Continuing on from my previous post on the German Aviation Collection at the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow (Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie), the following are the rare experimental, military and research aircraft flown in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s that were once on display in Berlin at the Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung (German Aviation Museum). The Berlin museum once held numerous historic German aircraft alongside those captured from Allied forces during the world wars.
To avoid damage from Allied bombing, a number of these aircraft were transferred from Berlin to Czarnków, near Poznań in the occupied territory of Poland around 1942 to 1943. The Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung (German Aviation Museum) was eventually destroyed in the bombing campaign. Fortunately during the Soviet advance into Poland in 1945, the aircraft were not destroyed and the Polish authorities put them into storage as part of a technical museum collection, then transferring them to the Polish Aviation Museum in 1963.
Albatros H.1 (Werk Nummer 10114) single engine high-altitude research biplane. This was the only example, converted in 1926 from the airframe of the last surviving Imperial German Air Service 1918 Siemens-Schuckert D.IV fast climbing scout fighter plane (considered one of the best fighter aircraft of World War One but delivered too late to make an impact). This is a fortunate survivor – the Allied authorities permitted this example to be used by the German Aeronautical Experimental Institute to conduct high altitude flight research for civil aviation.
The wings of the Albatros H.1 were greatly expanded and reinforced with two pairs of struts (which gave it a rather ungainly look), the tail was modified and a special propeller was added for high altitude flight. The converted aircraft was redesignated as the Albatros H.1 but was deemed unfit for flight though due to the wings being considered too weak for safe flight. The project was cancelled and the aircraft then was put on display in Berlin.
Rediscovered in Poland in 1945 it took 18 years to find its way into the museum collection. By 1963 the aircraft was apparently in a sorry state with the fuselage broken in pieces and the wings long missing.
The restoration was completed in 1990 with the available parts, including the upper wing struts, tail assembly, rotary engine, propeller, fuselage, undercarriage and as much fuselage fabric as could be saved. Apparently only one-quarter of the fuselage structure had to be recreated. The project was apparently a very difficult one for the dedicated team at the Polish Aviation Museum.
Heinkel He 5F German naval reconnaissance floatplane that first flew in 1926 and remained in service until 1933. The museum variant was licence built by Focke-Wulf with a 480 hp BMW VI inline engine and is the only survivor of the German type – it is displayed in an unrestored state. The He 5F variant was used in a clandestine manner by the German Navy to get around Versailles Treaty military limitations – they were disguised as airline pilot training school aircraft!
Only a small number were produced for Germany from 1926 to 1928. Others were produced for the Soviet Union in 1927 (at least 2 but they were out of service by 1930) and Sweden licence-built the aircraft designated as the S 5 (40 aircraft of different variants were produced).
The aircraft crew consisted of a pilot and observer sitting in open tandem cockpits – a third position was available for a trainee or other passenger. Armament consisted of a forward firing 7.7mm machine gun and two rear ring-mounted 7.7mm machine guns operated by the observer. The aircraft could also carry a 160 kg (350 lb) weapons payload of bombs under the rear fuselage.
Albatros (Focke-Wulf) L.101 (Werk Nummer 245, registered as D-EKYQ) a 1932 German two-seat basic trainer that was operated by the German Airline Pilot School. The aircraft on display is only a partial airframe with the central part of the upper wing attached and the 120 hp Argus As-8a 4 cylinder inline engine installed.
Although designed by Albatros, who were famous for their World War One aircraft, 71 L.101 trainers were produced from 1932 to 1933 by Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau who had taken over the company. They were all operated for airline pilot training.
Friedrich Etrich Taube (D-EFRI) 1932 replica of a 1913 Austrian Etrich Taube (Dove), a type operated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was also produced as the Rumpler-Taube in Germany (at first under licence until Rumpler broke the agreement!). Interestingly the Etrich Taube was one of the first aircraft operated by the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops in 1912 at the Rakowice-Czyżyny Airfield, where the Polish Aviation Museum is situated today in Krakow!
The bird like wing designed by Austrian Igo Etrich and his team was not only inspired by birds and bats as you would expect but also the seed Zanonia macrocarpa, which grow in Java and are known to fly long distances from their parent tree. The inherent stability of the seed Zanonia macrocarpa ultimately was what helped form the design of the Taube wing and provided the aircraft with great flight stability.
The museum Taube replica was produced in 1932 by Alfred Friedrich who established Flugzeugbau Alte Adler near Berlin to produce World War One era aircraft replicas for movies and private buyers. It was flown at airshows for a few years, including a major 1936 air show (possibly for the Berlin Olympics?), before it ended up in the German Aviation Collection. It was damaged during an Allied air raid before being sent to Poland. Today it is displayed in its wrecked form from the war.
1936 Berlin Olympics
Curtiss Hawk II (D-IRIK) 1933 era biplane fighter that has a very interesting past! Now this is one of the most unique aircraft in the Polish Aviation Museum collection – A simplified export version of the US Navy Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk fighter, the type was seen by German World War One air ace (62 victories), stunt pilot, barnstormer and Generaloberst (Colonel General) Ernst Udet (1896 to 1941), who in the 1930’s served as the Luftwaffe Director of Research and Development and later the Luftwaffe Director-General of Equipment. He thought it wise for the German Air Ministry to acquire two examples in 1933 for research into dive bombing aircraft.
The Hawk II appears to have led to the development of the similar looking Henschel Hs 123 dive bomber/close support aircraft (introduced in 1936). It also somewhat influenced the design of the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber.
They were purchased for Germany as unarmed, civilian aircraft to avoid the limitations on combat aircraft in Germany from the Versailles treaty of World War One. Both were flown by Udet at airshows and demonstrations from 1934 to 1937.
The first Hawk II, H-80 was designated with the civil registration D-IRIS. It crashed in 1934 with Udet safely bailing out.
The other Hawk II, H-81, civil registration D-IRIK was flown by Udet during aerobatic flight demonstrations over the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. The aircraft displayed the Olympic rings on the fuselage to promote the games. It was transferred to Poland for safekeeping during World War Two.
Found after the war, the Hawk II was in bad shape. Luckily it was not scrapped and was moved into storage. Transferred to the Polish Aviation Museum in 1963 for restoration, the engine was returned to running condition, the wings were reconstructed and the fuselage fabric was restored. It is displayed in the livery as flown by Udet in 1936, including the Olympic rings and it is kind of fascinating to think of the famous and infamous characters in history who saw this aircraft fly over Berlin!
Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 (1185, D-INJR) 1938 prototype aircraft built to break air speed records and be a tool of Nazi propaganda. Now this is a rare survivor!
The Me 209 V1 was fitted with a Daimler Benz DB 601ARJ V-12 inline engine and could reach a maximum speed of 755km/h (469 mph), which at the time, on April 26th, 1939 flown by test pilot Fritz Wendel, was a record speed for a piston engine aircraft. Amazingly this record stood until 1969 when broken by Daryl G. Greenamyer flying Grumman Bearcat F8F-2 “Conquest I”!
Back in those days it was dubbed the Me 109R. This was for propaganda purposes to make it appear as though it was a high-speed further development of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter and spook other nations!
Given the wings of this speedster were mostly taken up with the engine liquid cooling system, leaving no room for cannons and that it was difficult to fly and also difficult to handle on the ground, the Me 209 wasn’t an ideal candidate for a fighter aircraft! Despite this, some experimentation was done by Messerschmitt to increase the wingspan and vertical stabliser of the Me 209 V4 prototype to improve its flight characteristics, and a pair of 7.92mm MG17 machine guns were installed above the engine but this all added weight and significantly reduced the speed of the aircraft. The project went no further.
Just four Me 209 prototypes were produced but the only survivor, the speed record breaker, is at the Polish Aviation Museum (prototype V2 crashed during a test flight on April 4th, 1939, test pilot Fritz Wendel was flying this one too). Today just the fuselage and major parts remain, with the wings and apparently the engine lost long ago. Still cool to see though!
I believe the sole surviving Polish fighter aircraft from 1939, the PZL PL.11c within the museum collection, was also part of the German Aviation Collection after being captured during the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. Unfortunately it was not on display during my visit to the museum, as it was under restorative engine work to enable the engine to run and to be able to taxi the aircraft (completed in 2018).
It’s a great thing to see the remains of the German Aviation Collection. I can only imagine what it was like to walk the halls of the Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung (German Aviation Museum) in Berlin back in the day. The photos I have seen from the 1930’s and early 1940’s show many aircraft that obviously did not survive and have been lost to the outcome of World War Two. A shame but that’s the nature of war…