Designed in 1935, the Storch was widely used during World War II by German military forces for reconnaissance, liaison and aeromedical transport. High-ranking officers also used Fi 156s as personal transports. Notable features of the Storch included its good maneuverability, extremely low stalling speed of 32 mph, and excellent short field takeoff and landing characteristics. Between 1937 and 1945, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) accepted almost 2,900 Fi 156s.
Other countries using the Fi 156 included Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy. The most famous Storch mission was the hazardous rescue of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1943 from a tiny rock-strewn plateau at a remote lodge high in the Apennine Mountains.
This aircraft is painted as the Storch used by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa. Built in 1940, it was exported to Sweden where it remained until 1948. The last German to fly it before its acquisition by the donors in 1973 was German WWII ace Erich Hartmann.
The aircraft on display was donated to the museum by Lt. Col. Perry A. Schreffler and Maj. Robert C. Van Ausdell, Santa Paula, Calif., and delivered to the museum in 1974.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Engine: One Argus As 10C-3 of 240 hp
Maximum speed: 109 mph Cruising speed: 93 mph Range: 238 miles Ceiling: 17,300 ft. Span: 46 ft. 9 in. Length: 32 ft. 6 in. Height: 10 ft. Weight: 2,904 lbs. maximum