The Legendary Minimoa 1930s Sailplane

Sales brochure of the famous Minimoa 1936
Sales brochure of the famous Minimoa 1936

Origins of the Minimoa

 

The Minimoa with its amazing silhouette, it’s probably one of the most reproduced vintage gliders these days, but it still remains a curiosity. Named after a special cloud over Grunau, it symbolizes the 30’s of the German soaring. It was for many of us a technological marvel which helped many pilots quit the slope flying and explore the thermal or even the wave soaring. It was a big step from experimental soaring to pure sport flying.
The Minimoa was one of the first realizations of the young company Sportflugzeugbau Göppingen born in 1935 when Wolf Hirth and Martin Schempp teamed up. Renamed Schempp-Hirth Segelflugzeugbau after the war, they are today one of the most famous and largest glider manufacturer.

 

 It was felt that the "Moazagotl" had been too large for ease of handling on the ground and in the air and the Minimoa was smaller to improve the above defects. To retain the stability and safe handling of the Moazagotl, the new sailplane had the same general features, a swept back wing with pronounced gull dehidral, large ailerons and strong washout, mounted high on the fuselage.  Its shorter 17 meter span cut costs while its stronger structure allowed higher speeds.
When seated, the pilot's head was inside the wing, so outward vision was not good. A window in the roof helped a little. Landings would be on a skid. Split flaps were installed beneath the wing to aid landing in small spaces.

Because of his artificial leg, Hirth had the controls set up with an overhanging control column working a torque tube which passed over his right shoulder to bell cranks in the wing root. The entire top front of the fuselage lifted off to allow him to get in and out. This was not to continue with production aircraft however.

This unusual prototype flew in 1935 and was taken to the Rhon meeting. The first Minimoa accompanied Hirth when he visited Japan to demonstrate and promote soaring later in 1935, and was sold there. A second prototype was built, with normal controls. This too went to Japan later. One more of the high winged version was built and sold to a Romanian pilot.


Minimoa versions

Although there seem to have been many slight alterations, we have, for simplication, divided them in to the six versions described below.

Version 1-1935.  

Three shoulder-wing prototypes Werk Nr. 6    Delivered 1-8-1935 in time for the Rhon Contest, without landing wheel and hanging control column. Owned by DLV Goppingen. To Japan in late 1935.

Werk Nr. 11     Delivered 17-11-1935 to Japan. Without landing wheel and normal control column.

Werk Nr. 14     Delivered 3-4-1936 to Valentin Popescu, Rumania.

Registred YR-AVP. Layout as werk nr. 11.

 

1936.  Second version.

Midwing. Rudder of increased area. Fixed tailplane with moving elevator. The first of them Werk Nr. 20 was delivered on 9-5-1936, with split trailing edge flaps. Registered later D-Stadt Neckargmund, and later with NSFK markings: D-14-790. (in 1937).

It is not known how many were built. If D-Chemnitz 3

(D-Argentina) Werk Nr. 32 delivered on 29-7-1936 is the later version. Minimoa CC-PIA at present in Chili's Santiago Museo Aeronautico.

The early version of Minimoa is still with us in the form of HB-232 (Werner von Arx) in the Deutsches Segelflug Museum, Wasserkuppe.

Version 3

This was the definitive version which was produced in great quantity. More wing dihedral. Rudder of more side surfacearea, with improved underneath shape to avoid damage from contact with the ground. Wing upper surface drag spoilers. All Minimoas between Werk Nr. 32, delivered 29-7-1936, and Werk Nr. 312, delivered 11-8-1939, were roughly in this form.

Version 4 1937.    Minimoa 2A.

A second seat built between the wings behind the mainspar. Nose lengthened for adjustment of C. of A.  Fuselage 0,26 m longer than that of a standard Minimoa. Took part in 1937 Rhon contest and later visited England behind a Klemm 26. Minimoa pilots were Hanna Reitsch and Eva Schmidt, while Wolf Hirth flew the Klemm towplane.

Version 5 Minimoa 38

Reduced structure weight and cambering of the underside of wing profiles to reduce minimum sinking speed.

Version 6  Minimoa 39

Werk Nr. 315, first flight 6-6-1939. Altered wing plan, greatly increased fin and rudder areas, altered fuselage, fin and rudder side forms. Wingspan increased to 17,5 metres. One only was built due to the outbreak of war.

In all versions of Minimoas, installation of landing wheel was optional. In late 1938 and 1939, Minimoas were built with ( or were modified with ) first DFS airbrakes and then Schempp Hirth

( Hutter or Goppingen system) terminal velocity restricting airbrakes. Mass balances were to be installed to leading edge of rudders to prevent a possible rudder flutter at 200 km/h. Some Minimoas already exported were never modified, as their owners did not think it necessary. 


 

Is this the Moazagotl cloud ?
Is this the Moazagotl cloud ?

The name "Moazagotl"

What this means is not certain, but it is said that many years ago there was a farmer, who, as he sat at his plough, spent much time gazing at the sky and the clouds. People said that the clouds had a special meaning for him. Especially the long stationary cloud that formed across a south wind. This farmer was called Gottlief Motz or in Silesian dialect, "der Moatza Gottl". The long stationary cloud was, of course, the lenticular which formed in the lee of the "Giant Mountains ( Riesengebirge ) near Grunau, now Jezow Sudecki.

Original survivors

Registration: HB-282

S/N              ?

Country:       Zwitserland

 

Resides at Deutsches Segelflugmuseum

 

Registration: CC-PIA

S/N:   ?

Country:       Chili

Year built:     1935

Resides at Santiago Museo Aeronautico

Registration: G-16923 latest: N16293

S/N:  56

Country:      USA

Resides at National Soaring Museum Elmira

Registration: F-CROU

S/N: unknown

Country: France

 

The fuselage at the left is the original. This sailplane will be restored for museum display. This Minimoa was based at Pont st. Vincent in 1946.

A set of original wings of the F-CABL is also present.

 

The fuselage at right is new, see the project below.

 

Airworthy

Registration:  D-8180

S/N               324

Country         Germany

Year built:     probably 1936

 

Resides at Kirchheim/Teck

ex PH-848

The sailplane is fitted with speed limiting Schempp-Hirth type airbrakes, which were retrofitted later.

 

Registration: D-8064

S/N:            ?

Country:      Germany

Resides :      Aventoft

This Minimoa formerly owned by Harold Palmer and by Jan Scott is in airworthy condition.

It must be an early production Minimoa as it is fitted with upper wing surface lift spoilers.

Registration:  JA-2547

S/N:

Country:       Japan

Resides :

This was brought back from Montargis, France to Germany in 1971 by the efforts of Rainer Willeke as D-1163. He bought it for a crate of beer. It had been the 4th of four Minimoas operating in France after 1945. Rainer Willeke and Paul Serries formed the Munster Oldtimer Club to restore and fly it.

It is fitted with the upper wing surface spoilers.

Registration: CYL,

                  BGA 1639

S/N:            378

Country: United Kingdom

 

Owned by Francis Russell

Resides at Dunstable?

Probably a version 6 Minimoa (1939).

Received its first British C.ofA. in march 1972 after it had been imported airworthy from Holland in 1970, where it had been registered PH-390 owned by mr. Bierdrager. It was fitted with Schempp Hirth speed restricting dive brakes. Its C.of A. expired in january 1979 due to some glue failure in a wing, but is now flying again.

Latest built

Registration:  D0067

S/N:             ?

Country:       Germany

 

Resides at     Landsberg

First flight after 10 years of construction on June 28 2008.

Registratio:    PH-80

S/N:             NVAVBP-085

Country:        The Netherlands

Resides at Hilversum airfield (EHHV)

  After 25 years of construction it has its CofA and made its first flight on march 21st 2012 (see chapter maiden flight).

Under construction

Under construction in Berlin Germany.

Status unknown

Under construction in Australia, by Mal Bennett

new
project in France

Under construction in France.

Photo dec. 2013

 

Minimoa