Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (Stork) Reconnaissance / Army Co-operation Multi-Purpose Aircraft
The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was a multi-faceted performer for the Third Reich in World War 2.
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The seemingly fragile Fieseler Fi 156 Storch(or "Stork") does not seem to have a home in a global conflict as World War 2 was yet the little machine became a spectacular multi-purpose airframe to which the Third Reich put to good use throughout the war and on all fronts. The versatile performer allowed for just about any field or road to be used as a base of operations and the system could loiter in the skies for a time in the slightest of headwinds. These capabilities allowed the Storch to perform as an effective reconnaissance, mission liaison and air ambulance in its time during the war. When called upon, this stork delivered.
Design of the Fi 156 was almost utilitarian. Wings were of a monoplane design mounted high atop the fuselage with the smallish cockpit just underneath. The most identifiable feature of the Stork lay in the angled fixed landing gear, with its connecting struts making their way from fuselage to wings. The engine was mounted at extreme front and powered up to about 240 horsepower. The fuselage proved durable and capable of light-type sorties that in some cases saw single litters of wounded being brought aboard in the medevac role.
The basic yet competent construction allowed the Storch access to remote and sometimes unforgiving terrain. The aircraft was designed in such a way that the airframe proved to be a terrific short take-off and landing (STOL) performer. Such were its capabilities that the aircraft needed less than a football field's length take off and much less than that to land on. This was evident in the grand rescue of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini from his Gran Sasso prison in 1943, playing a part alongside the German special forces units. In the end, the Storch appeared in a handful of variants through to the final days of the war.