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Aero A.304

Twin-Engine Medium Bomber Aircraft

Aero A.304

Twin-Engine Medium Bomber Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The militarized A.304 was developed from the Aero A.204, a proposed passenger airliner that found little market interest.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Czechoslovakia
YEAR: 1937
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Aero Vodochody - Czechoslovakia
PRODUCTION: 19
OPERATORS: Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; Nazi Germany; Slovakia
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Aero A.304 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 3
LENGTH: 43.34 feet (13.21 meters)
WIDTH: 62.99 feet (19.2 meters)
HEIGHT: 11.15 feet (3.4 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 6,614 pounds (3,000 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 10,296 pounds (4,670 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Walter Super Castor I MR 9-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engines developing 460 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 200 miles-per-hour (322 kilometers-per-hour; 174 knots)
RANGE: 746 miles (1,200 kilometers; 648 nautical miles)
CEILING: 19,029 feet (5,800 meters; 3.60 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,330 feet-per-minute (405 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
1 x 7.92mm ZB-30 machine gun in fixed, forward-firing mounting in the nose.
1 x 7.92mm vz.30 machine gun fitted to dorsal turret
1 x 7.92mm vz.30 machine gun fitted at rear-facing ventral gun position.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 660lb of conventional drop munitions.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• A.304 - Base Series Designation; based on the failed A.204 passenger airliner; 19 examples produced.
• A.304 - Improved Form first flying in 1938; fitted with 2 x Bristol Mercury IX 9-cylinder radial engines of 818hp each.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Aero A.304 Twin-Engine Medium Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/19/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Aero A.304 originally began life as the Aero A.204 passenger airliner produced by Aero Vodochody of Czechoslovakia. The prototype passenger model achieved first flight in 1936 with its intended customer being Czech Airlines (CSA). The design was traditional with low-set monoplane wings, a streamlined fuselage and large tail surfaces. However, when the airliner elected to go with the competing British Airspeed Envoy instead, Aero was left with a competent design and no buyers. To make something out of the seemingly lost situation, Aero took to modifying their design for the military market as a dedicated twin-engine light bomber. Considering that Europe was on the verge of all-out World War, this proved a rather prudent initiative. The design in its revised form then became the Aero A.304. The first prototype flew in 1937 and orders for the type were received from the interested Czechoslovakian Air Force.

The A.304 mimicked much of the A.204's design complete with the low-set wing arrangement, stout rounded fuselage and tail assembly. The nose was glazed over to provide vision for the bombardier. The cockpit was stepped and offered up vision to the front, sides and above the aircraft to a limited extent. A dorsal turret emplacement was set at amidships to provide for defense against enemy fighters. A line of windows ran along each fuselage side. Engines were set in streamlined nacelles along each wing leading edge. Wingtips were elegantly rounded as were the end surfaces of the tail. The undercarriage was of the "tail dragger" arrangement with two single-wheeled main landing gear legs under each engine nacelle and a single diminutive tail wheel installation.

Power for the A.304 came from 2 x Walter Super Castor I MR 9-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engines delivering 460 horsepower apiece. The Walter Super Castor was an indigenous 9-cylinder Czech aircraft engine based on the original Walter Castor 7-cylinder of the 1920s. Top listed speed was 200 miles per hour with a cruise speed of about 180 miles per hour. Range was limited to 745 miles and a service ceiling of 19,000 feet was reported. Rate-of-climb was 1,330 feet per minute.

A standard operational crew consisted of four personnel. This included the two pilots, a navigator that doubled as the bombardier and a dedicated machine gunner.

As a dedicated bomber, the Aero A.304 was defended from enemy fighters by machine guns. This included a fixed, forward-firing 7.92mm ZB-30 series machine gun as well as a 7.92mm vz.30 type machine gun in the dorsal turret. The turret was manually operated with no external power support. An additional 7.92mm vz.30 machine gun was used in a trainable rearward firing crew position intended to attack aircraft lower than the dorsal turret's arc of fire. A typical bombload of 660lbs could be carried for offensive work and these were all held externally across three hard points - underfuselage and under each wing.

After the fall of Czechoslovakia to the German Army, the Aero A.304 saw limited service with the German Luftwaffe. During time, the nation of Czechoslovakia technically did not exist for the country was divided into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the Slovak Republic. Regardless, a government-in-exile continued to exist outside of the country borders, authorities now being based in London for the duration of the war. Before the German invasion, Aero was also working on a refined and improved form of the A.304 known as the "A.300" which first flew in 1938 with a pair of Bristol Mercury IX 9-cylinder radial piston engines (818hp each) installed. However, the German invasion disrupted all future work and the bomber fell to history. Bulgaria became the only other foreign operator of the A.304 and managed to maintained just one flight group for a time. These aircraft were known under the designation of "Pelikan".

In all, only 19 A.304 bombers were produced by Aero. A.304s served from 1937 to 1945.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (200mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Aero A.304's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
19
19

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue