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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Henschel Hs 123 close support

Design

Specifications for a dive bomber were issued in 1933. Fieseler and Henschel were asked to develop an interim dive-bomber until the Junkers Ju 87 was ready. The Henschel Hs 123 was selected over the Fieseler Fi 96 / Fi 98.

The Hs 123 was considered a sesquiplane as it had 1 and 1/2 wings.

Construction

The Hs 123 was of an all metal construction with fabric on the control surfaces and the rear of the wings.

Engine

The engine on the Hs 123 had 18 fairings covering the engine valves. There were two exhaust pipes on each side of the engine.

Undercarriage

During wet weather the spats covering the wheels were removed from the Hs 123 as they often clogged.

Prototype

The prototype was powered by a BMW 132A-3 radial engine (650 HP) and first flew in the spring of 1935 / May 8, 1935 / 1938. This flight took place at Johannisthal.

There was almost no bracing between the wing and fuselage. Two prototypes lost their upper wings during flight tests. As a result stronger struts were fitted.

Production

Deliveries of the Hs 123A-1 started in the summer of 1936.

Production ended in October 1938.

  • Prototypes: 6
  • Hs 123A-1: 604
  • Total: 610
    • Manufacturer: Henschel Flugzeugwerke A.G. at the Schönefeld and Johannisthal factory in Berlin

Variants

  • Hs 123 V1: Had a smooth cowling. Subsequent models had 18 fairings over the engine valves. Used BMW 132A-3 engine (650 HP).
  • Hs 123 V3: First to be armed with two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns in the nose.
  • Hs 123 V5: Prototype with BMW 123K radial, 960 HP, engine. First flew in 1938. Was to become the Hs 123B but it was cancelled.
  • Hs 123A-1: Production version. Started appearing in mid-1936.
  • Hs 123B: Had more powerful engine, a BMW 132K (960 HP). Never entered production. Was to have two more 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns installed. The cockpit was to be enclosed.
  • Hs 123C: More gun armament. Enclosed cockpit. Never entered production.

Usage

The Hs 123 began to equip operational squadrons in the summer of 1936. The first being 1./StG 162 in the autumn of 1936.

German and Spain were countries that used the Hs 123.

It was shown that the Hs 123 could pull out of near vertical dives. The Hs 123 was well liked because it could deliver its payload with extremely good accuracy and take a lot of punishment.

Some in the military wanted to put the Hs 123 back into production during 1943.

Spain

Spain liked the Hs 123 so much that it bought five and then order eleven more.

Poland

Only one Gruppe had Hs 123 during the invasion of Poland.

Soviet Union

The Hs 123 was such a success in Poland and France that additional Gruppe were formed from retired aircraft.

Specifications

  Hs 123
Type Dive bomber, Close support
Crew 1
  Hs 123A-1
Type Attack Fighter, Close support, Dive bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) BMW 132Dc piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 870, 880
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 34' 5", 34' 5.5", 34' 6"
10.5 m
Span - upper wing 34' 5.4", 34' 5.5"
10.5 m
Span - lower wing 26' 3"
8 m
Length 27' 4"
8.33 m
Height 10' 6", 10' 6 3/8", 10' 6.5"
3.2 m, 3.21 m, 3.22 m
Wing area 267 sq ft, 267.49 sq ft, 267.5 sq ft
24.85 sq m, 24.86 sq m
Weight  
Empty 3,307 lb, 3,311 lb, 3,316 lb
1,500 kg, 1,504 kg, 1,505 kg
Loaded 4,877 lb, 4,883 lb, 4,888 lb, 4,894 lb
2,215 kg, 2,217 kg
Performance  
Speed at 3,900' / 1,200 m 211 mph
341 kph
Speed at 3,935' / 1,200 m 211 mph
340 kph
Speed at 3,940' / 1,200 m 212 mph
341 kph
Cruising Speed 197 mph
317 kph
Cruising Speed at 6,560' / 2,000 m 196 mph
315 kph
Climb 2,950'/minute, 2,953'/minute
900 m/minute
Climb at sea level 2,950'/minute
900 m/minute
Service Ceiling 29,500', 29,525', 29,530'
9,000 m
Range 531 miles, 533 miles, 534 miles
855 km, 860 km
Armament  
Nose 2: MG
2: 7.9 mm MG
2: 7.9 mm MG 17
2: 7.92 mm MG 17
Under wings 2: 20 mm
2: 20 mm MG FF
OR  
Bombs 440 lb, 992 lb
4: 110 lb
4: 50 kg
450 kg
Bombs - Under Fuselage 1: 551 lb
1: 250 kg
Bombs - Under Wings 4: 110 lb
4: 50 kg

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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