History of Tatra airplanes

Ringhoffer–Tatra Ltd dealt with the production of vehicles from the outset, beginning with carriages and coaches, before progressing to train wagons, motor vehicles and cars. With the permission of the Ministry of Trade and with the agreement of the Ministry of Defence and Public Services, the company’s aeronautical department was established in 1935 at the factory in Studenka.

On 1st June 1935 the aeronautical department in Studenka officially began work.

Ing. Karel Tomáš

During 1934–1935 the firm managed to gain experienced aeronautical designers and engineers from Prague factories. For instance, Ing. Karel Tomas was made head constructor. He came to Tatra from Letov, where he hed been a co-founder of that company.

Besides Ing. Tomas the team at Studenka were:

  • Karel Brdicka – chief of fuselage development
  • Alois Vosecky – wing design
  • František Horak – powerplant and landing gear design
  • Rudolf Sailer - weaponry
  • Ing. František Havelka – structural engineer
  • Josef Hříbal – chief of production

Tatra T-131


The first project that the company worked on was a licence-built version of the Bucker Bü–131 Jungmann, which Tatra produced as the Tatra T–131. Many of the company’s staff had never worked on aircraft before, so licence production was ideal for introducing the workers to aircraft design and manufacture.

The company’s next project was a licence produced version of the Avro 626, under the designation Tatra T–126. This biplane was chosen because it was seen as a technological step up from the T-131, and was therefore a progression for the company. The Avia RH–17 9-cylinder radial engine, producing 309/265 kW (420/360 k), was chosen as the most suitable powerplant.

Tatra T-001

The first Tatra aeroplane of original design was a very powerful low wing monoplane with two seats in tandem. This was the experimental Tatra T–001, which had some parts in common with the Bü–131. The prototype was built and test flown through the first half of 1937, and received the registration OK–TAN. The aeroplane was very efficient and its potential for development was obvious from the outset.

The first development of the Tatra T-001 was the Tatra T–101, registered as OK–TAO. This design was characterized by the greater span of its wings and increased wing-area, which enabled the aeroplane to carry higher loads. This would prove very useful for distance flights. The tail surfaces were also somewhat enlarged. The aeroplane was designed primarily for air tourism and high performance flying, and it would soon go on to gain a number of records.

Tatra T-101

Další verze označená Tatra T-201 měla sloužit pro sportovní účely a byla navržena v listopadu 1937 a postavená o něco později. Ve srovnání s T-101 měla menší rozpětí a nosnou plochu, zato však vyšší rychlost. Díky svým vynikajícím letovým vlastnostem T-201 vyhrála několik mezinárodních soutěží. Bylo vyrobeno pouze pět letounů této verze.

The next development was the Tatra T–201, which was intended for sport purposes and was designed in November 1937. Compared to T–101, it had slightly smaller wings of increased dihedral and smaller tail surfaces; it was a high speed design. Thanks to its outstanding flying properties the T–201 won several international competitions. However, only five T-201’s were produced.

The fourth modification of the basic type T–001 remained unfinished. Designated T–401, this aeroplane should have become a base for further series production. The Tatra T–401 differed primarily from the previous types by having the two seats in a side-by-side layout, and by being made completely of wood. The fuselage had been built, and all strength examinations had been carried out successfully when work stopped.

Tatra T-201

Tatra aeroplanes achieved huge success in several international competitions during their short lifetime. In 1937, a Tatra T–131 piloted by R. Tous participated in the 2nd National Competition in Aerobatics. In 1937, Tatra aeroplanes aroused public notice with international speed records in the light sport aeroplane category on closed triangular curcuit routes. Captain Cervinka obtained a number of records with Tatra T–001: solo over 100 km, 100 km with two persons, solo record of 500 km and the record on a 500 km route with two persons, all with the speed of 231 km/h. On the 16th March 1938, the Tatra T–101 was flown by Major K. Brazda to several height records in the category of light multi-seat sport aeroplanes with engine capacity up to 4 litres. Firstly, a height of 7,113 m was reached, breaking the international record for two-seat aeroplanes and at the same time an old height record for single seat aeroplanes was broken as well. Subsequently, the aeroplane reached the height of 7,470 m, which was 1000 m over the existing acknowledged height record. In the same year, a record distance flight direct from Prague to Al-Khartoum was made, covering some 4,340 km without any stops.

Overview of Tatra aeroplanes

Type Year of
Usage Crew Dimensions Weight
wing area
T-131 1936 training plane 2 7.4 6.7 13.5 365 630
T-126 1937 training plane 2 10.36 8.08 27.9 975 1300
T-001 1937 sport plane 2 9 6.62 11.4 400 670
T-101 1938 sport plane 2 13 6.62 16.4 500 780
T-201 1938 sport plane 2 10 6.9 13.2 450 720
T-301 1938 sport plane 2 10 6.9 13.2 450 720


Type Engine Airspeed Ceiling
type power maximum
T-131 Tatra HM-504 70 kW (95 hp) 190 165 4000 2000/15 700
T-126 Avia RK 17 265 kW (360 hp) 240 210 6500 3000/18 750
T-001 Tatra HM 504 70 kW (95 hp) 224 150 5000 1000/5.5 750
T-101 Tatra HM 504 70 kW (95 hp) 215 190 5500 1000/6 1200
T-201 Tatra HM 504 70 kW (95 hp) 225 200 5500 1000/5.5 1200
T-301 Tatra HM 504 70 kW (95 hp) 220 195 5500 1000/5.5 1200