Aircraft model, monoplane model, "Fieseler Storch", swastika on tail, painted in brown camouflage colours, balsa wood & Japanese rice paper, Australia, c. 1973 (OF).
The Fieseler Storch was the highly successful "go anywhere" short take-off and landing aircraft of the Luftwaffe during WW11. It was the plane used in the rescue of Mussolini from the Gran Sasso hotel in 1943 , and the last German flight into and out of Berlin at the very end of WW11.
The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was a remarkable short take-off and landing aircraft of the German Luftwaffe of WW11 ; over 3000 were built, and were used as the 'go anywhere' aircraft , being found virtually everywhere the German forces operated. It needed a take-off length of only about 60m., and could land in 20 m., fitting it to operate virtually everywhere. This performance was due to its' construction features, a fixed slat running along the entire leading edge, with slotted ailerons and slotted camber-changing flaps occupying the entire trailing edge. In a design feature rare for land based aircraft, the wings on the Storch could be folded back along the fuselage ,allowing it to be carried on a trailer or even towed behind a vehicle. The long legs of the main landing gear contained oil and spring shock absorbers which allowed the plane to set down hard almost anywhere. With its' very low landing speed ,the Storch often appeared to land vertically ,or even backwards, in strong winds from directly ahead.
The Storch is famous for its' role in Operation Eiche, the rescue in September 1943 of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from a hotel on top of the pinnacle of the Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi Mountains. With no roads to the summit, the hotel could only be reached by cable car. Otto Skorzeny in a Storch, landed in 30 m. on the tiny terrace at the back of the hotel , rescued Mussolini, and , severely overloaded, took off again over the sheer edge. Almost equal in excitement, was one of the very last missions of WW11, when test pilot Hanna Reitsch piloting a Storch, flew by night over the entire Russian armies encircling Berlin to land amid piles of rubble and under heavy fire in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate. She was conveying Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter summoned to a meeting with Hitler in the Fuhrerbunker,and then flew him safely out again .