Author Topic: Stealing the Stuka  (Read 22611 times)

Offline elmayerle

  • Its about time there was an Avatar shown here...
  • ‹ber least that is what he tells us.
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #195 on: August 31, 2017, 09:23:20 AM »
Very nice installment as matters come full circle.  I wonder if Argentina will use the Hansa Jet for military purposes (ECM, recce, etc.)?

Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #196 on: September 03, 2017, 07:00:25 AM »
A fine ending to a great tale!

"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • Reinvented Austria.....Now reinventing the Stuka
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #197 on: September 04, 2017, 12:15:22 AM »
Southern Salvation

Johannes Steinhoff recalls:

"It was sad to see Jochen leave the Luftwaffe at the end of the Hansa Jet testing, but I couldn't blame him. There wasn't a lot of new aircraft to test at the time in Germany and HFB, the maker of the Hansa Jet, had offered Jochen a very generous and lucrative contract to be part of the aircraft's sales tour in the Americas in 1968. The military couldn't hope to pay him what HFB was offering.

In the time he served in the post war Luftwaffe, he had redeemed himself of his reckless youth many times over, I never regretted giving him another chance and was happy to shake his hand and wish him well on his departure from the service."

After a whirlwind of briefings at the HFB offices in Hamburg, Jochen and the rest of the Hansa Jet sales tour team embarked on their journey.

"Thankfully, the HFB management agreed with me when I pushed to start the sales tour in South America. South America was my comfort zone, but I honestly felt that trying to sell the Hansa Jet in North America should be a second priority as the early members of the Learjet family had a firm hold on the market there. While the Learjets had made their way to South America, they were not as prevalent and I felt we had a better chance to sell the Hansa Jet there.

Corporate aircraft were a big thing at the time and we had some stiff competition while trying to promote our aircraft. The aforementioned Learjets as well as the Hawker Siddeley HS-125 from Great Britain, the Dassault Falcon 20 from France and the very new Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante turboprop from Brasil were all vying for sales in the Americas.

The Hansa Jet not only had its work cut out for it against the competition, but a rash of accidents with the type in Germany occured while we were on tour and the news made its way across the Atlantic. People seemed more interested in the accidents than asking about the aircraft. Beyond telling them that flying an aircraft with forward swept wings took some getting used to, I couldn't tell them much as HFB wasn't telling me much.

Fortunately, Argentina was the first stop and it was easy to generate interest there as they were very eager to divest themselves of their remaining fleet of Beech C-45 aircraft with something modern. Thankfully, I still had many influential connections in both the Argentine government and at FMA and was successfully able to allay their fears about the Hansa Jet's safety.

The Chilean leg of the tour also went quite well as did our stops in Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay. We didn't expect much in Brasil as the EMB 110 Bandeirante was essentially a state run project that we felt we had little chance of winning against in fair competition.

We came away from the South American leg of the tour with a respectable number of firm orders and strong interest on FMA's part to secure a production license for the type.

Central America and the Carribean resulted in no orders. North America, as expected, also resulted in no orders; our American, British and French competitors had effectively locked us out of the North American market.

As we headed back south towards Argentina, we stopped for fuel at a Mexican air force base in Oaxaca state. On approach, I noted a large lot to the side of the base with a number of closely parked Yarara fuselages in it and their wings piled up a short distance away. As it turned out, they had been the last Yararas in military service anywhere and had been retired only a few months before. As we waited for our aircraft to be fuelled, a pair of Lockheed RT-33 aircraft taxied past on their way to the runway. The reconnaissance version of the Lockheed aircraft was Mexico's replacement for their last Yararas.

I was not allowed to get close to the Yararas, but was told that the bulk of them would be scrapped save for one or two earmarked for museums and one to be used as a gate guard at the base.

Fully fuelled, we continued to Argentina and set down in Cordoba to discuss a Hansa Jet production license for FMA in more detail.

By the time we arrived back in Argentina, much had changed with regards to HFB in a business sense. A merger with Messerschmitt-BŲlkow-Blohm was looming large and the Hansa Jet was not garnering much interest in Europe due to the percieved safety issues following the accidents.

Shortly after we returned to Germany, an Argentine delegation visited the Hansa Jet production line and did the final paperwork to secure a production license.

New Horizons

I didn't stay in Germany long after my contract with HFB was concluded. FMA had offered me a test pilot job on a new project while I was there and I was only too happy to pack my bags and return to what had become my second homeland.

After settling in in my new residence, I went to work at the FMA facilities in Cordoba. As I was entering the building, a Yarara flew overhead faster than I'd ever seen one go before. I couldn't identify the engine by sound, but it was clearly a turboprop and a quite powerful one at that.

I was shown the general arrangement drawings for FMA's new project, called the PucarŠ, at a briefing shortly after I arrived. It was a twin turboprop attack aircraft built around four 20mm cannons. It was ultimately intended to take the equally new Hispano Argentina Caiman engine, which had powered the Yarara I'd seen upon my arrival, as its power source.

On the factory floor, the prototype aircraft was equiped with Turbomeca Astazou engines for flight testing while the Caimans were going through testing on the Yarara.

The PucarŠ was an imposing machine just to walk around and I was both eager and honoured to be involved with it. As several of my old Yarara testing program friends were still employed at FMA and in the PucarŠ project, it was easy enough to get settled into the bigger team and get to business.

The PucarŠ went into the air for the first time in August of 1969 and flew very well under the power of the Aztazou engines. While I did not take the aircraft on its maiden flight, I got many hours on it and liked it very much. It would fill the gap left by the Yarara very well, I was sure.

By December of 1969, the PucarŠ and the Caiman were ready for their first flight together and what a flight it was!

I had worked myself up on Caiman operations in the Yararas and was selected to take the PucarŠ up on its first Caiman powered flight. The extra power the Caiman had over the Aztazou became immediately apparent and the aircraft responded beautifully to the increase. I think they could not have hit upon a better combination of aircraft and engine considering what the PucarŠ was intended to do.

After a few more flights to make sure the aircraft and engine really worked well, we were cleared for more aerobatic flying. I put it through rolls, loops and climbs without a hitch and it recovered from steep dives easily.

The aircraft did just as well in weapons tests. It was, in fact, during the weapons testing that I got the chance to do something I had been wanting to do for a very long time.

As I rolled the aircraft into position for a cannon firing run on the range, I chose a tired looking Gloster Meteor as my target. I could have chosen one of the two Yararas also set out on the range, but I'd been wanting to put holes into a Meteor for too long.

As my gunsight encroached on the nose of the Meteor, I pressed the firing button and unleashed a blast of 20mm along the full length of its fuselage.

Later, we went out to the range to inspect the damage and I have to say I was very satisfied with what the PucarŠ's guns had done."

The Snake's Last Hiss

With the Caiman approved for production, the two elderly Yararas the FMA had kept on hand for testing had flown their last. Jochen recalls:

"It was a gorgeous day when delegates from the Argentine air force and navy as well as many Yarara veterans assembled at the airport in Cordoba.

The military delegation were there to see the future of Argentine ground attack while many others were there to see their old mount fly for what seemed like the very last time.

Despite my optimism and liking for the PucarŠ, I chose to fly a Yarara that day out of nostalgia.

I was part of a pair of Yararas that took off just ahead of a PucarŠ. We all formed up and flew down the length of the Cordoba runway with the PucarŠ in the lead and a Yarara on either side. We did a series of flypasts, much to the delight of the crowd.

For the final flypast, the Yararas broke formation in opposite directions, leaving the PucarŠ to do a solo knife edge pass in front of the assembled crowd.

All three aircraft returned to the ground and were parked in front of the crowd. Chamagne was opened, hands were shaken, a few tears rolled down nostalgic cheeks and the Yarara was done."


That's the end of the story. Thanks so much to those who stayed with it.

I'll set to work on something of an epilogue soonish.

« Last Edit: September 04, 2017, 01:24:10 AM by upnorth »
Pickled Wings, A Blog for Preserved Aircraft:

Beyond Prague, Traveling the Rest of the Czech Republic: