Taking the Hs 123 back in production during WW2 ?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Civettone, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    #1 Civettone, Dec 4, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
    [​IMG]
    I am a big fan of the Hs 123. Even though few were built they served in WW2 under the harshest conditions until 1944. They were simple rugged low flying ground support aircraft though initially used as a dive bomber.

    Its armament was a single 250 kg bomb underneath the fuselage or four 50 kg bombs under the wings and a fuel tank under the fuselage. Or a 20mm pod could be installed under each wing, thereby supplementing the two synchronized light 7.92mm MGs.

    The greatest tribute to the Hs 123 usefulness came in January 1943 when Generaloberst Wolfram 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.
    (from wiki)

    Of course he was not calling the shots but I am sure that if Hitler had ordered producing it again, that is what would have happened. The aircraft was well known and even though it would have taken some time to develop the jigs and set up a new production line, the development of the aircraft had already been done.
    The new aircraft would probably have been the Hs 123C with a closed cockpit, armoured headrest and the stronger BMW 132K engine.

    One might wonder as to why the Hs 123 would be taken back in production when the Hs 129, Ju 87 and even Fw 190F could do the job even better. The answer to that is simply economics. The Hs 123 was a very simple, easy to produce, operate and maintain aircraft which weight around 2 ton (compared to the 5 tons of the Ju 87) and had a very high survivability rate. It could also be an excellent night harassment aircraft in the West.

    One personal idea I have been thinking of is to install a 30mm MK 103 underneath the fuselage. As the Hs 123 could carry a 250 kg bomb it could also carry this gun. The MK 103 was sufficient to penetrate most of the Russian armored vehicles. The gun could also be dropped in case of an emergency after which the nimble Hs 123 could rather easily lose its opponent.

    Kris
     
  2. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    I've always liked the lines of this plane. Intersting thought, however, when considering the trend through the course of the war on both sides toward faster, more powerful aircraft, it's doubtfull that the ruggedness and serviceablity of this machine alone could have justified continued production. Production facilities should have been geared toward producing more units of fewer types and focusing on fighters and fast ground attack planes. The Eastern Front gradually saw better, more numerous, and better flown fighters on the Russian side and I'm sure the losses of the ground attack aircraft would have been much higher had the 123 taken the place of say more Fw-190's doing a similar role.

    Thanks for the post. I'm sure this will be well debated.
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #3 Shortround6, Dec 4, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
    Well the 30mm MK 103 under the fuselage is a non- starter, they couldn't syncro it to fire through the propeller.
    But the Hs 123 also used custer munitions of which the Luftwaffe had a great number (at least cataloged if not in actual inventory) With a cluster bomb under each wing holding 40-90 hollow charge bomblets it wouldn't take that many Hs 123s to make things interesting for a Russian tank formation.

    THe ability of a plane to take-off in muddy or snowy conditions may beat a must faster, heavier armed plane that is stuck on the runway.
     
  4. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    I think it would have a hard time losing most enemy fighters purely because of its slow speed. It could dodge very well alright, being as nimble as it was, but it would only be delaying the inevitable. A Yak fighter would've made mince meat of it.
     
  5. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    #5 Civettone, Dec 4, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
    Thanks for the encouragement :)
    There was indeed a trend to heavier and faster aircraft. Yet, the Hs 123 remained succesful until 1944. Taking a look at the losses by Schlachtflugzeugen on the Eastern Front in 1944 shows a truly remarkable low number of losses ! This also applies to the Hs 129 and Ju 87 which were easier targets for the Russian fighters.

    I was in fact thinking of production. It is a cheap alternative to these heavier aircraft as the emphasis was going to bombers and (night) fighters. Building expensive Fw 190Fs for the Russian front or for night harrassment in Italy seems to be too much to ask.

    Thanks Shortround, I was wondering about that. Can you elaborate on the MK 103 syncro? I know the Fw 190 had a problem with it but this was because of the different priming IIRC. Does it also apply to the MK 101?

    And about the SD-2 bombs, the Germans realized that the cannon (and later rocket) was far superior as it was more accurate. Also, I think it works better against tank formations - as you said - but these were dangerous to attack and the Germans seem to have focused on single tanks or tanks in a convoy.

    Fewer Hs 123s were lost to enemy aircraft than the Ju 87. But in general attack aircraft losses to enemy fighters was rather low especially compared to the Western Front. The Hs 123 proved to be very difficult to shoot down because it was more manoeuvrable than any fighter (unless they would crank up an old I-153). It was also rugged and could take quite a bit of punishment.

    I do consider both the Ju 87 as Hs 129 to be superior attack aircraft. But the Hs 123 is a cheap solution while production would mainly go to fighter aircraft.
    Kris
     
  6. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    I have no doubt in the fact that the Hs123 was very nimble and rugged, but its slow speed would mean it could never hope to escape enemy fighters but at best hope to throw them off enough times so as to either have them spend all their ammunition or gain enough time for friendly fighters to come in and help. But then again, a Hs129 or Ju-87 wasnt going to outrun any fighter either.
     
  7. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I don't know if it works that way Soren. Because then you are also saying that the more nimble fighter would only delay the inevitable: the power fighter would climb and attack again and again. And you know that is not how it worked. Most attacks were single passes after which the opportunity was gone.


    Kris
     
  8. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    #8 Soren, Dec 4, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
    In fighter vs fighter scenarios often just a single pass was used, that's true. But here we're talking about a very slow ground attack aircraft, a biplane infact, who's only defence is turning out of the way, it has no rear gunner and very little armour. So it is no fighter vs fighter battle. But I'm neither saying that a nimble fighter will always loose to a power fighter, far from it, but again this is no fighter vs fighter scenario.

    Furthermore attacks on enemy ground attack aircraft were most often not just single passes, they often lasted for several passes until the victim was finally shot down.
     
  9. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Are you looking at straight numbers or percentages? How many of these types were flying in 1944? If there are only a few dozen around, and 5 are lost, the loss of five aircraft sounds like a "remarkably low number" but as a percent, it's pretty bad. I don't have the figures but would be interested in knowing. Same for the 129's and Stukas.
     
  10. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Soren, I agree.
    Also note that low speed at this point actually becomes an advantage.

    Of course I am talking percentage wise ...
    And same for the Panzerknackers and Stukas.

    Kris
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I'm about to hijack the thread :)

    The Do-17 adapted for down dirty attacks could be a more viable idea.
    It used non-strategic engines*, the twin layout allowed for wide assortment of cannon armament, and the dorsal turret featuring MG-151 would provide a nice punch. Of course, a crew of two in an armored crew department is a must. Some under-wing rockets would make it a good all-round ground attack plane.

    *and not the troublesome G&R ones
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Might not solve the the muddy runway problem.:)
     
  13. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Nooooooo !!!!!! :cry:


    But anyway, the GR 14Ms were not troublesome but very reliable. They got their bad reputation from North Africa but problems were solved by sand filters.
    And the Do 17 is not really that cheap ... what is really needed is a cheap and expendable aircraft.


    And no, I am not going to discuss this here with you Tomislav. Start your own damn thread !! :p
    Kris
     
  14. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Well if the enemy fighter holds full throttle then yeah, but I doubt he will against a foe which can't even reach half his top speed. If I was in a Yak for example, I'd throttle down, slip in behind and fire a burst. If I'm lucky the first burst will bring the Hs123 down (biplanes usually can't take much in the way gun fire). If not and the Hs123 turns sharplyaway then I'll simply throttle up, climb away, look around to see if any enemy fighters are around, if not then target him again and go in for another pass.
     
  15. Burmese Bandit

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    I am a 123 fan and I totally agree that the 123 should have been put back into production.

    With a few twists. A rear gunner (not just for gunnery, as I said before, his eyes are more valuable than his gun) protection by at leas a few 109s for each Geschwader of 123s, spin stablized rocket aramament, and retractable landing gear. Engine can continue to be the BMW 132 K.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    But then you don't have a 123.

    The 123s may have been operating a fair bit at night in1943/44.

    Retractable landing gear isn't going to give enough speed to save the plane vrs a real fighter. It will increase cost, increase maintainence, and quite possible decrease the ability to operate from really crappy airstrips. ( pull wheel cowlings and fit bigger tires to fixed gear aircraft).

    Some sort of rockets would be a good idea though:)
     
  17. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    How about fitting a rocket motor in the back to be used in an emergency to pull away from enemy fighters ??? :lol: *Seeya suuckers!!* :p

    No I like the idea of bringing the Hs 123 back, mainly because it's cheap, but it needs some modifications first (No, not a rocket ;) ). Overall though the Ju-87 is a much better choice.
     
  18. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Shortround, can you please elaborate on what you said about the MK 103 not being able to be synchro ??


    Kris
     
  19. Burmese Bandit

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    OK, I'll explain. For a full technical explanation, go to Tony Williams' website. Short answer, as you go up into larger and larger cartridges, the variablility in burning time for the propellant in that cartridge makes the exit time for the shell from the barrel more and more unpredictable, which means that there is a real danger that sooner or later one of the shells could hit the propeller.
     
  20. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    I think the Hs 123 should have been left in production. It had a different role than the Ju-87 and the two should not have been confused with each other. The Hs 123 was a cheap, tough, strafing machine that could get in close and act as a force multiplier for the wermacht.
     
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