The Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe (Kite) was a twin-engined aircraft that was used as a light transport, air-ambulance and navigational trainer by the Luftwaffe.
The Fw 58 was designed to the same specification as the less successful Arado Ar 77. It was powered by two 240hp Argus As 10C eight-cylinder inverted V engines, carried in nacelles mounted below the low-mounted wings. The wings were semi-cantilevered, with most of their support structured carried within the wings, but with struts linking the top of the engine nacelles to the fuselage. The high-mounted tail was braced from below. The aircraft has a welded steel-tube fuselage, with a mix of fabric and metal covering. The wings had a metal frame with fabric covering behind the main spar. The main undercarriage wheels retracted into the nacelles.
The first prototype, the Fw 58 V1, made its maiden flight in the summer of 1935. It was a six-seat transport aircraft with a smooth streamlined nose. The second prototype, Fw 58 V2, was to have been the precursor to the military A-series. It had two open gun positions, one in the nose and one just behind the cabin, each carrying a single MG 15 7.9mm machine gun.
The fourth prototype, Fw 58 V3, was the precursor to the first production series, the Fw 58B. The V3 had a glazed nose capable of carrying an MG 15 machine gun, and retained the open dorsal gun position. The Fw 58 B-1 was the first version to be produced for the Luftwaffe. It could carry the same guns as the V3, as well as a number of bombs on racks under the wings.
The most numerous version of the aircraft was the Fw 58C. This was a six-seat light transport aircraft with a faired-in nose, and no guns. It was based on the eleventh prototype and served in large numbers with the Luftwaffe and small numbers with Lufthansa.
Around 1,350 Fw 58s were produced. Some were exported to Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden and the type was produced under licence in Brazil.
In German service the Fw 58 was used as a crew trainer, particularly in navigation, as a communications aircraft, an air-ambulance and as a light transport. It was also used to spray infected areas of the Eastern Front in an attempt to protect the German troops fighting below.
The Fw 58A was based on the V2 prototype, with open gun positions in the nose and behind the cockpit. A small number may have been produced before work switched to the B-1.
The Fw 58B was the production version of the fourth prototype, with a glazed nose carrying one 7.92mm machine gun and the open dorsal position, as well as the ability to carry a small number of bombs. Twenty five similar B-2s were built under licence in Brazil. The type could also be fitted with floats, becoming the Fw 58BW.
The Fw 58C was the main production version, accounting for the bulk of the around 1,350 aircraft produced. It had a solid nose and could carry six passengers. It was used as a crew trainer, a communications aircraft, an ambulance (gaining it the nickname Leukoplast-Bomber or 'sticking plaster bomber), a light transport for squadron staff and for crop-spraying on the Danube. The spraying aircraft were later used to spray infected areas on the Eastern Front in an attempt to protect the troops fighting there.
Engine: Two Argus As 10C eight-cylinder inverted-Vee air-cooled engines
Power: 240hp each
Crew: two (pilot and observer) plus six pupils or passengers
Wing span: 68ft 11in
Length: 45ft 11in
Height: 12ft 9in
Empty Weight: 5,291lb
Full Weight: 7,936lb
Max Speed: 162mph at sea level
Cruising Speed: 150mph
Climb Rate: 3.48min to 3,280ft
Service Ceiling: 18,372ft
Range: 497 miles
Armament: none (C), one or two 7.92mm machine guns (B)
Bomb-load: none (C), small bombs under wings (B)