Fokker C.V-E & EKW C-35
The Swiss had proven successful in producing licence-built aircraft but a time came in the mid 1930’s to develop a home-grown multi-purpose combat aircraft to replace the ageing biplane Fokker C.V-E reconnaissance and light bomber aircraft, of which 48 had been in service since 1933 (a 1920’s design the aircraft were retired from front-line duties in 1940 but used as a target-tug until 1954). EKW (Eidgenoessisches Konstruktionswerkstaetten or “Federal Constructions Works”) met this challenge and produced the single engine, two-seat biplane EKW C-35 which entered Swiss Air Force service in 1937 as a reconnaissance and ground-attack aircraft. 80 were produced by 1938 and the type remained in use until 1954. Finely restored examples of both the Fokker C.V-E and C-35 can be seen today on display at the Swiss Air Force Centre (Flieger Flab Museum) in Dübendorf.
The C-35 was powered by a Hispano-Suiza HS-77 (a licence-built version of the 12Ycs) and had a top speed 335 km/h / 208 mph. Armament consisted of a propeller hub mounted 20mm Oerlikon cannon and 2 x 7.5mm machine guns in the wings, plus 1 x 7.5mm machine guns in the rear cockpit. The EKW C-35 saw limited service defending Swiss air space during World War Two before being relegated to night flying duties in 1943 when it was replaced by the monoplane EKW C-36 (a biplane was no match for modern monoplane combat aircraft).
The C-36 was a two-seat aircraft developed in Switzerland for reconnaissance, air defence, ground attack and target tug duties. It was powered by a licence-built Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51 engine and had a top speed of 476 km/h / 296 mph.
The fixed undercarriage prototype, designated C-3601 first flew on May 15th, 1939 but crashed on August 30th that same year. The second prototype C-3602 was fitted with a more powerful engine and proved to be more successful, first flying on November 30th, 1940 and completing a successful flight testing program. Orders were then placed for the C-3603 production variant with a retractable undercarriage and from 1942 onwards 160 were produced for the Swiss Air Force.
The predominate variant developed by EKW was the C-3063-1 with 142 built by 1944 and a futher 6 assembled from spare parts in 1947–48 (the Swiss seemed to do this a lot with their aircraft). An example can also be seen today at the Swiss Air Force Centre (Flieger Flab Museum).
Although not ideally suited for combat with modern fighters the C-3063 was used to defend Swiss airspace in World War Two to intercept German and Allied aircraft that may have crossed their border. Armament consisted of a propeller hub mounted 20mm Oerlikon cannon and 2 x 7.5mm machine guns in the wings, plus 2 x 7.5mm machine guns in the rear cockpit. In the ground attack role the aircraft could also carry up to 400 kg / 880 lb of bombs.
A heavier armed variant the C-3064 was developed which had 20mm cannons in the wings and an uprated engine. It was not widely produced though, with just the prototype and 12 production examples being built.
Ultimately though the C-3063 was better suited to a training role and for target towing duties (from 1946). Tasks the aircraft performed until retired in 1952.
EKW C-3065 – Aardvark!
In the 1960’s the Swiss converted 24 C-3063 aircraft into the turbo-prop engine C-3065 variant for target tug duties. The first flight of the C-3065 was in 1968 and they remained in Swiss Air Force service into the late 1980’s. The Lycoming T53 engine gave it a very elongated nose (Aardvark)! An example is also on display at Swiss Air Force Centre.
The Swiss then decided to move onto the development of jet powered aircraft. More on this in a future post.