Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz Unveiled in Original Finnish Markings at Pima

The Pima Air & Space Museum's former Finnish Air Force Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz about to go back into her display hangar following the trainer's refurbishment into her original WWII markings. (image via PASM)
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The Pima Air & Space Museum in Pima, Arizona recently completed the refurbishment of their Focke-Wulf Fw 44J Stieglitz biplane and returned it for display inside Hangar 3. The Stieglitz, German for goldfinch, was an excellent primary trainer; a contemporary to the Boeing-Stearman PT-13 Kaydet and de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth. It enjoyed significant export success outside Germany, with a number of military air arms in both Europe and South America operating the type. Indeed several factories produced Fw 44s under license in nations such as Argentina, Brazil and the former Czechoslovakia. More than 2,500 examples are believed to have rolled off the various factory lines around the world over the type’s production run from 1932 and 1940.

The Fw 44J was the type’s final variant, featuring a 160 horse power Siemens-Halske Sh 14a seven cylinder, air-cooled radial engine. Pima’s example, wk.nr.2827, was one of thirty three examples which the Finnish government ordered from Focke-Wulf in April, 1940 (amazingly, about twenty FiAF Fw 44s still exist!). Flugzeugwerke CKD in Prague, Czechoslovakia manufactured this aircraft, completing her in March 1940, and the Finnish Air Force accepted her into service as SZ-19 in August that year. In 1945, following her military service, the Pori Aeroclub in Pori, Finland acquired the Stieglitz. They placed the trainer on the nation’s civil registry as OH-SZH, operating her until the late 1960s.

1532px Focke Wulf Fw 44 SA kuva 132335
A wartime image showing a Finnish Air Force Fw 44 during its service. (image via Wikipedia)

In about 1970, a gentleman in Tucson, Arizona imported the aircraft to the United States for restoration. She received the U.S. civil registration N133JM under the ownership of the Intercontinental Electric Corp in December, 1978, and flew again for the first time in 1982, wearing a mid-1930s Luftwaffe livery. The owners eventually donated the aircraft to the Pima Air & Space Museum in August, 1992. They displayed her, hanging from the roof, inside one of their hangars, and there she stayed until earlier this year. The museum has been incredibly active with the upkeep of the roughly 300 airframes in their collection, with a remarkable rate of restorations and refurbishments in recent years. They have been re-finishing aircraft regularly too, and updating paint schemes to reflect more accurate liveries. Such was the case with their Stieglitz, which the museum lowered from the roof in Hangar 3 a couple of months ago. The aircraft was in excellent condition, and did not need any repairs to her fabric, which they sanded, painted with primer and refinished with her original Finnish Air Force markings this November. Finally, after nearly 75 years, the Stieglitz wears her historically accurate paint scheme once more.

The Pima Air & Space Museum is a fantastic organization and must be commended for bringing the aircraft back to her former glory! Not long to rest on their laurels, there are already several other important aircraft in the refurbishment queue at Pima, with the museum’s composite Hawker Hurricane Mk.II next in line for a new paint scheme.

It always makes the news when a Hurricane comes through. We brought our Hawker Hurricane MkII back to get in line for Restoration Pima 7Nov19
The Pima Air & Space Museum’s Hawker Hurricane Mk.II is next in line for refurbishment within the museum’s restoration hangar. She will re-emerge in new markings with a local connection before too long. (image via PASM)

 

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Richard Mallory Allnutt's aviation passion ignited at the 1974 Farnborough Airshow. Raised in 1970s Britain, he was immersed in WWII aviation lore. Moving to Washington DC, he frequented the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, meeting aviation legends.

After grad school, Richard worked for Lockheed-Martin but stayed devoted to aviation, volunteering at museums and honing his photography skills. In 2013, he became the founding editor of Warbirds News, now Vintage Aviation News. With around 800 articles written, he focuses on supporting grassroots aviation groups.

Richard values the connections made in the aviation community and is proud to help grow Vintage Aviation News.

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About Richard Mallory Allnutt (Chief Editor) 1061 Articles
Richard Mallory Allnutt's aviation passion ignited at the 1974 Farnborough Airshow. Raised in 1970s Britain, he was immersed in WWII aviation lore. Moving to Washington DC, he frequented the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, meeting aviation legends. After grad school, Richard worked for Lockheed-Martin but stayed devoted to aviation, volunteering at museums and honing his photography skills. In 2013, he became the founding editor of Warbirds News, now Vintage Aviation News. With around 800 articles written, he focuses on supporting grassroots aviation groups. Richard values the connections made in the aviation community and is proud to help grow Vintage Aviation News.

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