July 1933: Czechoslovak Letov Š-328 bomber makes first flight

Letov Š-328, Jiří Vraný

The Letov Š-328, Czechoslovakia’s most common single-engine bomber and observation plane in the interwar period, made its first flight 90 years ago, on July 19, 1933.

The Š in the name Š-328 was the initial of the plane’s designer, a man named Šmolík. It had orginally been designed for the Finnish Air Force but in the end was assigned to the Czechoslovak Army instead.

The Letov Š-328 was technically unsophisticated, with military experts saying the Czechoslovak Air Force wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight with Hitler’s Germany.

Indeed in the following years the conceptually outdated biplane became easy prey for enemy fighters and anti-aircraft ground fire.

Letov Š-328,  Vol. 2,  Jiří Vraný | Photo: Jakab

However, ground staff and pilots praised the Š.328. It was reliable and met expectations of pilots not only in service at main bases, but also during training at airfields. The structure of the wing and fuselage frame was impervious to the weather, in particular rain.

The planes were produced until 1939. In total, the Letov factory produced 445 of them, although the aircraft had already become outmoded by 1937.

On the other hand, it was capable of carrying out bombing and reconnaissance tasks much later, when used appropriately, as seen during the Slovak National Uprising.

A very clear picture of the capabilities of the aircraft is presented by Jiří Vraný in a two-part publication dedicated to the Š-328.

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