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Fi 156. Combat Use.
Operation Weissa, Autumn 1939
Only eleven days after the show, the war broke out in Kovno. In September 1939, Shtorkhs were actively used during the fighting in Poland. The number of aircraft of this type in that period is difficult to estimate. In addition to a few copies of the A series, the army had 270 C-1 series aircraft. The versatility of the "Shtorch" led to the fact that the aircraft had to solve the widest range of tasks. Aircraft of this type were part of various units and formations. They were used to transport couriers and messengers, as well as for reconnaissance. "Shtorch" was a multi-purpose aircraft.
On the morning of September 1, 1939, on the outskirts of Veluni, a bullet pierced the fuel tank at the Storch, on which the commander of the VIII Aviation Corps, Lieutenant General Wolfram von Richthofen, flew. Despite the fact that gasoline was pouring from the tank, the plane reached the front line. Two days later, another Storch from the headquarters of the 3rd Army (Armeeoberkommando 3) fell victim to the Polish anti-aircraft gunners. On the same day, another Storch from 1./Aufklaerungsgruppe (H) 14 was mistakenly shot down by German troops.
On the morning of September 9, 1939, a Fi-156C from II./LG 2, piloted by non-commissioned officer Shigorra, took off from the Wolbozh field airfield near Tomaszow Mazowiecki. The passenger seat was occupied by Major Werner Spielvogel, whose task was to find suitable targets for his Hs-123 Henschel division on the outskirts of Warsaw. The plane was flying from Służewiec through Mokotów and Ochota, where it came under aimed fire from Polish anti-aircraft artillery and made an emergency landing on one of the Warsaw streets. Spielvogel tried to pull the seriously wounded Shigorra out of the burning plane, but the Poles opened heavy fire on the plane, and both German pilots died on the spot.
The next morning, another Storch from 4./Aufklaerungsgruppe (H) 23, attached to Army Group South, crashed at a field airfield near Lublinz. On September 12, another aircraft from the 4th Air Fleet was seriously damaged during landing. Inspection showed that the aircraft was beyond repair. On September 27, 1939, while making an emergency landing near the village of Paelevy, a Storch from 4. Aufklaerungsgruppe (H) 21 crashed. » Non-46S/Ne-45. The group operated in the zone of responsibility of the XIII Army Corps Lodz-Skierniewice-Kutno. The group had at least three Fi-156s that were used
as courier aircraft, so it was not in serious danger. However, the group lost the Storch 4E + NN, which crashed while landing at the Sarnow airfield. The other two Storchs of the group were numbered 4E+LP and 4E+UL.
The experience of the Polish campaign showed the vulnerability of the Storch, whose fragile structure turned out to be vulnerable not only to anti-aircraft artillery fire, but also to fire from hand weapons. Therefore, it was decided not to use the Fi-156 for reconnaissance of the battlefield in the future. In addition, the experience of the battles showed that the Storch needed weapons. As a result, the C-3 model appeared, equipped with an Argus As 10R-1 engine and a MG 15 machine gun. The radio equipment was removed from the aircraft, while the design of the fuselage frame was somewhat changed. The possibility of transporting a third person in a folding seat has been preserved. Meanwhile, the blitzkrieg in the east ended and the sitzkrieg began in the west.
By May 1, 1940, the Luftwaffe received three hundred and fifty-five Storchs of various series. Of these, two hundred and seventy-seven were in good condition, 18 were in need of repair, and sixty were written off for various reasons. In Operation Weseruebung, which began on April 9, 1940, only a few Storchs participated. At the same time, the aircraft were used only as courier aircraft, not using them for reconnaissance. The main park was taken care of in preparation for an offensive operation in France. Shtorkhs were also used for reconnaissance of French forward positions, several cases of Fi-156 sightings were recorded on the other side of the front. The French soldiers nicknamed the Fi-156 the word mouchard - "spy".
Under this secret name was an operation carried out using the ability of the Shtorkhov to take off and land on a patch. For the impending attack on the Benelux, two options were considered. The first option involved landing on Belgian territory in the zone of action of the tank group of General von Kleist in order to accelerate the advance of German troops through the Ardennes. Another option called for an amphibious landing in the zone of operations of the XIII Army Corps in Luxembourg, not far from the border with France. This operation was aimed at strengthening the southern flank of the troops and speeding up their advance. The first scenario was designated "Niwi", and the second - "Rosa".
In the end, the first scenario was preferred, since Luxembourg did not seem like a serious target worthy of a landing. The area between Neufchâteau, Bastienne and Martelange was chosen as the place for the landing as part of Operation Niwi. The capture of this region was of key importance in the development of the offensive of the XIX Panzer Corps. The purpose of the landing was to keep the roads clear for the movement of tank columns, as well as to eliminate possible counter-actions from the Belgian army. The planning of the operation went on in February 1940, but later it turned out that the Belgian troops were redeployed to the north, and this direction remained practically defenseless.
Since most of the transport aircraft were occupied as part of Army Group B in Holland, it was decided to use a hundred Shtorchs for the landing. Only three Junkers Ju-52/3m transports were available. The general leadership of the aviation involved in the operation was carried out by Major Otto Förster. As a landing, it was supposed to land units of the elite infantry regiment "Grossdeutschland", stationed in Crailsheim. In Hildesheim there was a battalion of special-purpose paratroopers Sturmabteilung "Koch", which was faced with the task of occupying the Belgian fort Eben-Emael. The paratroopers were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Eugen Garski. commander of the III battalion of the regiment "Grossdeutschland". All Fi-156s allocated for participation in the Niwi operation were assembled at the Crailsheim airfield in February 1940 in order to conduct exercises before the landing itself. It was expected that the Belgian Ardennes chasseurs would put up serious resistance, so the paratroopers received a large number of machine guns and anti-tank weapons.
The landing was to take place in two areas. In the south, the area of the settlement of Vitry was chosen as the point of landing. It was planned to land 240 people here, delivering them on 56 aircraft. This group was supposed to be Garski himself with two radio stations for communication with the northern group and the headquarters of the XIX Panzer Corps. The northern region was at Nives. It was planned to throw 160 paratroopers here with the help of 42 Shtorkhovs. This group was led by Captain Walter Krueger. The landing area was ten kilometers from the Luxembourg border and sixty kilometers from the German border. The flight time from two airfields near Bitburg was about half an hour. This meant that the first echelon of the landing force had to hold out without reinforcements for more than one hour. On May 9, 1940, all paratroopers and equipment were transferred to these airfields.
On May 10, at 4:20 am, the landing began. Aircraft aimed at Vitry were based at Dockendorf, while those flying towards Nives were based at Pützhöhe. To avoid meeting with enemy fighters, the flight was made by two dispersed groups at extremely low altitude. The first "Storch" from the "northern group" was led by Major Förster himself, and Captain Kruger was sitting behind him. Förster soon made a navigational error and began to take south, followed by his entire group. Soon Förster crossed the course of the southern group and took some of the aircraft with him. As a result, Garsky was over the target with only four aircraft and nine people. Worst of all, the radio station ended up in one of the stray planes. Therefore, Garsky could not contact Krueger and headquarters to report what had happened. Nevertheless, Garsky proceeded to carry out the combat mission.
Meanwhile, Förster discovered his mistake. Therefore, he managed to send a second echelon to Vitry and Neaves, as well as toss reinforcements to Kruger's group. During the landing of the first echelon, several Shtorkhovs were damaged. Eight of them could not take off, so they had to be destroyed on the ground. Kruger's group landed in the Runsimon area near the village of Lelyse. In total, about one hundred and eighty people landed, that is, twice as many as planned. Having cut the nearest telephone lines, the Germans began to requisition from the population all available vehicles, with the help of which they intended to make a throw to the north and reach the area outlined by the plan. The Belgian command quickly assessed the situation and sent two motorcycle platoons from 1. Regiment de Chasseur Ardennes to the landing area. Kruger managed to repulse the Belgian attack and headed north to join Garski. A small cover detachment remained in Leliza. Belgian troops entered Lelis an hour after the last German soldier left the village. Unable to determine the direction of the enemy's departure, the Belgians returned in the afternoon.
In the meantime, Garsky's detachment began cutting telephone wires, blocking roads and capturing all the Belgian soldiers they met. Until 7:00 the Germans did not meet any resistance. In the meantime, the third echelon landed, which was re-formed specifically in order to strengthen the weakened Garsky squad.
By evening, Garski's detachment, by that time already numbering about three hundred soldiers, connected with the advanced units of the 1st Panzer Division. The next day, a Ju-52/3T landed at Chaumont with supplies for Garsky's group. But three shots from a nearby Belgian T-13 tank caused the landed transporter to catch fire. Another transport "Junker" was shot down by a Belgian patrol in the Grand Rosieres area. The Belgian-French units, using tanks, began to push the German paratroopers. During the battle, three Storchs were shot down, trying to deliver ammunition to Garski. In the evening, the Allies withdrew their tanks, and the German paratroopers again entered the Niva. In the early morning, the French tried to counterattack, but the counterattack bogged down, colliding with the tanks of the 2nd Panzer Division, which entered Niva at night. This ended Operation Niwi. German losses amounted to about thirty people from the Garsky group and Luftwaffe personnel, as well as sixteen Storchs. In general, the operation can hardly be considered successful. One might even question its necessity as such. The advancing German units very quickly had to face obstacles created by their own landing. Despite this, many participants in the landing received Iron Crosses, and Garsky became a holder of the Knight's Cross.
Encirclement, May 1940
In parallel with the Niwi operation, Hitler proposed to conduct another operation with the aim of quickly capturing five strategically important nodes south of Luxembourg City. Lieutenant General Walter Model was responsible for planning and conducting the operation.
Volunteers from the 34th Infantry Division were sent to training centers in Kraileheim and Böblingen. Of these, one hundred and twenty-five people were selected. The selected were transferred to Crailsheim, where they were divided into five groups - one for each target. Each group received additional weapons: machine guns, mines and anti-tank weapons. The overall command of the paratroopers was entrusted to Lieutenant Werner Hedderich. and the detachment was given the name Luftlandkommando "Hedderich".
In April 1940, the entire group underwent further training in Trevir. In the same place, at 4:30 am on May 10, paratroopers of the first echelon boarded 25 Shtorkhovs. The whole group flew to the target in a long column, after which it was divided into five parts and each part went to a given area.
The entire landing area was perfectly visible from the French positions and allowed complete control of the highway network in the south of Luxembourg. At 05:00, the headquarters of the 16th Army reported to the leadership of Army Group A that the landing of the first echelon was generally successful. Not without the usual overlays. Several aircraft were damaged, including aircraft beyond repair. They had to be destroyed on the spot. But most of the planes managed to take off and return. The landing party encountered strong resistance. If not for the approach of three motorized support groups (Vorausabteilung) from the 34th Infantry Division, the landing would have been inevitably destroyed. In general, the operation was a success only thanks to the passivity of the French side. The operation cost Germany thirty soldiers killed and five destroyed Storchs.
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Shtorkhs on the Front
Shtorkhs were used almost everywhere, so it is really possible to tell their story only in the form of episodes. In the future, Shtorih was no longer used in mass quantities. Nevertheless, the Fi-156 remained a workhorse on par with the big Ju-52. The Shtorkhs turned out to be very successful courier aircraft. They were equipped with separate squadrons attached to the Guderian and Kleist tank groups, as well as to other army formations. Special liaison, courier and reconnaissance squadrons were formed. The number of such squadrons formed in different periods of the war, which included Shtorkhs, exceeds two hundred. To this number it is necessary to add single vehicles that were available in almost any reconnaissance, fighter or bomber unit. Shtorkhs were often placed at the disposal of senior officers. Sometimes Fi-156s were used for sea rescue operations and laying telephone cables. Very often, Shtorkhs were used to evacuate the wounded.
During the offensive through Belgium and Holland, the Storchs never appeared where the fighting was going on. In the air there was a struggle between the Luftwaffe and Allied aviation. Fi-156s were used where the sky had already been cleared of enemy aircraft. In particular, the arrival in the village of Wolfspalast on the Storch of Hermann Goering, who wanted to personally inspect the advancing German troops, is described.
On the first day of fighting in France, there was another curious and mysterious episode in the history of the Fi-156. On that day, all twenty-two Storch aircraft from the Aufklaerungsgruppe 156 were burned, while two pilots were killed, and two more were missing. Historians have not been able to find out the details of this event. There are only two most convincing assumptions. According to the first assumption, French tanks broke into the airfield, which destroyed unrefueled aircraft. According to another assumption, the detachment's vehicles made an emergency landing in the territory occupied by the enemy, so the crews hurried to destroy the vehicles so that the French would not get them.
At the end of May 1940, one courier Storch was intercepted by the English Spitfire. But the German pilot, using his experience and the maneuverability of the machine, managed to outplay the Englishman, and captivate him under the aimed fire of German anti-aircraft artillery.
After the defeat of the allies in France and the evacuation of the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, the Shtorchs reappeared in the skies of France, carrying senior staff officers. On June 4, the newly appointed Inspector General of the Luftwaffe, Lieutenant General Erhard Milch, piloted a Fi-156. demonstrating it to his passenger, the Italian aviation attache, the scale of the German victory. Ten days later, the Storch landed at the Paris airfield at Le Bourget, delivering Colonel General Fedor von Bock, commander of Army Group B, who was supposed to receive the parade of German troops on the Place de la Concorde. A little later, he flew his plane over the marching columns of the Wehrmacht over the Champs Elysees in the direction of the Eiffel Tower.
In the summer of 1940, it was decided to adapt the Storch to combat enemy submarines. For this purpose, a sight for throwing depth charges was installed on the aircraft. The FM56C-3 was equipped with a MG 15 machine gun, a FuG 17 radio station, as well as rescue equipment. Mounts for smoke bombs were placed on the main landing gear legs, and three locks were installed under the fuselage and wings for three SC 50 or three LC 50F depth charges. In the latter case, these were French-made depth charges weighing 65 kg. The possibility of suspension of one 150-kg depth bomb under the fuselage was envisaged. Aiming was provided by a Revi C / 12 / D folding sight, the same one that was placed on the “things”. The prototype of such an aircraft received the designation Fi-156U. Prototype tests took place in Rechlin. It was found that the best results are achieved by bombing when diving at an angle of 60 degrees. On this, further work on the project was curtailed.
At the end of the "battle for England", in the late autumn of 1940, a new version of the Shtorch, the F1-156D, was put into service. It was essentially an F1-156C-3 with weapons removed, adapted for evacuating the wounded. The aircraft had large doors on both sides and opening windows at the rear of the cabin. This made it possible to load two lying wounded on a stretcher onto the plane. For a stretcher inside the fuselage, special mounts were provided.]
In 1940-1941. in the center of aerodynamic research (Aerodynamische Versuchanstalt) in Göttingen, they developed a special modification of the Storch, known as the AF-2 project. Here, for several years now, tests have been carried out on the aerodynamics of the near-surface air layer. In the case of the Storch, a standard fuselage was used, equipped with new wings without fuel tanks, which were moved under the fuselage, and an Argus As 10H engine with 275 hp. Compressors were mounted in the fuselage, which blew the bearing planes. Thanks to this measure, it was possible to raise the lift coefficient from 1/9 to 3/8. The results of the experiments set by the engineer A. Wöckner formed the basis of all subsequent projects related to the elimination of undesirable effects of the near-surface layer.
At the end of 1940, Germany became interested in the North African theater of operations. Work began on adapting serial equipment to the conditions of the war in the desert. Including the desert modification "Shtorha" appeared. The tropical modification Fi-156C-3 was equipped with an increased-capacity oil tank, a Delbag dust filter and mounts for hanging an additional fuel tank. In this configuration, it was planned to produce aircraft as part of the C-4 series, but in practice such a series did not exist. The C-2 / Trop modification differed from the C-3 / Trop in the absence of weapons, although the aircraft had separate carriage parts, an additional fabric curtain from dust and heat near the passenger seat, cable attachment points for fixing the aircraft on open airfields, and an emergency radio transmitter. The C-5/Tgor and D-1/Trop modifications also received mounts for an external fuel tank, and the D-1/Trop was additionally equipped with a large-area oil cooler and a crew survival kit in desert conditions.
But before the tropical "Storkhs" appeared. conventional production vehicles participated in Operation Merkur, that is, the landing on Crete. Even earlier, "Shtorhi" was used in the capture of the Corinth Canal.
In 1941, a half-track chassis was developed for Storch. On the racks of the main landing gear, wheeled bogies of two wheels were installed, connected by a rubber band with metal lining. Such a chassis was used on the Fi-ZZZ multi-purpose transport aircraft, as well as on some Fi-156E-0. As part of the experiment, the F1-156F-1, designed for the police ("Police-Storch"), also appeared. The design of the police car was a hybrid of the C-3 airframe with the Argus As 10P-1 engine. On a lens carriage, the aircraft carried a pair of MG 15s mounted in the rear of the cockpit and fired sideways. The FuG 21A radio station and the “90IF installation” (apparently an amplifier for an external loudspeaker) were mounted at the level of the pilot's seat, which at the same time performed additional duties as a radio operator. The fuel supply was limited to one hundred liters, which contained a gas tank in the right wing.
The fighting on the Eastern Front and in North Africa also took place with the active participation of the Shtorkhovs. In addition to the traditional function of courier communications, the delivery of supplies and the evacuation of the wounded, the Shtorkhov task now included the search and evacuation of pilots shot down over enemy territory and in the desert. There were at least two air rescue units operating in North Africa. Many German pilots owe their salvation to the pilots of Wuest#nnotstaffel 1 and the flight commander, Captain Heinz Kroseberg. Kroseberg flew the Storch Fi-156С-3/Trop (SF+RL) most of all. For his exploits, the captain received the nickname Abu-Markub, that is, "Father of the stork." In May 1942 he was presented to the Knight's Cross.
One of the largest operations for the evacuation of the wounded was the operation in the Demyansk region in January-April 1942. No other aircraft had a chance to land on the tiny landings that could be prepared under constant shelling and bad weather.
Pilots consistently commented on the Fi-156's excellent cockpit visibility and superb takeoff and landing characteristics, allowing it to take off and land anywhere. But it was precisely because of these qualities of the aircraft that major troubles occurred. On September 12, 1941, Colonel-General Eugen Ritter von Schobert flew on the Storch (W.Nr. 5287) to inspect the advanced units of the 11th Army, which was part of Army Group South. The plane was piloted by Captain Wilhelm Zuvelyak, commander of Kurierstaffel 7. Having flown to the target, the captain decided to land on a small platform on the outskirts of the village of Dmitrievka, which seemed convenient to him. As it turned out, a convenient site was a Soviet minefield. Explosions of mines blew the plane to pieces along with the officers who were in it.
The favorite pastime of the German pilots was bird hunting from the Storch. The pilot of the aircraft was armed with an ordinary hunting double-barreled shotgun, which was exposed through the windows in the side windows of the cockpit.
The commander of IV./JG 54 Rudolf Zinner, who fought in Libya and on the Eastern Front, turned out to be a particularly successful hunter.
Since the beginning of the war, losses among the Shtorchs have been steadily growing. Moreover, the main losses among the Shtorkhovs were of a non-combat nature. The pilots, accustomed to the fact that the Fi-156 forgives mistakes, piloted the aircraft extremely carelessly. Especially many accidents and disasters occurred during landing. It was often possible to see how the Storch, with its nose up, literally fell vertically, keeping the air on the same flaps and ailerons. Before touchdown, it was necessary to add a little gas, but many pilots ignored this rule and landed the plane almost vertically. Often such a maneuver led to breakdowns of the chassis and propeller, and even to the engine torn out of the motor mount. Surprisingly few accidents resulted in the death of pilots, although the cockpit did not have anti-coasting rollovers. After the war, one of the Storchs was taken to the UK for testing. In his service book it was written in thick pencil: Auch der Storch is nich narrensicher! “Even “Shtorkh” has the limits of foolproofness!”.
Since the level of non-combat losses was very high, the aircraft had to be repaired frequently. As a result, a significant share of production had to be reoriented to the production of spare parts. First of all, it was necessary to increase the production of Argus As 10 engines. In 1940, the production of these engines was launched in Czechoslovakia. Until the end of the year, 10,026 engines were produced, although most of them at the Berlin plant of Argus Motoren Gesellschaft. The Avia factories assembled one hundred and ten engines, and the Walter factories a hundred more. But the very next year, both branches in total received an order for 2140 engines!
The production of spare parts for Storch was also decided to be deployed at the Morane Sulnier enterprises in Puto near Paris. But soon, instead of spare parts, they decided to assemble aircraft here. The first French Storch left the assembly shop in April 1942, and by the end of the year 121 aircraft were assembled here.
Shtorkhs were widely used in the territories occupied by the Reich. In Yugoslavia, they were used to search for the sites of Tito's partisans. Where Shtorkhs were patrolling in the air, the partisans could not take any action during daylight hours so that it would not be detected from the air. Having found the target, the Fi-156 guided ground troops to the target by radio. The Shtorkhs bombarded the partisans with leaflets, and often with hand grenades or light bombs. As a result, the Yugoslav partisans of the Shtorchs were more afraid than the bombers.
With no less success, "Shtorhi" participated in anti-partisan operations in Greece, Albania, Poland and the USSR. Reconnaissance was usually carried out at low altitudes, while the aircraft often came under fire from partisan machine guns. In September 1943, one "Shtorch" was shot down in the Swietokrzyskie Gory area by akovs from the "Dunny" detachment. One Fi-156 was shot down by soldiers from the 15th AK infantry regiment and the 27th AK division. The Germans used "Shtorhi" for reconnaissance and during the Warsaw Uprising.
On July 24, 1943, in Rome, at a meeting of the Great Fascist Council, Benito Mussolini was removed from his post. Marshal Pietro Badoglio became Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief. The next day, Mussolini, on the orders of the Italian king Victor Emmanuel III, was arrested and placed first on the island of Ponza, and in early August on the island of Maddelena. On July 27, Hitler ordered Otto Skorzeny, commander of the SS Kommando "Friedenthal" special forces detachment, to find the Duce and release him. Meanwhile, the Italian government places Mussolini under house arrest at the high-altitude hotel Gran Sasso. September 3 Badoglio announces the surrender of Italy. Allies land in the south of the Apennine Peninsula. Under the terms of the surrender, Mussolini was to be handed over to the Allies. Therefore, Skorzenn began to act without delay. On September 12, twelve DFS 230 gliders landed near the hotel with 120 paratroopers on board.
Mussolini was released without firing a shot. According to the plan of the operation, the disgraced Duce should have been evacuated on the Storch. But the dedicated aircraft was damaged at the L'Aquila airfield. Fortunately, another Fi-156 flew over the hotel, belonging to General Kurt Student. The plane was piloted by Captain Gerlach. German paratroopers forced the Italian carabinieri to clear a landing area for the Storch. Gerlach made one test run, and the second time he masterfully landed his car. Taking off with a fat Mussolini on board turned out to be more difficult than landing. But besides Mussolini, Skorzeny also squeezed into the cockpit - also a very large man. The pilot tried to disembark at least one of the passengers, but Skorzeny pointed the muzzle of a pistol at Gerlach. Then the paratroopers clung to the tail of the Storch and held it until the engine gained full speed. The plane began its takeoff run, hit a stone with its left wheel, almost capsized, flew off the edge of the cliff, went down sharply, but managed to pick up speed and level off. The landing at Proctica di Mare was uneventful. On this operation "Eiche" is successful
The famous German pilot Hana Reich flew Storchs. In the winter of 1942/43. she became the personal pilot of Colonel-General Robert Ritter von Greim, who at that time served as commander of the German 6th Air Fleet on the Eastern Front. Von Greim himself loved to pilot planes, he was a fighter pilot who won 28 victories during the First World War. Therefore, von Greim, along with Reich, constantly flew the Fi-156, flew for weeks with an inspection of the front-line units. During the defense of Breslau, they both became famous for the fact that they managed to deliver Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, to the besieged city by landing their cars on one of the streets.
On May 1, 1945, the Gauleiter and the last Reichsführer SS Karl Hanke were evacuated from Breslau on the Storch SB + WG. This aircraft was from the air group stationed in Schwidnitz or Reichenberg, which made regular flights to Breslau.
On April 28, 1945, Greim and Reich flew to Berlin on the Storch and landed next to Hitler's bunker. The plane was piloted by a general. When the plane came under fire, the general was wounded and handed over the helm to Reich, while he continued to control the pedals. Four days later, Reich took the general out of Berlin in the back seat of an Ar-96.
Honey Reich's landing on a street in Berlin was not the first. The Storch was first shown to the German public on Army Day (Wehnnacht Tag) in March 1939. The modified Fi 156 V3 prototype landed and took off using the stretch of Berlin's famous Unter den Linden in front of the Neue Wache memorial.
On April 10, 1945, a Storch flying on a courier mission was intercepted by an American Piper L-3 "Cub" ("Miss Me") flying on a similar mission from the 5th Panzer Division. An American observer, Lieutenant William Martin, took out a regular Colt 0.45 and, shooting through the window, managed to injure the German pilot. The Storch flew a little, but lost control and crashed east of the Elbe.
In the last days of the war, the Germans tried to use the Storchs to fight enemy tanks. In the spring of 1945, several special squadrons were formed, including five Panzer Aufklaerungsschwarme, whose task was not only to search, as their name suggests, but also to destroy the discovered tanks. All five links operated in the area of responsibility of the 6th Air Fleet. To combat the tanks, light bombs were used, suspended under the wings and fuselage of the Shtorkhov. In addition, Bueckery 181 aircraft armed with a pair or four panzerfausts were used. There is evidence that the panzerfausts tried to put on the Shtorhi, but these attempts were unsuccessful. Before the surrender, two units equipped with Shtorchs survived: Pz.Aufkl. staffel 4 and 5.
At the end of the war, they tried to form several communications squadrons from the surviving Fi-156s and Focke-Achgelis Fa-223 "Drache" helicopters, with the help of which they hoped to maintain contact in the mountainous regions of Austria, where German troops were forced out. The order issued on April 27, 1945, determined that airfields in the region of Innsbruck, Aigen-Zeltweg and the southern Alps should become bases for these squadrons. But there was no time left to implement the order.
The end of World War II did not mean the end of the Fi-156's career, as it was used in combat in Indochina and Algeria in the post-war period.
Storch in the USSR
During the period of the Non-Aggression Pact, Germany provided an opportunity for Soviet specialists to get acquainted with their military production and demonstrated the models of equipment that were in service. There were negotiations on the purchase of several samples of this or that aircraft. The Soviet Union hastily tried to reduce the backlog in production technology, so Soviet specialists were very interested in samples of metal products.
At the beginning of 1940, a Soviet delegation, consisting of designers and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Germany, which got acquainted with the technologies of German aircraft construction. During the breaks between visiting enterprises, the delegation got acquainted with the aircraft. At one of the Berlin airfields, General Ernst Udet made a demonstration flight on the Storch. As a passenger, he took the People's Commissar of Shipbuilding I.F. Tevozyan. After taking off with a short run, the plane made several sharp turns, and then sat down, while showing the minimum run. The demonstration made a strong impression on those present. Soon Goering donated this aircraft to the delegation, another Storch was purchased additionally. Both cars were soon delivered to Moscow. There, one "Storch" was used as a transport aircraft under the command of the Air Force. Most often, the aircraft was piloted by test pilots P.M. Stefanovsky. A.S. Nikolaev. SP. Suprun and others.
It is curious that among all the German aircraft, direct copying was only in relation to the Fi-156. The purchased aircraft was taken as a sample, and the work was led by engineer O.K. Antonov. Two months later, two prototypes of machines designed according to the Storch model were built at the Leningrad enterprise. It was a courier and ambulance. The aircraft was named OKA-38 after the initials of its designer, although unofficially it was also called "Stork". The design of the fuselage has not changed much, only the area of the rudders has increased. A six-cylinder 220-horsepower MV-6 engine was used as an engine. Since the Storch wing profile was closest to the standard R-11 profile. developed by engineer P.P. Krasilshchikov. it was decided to give the wing just such a profile.
The tests were carried out in Tushino. The Soviet aircraft turned out to be 47 kg heavier than the German one, with a design weight exceeding 42 kg. Despite this circumstance, the aircraft passed the tests perfectly and received a recommendation for mass production. It was decided to produce both versions: SS-1 (communication aircraft) and SS-2 (air ambulance). According to Soviet data, preparations for mass production began at plant No. 465 in Kovno, but soon the production of the more needed MiG-3 began there. As a result, the assembly of "Storks" was entrusted to the Lvov branch of Antonov. It was thanks to this circumstance that several OKA-38s and many parts fell into the hands of the Slovaks.
After the start of the war, a lot of captured Shtorchs fell into the hands of the Soviet troops. Many of them have been successfully used as courier vehicles. Major General E.Ya. flew to Moscow in Shtorkh at the end of December from Stalingrad. Savitsky, commander of the 205th Fighter Division. Although flying a captured aircraft caused disapproval among colleagues, Savitsky continued to fly the Storch. On May 12-13, 1945, he flew on the Storch from Berlin to Moscow, where he was supposed to undergo surgery on his leg, crippled by shrapnel.
Another famous Soviet commander who flew the Fi-156 was the commissar of the 812th Fighter Regiment, Major T.E. Stepson. In January 1945, he was banned from flying combat aircraft, but at that time, an abandoned serviceable Storch was found at the Luftwaffe field airfield in Balti near Sokhachev, which became Stepson's personal aircraft. It may have been an aircraft from Schlachtgeschwader 10, which was the last German unit based at that airfield. The squadron flew older Fw 190s and was severely short of spare parts and fuel. As a result, several vehicles had to be abandoned during the retreat.
Sultan Amet-Khan, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, also loved to fly on the Storkh. In general, this pilot, who became famous as the R-39 ace, was known for his extravagance. In the autumn of 1943, he intercepted and forced a Kiligey Fi-156 to land at the farm. The German pilot flew from Constanta to Evpatoria, but got lost and circled already behind the front line. The very next day, Amet-Khan was ferrying a captured aircraft to the main base of his unit in Chaplinsky, and a captured pilot was in the back seat. It is known that one Storch was used as a courier vehicle in the 122nd PAP from the 331st IAD in Hungary.
There are at least two cases when Soviet pilots escaped from German captivity on Shtorchs. August 11, 1943 N.K. Loshakov from the 14th GvIAP, shot down on May 27, 1943 over the Leningrad Front, and I.A. Denisyuk was hijacked from the Luftwaffe airfield in Orlov Fi-156C. The brave pilots spent three hours in the sky and landed in Malaya Vyshegra near Novgorod. The hijacked aircraft was interesting in that it was entirely painted red. As it turned out later, it was the personal car of Orlov's commandant Alois Moytsish. There is evidence that the German officer Gustav Heuler, who later also flew across the front on the Fw 190A, helped the pilots escape.
On October 4, 1943, the Soviet pilot Arkady Kovyazin took off from the Riga-Spilve airfield on the Storkh, landing near the village of Lipovka, fifty kilometers west of Rzhev. In 1941, as a pilot of the 212th ODAP DD, he made an emergency landing behind the front line and was taken prisoner. He was sent to POW camp No. 350 in Riga. The prisoners of war of this camp were engaged in the construction of the airfield. Meanwhile, the 212th ODAP DD was reorganized into the 748th AP DD, and later into the 12th GvAP DD. After the war, Kovyazin was awarded the Order of Lenin for his feat.
September 19, 2020.