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Best-known of all the Fieseler designs because of its extensive use during World War II, the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (stork) was a remarkable STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft that was first flown nearly 50 years ago on 24 May 1936. A braced high-wing monoplane of mixed construction, with a conventional braced tail unit and fixed tailskid landing gear with long-stroke main units, As with the Fi 97, the key to the success of this aircraft was its wing incorporating the company's high-lift devices, comprising in the initial production series a fixed slot extending over the entire span of the wing leading edge, with slotted ailerons and slotted camber-changing flaps occupying the entire trailing edge. Flight testing of the first three prototypes (Fi 156 V1, V2 and V3) showed that the capability of this aircraft more than exceeded its STOL expectations, for with little more than a light breeze blowing it needed a take-off run of only about 200 ft (60 m) and could land in about one-third of that distance.
Built to complete against fixed-wing submissions from Messerschmitt (Bf 163) and Siebel (Si 201) and an auto gyro from Focke-Wulf (Fw 186) based on Cierva technology, the three prototypes were followed by the ski-equipped Fi 156 V4 for winter trials, a pre-production Fi 156 V5 and, in early 1937, by 10 Fi 156A-0 aircraft for service evaluation. One of these was demonstrated publicly for the first time at an international flying meeting at the end of July 1937 in Zürich, by which time the general-purpose Fi 156A-1 was in production. The Storch repeatedly demonstrated full-load take-offs after a ground run of never more than 148 ft (45 m), and a fully controllable speed range of 32-108 mph (51-174 km/h). Service tests confirmed that Germany's armed forces had acquired a 'go-anywhere' aircraft, and for the remainder of World War II the Storch was found virtually everywhere German forces operated, production of all variants totalling 2,549 aircraft.