the way back. Once you master that kind of approach, you could land backwards on an outhouse roof…..”

“……I had a lot of silly things happen while flying this airplane but the silliest was when I tried slipping it. I was high, per usual, so I figured I’d just use a max deflection slip. It works on other airplanes, why not? As I leaned the aileron into it and got on the opposite rudder everything was going just fine until I got about half rudder. At that point, the rudder pressure disappeared and the rudder pedal sank to the floor with no effort from me and stayed there. So, there I was, coming down final sideways with a rudder that was stuck to the floor of its own accord. That scared the living hell out of me! I had to practically stand on the other rudder to get things straighted out. I guess the aerodynamic balance on the rudder is so big that when enough of it catches the wind, it overpowers the surface and yanks it to full deflection……”

“….Maneuvering in the Storch is a real physical workout. The controls feel the way the airplane looks—gawky and loose. The stick forces are anything but light and to keep it completely coordinated, your feet have to thrash in and out as if you were working a treadle sewing machine….”

The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Stork) was a small two to five-seat mixed-structure high-winged army liaison aircraft with a fixed undercarriage. Photo taken of the V2 Prototype at the IV Internationales Flugmeeting, Zurich, 1937

OTL Note: The Storch could be found on every front throughout the European and North African theaters of operation in World War II. It will probably always be most famous for its role in Operation Eiche, the rescue of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from a boulder-strewn mountain top near the Gran Sasso, surrounded by Italian troops. German commando Otto Skorzeny dropped with 90 paratroopers onto the peak and quickly captured it, but the problem remained of how to get back off. A Focke Achgelis Fa 223 helicopter was sent, but it broke down en route. Instead, pilot Walter Gerlach flew in a Storch, landed in 30 m (100 ft), took aboard Mussolini and Skorzeny, and took off again in under 80 m (250 ft), even though the plane was overloaded.

A total of about 2,900 Fi 156s, mostly Cs, were produced from 1937 to 1945. When the main Fieseler plant switched to building Bf 109s in 1943, Storch production was shifted to the Mráz factory in Choceň, Czechoslovakia. A large number were also built at the captured Morane-Saulnier factory in France, starting in April 1942, as the M.S.500 Criquet. Both factories continued to produce the planes after the war for local civilian markets (in Czechoslovakia it was made as K-65 Čáp, 138 were made by 1949). Licenced production was also started in Romainia in 1943 at the ICAR (Īntreprinderea de construcţii aeronautice româneşti) factory in Bucharest. Only 10 were built by the time Romania switched sides, with a further 70 aircraft being built by the Romanians before production ended in 1946. During the war at least 60 Storchs were captured by the Allies, one becoming the personal aircraft of Field Marshal Montgomery.

OTL Note: the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch in Finland: The Finnish Ministry of Defense ordered two Fieseler Fi 156 Storchs from Germany on 31 Dec, 1938. Those were delivered by sea in May 1939 and remained in service until 1960.

Focke-Wulf Fw189 (Germany)

The Focke-Wulf Fw 189 was designed in response to the German Air Ministry specification issued in February 1937. This called for an aircraft with a crew of three and better performance than the Hs 126, then about to enter service as the standard reconnaissance aircraft. Arado, Blohm und Voss and Focke Wulf each produced a design in response to this specification. The Arado Ar 198 was the most conventional - a shoulder-winged single-engined aircraft with a bulged, glazed belly - but with poor performance. Blohm und Voss designed the Bv 141, an asymmetrical aircraft with the crew in a glazed pod to the right of the engine. This offered a good view and acceptable performance but was rather too radical a design for the German Air Ministry.

Focke-Wulf's design was not as radical as it at first looks. The Fw 189 was a standard twin-bombed two engined monoplane. Its unusual looks were due to the heavily glazed central pod which contained the crew section, although it was originally designed to be used with a number of different centre sections, allowing use as a ground attack or as a training aircraft. At first the German Air Ministry was rather sceptical about the Fw 189. However, in April 1937 Focke-Wulf received a contract to produce a single prototype, which made its maiden flight in July 1938 and it was this prototype that was evaluated by the Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL team in August of the same year.

With a Crew of 3, the Focke Wulf Fw 189 was powered by two Argus As 410A-1 air cooled inline engines of 465hp each. Maximum Speed was 217 mph, Range was 416 miles and the service ceiling was 23,950 feet. Defensive armament consisted of four 7.92mm machine guns.

OTL Note: This unarmed prototype was followed by two further prototypes in the initial batch: the V2, which was the first armed prototype, with two machine guns in the wing roots and three 7.92mm MG 17s in the crew pod - one in front of the cabin, one in the conical rear gunner's position and one above the cabin and the V3, which had automatic variable pitch propellers and the production versions of the Argus As 410 engines. The success of the first three prototypes was rewarded with an order for a second series of four prototypes. V4 was the prototype for the A series, with a modified engine cowling, semi-cowled main wheels, a larger main wheels and only two machine guns. The wing root guns remained, as did the upper and rear pod guns, although the front gun was removed. The V4 was used for tests with smoke-screen equipment and with equipment for using poisoned gas and chemical weapons. V5 was the prototype for the B series of training aircraft. V6 was the prototype for the planned series of heavily armoured ground attack aircraft and V7 was to be built as a prototype of a twin-float version of the aircraft, although it was completed as one of three B-0 trainers.

In the spring of 1940 Focke-Wulfe received an order for ten pre-production A-0s and twenty A-1s. The A-1 was armed with two fixed forward firing MG 17s and two flexibly mounted MG 15s. The first of these was carried in a circular glass turret on the roof of the cockpit, while the second was mounted in the conical rear cone of the pod, which could rotate through 360 degrees. The A-1 could also carry four 154lb/ 75kg bombs and an RB 20/30 camera as standard, with a wide range of other cameras available. Large scale production didn't get under way until late in 1940. Until the campaign in the west in 1940 the Luftwaffe believed that the Hs 126 was capable of carrying out the short range reconnaissance role, but it soon became clear that it lacked the performance required to operate effectively.

The Fw 189 was given a high production priority and was produced at several factories across Europe, with new production lines being established in Prague and around Bordeaux although production began at Focke-Wulf's own factory at Bremen. The type became the main German tactical reconnaissance aircraft from 1942 until the summer of 1944. Thirty eight aircraft were delivered by the end of 1940, sixty-one in 1941, fifty seven in 1942 and eleven in 1943. By this point production was being concentrated around Bordeaux, while the Bremen factory was focusing on the Fw 190. The second production line was in the Aero-Avia factory at Prague. This factory produced 151 aircraft in 1940-41, 183 in 1942 and three in 1943, for a total of 337. The final production line was set up around Bordeaux. At first the French factories assembled aircraft from German-built sub-assemblies, completing 87 aircraft in 1942. In 1943 the French factories were responsible for most remaining aircraft, before production of the Fw 189 was cancelled early in 1944. Eventually 864 Fw 189s were completed, 337 at Prague, between 250 and 300 in France (sources differ, and sub-totals often don't add up), and the rest at Bremen. Production reached its peak in 1942.

At the start of the war German short range reconnaissance was carried out by squadrons designated as Aufklärungsstaffeln (Heer), abbreviated to Aufkl.(H) or (H). Thirty six such squadrons existed in August 1939, and were under army control. Each squadron was self-supporting and fully mobile and could move from location to location under its own steam. The first few Fw 189s reached experimental sections of the Luftwaffe in the spring of 1940. At about the same time some aircraft reached the reconnaissance squadrons for service trials, but large-scale deliveries didn't really begin until the end of 1942. On 22 July 1941, at the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the number of reconnaissance squadrons had risen to 54, most of which were still using the Hs 126. Production of the Fw 189 increased in pace during the year, but even at the end of 1942 the Hs 126 still made up a significant proportion of the available aircraft. In the winter of 1941-42 the squadrons were organised into short-range reconnaissance groups, each of which was meant to contain three squadrons. On the southern sector there were nine groups with sixteen squadrons, of which six were still using the Hs 126. In the middle sector things were worse, with six groups and thirteen squadrons, of which nine still had the Hs 126. Finally both squadrons operating in the north were still using the older aircraft. Of a total of 31 short-range reconnaissance squadrons, 17, or just over half, were still using the older aircraft.

The Fw 189 was one of a long series of aircraft that owed their success to the air superiority won by fighter aircraft. This was brutally obvious in 1940, when the Fairey Battle and Westland Lysander suffered very heavy losses while the essentially similar Ju 87 Stuka and Fieseler Storch operated with great success. When the Fw 189 did appear in strength in the East it performed well. The air-cooled inline engines were more reliable in extreme cold weather than liquid cooled engines, while the aircraft itself proved to be very rugged. The heyday of the Fw 189 was probably 1942, which saw it operate in comparatively large numbers against weak opposition. After that things became increasingly difficult. The Germans found themselves on the opposite side of the situation – in the West, Allied control of the skies forced the Fw 189 to operate at night, while slow Allied army liaison and observation aircraft were able to operate in the skies above France with relative impunity while in the East, ever stronger Soviet fighter defences and ever-improving Soviet fighter aircraft made the skies increasingly dangerous for the Fw 189. Reconnaissance missions either needed an increasing number of fighter escorts, or took place at night. By the summer of 1944 the Fw 189 had been forced out of the daytime skies, and the surviving aircraft were forced to operate at night, or as training and liaison.

Focke-Wulf Fw 186 Autogyro

German helicopter development began with Focke Wulf’s acquisition of the rights to manufacture Cierva autogyros during the 1920’s. Over 30 Cierva C.19 and C.30 autogyros were built during the late twenties and early thirties, and from this experience, Heinrich Focke, the engineering half of the Focke Wulf organization, decided to develop an original autogyro design to compete in the Luftwaffe’s contest to provide a utility-liaison aircraft. The Focke-Wulf Fw 186 was a one-man autogyro built by Focke-Wulf in 1937 with backing from the RLM (ReichsLuftfahrtMinisterium - Reich Aviation Ministry).

The FW-186 was essentially a FW-56 “Stosser” parasol wing advanced trainer, with the wings removed, tail unit and landing gear redesigned and configured for two seats in tandem. The engine remained unchanged, with a clutch arrangement installed to start the blades rotating for takeoff. An autogyro uses the main powerplant for forward thrust while the rotors freewheel in flight. The aircraft could take off and land in very short distances, but it could not hover or take off and land vertically. Although the FW-186 was successfully flown it was beaten out by the Fieseler Fi-156 Storch for the Luftwaffe contract. Only one prototype of the aircraft was constructed, and the project was abandoned when the RLM preferred the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch over the Fw 186.

The Fockewulf F2 186 Autogyro was powered by a single Argus As 10C 8 cylinder air cooled 90º inverted Vee piston engine producing up to 240 hp with a maximum speed of 112mph.

The ilmavoimat / Maavoimat team did evaluate the Fw-186 very early in 1938, and while it was considered not suitable for the intended role and was removed from consideration, one of the Maavoimat Officers on the evaluation team (who was also familiar with the Glider Program underway) considered the gyrocopter interesting enough to recommend further discussions with the FockeWulf company to his own immediate Command, with rather interesting results.

Fokker C.X Biplane Scout and Light Bomber (Netherlands / Finland)
The Fokker C.X was already in service in Finland with the Ilmavoimat - four C.X’s had been purchased as “pattern” aircraft in 1934 along with a manufacturing license and the Ilmavoimat had ordered a further 20 from VL, who built the C.X aircraft over the last half of 1934 through to mid-1935. A further 20 were built through 1935 and early 1936 but with the move of VL to Tampere and the startup of Fokker D.XXI and Bristol Blenheim manufacturing, production was discontinued as the emphasis was placed on the construction of more modern aircraft. In early 1938, the Ilmavoimat briefly considered resurrecting the C.X for the Army Co-operation role.

The Ilmavoimat Fokker C.X had a maximum speed of 211mph, a range of 522 miles and a service ceiling of 27,230 feet. Armament consisted of 2x 7.9mm machine guns fixed on top of the front fuselage and a third manually aimed from rear cockpit. Underwing racks for two 385lb (175kg) or four 221lb (100kg) bombs were fitted.

However, the C.X had no real STOL capability and was not suitable for the intended multiple roles of casualty evacuation and army liaison. After an initial review, the aircraft was not considered further.

The Hawker Hector first flew in February 1936 and was intended by the RAF as a replacement for the Hawker Audax Army co-operation aircraft. At the time of the Finnish evaluation, the Hector equipped seven RAF army co-operation squadrons, although the Finns were also advised that it was intended to start replacing the Hectors in RAF service in 1938. The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL Team expressed considerable disbelief among themselves that in early 1938 the RAF was still flying an aircraft reminiscent of the first World War, particularly in light of the German aircraft designs they were also looking at. Their initial conclusion was that the aircraft was unreliable, obsolete and would be ineffective in its intended role. The Hector was eliminated from the evaluation with no further consideration.

The Hawker Hector had a Crew of 2 and was powered by a single Napier Dagger III 24-cylinder air-cooled H-block engine of 805 hp, giving a maximum speed of 187mph with a ramge of 300 miles and a service ceiling of 24,000 feet. Armament consisted of one forward firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun Mk.V and one rear-firing 303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun mounted in the rear cockpit.

OTL Note: One prototype and 178 production aircraft were built. After the Lysanders started entering service, the Hectors were transferred to RAF Auxiliary Air Force squadrons 613 Squadron used theirs to attack German troops advancing through northern France in May 1940. Two aircraft were lost in combat over Calais, before the squadron was evacuated. Hectors were used by the RAF from 1940 as target-towers, and for towing the General Aircraft Hotspur training gliders. The type was deeply unpopular with ground crews due to the complicated nature of the engine, which had 24 cylinders, with 24 spark plugs and 48 valves, all of which required frequent maintenance.

Britain sold the Irish Free State 13 of the Hectors after the Dunkirk Evacuation. In general they were in poor condition. They were sold by the British War Office to the Irish Free State upon requests for aircraft. The Irish military were wholly unprepared for major warfare, but still relied almost totally on military supplies from Britain. The defence of Ireland was also in the British interest, but with the Battle of Britain raging in the skies, could afford to sell the Irish Government nothing better than the Hector.

The RWD-14 Czapla was a Polish observation, close reconnaissance and liaison aircraft, designed in the mid-1930s by the RWD team, and produced in the LWS factory from 1938. The aircraft was designed in response to a Polish Air Force requirement of 1933 for a new army cooperation plane, a successor of the Lublin R-XIII. The RWD team of the DWL workshops (Doświadczalne Warsztaty Lotnicze) initially proposed the RWD-12 project, based on the RWD-8 trainer. It was however considered as not as good as the R-XIII, and another aircraft, the RWD-14 was designed by Stanislaw Rogalski and Jerzy Drzewiecki. Designer Tadeusz Chyliński prepared its technical documentation. The aircraft was a mixed construction monoplane with a braced parasol high-wing. The fuselage was a metal and wooden frame, covered with canvas. Wooden two-spar wings were covered with canvas and plywood and fitted with slats and the stabilizers were also of wooden construction. The wings folded rearwards. The fixed landing gear was of conventional design with a rear tailwheel. The Crew of two sat in tandem open cockpits, with twin controls and individual windshields. The observer had a 7.7 mm Vickers K machine gun, the pilot had a fixed 7.92 mm wz.33 machine gun with interrupter gear. 9 cylinder air-cooled radial engine PZL G-1620B Mors-II with 430 hp (320 kW) nominal power and 470 hp (350 kW) take-off power and a two-blade wooden propeller. Two fuel tanks with total capacity of 315 litres (265 liter in the fuselage, 50 liter in the central wing). The aircraft could be fitted with a radio and camera.

The first prototype was flown in late 1935. It won the contest over the Lublin R-XXI project and the Podlaska Wytwórnia Samolotów factory project, but factory trials showed that its performance was still not satisfactory. Between 1936 and 1937 two modified prototypes were built, designated RWD-14a, but both crashed during trials due to steering mechanism faults (the pilots survived). Finally, in early 1938 the fourth prototype, designated RWD-14b, was built. It was ordered by the Polish Air Force, receiving the name Czapla (Heron), but due to the long development process, it was regarded as only an interim model, to replace the R-XIII until the advent of the more modern LWS-3 Mewa. In return for refunding the development costs, DWL gave the rights to produce the RWD-14b to the state factory LWS (Lubelska Wytwórnia Samolotów - Lublin Aircraft Works, a successor of the Plage i Laśkiewicz).

The fourth prototype was tested by the Ilmavoimat evaluation team but the only feature that rated highly was the short take-off (140 m) and landing (120 m) distances which enabled it to operate from fields and meadows.

The RWD-14 Czapla had a crew of two (Pilot and Observer) and was powered by a single PZL G-1620B Mors-II air-cooled 9-cylinder radial engine of 470 hp with a maximum speed of 153 mph, a range of 421 miles and a service ceiling of 16,728 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × fixed, forward-firing 7.92 mm wz.33 machine gun and 1 × flexible, rearward-firing 7.7 mm Vickers K machine gun for the observer.

OTL Note: LWS built a series of 65 RWD-14b Czapla’s by February 28, 1939. The Czaplas entered service in the Polish Air Force in the spring of 1939, equipping a number of observation squadrons (eskadra obserwacyjna). Due to its long development, it was not a modern aircraft, only a little better than the Lublin R-XIII. Its advantage was its short take-off (140 m) and landing (120 m), enabling it to operate from fields and meadows. Its modern successor, the LWS-3 Mewa, did not manage to enter operational units due to the war. In the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Polish Air Force had 35 Czaplas in five observation squadrons (out of 12): No.'s 13, 23, 33, 53 and 63. Each squadron had seven aircraft. Squadrons were distributed among the field Armies.

The remaining 30 Czaplas were in reserve (probably only four supplemented combat units during the campaign). Like the R-XIII, the Czapla was no match for any Luftwaffe fighter, bomber, or even reconnaissance aircraft encountered, being much slower, and armed with only two machine guns. In spite of this, they were actively used for close reconnaissance and liaison tasks. Most RWD-14b’s were destroyed during the campaign. About ten were withdrawn to Romania (there are quoted numbers from 10 to 16) and one probably to Hungary. They were taken over by the Romanian Air Force and used for auxiliary duties. No RWD-14b has survived.

ATL Note: Ten Polish Air Force Czaplas escaped from Poland to Sweden as the Polish resistance to the German and Soviet invasions collapsed. On arrival in Sweden after flying across German-held territory and then a wavetop flight across the Baltic, they were quickly refueled and flew on to Finland, eventually landing at Turku. These aircraft were incorporated into the Ilmavoimat.

The Siebel Si-201 was designed and built by Siebel in response to the German Air Ministry specification issued in February 1937 for an air observation / army co-op aircraft that had superlative Short Take-off/Landing (STOL) capabilities, excellent slow-flight performance and all-round visibility. Three aircraft were designed and built to meet this particular specification – the Fiesler Fi-156 (already being tested before the specifications were released), the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke designed and built Bf-163 and the Siebel Si-201, these latter two flying in 1938. While the Bf-163 was more like the Fi-156, the Si-201 was a rather unorthodox design with its Argus As10 V-8 air-cooled engine mounted above the wing as a pusher, driving a four-bladed fixed-pitch airscrew which rotated above a slim, circular-section tailboom. It had a boxy, fully glazed forward fuselage with room for a pilot and observer in tandem and was a high-wing braced monoplane with a tail-wheel landing gear.

This design allowed superlative vision from the forward cockpit and so the pilot was seated towards the rear of the cockpit. The aircraft had high lift devices such as full span automatic leading edge slots and four section Fowler-type flaps with the outermost flaps also acting as ailerons and which occupied almost the entire trailing edges, the outboard sections serving as ailerons. The fuselage was of welded steel-tube construction with metal skinning and the plywood-covered wing was of wood. The pilot and observer were seated in tandem in the extensively-glazed forward fuselage, the observer being positioned ahead of the pilot with his seat offset to starboard. The first of two prototypes of the Si-201 flew during the early summer of 1938, revealed excellent short take-off and landing characteristics, and was found to possess acceptable slow-flying characteristics closely comparable with those of the Storch, but at the upper end of the speed scale tail flutter proved troublesome. Considerable effort was expended in damping out oscillation in the tailboom which developed under certain flight conditions, and the second prototype, which featured some simplification of the high-lift devices, was flown with a somewhat sturdier tailboom. The most serious shortcoming of the Si-201 proved to be the extremely limited cg travel permitted by its configuration, and when Siebel was ordered to abandon further development of the aircraft the problem of tail flutter remained largely unsolved.

The Si-201 was evaluated against the Fieseler Fi 156 and Messerschmitt Bf 163 but did not compare well to these aircraft. The Si-201 was also flown by General Ernst Udet, then head of the Reich Air Ministry's technical department. He was unimpressed with its ground handling and landing characteristics, essential elements in the success of the Storch. The Si 201 would also have been more costly to construct than the Fi 156 Storch. The Si-201 had a higher top speed than the Storch, but speed wasn't an important consideration for its expected roles, and work on the Si 201 stopped after two prototypes had been built.

The Siebel Si 201 was an unconventional looking aircraft with a Crew of two (Pilot and Observer) powered by a single Argus As 10C eight-cylinder inverted-vee air-cooled piston engine of 179 kW (240 hp) in a “pusher” configuration giving a maximum speed of 115mph with a range of 280 miles and a service ceiling of 18,000 feet.

The Ilmavoimat evaluation team test-flew the aircraft and experienced the same issues at the upper end of the speed scale with tail flutter. While this was a concern, the aircraft remained under consideration until the decision by the Reich’s Air Ministry not to order the aircraft into production put a halt to further consideration.

In 1934, the British Air Ministry issued Specification A.39/34 for an army co-operation aircraft to replace the Hawker Hector. Initially, Hawker Aircraft, Avro and Bristol were invited to submit designs, but after some debate within the Ministry, a submission from Westland was invited as well. The Westland design, internally designated P.8, was the work of Arthur Davenport under the direction of W.E.W. (Teddy) Petter. It was Petter's second aircraft design and he spent considerable time interviewing Royal Air Force pilots to find out what they wanted from such an aircraft. There was no clear idea of what the new aircraft needed to be able to do, and so in 1935 Petter spent some time with the army co-operation squadrons. Even there he found no consensus, but most pilots agreed that the most important requirements for the new aircraft were to be able to operate from small spaces, be able to fly at low speeds without stalling or losing control and that the pilot needed a clear forward view. Davenport and Petter worked to design an aircraft around these features: the result was unconventional and looked, by its 15 June 1936 maiden flight, rather antiquated. However, it was also the first custom-designed army cooperation aircraft to be built for the RAF since the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas of the late 1920s. The army cooperation aircraft was a rather unclear category. Its roles included artillery spotting, reconnaissance, message pickup (using a hock to scoop message bags off the ground) and some limited bombing. Specification A.39/34 called for an aircraft capable of performing all of these duties and with a short take off and landing capability.

The Lysander was a two seater, powered by a Bristol Mercury air-cooled radial engine, metal structured with top mounted wings and a fixed undercarriage inside large, streamlined spats. In appearance it was similar to the Polish LWS-3 Mewa. The wings had an unusual reverse taper towards the root, which gave the impression of a gull wing, although in fact the spars were perfectly straight. The wings were supported by V struts that linked to the undercarriage and had a girder type construction with a light wood frame around that to give the aerodynamic shape. The forward part was duralumin tube joined with brackets and plates,and the after part welded stainless steel tubes. Plates and brackets were cut from channel extrusions rather than forming from sheet steel. The front spar and lift struts were extrusions. The wing itself was fabric covered. The wheels were contained within streamlined spats, which also contained the forward firing guns. The spats also had mountings for small, removable stub wings that could be used to carry light bombs or supply canisters.

The Lysander’s small, removable stub wings that could be used to carry light bombs or supply canisters. This picture shows the landing light at the front of the spat and the winglet bomb rack, which in this photo has a food container attached, designed to drop supplies to isolated troops.

Despite its appearance, the Lysander was aerodynamically advanced it was equipped with automatic wing slats, slotted flaps and a variable incidence tailplane. These refinements gave the Lysander a stalling speed of only 65 mph (104 km/h, 56.5 knots). It also featured the largest Elektron alloy extrusion made at the time: a single piece inside the spats supporting the wheels. The Air Ministry requested two prototypes of the P.8. The first prototype made its first taxiing test on 10 June 1936 and its first flight five days later at Boscombe Down. The Air Ministry preferred the Lysander to the competing Bristol Type 148, quickly selecting the Westland aircraft for production, issuing a contract in September 1936. On 11 December 1936 Westland received a first order for 169 Lysanders. The first production aircraft appeared in March 1938, and were delivered to No. 16 squadron, at Old Sarum. This base was also the home of the School of Army Cooperation, another early recipient of the aircraft. Early aircraft were also sent to No. 5 Squadron in India for tropical trials. Like other British army air co-operation aircraft, it was given the name of a military leader in this case, the Spartan General, Lysander.

With a Crew of two (Pilot and Observer), the Lysander was powered by a single Bristol Mercury XX radial engine, 870 hp (649 kW). Maximum speed was 212 mph, Combat radius was 300 miles (range of 600 miles) and the Service ceiling was 21,500 feet. Armament consisted of two forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns in the wheel fairings and two .303 Lewis guns for the observer. The Lysander could also carry four 20 lb (9 kg) bombs under the rear fuselage and 500 lb (227 kg) of bombs on the stub wings if these were fitted.

OTL Note: The Lysander was a total failure in its primary role. The skies over France and Belgium in May and June 1940 were simply too dangerous for the large and slow army cooperation aircraft (the very similar Henschel Hs 126 would suffer in a very similar way). Four Lysander squadrons moved to France during the phoney war period (Nos. 2, 4, 13 and 26). When the Germans attacked in May 1940, their armies were supported by swarms of Bf 109s. Allied fighters were overwhelmed. While the Fairey Battle was the most famous victim of this period, the four Lysander squadrons suffered very nearly as badly. Of 174 Lysanders sent to France, 88 were lost in aerial combat and 30 were destroyed on the ground. 120 crewmen were lost. Only 50 aircraft survived to return to Britain. The concept of the army cooperation aircraft, capable of reconnaissance, artillery spotting and a bit of light bombing was quickly abandoned. Artillery spotting and tactical reconnaissance would later be performed by much smaller aircraft (mainly the British Taylorcraft Auster Series), while the ground attack role would be take over by high performance fighter aircraft (the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk soon reequipped army cooperation squadrons). They made very easy targets for the Luftwaffe unless escorted by Hurricanes.

The majority of Lysander squadrons were actually formed after the fall of France, performing vital air-sea rescue duties. Its low speed allowed it to drop dinghies and supplies close to downed aircrew. The Lysander was also used for radar calibration and as target tugs. Of the (probably) 1,670 aircraft built, some 964 were Mk III aircraft, which first appeared in August 1940. The Lysander is most famous for its work with the Special Operations Executive. Two squadrons were formed to support the SOE, first No. 138 (Special Duties) squadron in August 1941 and then No. 161 (SD) squadron. These squadrons were given a mix of aircraft, including Hudsons, Whitleys and Halifaxes as well as the Lysander. The larger aircraft were used for parachute drops, either of agents or supplies. The aircraft's exceptional short-field performance made possible clandestine missions behind enemy lines that placed or recovered agents, particularly in occupied France. For this role, the Mk IIIs were fitted with a fixed entry/exit ladder over the port side to hasten access to the rear cockpit and a large drop tank under the belly. In order to slip in unobtrusively, the Lysanders were painted matt black, and operations were often planned for moonless nights. Flying without any navigation equipment other than a map and compass, Lysanders would land on short strips of land, such as fields, marked out by four or five torches. They were only designed to carry one passenger in the rear cockpit, but in case of urgent necessity, two could be carried in extreme discomfort. The Lysander proved to be a success in this role and continued to undertake such duties until the liberation of France. Between August 1941, when No. 138 squadron began Lysander operations, and the end of 1944 when the fighting had moved out of France, the Lysanders made at least 400 sorties. No. 161 squadron along took 293 people into France and retrieved 500.

ATL Note: After the outbreak of the Winter War, 17 Lysander aircraft were ordered from England on 8 Jan, 1940. The first 9 were shipped to Gothenburg, Sweden, on 24 Feb. 1940. These were assembled at the Götaverken factory in Torslanda and were flown to Finland between 21 March and 3 May. The rest of the order were flown directly from England to Finland, with 2 arriving on 8 March. One of these was damaged near Stavanger, Norway.

A destroyed Ilmavoimat Westland Lysander LY-124 on the island of Buoy, close to Stavanger, Norway

The remaining Lysanders from the order left England in early March and arrived in Finland on the 15th of the same month. The Lysanders that entered service remained in use until 1945, although some were lost in action.

Ilmavoimat Westland Lysander in service in the Winter War

Heinkel He 46 (Germany)
Henschel Hs 126 (Germany)
Lublin R-XII (Poland)
LWS-3 Mewa (Poland)
Meridiomali Ro.37(Italy)
Messerschmitt Bf108 (Germany)
Messerschmitt Bf163 (Germany)
Piper J3 (USA)
Potez 39 (France)


Italian aviator Francesco de Pinedo and his mechanic Ernesto Campanelli return to Rome, at the end of their 201-day, 35,000-mile journey via Australia and Japan in a SIAI S.16ter flying boat.

Russian Tupolev TB-1 Angular Monoplane Bomber

The Tupolev TB-1 was the production version of the ANT-4 prototype that first flew on November 26, 1925. It was the first large all-metal aircraft the Soviet Union built. Tupolev manufactured 218 between 1929 and 1932.

The last ones were finally retired in 1948. Some were fitted with floats for use as torpedo bombers under model TB-1P, and for aerial survey operations.

Tupolev TB-1 Strana Sovyetov-2

The Tupolev team designed a twin-engine, all-metal monoplane with a corrugated duralumin skin. This derived from Tupolev’s earlier work utilizing the all-metal aircraft design techniques first pioneered by Hugo Junkers in 1918. The first flight was successful.

However, production was delayed while they found a suitable, but affordable engine. Thereafter, the ex-Junkers factory at Fili, Moscow began production. The Tupolev TB-1 became a Soviet Union mainstay bomber, until the much larger, four-engine Tupolev TB-3 replaced it. Many were recycled as G-1 civil freighters for Aeroflot and Aviaarktika. Others were used for experimental purposes.

Tupolev TB-1 and Two Tupolev I-4s in Mothership Experiment

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