The Henschel concern attempted to interest the Luftwaffe in many of its aircraft projects in the period leading up to, and during, World War 2 (1939-1945). One pre-war initiative became the "Hs 130", a pencil-thin, twin-engine offering which was proposed as a high-altitude performer utilizing a conventional arrangement. However, the design was plagued with issues throughout its developmental life, resulting in only prototypes and pre-series aircraft seeing the light of day. The series recorded a first-flight on April 11th, 1939.
The Hs 130 was born from work conducted on the earlier "Hs 128" experimental prototype - two being built to the standard. These were completed as Hs 128 V1 and V-2 and were flow in 1939 and 1940, respectively, as strictly research / data-collecting platforms intended to test the viability of various aircraft internal systems, structural components, and engine technologies. The initial pair of prototypes differed in powerplant selection with the first being outfitted with the Daimler-Benz DB601 and the second powered by the Junkers Jumo 210 - both being liquid-cooled inline piston engines.
From this work, Luftwaffe authorities became interested in the concept of an all-modern long-range, high-altitude, high-performance reconnaissance platform and encouraged the company to continue developing its Hs 128 - though now evolved under the "Hs 130" designation. Three prototypes were then built to a new standard and operated as "Hs 130A" - the first going airborne on May 23rd, 1940. The design continued to show potential for the required role so this led to a follow-on order for five pre-series aircraft to be built under the "Hs 130A-0" designation - to be powered by the DB601R engine. The first of the lot was made available in 1941.
Under evaluation, the Hs 130A-0 models showcased limitations in both performance and their temperamental engine configurations forcing the development team back to the drawing board. This led to a pair of A-0 models being reworked to become the "Hs 130A-0/U6" offshoot which included the introduction of Hirth-branded superchargers, power-boosted engines, external fuel tanks, and a lengthening of the wing mainplanes. In this guise, the Hs 130 was tested during November of 1943 but, again, Luftwaffe authorities were not convinced on the designs performance and reliability.
Nevertheless, the program continued on an evolutionary path and engineers returned with the proposed "Hs 130B" model intended to represent more of a "fast-bomber" platform than the original reconnaissance type. The aircraft had a completely reworked internal bay, removing all photographic-reconnaissance equipment, to make room for a useful bomb load. However, this model was not furthered into physical form but did lead the way to the "Hs 130C" model offering.
Unlike the original A-model, the C-model reduced the wingspan and added remote-controlled armament for point self-defense while power was from twin BMW 801 air-cooled radial engines. The first two prototypes - Hs 130C V-1 and Hs 130C V2 - were completed in this fashion while the third, Hs 130C V-3, switched to DB603A inlines. This model series appears to have gone nowhere as well.
The "Hs 130D" was yet another proposed form and intended to carry DB605 series inline engines along with a two-stage supercharger - though it fell to naught. The "Hs 130E" followed and used the Honen Zentrale-Anlage supercharger arrangement on a third engine, a DB605T, buried within the fuselage - this engine being used solely to drive the powerful supercharger and did not add to performance in a traditional sense. From this work emerged three E-model prototypes made up initially of Hs 130E V-1 and V-2 - the first flying in September of 1942. V-2 was lost to an engine fire which necessitated construction of Hs 130E V-3.
The Hs 130E-0 carried a crew of three and had a running length of 72.1 feet, a wingspan of 108.3 feet, and a height of 18.3 feet. Empty weight was 27,000lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reaching40,000lb. Power was from 2 x Daimler-Benz DB603B engines outputting 1,730 horsepower and 1 x Daimler-Benz DB605T outputting an additional 1,455 horsepower for the supercharger. The twin engines at the wings drove four-bladed propeller units.
As tested, performance specs of the Hs 130E-0 included a maximum speed of 380 miles-per-hour with a cruising speed near 320 mph. Range was out to 1,860 miles and the service ceiling reached nearly 50,000 feet.
Again, pre-series aircraft were ordered for further testing, these under the "Hs 130E-0" designation, and the first of this lot flew during September of 1943 followed by an order for 100 "Hs 130E-1" operational forms. However, continued issues with the superchargers led to cancellation of this order and further work on the troublesome system was intended to be had through the proposed "Hs 130F" but this entry also fell to naught - bringing about an abrupt end to the Henschel fast-reconnaissance / fast-bomber aircraft in full.
Its contribution as a warplane in World War 2 are left to the imagination for, by 1943, Germany was fully entrenched in a years-long bloody war across Europe along multiple fronts and resources were spread thin. The focus of German aero-industry remained on fighters and various attacker types intended to thwart the Allied bombing campaign and ground advance and these platforms eventually doubled in the reconnaissance role when needed while thought turned to the future of flight - headlined by the turbojet engine.