The Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Stösser (Falcon) was an advanced training aircraft that was used at German fighter pilot schools throughout the Second World War.
The Fw 56 was designed during 1933 in response to an Air Ministry requirement for an advanced trainer. It was a parasol wing monoplane with a fixed undercarriage, and built around a steel-tube fuselage with metal and fabric covering.
The first prototype made its maiden flight in November 1933. It had a wing built with a wooden structure and covered with plywood and fabric. Tests revealed problems with the undercarriage, and so the landing gear was replaced on V2, the second prototype. This also had an all-metal wing. V3 followed in February 1934, with the original wooden wing and a modified undercarriage. The prototypes were followed by three A-0 series pre-production series, two armed with two 7.92mm machine guns and three 22lb practices bombs while the third carried a single gun.
In the summer of 1935 the Fw 56 competed against the Arado Ar 76 and Heinkel He 74 to win a production contract as a home defence fighter and advanced trainer. The Fw 56 won the competition, and was ordered into production in the advanced trainer role.
During 1935 the Fw 56 was also used by Ernst Udet to test out dive bombing. It was a sturdy aircraft with clean lines that gave it a high diving speed and allowed it to survive the pull-out. Udet had seen a demonstration of dive bombing by a Curtiss Helldiver in the United States, and carried out the 1935 tests with the Fw 56 in person. In the next year, as head of the RLM's technical department, Udet was able to put his support for the dive-bomber into practice.
Between 1934 and 1940 around 1,000 Fw 56A-1a were produced, able to carry one or two 7.9mm machine guns. The aircraft was used at the Luftwaffe's fighter-pilot training schools through the Second World War, as well as serving in the Austrian and Hungarian Air Forces and for experiments in towing gliders and to help develop the idea of the 'piggy back' mistal concept, acting as the upper part of a Fw 56/ DFS 230 combination.
Engine: Argus As 10C Series III eight-cylinder inverted-Vee air-cooled engine
Wing span: 34ft 7in
Length: 25ft 1in
Height: 8ft 4in
Empty Weight: 1,477lb
Loaded Weight: 2,171lb
Max Speed: 166mph at sea level
Cruising Speed: 152mph at sea level
Service Ceiling: 20,340ft
Climb rate: 1,650ft/ minute
Armament: Two 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns
Bomb-load: Three 22lb bombs