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Mid of the 60th, when squadrons of the LSK (east german Air Force) more and more transisted from MiG-17F to various MiG-21
versions astonishing combat traing results appeared. The outdated MiG-17F was very often capable to beat the much more modern
MiG-21 in training air combats. Members of the east german embassy in Vietnam reported similar results of the air combats between
vietnamese MiG-17F and much more modern american fighter planes. Subsonic fighters seemed to be able to hold its own against
Mach 2 fighters, but had much lower operational costs.
So the idea was born to aquire an agile subsonic light weight fighter plane for the prime role as frontline fighter and a second role for
close air support. But such a plane was not available in Warsaw Pact countries. Only Poland built some variants of the MiG-17, but
this plane was seen as outdated and to weak.

There was only one plane of the world seen as fitting for the intended role, the Folland Gnat. But it was impossible to aquire combat
technic from a hostile NATO country. The solution was to built a similar plane in the GDR. So the boss of the east german intellegency
service HVA Markus Wolf was ordered to get the production drawings of the Folland Gnat into east german hands. But it was
impossible to infiltrate the british aircraft industrie in a short time frame, but good relations to groups in India, where the Gnat was built
in license, made the impossible mission possible.

In June 1966 the HVA agents were able to hand over all neccessary drawings, calculations and description of production processes to
the aircraft factory VEB Flugzeugwerke Dresden. The factory originally built IL-14 planes in license and developed in the late 50th the
first continental european passenger jet, the Baade 152. The production of the 152 was canceled by soviet pressure and the
development group of the Flugzeugwerke Dresden (FWD) was looking for new challenges. In autumn 1966 they got the order from
Berlin to reengenier the Gant and if possible to launch a serial production till 1969. As deadline was set the date of the 20th jubilee of
the GDR on October 7th 1969. The project got the designation FWD KF-69 (KampfFlugzeug-69) and the name Sperber (Sparrow

The first step of reengineering was to transfer all drawings and calculations from imperial to the metric messurement system.
Afterwards the first changes were implementes. The original ADEN guns were replaced by the lighter soviet made NR-30. The
position of the guns in the Gnat were identified to be possible dangerouse, because gun smoke could come into the air intakes and
could cause flame outs. Thatswhy the guns were relocated into the lower section of the nose. The original cockpit was replaced by a
system similar to the MiG-21F-13. So it was intended to make it easier for pilots to convert from the MiG to the Sperber and vice

In mid 1968 the development came into a crisis, when it became obviously that the GDR industry was impossible to reengineer the
Bristol Orpheus 701 engine. A replacement engine was neccessary. First the old RD-9 of the MiG-19 came into the view, but it was
impossible to include it in the small fuselage of the Sperber.Czech or polish engines were to weak. Only in the USSR the Ivchenko
AI-25TL came to the production lines. The size of this engine would fit into the Sperbers fuselage, but the thrust was only 16,87 kN.
The original Orpheus had nearly 21 kN. But with no other alternatives the AI-25TL was choosen, some aggregates were bought and
built in the Sperber V-1 prototype.

The maiden flight of the Sperber V-1 was in December 1968. The plane proofed as easy to fly, agile, but underpowered a little bit.
The outstanding flight performance of the Gnat could not dublicated.
So efforts were made to lighten the design. The number of guns were reduced to one and all not really neccesary parts were removed.
So the Sperber V-2 prototype was some 300 kg lighter than the Gant and the flight performance was better, but not yet as good as
the Gnats.

In February 1969 attempts were made to fit the AI-25TL with a two stage afterburner and astonishingly it proofed as a good working
solution of the problem. With afterburner the engine AI-25TLF was able to give 23.6 kN, what was more than the Orpheus
had. The prototypes Sperber V-1 to V-3 were refitted with the new engine and the flight performance was now more than satisfying.
The prototype V-4 got two more hardpoints under the wings, a radar rangefinder, an accustical RWR and the ability to use IR guided
missiles. In August 1969 the Sperber V-4 was handed over to the LSK for intensive test flights. In early september the V-5 entered
the flight tests. The LSK was satisfied with the new plane and acceped it as troop ready. The serial production was already prepared
to start and in early October 1969 the first two planes FWD KF-69 Sperber were handed over to the LSK. Both planes made a
short debut during the military parade on October 7th 1969 in Berlin.

Mid 1970 one squadron of the LSK had replaced their old MiG-17F with the Sperber and was declared combat ready in autumn.
During the big scale troop exercise "Waffenbrüderschaft 70" (Brothers in Arms 1970) the Sperber gave it "combat " debut and the
shown performance waked the interesse of some other WP countries. In the coming years the Sperber was exported to
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Syria and Egypt showed interesse, but soviet pressure caused the canceling of the export  
negotiations. Vietnam got a fistfull Sperber in 1972 and used it successfully in the last years of the Vietnam war. Cuba aquired some
40 planes in mid 70th.
The Sperber was built till the end of the 70th and was used till the german unification in 1990.



Sperber in early 70th




Sperber in the 80th



(Thanks to Marcfighter for the great Ajeet, which i used to make the Sperber)





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