Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 “Bachstelze” (“Wagtail”) (Completely scratch-built)

TYPE: Autogiro kite



PERFORMANCE: 25 mph on tow

COMMENT: The Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 “Bachstelze” (“Wagtail”) was a type of rotary-wing kite, known as a gyro glider or rotor kite. They were towed behind German submarines during WW II to allow a lookout to see farther. Because of their low profile in the water, submarines could not see more than a few miles over the ocean. To solve this, the German admiralty considered a number of different options, including a folding sea plane e.g. Arado Ar 231. In the end, they chose the Fa 330, a simple, single-seater, autogyro kite with a three-bladed rotor. The Fa 330 could be deployed to the deck of the submarine by two people and was tethered to the U-boat by a 500 ft cable. The airflow on the rotors as the boat motored along on the surface would spin them up. The kite would then be deployed behind the U-boat with its observer-pilot aboard, raising him approximately 400 ft above the surface and allowing him to see much farther — about 25 nautical miles, compared to the 5 nautical miles visible from the conning tower of the U-boat. If the U-boat captain were forced to abandon it on the surface, the tether would be released and the Fa 330 descend slowly to the water. When not in use, the Fa 330 was stowed in two watertight compartments aft of the conning tower. Recovering, dismantling, and stowing the Fa 330 took approximately 20 minutes and was a difficult operation. The Allies came into possession of a Fa 330 in May 1944 when they captured the U-852 intact. After the war, the British government did successful experiments towing Fa 330s behind ships and jeeps, but the development of the helicopter quickly occupied the attention of the military. It is noteworthy that in early 1940 the British made similar experiments with the Hafner “Rotachute”, an autogiro kite to transport a paratrooper (Ref. 24).

Arado Ar 231 (Airmodel, Vacu-formed)

TYPE: Observer, reconnaissance aircraft


POWER PLANT: One Hirth HM 502 six-cylinder inverted inline engine, rated at 160 hp


COMMENT: Designed from the outset for use on U-boat “cruisers”, like the Type XI B, the Ar 231 was a light parasol-wing aircraft. The aircraft was powered by an inline engine, weighed around 2,200 lb, and had a 33ft wingspan. The design led to a simple and compact aircraft that could be fitted into a storage cylinder only 6.7 ft in diameter. For ease of storage, the Ar 231’s wings featured detachable sections that two operators could remove in less than six minutes. One unusual feature was an offset wing design, with the right wing root attaching to the wing’s tilted center section (elevated above the fuselage, as on all parasol-wing designs) and lower than the left wing root, to allow the wings to be quickly folded up. Testing soon revealed the Ar 231s to be fragile, underpowered, and difficult to fly even during calm weather, and as a result, development ended in favour of the Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 gyro glider. Some of the testing was done on the auxiliary cruiser “Stier”. Only six prototypes were built (Ref.: 24).

Focke-Wulf Ta 152H-0 (Academy)

TYPE: High-altitude fighter-interceptor

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only in pressurized cockpit

POWER PLANT: One Junkers Jumo 213E liquid-cooled inverted V-12 inline engine, rated at 2,250 hp with MW-50 injection

PERFORMANCE: 472 mph at 41,000 ft using GM-1 boost

COMMENT: The superb qualities of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190D fighter did not go unrecognized by the RLM, who rewarded Prof. Kurt Tank, primarily responsible for its design, by permitting him to employ the prefix “Ta” (indicating “Tank”) in place of Fw (Focke-Wulf) for designating of designs produced by his team. Tank took the opportunity provided by the incorporation of some modifications in the Fw 190D design to apply the designation Ta 152 for a modified fighter. Initially there were relatively few differences between the Fw 190D and the Ta 152. The Junkers Jumo 213C engine was similar to the Fw 190D-9’s Jumo 213A but made provision for a 30-mm engine mounted MK 108 cannon which augmented the twin 20-mm MG 151s and the twin 13-mm MG 131s. It was intended to be made in at least three versions – the Ta 152H “Höhenjäger” (“high-altitude fighter”), the Ta 152C designed for medium-altitude operations and ground-attack using a different engine and smaller wing, and the Ta 152E fighter-reconnaissance aircraft with the engine of the H model and the wing of the C model. About 20 Ta 152H-0 were ordered and the first aircraft entered service with the Luftwaffe in January 1945. These were too few and too late to allow the Ta 152 to make a significant impact on the air war(Ref. 11).

Republic P-47 D-15-RA ‘Thunderbolt’, 61 FS, 56 FG (Matchbox)

TYPE: Long-range escort-fighter and fighter-bomber


POWER PLANT: One Pratt and Whitney R-2800-21 radial engine, rated at 2,300 hp

PERFORMANCE: 433 mph at 30.000 ft

COMMENT: The Republic P-47 D ‘Thunderbolt’ differed little from its predecessor P-47 C apart from changes in the turbo-supercharger exhaust system, water injection as standard for the R-2800-21 engine, and some minor changes. The P-47 D was the first version of the ‘Thunderbolt’ to serve with the USAAF in the pacific theatre. Towards the end of 1943, 8th Air Force ‘Thunderbolts’ began returning from escort missions “on the deck”, strafing targets of opportunity with their unused ammunition, and their success was partly responsible for the adaptation of the ‘Thunderbolt’ for what was  to become its most successful role – that of a fighter-bomber. More than 5,800 P-47D ‘Thunderbolts’ are built, all possessed the original framed sliding canopy introduced on the initial production B-model. Later versions were equipped with an all-round vision bubble-type cockpit canopy (Ref.: 24)