No. 10162. Aero A-304 (S19) Czechoslovakian Air Force
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Aero A-304

11/30/2010. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "During 1936, the Továrna Letadel (Aircraft Factory) Aero at Prague-Vysocany, produced the prototype A-204 eight-passenger light commercial transport powered by two Walter Pollux IIR nine-cylinder radial engines rated at 400 hp for takeoff and having a maximum rating of 450 hp.

The promise evinced by the A-204 resulted, in 1937, in the Czechoslovak Ministry of National Defense placing an order for fifteen examples of a projected three-seat light reconnaissance-bomber derivative, designated
A-304. The pictured prototype was first flown in 1937 and deliveries commenced in the following year.

Although the basic structure of the commercial A-204 was retained unchanged, apart from some local strengthening, a glazed nose cone was introduced for the bombardier-observer, a manually-operated turret was provided in the upper decking of the rear fuselage housing a single 0.312 in (7.92 mm) machinegun, a similar weapon was mounted above a hatch in the fuselage floor, and a third was fixed to fire forward in the portside of the nose.

Racks were provided for a single 220.5 lb (100 kg) or 441 lb (200 kg) bomb beneath the fuselage and two 110 lb (50 kg) or six 22 lb (10 kg) or 44 lb (20 kg) bombs beneath the wings. Provision was made for the installation of one manually-operated reconnaissance camera in the nose and an automatic camera aft, and the Pollux engines were replaced by Walter Super-Castor
I-MR nine-cylinder radial air-cooled engines which were supercharged to give 460 hp for takeoff.

The A-304 was of mixed construction, the cantilever low-wing being a wooden structure with plywood skinning and the fuselage being a welded steel-tube structure with fabric covering. The duralumin landing flaps and the retractable main undercarriage members were hydraulically operated. All fuel was housed in the wings, total capacity being 244 gal (924 l), and provision was made for the installation of dual controls and a seat for a pupil to starboard of the pilot for the training role.

Delivery of the fifteen A-304s had been completed when German forces occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and the aircraft were promptly seized by the Luftwaffe. Several had all armament removed and were placed in service by the Flugzeugfuhrerschule (pilot school) A/B 71 at Prostejov, near Olomouc, in Moravia, and the remainder were supplied to the Buglarian Air Force in 1941 after Bulgaria signed the Axis Tripartite Pact, equipping a light reconnaissance-bomber squadron that was engaged on coastal patrol until 1943 when the surviving A-304s were relegated to the communications role.

Created November 30, 2010