Fieseler Fi 156 Storch "Stork"

“Stork” is the granddaddy of all purpose built STOL planes and, unfortunately, has become iconic with the Nazi war machine. It was used by the Nazis as a liason aircraft in the Luftwaffe. After the war, it was produced by France, several eastern block countries and several kitplane variants have been offered.

The Stork featured fixed leading edge slats and extensive fowler flaps and drooping ailerons. The main landing gear that would compress approximately 18 inches upon landing, this gave the Stork excellent rough field ability, but when extended in flight, the plane looked a bit like a stork dangling its long legs as it flew. Hence the name Stork. It was powered by a 240 hp Argus, in-line engine.

The main wings of the Stork could be folded back and this enabled the aircraft to be towed, albeit at slow speeds, behind ground vehicles. The Stork flew for the first time in 1936. It was a Stork that the Nazis used to rescue Italian dictator Benito Mussolini when he was by Italian troops atop a mountain.

A preserved Stork with its engine on a stand in front of it.

There are rumors of a certified version of the Stork being produced again and several ¾ scale kitplanes have been offered. Incredibly short take-off distances (less than 100 feet under some conditions) have been reported with both the original Stork and its replicas. The original Stork could fly as slow as 32 mph. Cruise speeds are in the neighborhood of 100 mph.

The Stork and its replicas are ideal bush planes but are not seen in any numbers, in any form, in North America. The Stork served as the basis of many subsequent STOL plane designs. The Russians built unlicensed (obviously) versions of the Stork during the Second World War which featured radial engines.

For a great source of information on planes used during the second world war, please visit: Watch as this beautifully restored Stork takes off.

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