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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Henschel Hs 129 close support

Photos

  • Henschel Hs 129 close support
  • Henschel Hs 129 close support
  • Henschel Hs 129B close support
  • Henschel Hs 129B-3 close support

Design

In 1937 the Technische Amt issued specifications for a close-support, with a cannon, aircraft.1,2,7 The competing designs were the Focke-Wulf 189 and the Henschel Hs 129.1,7 Both didn't perform well and the Hs 129 won mostly due to the fact it was 2/3s the cost of the Fw 189.1 Friedrich Nicolaus was the designer of the Henschel Hs 129.2

The Henschel Hs 129 was designed from the start to destroy tanks.1

Armament

Some of the Hs 129B-2s had six 75 mm 5' 3" / 1.6 m long tubes mounted at an angle in the fuselage.6 They were fired automatically when it flew over a tank at low altitudes.6

Cockpit

The Hs 129 was designed to have a small cross section and this resulted in the cockpit being very small and cramped.1 Some pilots couldn't fit into the small cockpit.1

The cockpit had 0.5" / 12 mm armored plating on the floor and the front.1,4,6 There was 0.25" / 6 mm armor on the sides.1,4,6

The gun sight was mounted in front of the canopy.1

The engine controls were mounted on the engine nacelles.1

Undercarriage

The undercarriage retracted rearwards into the engine nacelles with a little bit of the wheel left exposed to help minimize damage in the case of a wheels up landing.1

Fuselage

The fuselage was light metal with a stressed skin.1 This was joined to the armored cockpit.1

The bottom was armored to protect against ground fire.5

Engines

The Hs 129 would have been a great close support aircraft except for its engine problems.3 The initial Argus engine was underpowered, and the Gnome-Rhône were vulnerable to ground fire and prone to fail.3

Prototype

Henschel received an order to build three prototypes in mid-1938.1

The very first one flew in March 1938.1
The first prototype flew in the spring of 1939.3,4

The Hs 129V1 had two Argus As 410 inline engines (465 HP) and first flew in 1938.2

The Hs 129A-0 had French Gnome-Rhône 14M radial engines (700 HP) installed.2

The Hs 129A-0 had Argus As 410A-1 engines that proved to be under-powered.1

The Hs 129B had the Gnome-Rhône installed.1 The cockpit was modified with larger areas of armored glass.1

Production

Production ended in September 1944.1

  • Prototypes: 33
  • Henschel Hs 129A-0: 83
  • Henschel Hs 129B-0: 107, 163
  • Henschel Hs 129B: 8433
  • Henschel Hs 129B-3: 257
  • Total: 8703, 8711
    • Manufacturer: Henschel Flugzeugwerke A.G.4

Variants

  • Henschel Hs 129V: Fitted with Argus As 410A-1 inverted V 12 engines (495 HP).3
  • Henschel Hs 129A-0: Fitted with Argus engines.1 These were underpowered and were assigned to a training unit.1
  • Henschel Hs 129B-0: Had a larger cockpit and electrically operated trim tabs.2 Delivered in December 1941.2
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1: Delivered in 1942.2
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R2: 30 mm MK 101 cannon under the nose with 30 rounds.2
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R3: Had four 7.9 mm machine guns in a ventral pack.3
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R4: Had up to 551 lb / 250 kg of bombs.3
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R5: Had a ventral camera.3
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2: Had auxiliary fuel tank which could be dropped.6
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R1: Had two 20 mm MG 151/20 and two 13 mm MG.7
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R2: 30 mm cannon under the fuselage.3
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R3: 37 mm cannon under the fuselage.3 Had two 20 mm MG 151/20 and one 37 mm BK 3.7 cm.7
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R4: 75 mm cannon under the fuselage.3
  • Henschel Hs 129B-3/Wa: Had 75 mm PaK 40 gun installed with 12 rounds.1,2,3,7 There were no guns in the wings.3 25 Hs 129B-2s were converted.3
  • Henschel Hs 129??: Tested with SG 113A installed which fired tubes of explosives that were triggered by light-sensitive cells.1

Usage

Germany, Hungary, and Romania used the Hs 129.3 They were first used on the Eastern Front in 1942.6

North Africa

At the end of 1942, Hs 129s were sent to North Africa.1 The engines were prone to seizures and the Hs 129 was withdrawn to Tripoli for overhauls.1

Romania

Romania was supplied with the Hs 129 and in 1944, after Romania switched sides, they were used against the German army.1

Specifications

  Henschel Hs 129
Type Ground attack3,5, Close support3, Anti-tank3
Crew 13
Engine (Type) 2: Argus As. 4105,6
Cylinders In-line5, Inverted V 126
Cooling Liquid5
HP 450 each5
Propeller blades Controllable pitch6
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7"3, 50'5
14.2 m3
Length 31' 11.75"3, 38'5
9.75 m3
Height 10' 8"3
3.25 m3
Weight  
Loaded 9,000 lb5
Performance  
Speed 225 mph5
Armament  
Nose 2: cannon5
4: MG5
  Henschel Hs 129B
Type Ground attack6
Crew 16
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M 04/053,6
Cylinders Radial 143,6
Cooling Air6
HP 700 each3
Propeller blades 3 each3, 3 blade Ratier constant speed6
Fuel capacity 134 gallons6
Dimensions  
Span 44' 6"6
13.5 m6
Length 33' 3"6
10.1 m6
Height  
Wing area 305 sq ft6
28.3 sq m6
Weight  
Empty 8,770 - 8,940 lb6
3,980 - 4,060 kg6
Loaded 11,000 - 11,250 lb6
5,000 - 5,110 kg6
Performance  
Speed at 12,500' /
3,810 m
255 mph6
408 kph6
Climb to 10,000' /
3,050 m
7 minutes6
Service ceiling 29,520'6
9,000 m6
Range 350 miles6
560 km6
Armament  
Fuselage - Nose - Sides 2: 15 mm MG 1516
2: 7.9 mm MG 176
OR 2: 20 mm MG 151/206
2: 7.9 mm MG 176
Fuselage - Under 1: 30 mm Mk 1016
OR 1: 30 mm Mk 1036
OR 4: 7.9 mm MG 176
OR 770 lb bombs6
350 kg bombs6
  Henschel Hs 129B-1
Type Attack fighter4
Crew 14
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M4
Cylinders Radial 144
Cooling Air4
HP 700 each4
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7"4
Length 31' 11"4
Height 10' 8"4
Weight  
Loaded 11,574 lb4
Performance  
Speed @ 12,750' /
3,830 m
253 mph4
Service ceiling 29,530'4
Range 428 miles4
Armament 2: MG4
2: 20 mm4
1: 30 mm4
  Henschel Hs 129B-1/R2
Type Anti-tank2, Ground support2,7
Crew 12,7
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M2,7
Cylinders Radial2,7
HP 700 each2,7
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7"2 , 46' 7.1"7
14.2 m2,7
Length 31' 11.75"2, 31' 11.9"7
9.75 m2,7
Height 10' 8"2.7
3.25 m2,7
Wing area 312.16 ft2 2,7
29 m2 2,7
Weight  
Empty 8,783 lb2
3,984 kg2
Loaded 11,263 lb2
5,109 kg2
Performance  
Speed at 12,565' /
3,830 m
253 mph7
407 kph7
Speed at 12,750' /
3,830 m
253 mph2
407 kph2
Climb to 9,845' /
3,000 m
7 minutes2
Service ceiling 29,525'7, 29,530'2
9,000 m2.7
Range 348 miles2,7
560 km2,7
Armament 2: 20 mm MG 151/207
2: 7.92 MG 177
1: 30 mm Mk 1017
Nose 2: 20 mm MG 151/202
2: 7.92 MG 172
Ventral pack 30 mm3
Bombs 772 lb2
350 kg2
Under fuselage 1: 30 mm MK 1012
30 rounds2
  Henschel Hs 129B-2
Type Close support1, Anti-tank1
Crew 11
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M 4/51
Cylinders Radial 141
Cooling Air1
HP 700 each1
Propeller blades 3 each1
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7"1
14.2 m1
Length 13' 1"1
9.75 m1
Height 10' 8"1
3.25 m1
Wing area 312 ft2 1
29 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 8,382 lb1, 8,400 lb3
3,810 kg1,3
Loaded 11,550 lb1, 11,574 lb3
5,250 kg1,3
Performance  
Speed 252 mph1
407 kph1
Speed @ 12,750' /
3,830 m
253 mph3
407 kph3
Cruising speed 195 mph1, 196 mph3
315 kph1,3
Climb 1,594'/minute1, 1,595'/minute3
486 m/minute1,3
Service ceiling 29,500'1, 29,530'3
9,000 m1,3
Range 425 miles1, 429 miles3
688 km1, 690 km3
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.9 mm MG 171
2: 20 mm MG 1511
Under fuselage 1: 30 mm1
OR 4: 110 lb bombs1
4: 50 kg bombs1
OR 1:550 lb bomb1
1: 250 kg bomb1
Wings  
Wing racks 2: 110 lb bombs1
2: 50 kg bombs1
OR 48: 4 lb anti-personnel bombs1
48: 2 kg anti-personnel bombs1

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. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  6. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  7. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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