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ONSV4942

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Original German WWII Fieseler Fi 156 Storch Aircraft Balkan Cross Fuselage Section

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Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (English: Stork) was a small German liaison aircraft built by Fieseler before and during World War II. It remains famous for its excellent STOL performance and low stall speed of 31 mph (50 kmph).

This is a piece of the canvas painted covering from the Fuselage section of a German WWII Storch aircraft. It measures approximately 29 inches by 27 inches and shows Luftwaffe Balkan Cross or Balkenkreuz. This is an exceptionally rare piece as fewer than 3000 Storch aircraft were produced for Germany during WW2 and it will make an excellent display piece.

About 2,900 Fi 156s, mostly Cs, were produced from 1937 to 1945 at the Fieseler Factory in Kassel, Germany. In 1942, production started in the Morane-Saulnier factory at Puteaux in France. Due to the demand for Fieseler as a subcontractor for building the Bf 109 and the Fw 190, Storch production was shifted to the Leichtbau Budweis in Budweis in 1943.

During World War Two the Storch was deployed in all European and North African theaters of World War II, but it is probably most famous for its role in Operation Eiche, the 1943 rescue of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from a boulder-strewn mountain-top near the Gran Sasso. Even though the mountain was surrounded by Italian troops, German commando Otto Skorzeny and 90 paratroopers used gliders to land on the peak and quickly captured it. However, the problem of how to get back off remained. A Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 helicopter was sent, but it broke down en route. Instead, pilot Heinrich Gerlach flew in a Storch. It landed in 30 m (100 ft), and after Mussolini and Skorzeny boarded, it took off in 80 m (250 ft), even though the aircraft was overloaded. The Storch involved in rescuing Mussolini bore the radio code letters, or Stammkennzeichen, of "SJ + LL" in the motion picture coverage of the daring rescue.

On 26 April 1945, a Storch was one of the last aircraft to land on the improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate during the Battle of Berlin and the death throes of the Third Reich. It was flown by the test pilot Hanna Reitsch, who flew Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim from Munich to Berlin to answer a summons from Hitler.

A Storch was the victim of the last dogfight on the Western Front and another was downed by a direct Allied counterpart of the Storch, an L-4 Grasshopper, the military version of the well-known American Piper J-3 Cub civilian training and sport aircraft. The pilot and co-pilot of the L-4, lieutenants Duane Francis and Bill Martin, opened fire on the Storch with their .45 caliber pistols, forcing the German air crew to land and surrender.

Field Marshal Rommel used Storch aircraft for transport and battlefield surveillance during the North African desert campaign of World War II.

During the war a number of Störche were captured by the Allies. One became the personal aircraft of Field Marshal Montgomery. Others were used as the personal aircraft of Air Vice Marshal Arthur Coningham and Air Vice Marshal Harry Broadhurst, who acquired his Storch in North Africa, and flew it subsequently in Italy and North-West Europe.

The British captured 145, of which 64 were given to the French as war compensation from Germany.
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