Henschel Hs 123 oli saksalainen syöksypommittajaksi suunniteltu lentokone. Sen aseistuksena olivat konekiväärit ja kevyet pommit.
Koneen suunnittelu alkoi vuonna 1933, jolloin sen huomattiin olevan ylivoimainen kilpailijaansa Fieseler Fi 98:aan nähden. Mutta kaksi kolmesta prototyypistä menetettiin kun siivet irtosivat syöksyssä.
Siksi suunniteltiin uusi prototyyppi, jossa tämä ongelma oli korjattu. Koneesta tehtiin parannettu versio, Hs 123B, jossa oli parempi moottori, parempi aseistus ja suljettu ohjaamo avoimen sijasta.
Tästä huolimatta Luftwaffe valitsi mieluummin Junkers Ju 87:n (Stukan) ja siksi
Hs 123 koneen ura syöksypommittajana kesti vain vuoden.
Sitä alettiin kuitenkin käyttää maataistelukoneena vuoteen 1944 saakka. Koneita rakennettiin 602 kappaletta.
The Henschel Hs 123 was a single-seat biplane dive bomber and close-support attack aircraft flown by the German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War and the early to midpoint of World War II. It proved to be robust, durable and effective especially in severe conditions. It continued to see front-line service until 1944, only to be withdrawn due to a lack of serviceable airframes and spare parts (production ended in 1940).
Henschel was a German locomotive manufacturer. Soon after Hitler's rise to power , Henschel decided to start designing aircraft, one of the first being the Hs 123. The aircraft was designed to meet the 1933 dive bomber requirements for the reborn Luftwaffe. Both Henschel and rival Fieseler (with the Fi 98) competed for the production contract requirement, which specified a single-seat biplane dive bomber.
The first prototype Hs 123, the Hs 123V1 was cleared for its maiden flight on 1 April 1935, and General Ernst Udet, a World War I ace, flew the first prototype on its first public demonstration flight on 8 May 1935.
The first three Henschel prototypes, with the first and third powered by 485 kW (650 hp) BMW 132A-3 engines and the second by a 574 kW (770 hp) Wright Cyclone, were tested at Rechlin in August 1936.
Length: 8.33 m
Wingspan: 10.50 m
Height: 3.20 m
Wing area: 24.85 m²
Empty weight: 1,500 kg
Loaded weight: 2,215 kg
Powerplant: 1 × BMW 132Dc 9-cylinder radial engine, 880 hp / 656 kW
Maximum speed: 341 km/h at 1,200 m
Range: 860 km with drop tank, 480 km with 200 kg of bomb load
Service ceiling: 9,000 m
Rate of climb: 15 m/s at sea level
Armament: 2× 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns, 400 rpg
Field modification of 2× 20 mm MG FF cannon
Up to 450 kg of bombs
(1 x SC250 bomb under fuselage and 4 x SC50 bombs under wings)
Only the first prototype had "smooth" cowlings ; from that point on, all aircraft had a tightly-fitting cowling that included 18 fairings covering the engine valves. The Henschel prototypes did away with bracing wires and although they looked slightly outdated with their single faired interplane struts and cantilever main landing gear legs attached to smaller (stub) lower wings, the Hs 123 featured an all-metal construction, clean lines and superior maneuverability.
Its biplane wings were of a "sesquiplane" configuration, whereby the lower wings were significantly smaller than the top wings.
The overall performance of the Hs 123 V1 prototype prematurely eliminated any chance for the more conventional Fi 98, which was cancelled after a sole prototype had been constructed. During testing, the Hs 123 proved capable of pulling out of "near-vertical" dives; however, two prototypes subsequently crashed due to structural failures in the wings that occurred when the aircraft were tested in high-speed dives.
The fourth prototype incorporated improvements to cure these problems; principally, stronger centre-section struts were fitted. After it had been successfully tested, the Hs 123 was ordered into production with an 656 kW (880 hp) BMW 132Dc engine.
The Hs 123 was intended to replace the Heinkel He 50 biplane reconnaissance and dive bomber as well as acting as a "stop-gap" measure until the Junkers Ju 87 became available. As such, production was limited and no upgrades were considered, although an improved version, the Hs 123B was developed by Henschel in 1938.
A proposal to fit the aircraft with a more powerful 716 kW (960 hp) "K"-variant of its BMW 132 engine did not proceed beyond the prototype stage, the Hs 123 V5. The V6 prototype fitted with a similar powerplant and featuring a sliding cockpit hood was intended to serve as the Hs 123C prototype.
Nonetheless, production of the type ended in October 1938 with around 250 aircraft in all series.
A small pre-production batch of Hs 123A-0 s was completed in 1936 for service evaluation by the Luftwaffe. This initial group was followed by the slightly modified Hs 123A-1 series, the first production examples. The service aircraft flew with an armoured headrest and fairing in place (a canopy was tested in the Hs 123V6) as well as removable main wheel spats and a faired tailwheel.
The main weapon load of four SC50 50 kg (110 lb) bombs could be carried in lower wing racks along with an additional SC250 250 kg (550 lb) bomb mounted on a "crutch" beneath the fuselage . The usual configuration was to install an auxiliary fuel "drop" tank at this station that was jettisoned in emergencies. Two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns were mounted in the nose synchronized to fire through the propeller arc.
The aircraft entered service at StG 162 in autumn 1936. Its career as a dive bomber was cut short when the unit received its first Ju 87A the next year. Remaining Hs 123s were incorporated into the temporary Fliegergeschwader 100 at the time of the Munich Crisis. The Geschwader (wing) had been created as an emergency measure, equipped with obsolete aircraft and tasked with the ground attack role.
With the signing of the Munich agreement, the crisis was over and the geschwader was disbanded, the gruppen being transferred to other established units. By 1939, despite its success in Spain, the Luftwaffe considered the Hs 123 obsolete and the schlachtgeschwader (close-support wings) had been disbanded with only one gruppe II.(Schl)/LG2 still equipped with the Hs 123.
During the same time, at the request of Oberst (later Generalfeldmarschall ) Wolfram von Richthofen , chief of staff of the Legion Condor , five aircraft had been deployed to Spain as a part of the Legion Condor, intended to be used as tactical bombers .
In their intended role, the Hs 123s proved to be somewhat of a failure, hampered by their small bomb capacity and short range. Instead, the Hs 123s based in Seville were used for ground support , a role in which their range was not such a detriment, and where the ability to accurately place munitions was more important than carrying a large load. The combat evaluation of the Hs 123 demonstrated a remarkable resiliency in close-support missions, proving able to absorb a great deal of punishment including direct hits on the airframe and engine.
The Nationalists in Spain were suitably impressed with the Hs 123 under battle conditions, purchasing the entire evaluation flight and ordering an additional 11 aircraft from Germany. The Spanish Hs 123s were known as " Angelito " (dear angel or little angel), and at least one Hs 123 was in service with the Ejército del Aire ( Spanish Air Force ) after 1945.
Twelve Hs 123s were also exported to China , where they were used extensively as dive bombers against Japanese warships along the Yangtze River, especially in 1938.