FVA 10b - Rheinland

In the fall of 1936, design of the FVA-10b began with a new fuselage and some improvements to the wings. The goal was an easier to build solution than the FVA-10a. Also included were some new details such as airbrakes on the upper and lower surfaces, retractable landing gear with low-pressure tires, brakes and shock absorbers. However, the most necessary work was to design a new fuselage shape to allow easy landing at minimum speed with or without airbrakes. Furthermore, normal stick control was provided instead of handwheel control. This work was carried out in the winter of 1936/37 at Merzbrück, and at the same time the new aircraft was built in the workshop. This aircraft was given the type designation FVA-10b and the name “Rheinland”.

The maiden flight of the “Rheinland” took place at Merzbrück on May 13, 1937. Like the FVA-10a, the “b” was loaded into the transport car immediately after the first flights and taken first to Prien and then to Salzburg.

There an international gliding competition took place in 1937, in which Felix Kracht participated with the “Rheinland”. From Salzburg he also succeeded in the first crossing of the Alps in a glider on May 30, 1937, which he finished with an external load near Udine. The competition in Salzburg was attended by the specialist groups Aachen with “Rheinland”, Darmstadt with “Windspiel”, Munich with “Milan” and Stuttgart with “Wippsterz”.

“In my report on the previous year’s test flight, I had already suggested flying from Ainring or Salzburg over the Lattengebirge or the Watzmann to the Mölltal, since I suspected better thermal conditions there than in the area south of Prien. This assumption was confirmed. In particular, it is much easier to reach the mountains there from the foothills of the Alps.

So on 29.5.37 I released at only 450m above the Salzburg airport and flew from there past the west side of the Untersberg to the Lattengebirge.

Over Ramsau I went between Reiter Alpe and Hochkalter into the Salach valley. The cloud base was at the Reiter Alpe at 1900 to 2000m, but continued to rise towards the central ridge.

On this day, there was a slight northerly thaw, so that on the north side of the high Tauem there was a closed cloud cover, while in the southern Alps there was wonderful gliding weather.

Since I was aware of this weather situation, I first flew to the lowest pass (Mallnitzer Scharte) because of the low cloud base, in order to continue south through the Mölltal. But this pass was in clouds. Because of the good weather I wanted to reach the south side of the Tauern by all means, so I flew westward to all Tauern passes (Hochtor, Kaisertauern, Felbertauern) and west of the Großer Venediger to the Birnlücke, so I flew along the Tauem for about 80 km, but without finding a cloud-free pass. Since it had become 16h in the meantime, I broke off the flight here and flew back to the airfield Zoll am See (flight time 5 h 13 min).

The following day brought almost the same weather situation, but without dust clouds and much higher cloud base (3200 to 4000 m). After I had tried in the morning to fly into the mountains from 350 m release altitude, an attempt which I almost paid for with an outlanding, I took off a second time at about 13.30 hrs and released in accordance with the instructions at 800 m above Salzburg at the Untersberg and reached the Reiter Alpe at 3000 m above valley level in a stretched gliding flight. There the interaction of sunlight and slope wind brought me with more than 6 m per second up to the cloud base, here 300 m.

Then I flew to the south side of the Hochkalter and from there over Saalfelden in a fast glide to Zoll am See.

There I reached again the cloud base at 3200 m above the Schmittenhöhe and flew from here under a cloud street with about 100 km/h southeast to Wörth and flew over the Tauern at the Hochtor at 3700 m. There I reached the cloud base again at 3200 m and flew under a cloud street with about 100 km/h southeast to Wörth. There I reached a row of clouds over the Möll valley, along which I flew almost without turning to the Dolomites. (Average altitude 3500 m)

From there it went in stretched glide over Kötschach, Cervicento, Tolmezzo into the Tagliamemotal Tolmezzo I flew over in 2800 m and got here into the foothills of a thunderstorm standing before the Alps. To avoid flying blind, I gave away my altitude down to 1100 m (800 m above sea level) and tried to reach the airfield still 25 km away (Udine).

However, I did not succeed and landed in the Tagliamento riverbed (flight time 3 h 56 min).”

Subsequently, the FVA-10b went to the Rhön competition in July 1937, and Felix Kracht came second behind Ludwig Karch (Fachgruppe München) on Mü 10 “Milan”. However, the FVA-10b won the award for advanced design.