Falcon Models FA724005 German Fieseler Fi 156C-2 Storch Reconnaissance Aircraft - Otto Skorzeny's Gran Sasso Raid, Italy, September 1943 (1:72 Scale)
"I knew that my friend would not forsake me!"
- Italian Dictator, Benito Mussolini, upon learning of the German rescue mission to free him from Campo Imperatore, September 1943
The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (stork) was a small German liaison aircraft built by Fieseler before and during World War II, and production continued in other countries into the 1950s for the private market. It remains famous to this day for its excellent STOL performance, and French-built later variants often appear at air shows.
In 1935, the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Reich Aviation Ministry) put out a tender for a new Luftwaffe aircraft suitable for liaison, army co-operation (today called Forward Air Control), and medical evacuation, to several companies. Conceived by chief designer Reinhold Mewes and technical director Erich Bachem, Fieseler's entry was by far the most advanced in terms of STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) performance. A fixed slat ran along the entire leading edge of the long wings, while the entire trailing edge, inspired by earlier 1930s Junkers "double-wing" aircraft wing control surface designs, including the ailerons, was a hinged and slotted flap.
In a design feature rare for land-based aircraft, the wings on the Storch could be folded back along the fuselage in a manner not unlike that of the US Navy's F4F Wildcat fighter, allowing it to be carried on a trailer or even towed slowly behind a vehicle. The primary hinge for folding the wing rearwards was located in the wing root, where the rear wing spar met the cabin area. The long legs of the main landing gear contained oil-and-spring shock absorbers that compressed about 450 mm (18 inches) on landing, allowing the plane to set down almost anywhere. In flight they hung down, giving the aircraft the appearance of a very long-legged, big-winged bird, hence its nickname, Storch. With its very low landing speed the Storch often appeared to land vertically, or even backwards, in strong winds from directly ahead.
A total of about 2,900 Fi 156s, mostly Cs, were produced from 1937 to 1945 at the Fieseler Factory in Kassel. In 1942 the production started in the Morane-Saulnier factory at Puteaux in France. Due to the demand for the Bf 109 and the Fw 190, the Storch production was shifted to the Leichtbau Budweis in Budweis in 1943.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Fieseler Fi 156C-2 Storch Reconnaissance Aircraft that was used by Otto Skorzeny's commandos in the Gran Sasso Raid, the rescue of the captured Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, during September 1943.
Length: 5-1/4 inches
Wingspan: 7-3/4 inches
Release Date: June 2012
Historical Account: "Operation Eiche" - The Gran Sasso raid refers to Operation Eiche (German for 'Oak'), the rescue of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini by German paratroopers and Waffen-SS commandos in September 1943, during World War II. It was personally ordered by Adolf Hitler, planned by Major Harald Mors and approved by General Kurt Student.
On July 25th, 1943, a few weeks after the allied invasion of Sicily and bombing of Rome, the Italian Grand Council of Fascism voted to depose Mussolini and replaced him with Marshal Pietro Badoglio. Mussolini was subsequently arrested on King Victor Emmanuel's orders.After his arrest, Mussolini was transported around Italy by his captors. Otto Skorzeny, selected personally by Hitler and Ernst Kaltenbrunner to carry out the rescue mission, tracked him.
Intercepting a coded Italian radio message, Skorzeny used his own reconnaissance to determine that Mussolini was being imprisoned at Campo Imperatore Hotel, a ski resort at Campo Imperatore in Italy's Gran Sasso, high in the Apennine Mountains. On September 12th, 1943, Skorzeny joined the teamled by Major Harald Morsto rescue Mussolini in a high-risk glider mission.
The operation on the ground at Campo Imperatore was led by Lieutenant Count Otto von Berlepsch, planned by Major Harald Mors and under orders from General Kurt Student, all Fallschirmjger (German Air Force Paratroopers) officers.
The commandos crashed their nine DFS 230 gliders into the nearby mountains, then overwhelmed Mussolini's captors without a single shot being fired. Skorzeny attacked the radio operator and his equipment, and formally greeted Mussolini with "Duce, the Fhrer has sent me to set you free!" to which Mussolini replied "I knew that my friend would not forsake me!" Mussolini was first flown from Campo Imperatore in a Luftwaffe Fieseler Fi 156C-3/Trop Storch STOL liaison aircraft, Werknummer (serial number) 1268, initially flown in by Captain Walter Gerlach, then taking off with Mussolini and Skorzeny (even though the weight of an extra passenger almost caused the tiny plane to crash) then on to Vienna, where Mussolini stayed overnight at the Hotel Imperial and was given a hero's welcome. The Storch involved in rescuing Mussolini bore the radio code letters, or Stammkennzeichen, of "SJ + LL" in motion picture coverage, for propaganda purposes, of the daring rescue.