Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 in US Hands, March 1944

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 in US Hands, March 1944


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Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 in US Hands, March 1944

This aerial photo shows a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 being operating by the US Navy. The original Navy caption gives it the WkNr 6005 (painted onto the tail), but this was a US code. Other sources make this WkNr 150 051. The aircraft was tested by the US Navy during 1944.


The Focke-Wulf FW-190

* The burden of air combat for Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe fell mainly to two fighter aircraft: the Messerschmitt "Bf-109" and the Focke-Wulf "FW-190". Of the two, the FW-190 was the more advanced and potent aircraft, and served not only in air to air combat, but as a fighter-bomber, a close-support aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft. This document provides a short history of the FW-190.

* Professor Kurt Waldemar Tank started out in the aviation industry in 1924 as an engineer at the Rohrbach company, changing jobs in 1930 to work for Willy Messerschmitt in Augsburg. The Messerschmitt concern fell on hard times in 1931, and so Tank left to join the Focke-Wulf company in Bremen, where he became technical director.

Tank designed a number of aircraft for Focke-Wulf, including the "FW-200 Kondor" long-range airliner, which would be used as a ocean patrol aircraft in the war. Although the Kondor would be a terrible nuisance to the Allies in the conflict, they would be even more threatened by one of his later innovations, the radial-engine fighter known as the "FW-190".

In the spring of 1938, the Messerschmitt Bf-109 was filling up the ranks of the Luftwaffe as the service's first-line fighter. The Bf-109 was an excellent aircraft and had not yet reached its full potential, but the German Air Ministry (ReichsLuftMinisterium / RLM) wanted to hedge their bets and have an alternate fighter in case future improvement of the Bf-109 ran out of steam sooner than expected.

The RLM issued a request for such an advanced fighter. The Focke-Wulf company responded with a number of designs based on the Daimler-Benz "DB-601" 12-cylinder inverted-vee water-cooled engine, which was to be the main production engine for the Bf-109. The RLM rejected these designs as they didn't offer that much new over the Bf-109, which was to be allocated all the DB-601s built anyway.

Tank had a different idea up his sleeve, a design that featured a "BMW-139" two-row 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with 1,550 horsepower, contrary to the general preference of German fighter designers for inline water-cooled engines. Tank chose the BMW radial engine because he believed it offered high reliability, greater horsepower in the long run, and was in principle available to support volume production of a new type of aircraft.

The RLM was interested in Tank's concept, and in the summer of 1938 awarded Focke-Wulf an initial contract for three prototypes, followed by authorization of a fourth in the spring of 1939. The RLM's enthusiasm over the type was so great that the manufacture of 40 pre-production aircraft was authorized as well, even before any of the machines had flown.

* The "FW-190-V1" (V1 meaning "Versuchs 1 / Prototype 1") flew from the Bremen airport on 1 June 1939 with test pilot Hans Sander at the controls. Tank himself, a skilled pilot and definitely a "hands-on" engineer, performed some of the test flights. He gave the machine the name "Wuerger (Butcher Bird / Shrike)".

Early test flights demonstrated some problems, including leakage of carbon monoxide fumes into the cockpit failure of the landing gear to lock up when being raised and engine and cockpit overheating. The first two problems were quickly resolved, but the overheating troubles proved harder to fix.

The V1 originally featured a three-bladed variable-pitch propeller with an oversized prop spinner. The spinner fitted flush to the edge of the engine cowling for streamlining, with a central duct surrounding a ten-bladed fan for airflow, but this configuration didn't cool the rear set of cylinders very well. The oversized prop spinner was replaced by a conventional prop spinner, which didn't do much to eliminate the overheating problem but demonstrated no real reduction in performance, and so was retained for all following FW-190s.

The cockpit overheating remained a serious nuisance. Temperatures reached up to 55 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit), and Sander complained that sitting in the cockpit "was like having your feet in a fire!" Unfortunately, the canopy couldn't be opened in flight to cool off, as the open canopy set up too much turbulence over the tail.

The difficulties did not disguise the fact that the new fighter was fast, powerful, and agile. Sander demonstrated the V1 at the Luftwaffe flight test center at Rechlin in early July 1939, including a show for Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, who was so enthusiastic that he endorsed mass production of the type, saying it should be "turned out like hot rolls!" Luftwaffe test pilots were also enthusiastic about the new machine, stating that it handled better than the Bf-109.

However, the BMW-139 engine was clearly unsatisfactory. Even before the initial flight of the V1 prototype, the decision had been made to go to a different engine. Although the "V2" prototype was too near completion to be modified, the BMW-139-powered "V3" and "V4" prototypes were both cancelled, with prototype construction moving on to a "V5" prototype with an air-cooled 14-cylinder two-row "BMW-801" providing 1,600 horsepower, fitted with a 12-blade cooling fan.

* The BMW-139-powered V2 prototype performed its first flight in October 1939. It had the oversized prop spinner and was the first FW-190 to be armed, with two MG-17 7.9 millimeter machine guns fitted in the cowling in front of the cockpit, and an MG-17 fitted in each wing root, for a total of four guns. Unfortunately, after only 50 hours of test flights, the crankshaft of the BMW-139 engine broke and the aircraft crashed.

The V5 performed its first flight in April 1940. The BMW-801 provided more horsepower than the BMW-139, but it was also heavier, and to maintain center of gravity the cockpit of the V5 was shifted back along the fuselage. This reduced the cockpit overheating problem and provided greater space in the nose for armament.

The weight increase was substantial, 635 kilograms (1,400 pounds), leading to higher wing loading and reduced agility. As a result, following a collision with a ground vehicle in August 1940 that sent the V5 back to the factory for major repairs, the aircraft was rebuilt with larger wings and a modified tailplane and redesignated "V5g" (where "g" stood for "grosser / bigger"). The new wing provided much better handling.

* By this time, the Luftwaffe was evaluating pre-production "FW-190A-0" aircraft with BMW-801 engines, following initial deliveries of this subvariant in March 1940. The first seven A-0s had the original short-span wing, with the larger wing evaluated on the V5g fitted on the eighth, to become production standard.

Although the BMW-801 was a major improvement over the BMW-139, the service evaluation was plagued by engine failures and fires, to the extent that pilots were reluctant to fly the FW-190A-0s very far from their airfields. Arguments and finger-pointing between Focke-Wulf and BMW became as hot as the engines, and the RLM even threatened to cancel the program.

Focke-Wulf and BMW then put their differences aside as best they could and focused on getting the engine problems under control. After 50 modifications to fix the engine problems, the FW-190 was approved for series production in mid-1941, with several factories tooling up to build the machines. Deliveries of the first formal production model, the "FW-190A-1", began in June 1941. 100 were built.

* The FW-190A-1 was a tidy, muscular, sturdy, aggressive-looking aircraft, powered by a "BMW-801C" engine with 1,600 horsepower driving a three-bladed variable-pitch propeller, with a low-mounted wing and "taildragger" landing gear. The flight control surfaces provided large area for high maneuverability, and also featured an unusual system of control connections. Traditionally, flight surfaces had been moved by a system of wires and pulleys connected to the cockpit controls, but the wires tended to stretch over time, leading to slop. The FW-190 replaced the longer connections with a system of rods to correct this problem.

The landing gear had been designed to be stronger than required by the aircraft's expected maximum take-off weight to give some margin for future weight growth. The main gear hinged in the wings to retract towards the fuselage, giving the aircraft a wide, comfortable track for ground handling, while the tailwheel was semi-retractable. However, the taildragger configuration and the big radial engine gave the pilot a terrible forward view while taxiing, leading to accidents. Pilots would learn to taxi with a ground crewman sitting or lying on the wing to give them directions.

The FW-190 was one of the first aircraft to feature a one-piece plexiglas canopy to give the pilot all-round vision. The canopy slid backwards to open. When it proved very difficult to jettison the canopy in an emergency at high speeds, an ejection mechanism was designed to pop the canopy up into the airstream, where it would be pulled off by the draft.

Armament consisted of four MG-17 7.9 millimeter machine guns, with two in the top of the engine cowling and one in each wing root. All four guns were synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. The cockpit was fitted with armor plate for pilot protection.

Performance and maneuverability of the "Anton", as Luftwaffe pilots called the A-series, were excellent, though the machine did have a few eccentricities that caused problems for inexperienced pilots, and its performance fell off at altitudes above 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). The reliability of the BMW-801 engine also remained unsatisfactory for the moment.

The FW-190 was designed in a modular fashion, to allow dispersal of sub-assembly production among many different manufacturers, and simplify maintenance by permitting rapid replacement of aircraft assemblies in the field. The FW-190 was very well thought out from all points of view. Tank, who had been in the cavalry during World War I, called the FW-190 a "cavalry horse", built to endure rough field conditions, as opposed to other fighters built mostly with performance in mind, which he called "racehorses".

* The British Royal Air Force (RAF) first encountered the FW-190A-1 in air combat over the coast of northern France in September 1941. The new German aircraft was more than a match for the Spitfire V. British intelligence was initially puzzled by reports of the new German fighter, with some speculation that the type might actually be a captured French Curtiss Hawk 75 or the Bloch 151 fighter, both of which were radial-engine machines with a vague resemblance to the FW-190. By the end of the year, the British had no doubt that they were up against something much more formidable.

The dogfights had shown the FW-190A-1's four 7.9 millimeter guns lacked killing power. The Focke-Wulf design team was aware that the FW-190's armament was inadequate, having settled on the four machine guns due to temporary difficulties in obtaining heavier armament, and in fact the A-1 was basically regarded as an operational evaluation type that was not entirely fit for real combat.

The next A-series subvariant, the "FW-190A-2", replaced the MG-17 machine gun in each wing root with a more potent Mauser belt-fed MG-151/20 20 millimeter cannon with 200 rounds per gun, providing a total armament of two machine guns and two cannon. Replacement of the wing root machine guns with the cannon required fit of a shallow blister on the top of the wing near the fuselage.

Many of the A-2s were fitted with an MG-FF 20 millimeter cannon, a copy of the Swiss Oerlikon design, in each wing outboard of the landing gear, for a powerful total armament of two machine guns and four cannon. The MG-FF was drum-fed, with 55 rounds in a drum.

Some sources state that the MG-FF, not the MG-151/20, was also used in the wing root station. Admittedly the mix of cannon types was a bit odd, all the more so because the two used incompatible ammunition, but the same odd combination would be used in the next subvariant, the A-3, and is well documented. In addition, pictures of what is described as the A-2 show a long-barreled cannon in the wing root position, consistent with the MG-151/20, which was about half again as long as the MG-FF.

The A-2 also featured an improved "BMW-801C-2" engine. Deliveries of the A-2 began in the fall of 1941. All the fighters were sent to the English Channel front for the moment, as the Luftwaffe had been intimidated by the Spitfire V and wanted to put the RAF in their place.

* In February 1942, FW-190s of Adolf Galland's JG-26 squadron escorted the battle cruisers SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU on their famous "Channel Dash" from France to the Baltic, with the Focke-Wulf fending off attacks by RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires, and shooting down all of a flight of six Swordfish torpedo-bombers that courageously pressed their attack despite the odds.

By spring, Focke-Wulf had shifted production to the next version of the Anton, the "FW-190A-3". The A-3 featured an uprated "BMW-801D-2" with 1,700 horsepower, plus the four wing cannon as production standard, and minor cowling modifications. The BMW-801D-2 was the first really reliable variant, largely eliminating the engine problems that had dogged the FW-190, and would be retained in following A-series production. Following initial production, the A-3's FuG-7 HF radio was switched to the FuG-16 VHF radio, with more power and longer range.

The FW-190 was proving such a menace to the RAF that that a risky commando mission named "Operation Airthief" was planned to steal one from a French airfield, but the operation was called off because on 23 June 1942, Oberleutnant Armin Faber got a little confused and landed his A-3 on an RAF airfield by mistake. Flight evaluation of the captured Focke-Wulf showed it to have a few weaknesses, just not very many. The RAF rested their hopes in matching the FW-190 with the new "Spitfire IX", which was a Spitfire V hastily fitted with a new "Merlin 61" engine.

The Spitfire IX went into service in July 1942. The RAF hoped to give the Luftwaffe a bloody nose during the "practice invasion" at Dieppe in August 1942, which was partly intended to lure the FW-190s up to fight. Unfortunately, the Dieppe operation was badly planned, badly executed, and the FW-190s were more than willing to accept the RAF's challenge, inflicting disproportionate losses on the Spitfires. One FW-190 pilot, Josef Wurmheller, shot down seven Spitfire Vs in one day over Dieppe.

The Spitfire IX did help even the odds over the long run, but Focke-Wulf was still churning out better versions of the Butcher Bird. The "FW-190A-4" went into production in late 1942, the primary improvement being the addition of an "MW-50" water-methanol power boost system for the BMW-801 engine. The MW-50 injected water into the engine's cylinders to raise the engine's redline limit for a short period of time. The methanol was mainly intended as anti-freeze.

The A-4 also introduced a small but distinctive modification in the form of a short radio aerial mast mounted on top of the vertical tailplane. This item would be retained in later production. The A-4 was the first FW-190 subvariant to see real service on the Eastern Front.

In April 1943, the production lines began turning out the the next subvariant, the "FW-190A-5", which was almost indistinguishable from the A-4 but added a lengthened engine mounting to increase strength and reduce vibration. The new mounts stretched the aircraft by about 15 centimeters (six inches) and became production standard.

* These new subvariants were produced in a number of modifications, the details of which are a confusing subject. Some of the modifications were straightforward. For example, the "Trop (Tropicalized)" modification provided engine sand filters and a survival kit for desert warfare.

However, in most cases, the subvariant modifications were provided initially in the form of factory upgrade kits, known as "Umrust-Bausatz" and given "U"-series modification codes, and later field upgrade kits, known as "Rustsaetze" and given "R"-series modification codes, and the variations are bewildering. For example, the tropicalized A-4 was an "FW-190A-4/Trop" the "FW-190A-3/U1" featured a factory upgrade kit with a bomb rack for use a fighter-bomber ("Jagd-Bomber" or "Jabo") and the "FW-190A-4/U4" featured two cameras in the rear fuselage for service as a reconnaissance fighter.

Documenting the subvariant modifications is troublesome, not merely because there were so many of them, but because the modification codes could have different meanings when applied to different subvariants, and aircraft were sometimes fitted with multiple upgrade kits. Poking around in the subject in detail is a headache.

In any case, the upgrade kits reached full expression with the A-5, with at least sixteen different modifications, though no more than half actually saw combat. Modifications did see operational service included:

The rockets were inaccurate and more a distraction to USAAF bomber crews than a real threat, helping to scatter bomber formations but rarely scoring a kill. In contrast, the heavy cannon armament proved highly effective. Incidentally, "Doedel" is a slang term for "penis", and was clearly given to the rockets for their phallic shape.

* In the Jabo role, the FW-190 could carry a 500 kilogram (1,100 pound) bomb, or combinations of other stores, such as fragmentation bombs or cluster bombs. A 1,000 kilogram (2,200 pound) SB 1000 bomb could be carried if one of its tailfins was removed, though it was a cumbersome load.

Jabo FW-190s armed with 250 kilogram (550 pound) bombs were used to make "hit-and-run" daylight attacks on British towns in 1942 and 1943. Most of these were nuisance attacks on coastal towns in ones or twos, but on 31 October 1942, 30 FW-190s hit Cantebury in reprisal for RAF raids on German cities.

The FW-190 bomber destroyers provided an important component of the Reich's air defense system after the US Army Air Force (USAAF) began daylight raids in late 1942. The Luftwaffe quickly learned that USAAF B-24s and B-17s were not easy targets, as both bombers could soak up many hits before going down and had heavy defensive armament.

At first, Luftwaffe pilots used "tail-chase" tactics, but then it was realized that the bombers were much more vulnerable to fire from the front, and also had weak forward defensive armament. The result was a switch to "head-on" attacks, which allowed the fighters to exploit these weaknesses. The high relative speed of the interceptors as they passed through the bomber formations from front to back also complicated the lives of American gunners.

However, the head-on attacks also gave Luftwaffe pilots little time to score hits or to react to a looming head-on collision. The new tactics were much more effective for good fighter pilots, but less effective for mediocre ones. Despite this, FW-190s smashed up a raid on Regensburg and Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943 so badly that the Americans gave up daylight bombing over Germany until the long-range P-51B/C Mustang escort fighter came into service.

Even when escorts arrived, the FW-190 was never a pushover for any Allied pilots, anywhere. Many Luftwaffe pilots racked up large numbers of kills, particularly on the Eastern front. The Luftwaffe's fourth highest scoring pilot, Oberleutnant Otto Kittle, who scored 267 victories, got 220 of his kills in FW-190A-4s and A-5s, making him the high scorer with the type. Other German aces, including Walter Nowotny, Heinz Baer, Herman Graf, and Kurt Buhligen, all scored over a hundred kills in the FW-190.

The FW-190 was also pressed into service as a night fighter against RAF bombers, using "Wilde Sau (Wild Boar)" tactics championed by Major Hajo Hermann. Although the FW-190s used in Wilde Sau sorties had few or no optimizations for night fighting, the glare of fires below and searchlights highlighted the attackers, allowing the fighters operating above the bomber stream to see target aircraft beneath them.

After the British started dropping "window" (chaff) to jam German radars in July 1943, Wild Sau suddenly acquired a new importance and priority. Wilde Sau was effective but troublesome, since getting back to base and landing in the dark, particularly in poor weather, was difficult and dangerous. By early 1944, the Luftwaffe had been able to compensate for an extent to Allied radar countermeasures, and the Wilde Sau squadrons were generally returned to day combat.

* As is often the case with aircraft that evolve through a long series of variants, the FW-190 suffered from "weight creep", and so a new, bigger, lighter wing was designed, going into production in the "FW-190A-6" subvariant in June 1943.

The new wing featured a standard fit of an MG-151/20 cannon in the wing root and the outer wing, replacing the MG-FF in that position, for a total of four cannon, along with the MG-17 machine guns in the cowling. The A-6 was primarily designed for the battlefield close-support ("Schlacht / Slaughter") role, and also featured increased armor.

In Schlacht operations, the FW-190 carried such warloads as eight SC-50 50 kilogram (110 pound) bombs, with four on the wings and four on the centerline rack, and also the AB-250 250 kilogram (550 pound) cluster bomb canister. The AB-250 could be filled with a range of submunitions, such as SD-2 two kilogram (4.4 pound) anti-personnel fragmentation "butterfly bombs",or SD-4 four kilogram (8.8 pound) hollow-charge anti-armor bomblets.

The cannon of the FW-190 also proved effective in attacks on ground targets, and the aircraft was rugged enough to take punishment, as well as dish it out. The FW-190 would gradually become the backbone of the Schlacht force, displacing the antiquated and overly vulnerable Junkers Ju-87 Stuka.

As with the A-5, upgrade kits were developed for the A-6. However, while the A-5 was fitted with factory upgrade kits, the focus for the A-6 was field upgrade kits, so that the aircraft could be adapted on the front line to different roles as the tactical situation demanded.

* The primary improvement in the "FW-190A-7", which went into production at the end of 1943, was the replacement of the two 7.92 millimeter MG-17 machine guns in the cowling with 13 millimeter MG-131s and a new gunsight. While most of the Anton subvariants were built in quantities of hundreds, only about 80 A-7s were built, with the aircraft configured as bomber destroyers, fitted with underwing rockets or additional cannon packs.

The next subvariant, the "FW-190A-8", turned out to be the most heavily produced of all FW-190 subvariants, with over 1,300 built. It was essentially an A-7 with the option for either GM-1 nitrous-oxide engine boost for high-altitude operation, or an additional internal fuel tank, and many detail improvements. Many different modifications of the A-8 were implemented, employing the full range of factory and field update kits. The "R1" and "R2" were bomber destroyers with heavy underwing armament, while the "R3" was a tank destroyer with a long-barrel, high-velocity MK-103 cannon mounted in a fairing under each wing. The MK-103 apparently proved a bit too hefty and powerful for the FW-190, and this fit did not proceed beyond evaluations.

The "R8" was an improved bomber destroyer, nicknamed the "Sturmbock (Battering Ram)", with armor protection for the pilot and around the front of the engine, plus an MK-108 30 millimeter cannon in each outboard wing position instead of an MG-151/20. The armor allowed the Sturmbock to close in on a bomber and then kill it with the MK-108 cannon, using tail-chase tactics.

There were other experiments with heavily-armed bomber destroyers, but the increasing presence of escort fighters presented the Luftwaffe with a nasty dilemma. If they increased the FW-190's armor and firepower to deal with the bombers, the Focke-Wulf would then find itself outclassed in air combat with Allied fighters. If they reduced armor and armament, the FW-190 could hold its own, but it would then find it difficult to take on bombers.

As a result, the Luftwaffe established the "Sturmgruppe" tactic, in which a mass of FW-190s Sturmbocks would attack a bomber formation from behind, while they were protected from Allied escort fighters by Bf-109Gs optimized for dogfighting. Sturmgruppe pilots often wore "whites of the eyes" jacket patches, with two white crescents set side-by-side, to indicate their dedication to point-blank attacks.

The first Sturmgruppe missions were conducted in July 1944 and proved devastating. However, the USAAF quickly adapted to the tactic, sending escort fighters in the lead of the bomber formation to pounce on Sturmgruppe formations and break them up, and scheme gradually ceased to be effective.

* In fact, by the fall of 1944 the decline of the Luftwaffe was obvious. Hobbled by a lack of fuel and well-trained pilots, completely outnumbered by Allied fighters, the Luftwaffe made fewer and fewer sorties, and with those flights the rewards continued to diminish, while the losses increased. They fought on until the end, but all they could do was delay the inevitable.

German factories continued to produce FW-190s as well, if with increasing difficulty, but the A-8 turned out to be the last production Anton. The "FW-190A-9" was an A-8 with a BMW-801F engine with 2,000 horsepower. Some sources also claim the A-9 was fitted with an armored wing leading edge for service as a "Rammjaeger", knocking down bombers by ramming them. Home defense squadrons had been encouraged to use this tactic late in the war with earlier FW-190 subvariants, though it appears few pilots did so.

The "FW-190A-10", was a Jabo subvariant that was to feature an improved BMW-801TS or BMW-801TH engine. Neither of these subvariants got out of prototype evaluation.

* The "FW-190B" and "FW-190C" were experimental variants that did not reach production, and are discussed in a later section. The "FW-190D" was an production FW-190 derivative with a inline engine, which did reach production and is also discussed later. The "FW-190E" was to be a specialized reconnaissance variant, but modifications of FW-190As proved adequate for this role, and the FW-190E never even reached the prototype stage.

The "FW-190F" series did see service in numbers. The FW-190F was essentially an Anton tweaked as battlefield close support aircraft, or "Schlachtjaeger", with armor plate under the engine and cockpit for protection against ground fire, stronger landing gear to support greater take-off loads, and other modifications. The type was difficult to distinguish from an FW-190A, and in fact the series prototype was the "FW-190A-5/U17", a modification optimized for the Shlacht role.

Although their optimizations for the Schlacht role hampered their performance somewhat, they were still dangerous adversaries in air combat and racked up their own long lists of kills.

The "FW-190F-1" subvariant was based on the FW-190A-4. Only a small number were built, for evaluation purposes. The F-1 had reduced gun armament, with two MG-17 7.92 millimeter machine guns in the cowling and a 20 millimeter cannon in each wing, for a total of four guns. In compensation, it had racks under the fuselage to allow carriage of one 500 kilogram (1,100 pound) or four 50 kilogram (110 pound) bombs, plus an optional rack under each wing for a single 250 kilogram (550 pound) bomb or two 50 kilogram bombs.

The "FW-190F-2" was a derivative of the A-5 and featured a new "bulged" canopy to improve pilot vision, with the first of this series rolling off the production line in early 1943. The "FW-190F-3" was similarly derived from the A-6, with first deliveries in the summer of 1943.

Work on "F-5", "F-6", and "F-7" subvariants was abandoned near the end of 1943 to allow focus on the G-series, discussed below, but the F series was revived in 1944 as the "F-8", based on the A-8. The F-8 was the most heavily produced of the F-series, and reached service in the fall of 1944. It was much like the F-3, but had underwing stores racks as standard, an improved bomb-release system, and MG-131 13 millimeter cannon in place of the cowling-mounted MG-17s.

The F-8 was followed by the "F-9", which had a turbocharged BMW-801TS offering 2,000 horsepower and optional MW-50 water-methanol boost, but this subvariant did not reach service.

* The "FW-190G" was a long-range Jabo variant, built in parallel with the F-series, and generally similar except for the deletion of cowling guns to decrease weight and extend range. In fact, the G-series actually entered production before the FW-190F, initially seeing action in North Africa at the end of 1942.

Like the F-series, the G-series were basically equivalent to A-series aircraft fitted for the Schlacht role. The "G-1" was based on the A-4, while the "G-2" was based on the A-5. The "G-3" was bit more of a custom item, with an autopilot and a fuel injection system. The G-8 was based on the A-8.

* Although the BMW-801 radial engine was very powerful, as well as very rugged, its high-altitude performance was poor. As the GM-1 water-methanol boost system provided only a modest improvement in high-altitude performance, Kurt Tank's engineering team decided to see what might be done with water cooled inline inverted vee-12 engines, including the Junkers Jumo 213 and the more powerful Daimler-Benz 603.

The "FW-190B" series of prototypes Focke-Wulf's first attempts to build a high-altitude version of the Butcher Bird and featured test fits of the DB-603 engine, as well as the BMW-801 with GM-1 nitrous oxide boost. Some of the prototypes were also used to evaluate a pressurized cockpit, but these tests did not go well, and as the FW-190B didn't quite have the high-altitude reach that the RLM desired, the effort was abandoned in late 1942.

Focke-Wulf then concentrated on an improved high-altitude fighter variant, the "FW-190C", with the DB-603 inline engine. Following an initial prototype adapted from an FW-190B, six FW-190C prototypes were built. They featured a DB-603 inline engine, an annular radiator that gave the engine the appearance of a radial installation, and a four-bladed propeller. The six final prototypes featured an elaborate turbocharger installation, with two fitted with a Hirth 9-2281 turbocharger and four with a DVL TK-11 turbocharger.

The turbocharger scheme had some similarities to that on the US Republic P-47 Thunderbolt but wasn't as clean, resulting in a large assembly on the belly that gave the type the nickname "Kangaruh (Kangaroo)", since it suggested a kangaroo's pouch. The program was finally abandoned in the fall of 1943, as the turbocharger systems proved unreliable.

* Tank's engineering team was also working on another inline-powered variant, the "FW-190D", in principle for the high-altitude fighter role. The FW-190D was fitted with a Jumo 213A-1 engine providing 1,775 horsepower, or 2,240 horsepower for short periods with MW-50 water-methanol boost.

Development began in the spring of 1942, with prototype development based on modifications of FW-190A-0 fighters, the first of six flying in March 1942. These machines were given a rear fuselage extension to compensate for the lengthened nose, which had been stretched to fit the Jumo 213 engine, and were armed with twin MG-17 machine guns in the cowling and an MG-151/20 cannon in each wing root.

Some problems were encountered, but the type seemed promising enough for the RLM to authorize the construction of "FW-190D-0" preproduction prototypes in late 1943. These machines were similar to the development prototypes, but were based on FW-190A-7 airframes.

In the meantime, Tank was moving forward on the first full-production subvariant, the the "FW-190D-9". Exactly what happened to the "D-1" through "D-8" subvariant codes is a bit of a puzzle. In any case, the D-9 went into production in June 1944, with initial service deliveries in August.

The D-9 different from the prototypes in having a bigger vertical tailplane to improve yaw stability two MG-131 13 millimeter cannon replacing the two MG-17 guns in the cowling and a belly rack for carriage of a 500 kilogram (1,100 pound) bomb, as well as an optional stores rack under each wing. An MW-50 water-methanol boost system could also be installed. After initial production, the type was fitted with a bulged canopy to give better all-round visibility. A range of modification kits were provided for the type.

Tank made it plain that he regarded the Jumo-powered FW-190D-9 as an "interim solution", leading Luftwaffe pilots to believe that they were going to get an indifferent and clumsy lashup. Once they got their hands on the machine, they found out that the "Dora-Nine", as they called it, was a superb aircraft. It was faster, climbed more rapidly, and handled better than an Anton, and almost certainly the best piston fighter to be fielded in numbers by the Luftwaffe. The Dora-Nine proved to be a nasty handful for American P-51Ds and late-mark RAF Spitfires. Tank was just being fussy. The Dora-Nine was produced in good numbers, but unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, conditions were becoming increasingly difficult at this late date, with fuel and pilots running desperately short. Many of the FW-190D-9s built never saw combat, and in any case they were too few to have any influence on the course of the war. Those that did see action were often used as "top cover" for airfields operating the Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter, whose poor acceleration made it highly vulnerable during landings.

Despite this, Focke-Wulf continued to work on other subvariants of the D-series, though none of these others ended up being built in any numbers, if at all. For example, the "D-12" deleted the two MG-13 cannon in the cowling and replaced them with an MK-108 30 millimeter cannon firing through the propeller spinner, plus a more powerful Jumo 213F engine with 2,060 horsepower.

* Tank continued to tweak the inline-powered designs, resulting in the "Ta-152" series, with work along this line begun in late 1942. The "Ta" stood for "Tank", in honor of his contributions to the Reich. A confusing number of different Ta-152 variants were considered or built in prototype form in 1943 and 1944, converging on two types, the short-wing "Ta-152C" and the long-wing "Ta-152H", where the "H" stood for "Hoehenjaeger (High Altitude Fighter)."

The Ta-142C very much resembled the Dora-Nine, but featured a modified fuselage with the cockpit moved back. While early "Ta-152A" and "Ta-152B" prototypes were fitted with different models of the Jumo 213 engine, the Ta-152C featured the DB-603 engine. Armament was an MK-108 or MK-103 cannon firing through the prop spinner, along with two MG-151/20 cannon in the cowling and one in each wing root. Only about five Ta-152Cs were completed, the first flying in November 1944, as the decision was made to focus on the Ta-152H.

The Ta-152H was, as its name suggests, intended for the high-altitude interceptor role. It featured a modified fuselage like that of the Ta-152C, as well as extended wings with a span of 14.5 meters (47 feet 7 inches), and a Jumo 213E engine with a three-speed supercharger and 1,880 horsepower. It was armed with an MK-108 cannon firing through the propeller spinner and an MG-151/20 cannon in each wing, and was fitted with a centerline stores rack.

Initial service delivery of the Ta-152H was in November 1944. Only about 150 Ta-152Hs were completed. They saw very limited combat, when fuel could be found to fly them. A turbocharged "Ta-153" series was also considered, but never got out of the development stage.

Despite the fact that Tank regarded the DB-603 as the best possible inline powerplant option for his fighter, and some sources claim the DB-603 powered FW-190 prototypes had excellent performance if the turbocharger problems were ignored, no DB-603 powered variant reached production. This may have been due to limited availability of the engine, which did enter mass production and was built in the thousands, but was heavy and allocated to twin-engine aircraft like the Me-410 and the Do-335.

* A total of over 20,000 FW-190s of all types were built during the war. The type saw limited foreign service:

A number of FW-190s survive today on static display in various museums around the world, but it does not appear that any are flying at this time. The "FlugWerke" group of Munich does sell a flight-worthy replica in kit form, however.

* Given the large number of FW-190s built, unsurprisingly there were many odd experiments and offshoots of the type:

It is unclear if these FW-190 modifications saw much service, though it appears that late in the war the Luftwaffe special-operations group, KG-200, used FW-190s carrying BTs in operations against the Soviets. There are also stories of such long-tailwheel aircraft carrying SC-1800 1,800 kilogram (3,970 pound) bombs, if with great difficulty and stripped of everything that could be removed. They were apparently used to try to destroy the Remagen bridge that the Allies seized in early 1945.

The BT series of munitions were also built in 200 kilogram (440 pound), 400 kilogram (880 pound), and 700 kilogram (1,540 pound) versions. They appear to have been unpowered, their shape having been designed to allow the bomb to remain on its drop trajectory even after it entered the water. A special bombsight was fitted to allow the pilot to drop the weapon so that it would shoot underneath a vessel and explode, it seems using a delayed-action fuze. The BT bombs could be used for attacks on ground targets.

Early experiments involved firing the "Panzerschreck" infantry anti-tank rocket, a scaled-up copy of the American "Bazooka" rocket, from triple tubes mounted under each wing. As the Panzerschreck had inadequate range, it was followed by the "Panzerblitz I", which took the hollow-charge warhead from the Panzerschreck and fitted it with an improved rocket motor. They were mounted in fours under each wing in a wooden launch rack.

Since Panzserblitz I couldn't be fired while flying at top speed, it led in turn to "Panzerblitz II", which used a similar warhead but the even larger rocket motor of the "R4M" folding-fin unguided air-to-air rocket. These rockets were mounted on racks under each wing, with six or seven rockets per rack.

Finally, there was an experimental fit of 280 millimeter Werfer-Granate 28/32 barrage rocket, carried with one or two under each wing. These various rockets were evaluated on the FW-190 and some may have seen limited operational service late in the war.

There were apparently a number of variations on vertical-firing armament, but the details are now very unclear.

The X-4 never saw combat. The "eyeball" control scheme seems a little dubious by modern standards, particularly since the pilot couldn't maneuver his fighter and guide the missile at the same time, but the X-4 had a "stand off" range of several kilometers and a large warhead with both impact and proximity fuzes. It might have been effective against attacks on bombers in large formations, which was apparently its intended use.

It seems the Germans were also working on an acoustic-homing seeker to allow it to zero in on a bomber's engines, though this would have been vulnerable to simple countermeasures, which the Allies were very good at devising.


[1] ORIGINS

* Professor Kurt Waldemar Tank started out in the aviation industry in 1924 as an engineer at the Rohrbach company, changing jobs in 1930 to work for Willy Messerschmitt in Augsburg. The Messerschmitt concern fell on hard times in 1931, and so Tank left to join the Focke-Wulf company in Bremen, where he became technical director.

Tank designed a number of aircraft for Focke-Wulf, including the "Fw 200 Kondor" long-range airliner, which would be used as a ocean patrol aircraft in the war. Although the Kondor would be a terrible nuisance to the Allies in the conflict, they would be even more threatened by one of his later creations: the radial-engine fighter known as the "Fw 190".

* In the spring of 1938, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was filling up the ranks of the Luftwaffe as the service's first-line fighter. The Bf 109 was an excellent aircraft and had not yet reached its full potential, but the German Air Ministry (ReichsLuftMinisterium / RLM) wanted to hedge their bets and have an alternate fighter in case future improvement of the Bf 109 ran out of steam sooner than expected.

The RLM issued a request for such an advanced fighter. The Focke-Wulf company responded with a number of designs based on the Daimler-Benz "DB 601" 12-cylinder inverted-vee water-cooled engine, which was to be the main production engine for the Bf 109. The RLM rejected these designs since they didn't offer that much new over the Bf 109, which was to be allocated all DB 601 production anyway.

Tank had a different idea, a design that featured a "BMW 139" two-row 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with 1,156 kW (1,550 HP). Tank's choice was contrary to the general preference of German fighter designers for inline water-cooled engines. He chose the BMW radial engine because he believed it offered high reliability, greater horsepower in the long run, and was in principle available to support volume production of a new type of aircraft. The RLM was interested in Tank's concept, and in the summer of 1938 the ministry awarded Focke-Wulf an initial contract for three prototypes, followed by authorization of a fourth in the spring of 1939. The RLM's enthusiasm for the type was so great that the manufacture of 40 pre-production aircraft was authorized as well, even before any of the machines had flown.

* The "Fw 190 V1" (V1 meaning "Versuchs 1 / Prototype 1") flew from the Bremen airport on 1 June 1939 with test pilot Hans Sander at the controls. Tank himself, a skilled pilot and definitely a "hands-on" engineer, performed some of the test flights. He gave the machine the name "Wuerger (Butcher Bird / Shrike)". Early test flights demonstrated some problems, including leakage of carbon monoxide fumes into the cockpit failure of the landing gear to lock in place after being raised and engine and cockpit overheating. The first two problems were quickly resolved, but the overheating troubles proved harder to fix.


The V1 machine originally featured a three-bladed variable-pitch propeller with an oversized prop spinner. The spinner fitted flush to the edge of the engine cowling for streamlining, with a central duct surrounding a ten-bladed fan for airflow, but this configuration didn't cool the rear set of cylinders very well. The oversized prop spinner was replaced by a conventional prop spinner, though the overheating problem lingered.

The cockpit overheating remained a serious nuisance. Temperatures reached up to 55 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit) and Sander complained that sitting in the cockpit "was like having your feet in a fire!" Unfortunately, the canopy couldn't be opened in flight to cool off, since the open canopy created disruptive turbulence over the tail.

The difficulties did not disguise the fact that the new fighter was fast, powerful, and agile. Sander demonstrated the V1 at the Luftwaffe flight test center at Rechlin in early July 1939, including a show for Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, who was so enthusiastic that he endorsed mass production of the type, saying it should be "turned out like hot rolls!" Luftwaffe test pilots were also enthusiastic about the new machine, stating that it handled better than the Bf 109.

However, the BMW 139 engine was clearly unsatisfactory. Even before the initial flight of the V1 prototype, the decision had been made to go to a different engine. Although the "V2" prototype was too near completion to be modified, the BMW 139-powered "V3" and "V4" prototypes were both canceled, with prototype construction moving on to a "V5" prototype with an air-cooled 14-cylinder two-row "BMW 801" engine providing 1,195 kW (1,600 HP), fitted with a 12-blade cooling fan.

* The BMW 139-powered V2 prototype performed its first flight in October 1939. It had the oversized prop spinner and was the first Fw 190 to be armed, with two MG 17 7.9-millimeter machine guns fitted in the cowling in front of the cockpit, and an MG 17 fitted in each wing root, for a total of four guns. Unfortunately, after only 50 hours of test flights, the crankshaft of the BMW 139 engine broke and the aircraft crashed.

The V5 performed its first flight in April 1940. The BMW 801 engine provided more horsepower than the BMW 139, but it was also heavier, and to maintain center of gravity the cockpit of the V5 was shifted back along the fuselage. That reduced the cockpit overheating problem and provided greater space in the nose for armament. The weight increase was substantial, 635 kilograms (1,400 pounds), leading to higher wing loading and reduced agility. As a result, following a collision with a ground vehicle in August 1940 that sent the V5 back to the factory for major repairs, the aircraft was rebuilt with larger wings and a modified tailplane, to be redesignated "V5g" (where "g" stood for "grosser / bigger"). The new wing provided much better handling.

* By this time, the Luftwaffe was evaluating pre-production "Fw 190A-0" aircraft with BMW 801 engines, following initial deliveries of this subvariant in March 1940. The first seven A-0s had the original short-span wing, with the larger wing that had been evaluated on the V5g fitted on the eighth, to then become production standard.

Although the BMW 801 engine was a major improvement over the BMW 139, the service evaluation was plagued by engine failures and fires, to the extent that pilots were reluctant to fly the Fw 190A-0s very far from their airfields. Arguments and finger-pointing between Focke-Wulf and BMW became as hot as the engines, and the RLM even threatened to cancel the program. Focke-Wulf and BMW, threatened, then put their differences aside as best they could and focused on getting the engine problems under control.

After 50 modifications to fix the engine problems, the Fw 190 was approved for series production in mid-1941, with several factories tooling up to build the machines. Deliveries of the first formal production model, the "Fw 190A-1", began in June 1941. 100 were built.


The Nazis brought radial engine fighter designs to their peak with the Focke-Wulf FW-190. It was a low wing fighter, powered by a BWW air cooled radial engine, first ordered in 1937. It had been intended as backup and insurance against possible shortages in the liquid cooled Daimler engines that powered the Luftwaffe&rsquos mainstay fighter, the Bf 109. However, once it was introduced in late 1941, the backup stole the show.

The FW-190 turned out to be more rugged than the 109. The huge radial engine, mounted up front, acted as extra shielding for the pilot, and could absorb far more damage than the Bf 109&rsquos liquid cooled engine and still keep working. It also proved superior to the 109 in most tasks, except high altitude dog fighting. So the FW-190 ended up replacing the Messerschmitt as Germany&rsquos main fighter, with over 20,000 produced by war&rsquos end.

The FW-190 was maneuverable, and heavily armed with a standard configuration of four 20mm cannon, plus two machine guns. It proved itself an excellent fighter airplane, and during the middle war years, was the best air to air fighter. It gained an ascendancy over enemy fighters that lasted until the Spitfire IX restored parity in July of 1942.

However, the Spitfire lacked the range to penetrate deep into Reich territory. Thus, when American bombers began conducting daylight raids into Germany, the FW-190s&rsquo heavy armaments made it an excellent bomber destroyer. Wading into the bomber formations, FW-190s inflicted heavy losses and established an ascendancy over German skies. That lasted until long range American fighter escorts finally became available to shepherd US bombers in 1944.

In addition to its fighter role, the FW-190 platform was well suited to a variety of other missions, such as reconnaissance and ground attack. It was also an effective fast light bomber, capable of carrying a respectable 4000 bomb load. And when it was equipped with 37mm cannons, it proved itself an exceptional tank buster. That kind of versatility is what made the FW-190 one of the war&rsquos best airplanes.

The FW-190s supremacy over Germany&rsquos skies was first challenged by the appearance of American P-38 Lightnings and P-47 Thunderbolts. Their range, already good, was extended even further by the use of drop tanks. That allowed them to escort American bombers to targets in Germany that fell within their enhanced range, and at least part of the way to those targets deeper inside Germany that lay beyond.

The FW-190&rsquos radial engine could not hope to match the turbo supercharged engines of American fighters at high altitudes. As a result, FW-190s were forced to retreat deeper into Germany, effectively giving Allied bombers free reign over the territory that lay within Allied escort fighter range. Alternatively, FW-190s would shadow the bomber formations and wait until the escorting Thunderbolts or Lightnings reached their maximum range. When the escorting fighters had to turn back, FW-190s pounced on the now undefended bombers.

The appearance of the P-51 Mustang, which had the range to escort US bombers to targets anywhere inside German held territory, put the FW-190 at a permanent disadvantage, and ended its ascendancy as a bomber destroyer. The introduction of the liquid cooled FW-190D variant in September of 1944 restored some degree of parity, but by then it was too late. German factories did not produce enough FW-190Ds to go around, and by the time they came out, the Luftwaffe had suffered severe pilot attrition. Thus, even when there were enough FW-190Ds, there was a shortage of experienced flyers capable of taking full advantage of their capabilities.


4–5 March 1944

Flight Officer Charles E. Yeager, Air Corps, Army of the United States, with his North American Aviation P-51B-5-NA Mustang, 43-6763, “Glamourus Glen.” (littlefriends.co.uk)

4 March 1944: Flight Officer Charles E. Yeager, Air Corps, Army of the United States, was leading an element of White Flight, 363d Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, southeast of Kassel, Germany. Yeager was flying a North American Aviation P-51B Mustang, 43-6763, named Glamourus Glen and marked B6 Y. It was his seventh combat mission. At 13:05 British Standard Time, he observed a Messerschmitt Bf 109G fighter. He wrote (errors in original):

Leading the second element of Chambers White Flight, I was flying at 26,000 feet [7,925 meters] when I spotted a Me. 109 to the right and behind us about 2,000 feet [ 610 meters] below. I broke right and down. The E/A [Enemy Aircraft] turned right and down and went onto a 50° dive. I closed up fast and opened fire at 200 yards [183 meters] . I observed strikes on fuselage and wing roots, with pieces flying off. I was overrunning so I pulled up and did an aleron roll and fell in behind again and started shooting at 150 yards [137 meters] . The e/A engine was smoking and wind-milling. I overran again, observing strikes on fuselage and canopy. I pulled up again and did a wingover on his tail. His canopy flew off and the pilot bailed out and went into the overcast at 9,000 feet [ 2,743 meters] . The E/A had a large Red and Black “Devil’s Head’ on the left side of the ship. The E/A took no evasive action after the first burst.

A flight of three Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, 20 July 1944. (Bundsarchive Bild 101l-676-7975-36)

Flight Officer Yeager’s combat report indicates that he fired 461 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition. He was credited with one enemy aircraft destroyed. (He previously had claimed another enemy plane shot down over the English Channel, but that was not credited.)

The following day, 5 March, Yeager was again in the cockpit of Glamourus Glen. A Focke-Wulf Fw 190A 4 flown by Unteroffizier Irmfried Klotz, shot him down east of Bourdeaux, France.

In his autobiography, Chuck Yeager wrote:

. . . The world exploded and I ducked to protect my face with my hands, and when I looked a second later, my engine was on fire, and there was a gaping hole in my wingtip. The airplane began to spin. It happened so fast, there was no time to panic. I knew I was going down I was barely able to unfasten my safety belt and crawl over the seat before my burning P-51 began to snap and roll, heading for the ground. I just fell out of the cockpit when the plane turned upside down—my canopy was shot away.

Yeager: an Autobiography, by Charles E. Yeager and Leo Janos, Bantam Books, New York, 1985, Chapter 4 at Page 26.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3, June 1942. (Imperial War Museum)

Yeager was slightly wounded. His Mustang was destroyed. Over the next few months he evaded enemy soldiers and escaped through France and Spain, returning to England in May 1944. He returned to combat with a new P-51D Mustang, and by the end of World War II was officially credited with 11.5 enemy aircraft destroyed.

Colonel Yeager became Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, 23 July 1962. (U.S. Air Force)

Yeager remained in the Air Force until retiring in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general, and having served 12,222 days. He was a world famous test pilot, breaking the sound barrier with a Bell XS-1 rocketplane, 14 October 1947. He commanded F-86H Sabre and F-100D fighter bomber squadrons, flew the B-57 Canberra over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and commanded the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California. General Yeager celebrated his 94th birthday 13 February 2017.

Identical to the Inglewood, California-built North American Aviation P-51B Mustang, this is a Dallas, Texas-built P-51C-1-NT, 42-103023. (North American Aviation, Inc.)

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is a single-place, single-engine long range fighter. It is a low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear and is of all-metal construction. The fighter is powered by a liquid-cooled V-12 engine. It was originally produced for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force as the Mustang Mk.I. Two examples were provided to the U.S. Army Air Corps, designated XP-51. This resulted in orders for the P-51A and A-36 Apache dive bomber variant. These early Mustangs were powered by the Allison V-1750 engine driving a three-bladed propeller, which also powered the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

In 1942, soon after the first production Mustang Mk.I arrived in England, Rolls-Royce began experimenting with a borrowed airplane, AM121, in which they installed the Supermarine Spitfire’s Merlin 61 engine. This resulted in an airplane of superior performance.

In the United States, the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, had begun building Merlin engines under license from Rolls-Royce. These American engines were designated V-1650. North American modified two P-51s from the production line to install the Packard V-1650-3. These were designated XP-51B. Testing revealed that the new variant was so good that the Army Air Corps limited its order for P-51As to 310 airplanes and production was changed to the P-51B.

Cutaway illustration shows the internal arrangement of the P-51B/C Mustang. (Eugene Clay, North American Aviation, Inc.)

The P-51B and P-51C are virtually Identical. The P-51Bs were built by North American Aviation, Inc., at Inglewood, California. P-51Cs were built at North American’s Dallas, Texas plant. They were 32 feet, 2.97 inches (9.829 meters) long, with a wingspan of 37 feet, 0.31-inch (11.282 meters) and overall height of 13 feet, 8 inches (4.167 meters) high. The fighter had an empty weight of 6,985 pounds (3,168 kilograms) and a maximum gross weight of 11,800 pounds (5,352 kilograms).

P-51Bs and Cs were powered by a right-hand tractor, liquid-cooled, supercharged, 1,649-cubic-inch-displacement (27.04-liter) Packard V-1650-3 or -7 Merlin single overhead cam (SOHC) 60° V-12 engine which produced 1,380 horsepower at Sea Level, turning 3,000 r.p.m at 60 inches of manifold pressure (V-1650-3) or 1,490 horsepower at Sea Level, turning 3,000 r.p.m. at 61 inches of manifold pressure (V-1650-7). (Military Power rating, 15 minute limit.) These were license-built versions of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 63 and 66. The engine drove a four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed propeller with a diameter of 11 feet, 2 inches (3.404 meters) through a 0.479:1 gear reduction.

A Packard Motor Car Company V-1650-7 Merlin liquid-cooled, supercharged SOHC 60° V-12 aircraft engine at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. This engine weighs 905 pounds (411 kilograms) and produces 1,490 horsepower at 3,000 r.p.m. (NASM)

The P-51B/C had a cruise speed of 362 miles per hour (583 kilometers per hour) and the maximum speed was 439 miles per hour (707 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet (7,620 meters). The service ceiling was 41,900 feet (12,771 meters). With internal fuel, the combat range was 755 miles (1,215 kilometers).

Armament consisted of four Browning AN-M2 .50-caliber machine guns, mounted two in each wing, with 350 rounds per gun for the inboard guns and 280 rounds per gun for the outboard.

1,988 P-51B Mustangs were built at North American’s Inglewood, California plant and another 1,750 P-51Cs were produced at Dallas, Texas. This was nearly 23% of the total P-51 production.

North American Aviation P-51B-1-NA Mustang in flight. (Air Force Historical Research Agency)


The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger(Shrike in English) has become one of the most iconic military aircraft in world history since it first inspired fear in the Allied forces throughout all of World War II. Named for the shrike (nicknamed the “butcher bird”), a small carnivorous bird of prey known for impaling its prey on spikes, the Fw 190 was one of the only radial engine fighter aircraft used in Europe at the time. Though used successfully by the US Navy, many aeronautical engineers in Europe believed that radial engines on small planes, such as fighters, would cause excessive drag and hinder their effectiveness in aerial combat. Kurt Tank, the designer of the history-making Fw 190, would prove them otherwise when his design would go on to become the favorite of Germany’s highest scoring Luftwaffe fighter aces.

General Characteristics of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190

According to an account provided by Stephen Sherman of Hermann Krafft’s I./JG.51 fighter pilot’s experience with the airplane 1 , “The pilot climbed into the Focke-Wulf using retractable stirrups and handholds. Inside the cockpit, he saw many familiar controls, similar to those in the BF 109, plus many new electric devices, notably the Kommandogerät, a primitive computer that automatically set propeller pitch, air/fuel mix, and RPM. Electric motors also raised and lowered the landing gear and controlled the flaps. Other buttons armed the guns, with a required three-second delay between each pair, so as not to overload the battery.”

Sherman also notes that the plane’s ground handling was considered a “mixed bag.” With the main gear hinged in the wings to retract toward the fuselage, and a semi-retractable tailwheel, the Fw 190’s wide track provided pilots with excellent stability on the ground. However, the combination of a tailwheel configuration and the large radial engine greatly limited the pilot’s view while taxiing, which led to accidents. According to Greg Goebel, because of this limited view, “Pilots would learn to taxi with a ground crewman sitting or lying on the wing to give them directions.“ 2

The engineers and draftsmen who worked ceaselessly on improving the already formidable Fw 190 focused on eliminating the pilot’s workload in any way possible, which included innovations like the aforementioned Kommandogerät, as well as minimizing the pilot’s need to adjust the aircraft trim at varying speeds. Records show that they were so successful in this that they were able to completely eliminate in-flight aileron and rudder trim controls, leaving the pilot only the responsibility of adjusting the elevator trim, which was accomplished with an electric motor tilting the entire horizontal tailplane, shifting the angle of incidence across a range of −3° to +5°. 3

In-Flight Comparison to Other WWII Fighters

In an interview with Warbirds News 4 , Ray Fowler, airline pilot, and fighter pilot for the Air National Guard, who has been deployed on multiple combat tours in Iraq as part of Operation: Iraqi Freedom, discussed flying a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 on behalf the Military Aviation Museum. Fowler flew the Fw 190, which was sold to the Tillamook Air Museum, from Virginia Beach, VA to Tillamook, OR, a 3,040.5 mile flight, over the course of a few days.

Fowler also noted the ground handling, saying that the Fw 190 was very “squirrel-y” on the ground, but once it’s in the air, it’s a “great flying machine” that’s “very maneuverable, very crisp, it’s a pleasure to fly, and performs great at aerobatic maneuvers.” Fowler, who has also has experience flying the P-51 Mustang, said that he felt the Mustang was more powerful and “stronger” in general, but that may be because he has much more experience flying the P-51.

Both German and Allied pilots reported similar things. The Fw 190 could outperform the Royal Air Force’s front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V (in all but turn radius), and Axis pilots who flew both the Messerschmitt BF-109 and the Fw 190 preferred the latter for its increased firepower and maneuverability. The lifted nose and bulky cowling helped to protect the pilot, and the air-cooled radial engine often allowed the aircraft to sustain more bullet hits before taking more serious damage compared to the liquid-cooled Spitfires and P-51 Mustang. (During the war, air cooled systems proved more resilient than liquid cooled systems, as in the case of the latter, a single bullet strike could puncture and drain the cooling system, eventually causing the engine to seize or catch fire.)

Exploring the life of ace pilot Lydia Litvyak, The White Rose of Stalingrad

Lydia Litvyak was born with a rebellious spirit and found her way to a local flying club at the age of 14, soloing for the first time at 15, and graduating from the Kherson military flying academy shortly after. By then, she had a serious obsession with flying and had become a flight instructor at the nearby Kalinin Air Club, where she would train over 45 new pilots. [ Read More ]

However, as Fowler mentioned in his interview, the Germans had some serious troubles with the Fw 190’s engine at first. Performance drastically began to decrease starting at altitudes over 20,000 feet, which their engineers repeatedly tried to remedy with the turbo-supercharged models B and C, and finally hit the nail on the head with the turbocharged Junkers Jumo 213 in the D series. Luckily for the Allied forces, this improvement arrived late enough in the war to avoid causing any real damage.

The Allied pilots who flew the Fw 190 (after a German Oberleutnant accidentally landed one at a British airfield 5 ) felt that the Fw 190 was very responsive and well laid out, but were not fans of the Kommandogerät system or the comparatively tiny cockpit. Fowler had the same experience, noting that his main problem with the aircraft is that “the cockpit is very small compared to other warbirds,” especially the P-51, which he mentioned had a very roomy cockpit.

He adds that the tail-heavy nature of the Fw 190, as well as the lifted nose, also made it very difficult to land. “You have to be very careful. [It launches] itself back into the air. You’re just hanging on for landing. It finally settles down, and the brakes are very good, so that helps too.” Although, due to the very things that made it difficult to land (the weight distribution and big nose), pilots who had to make belly landings often walked away unharmed.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Variants

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 went through dozens of variants and types/subtypes over the four years it was produced (1941-1945) 2, 3 . Some of the most iconic and important variants of the Fw 190 include the Fw 190A-8/R-8, the Fw 190 D-9, and the Fw 190 F-8.

But in order to make it to the production stage, the Fw 190 had to overcome a number of prototype problems. The first prototype, the Fw 190 V1 (which stands for “Versuchs 1”, with ‘versuchs’ being the German word for experiment or experimental) was flown by German test pilot Hans Sander on June 1, 1939. Designer Kurt Tank, who was also a skilled pilot, joined in the flight testing as well. It was during this period that Tank is said to have given the aircraft the Würger/Shrike nickname.

They ran into problems, including the landing gear failing to lock into place after it was raised, carbon monoxide fumes being leaked into the cockpit, and overheating problems with both the engine and the cockpit. The landing gear and carbon monoxide leaks were both worked out in short order, but the pair of overheating problems were much harder to fix.

During the first test flight, the cockpit got up to a toasty 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius), causing Sander to compare sitting in the cockpit to “…sitting with both feet in the fireplace.” Despite the problems, the V1 impressed both the Luftwaffe pilots and Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, pushing production and testing forward. Both the V1 and the V2 prototypes sported a BMW 139 engine, which the Focke-Wulf team knew wasn’t the long term solution from the beginning, a fact which was emphasized to them after the engine’s crankshaft broke on the V2 after 50 hours of flight tests, causing the aircraft to crash.

The V3 and V4 prototypes were then canceled, and the V5 was fitted with the air-cooled 14-cylinder BMW 801 engine, which provided 1,600 hp. It also provided about 1600 pounds (635 kg) of additional weight, causing the engineers to shift the cockpit back further along the fuselage in order to maintain a center of gravity. This move turned out to be beneficial in reducing the cockpit overheating problem, but the weight increase also meant less agility and higher wing loading, so after the V5 suffered a collision with a ground vehicle the necessitated major repairs, the engineers took the opportunity to rebuild it with both larger wings and a modified tailplane. This provided the aircraft with improved handling.

By this point, the Luftwaffe was reviewing/evaluating pre-production models sporting the new BMW 801 engines. Frustratingly, they found that the aircraft were prone to engine failures and fires, and most pilots were not willing to fly more than a short distance from their airfields.

This caused arguments between the Focke-Wulf team and BMW, each side trying to assign blame to the other, with the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (the ministry of aviation, with the much more manageable abbreviation of RFL) eventually threatening to shut down the program. As this would benefit no one, the two sides got to work, and after a series of at least 50 engine modifications that fixed the problems, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was finally, officially approved for production.

The first production models (A-1) of the single-seat, air-cooled Fw 190 was powered by the BMW 801C engine and was armed with four rifle-caliber MG 17 7.9 mm machine guns. Two of the guns were located in the top of the engine cowling, and one in each of the wing roots and all fired through the propeller’s arc. Deliveries of the A-1 began in June 1941, with roughly 100 of this first model being built. The initial armament for the A-1 models was considered light, and it was one of the first things to be upgraded in subsequent models.

Now, of the main Fw 190 production series (A, D, and F/G), the A series aircraft were the most produced, with 13,291 reportedly being built. However, a few factors make providing totally accurate production numbers more difficult, especially between the different models in each series. First, as the current model was changed on the production line, it was a somewhat common practice for older variants to be converted, so an A5 might become an A7 or A8. This held even more true for aircraft undergoing repairs for battle damage, and they were upgraded to the current version the factory was producing at the time of repair. 3

Second, full documentation from all Focke-Wulf airframe factories and companies that were building the aircraft under a license is not available. In addition, it’s not known how many airframes were assembled at specialty workshops who were focused on building variants suited to a specific purpose, particularly for F-series aircraft. 6

And third, many of the planes were assembled in field workshops, where airframe parts and engines were recycled from airplanes that had been retired from service. A plane with a damaged airframe but with wings intact might donate those wings to another aircraft. And that aircraft may also be sporting an engine or tail section from other aircraft. These new composite planes then received a unique serial number, and after a test flight were sent out into the field. 6

As many as 20,000+ total Fw 190 aircraft may have been built 3 , though according to writer Joe Baugher, “the number of Fw 190 fighters produced with radial engines can be estimated to 17,000 planes minimum. Some authors quote higher numbers, but because each source is different, these numbers are not credible.“ 6

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8/R8: The Sturmböcke

The A-8 model was the most popular Fw 190 variant. The exact number produced ranges widely depending on the sources, with numbers ranging between 1,334 and 6,655 A-8 airframes produced. The A-8 model was armed with four 20 mm MG 151 machines guns, two mounted in the wing root and two mounted on the outer wing. It also featured another important improvement, the option for either an additional internal fuel tank or a GM-1 nitrous oxide engine boost to help the aircraft perform better at high altitudes.

Additionally, the various Fw 190 aircraft could be fitted with Rüstsätze, or field modification kits that generally included extra armament in the form of cannons or machine guns, to be mounted in the underwing gun pod, bomb and drop tank fittings, though they could also include extra armor, fuel, and electrical system upgrades. The Fw 190 had many different Rüstsätze, and variants that were outfitted with a kit were had an R designation added to their name. 7

The Fw 190A-8/R2 and A-8/R8, referred to as the Sturmböcke, were two of the most popular variant/kit combos, designed to destroy bomber formations. The R2 replaced the A-8s outer wing 20 mm guns with two 30mm MK-108s, an autocannon capable of ‎650 rounds/minute. The A-8/R8 added the MK-108s as well, while also adding 30mm canopy and windscreen armor and 5 mm cockpit armor.

Fortunately for the Allied fighters, the additional armor and heavy caliber firepower reduced maneuverability, making them more vulnerable to agile RAF and USAF fighters. To compensate for that vulnerability, the Luftwaffe deployed the Sturmböcke aircraft using the Sturmgruppe tactic, where the heavier Sturmböcke were paired with Messerschmitt BF 109s that were optimized for engaging the Allied fighters.

Richard Franz, a Luftwaffe flying ace who flew the Fw 190 among other aircraft commented, in regards to engaging the Allied forces, “When we made our attack, we approached from slightly above, then dived, opening fire with 13mm and 20mm guns to knock out the rear gunner and then, at about 150 metres, we tried to engage with the MK 108 30mm cannon, which was a formidable weapon. It could cut the wing off a B-17. Actually, it was still easier to kill a B-24, which was somewhat weaker in respect of fuselage strength and armament. I think we generally had the better armament and ammunition, whereas they had the better aircraft.”

Design Characteristics for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8

Length 29 feet, 5 inches (9 m)
Wingspan 34 feet, 5 inches (10.51 m)
Height 13 feet (3.95 m)
Wing Area 197 feet 2 (18.3 m 2 )
Empty Weight 7,650 lbs. (3470 kg)
Max Take-off Weight 10,800 lbs. (4900 kg)

Performance Specs for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8

Max Speed 408 mph (656 km/h)
Range 500 miles (800 km)
Service Ceiling 33,80 feet (10,300 m)
Rate of Climb 2,953 fpm (15 m/s)
Wing Loading 49.4 lb/ft² (241 kg/m 2 )

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9: Dora

Captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9, Image courtesy of USAF

The ninth incarnation of the Fw 190 D series (with what exactly happened to codes D1 – D8 being something of a mystery), nicknamed Dora, is generally considered to be the best propeller-driven WWII German fighter at mid-to-low altitudes and by many modern warbird enthusiasts, it’s considered to be the most attractive. One of the biggest changes from earlier FW 190 models was the Jumo 213A inline engine, and transitioning away from the bulky, open radial style to the more aerodynamic domed cone-shaped nose. Instead of focusing on armor and heavy caliber artillery (which is not to say it didn’t have any the Fw 190 D-9 was equipped with two cowl-mounted 13mm MG 131 heavy machine guns, as well as two 20mm MG 151/20 autocannons in the wingroot, with all four weapons synchronized to fire through the propeller arc), the Fw 190 D-9 excelled in maneuverability and speed. In addition to the impressive speed, it had superior climb rates and generally handled better than both its predecessors and enemy competition, proving to be a strong opponent to the P-51s and later model Spitfires.

However, though the D-9 was produced in good numbers starting in August 1944, Nazi Germany was starting to fall apart, and there weren’t enough pilots or fuel, and many of the D-9s that were built never actually saw combat.

Design Characteristics for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Length 33 feet, 5.5 inches (10.2 m)
Wingspan 34 feet, 5 inches (10.51 m)
Height 11 feet (3.35 m)
Wing Area 197 feet 2 (18.3 m 2 )
Empty Weight 7,694 lbs. (3490 kg)
Loaded Weight 9,413 lbs. (4270 kg)
Max Take-off Weight 10,670 lbs. (4840 kg)

Performance Specs for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Max Speed (21,655 feet / 6,600 m) 426 mph (685 km/h)
Max Speed (36,000 feet / 11,000 m) 440 mph (710 km/h)
Range 519 miles (835 km)
Service Ceiling 39,370 feet (12,000 m)
Rate of Climb 3,300 fpm (17 m/s)
Wing Loading 47.7 lb/ft² (233 kg/m 2 )

271 Days of Combat

How many people can say their work has changed the face of their home state? And of those, how many can say they did something that substantially affected world history by saving the life of a future president? Nathaniel J. Adams could have said that. But he preferred action to speeches. His deeds during WWII reveal a young man 100% committed to his comrades and country. And when he returned from battle to his Idaho home, Nat Adams commenced upon an [Read more…]

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F-8: Ground Attack

The Fw 190 F series were A series aircraft that were designed as close support aircraft on the battlefield. (The long range attack G series came about after engineers focused on increasing the range of the F series aircraft.) The first Fw 190F configuration was originally tested on an Fw 190 A-0/U4 model. Much like the Rüstsätze, there were also Umrüst-Bausätze kits that served the same purpose, with the difference being that the Umrüst-Bausätze kits were generally factory fitted.

Restored Fw 190F-8 at the Smithsonian. Photo courtesy of Kogo, GNU 1.2

Early tests with centerline and wing-mounted bomb racks were successful, and so the plane’s further development was given the green light. New armor was added to the bottom of the fuselage and cowling to protect the fuel tanks and pilot from ground fire, as well as a stronger landing gear to support greater take off loads, and outer wing mounted armament. This new configuration, A-4/U3, was eventually redesignated the Fw 190 F-1 and started the series.

For the F-8 aircraft (based off the popular A-8, and like that model, also the most produced F-series variant), the compressor had an improved fuel injection system that allowed limited performance improvements at low altitudes, as well as new FuG 16 ZS radio unit, which allowed for better communication with friendly ground troops. The FW 190F-8 had similar firepower as the FW 190A-8/R8, with two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons mounted in the wing roots and two 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns mounted above the engine. Specialized Rüstsätze and Umrüst-Bausätze kits added bomb racks and/or additional fuel tank capacity, to give them additional range or stronger ground attack capability. In 1944, the Luftwaffe also explored various missile launching systems on the F-series in order to create a more effective anti-tank aircraft to help combat Soviet tanks on the Eastern Front.

Final Thoughts on the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 is remembered today as one of the fiercest and terrifying fighters, and it filled a wide variety of military uses such as aerial combat, ground attacks, and bomber destroyers.

Kurt Tank, the creator of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, described his design philosophy as recorded in Alfred Price’s 2009 historical account, Focke Wulf: Fw 190 in Combat as follows,

Captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 with replicated Luftwaffe insignia, courtesy of USAF

“The Messerschmitt 109 and the British Spitfire, the two fastest fighters in world at the time we began work on the FW 190, could both be summed up as a very large engine on the front of the smallest possible airframe in each case armament had been added almost as an afterthought. These designs, both of which admittedly proved successful, could be likened to racehorses: given the right amount of pampering and easy course, they could outrun anything. But the moment the going became tough they were liable to falter. During World War I, I served in the cavalry and in the infantry. I had seen the harsh conditions under which military equipment had to work in wartime. I felt sure that a quite different breed of fighter would also have a place in any future conflict: one that could operate from ill-prepared front-line airfields one that could be flown and maintained by men who had received only short training and one that could absorb a reasonable amount of battle damage and still get back. This was the background thinking behind the Focke-Wulf 190 it was not to be a racehorse but a Dienstpferd, a cavalry horse.”

Featured Image: Captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 in flight, in US Navy colors, photo courtesy of the US Navy.

Footnotes and References:

1 – Focke-Wulf Fw 190: Germany’s Radial Engine Fighter of WWII, Stephen Sherman, August 2003, Retrieved 3-3-17

2 – The Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Greg Goebel, v1.0.8 / 10-1-16, Retrieved 3-13-17

4 – Flying The Focke-Wulf FW-190, Warbird News, 9-22-13, Retrieved 3-13-17

5 – The RAF had been planning Operation AIRTHIEF to steal a Fw 190 when this accidental landing took place on June 23, 1942. The A-3 that Oberleutnant Armin Faber provided to the allies pushed the British to try and match the Fw 190 with the Spitfire Mk. IX, which was a Spitfire V equipped with a ‘Merlin 61’ engine that had a two stage supercharger. And while the initial Mk. IX’s had a rough time, the model eventually proved to be a strong opponent for the Fw 190.

6 – Modeller’s Guide to Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Variants Radial Engine Versions Part II, Joe Baugher, 2004, Retrieved 3-16-17


Ground attack variants [ edit | edit source ]

Fw 190 F [ edit | edit source ]

The National Air & Space Museum's restored Fw 190 F-8 in late war markings

The Fw 190 F was originally manufactured as a Fw 190 A-0/U4. Early testing started in May 1942. The A-0 testbed aircraft was outfitted with centreline and wing-mounted ETC 50 bomb racks. The early testing results were quite good, and Focke-Wulf began engineering the attack version of the Fw 190. New armor was added to the bottom of the fuselage, protecting the fuel tanks and pilot, the engine cowling, and the landing gear mechanisms and outer wing mounted armament. Finally, the Umrüst-Bausatz kit 3 (abbreviated as /U3) was fitted to the aircraft by means of a ETC 501 or ER4 centreline mounted bomb rack and up to a SC250 bomb under each wing. This aircraft was designated the Fw 190 F-1. The first 30 Fw 190 F-1s were renamed Fw 190 A-4/U3s however, Focke-Wulf quickly began assembling the aircraft on the line as Fw 190 F-1s as their own model, with 18 more F-1s built before switching to the F-2. The Fw 190 F-2s were renamed Fw 190 A-5/U3s, which again were soon assembled as Fw 190 F-2s on the production line. There were 270 Fw 190 F-2s built according to Focke-Wulf production logs and Ministry of Aviation acceptance reports. [ citation needed ]

The Fw 190 F-3 was based on the Fw 190 A-5/U17, which was outfitted with a centreline mounted ETC 501 bomb rack, and in the Fw 190 F-3/R1 and Fw 190 F-3/R-3, two double ETC 50 bomb racks under each wing or two similarly located 30 mm MK 103 cannons. The F-3 could carry a 66-Imp gal (300 liter) drop tank. A total of 432 Fw 190 F-3s were built. ⏒]

Owing to difficulties in creating an effective strafing Fw 190 F able to take out the Soviet T-34 tank, the F-4 through F-7 models were abandoned, and all attempts focused on conversion of the Fw 190 A-8.

The Fw 190 F-8 differed from the A-8 model in having a slightly modified injector on the compressor which allowed for increased performance at lower altitudes for several minutes. The F-8 was also fitted with the improved FuG 16 ZS radio unit, which provided much better communication with ground combat units. Armament of the Fw 190 F-8 was two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in the wing roots and two 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns above the engine. According to Ministry of Aviation acceptance reports, at least 3,400 F-8s were built, and probably several hundred more were built in December 1944 and from February to May 1945. (Data for these months is missing and probably lost.) [ citation needed ] Dozens of F-8s served as various testbeds for anti-tank armament, including the WGr.28 280 mm air-to-ground missile, probably based on the projectiles from the Nbw 41 heavy ground-barrage rocket system, and the 88 mm (3.46 in) Panzerschreck 2 rockets, Panzerblitz 1 and R4M rockets.

There were also several Umrüst-Bausätze kits developed for the F-8, which included the Fw 190 F-8/U1 long range JaBo, fitted with underwing V.Mtt-Schloß shackles to hold two 300 L (80 US gal) fuel tanks. ETC 503 bomb racks were also fitted, allowing the Fw 190 F-8/U1 to carry one SC 250 bomb under each wing and one SC 250 bomb on the centreline.

The Fw 190 F-8/U2 torpedo bomber was fitted with an ETC 503 bomb rack under each wing and a centre-line mounted ETC 504. The U2 was also equipped with the TSA 2 A weapons sighting system that improved the U2's ability to attack seaborne targets with a 1,543 lb (700 kg) BT 700. ⏒]

The Fw 190 F-8/U3 heavy torpedo bomber was outfitted with an ETC 502, which allowed it to carry one BT-1400 heavy torpedo (3,086 lb/1400 kg). Owing to the size of the torpedo, the U3's tail gear needed to be lengthened. The U3 also was fitted with the 2,000 PS BMW 801S engine, and the tail from the Ta 152. [ citation needed ]

The Fw 190 F-8/U4, created as a night fighter, was equipped with flame dampers on the exhaust and various electrical systems such as the FuG 101 radio altimeter, the PKS 12 automatic pilot, and the TSA 2 A sighting system. Weapons fitted ranged from torpedoes to bombs [ citation needed ] however, the U4 was fitted with only two MG 151/20 cannon as fixed armament.

The Fw 190 F-9 was based on the Fw 190 A-9, but with the new Ta 152 tail unit, a new bulged canopy as fitted to late-build A-9s, and four ETC 50 or ETC 70 bomb racks under the wings. According to Ministry of Aviation acceptance reports, 147 F-9s were built in January 1945, and perhaps several hundred more from February to May 1945. (Data for these months is missing and probably lost.) [ citation needed ]

Fw 190 G [ edit | edit source ]

Fw 190 G-1 showing the ETC 250 bomb rack, carrying a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, and the underwing drop tanks on VTr-Ju 87 mounts.

The Fw 190 G was built as a long-range attack aircraft (JaBo Rei, or Jagdbomber mit vergrösserter Reichweite). Following the success of the Fw 190 F as a Schlachtflugzeug (close support aircraft), both the Luftwaffe and Focke-Wulf began investigating ways of extending the range of the Fw 190 F. From these needs and tests, the Fw 190 G was born.

There were four distinct versions of the Fw 190 G:

The Fw 190 G-1: The first Fw 190 Gs were based on the Fw 190 A-4/U8 JaBo Rei's. Initial testing found that if all but two wing root mounted 20 mm MG 151 cannons (with reduced ammunition load) were removed, the Fw 190 G-1 (as it was now called) could carry a 250 kg (550 lb) or 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb on the centreline and, via an ETC 250 rack, up to a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb under each wing. Typically the G-1s flew with underwing fuel tanks, fitted via the VTr-Ju 87 rack. The FuG 25a IFF (identification friend/foe) was fitted on occasion as well as one of the various radio direction finders available at the time. With the removal of the fuselage mounted MG 17s, an additional oil tank was added to support the BMW 801 D-2 engine's longer run times. [ citation needed ]

The Fw 190 G-2: The G-2 was based on the Fw 190 A-5/U8 aircraft. The G-2s were similarly equipped to the G-1s however, due to wartime conditions, the underwing drop tank racks were replaced with the much simpler V.Mtt-Schloß fittings, to allow for a number of underwing configurations. Some G-2s were also fitted with the additional oil tank in place of the MG 17s however, not all were outfitted with the oil tank. Some G-2s were fitted with exhaust dampers and landing lights in the left wing leading edge for night operations. [ citation needed ]

The Fw 190 G-3: The G-3 was based on Fw 190 A-6. Like the earlier G models, all but the two wing root mounted MG 151 cannons were removed. The new V.Fw. Trg bombracks, however, allowed the G-3 to simultaneously carry fuel tanks and bomb loads. Because of the range added by two additional fuel tanks, the G-3's duration increased to two hours, 30 minutes. Due to this extra flight duration, a PKS 11 autopilot was fitted. Some G-3s built in late 1943 were also fitted with the a modified 801 D-2 engine which allowed for increased low-altitude performance for short periods of time. The G-3 had two primary Rüstsätze kits. The R1 replaced the V.Fw. Trg racks with WB 151/20 cannon pods. This gave the G-3/R1 a total of six 20 mm cannons. When fitted with the R1 kit, the G model's addition armor was typically not used, and the PKS11 removed. The G-3/R1 was used in both ground strafing and anti-bomber roles. The R5 was similar to the R1, but the V.Fw. Trg racks were removed, and two ETC 50 racks per wing were added. As with the R1, the additional armor from the base G model were removed, as was the additional oil tank. In some instances, the fuselage mounted MG 17s were refitted. [ citation needed ]

The Fw 190 G-8: The G-8 was based on the Fw 190 A-8. The G-8 used the same "bubble" canopy as the F-8, and was fitted with underwing ETC 503 racks that could carry either bombs or drop tanks. Two primary Rüstsätze kits were also seen on the F-8. The R4 kit was a planned refit for the GM 1 engine boost system, but never made it into production, and the R5 kit replaced the ETC 503 racks with two ETC 50 or 71 racks. Due to the similarities with the F-8, the G-8 was only in production for a short amount of time. [ citation needed ] Some Gs were field modified to carry 1,000 kg (2,210 lb), 1,600 kg (3,530 lb) and 1,800 kg (3,970 b) bombs. When this was done, the landing gear was slightly improved by enhancing the oleo struts and using reinforced tires. [ citation needed ]

Approximately 1,300 Fw 190 Gs of all variants were new built. Due to war conditions, the manufacturing environment, and the use of special workshops during the later years of the war, the actual number of G models built is almost impossible to determine. During the later years of the war, "composite" aircraft were often assembled. For example, the wings from a fuselage damaged aircraft and the fuselage from a wing damaged aircraft might be reassembled into a new aircraft and listed as a Fw 190G with a new serial number. The Fw 190 G-1 currently displayed at the National Air and Space Museum is one of these "composite" aircraft, built from the fuselage of a Fw 190 A-7. ⏓]


Description

The Fw 190 A-5 is a rank III German fighter with a battle rating of 5.3 (AB) and 4.7 (RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.35.

Würger is the German nickname of this beast of a plane. It can be translated as a slayer, choker, or strangler. In that regard fits the English designation well too: Butcher-bird

190s are fighters, and while this one can load additional payload, it will reduce the plane's combat ability. Using it as a fighter-bomber is generally not advised, this would be the duty of the Fw 190 F-8 instead.

Rocking four 20 mm cannons, an armoured radial engine, armoured fuel tanks, and sometimes two artillery rockets, this aircraft is far from shy in the role of giving and taking. Anything at 12 o'clock is soon to be dead. The wing root mounted cannons should be additionally placed on a separate key for head-on attacks. The outer-wing guns would only miss on distances of 800-1,000 m (

0.7 miles). This also helps for tricky shots since the second pair of 20 mm cannons only have 90 shots each, instead of the whopping 250 of the inner ones.

The rockets are an interesting piece of equipment. Developed from the 210 Nebelwerfer artillery system, they were initially used to break up B-17E formations by forcing the US pilots to evade them. The main goal of the rockets was not to destroy the bombers instead, this tactic meant separating the scattering bombers, allowing the attacking aircraft to get closer to their targets safely without the crossfire of coverage. The Gr.21 has the same shell drop as the MK 108 cannon, so if you are already used to it from flying the 109, well done. If not, which wouldn't be a surprise as this is the page for the Fw 190, then prepare for some misses. Like the "Sledgehammer" Mk 108, the accuracy is woeful and is not made better by its low velocity. This is a characteristic noticeable in the game, which makes them difficult to use in direct fighter to fighter engagements. But all of these deficits are made up by the warhead. Oh boy. They've got power. With the fuse timer set correctly, even misses will damage enemy planes, as the shock wave radius gets close to 100 m. So watch out when using them against ground units as there is a good chance you will likely kill yourself in the process., Keeping over 100 m safety distance is strongly advised!


Wrecks / Crashes

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 attack aircraft +P crash landed

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 DN+FA crash landing

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Wreckage 2

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 black 10

US Troops with Luftwaffe Fw 190 and Bomber Wrecks


The Amazing Discovery Of A Luftwaffe FW190 In A Forest Clearing Outside St Petersburg

Imagine going for a walk in the woods and coming across a World War II German war plane! Well, just such a plane was discovered in a forest near the Russian city of St Petersburg (then called Leningrad) in 1989.

The plane was a Focke-Wulf 190, and it was the main fighter used by the German Luftwaffe (air force). This particular FW190 was built in April 1943 in a factory in Bremen.

Who was the pilot? His name was Paul Ratz. He was victorious in several air battles and survived three crashes. His plane came down behind enemy lines.

So what happened? It seems that Ratz took off from Siwerskaja air base, carrying a 550 lb (250 kg) bomb, on 19th July 1943. The Germany Army was invading Russia and attacking Leningrad in particular. The Siege of Leningrad was one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of World War II. Many hundreds of thousands died on both sides.

Ratz was to fly over enemy lines and attack an armored train. Armored trains had guns mounted on them, and Ratz’s plane was damaged. He was forced to land in the forest. He left his plane and headed west, back toward the front line. However, he was captured by the Russians and lived in a POW (Prisoner of War) camp until 1949.

He died in 1989 without ever knowing that his plane had been found.

The plane was taken out of the forest by helicopter and studied. In the 1990s efforts were made to fix it. Later it was purchased by the Flying Heritage Collection, owned by Paul Allen. He completed the restoration in the United Kingdom and the United States.

During the restoration, it was discovered that the fuel lines were blocked and there was a cloth rag in the engine. The engine had only been put in a few days before Ratz took off. Allied POWs often worked in German factories, so one of them might have sabotaged the engine.

It is now the only working FW190 in existence, and it has been flown in demonstrations.


Watch the video: War Thunder Realistic: Fw 190 A-5U2 Epic Defensive Flying


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