Avia B-534


Scale: 1 : 3,5
Wingspan 2.690 mm
Length 2.340 mm
Engine: 80 – 160 ccm

Estimated delivery July 2009

History of Avia B-534

The oft-forgotten B.534 was at the pinnacle of biplane design in the 1930s.

The Czechoslovakian Avia B.534 series of biplane was a highly regarded though often forgotten product of the European nation. Some reports make it the best aircraft of its category during its early run through the 1930s. Such was the performance of the machine that the German Luftwaffe would briefly setup a fighter squadron utilizing captured B.534 aircraft.

Simply put, the Avia B.534 can be thought of as a melding of two ages in aviation history. The B.534 featured a static undercarriage and coupled with its throwback biplane wing assembly. Under that outdated facade was also four 7.92mm synchronized machine guns, a powerful 860 horsepower engine capable of 245 miles per hour and the ability for the weapon system to carry six 44lb bombs. Handling of the system was reported to be favorable, so much so that this combination of speed, handling and firepower was highly respected.

Fuselage construction of the Avia B.534 was a unique mix of fabric-covered steel-structured wing assemblies. The fuselage, as a whole, was highly aerodynamic in nature, complete with an enclosed cockpit. The operational flight ceiling of over 30,000ft necessitated this feature.

The abrupt partition of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and German troops took rest of the Czechoslovakia and Hitler made a triumphal entry into Prague prevented the use of the Avia B.534 in combat by the nation that had produced it. By then, high performance monoplanes such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 109, British Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire and next Czechoslovakian type Avia B-35 and Avia B-135 were raising the bar of fighter/interceptor standards.

Operational history

The B.534 was first used in combat by the Slovak Air Arm. Germany took control of the “Czech” part of Czechoslovakia as Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, leaving the “Slovak” part, Slovakia, as a minor ally. Slovakia acquired some 80 B.534s and Bk.534s from the Czech air force and quickly had to use them against Hungary during the border war of 1939. Later, two squadrons of B.534s assisted the German Luftwaffe during the Invasion of Poland in September 1939. The same squadrons served with the Germans in Ukraine during summer 1941, with one squadron returning in 1942 for anti- partisan duty. Obsolescence, lack of spare parts and the old Czechoslovak air force’s curious fuel mixture (BiBoLi, or some other mix of alcohol, benzol and petrol) finally relegated the surviving B.534s to training duties.

This would have been the last of the B.534s in Slovak colors if not for the Slovak National Uprising of September-October 1944. The rest of the Slovak air assets did not turn-coat as expected and the leaders of the uprising were faced with using a rag-tag collection of leftover aircraft, including several B.534s at Tri Duby airfield. On 2 September 1944, Master Sergeant Frantisek Cyprich, just after testing a repaired B.534, downed a Junkers Ju 52 transport under Hungarian colors on its way to a base in occupied Poland. This was at once the first aerial victory for the Uprising and the last recorded biplane air-to-air victory. As the Slovak National Uprising was desperate for available aircraft, Sergeant Cyprich was derided by his colonel for not trying to force the Junkers Ju 52 to land and be captured instead. The last two B.534s at Tri Duby were burned as the base was evacuated on 25 October 1944.

Bulgaria bought 78 B.534s in 1939, well after the partition. The last batch of these aircraft arrived in March 1942. On 1 August 1943, seven of these aircraft were able to make two passes at American B-24 Liberator bombers returning from the raid on Ploiesti. Hits were scored but no B-24s were shot down and some of the B.534s that received damage in the combat, cracked up on landing. After the anti-German coup of 9 September 1944, Bulgaria switched sides overnight and its B.534s were often used in ground attacks against German units. On 10 September 1944, six B.534s were involved in a brief melee with six German Bf 109s at low altitude. One B.534 was lost, but the Germans quickly broke off, wary of the low altitude and the B.534's maneuverability.