DFS-Weihe (Harrier)

The Weihe is one of the first highlights in high performance glider flying with wooden planes. The idea behind this developement was to build a glider with the following charasteristics: easy to produce, cheap, but with a higher performance.

The Weihe was a single seater, shoulder-wing aeroplane with an elongated fuselage. It landed on a skid, take-off took place with the help of a little two-wheeled cart or trolley which fell off after rotation. The gliders which were built by Focke-Wulf since 1950, named „Weihe 50“, had a central bottom roller.

dfs weihe

The Weihe very quickly became the high performance glider worldwide. Even the disastrous  WW II could not stop its success. More than 300 planes were built in Germany by companies like Schweyer and Jacobs-Schweyer, in addition to planes produced under license in France, Yugoslavia and Spain.

Many world records were achieved with this plane in the following categories: duration flight, distance-to-target flight, triangle flight and altitude flight.

The success of this plane was also demonstrated by the number of participating Weihe planes at glider world championships:

1950 in Sweden: 15 out of 29 (world champion B. Nilson also flew this plane)

1952 in Spain:     13 out of 59

1954 in England:   4 out of 32

This was a demonstration of the high performance of the design of the Weihe, but the success of this glider was hardly reckognised in Germany. In later years the Weihe was surpassed by the Schleicher Ka 6 and the Foka or the Zephyr from Poland.

As mentioned above Focke-Wulf in Bremen with Hans Jacob planned a new edition of the DFS Weihe - it was forseeable that glider flying would soon be permitted again in West Germany. The fuselage was a bit shortened, the central bottom roller was introduced as well as an aerodynically more efficient plexiglass panorama dome. The new glider made its maiden flight on March 8th, 1952 with the famous Hanna Reitsch at the controls.

The production of the plane was simplified and only eight gliders were built. But you could built your private plane under license. The wing spar had to be bought at Focke-Wolf. Nobody knows the number of these planes built under license. Eight veteran gliders exist today, four of them are still airworthy.

Technical data (1938 – 1945)

wingspan 18 m; wing area 18.2 m2; length 8.13 m; height 1.50 m; aspect ratio 17.8; empty weight 195 kg; max. take off weight 355 kg; v/max 210 km/h; min. sinkrate 0.6 m/s at 60 km/h; glide ratio 30 at 70 km/h