DFS Habicht
Страна: Германия
Год: 1936

M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45

M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45


  The Olympic Games, scheduled for Berlin in 1936, were to be a great occasion and it was decided that a demonstration of sailplanes and soaring should be incorporated into the celebrations. To do aerobatics properly and safely, a special glider was needed. DFS called on Hans Jacobs, their chief designer, to create a suitable aircraft. The Habicht (Hawk), was to be stressed for airspeeds up to 420 km/h. To achieve a high rate of roll the span was small and the ailerons large, being slotted for greater effectiveness. A new wing profile of little camber was used to reduce torsional stresses at speed and also to make the aircraft better able to fly inverted. The mainspar was stressed to a load factor of 12. For reasons of popular appeal and spectacle, the wing was given a marked ‘gull' cranked form. The wing root was amply deep for strong spars. The birch plywood covering of the wing torsion box was laid with the grain set diagonally.
  Since only experts would be flying such an aerobatic type, the wing washout was reduced to almost nothing.
  To carry the torsional loads of the wing, instead of the usual strong diagonal spar al the root, the Habicht had a very strong and stiff root rib, with only a very light diagonal member. The fuselage was given a generous cross-section for great stiffness, and the 1.5 mm plywood skin was laid with diagonal grain. Twice the usual number of stiffening longerons were used. The cockpit of the prototype was enclosed but production models had open cockpits, the pilots preferring to feel the airflow. Landings were made on a skid. The tailplane was strut-braced, the elevators had aerodynamic horn balances and were mass balanced against flutter. A trim tab was fitted to production models.
  The Habicht came up to expectations and small-scale production began. Four were ready in time for the Olympics and, flown by Hanna Reitsch, Otto Brautigam, Ludwig Hofmann and Heinz Huth, they drew great ovations from the multitudes assembled in the stadium. Among other aerobatics, they flew half bunts, diving from level flight beyond the vertical into the inverted position, and then rolling upright.
  The Habichts were invariably decked out in a spectacular 'sunburst' color scheme with spreading blue rays against a light cream background. They became a common sight at air displays. Hanna Reitsch was sent with a Habicht to the USA, to give a display at the opening day of the 1938 Cleveland Air Races.
  By 1942 it was clear that the war was not going well for Germany and under the threat of defeat, new weapons, especially jet and rocket fighters, were being developed. Alexander Lippisch had been working on the small, swept-wing rocket fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 163. Pilots for this could, it was decided, be trained on gliders. Wolf Hirth’s factory at Nabern Teck was asked to produce Habichts, using the DFS plans. The designers modified the tail by increasing the size of the fin and rudder. Fifteen or so of the Hirth Habichts were built. To make the transition from the 13.6 metre Habicht to the Me 163, was still too big a step, so cut-down versions were produced. There were two types of the Stummel Habicht (Stumpy Hawk), one with a span of 8 metres, the other only 6 metres. They stalled, respectively, at about 75 and 80 km/h, and had handling characteristics supposed to be not unlike the Me 163. They had very strong, straight, plywood-covered wings with full-span ailerons.
  Thirty-five Stummel Habichts were built by Hirth, and others were produced elsewhere under licence. After a few flights in the 13.6 metre version, the young pilot converted to the 8 metre type for aerobatics, and then to the 6 metre Habicht, to practice accurate landings. He was then put into an Me 163 fighter without fuel, and towed off like a glider by a Bf 110 tow plane. Casting off at a good height, the student pilot was supposed to glide down and land, at 140 knots, on the fighter’s skid, just like a glider but at three times the speed! Spinal injuries were rife. The pilot who completed the programme was then given a full load of rocket fuel and took his aircraft into action against the Allied bombers.
  Hirth experimented with the Habicht for training in aerial fighting and ground attack. A rifle with reflector sights was mounted in place of the windscreen on one Habicht, and early in 1943 a sub-machine gun was fitted in the nose. From an aero-towed launch, or even off a winch tow, the pilot could make one or two high speed runs, shooting at a target on the ground, before landing. One Habicht was fitted with small practice bombs for similar exercises with aiming and dropping on to ground targets. The Habicht was probably the only sporting sailplane ever fitted with armament.
  One Habicht survived the war intact, and continued to fly in Germany for some years. Another, in 1980, resided in the French Musee de I'Air.
  The following flight-tested performance figures, were reported by the DFS in 1942. for the 13.6 metre version only.

  Technical data:
   Habicht: Span 13.60 m. Wing area, 15.82 sqm. Aspect ratio, 11.7. Empty weight, 250 kg. Flying weight. 335 kg. Wing loading, 21.175 kg/sq m. Stalling speed, 60 km h. Maximum permitted speed 420 km h. Minimum sinking speed 1.06 m sec at 67 km/h. Best glide ratio 1 : 19.4 at 80 km/h.
   Stummel Habicht (8m): Span, 8.00 m. Wing area, 9.66 sq m. Aspect ratio 6.66. Empty weight, 200 kg. Flying weight, 290 kg. Wing loading, 30 kg/sq m. Stalling speed, 73 km/h.
   Stummel Habicht (6m): Span, 6.00 m. Wing area, 8.03 sq m. Aspect ratio. 4.08. Empty weight, 200 kg. Flying weight, 290 kg. Wing loading, 36 kg/sq m. Stalling speed, 80 km h.
A photograph taken at Nabern Teck in 1942, showing Habichts built by Hirth for the rocket fighter-pilot training programme. The WL registrations and the simple swastika on the tail, without any red band, were common on German wartime sailplanes. Many Habichts at this time were produced in the standard pale cream NSFK colors with the blue sunrays still on the upper surfaces.
Habicht in its standard blue and pale cream sunburst paintwork.
Habicht in its standard blue and pale cream sunburst paintwork.
The sound detectors detect not a sound as Marcel Doret’s gull-winged sailplane soars overhead.
Reitsch awaits ‘rescue’ after landing a glider on a bed of ropes. This was a method tested to land small aircraft on board ships. It was not proceeded with.
A Condor 2A being rigged, with a Goevier and a DFS Habicht in the background.
View of the Mu 10 in the hangar at Salzburg in 1937. The modified rudder, ailerons and canopy are well shown. The exact significance of the comical bird on the nose is not clear. Other sailplanes visible include the Rheinland (D-12-99), a Condor 2A, the tail of a Habicht, and a Swiss Spyr 3 in the background. The other types cannot be identified.
The 8-metre Stummel Habicht on the ground. The servo tab added to the rudder suggests that at high speeds this very broad surface became too much for the pilot to move unaided. A small tab is also visible on the aileron.
Stummel Habicht glider used in the initial training of Me 163 pilots. A series of Habicht gliders were used with progressively shorter wing spans. Some of these gliders had a landing speed of more than 60 m.p.h.
An 8-metre Stummel Habicht in flight during 1943.
The Habicht armed with a rifle and prismatic gunsight for target practice. Later a sub-machine gun was fitted.