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Koolhoven F.K.51 Aircraft Information

Koolhoven F.K.51

F.K.51

Manufacturer: Koolhoven
First flight: 1935
Primary users: Royal Dutch Air Force Spanish Republicans
Number built: 142

The Koolhoven F.K.51 was a 1930s Dutch two-seat basic training biplane built by the Koolhoven Company.

Design and development

The Koolhoven F.K.51 was the winning design in a 1935 Dutch government contest for a new trainer. Designed by Frederick Koolhoven the prototype biplane trainer first flew on 25 May 1935. The aircraft was an equal-span biplane designed to use a variety of engines between 250hp (186kW) and 500hp (373kW). It was a two-seater and had a tailwheel undercarriage. The Royal Dutch air force (LVA) ordered 25 aircraft in 1936 and 1937, powered by a 270hp (201kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah V radial engine. A further 29 aircraft were later bought with 350hp (261kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX engine. The Dutch Naval Aviation Service ordered 29 aircraft each powered by a 450hp (335kW) Pratt & Whitney radials. The Royal Dutch East Indies Army bought 38 aircraft between 1936 and 1938 each powered by a 420hp (313kW) Wright Whirlwind. The Spanish Republican government ordered 28 F.K.51s, 11 with 400hp (298kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVa radials and 17 aircraft (designated F.K.51bis) each powered by a 450hp (335kW) Wright Whirlwind R-975E radials. Production totalled at least 142 aircraft. Twenty-four hulls of the F.K.51 where assambled at Aviolanda.

Operational history

While the majority of F.K.51s were employed as elementary trainers within the Netherlands or in reconnaissance roles by the Royal Dutch Air Force in the Dutch East Indies, twenty-eight were clandestinely sold to the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War, all despite a Dutch embargo on the sale of arms to either side of that conflict. Some of those arriving in Spain were used as light bombers by the Republicans in the Cantabrian region of Spain. The F.K.51s were in active use in Royal Dutch Flight Schools during the first months of World War II in the training of young Dutch pilots, but with the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, the F.K.51s were deemed obsolete and most never took to the air being too slow and vulnerable. The majority of F.K.51s were destroyed on the ground by attacking Luftwaffe aircraft.

Operators

Netherlands

Dutch Naval Aviation Service
Royal Dutch Air Force
Royal Dutch East Indies Army

Spain

Spanish Republican Air Force

Specifications

General characteristics

Crew: 2 (one student, one instructor)
Length: 7.80 m (25 feet 7 inches)
Wingspan: 9.00 m (25 feet 6 inches)
Height: 2.80 m (9 feet 2 inches)
Empty weight: 1,000 kg (2,205 pounds)
Loaded weight: 1,600 kg (3,527 pounds)
Powerplant: 1x Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX, 9-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engine, 261 kW (350 hp)

Performance

Maximum speed: 235 km/h at 2,280 m (146 mph at 7,480 feet)
Range: 850 km (528 miles)
Service ceiling: 5,000 m (18,370 feet)

Armament

Guns: One fixed forward-firing 7.7 mm (0.303 inch) machine gun in fuselage cowling, one similar weapon in a flexible mount in the rear cockpit

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). Orbis Publishing.

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