Fieseler Fi 167 Torpedo Bomber Biplane Aircraft
The Fieseler 167 biplane torpedo bomber was specifically developed to serve from the only planned German aircraft carrier of World War 2 - the Graf Zeppelin.
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For decades, the "Torpedo Bomber" remained a clear and present threat to all surface-going warships. They received their start in the period immediately before World War 1 (1914-1918) and were a refined weapon by the time of World War 2 (1939-1945). In 1937, the German Air Ministry delivered a new requirement for a torpedo bomber that would operate from the planned German Navy aircraft carrier, "Graf Zeppelin". Fieseler responded with an two-seat open-air cockpit, biplane-winged, fixed undercarriage design in the "Fi 167". Fourteen of them were built from the period spanning 1936 until 1942.
The Air Ministry specification called for an all-metal biplane-type aircraft with a speed reaching 185 miles per hour and an operational range over 600 miles. The biplane wing arrangement, however obsolete it may have been for this time, would offer good lift characteristics concerning carrier operations while also benefitting the pilot through increased control. Beyond the stated torpedo-carrying role the airframe would also have to prove suitable in the general dive bombing role against moving warships.
The Fieseler design was pitted against a competing product from Arado (the Ar 195, three were built) - they were the only two concerns approached for the project. The Arado submission won out in 1938 and this led to prototypes V1 and V2 being constructed for formal testing which preceded an order for twelve pre-production forms under the " Fi 167 A-0" designation.
The Fi 167's had several unique features built into their design: the fixed undercarriage could be jettisoned in-flight for emergency water landings while the lower wing assembles contained bladders filled with air that could sustain the aircraft above the waterline for a certain length of time - hopefully long enough for a rescue to be had. Like Fieseler's other product, the classic high-winged Fi 156 "Storch" light aircraft (detailed elsewhere on this site), the Fi 167 could seemingly "hover" in mid-air, its low-speed / low-altitude handling qualities were that good and the aircraft a perfect candidate for carrier operations which involved landing on a moving runway.
Production of Fi 167 aircraft proceeded about as slowly as the construction of the Graf Zeppelin itself. However, the latter's project was soon terminated in 1940 (but restarted in 1942) and this left the Fi 167 without a role in the German Navy for the foreseeable future. As such, production of the warplane was halted and the remaining airframes were shifted to test units. Some later were used in the maritime role from German-held Dutch territory and a stock was later sold off to Croatia where they were used as supply transports in Army service from 1944 to 1945.
As completed, the Fi 167 exhibited a length of 11.4 meters with a wingspan of 13.5 meters and a height of 4.8 meters. It weighed 6,175lb when empty and 10,700 under full loads. Power was from a single Diamler-Benz DB601B liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,100 horsepower and propelling the aircraft to speeds of 200 miles per hour at altitudes reaching 27,000 feet. Range was out to 800 miles and cruising speeds were closer to 155 miles per hour.
Armament consisted of 1 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing mount and 1 x 7.92mm MG15 machine gun in a trainable rear mounting. The aircraft was cleared to carry a 1,685lb torpedo or a 2,200lb bomb or a mixed set of 1,100lb of bombs with 4 x 110lb bombs.