Bü 181 file photo (captured example on display in the United States) [27554]

Bü 181

ManufacturerBücker Flugzeugbau GmbH
Primary RoleOther


ww2dbaseThe side-by-side two-seat Bücker monoplane was designed just before the war as a club touring and training aircraft but, during the war years, it became the Luftwaffe's primary trainer aircraft. The prototype (D-ERBV) was first flown in Feb` 1939 with Chief Pilot Arthur Benitz at the controls, and, following testing by the Luftwaffe was ordered into production as the Bü 181A to become the service's standard basic trainer. A later version with a number of detail improvements was designated Bü 181D Bestmann.

ww2dbaseThe new aircraft, powered by a 105-horsepower Hirth HM.504 inline engine, had a fixed tailwheel undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit with dual controls. The wings were of wooden basic construction with plywood and fabric covering, and a tail unit of similar structure. The fuselage consisted of a steel-tube forward section and a wooden monocoque aft section.

ww2dbaseA total of 2,730 Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann aircraft would be built in Germany, with a further 708 machines being completed by Fokker in the Netherlands. As the type became available in large numbers the Luftwaffe also employed it as a communications aircraft and, in smaller numbers, as a glider tug. Additionally, in 1944-6, 125 examples were built in Sweden by AB Hagglund for that nation's air force under the designation Sk 25. As Germany's situation deteriorated in the final months of the war some Bestmanns were fitted with four underwing Panzerfaust grenade launchers for use in an anti-tank role but, with fuel and pilot shortages, these would meet with little success in turning the course of battle.

ww2dbaseThe design was produced after the war by Zlin in Czechoslovakia as the Zlin 181 and they continued to build a further 79 Z-281s with a 105-horsepower Toma engine and then 314 of the Z-381 with a 105-horsepower Walter Minor 4-III for the civilian market. Another post-war producer was the Egyptian government who set up a production line in Helwan in the early 1950s to licence build 300 Czechoslovakian Bü 181D Bestmanns under the designation of Heliopolis Gomhouriya; many of these exported to several other Arab states.

David Mondey: The Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II (Chancellor Press, 1996)
Rod Simpson: Airlife's World Aircraft (Airlife Publishing Ltd, 2001)
World Aircraft Information Files, File 890/99 (Aerospace Publishing Periodical)

Last Major Revision: Apr 2018


Bü 181
MachineryOne Hirth HM. 504A or 504B 3,998-cc 4cyl inverted inline petrol engine rated at 105hp
Span10.60 m
Length7.85 m
Height2.05 m
Wing Area13.50 m²
Weight, Empty480 kg
Weight, Loaded750 kg
Speed, Maximum215 km/h
Speed, Cruising195 km/h
Service Ceiling5,000 m
Range, Normal800 km


Aircraft designiner Anderson showing Generaloberst Ernt Udet the two-part entrance door of a Bü 181 V1 Bestmann aircraft, 1939; note C. C. Bücker at far left

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Bü 181 Photo Gallery
Aircraft designiner Anderson showing Generaloberst Ernt Udet the two-part entrance door of a Bü 181 V1 Bestmann aircraft, 1939; note C. C. Bücker at far left

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