The Focke-Wulf Fw 44 'Stieglitz' (Goldfinch) was a sports and primary training aircraft that helped establish Focke-Wulf as a major aircraft manufacturer. Focke-Wulf had been producing aircraft since 1924, although with limited success. The key to their eventual success was the merger with the Albatros-Flugzeugwerke in 1931, and the appointment of Kurt Tank to head to the design and flight testing teams.
Work on the Fw 44 began in the same year. The aircraft was a single-bay biplane, with a steel tube fuselage, covered with metal from the nose to the rear cockpit, and then with fabric, while the wings had a wooden structure and a mix of fabric and plywood covering.
The prototype Fw 44A made its maiden flight in the summer of 1932, and was not a great success. This was where Kurt Tank's skills came to the fore. Acting as his own test pilot he ironed out the flaws to produce a sturdy aircraft with excellent handling characteristics.
The Fw 44 was used by the Luftwaffe's pilot training units throughout the Second World War, serving with FFS A/B 4, 14, 23, 43, 51, 72, 112, 113, 125 and C 22, as well as at the Officer Candidate School at Neukuhren. It was also briefly used as interim equipment by JG 134 'Horst Wessel' before the arrival of their He 51s.
The Fw 44 became most famous as an acrobatic display aircraft, helping to make the names of Gerd Achgelis, Ernst Udet and Emil Kopf, as well as of the Focke-Wulf company. As well as the large German orders the Fw 44 was sold to Bolivia, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Romania, Switzerland and produced under licence in Austria, Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil and Sweden.
The fuselage of the Fw 44 was used as the basis for the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 helicopter.
The Fw 44A was the prototype, and was powered by a 150hp Siemens Sh14a engine. It made its maiden flight in the summer of 1932, and was used for flight tets.
The first production version of the aircraft, the Fw 44B was powered by a 120hp Argus As 8 four-cylinder inline engine, which gave it a more streamlined nose than the Siemens powered versions. Only a small number were produced.
The Fw 44C was the main production version of the aircraft. It reverted to the 150hp Siemens Sh14a engine
Engine: Siemens Sh 14a seven-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
Crew: 2 (pilot and pupil)
Wing span: 29ft 6in
Length: 23ft 11in
Height: 8ft 10in
Empty Weight: 1,158lb
Loaded Weight: 1,919lb
Max Speed: 115mph at sea level
Cruising Speed: 107mph
Service Ceiling: 12,792ft