P 6 - Focke Wulf Fw 58C-2 “Weihe” (1938-1959)

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Swedish Photo Mapping Aircraft P 6 Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe

The Rikets Allmänna Kartverk (RAK – in English ”the National Public Map Office) is an old institution that has the responsibility for producing both military and civil maps of Sweden. Nowadays the name is Lantmäteriet

In 1930-31, trials with mapping by aerial photogrammetry started in Sweden. The Swedish Armed Forces had naturally a demand of maps of the highest possible quality. In the middle to the 1930s, photographing from the air had proved to be the best way of mapping large areas in a simple way. With help of stereoscopy, differences in altitude could be measured. This procedure is still in use. 

The new technique demanded not only special camera equipment but also suitable aircraft as camera platforms. The RAK turned to Germany to find the specialists needed to start this new activity. A Junkers W 33, specially equipped and suitable for photographing from the air, was hired during the summer of 1937 from Lufthansa and gave some valuable experiences. But the RAK needed more aircraft. And when the risk of a war was becoming a reality, it was rather unpleasant to have German reconnaissance aircraft in the Swedish territory. 

It was obvious the RAK needed aircraft of their own. The aerial photography required a stable and - owing to that - a relatively large aircraft. The aircraft had also to be slow in the air to give sharp photographic exposures. Soon a suitable type was found - the German Focke Wulf Fw 58 Weihe. It was from the beginning a light transport intended for the civil marked, but as the war come closer, the aircraft was adapted for military use. The “Weihe” (named after a bird, in English Harrier) was produced in the following main versions:  

B-1 - The original version. It flew for the first time in 1935 as a six-seat civil light transport, but was also used as a trainer.

B-2 - Light bomber, equipped with Rheinmetall Borsig MG (Maschinengewehre) 15 machine guns in a glazed nose and in a dorsal turret, and 25 Kg bombs;

C - Another transport variant, equipped with doors in the fuselage sides (right over the wings). This was the most produced variant.

Ki-2 - Civilian transport for six passengers, with a higher rear fuselage (to give more spacious accommodation)

S - Ambulance aircraft (nicknamed “Leukoplastbomber”)

BW - A seaplane variant.

The aircraft had a welded steel-tube fuselage, which was covered both with duralumin and fabric. It had in some way an unusual design. The low set semi-cantilever wings were braced from the engine nacelles upwards to the fuselage. The tailplane was mounted forward of the fin and was braced from below. The undercarriages retracted into the engine nacelles. 

Two Argus As 10C eight-cylinder inverted-vee air-cooled engines powered the Swedish variant, each delivering 240 hp. 

Totally four Fw 58C were delivered to Sweden and RAK – with the restriction that they should be used exclusively for mapping service. Two were delivered in 1938 and 1940 respectively and were given the civil registrations SE-KAA and SE-KAB. As the aircraft were operated by the Air Force, they also carried the national roundel – the three crowns. They got the designation P 6, but no individual Air Force numbers.  

The camera equipment consisted of a Zeiss Rb 20/30. The aircraft were painted in a lighter green than usually used at this time. The underside was light grey. A pilot and a photographer, sometimes joined by a mechanic, manned the P 6.  

The P 6 were used intensely during the mapping season; i.e. spring, summer and early autumn. The demand increased still more after the outbreak of WWII. The delivery of SE-KAB in February 1940 was therefore a relief. Unfortunately SE-KAA crashed in the summer of 1943. The crew was saved but the aircraft was totally damaged.  

Sweden now desperately needed new aircraft for aerial mapping. Luckily for us, Germany’s had an equivalent need for ball bearings. The annual trade agreement with Germany secured the delivery of two new Fw 58C to Sweden in exchange for more ball bearings to Germany. 

The Swedish authorities approved the two new P 6 – SE-KAC and SE-KAD – in March 1944. When the war was over in the next spring, the demand of aerial mapping in fact increased. The civil market had found the advantages of the photographic map. On the same time, the mapping activity had got a more civilian nature. The pilots were now civilians. Some years later, also the maintenance of the aircraft was taken over by civilian contractors. New aircraft were bought from France (Nord NC 701 Martinet, a French copy of the German Siebel S204D) were purchased. In Sweden, they were usually called “the Siebels”. 

The drawning at top by POGO shows SE-KAD, the last of the P 6s,  in the end of its service (it was grounded for good in 1959). The aircraft is now re-painted in silver and, just as the “Siebels”, with registration letters and engine cowlings in blue.  

The other drawings are also made by Per Olof Olofsson, “POGO”, Trollhättan. All photos from the collection of Lars E. Lundin, Västervik.

Length: 14,16 m. Span: 21,05 m.  MTOW: 2925 kg. Maximum speed: 254 km/h.


Swedish Photo Mapping Aircraft P 6 Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe

SE-KAB in flight


Swedish Photo Mapping Aircraft P 6 Focke-Wulf Fw 58 Weihe

Changing spark plugs on SE-KAA. Brattforsheden 1942



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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-07-15