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DFS 230

Towed Transport Glider Aircraft

Nazi Germany | 1938

"The DFS 230 was the principle assault glider of the German Luftwaffe during all of World War II - over 1,500 being built for action."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/26/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

The DFS 230 was a multi-role troop transport / assault / resupply glider developed by Germany during the interwar period between the two world wars. It was the principle glider utilized by German forces from 1939 onward and took part in major operations with airborne and ground forces into 1945. Over 1,600 examples of this simple, yet effective, design was ultimately realized for the Luftwaffe with design attributed to one Hans Jacobs.

Formally known as the "Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fur Segelflug" - or "DFS" - this German institute was arranged for the further development of unpowered glider and sailplane related flight and began its work through the DFS Model 6 of 1936 which coincided with the active German rearmament period preceding World War II (1939-1945).

The general arrangement of this unpowered aircraft was conventional as the operating crew were seated at the nose. Mainplanes were positioned ahead of midships and mounted high along the sides of the fuselage, braced through struts joined to the lower portion of the aircraft. The fuselage was lined with a horizontal set of rectangular windows for the passengers within. The empennage tapered towards the rear to which a simple rudder fin was affixed. Horizontal planes sat along the front line of the rudder near its base. While wheels were used to support the forward section of the aircraft when on the ground prior to flight, a tail skid was added under the tail. A single side door at the fuselage allowed for entry / exit of the vehicle.

As the aircraft was inherently unpowered, it was towed into the air by a "mothership" via tow lines (at which point it lost its main landing gear wheels) and released over the intended drop zone. The glider pilot then managed the aircraft from there, gliding it down to the landing area and landing on the integrated skid assembly under the belly of the aircraft. A parachute braking system retarded the speed and fall of the aircraft when on the descend. The versatility of the system was such that it could be towed by nearly any German "twin" of the period as well as some of the more famous single engine mounts including the Bf 109 fighter and the Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bomber.

Variants in the DFS 230 line included the initial nine-man DFS 230 "A-1" followed by the dual-control "A-2". The "B-1" added a braking chute and provision to be outfitted with an MG34 machine gun for self-defense. From this came the "B-2" with a dual-control scheme and the "C-1" followed as a late-production model based in the B-1 but with nose-braking rockets added. The "D-1" was based in the C-1, also with nose braking rocket, but only a single prototype - V6 - was built. The "F-1" was another one-off prototype (V7) and made to a larger dimension to ferry up fifteen combat-ready personnel into battle.

The DFS 203 was a "Zwilling" (twin) attempt and joining two DFS 230 glider fuselages along a center section plane to haul more men and equipment into battle. However, this never made it beyond the wind tunnel testing stage. The Fa 225 by Focke-Achelis attempted to modify the DFS 230 glider into a gyro-copter type design complete with three-bladed main rotor assembly over the fuselage. However, the modified prototype did not materialize beyond some active testing.

Production of DFS 230 gliders ended in 1943.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the DFS 230 B-1 Towed Transport Glider Aircraft.
None. This is a towed glider aircraft aided into the air by a mothership / lead ship.
130 mph
210 kph | 113 kts
Max Speed
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the DFS 230 B-1 Towed Transport Glider Aircraft.
36.9 ft
11.24 m
O/A Length
72.1 ft
(21.98 m)
O/A Width
9.0 ft
(2.74 m)
O/A Height
1,896 lb
(860 kg)
Empty Weight
4,630 lb
(2,100 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the DFS 230 Towed Transport Glider Aircraft .
1 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun in cockpit rear.
2 x 7.92mm MG 34 machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts along forward fuselage sides.
Notable series variants as part of the DFS 230 family line.
DFS 230 - Base Series Designation
DFS 230 A-1 - Initial production model; seating for nine infantry.
DFS 230 A-2 - A-1 with dual-control scheme.
DFS 230 B-1 - Provision for MG34 machine gun(s); braking chute to retard speed / fall.
DFS 230 B-2 - B-1 production models with dual-control scheme.
DFS 230 C-1 - B-1 model with nose braking rockets added.
DFS 230 D-1 - One-off prototype (V6) of C-1 airframe with improved nose braking rocket system.
DFS 230 F-1 - Dimensionally larger variant with seating for fifteen infantry; single prototype (V7) completed, not serially produced.
DFS 203 Zilling - Twin DFS 230 fuselages joined by center-section plane; wind tunnel tested only.
Fa 225 - Modified DFS 230 glider to gyro-copter form by Focke-Achgelis; actively tested but not adopted.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the DFS 230. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,625 Units

Contractor(s): Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fur Segelflug (DFS) - Nazi Germany
National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany

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Image of the DFS 230
Image courtesy of the German Federal Archives.

Going Further...
The DFS 230 Towed Transport Glider Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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