Schempp-Hirth Discus

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Discus 800.jpg
Role Standard-class sailplane
Manufacturer Schempp-Hirth
Designer Klaus Holighaus
Number built >850

The Schempp-Hirth Discus is a Standard Class glider designed by Schempp-Hirth. It was produced in Germany between 1984 and 1995 but has continued in production in the Czech Republic. It replaced the Standard Cirrus. It was designed by Klaus Holighaus.

Design and development[edit]

The Discus was the first production sailplane to have a distinctive swept-back leading edge. This is now common in contemporary sailplanes.

Studies had long shown that the ideal wing for minimizing induced drag should be an elliptic planform. To keep production costs down, a triple-trapezoidal approximation of this shape was adopted for the Discus. The wing section was also new. Winglets were only available towards the end of the production run, though many have been retro-fitted. The fuselage and tail were adapted from the Schempp-Hirth Ventus. A version with a narrow fuselage is called the Discus 'a' and the wider fuselage version is called the 'b'. The fuselage is made of glass-reinforced plastic around a steel tube frame. The wings and tail surfaces are also fiberglass with the exception of the main wing spar, which is made of carbon fiber. There is a 6.5L water ballast tank in the fin for trimming purposes when the main wing mounted ballast tanks are in use (184L combined) for a maximum wingloading of 50kg/m2

Competition use[edit]

The Discus dominated standard class sailplane racing throughout the 1980s, winning the 1985, 1987 and 1989 World Gliding Championships.


The best measured glide ratio is 42.5:1. Though it is considered a high performance sailplane, its handling is well within the capabilities of inexperienced pilots. With no bad manners, powerful airbrakes and a low landing speed, the Discus is popular with clubs. Discuses are easy gliders to assemble, having light wings, automatic control hookups and a single pin securing the wings.


Over 850 Discuses had been built by 2004 and it remains in production today despite the introduction of its successor, the Schempp-Hirth Discus-2. About 12 per year are built under license by Schempp-Hirth Vyroba in the Czech Republic as the Discus CS. Some models are fitted with small sustaining engines (turbos) and are designated Discus T.

Specifications (Discus b)[edit]

Instrument panel in a Discus CS.

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 6.58 m (21 ft 7 in)
  • Wingspan: 15.00 m (49 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 1.30 m (4 ft 3 in)
  • Wing area: 10.58 m2 (113.9 ft2)
  • Aspect ratio: 21.3
  • Empty weight: 230 kg (510 lb)
  • Gross weight: 525 kg (1,160 lb)


  • Maximum speed: 250 km/h (155 mph)
  • Maximum glide ratio: 42.5
  • Rate of sink: 0.59 m/s (116 ft/min)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


External links[edit]