How many men can one stork carry?

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gebhk
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How many men can one stork carry?

Post by gebhk » 13 Aug 2022 15:15

No, not an obstetric question but one relating to the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch :o

On a short hop, what was the maximum number of men and their combat gear that one Storch could carry besides the pilot? I have been given/found conflicting information that it was one seated; one seated plus one lying in the tail-section of the fuselage (for a total of two); two seated (for a total of two) and two seated plus one lying in the tail section fo the fuselage (for a total of three). Which is correct?

I appreciate this is a bizarre question. It relates to the invasion of Luxembourg in 1940 which we are soon to present as a wargame. As part of the invasion, a detachment of 125 volunteers from the 34th Infantry Division, the Luftlandekommando Hedderich, was landed ahead of the advancing German troops by Storch aircraft to deny the French the use of strategic road junctions in the south-west of Luxembourg.

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Ponury
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by Ponury » 13 Aug 2022 20:19

And the use of storch after the release of Mussolini in 1943 is the famous photo, as the pilot, Mussolini and Major SS Skorzena got into the aircraft :) The plane was barely started. A maximum of three people?
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von thoma
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by von thoma » 13 Aug 2022 22:30

The plane was barely started. A maximum of three people ?
The specifications of the aircraft speak of a pilot and a passenger only, but not complying with this may affect security
Fieseler Fi 156 is a very light airplane.

Pilot Heinrich Gerlach was reluctant to take the 6-foot 4-inch commando leader aboard but finally did so, wedging Skorzeny
into the luggage space behind Mussolini in the passenger seat.
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

gebhk
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by gebhk » 13 Aug 2022 22:36

Thanks Ponury

I take it that you vote for max 2 passengers?

My only question is that, as I recall, the main problem with the Mussolini rescue take-off was that the 'runway' was exceedingly short - shorter than what would be considered sensible for the plane. This meant that the plane needed to be as light as possible and that is what would have made the not inconsiderable bulk of OS a potential embarassment while the Luiftlandekomando Hederich would have been taking off a normal airfield. Also, I am guessing (I confess I haven't measured it!) that the Pratica di Mare to Gran Sasso round trip was longer than that of the Luxembourg op, so some savings in weight may have been made by reducing the amount of fuel carried in the latter case?

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hucks216
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by hucks216 » 14 Aug 2022 13:45

For Operation NiWi in May 1940 the Storch aircraft flew with a pilot and two soldiers. With 400 men of Inf.Rgt GD and 98 Storch available they had to fly in two waves.

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Takao
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by Takao » 14 Aug 2022 15:32

Luftlandekommando Hedderich used 25 Storch aircraft, and needed 3 lifts/waves.

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Ponury
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by Ponury » 14 Aug 2022 19:23

gebhk wrote:
13 Aug 2022 22:36

I take it that you vote for max 2 passengers?
Max 3 :)

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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by gebhk » 14 Aug 2022 21:26

Thanks gentles

The numbers for both the NiWi and Luxembourg op strongly support the 2 passengers option and I have assumed the second passenger would sit on the folding rear gunners seat.

Ooops, edit. :oops: I have just found Tigre's write-up of this op based on Piekalkiewicz, 34 Infantry Division history and Bikar. He says 3 men (a flight leader and two men) were carried in each aircraft of the first and second waves. The third wave mainly carried equipment and ammunition.

That suggests we are back to two passengers seated and the third lying in the back end of the fuselage. Couldn't have been comfortable!

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hucks216
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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by hucks216 » 14 Aug 2022 22:06

Unless flight leader means pilot? Would every aircraft have a flight leader if not, considering they had the same objectives?

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Re: How many men can one stork carry?

Post by gebhk » 15 Aug 2022 08:56

From the context it is very clear that 'flight leader' means one of the assault troops not the pilot. In my experience no army under the sun tolerates a situation, however small and for however short a time, where a pecking order is not established :wink: . The thinking no doubt being that while the flights may have the same objectives but what happens if the flight becomes separated form the rest? Mathematically, also, if only 2 passengers were carried in the first two lifts, the third would also have carried much the same number of men instead of 'mainly equipment'.

Interestingly, Tigre provides a breakdown of the teams, each of 25 men (1 officer, 4 NCOs [including one pioneer NCO], 20 elnlisted). Each team consisted of an officer, 4 MG teams, an anti-tank rifle, 7 pioneers with 70 T mines, 2 boxes of explosives and hand tools: 5 axes, 3 big saws, 5 hoes (I think he means spades) and 3 pickaxes (basically gear for building barricades and entrenchments - the task of the pioneers was to build a hedgehog position as soon as they landed), with the balance made up of riflemen. With the addition of 16K rounds of ammo, the amount of extra gear was considerable. I expect some additional supplies such as food were also necessary.

Each 25-man assault group arrived in three lifts by 5 planes. The first lift delivered 2 MGs and most of the pioneers with T mines (and, I presume, the group leader). The second lift, the other 2 MGs and most of the remaining riflemen. Don't know about the anti-tank rifle.

And let's not forget that not all the Storks managed to do all three lifts. A number sustained damage on landing or take-off and were given Viking funerals by their pilots. With just 5 aircraft allocated to each assault group, the loss of even one would have made a significant dent in the delivery itinerary. This must have been vectored into the calculations. No doubt the deficit could be and probably was made up by some planes doing 4 rather than 3 round trips, but this must have caused significant delay. No doubt, therefore, that as always much of the most vital equipment would have been packed into the first lift, the one most likely to be delivered complete and on time.

My best guess for internal organisation of each assualt group
• HQ: CO, NCO 2 i/c (2)
• 1st squad: NCO, 2x lmg (team leader, gunner, ammo number) (7)
• 2nd squad: NCO, 2x lmg (team leader, gunner, ammo number) (7)
• Pioneer squad: NCO, 6 pioneers (70 T mines, 2 boxes explosives, 5 axes, 3 big saws, 5 spades and 3 pickaxes) (7)
• Anti tank rifle: gunner, ammo number (2)

And based on that, division into lifts as follows:
• 1st lift: CO, 1st squad (7), 5 pioneers with T mines
• 2nd lift: 2 i/c, 2nd squad (7), AT rifle (2), equipment
• 3rd lift: 2 pioneers, balance of equipment and supplies

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