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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. The competing designs were the Focke-Wulf 189 and the Henschel Hs 129. 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. Friedrich Nicolaus was the designer of the Henschel Hs 129.

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

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. They were fired automatically when it flew over a tank at low altitudes.

Cockpit

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

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

The gun sight was mounted in front of the canopy.

The engine controls were mounted on the engine nacelles.

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.

Fuselage

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

The bottom was armored to protect against ground fire.

Engines

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

Prototype

Henschel received an order to build three prototypes in mid-1938.

The very first one flew in March 1938.
The first prototype flew in the spring of 1939.

The Hs 129V1 had two Argus As 410 inline engines (465 HP) and first flew in 1938.

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

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

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

Production

Production ended in September 1944.

  • Prototypes: 3
  • Henschel Hs 129A-0: 8
  • Henschel Hs 129B-0: 10, 16
  • Henschel Hs 129B: 843
  • Henschel Hs 129B-3: 25
  • Total: 870, 871
    • Manufacturer: Henschel Flugzeugwerke A.G.

Variants

  • Henschel Hs 129V: Fitted with Argus As 410A-1 inverted V 12 engines (495 HP).
  • Henschel Hs 129A-0: Fitted with Argus engines. These were underpowered and were assigned to a training unit.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-0: Had a larger cockpit and electrically operated trim tabs. Delivered in December 1941.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1: Delivered in 1942.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R2: 30 mm MK 101 cannon under the nose with 30 rounds.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R3: Had four 7.9 mm machine guns in a ventral pack.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R4: Had up to 551 lb / 250 kg of bombs.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-1/R5: Had a ventral camera.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2: Had auxiliary fuel tank which could be dropped.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R1: Had two 20 mm MG 151/20 and two 13 mm MG.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R2: 30 mm cannon under the fuselage.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R3: 37 mm cannon under the fuselage. Had two 20 mm MG 151/20 and one 37 mm BK 3.7 cm.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-2/R4: 75 mm cannon under the fuselage.
  • Henschel Hs 129B-3/Wa: Had 75 mm PaK 40 gun installed with 12 rounds. There were no guns in the wings. 25 Hs 129B-2s were converted.
  • Henschel Hs 129??: Tested with SG 113A installed which fired tubes of explosives that were triggered by light-sensitive cells.

Usage

Germany, Hungary, and Romania used the Hs 129. They were first used on the Eastern Front in 1942.

North Africa

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

Romania

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

Specifications

  Henschel Hs 129
Type Ground attack, Close support, Anti-tank
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 2: Argus As. 410
Cylinders In-line, Inverted V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 450 each
Propeller blades Controllable pitch
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7", 50'
14.2 m
Length 31' 11.75", 38'
9.75 m
Height 10' 8"
3.25 m
Weight  
Loaded 9,000 lb
Performance  
Speed 225 mph
Armament  
Nose 2: cannon
4: MG
  Henschel Hs 129B
Type Ground attack
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M 04/05
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 700 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 blade Ratier constant speed
Fuel capacity 134 gallons
Dimensions  
Span 44' 6"
13.5 m
Length 33' 3"
10.1 m
Height  
Wing area 305 sq ft
28.3 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,770 - 8,940 lb
3,980 - 4,060 kg
Loaded 11,000 - 11,250 lb
5,000 - 5,110 kg
Performance  
Speed at 12,500' /
3,810 m
255 mph
408 kph
Climb to 10,000' /
3,050 m
7 minutes
Service ceiling 29,520'
9,000 m
Range 350 miles
560 km
Armament  
Fuselage - Nose - Sides 2: 15 mm MG 151
2: 7.9 mm MG 17
OR 2: 20 mm MG 151/20
2: 7.9 mm MG 17
Fuselage - Under 1: 30 mm Mk 101
OR 1: 30 mm Mk 103
OR 4: 7.9 mm MG 17
OR 770 lb bombs
350 kg bombs
  Henschel Hs 129B-1
Type Attack fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 700 each
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7"
Length 31' 11"
Height 10' 8"
Weight  
Loaded 11,574 lb
Performance  
Speed @ 12,750' /
3,830 m
253 mph
Service ceiling 29,530'
Range 428 miles
Armament 2: MG
2: 20 mm
1: 30 mm
  Henschel Hs 129B-1/R2
Type Anti-tank, Ground support
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M
Cylinders Radial
HP 700 each
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7" , 46' 7.1"
14.2 m
Length 31' 11.75", 31' 11.9"
9.75 m
Height 10' 8"
3.25 m
Wing area 312.16 ft2
29 m2
Weight  
Empty 8,783 lb
3,984 kg
Loaded 11,263 lb
5,109 kg
Performance  
Speed at 12,565' /
3,830 m
253 mph
407 kph
Speed at 12,750' /
3,830 m
253 mph
407 kph
Climb to 9,845' /
3,000 m
7 minutes
Service ceiling 29,525', 29,530'
9,000 m
Range 348 miles
560 km
Armament 2: 20 mm MG 151/20
2: 7.92 MG 17
1: 30 mm Mk 101
Nose 2: 20 mm MG 151/20
2: 7.92 MG 17
Ventral pack 30 mm
Bombs 772 lb
350 kg
Under fuselage 1: 30 mm MK 101
30 rounds
  Henschel Hs 129B-2
Type Close support, Anti-tank
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14M 4/5
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 700 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 46' 7"
14.2 m
Length 13' 1"
9.75 m
Height 10' 8"
3.25 m
Wing area 312 ft2
29 m2
Weight  
Empty 8,382 lb, 8,400 lb
3,810 kg
Loaded 11,550 lb, 11,574 lb
5,250 kg
Performance  
Speed 252 mph
407 kph
Speed @ 12,750' /
3,830 m
253 mph
407 kph
Cruising speed 195 mph, 196 mph
315 kph
Climb 1,594'/minute, 1,595'/minute
486 m/minute
Service ceiling 29,500', 29,530'
9,000 m
Range 425 miles, 429 miles
688 km, 690 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.9 mm MG 17
2: 20 mm MG 151
Under fuselage 1: 30 mm
OR 4: 110 lb bombs
4: 50 kg bombs
OR 1:550 lb bomb
1: 250 kg bomb
Wings  
Wing racks 2: 110 lb bombs
2: 50 kg bombs
OR 48: 4 lb anti-personnel bombs
48: 2 kg anti-personnel bombs

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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