Avia B-534 is a Czechoslovakian biplane produced during the
period between the Great War and
World War II.
The B-534 is
considered one of the last aircraft built with a classic biplane
Design and development
The B-534 was designed as a single-engine
with a license-built Hispano-Suiza inline
powerplant, and fixed
. Four 7.92 mm
(0.312 in) machine guns
located in the sides of the fuselage
firing through the propeller
. The air
forces of the 1930s were reluctant to abandon the maneuverability
and climb rates of biplanes for the speed of monoplanes
, even in the face of new and better
technology. The success of the Soviet pilots with biplanes may have
contributed to this reluctance; they were known to strip their
aircraft of sliding canopies
preferring to have the wind in their faces. Aircraft with two
fabric-covered wings and fixed landing gear were also less
expensive to manufacture.
The first B-534 prototype
flew in late May
1933. More work followed and the first order for the Czechoslovakian Air Force
in mid-1934. At that time, the B-534 was well ahead of its
contemporaries. The United Kingdom was still dependent on Hawker Furies, with the first Gloster Gladiators being produced at this
time. The Soviet Union was placing its hope on its Polikarpov aircraft designs. The United States was still using descendants of the Curtiss Hawk series, with the Seversky P-35 and Curtiss
P-36 just about to fly prototypes.
First deliveries of
the B-534 to the Czechoslovakian air force
late 1935, and 445 or so had been completed by 1938.
The abrupt partition of Czechoslovakia in 1939 prevented the use of
the B-534 in combat by the nation that had produced it. By then,
high performance monoplanes such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 109
, Hawker Hurricane
and Supermarine Spitfire
were raising the
bar of fighter/interceptor standards. Four sub-types were produced
during the B-534's production run, all with mostly minor
One major variation was introduced in this production run. The
B-534 was designed to carry one 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon
firing through the nose and only two 7.92 mm (0.312 in)
machine guns to the sides. Developmental problems prevented the
cannon from ever being used and, desperate to get more aircraft in
the air, Avia decided to use a third machine gun in the nose only
weeks before the German annexation of Czechoslovakia. Only three
machines with this configuration were completed for the Czech air
force, and the remaining production block was finished for the
The B-534 was first used in combat by the Slovenské vzdušné
(Slovak Air Force). Germany took control of the
“Czech” part of Czechoslovakia as Protectorate of Bohemia and
, leaving the “Slovak” part, Slovakia
, as a minor ally.
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.
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
, or some other mix of alcohol,
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
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
airfield. On 2 September
, Master Sergeant František 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
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
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 Ploieşti.
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
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
- B-534/1 : First prototype.
- B-534/2 : Second prototype.
- B-534-I : First production version.
- B-534-II :
- B-534-III :
- B-534-IV : Closed canopy
- Bk-534 :
One B-534 replica is on display in Aviation Museum Prague-Kbely
. A second very convincing
replica using some original parts (like the Kbely example) is
displayed at the aviation museum at Kosice airport, Slovakia.
Bulgarian Air Force operated
between 48 and 100 aircraft (though mostly the number 78 is named),
which they called "Dogan" (Hunting Hawk).
- : An unknown number of Avia B-534 aircraft were supplied by the
- :The German Luftwaffe used
most of the airframes confiscated from the Czechs. These aircraft
served through the early years of the war as trainers, night fighters, glider tugs, and three were used to test carrier landing operations for the aborted
.. The Germans had another use as well: B-534s also starred
disguised as Polish fighters in a German propaganda film, "Kampfgeschwader Lützow".
- :A Greek businessman bought two B-534s and presented them to
the Greek government. They were lost in the chaos of 1941.
- :One B-534 was captured by the Hungarians during the border war
in 1939 and tested for a period, carrying the code HA-VAB, later
- :Together with three DFS 230 gliders,
Romania received an unknown number of Avia B-534 tugs according to
- Slovakia:Slovenské vzdušné
zbrane (Slovak Air Force) operated several B-534s from
- : A number (eight is given in some sources) of B-534s were
allegedly used by the Soviets in a secret NKVD squadron to shadow
flights of German aircraft.
Specifications (B-534 IV)
- Krybus 1967, p. 10.
- Vraný 1994, p. 45.
- Vrany 1994, pp. 34, 45–46.
- Vrany 1994, pp. 39, 44.
- Krybus 1967, p. 8.
- Vraný 1994, p. 46.
- Vraný 1991, backcover
- Kudlička 2006, backcover.
- Šumicrast 2003, pp. 2–51.
- Vraný 1994, pp. 46–49.
- Bílý, Miroslav and Jiří Vraný. Avia B-534: Czechoslovak
Fighter, 3rd and 4th Version (Model File). Praha, Czech
Republic: MBI, 2008. ISBN 80-8652415-9. With 71 pages the most
comprehensive detail publication about the B-534 to date.
- Cieślak, Krzysztof. Samolot Mysliwski Avia B.534 (Typy
Broni i Uzbrojenia 34) (in Polish). Warszawa, Poland:
Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1975.
- Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War,
Fighters, Volume One. London: Macdonald & Co.(Publishers)
Ltd., 1960. ISBN 0-356-01445-2.
- Krybus, Josef. The Avia B.534 (Aircraft in Profile number
152). Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd.,
1967. ISBN B000-7K11J-M.
- Kudlička, Bohumil. Avia B.534 Czechoslovakian Fighter
1933-45. Praha, Czechia: CMK, 2006. ISBN 80-903778-0-7.
- Šumicrast, Peter. "Avia B.34, B.534 a Bk.534, Slovenských
Pilotov 1939-1944." HT model špeciál 905. Poprad,
Slovakia: HT Model, 2003, ISSN 1335-3667.
- Titz, Zdenek. Czechoslovakian Air Force, 1918-1970.
Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publications Ltd., 1971. ISBN
- Vraný, Jiří. Avia B.534 (in Czech). Praha,
Czechoslovakia: AeroArchiv, 1991. ISBN 80-7030-114-7.
- Vraný, Jiří. Avia B.534. Praha, Czech Republic: MBI,
1994. ISBN 80-901263-6-7.