AVIA / AKCIOVA SPOLECNOST PRO PRUMYSL LETECKY
The company was founded by Pavel Beneš, Miroslav Hajn, Jaroslav František Koch and Václav Malý in 1919. Taken over by Milos Bondy a Spol about 1923, but acquired 1926 by Skoda, which also made Hispano-Suiza air engines under license. During the 1930s the factory became the biggest aircraft producer in Czechoslovakia and moved to Letňany in Prague, where production continued. During World War II Avia produced aircraft for the German Luftwaffe. After the war the company was nationalized and became involved in the automotive industry. It manufactured aircraft up to 1963, then targeted on truck production and continued to make aircraft engines (producing only propellers from 1988). The company was split in 1992 into propeller and truck sections, both using the Avia brand.
Before the war the company produced civilian and military aircraft, including the Avia BH-1, Avia BH-21, Avia B-534 and Avia B-71 (Soviet licensed Tupolev SB). Early Avia designers were Benes and Hajn: hence initials in aircraft designations. BH-1 was light sporting two-seater; BH-3 a low-wing strut-braced single-seat fighter for the Czechoslovak National Defense Ministry; BH-25 a five seater; BH-26 a two-seat fighter; BH-33 a single-seat biplane fighter developed from the BH-21.
Company made Fokker F.VII/3m under license, and Avia FIV IX was a Fokker-designed bomber. Before the war the company built fast metal-skinned transports of original design: Avia 51, 56, and 57. B 534 biplane was outstanding single-seat biplane fighter (445 built) used by Czechoslovak Air Force and widely considered best of class in Continental Europe. B 71 was Soviet-designed monoplane bomber.
In 1945 factories were reconstituted under Government, but production of Avia 36 light monoplane was resumed and Douglas C-47s were converted for civil use. Avia had started building Messerschmitt Me 109G soon after WWII as the Avia S-99, but soon ran out of the 109's Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine.
Also during the war the Germans set up a number of assembly plants in Czechoslovakia for production of the Messerschmitt Me 262, designated the Avia S-92. After the war the manufacturing infrastructure remained intact, so production could start up again for the new owners.
The first S-92 was assembled at Letňany Research Institute in 1945 with the airframes coming from Avia and the engines from the repair works in Malešice (the Junkers Jumo 004, now called the M-04). The S-92's first flight was on 27 September 1946, with Avia's chief pilot Antonin Kraus in control. That same year on December 10 the CS-92 took to the air for the first time.
Delivery of the first S-92 to the Czechoslovak Air Force was on 6 February 1948. Twelve were made in all, nine S-92 and three CS-92, equipping the 5th Fighter Flight, until they were grounded for use as instructional airframes in 1951.
By the time Yugoslavia showed interest in buying the S-92, Avia was looking at closing down the production line to make way for newer up-to-date aircraft, and when Avia were given a license to make the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 15 Fagot (they were already making the Yakovlev Yak 23 Flora, as the S-101) the S-92 production lines were dismantled.
An Avia S-92 (A-1a) and Avia CS-92 (B-1a) can be seen at the Vojenské Muzeum, Kbely AB.
The Avia S-199 was a fighter aircraft built in Czechoslovakia after World War II using parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production that had taken place in the country during the war. While a problematic aircraft, unpopular with its pilots, it achieved fame as the first fighter obtained by the Israeli Air Force for use during the War of Independence. Czechoslovak pilots nicknamed it Mezek ("Mule"), whilst in Israel it was known as the Messer ("knife"; it is a common mistake that it was nicknamed Sakeen; the official name was even different - Python).
The S-199 continued to use the Me 109G airframe, but with none of the original engines available, the engine (Junkers Jumo 211) and propeller from the Heinkel He 111 bomber were used instead. The result of this compromise was an aircraft with poor handling qualities. The substitute engine lacked the responsiveness of the Daimler-Benz unit, was heavier, and the torque created by the massive paddle-bladed propeller made control difficult. This latter flaw, combined with the 109's narrow-track undercarriage also made landings and take-offs more hazardous. A final hidden danger lay in the synchronization gear which did not seem to work properly, leading a few Israeli aircraft to shoot off their own propellers.
Later produced Avia B-33 (licensed Ilyushin Il-10) or Avia 14 (licensed Ilyushin Il-14M), that airliner version (able to carry 42 passengers) became the largest aircraft ever produced in Czechoslovakia.
In 1992, AVIA was transformed into a stock company, and also Avia - Hamilton Standard, a new company with AVIA's equity share manufacturing aircraft propeller was established. One year later, the propeller manufacture was moved from the Letňany factory to the new premises near Stará Boleslav. This definitively terminated the aircraft production in Letňany.