F & W C 3605 Schlepp target-tug

This unusual looking aircraft was originally a fighter bomber. 144 of them were built between 1941-1944, using left over Messerschmitt Bf 109 parts (the neutral Swiss used Bf 109s to patrol their air space during World War Two) and they seemed to be destined to be a tiny footnote. In 1967 the Swiss government, always keen to make every penny count in its tiny defence budget, reassessed the C 3605 airframe and considered that they had another 10 years life in them.

The Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory (later to become F & W) then refurbished these ageing aircraft as target tugs, a role also undertaken by ageing De Havilland Vampires. The refurbishment also included a new lighter engine which needed to be mounted even further forward creating a very long nosed aircraft. The first of these reborn aircraft flew on 19th August 1968 and between 1971 and 1973 another 22 re-entered service painted in a bright yellow and black colour scheme. A third tail fin was also added further adding to this aircraft's distinctive looks and a British company provided large winches so that it could tow the target on 2000ft of cable, with the option to illuminate the target at night. They served until the 1980s when the airframes started to show fatigue problems. They were withdrawn from Swiss service in 1987 and sold off at auction. One remains at Chino airport and aircraft museum California

Max Speed; 432km/h (268mph)
Ceiling; 32,810ft
Range; 980km (609miles)

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (27 June 2007), F & W C 3605 Schlepp target-tug, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_schlepp_targettug.html

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