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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Henschel Hs 123 close support

Design

Specifications for a dive bomber were issued in 1933.5 Fieseler and Henschel were asked to develop an interim dive-bomber until the Junkers Ju 87 was ready.1 The Henschel Hs 123 was selected over the Fieseler Fi 96 / Fi 985.1

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

Construction

The Hs 123 was of an all metal construction with fabric on the control surfaces and the rear of the wings.2,5

Engine

The engine on the Hs 123 had 18 fairings covering the engine valves.1 There were two exhaust pipes on each side of the engine.1

Undercarriage

During wet weather the spats covering the wheels were removed from the Hs 123 as they often clogged.1

Prototype

The prototype was powered by a BMW 132A-3 radial engine (650 HP) and first flew in the spring of 1935 / May 8, 19354 / 19385.2,3 This flight took place at Johannisthal.4

There was almost no bracing between the wing and fuselage.1 Two prototypes lost their upper wings during flight tests.1,3,5 As a result stronger struts were fitted.1,3

Production

Deliveries of the Hs 123A-1 started in the summer of 1936.3

Production ended in October 1938.1,3

  • Prototypes: 63
  • Hs 123A-1: 6043
  • Total: 6103
    • Manufacturer: Henschel Flugzeugwerke A.G.4 at the Schönefeld and Johannisthal factory in Berlin5

Variants

  • Hs 123 V1: Had a smooth cowling.1 Subsequent models had 18 fairings over the engine valves.1 Used BMW 132A-3 engine (650 HP).2,3,5
  • Hs 123 V3: First to be armed with two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns in the nose.5
  • Hs 123 V5: Prototype with BMW 123K radial, 960 HP, engine.1 First flew in 1938.1 Was to become the Hs 123B but it was cancelled.1
  • Hs 123A-1: Production version.2,5 Started appearing in mid-1936.2
  • Hs 123B: Had more powerful engine, a BMW 132K (960 HP).3,5 Never entered production.3 Was to have two more 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns installed.5 The cockpit was to be enclosed.5
  • Hs 123C: More gun armament.3 Enclosed cockpit.3 Never entered production.3

Usage

The Hs 123 began to equip operational squadrons in the summer of 1936.4 The first being 1./StG 162 in the autumn of 1936.5

German and Spain were countries that used the Hs 123.3

It was shown that the Hs 123 could pull out of near vertical dives.1 The Hs 123 was well liked because it could deliver its payload with extremely good accuracy and take a lot of punishment.3

Some in the military wanted to put the Hs 123 back into production during 1943.1,3

Spain

Spain liked the Hs 123 so much that it bought five and then order eleven more.1,5

Poland

Only one Gruppe had Hs 123 during the invasion of Poland.1

Soviet Union

The Hs 123 was such a success in Poland and France that additional Gruppe were formed from retired aircraft.1

Specifications

  Hs 123
Type Dive bomber3, Close support3
Crew 13
  Hs 123A-1
Type Attack Fighter4, Close support1,2,5, Dive bomber1,5
Crew 11,4
Engine (Type) BMW 132Dc piston1,2,3,4,5
Cylinders Radial2,5, Radial 91,3,4
Cooling Air1,4
HP 8701, 8802,3,4
Propeller blades 31,3
Dimensions  
Span 34' 5"1, 34' 5.5"2, 34' 6"4
10.5 m1,2
Span - upper wing 34' 5.4"5, 34' 5.5"3
10.5 m3,5
Span - lower wing 26' 3"3,5
8 m3,5
Length 27' 4"1,2,3,4,5
8.33 m1,2,3,5
Height 10' 6"1,4,5, 10' 6 3/8"2, 10' 6.5"3
3.2 m5, 3.21 m2,3, 3.22 m1
Wing area 267 sq ft1, 267.49 sq ft5, 267.5 sq ft2
24.85 sq m1,5, 24.86 sq m2
Weight  
Empty 3,307 lb2,5, 3,311 lb1, 3,316 lb3
1,500 kg2,5, 1,504 kg3, 1,505 kg1
Loaded 4,877 lb1, 4,883 lb2,5, 4,888 lb3, 4,894 lb4
2,215 kg2,5, 2,217 kg1,3
Performance  
Speed at 3,900' / 1,200 m 211 mph1
341 kph1
Speed at 3,935' / 1,200 m 211 mph5
340 kph5
Speed at 3,940' / 1,200 m 212 mph2,3,4
341 kph2,3
Cruising Speed 197 mph3
317 kph3
Cruising Speed at 6,560' / 2,000 m 196 mph5
315 kph5
Climb 2,950'/minute2, 2,953'/minute3
900 m/minute2,3
Climb at sea level 2,950'/minute1
900 m/minute1
Service Ceiling 29,500'1, 29,525'3,4, 29,530'2,5
9,000 m1,2,3,5
Range 531 miles5, 533 miles1, 534 miles2,3,4
855 km5, 860 km1,2,3
Armament  
Nose 2: MG4
2: 7.9 mm MG3
2: 7.9 mm MG 171
2: 7.92 mm MG 172,5
Under wings 2: 20 mm3
2: 20 mm MG FF1
OR  
Bombs 440 lb4, 992 lb2,3,5
4: 110 lb1
4: 50 kg1
450 kg2,3,5
Bombs - Under Fuselage 1: 551 lb5
1: 250 kg5
Bombs - Under Wings 4: 110 lb5
4: 50 kg5

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site