The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was a German light reconnaissance aircraft used during World War II.
The first production model of the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch series was the A-1. Though only six examples were confirmed to actually have been produced for the Luftwaffe. It had an Argus As 10C engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 168 kilometers per hour.
Its total weight was 930 kilograms while its total length was 9.9 meters. The operational range of the Storch was 380 kilometers and the service ceiling was 6,800 meters. The wingspan of the aircraft was just around 14.25 meters and fuel capacity 148 liters. The Storch was well liked by its pilots and by troops who saw it as the all purpose aircraft. It was capable of performing any and all utility roles that were required of it all without requiring any field preparation of an air field. This feature quickly proved vital as fast troop movements would not allow for extensive preparations of air fields, so any flat terrain would have to be used.
The first military variant of the Storch design was the C-1 model. It had the capacity to carry a maximum of two passengers and one pilot. Following came the C-2 which was designed to be used in reconnaissance roles and as such only had two seats. The C-2 also had an MG 15 for defensive operations. The C-3 model featured a modified cockpit and was used as a transport. Also produced was the C-3/trop model used in desert warfare. Replacing it, the C-5 was given an additional hard point to carry either an external camera or an external fuel tank. Field modifications allowed the aircraft to land on skis for snow operations.
Like the C-3, the C-5 also had its own C-5/trop model for desert combat. The D-1 although not technically part of a series did have several modifications made to the original model. The D-1 was designed to be an aerial ambulance for evacuating wounded. The F-1 was designed to be used as a combat aircraft; it was fitted with several bomb racks and window mounted MG 15s.
The Storch was designed as a STOL observation aircraft in the mid 1930s by a team consisting of Reinhold Mewes, Erich Bachem, and Gerhard Fieseler. The first prototype - Fi 156 V1[N 1] - flew on 10 May 1936, and was followed by four more prototypes. [N 2] After the successful completion of testing, the Fi 156 entered service with the Luftwaffe in 1937. During World War II the Storch was deployed in all European theaters, serving as a reconnaissance and transport aircraft. It was also used for a number of special missions, including the famous 1943 extraction of Benito Mussolini from Allied hands after the Italian Armistice.
As well as those built in Germany and France, there were 10 examples built in Romania - three in 1943 and seven in 1944.
A number of Fi 156 aircraft were captured and used by the Allies, with many Allied commanders using them in preference to Allied types.
- World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 111 Sheet 1 (World Military Aircraft:Fieseler Fi 156 Storch - German STOL classic
- Lüdeke, Alexander. Weapons of World War II. Parragon Books (2007), Page 207
- Neulen, Hans Werner. In the Skies of Europe - Air Forces allied to the Luftwaffe 1939-1945. The Crowood Press. 2000. ISBN 1-86126-326-0 Page 329