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Henschel Hs 123

Henschel Hs 123

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Henschel Hs 123

The Henschel Hs 123 was the second dive-bomber to be used by the Luftwaffe, replacing the Heinkel He 50, before being replaced by the famous Ju 87. The Hs 123 then went on to have a surprisingly long career as a ground attack aircraft, surviving into 1944.


The Henschel Hs 123 was a sturdy looking biplane, with unequal span wings. The wings were connected by large outward canted struts. The lower wing was level with the base of the fuselage, the upper wing was carried above the fuselage and was connected to it by smaller struts. The radial engine was carried in a tight cowling with eighteen fairings for the valves. The open cockpit was carried some way behind the wings. The aircraft was very solidly built, and could take a great deal of damage and still return to base.

The Hs 123 was armed with two fixed forward firing 7.9mm machine guns. As a dive bomber it carried a single 250kg (551lb) bomb on a crutch that could swing forward between the main wheel struts. It could also carry four 50kg/110lb bombs under the wings.

During the Second World War the Hs 123 rarely if ever acted as a dive bomber. The under-wing racks were instead used to carry either the four SC 50 bombs, two pods each carrying a 20mm MG FF cannon, or two containers each carrying 92 SC 2 2kg anti-personnel bombs, while an extra fuel tank could be carried on the centre line.


In 1934 the Luftwaffe issued a two-stage requirement for a dive-bomber, the first stage to be filled quickly and the second to feature advanced technology. The second stage would produce the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, while the first would lead to the Hs 123.

Henschel and Fieseler both produced biplane dive-bombers to fill the specification - the Hs 123 and Fi 98. Both aircraft made their maiden flights in the spring of 1935, with the Hs 123 flying on 1 April and being revealed to the public on 8 May. The V1 differed from later aircraft in having a smooth NACA style engine cowling, replaced with a tight cowling on the second and third prototypes. The first two prototypes had three bladed adjustable pitch propellers, the third had a two-blade variable pitch model.

The Hs 123 quickly outpaced the Fi 98, and Henschel were awarded a production contract. The first three prototypes then went to Rechlin for tests, where a potentially disastrous problem soon disappeared. In the first three weeks of trails two of the aircraft were lost when their top wing came off, after the central struts broke. The fourth prototype was given stronger central struts, and the problem disappeared.


Hs 123A-1

Production of the A-1 production series began in the summer of 1936, and ran into April 1937. Most of the 250 aircraft produced fell into this series. The A-1 was powered by the 880hp BMW 132Dc radial engine, and could carry an auxiliary fuel tank in place of the central bomb.

Power BMW 132Dc, two MG 17 machine guns carried in upper fuselage decking, could carry 250kg/ 551lb bomb on crutch with swung forward from between the main wheels, also four 50kg/ 110lb bombs on wing ranks

Hs 123B

The B series was to have been powered by the 960hp BMW 132K engine. A single prototype (V5) was built, but no series production followed.

Hs 123C

Likewise the single prototype (V6) for the C-series didn't lead to production. This prototype had an enclosed cockpit and four MG 17 machine guns.

Service Record

The Hs 123 made its combat debut in Spain. In the autumn of 1936 three aircraft were used to equip a Stukakette in VJ/88 of the Condor Legion, going into action for the first time in the Malaga offensive of January 1937, before taking part in the attack on Bilbao.

The Hs 123 proved to be a disappointment as a dive bomber, lacking the stability in the dive needed to give it the pin-point accuracy required. Oberstleutnant Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, the Legion's chief of staff (and a cousin of the Red Baron), decided to use his (now six) Hs 123s as ground attack aircraft. The sturdy Hs 123 turned out to be much better at this role, although still suffered heavy losses, with four of the six aircraft lost by the summer of 1937. It was also discovered that the noisy BMW engines could cause panic amongst troops unused to aerial attack.

The surviving aircraft went to the Spanish Air Force after the civil war, where they were joined by a dozen new aircraft.

The Hs 123 entered Luftwaffe service with Stukagruppe I/162 'Immelmann' in the summer of 1936, but its front line career as a dive bomber was very short. During 1937 it began to be replaced with the Ju 87, and by the start of the Sudetenland crisis in 1938 only one group still had the Hs 123 (III./StG 165).

The lessons learnt in Spain were remembered as the Sudetenland crisis deepened. The Luftwaffe decided to form five new ground attack groups (Fliegergruppen). Adolf Galland was put in charge of the project, and soon had the five units in place. Three were equipped with Hs 123 - Fliegergruppen 10 at Brieg, Fliegergruppen 50 at Grottkau and Fliegergruppen 30 in Bavaria.

After the Munich Agreement ended the immediate crisis the five Fliegergruppen were re-allocated to new tasks, with three becoming dive bomber groups and one a bomber group. Only one, Fliegergruppen 10, continued as a ground-attack unit, and retained its Hs 123s. In November 1938 this group joined Lehrgeschwader 2, an experiment unit whose purpose was to investigate new aircraft and tactics. The Hs 123s were used to form II (Schlacht)/ LG 2.

On 1 September 1939 this unit took part in the invasion of Poland, operating as a light bomber and ground attack aircraft, carrying 50kg bombs under the wings.

The fighting in Poland revealed one big advantage of the Hs 123 - it could operate from very basic fields that couldn't have supported any more modern aircraft. II (Schlacht)/ LG 2 was thus able to advance closely behind the advancing armies, flying up to ten sorties a day. As in Spain the aircraft's engines, when operating at 1,800rpm, made such an appalling noise that it could on occasion cause panic

The Hs 123 was effective enough in Poland to mean that plans to replace it were cancelled, and II (Schlacht)/ LG 2 was still equipped with the type in May 1940.

At the start of the campaign in the west II (Schlacht)/LG 2 was part of VIII Fliegerkorps, alongside more than 350 Stukas. The corps operated as part of Luftflotte 2, and the Hs 123s were used to support the Sixth Army as it advanced into Belgium. This quickly changed, and from 13 May the group was used to support the main attack across the Meuse at Sedan, operating as part of Luftflotte 3. The Hs 123s helped support the dash to the Channel, and helped defeat a French counterattack near Cambrai.

On 1 July 1940 the gruppe moved back to Germany to re-equip with the Ju 87 Stuka. The English Channel was simply too wide for the short range of the Hs 123. In the event the Ju 87 never arrived, and instead the group was given the Bf 109E fighter bomber. For nearly a year the Hs 123 didn't equip any front line units, but in March 1941 II.(Schlacht)/LG 2 received a new batch of the old aircraft, which were used to equip one staffel of the group in preparation for the campaign in the Balkans. The group moved to Bulgaria in April, and on 6 April took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia. Once again the Hs 123 proved itself to be a useful sturdy ground attack aircraft, both in Yugoslavia and in Greece.

At the start of Operation Barbarossa the group had 22 Hs 123s, of which 17 were serviceable, and 38 Bf 109s. It was part of VIII Fliegerkorps, and was based in northern Poland, from where it operated on the left flank of Army Group Centre. At the start of the campaign the group was involved in the attacks on Soviet frontier airfields, before turning to support Panzergruppe 3. In August the group moved north to support the attack on Leningrad, before returning south to support the attack on Moscow in September. Even the robust Hs 123 suffered during this period of frantic movement, although not as much as the Bf 109, and once again its ability to operate from muddy fields became essential.

At the end of 1941 the group was withdrawn to Germany, where it was used as the basis of a new dedicated ground attack unit, Schlachtgeschwader 1. Both of this unit's groups were equipped with a mix of Bf 109s and Hs 123s, along with the first Hs 129s. This new unit was used to support the advance into the Crimea, and then the advance towards the Caucasus. The Hs 123 still played a role, but in ever smaller numbers - on 27 July only six were serviceable! With production having ended five years earlier the Luftwaffe was slowly running out of replacement aircraft.

The Hs 123 was still in use in May 1943 when SchlG 1 returned to the front after a short break. At this point II./SchlG 1 had a dozen aircraft on strength, and a suggestion to put the aircraft back into production had only been vetoed because the production rigs had been scrapped! An ever-decreasing number of Hs 123s remained in use with II/SchlG 1 well into 1944, before finally being withdrawn because no more aircraft were available.

Engine: BMW 132Dc nine-cylinder radial
Power: 880hp for take-off, 870jp at 8,200ft
Crew: 1
Wing span: 34ft 5 1/3in (upper wing); 26ft 3in (lower wing)
Length: 27ft 4in
Height: 10ft 6 ¾ in
Empty Weight: 3,318lb
Normal loaded weight: 4,888lb
Max Speed: 212mph at 3,940ft
Cruising Speed: 197mph at 6,560ft
Initial climb rate: 2,950ft/ minute
Service Ceiling: 29,525ft
Range: 534 miles
Armament: two 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns in upper fuselage, underwing racks for four 110lb/50kg bombs, two containers with 92 2k/4.4lb anti-personnel bombs or two 20mm MG FF cannons

Henschel Hs 123 - History

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Maximum Speed: 345kph (214 mph)
Initial climb: 2,950 ft. (900m)/minute
Range: 530 miles (850 km)
Service Ceiling: 29,530 ft. (9000m)
2 × MG 17 7.92mm machine guns in fuselage
2 × MG FF 20mm cannons in place of bombs

Bomb Load:
Four × 50 kg. (110 lb.) bombs
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 mid-point of World War II. Although an obsolete design, it continued to see front-line service until 1944, and was only withdrawn due a dearth of serviceable airframes and spare parts.

Design and development
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. General Ernst Udet, a World War I ace, flew the first Hs 123V1 prototype on its first public demonstration fight on 8 May 1935. The first three Henschel prototypes, powered by 650 hp (485 kW) BMW 132A-3 engines, were tested at Rechlin in August 1936. 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 gears 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 chances 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 880 hp (656 kW) 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 (960 hp (716 kW) "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 less than 1000 aircraft in all series.

Operational History

Prior to World War II

A small pre-production batch of Hs 123A-0s 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 110 lb (50 kg) bombs could be carried in lower wing racks along with an additional SC250 550 lb (250 kg) 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 MG 17 machine guns (7.92 mm/0.312 in) 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.

Spanish Civil War

During the same time, at the request of Oberst (later Generalfeldmarschall) Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, chief of staff of the Legion Kondor, five aircraft had been deployed to Spain as a part of the Condor Legion, 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 Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire) after 1945.

Second Sino-Japanese War 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.

World War II (service from Poland to Greece)

At the outbreak of hostilities, the surviving 39 Hs 123s assigned to II. (Schl)/LG 2, were committed to action in the Polish Campaign. This single unit proved to be particularly effective. Screaming over the heads of enemy troops, the Hs 123s delivered their bombs with devastating accuracy. A frightening aspect of an Hs 123 attack was the staccato noise of its engine that a pilot could manipulate by changing rpm to create "gunfire-like" bursts. The Hs 123 proved rugged and able to take a lot of damage and still keep on flying. Operating from primitive bases close to the front lines, ground crews considered the type reliable in field conditions, being easy to maintain.

The Polish campaign was a success for an aircraft considered obsolete by the Luftwaffe high command. Within a year, the Hs 123 was again in action in the blitzkrieg attacks through the Netherlands and France. General Guderian was continually impressed by the quick turnaround time offered by II.(Schl)/LG 2. Often positioned as the Luftwaffe's most-forward based combat unit, the Hs 123 flew more missions per day than other units, and again proved their worth in the close-support role. With Ju 87s still being used as tactical bombers rather than true ground support aircraft and with no other aircraft capable of this mission in the Luftwaffe arsenal, the Hs 123 was destined to continue in service for some time more, although numbers were constantly being reduced by attrition.

The Hs 123 was not employed in the subsequent Battle of Britain as the English Channel proved a formidable obstacle for the short-ranged aircraft. The sole operator, II.(Schl)/LG 2 went back to Germany to re-equip with the Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter bomber (Jabo) variant. The Bf 109E fighter bomber was not capable of carrying any more bombs than the Hs 123. It did however, have a greater range and was far more capable of defending itself. On the downside were the notoriously tricky taxiing, ground handling and takeoff/landing characteristics, especially exacerbated with a bomb load.

At the beginning of the Balkans Campaign, the 32 examples of the Hs 123 that had been retired after the fall of France were taken back into service to equip 10.(Schl)/LG 2. The aircraft performed well enough to warrant its use in Operation Barbarossa.

World War II (Eastern Front)

At the start of Operation Barbarossa, the single Gruppe of the Luftwaffe that was dedicated to ground support was II.(Schl)/LG 2, operating 38 Bf 109Es and 22 Hs 123s. In service use on the Eastern Front, the remaining aircraft had been "field" modified with the main wheel spats removed, additional armour and extra equipment fitted as well as mounting extra machine guns and even cannons in under-wing housings.

Some volunteers of Escuadrilla Azul (15 Spanische Staffel/VIII Fliegerkorps) of JG-27 detached in Luftflotte 2 managed Hs 123s in collaboration of II.(Schl.)/LG 2 units for ground strikes along your propers Bf 109E-7/B fighter-bombers during 1941-42 period.

During the initial drive, the unit participated in action along the central and northern parts of the front, including a brief time in support of the fighting around Leningrad, and participating in the battles for Bryansk and Vyazma. The first weeks revealed problems associated with using the Bf 109E which was plagued by undercarriage and engine problems in the fighter-bomber role. Its liquid-cooled inline engine was also more vulnerable to small arms fire than the Hs 123's radial.

The winter brought hardship to all German forces in Russia, and the pilots in the open cockpits of the Henschels suffered accordingly. Despite this, they took part in the Battle of Moscow. In January, the unit was re-designated as the first dedicated ground attack Geschwader, SchlG 1. The Hs 123 became a part of 7./SchlG 1.

This "new" unit participated in operations in Crimea in May 1942, after which it operated on the southern sector for some time, participating in the Second Battle of Kharkov and going on to take part in the Battle of Stalingrad. In the meantime, the small number of operational Hs 123 continued to slowly dwindle. Aircraft had been salvaged from training schools and even derelict dumps all over Germany to replace losses. The aircraft that had supposedly replaced the Hs 123, the Ju 87, also started to be assigned to ground support units, leaving tactical bombing to newer aircraft.

The greatest tribute to the Hs 123 usefulness came in January 1943 when Generaloberst Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, then commander-in-chief of Luftflotte 4, asked whether production of the Hs 123 could be restarted because the Hs 123 performed well in a theater where mud, snow, rain and ice took a heavy toll on the serviceability of more advanced aircraft. However, the Henschel factory had already dismantled all tools and jigs in 1940.

After taking part in the Battle of Kursk, SG 1 returned to Crimea, and there during late spring 1944, they finally gave up the aircraft that had served all over Europe from Spain to Leningrad. 7./SG 1 traded its last Hs 123s in mid-1944, for Ju 87s, a type that was to have replaced it back in 1937.

By 1945, the Hs 123s that remained serviceable were reassigned to secondary duties such as supply dropping and glider towing.

Gunston, Bill - The Encyclodepia of the Worlds Combat aircraft, 1976, Chartwell Books, Inc., New York
Gunston, Bill & Wood, Tony - Hitler's Luftwaffe, 1977, Salamander Books Ltd., London
The Complete Encyclodepia of World Aircraft, 1997, Barnes & Nobles Books, ISBN: 0 7607 0592 5


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 fight 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. Ώ] 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.

The Henschel Hs 123 Project … Good Progress

Morten was expecting to have the majority of 2018 off from ‘real life’ work and planned to be able to focus a lot of his attention on the Henschel 123 book project. Although that has not turned out to be the case, good progress has still occurred regardless (and more so than in recent years). Most notably, three things have progressed: 1) the data file 2) photos 3) Part Two of the eArticle.

A page from the war diary of II.(S)/LG 2, showing how 7 September 1939 began for the unit. This is one of many documents giving detailed insights into daily life.

The Data File
During the past year several helpful fellow researchers have contributed material in the form of archival documents, leads to information, maps, or opening doors to other helpful people. This has resulted in a wealth of information being included in the data file, in particular about the period 1941 to 1945 when the Hs 123 flew on the Eastern Front. Of note is an overview of operations in 1944 showing flight hours and number of sorties, as well as Soviet army and air force material from 1941 to 1944 that matches nicely with information Morten has from the German side. One time-consuming task in connection with creating the data file is identifying German ground forces being supported by the Hs 123 pilots, and opposing ground forces being attacked by them.

A visit to Freiburg in the beginning of September will further increase the amount of information in the data file. By now, the most important files have been photographed, but there are still some ‘stones to turn over’ in Freiburg. In addition to the Henschel project, Morten will also copy material related to some of the upcoming eArticles.

The current page count for the entire Hs 123 data file is 282, and not all the information obtained has been included yet. Morten has many archival files to read through and information to enter, so the file will very likely grow to over 400 or even 500 pages before he commences work on the book manuscript.

Crew members of 4.(S)/LG 2 during the invasion of Poland, September 1939. In the background the aircraft of the Staffelkapitän, Adolf Galland, can be seen featuring the Mickey Mouse emblem that he introduced.

Morten has been fortunate to add approximately 100 new photographs to his collection in the past year showing aircraft and pilots. Most of these are previously unpublished. The biggest batch was obtained after winning several ebay.de auctions, following which Morten was contacted by the seller and was able to obtain additional photos. Contributions have also come in from fellow collectors who support the Hs 123 project. As a result, Morten will be able to include many interesting and new photos in the book, and also a few in the eArticle. At the moment the pre-war period, the Polish campaign and the invasion of the Low Countries and France are very well covered with photos. Since the war in the East lasted almost four years, and the Hs 123 flew until at least January 1945, material from every period of that campaign is difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, at the moment Morten has found enough photos to illustrate most of the major battles and show many of the pilots who flew the aircraft.

eArticle – Part Two
Because the second half of the data file has grown considerably, Morten is also able to easily write Part Two of the eArticle. In the article he will provide a brief and precise history of the ‘Small Soldier’s’ career in the Second World War. The article will include input from all the pilots that Morten interviewed who flew the machine at the front, as well as new photos, some tables of unit commanders, and maps to illustrate the path of the Hs 123 during the campaign.

We hope you look forward to Part Two of the eArticle, and indeed the Hs 123 book. Morten is hard at work to release the article in November or December 2018 … and it will include a few gold nuggets from his ten years of research. Air War Publications is very grateful for the help we have received from fellow researchers, collectors, and the family members of pilots who experienced the war first-hand.


  • Republic of China Air Force – operated 12 aircraft using them as dive bombers.
  • Luftwaffe
  • Spanish Air Force – purchased the Condor Legion's remaining aircraft, and ordered an additional 11 aircraft from Germany. On the Eastern Front, volunteers of Escuadrilla Azul (15 Spanische Staffel/VIII Fliegerkorps) of JG 27 based in Vitebsk operated Hs 123's alongside II.(Schl.)/LG 2 units.

Henschel Hs123

In February 1934, a requirement was published for a combat aircraft for the new German Luftwaffe. The tender was awarded to the company’s Hamburger Flugzeugbau GmbH, Fieseler Aircraft GmbH and Henschel Aircraft GmbH. Henschel chief designer Friedrich Nicolaus had developed a sesquiplane with an open cockpit and fixed landing gear of all-metal construction. The fuselage was of strong construction and power was by the BMW 132 enclosed in a NACA ring for better perfomance and cooling. The pilot was afforded good visibility from the cockpit. The wings had the usual control surfaces and they were partially covered with fabric. The control surfaces were all covered with fabric.

The construction of the prototype progressed rapidly and on 1 April 1935, the Hs 123 V1 was completed. Maiden flight was on April 5, 1935 and Hs 123 V1 had the registration D-ILUA. The V2 was tested with a Wright Cyclone R-1820 F52, starting with 770 hp power. This machine suffered from a landing accident and later was adapted to use the BMW 132 A and in this configuration was designated as Hs 123 V8.

The testing of the three machines from different manufacturers was held at Rechlin from June 1935 up to January 1936. The Henschel Hs 123 was found as most suitable from all proposed aircraft and production began in 1936 at Kassel. The Hs 123 V5 was presented in 1937 at the International Air Meeting in Dübendorf.

The very first production block was Hs 123A-0, delivered to units in 1936 and the main purpose for these machines was operational testing by the Luftwaffe. The first series-manufacture example was the Hs 123A-1 and these had minor differences compared with the previous pre-production block. The aircraft was equipped with pilot armor. The main offensive armament was four SC50 bombs mounted on the bottom wing racks with optional SC250 bomb mounted beneath the fuselage. On the fuselage central position it was also possible to mount a droppable fuel tank. Two MG 17 machine guns, caliber 7.92 mm, were mounted in the top nose and they were synchronized to fire through the propeller arc.

The first unit to receive this new machine was StG 162 in autumn 1936, and after one year of the service use, the unit received new dive bombers. The fleet of the Henschel Hs 123 was on alert during the Munich crisis. By 1939, despite its success in Spain, the Luftwaffe considered the Hs 123 obsolete and most of the Schlachtgeschwader equipped with the type had been disbanded and only II.(Schl)/LG2 remained operational with the Hs 123. The Henschel Hs 123 had seen extensive operational service during the Spanish civil war as part of the Legion Condor. The Spanish Air Force later received the remaining Hs 123 A-1. These Hs 123 were based in Seville and during the combat evaluation Hs 123 performed at a high efficiency in the close-support missions, and at the same time performed as a safe combat platform for its pilots.

China imported 12 Hs 123 A-0 from Germany before the war, those aircraft only saw limited actions in the Chinese air force, after new aircraft from the Soviets arrived in China after 1938, those survived German war planes were transferred to reserve. Germany stopped military supply to China in May 1938 and the Hs 123s suffered from shortages of reserve parts and they saw limited service. Operated by 15th Sq of the Chinese air force, the few Hs 123 were used in the dive bombing role against Japanese shipping on the Yangtze River in 1938.

Sole operational II. (Schl)/LG 2 had 39 machines which were engaged in combat missions during the Polish Campaign. This single unit proved to be particularly effective and this is greatly dedicated to the sound of the engine which had a psychological effect on ground forces. It was also true that the Hs 123 could take considerable punishment and stay flyable. One of the benefits was use from unprepared airfields which make maintenance faster, more easily and could be in more direct contact with the front line.

After this good combat record, the Hs 123 was put into the combat missions over the Low Countries and France. Their best capability was close support and a great number of missions which could be flown by the units. They gave maximum close support to the troops. At this time the Luftwaffe had two operational combat aircraft, the Junkers Ju 87 was a dive bomber and the only machine that could give close support was the Hs 123, previously declared by the Luftwaffe as ’obsolete’. After the campaign in France some number of machines was sent to 10.(Schl)/LG 2. and they were seriously considered to be used during Operation Barbarossa. In the begining of Operation Barbarossa, the single Gruppe of the Luftwaffe that was providing ground support was II.(Schl)/LG 2, equipped with 38 Bf 109Es and 22 Hs 123s. During the operations the Bf109 was shown vulnerable during operations with weak landing gear as well as a sensitive engine to ground fire and Hs 123 again showed some advantage as a close support aircraft. Interesting to note is the Escuadrilla Azul, volunteers from Spain who flew on the type during this time. Bitter experience came in the winter 1941/42 since the open cockpit was not good accommodation for pilots in harsh winter climate. From January 1942, the unit was re-designated as SchlG 1 and Hs 123 became a part of 7./SchlG 1.

SchlG 1 took part in the operations in Crimea, Battle of Kharkov and in the Battle of Stalingrad. That was the twilight of the Hs 123 and this machine was replaced with modern aircraft. The remaining machines were sent to the trainer units as well as in non operational occupied zones. It’s interesting that in early 1943 an idea was given to start manufacture of the Hs 123 and equip more units with this type. There was no real option for that to happen as all tooling was dismantled in 1940 at the factory.

Last samples of the Henschel Hs 123 remained operational until the spring 1944 when 7./SG 1 replaced their last Hs 123s with the Ju 87. By 1945, the Hs 123s that remained serviceable were reassigned to secondary duties such as supply dropping and glider towing.

During its service the Hs 123 had just a few operational camouflage patterns. First one was splinter with RLM 61, 62 and 63 at the topside and RLM 65 at the bottom. There were two variations of this scheme used. During the later service this camouflage pattern was still used no matter that it was officially discarded and during overpainting the aircraft got single color of RLM 71 or 70 at the topside.

Henschel Hs 123 — неместный тихоход

8 мая 1935 года под управлением знаменитого аса и будущего шефа Люфтваффе Эрнста Удета впервые взлетел прототип ударного самолета «Хеншель-123» — одной из самых удивительных боевых машин Второй мировой войны. Однако знают о ней немногие, поскольку она оказалась в тени гораздо более массовых и разрекламированных коллег и противников. «Хеншель-123» (сокращенно — Hs-123) создавался как легкий одноместный штурмовик и пикирующий бомбардировщик, способный нести до 450 кг боевой нагрузки на одном подфюзеляжном и четырех подкрыльевых держателях.

Благодаря прочной цельнометаллической конструкции он мог пикировать под углом до 80 градусов. Правда, бомбовой трапеции на нем не было, поэтому на пикировании он мог сбрасывать бомбы только с подкрыльевых подвесок, а на подфюзеляжный пилон обычно вешали дополнительный топливный бак, повышавший дальность полета с двумя центнерами бомб с 480 до 860 км. Стрелковое вооружение для штурмовика было довольно слабым: всего два синхронных пулемета винтовочного калибра. При этом важным достоинством машины считалось наличие радиосвязи, позволявшее пилотам работать по наводке с земли и координировать свои действия.

880-сильный мотор обеспечивал неплохие летные характеристики: скорость — до 340 км/ч, скоро­подъемность — 15 м/с, потолок — 9000 м. Однако прогресс авиации шел очень быстро, и уже к концу 1930-х годов такие данные выглядели далеко не впечатляюще, да и бипланная схема самолета воспринималась как замшелый анахронизм. Поэтому как только в Германии начался массовый выпуск более современных пикировщиков «Юнкерс» Ju-87В «Хеншель» сочли морально устаревшим и уже осенью 1938 года сняли с производства.

Всего было построено 229 серийных экземпляров Нs-123, то есть совсем немного, даже по довоен­ным меркам. 14 из них продали китайцам, еще 16 — отправили в Испанию в составе легиона «Кондор», воевавшего на стороне франкистских мятежников. Там они и остались. Таким образом, строевым частям Люфтваффе досталось менее 200 машин. Весной 1940 года, к началу гитлеров­ского блицкрига, большинство «Хеншелей» было выведено из боевого состава и распределено по летным школам. Лишь одну штурмовую авиагруппу II.Schl/LG.2, состоявшую из 45 машин, вооружили этим «старьем». А дальше началось самое интересное.

Во время французской кампании Нs-123 показал исключительно высокую боевую эффективность, даже на фоне более новых скоростных бомбардировщиков. Его относительная медлительность стала не минусом, а плюсом, позволяя пилотам тщательнее прицеливаться и более точно сбрасы­вать бомбы. При этом небольшие размеры машины в сочетании с высокой маневренностью и очень выносливой конструкцией (недаром фирма «Хеншель» ранее специализировалась на паровозах) делали Нs-123 сложной мишенью как для зениток, так и для истребителей. Потери «Хеншелей» оказались самыми низкими из всех типов немецких фронтовых бомбардировщиков.

В 1941 году «Хеншели» не менее успешно воевали в Югославии и Греции, но их «звездным часом» стала советско-германская война. По состоянию на 22 июня 1941 года в II.Schl/LG.2 оставалось всего 22 Hs-123, но они очень интенсивно воевали сперва на северном участке фронта, дойдя до Ленинграда, а потом — участвовали в битве за Москву. За свою «ювелирную» работу самолет получил столь высокую оценку командования наземных войск, что весной 1942 года в Германии срочно собрали и отправили на фронт все «Хеншели», имевшиеся в летных школах.

Боле того, на свалках были найдены все списанные машины, которые не успели отправить в пере­плавку. После восстановления их тоже бросили в бой. Благодаря этому количество «Хеншелей» на советско-германском фронте удалось довести до 40-50 штук и за счет ремонта поддерживать на этом уровне в течение долгого времени. Hs-123 воевали под Сталинградом и на Курской дуге, причем в условиях многократного численного превосходства советской авиации немцы применяли их как дневные штурмовики и пикирующие бомбардировщики. Похоже, что наших истребителей они совсем не опасались.

В 1943 году командующий 4-м Воздушным флотом генерал-фельдмаршал Вольфрам фон Рихтхофен обратился к фирме «Хеншель» с официальной просьбой возобновить производство Hs-123, которые были нужны Люфтваффе «как воздух, как хлеб». Ну, или примерно так. Но фирма с сожалением ответила, что оснастка для их выпуска давно уничтожена, а производственные мощности пол­ностью загружены изготовлением иной военной продукции.

В некоторых источниках сказано, что часть «Хеншелей» во фронтовых мастерских переоборудовали в «чистые» штурмовики путем снятия подкрыльевых бомбодержателей и подвески вместо них контейнеров со скорострельными 20-мм пушками MGFF. Это позволяло Hs-123 успешно бороться с легкобронированными целями. Но мне не удалось выяснить, сколько «Хеншелей» подверглось подобной переделке и ни одной фотографии такого самолета я не нашел.

Последним эпизодом боевого применения Hs-123 в качестве дневного ударного самолета стали бои в Северной Таврии и в Крыму весной 1944 года. Затем провоевавшие более пяти лет и вконец изношенные машины переклассифицировали в ночные бомбардировщики. В этом качестве «Хеншели» применялись до осени, когда из-за нехватки бензина их окончательно поставили «на прикол». Выводов из этой истории я, пожалуй, делать не буду.

На заставке Hs-123 во время войны в Испании. Там они за полтора года совершили сотни боевых вылетов, а республиканцам удалось сбить всего два таких самолета.

Компоновочная схема Hs-123. Рядом — подвесной бензобак и две 50-килограммовые бомбы

Вверху: Hs-123 с послевоенными опознавательными знаками испанских ВВС. В этой стране «Хеншели» состояли на вооружении до 1954 года.
Внизу: Hs-123 из состава авиагруппы II.Schl/LG.2, воевавшей в 1941-44 годах на советско-германском фронте.

Прототип Hs-123 на испытаниях. Трехлопастный винт впоследствии заменили двухлопастным

Подготовка Hs-123 к боевому вылету зимой 1942-43 годов. Обтекатели шасси на полевых аэродромах советско-германского фронта обычно снимали, чтобы они не забивались снегом или травой

Hs-123 с подвесным баком

Подбитый Hs-123, совершивший вынужденную посадку на своей территории. Обратите внимание, что у самолета оторвана законцовка верхнего крыла и видна пробоина от крупнокалиберной пули в задней стенке кабины. Судя по всему, пилоту крупно повезло, эта пуля прошла в нескольких сантиметрах от его головы

Being a dive-bomber, its main role is rather self-explanatory. However, its frontal armament makes it feasible to be used in a fighter role, especially after dropping its bombs, which leaves a lighter and in consequence faster and more manoeuvrable plane.

In AB, the Hs 123 is a ground attacker/emergency fighter. Use your bomb load and guns to dispatch as many ground targets as possible, while making sure to keep the enemy off of your six. If someone does get on your six, pull a snap turn and keep him from getting a good shot on you for as long as possible. If you can't get onto his six you'll have to hope help arrives soon.

In air RB, the tactics change massively. Use your bomber spawn to stay above the enemy team, and dive only after the enemy fighters have passed below you. Hit their tanks and other targets with your bombs through either dive bombing or low level bombing (set a 2 second fuse then fly as low as you can, dropping just before you lose sight of the target). After your bomb load is exhausted, engage soft targets for a while. If there are none it's time that you kill some of the enemy team, begin to climb and look for damaged fighters/attackers returning to their airfield, then pounce on them. Your 7.92 mm machine guns are good, but be sure to aim for wings, as most aircraft you'll face will likely be able to absorb most of the MG bullets you put into their fuselage.

The Stealth belt is recommended for ground attack, being made up of Armour-Piercing and Incendiary rounds, while Tracers are better suited for air targets (being Armour-Piercing and Incendiary thanks to its Tracer component).

In tank RB, the Hs 123 has huge potentials but often depends on the pilot's bomb-dropping skills and the enemy vehicles. Your bombload is fantastic for a 1.3 plane, making you a great ground attacker in tank RB. The 4 x 50 kg bombs drop first in groups of 2, so use them for light vehicles or SPAAs. If the target tank has no armor (eg. GAZ-AA, FlakPz I, etc), only drop one group of 50 kg bombs, whereas if they are light / armored tanks, drop the two groups together. Then the single 250 kg can destroy anything and will be much easier to aim thanks to its larger fragment range. Note that you need to lead more for both 50 kg & 250 kg bombs, as the Hs 123 is quite slow, resulting in a lower momentum for the bombs comparing to later planes. Also, if tracer shells start to come near you as you dive, immediately pull off or dodge. The Hs 123 is very fragile, with its wing easily ripped off by a few bullets and the pilot easily sniped. The large radial engine is also prone to taking damage. After all the bombs are gone, you can start looking for incoming enemy planes. You have a good chance of out turning most planes with your combat / takeoff flaps down, so lure them into turn fights when possible.

In simulator, the Hs 123 is quite a decent multi-role plane to fly. It has great visibility towards the lower sides meaning it is easy to search for ground targets, its over-the-nose visibility is also decent. The upper front view is obstructed by the upper wing, and the rear view is blocked by the razorback design, as a result you cannot see what is on your tail. Its control handling is great at all speeds, making it a rather stable platform for ground pounding and an easy plane to take off and land in. It can perform base bombing, ground pounding and dogfighting. Bring the least fuel if you know that your targets are not far away, otherwise bring at least 30 minutes of fuel for prolonged patrolling and fighting. Note that you want to use 85-90% throttle as the oil easily overheats with either WEP or 100% throttle, so save the WEP for emergency maneuvers.

For base bombing, it is recommended to fly at treetop level to get to the base as soon as possible since the Hs 123 is quite slow. When approaching the base, make sure that you are flying to its side so it can be seen from your side window and not get blocked by the nose. Once you see it, dive at it at a shallow angle. When the gunsight slices past the furthest edge of the base, release all the bombs, bank towards a nearby airfield and head back.

For ground pounding with bombs, look for tanks and pillboxes. First you need some separation between you and the target so you have enough time to smooth the aim. Dive at the target at a rather shallow angle, and release the 50 kg bombs when you are very close with gunsight above the target. Release the 250 kg when the gunsight is well above the target. Note: don't forget to set a fuse for at least 2 seconds since you are dropping bombs very low. If you only use the MGs, your targets are trucks, AAA and howitzers. Dive at it and stabilise the plane so the gunsight stays overall still at the target. Then, once the target fills out around 1/6 of the gunsight, open fire. If your aim is accurate you can destroy one target in a single pass. However, each MG only has 500 rounds and their firerate is pretty fast, so control the trigger to save some ammo for any unexpected dogfights.

For dogfighting, it is better to engage with an altitude advantage. Track the opponent using lead or pure pursuit, as with lag pursuit you will end up at the 6 of the target aircraft whose fuselage will soak up most of your bullets. With a reflector sight and decent visibility over the nose, the aim should be easy. Target their wings or the nose and avoid the back half of the fuselage as there is usually nothing in there. You can turn with most planes, even with the infamous I-15, with your combat / takeoff flaps deployed. However, if you see a plane with an I-15's short and fat fuselage, a flat radial engine and triangular stabilisers located right after the low-mounted mono wings, consider disengaging. The I-16 is faster than you, turns equally well and can cripple your fragile Hs 123 even with 2 x MGs. If an I-16 is on your tail, a tactic to counter it is to utilise your stableness. Deflect both your ailerons and elevators for around 70% to get into a barrel roll. If the I-16 is to follow and cut inside your roll, it is super likely to enter a flatspin due to its unstableness in maneuvers. Perform the barrel roll tighter and tighter until the I-16 loses control and spins, then turn around and shoot. Or, simple do flat turns but turn tightly, a tight-turning I-16 is also prone to enter flatspins, however this is at risk of getting shot before it loses control.

Landing is easy thanks to the low stall speed and lovely handling. Line up and approach the airstrip at treetop, decrease speed to at most 210 kph and deploy combat, takeoff and landing flaps in order. The touchdown speed should be no more than 140 kph to avoid bouncing up. Release brakes immediately as soon as the nose starts dipping down to avoid propeller strike.

Manual Engine Control

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Controllable Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Combined Not controllable
1 gear
Not controllable

Pros and cons

  • Extremely sharp control input allows it to turn sharply
  • Good manoeuvrability and nimble, can turn-fight other attackers / bombers like the SB series
  • Powerful selection of bombs, up to 450kg.
  • Fast BMW-132 radial engine
  • Can be used as a fighter-bomber after dropping payload. Very useful in tank RB
  • Although not effective, the MG-17 machine guns can decimate ground targets with a few bursts of fire
  • Bomber spawn in RB gives it altitude advantage over enemy fighters
  • Easy to rip your wings off when diving past 450 km/h
  • No gunner makes it defenceless when being chased.
  • Lack of self-sealing tanks makes it easily to burn down
  • Less manoeuvrable than proper biplane fighters like the I-15
  • Bad climb rate means gaining altitude after diving is hard

World War Photos

Hs 123 of the 1.(S)/LG 2 during Operation Barbarossa, Michalitzki August 1941 2 Camouflaged Henschel Hs 123B Prototype Henschel Hs 123 V-1 Hs 123 coded H
Henschel Hs 123 +V11 WNr 820 1937/38 Hs 123B 2732 white 8 KB+QA Flugzeugführerschule at Prostejov Crashed Henschel Hs 123 of Schlachtgeschwader 1 Hs 123 prototype V-1 D-ILUA
Henschel Hs 123A white 33 Dive bomber Hs 123 code L2+FN of LG2 during campaign in Poland Hs123A +B09 on a grass landing ground Henschel Hs 123 prototype V-5
Hs 123B of II Schlacht/LG2 Hs 123A and Heinkel He46 lined up for take-off. Ground support aircraft Henschel Hs 123, winter Crashed Hs 123 code “L” of SchG 1
Henschel Hs 123 with drop tank Sturzkampfflugzeug Hs 123A A-0/V-4 Hs 123 V-1 D-ILUA 2 Luftwaffe ground personnel prepare to start Hs 123 B
Hs123 of the 5/LG2 somewhere in Poland, September 1939 Destroyed Henschel Hs 123 Crashed Sturzkampfflugzeug Hs123B L2+BM of LG2 Henschel Hs 123B 1942 Russia
Henschel Hs 123 of the 1.(S)/LG 2 during Operation Barbarossa, Michalitzki August 1941 Hs 123 with winter camo Eastern Front

In the early 1930s, Luftwaffe’s command began to take an interest in planes capable of bombing from a diving flight. She therefore asked the German factory to design such an aircraft. This demand was responded to by Gerhard Fieseler GmbH of Kassel, which presented the design of Fieseler Fi 98 and Henschel Flugzeugwerke A. G. from Schönefeld, Berlin, which presented the design of the Henschel Hs 123 aircraft. The Luftwaffe command chose the Henschel Hs 123 aircraft design.
Henschel Hs 123 diving bomber was designed by Friedrich Nicolaus, chief factory designer. It was a biplane with all-metal construction, with an uncovered pilot cabin, a fixed undercarriage, armed with machine guns and bombs.
The first prototype labeled Hs 123V-1 with the BMW 132A-3 radial engine was successfully piloted by Ernst Udet on 8 May 1935. Two further V-2 and V-3 prototypes, which were armed with 2 machine guns, were tested at the Rechlin Experimental Centre and were destroyed during these trials. The cause of the accidents was too weak airframe construction, center-wing deformation and wing detachment. After strengthening the airframe, the fourth prototype V-4 was already performing superbly, performing almost vertically diving flights.
Prototype V-4 became the reference aircraft for the mass production of the Henschel Hs 123A aircraft, which began in 1936.
The serial production of the Hs 123A aircraft was completed in October 1938, during which 255 aircraft of this type were built.
In the autumn of 1936, Henschel Hs 123A planes were introduced to the Luftwaffe diving bombers units.
Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, then commander of Condor Legion, who took part in the civil war in Spain, heard positive feedback about this aeroplane and asked Luftwaffe’s command to send several planes to check them in the battlefield conditions. This proposal was accepted and in December 1936 the Condor Legion received 5 Henschel Hs 123A. The commander of Condor Legion, started to use them to support ground troops as assault planes. The aeroplane in assault operations confirmed its combat values, impressing with its effectiveness in destroying targets. Due to the achievements of these aircraft during the fighting, the Frankist air force ordered such aircraft, and in 1938 they received 11 aircraft of this type.
Following the Spanish fighting experience, the Luftwaffe command began using Henschel Hs 123A aircraft primarily as assault planes. In August 1938 two newly formed assault units were armed in airplanes of this type.
During campaign in September 1939, 40 Hs 123A aircraft were used, which were part of the 4th Air Fleet. During these fights, 3 aircraft of this type were destroyed and several were damaged.
These aeroplanes were also used in 1940 during fighting in Belgium and France. They survived on the eastern front until mid-1944, when they were completely destroyed in the battles.
12 machines were purchased by the Government of the Republic of China and were used during the Sino-Japanese war.

Henschel Hs-123

The Henschel Hs-123 was one of the world’s best fighter biplanes. It first saw action in the Spanish Civil War.

In World War II Henschel Hs-123 aircraft were used in Poland, France, the Balkans, and Russia.

The biplane developed a reputation as a sturdy tactical aircraft. It was used for ground attack until replaced by the Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber. Its air cooled engine and excellent ground handling ability, even from muddy runways, kept it in constant operational readiness during the Russian winter of 1941/42.

Lack of parts, rather than lack of usefulness, ended the career of the attack biplane in mid 1944 because all its jigs and tooling had been scrapped in 1938.

Primary Function:
Wingspan – upper:
Wingspan – lower:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Machine Guns:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Initial Climb:
First Flight:
Year Deployed
ground attack
880 hp
27′ 4″
34′ 6″
26′ 3″
3,320 lbs.
4,890 lbs.
2- 7.92 mm
2- 20 mm
1,000 lbs.
168 mph
210 mph
3,000 fpm
29,500 feet
535 miles

Radio Control Airplane

Tommie and his Henschel Hs-123 rc.

Radio Control Airplanes:

The rc Henschel Hs-123 certainly looks like it would make a good rc airplane, however we have not seen many modeled.

Donald Borton was kind enough to send us three of the rc Henschel Hs-123 pictures on this page and wrote to tell us: “Tommie, Hereford, TX has a 1/5 scale model of the rc Henschel Hs-123. Plans for the 1/5 scale rc airplane can be obtained from Uncle Willies Plans and Scale Plans & Photo Service.”

Thank you for writing to us Donald.

Pictured immediately above and in the first two pictures below is the fantastic giant scale Henschel Hs-123 built by Tommie of RC Universe from Uncle Willie’s Plans. It has a wingspan of 82″ and a length of 63″. Tommie uses a Tarus TS-52 engine. All up weight is 33 lbs.

You can find the rc Henschel HS 123 kit from Uncle Willies Plans for sale at Kit Cutters. Plans are available for sale separately.

The bottom picture is of the giant scale Henschel Hs 123 built from a kit for sale by Kit Cutters. It is a Don Smith design with a wingspan of 86″ that is 67″ long. Engines can be G-38 or larger.

RC Store has a Henschel Hs-123 Control Line Airplane for sale that can be converted to rc. Wing span is 34″ and length is 24″. Power can be a .29 to .35 engine.

If you know of any rc Henschel Hs-123 that should be here, please email us.

Radio Control Airplane

Henschel Hs-123 rc airplane.

Radio Control Airplane

Uncle Willies Plans rc Henschel Hs-123.

Radio Control Airplane

Don Smith giant scale Henschel Hs 123.

At You Tube kanwakyudaig posted a video of his scratch built Henschelel Hs-123 rc airplane. It has a 75″ wingspan weighs around 14 1/2 lbs. He powers it with a O.S. 1.20 engine.

At RC Universe blackpainter aka Reiner posted pictures of his rc Henschel HS123 from a Herold Modellbau kit. It has a 60″ wingspan. The kit is not longer being produced.

At RC Universe red1 mentions the Henschel Hs 123 in a posting.

In another posting at RC Universe red1 was asking about details of the Henschel Hs 123 biplane.

At RC Universe red 1 posted a link to information about the Henschel Hs 123.

At RC Universe red 1 was looking for an engine for the rc Henschel Hs 123.

At RC Groups georgeg mentions the Henschel Hs 123 in a posting.

Henschel Hs 123

Designed as an interim dive bomber until an aircraft of the Junkers Ju 87 class was available for squadron service, the prototype single-seat Hs 123 biplane first flew in 1935. Hs 123A-1 production aircraft entered Luftwaffe service from October of that year. In the following year a number were evaluated in Spain as an element of the Nationalist forces fighting in the Civil War. These proved particularly successful for ground attack. With the out-break of World War II many Hs 123 were still in first-line service with the Luftwaffe as ground-attack aircraft and these participated in the campaigns against Poland, Belgium, France and then Russia - where they continued to operate until the middle of 1944.

I am trying to find out if this rugged little biplane was used at all in 1940-1942 by either the Italians or Luftwaffe in raids against Malta or anti-shipping in the Mediterranean. Units? Color schemes / Thanks!

I'm interested to see the sure interesting structures of this aircraft.Is it possible? Thanks regards Lorenzo Fedeli

If anyone knows how many HS-123 were built please let me know. This little plane was not only the most beautiful biplane ever made but was almost indestructable.

Please E-mail me with the answer. All I know for sure is that the 1 /48 models (now Italeri, but same molds as always) have it wrong with those silly lumps.

That was a priviledged fun to fly the HS 123-- S13+a46 and HS123- S13+ B12 on Oct 28th and Nov 11th 1939 at Straubing. We were allowed to dive put the diving brakes out and press the button to activate the sirens.wlk

Did the Italians use the Hs 123? In the Malta campaign?

Another bit about the HS-123 is that its ability to operate from primitive airstrips proved so valuable in Russia that it was actually proposed that it be put back into production. However, all the dies had long since been destroyed.

I believe the dive bomber, especially the German Henschel Hs. 123 is neglected by historians with some interesting details lost and more hard to find. Not the first dive bomber but the first to prove the concept valuable in war.

From the day man realized it was going to be possible to fly airplanes there were discussions of dropping explosives on enemy fortifications. Right away they learned accuracy was going to be a major problem. World War 1 pilots realized aiming the plane at the target in a steep dive would improve accuracy. Dive bombing was tried but the airplanes were not sturdy enough to survive high gee pull outs from terminal velocity dives. The odds of survival were not good, the idea was discouraged until airplanes could be built for the stress. When the war to end all wars ended that good idea along many more faded quickly.

In the middle 1920s, in Nicaragua, the U.S. Marines attempted dive bombing to support troops cut off miles inland out of range of naval gunfire. It seems the airplanes were rugged enough while the bombing was terrible but the threat scared the rebels away. There was new interest in dive bombing.

In 1929 Curtiss offered a modified F8C biplane fighter for dive bombing trials. The navy called the design "O2C-1 Helldiver," and ordered several. US Navy and Marines pilots were quick to learn what they could do with them while asking for improvements that helped engineers design a better war bird. In 1933 Vought entered the competition with their SBU that looked a lot like their very able scout and observation O3U Corsair and their new two seat fighter XF3U. There were a few SBUs still in fleet service when Pearl Harbor was bombed but they were quickly passed to training squadrons. I have not found any information relating to the value of either the O2C or SBU as dive bombers. Evidently they were important in advancing technology but neither was quiet right for the job.

Until the 1929 stock market crash Ernst Udet was making a good living in America mostly as a consultant for war movies and exhibition pilot. It was not unusual for Aircraft companies ask him to show off new war bird designs. He wasn't starving after the stock market crash but had to settle for a modest life style. Germany was beginning to stabilize and rebuild her military forces. There might be a place for him in "The New Germany." Well aware of dive bomber development he managed to get money from Goring to buy at least two, some reports say four, Curtiss O2C dive bombers for show and tell in Germany. It seems the idea thrilled Goring and about that time, 1934 Curtiss announced the first airplane designed from start to finish as a specialized dive bomber, the SBC Helldiver, a two place biplane. Both Goring and Udet knew Germany could do at least as well but the O2Cs would be a good starting point.

The Henschel company built railroad steam engines and wanted to expand the business to build airplanes. They had tried, building a good looking, shoulder wing, single place monoplane. Performance was lacking. No orders were revived. Goring gave the company the job of studying the Curtiss O2C then building a better dive bomber. There was never any intention of relying on the Henschel plane for more than a way to put the company firmly into the aircraft business and provide Germany with an advanced trainer while a much better war bird was designed and produced.

Udet become chief procurement officer for the new Luftwaffe giving the dive-bomber program a high priority. Within 1935 Germany announced three new dive bombers, the Henschel Hs. 123, Blohm and Voss Ha. 137 and Junkers Ju. 87, "Stuka." Henschel had a running start with a working example to improve so there was very little research and development to take up time. They were delivering airplanes while the others were building prototype after prototype.

In 1936 Vought announced their new monoplane dive bomber. The SB2U Vindicator. That plane was a major step forward but came at a time when technology was expanding rapidly, all metal construction, new propellers and engines were making new airplanes obsolete within a few months. The Vought bird was hailed as a modern marvel but dropped into near obscurity by the time the first production models were delivered. Similar events were keeping the new German dive bombers from catching up with technology, prototypes were obsolete before they were finished. It was not worth producing them in significant numbers. Blohm and Voss dropped out of the competition when it was evident Goring and Udet favored Junkers. Henschel didn't have that problem. Goring thought of them as producing advanced trainers not world beating war birds.

The Spanish Civil War provided a proving ground Germany was quick to take advantage of and the little biplane bomber went along to out do all competition. Nobody took the matter seriously, knowing the Ju. 87 had to become superior then they would ret .

Are the louvers in the forward upper fuselage punched in or out? Please E-mail me with the answer. All I know for sure is that the 1 /48 models (now Italeri, but same molds as always) have it wrong with those silly lumps.



  1. Wolfric

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  2. Yunis

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  3. Groran


  4. Berg

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  5. Denton

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  6. Yozshuhn

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