The Hs 126 was designed by Dipl.-Ing. Fr. Nicolaus of the Henschel Flugzeugwerke as a tactical reconnaissance and army co-operations aircraft. The aircraft was derived from the Hs 122, in fact the first prototype was a modified Hs 122 B-0. This Hs 126 V1 (V = Versuchsflugzeug, test aircraft) was fitted with a 610 hp Junkers Jumo 210C 12-cylinder liquid-cooled inverted V-engine and flew for the first time early in 1937.
The following prototype Hs 126 V2 was fitted with the originally planned 850 hp Bramo 323A-1 Fafnir nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine. Also it differed from the V1 in having an exhaust driven two-stage supercharger, an enlarged rudder, and extra tail plane braces. The Hs 126 V3 further had a redesigned tail plane and landing gear.
Ten pre-production Hs 126 A-0 similar to the Hs 126 V3 were built and delivered before the end of 1937. There success in operational use speeded the production and already in early 1938 the first Hs 126 A-1 were delivered to the Luftwaffe. The A-1 was fitted with the 880 hp BMW 132Dc nine cylinder air cooled direct injection radial engine as the intended Bramo 323 Fafnir was restricted. In late 1939 the Hs 126 B-1 was in production fitted with the Bramo 323 Fafnir in the 850 hp A-1 or Q-1, or in the 900 hp A-2 or Q-2 engine variants; and with improved equipment.
The armament consisted of two on the starboard side mounted 0.312 in (7.92 mm) machineguns: a fixed forward firing MG 17 and a flexible MG 15 in the gunner/observer position, this gun had a recess in fuselage when not in use. Further a bomb of 110 lb (50 kg) could be fitted below the port fuselage; an equipment bay could hold a bomb load of ten 22 lb (10 kg) bombs, or a Zeiss Rb topographic camera, or a smoke-screen apparatus.
The parasol-winged monoplane was of all metal, stressed skin construction, with fabric-covered control surfaces. The tandem-seated crew had covered a cockpit with a forward sliding hood over the gunner/observer position. The aircraft had excellent slow speed flight and short field characteristics; for rough muddy field operations often the wheel spats were removed. The aircraft was well equipped, this also allowing night operations.
The Condor Legion used 6 Hs 126 A-1 in Spain, after the operations they were handed over to the Nationalist AF. Greece received 16 Hs 126 A-1 and used them against the Italian and ironically the German forces during their campaigns against Greece. A total of 476 Hs 126 have been built, another source reports a figure of around 800 units being manufactured.
The Hs 126 was in German use from 1938 to 1945, until 1942 as the standard tactical reconnaissance aircraft seeing action on all fronts as it equipped 80% of its type-units. After than it was used as glider-tug and it played a role in night ground-attacks against partisans.
modified Hs 122B-0 airframe; 1 built
prototypes; 2 built
pre-production; 10 built
initial production; 65 built
re-engined A-1; 65 built
Specifications (Hs 126 B-1)
Max T/O weight:
tactical reconnaissance and army co-operations aircraft
One 850 or 900 hp Bramo 323 Fafnir nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
47 ft 6.9 in (14.50 m)
35 ft 7.2 in (10.85 m)
12 ft 3.6 in (3.75 m)
340 sq.ft (31.6 sq.m)
4,475 lb (2,030 kg)
7,209 lb (3,270 kg)
221 mph (355 km/h) at 9,843 ft (3,000 m)
1,873 ft (571 m)/min
27,018 ft (8,235 m)
438 mls (705 km)