Modern picture of Focke-Wulf Fw 190

Modern picture of Focke-Wulf Fw 190

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Modern picture of Focke-Wulf Fw 190

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Modern picture of Focke-Wulf Fw 190 - History

    The Fw 190 was armed to the teeth. Four 20 mm cannon plus two machine guns. Later versions could carry a 30 mm cannon firing through the propeller boss. Early Fw 190s, powered by an air-cooled BMW radial, were Germany's first radial-engined monoplane fighters. Shown above is the FW-190 of I./JG 54 Feldwebel Karl Schnorrer.

    The BMW 801 engine tended to overheat, but this fault was rectified by improvements to the cooling fan and, in general, the Fw 190A was highly praised by the test pilots. They particularly favored the wide-track undercarriage which tremendously improved ground stability as compared with the Bf 109. One of the unusual features of the fighter commented on by test pilots was the fact that, at high altitude and high speed, the BMW 801 engine produced a pair of contrails which started immediately behind the exhaust exits and completely hid the wings.

    The Fw 190 prototype first flew on June 1, 1939 and production deliveries began in late 1940. Within a year, Fw l90s were making low-level sweeps over southern England in daylight, against which the Spitfire Vs, then in service, achieved little success. The situation did not improve until the Royal Air Force received more powerful Spitfire IXs, in partnership with four-cannon Typhoons.

    In the autumn of 1937, the Reichluftministerium (RLM) placed an order with the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau for the design development of a new single-seat fighter to supplement the Messerschmitt Bf 109. A second "iron in the fire" as RLM officials referred to the order at the time. The contract was placed with Focke-Wulf primarily because this company was not extensively committed to the development of other combat aircraft and possessed a highly qualified design team headed by Dipl.Ing.Kurt Tank. Tank's design team prepared two proposals one based upon the use of the Daimler-Benz DB601 liquid-cooled engine and the other upon the use of the BMW 801 air-cooled radial engine. At that time the radial engine was not favored as a fighter power plant owing to its drag and the restrictions that its bulk placed upon forward view during taking-off and landing and in consequence, General Ernst Udet's decision to proceed with the development of the radial-engined fighter came as a profound surprise to Tank and his colleagues.

The FW-190 of II./JG 1 Maj. Heinz Bar.

    The BMW 801 was a considerably heavier engine than its predecessor, although the overall dimensions differed little, and necessitated a stiffer engine mount and extensive structural strengthening. The re-design involved gave Blaser an opportunity to rectify one of the few faults that had manifested themselves in the first prototype. Test pilots had objected to proximity of the engine to the cockpit which resulted in extremely high cabin temperatures, sometimes reaching 55 degrees C. (131 degrees F.) which as Sander said, felt as though he had his "feet in the fireplace." In addition, exhaust gases found their way into the cockpit and necessitated the continuous use of an oxygen mask. Therefore in the next prototypes the cockpit was relocated further aft, a move also suggested by the c.g. problems presented by the heavier engine.

    Most of the Fw 190A-0s were sent to Rechlin Roggenthin for pre-service tests. During intensive flight testing, it was discovered that the engine cowlings frequently flew off at high speeds and internally stressed cowlings with stronger locks were requested. Some re-stressing was also proved necessary and it was found that above 250 mph, the cockpit canopy could not be released in an emergency. The latter problem was solved by fitting two standard 20 mm cartridges which blew the rear end of the canopy backward far enough to let the slipstream get under it and pull it away. Pilots also complained that there was a serious risk of hitting the tail assembly when baling out and requested the fitting of some form of ejector seat which would throw them clear. However, in view of the serious weight penalty imposed by an ejector seat, the engineers refused to install this equipment, resulting in a serious disagreement between the test pilots and the manufacturers.

The FW-190 of 9./JG 2 Haupt. Siegfried Schnell, Vannes 1943.

    The Focke-Wulf was not only faster but its superior handling and faster roll rate gave it an edge in the hands of even less experienced pilots. Such sparkling performance combined with the 190's superior armament presented Allied pilots with a real challenge until German pilot training began to drop in quality. The standard Fw 190A was quickly modified to perform a number of roles, particularly that of fighter-bomber in the F and G versions. These deleted the outer 20 mm cannon in favor of various combinations of bomb racks or cannon pods for the MK 103 30 mm cannon. Later versions of the FW 190A featured up to six 20 mm cannon (FW 190A6R1) the A-6/R-6 had two 210 mm (8.27 in) unguided rockets with which to attack US heavy bombers. The wide track landing gear assured ease of handling on takeoff and landing, unlike the twitchy Messerschmitt 109. The 190 was also one of the first fighters to feature a clear rear canopy, allowing pilots to keep an excellent lookout for enemy fighters.

    Meanwhile, the Fw 190 was also proving a good fighter-bomber carrying a reasonable bomb load or, in some cases, rocket projectiles. The new war started by Hitler on the Eastern Front resulted in most of the new production Fw 190s being thrown into the fighting against the Russians. Others were needed equally urgently by Rommel in North Africa to combat the Western Desert Air Force and Allied ground forces, who by the latter part of 1942, were pressing hard at Alamein.

    As RAF and USAAF bombing raids got heavier and heavier in Europe, new tactics were employed by some German fighter units flying Fw 190s. Against US heavy bombers on daylight raids, several Fw 190s would form a queue and approach from the rear of the bomber formation. At very close range, the fighters would then 'open up,' so giving the rear gunners in the bombers very little chance of firing methodically at all the attackers.

    During 1943, the Fw 190 was encountered frequently in Europe while performing night fighter missions. About the same time, the first Fw 190s came off the production line fitted with inline, rather than radial, engines. General appearance stayed the same, because of the use of an annular radiator at the nose.

    The long-nosed Fw 190D was also developed into the Ta 152 after its designer, Kurt Tank-in which the installation of a 2,300 hp (with boost) DB 603 engine pushed the speed up to 745km/h (463 mph). Had the Ta 152H been built in enough numbers and been flown by expert pilots it could have taken its place alongside the Me 262 as a near unbeatable air superiority fighter and bomber killer.

    The new Junkers Jumo 213 powerplant made the aircraft once again, the fastest Luftwaffe operational fighter and those pilots with the skill to use such advantages did very well. Unfortunately, excellent fighter designs could not compensate for poor production standards, lack of fuel, poor pilot training and overwhelming Allied numerical superiority.

    In honor of designer Kurt Tank, the Fw 190's designation was changed to Tank or Ta 152. This beautiful inline-engined fighter was to be the ultimate version of the famous fighter but delays resulted in the stopgap Fw 190D, in itself an outstanding aircraft. In the chaotic final year of the Third Reich, the D ended up being the major inline engine version with only a few Ta 152Hs, and possibly a few Ta 152Cs, getting into combat.

    The extended wing (14.5m), high altitude Ta 152H was indeed a sterling performer with a top speed of 755 km/h (472 mph) and a service ceiling of 15,000 m (49,215 ft). It was armed with a 30 mm cannon in the nose and two 20 mm cannon in the wing roots. Had it been built in enough numbers and been flown by expert pilots it could have taken its place alongside the Me 262 as a near unbeatable air superiority fighter and bomber killer. The lower altitude version, the Ta 152C, barely made it out of the test phase before the war ended. Between October 1944 and February 1945, when production ended, Focke-Wulf managed to roll 67 completed Ta 152 aircraft (H-0, H-1, and C-1 models) off the line. By the end of the war, more than 20,000 Fw 190s had been built about one-third as fighter bombers.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8
Wing span: 34 ft 5.5 in (10.49 m)
Length: 29 ft (8.84 m)
Height: 13 ft (3.96 m)
Empty: 7,055 lbs (3,200 kgs)
Operational: 10,800 lbs (4,900 kgs)
Maximum Speed: 408 mph (653 km/h)
Service ceiling: 37,400 ft (11,410 m)
Range: 560 miles (900 km)
BMW 801D 1,700 hp 14-cylinder radial engine.
Two 13 mm machine-guns plus four 20 mm cannon or
two 20 mm and two 30 mm cannons.

© The Aviation History On-Line Museum. All rights reserved.
Created November 28, 2001. Updated October 18, 2013.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190

By Stephen Sherman, Aug. 2003. Updated May 6, 2012.

J agdgruppe I./JG.51 left the front lines in August 1942, for East Prussia to convert to the new Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3, the first unit from the Russian Front to adopt Kurt Tank’s radial engine fighter. The BMW engine offered two big advantages over the Bf 109’s water-cooled Daimler Benz. First, its massive bulk up front helped protect the pilot. Second, it could absorb a lot of battle damage and keep running like the American P-47, tales spread of Fw 190’s making it back to base with a cylinder head shot away.

But when the engine did fail, the Fw 190 had the gliding ability of a brick. Dead-stick landings were extremely hazardous, although belly landings, with the big engine clearing away almost all the obstacles, frequently letting the pilot walk away unharmed.

The plane’s ground handling was a mixed bag. The wide track landing gear offered excellent stability in the muddy, snowy surfaces of the Russian airfields. On the other hand, the large engine cowling obstructed the pilot’s forward view. Three point take-offs were called for raising the tail too soon caused the propeller to dig in and flip the aircraft.

The Fw 190’s performance fell off at altitudes above 20,000 feet. While this limited its effectiveness in the West, where the Allied bombers flew high, in the East, with its preponderance of low-level combat, the 190 was ideal. It was rugged, maneuverable, stable, and, with its two 7.9mm machine guns and four 20mm cannon, powerfully armed.

Hermann Krafft’s I./JG.51 pilots learned about the airplanes vicious stall characteristics. Below 200 kilometers per hour (127 MPH), the port wing would abruptly fall off. In a tight turn, it could flick over and go into a spin. Properly controlled and with sufficient altitude, a spin could even offer an escape no Soviet plane could match it.

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 Kommandogerat, 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.

When everything was set for take-off, the mechanic jumped off the wing. Then, “Clear?” … “Yes, all clear ahead.” … “Contact,” then the radial BMW spat blue smoke and rumbled into life. The pilot gave it twelve degrees of flaps, let off the brakes, accelerated to 180 KPH, and lifted off the airstrip.

After two or three weeks of such familiarization, the fliers of I./JG.51 returned to battle on the Eastern Front.


In 1937, even as the Bf 109 was just beginning to realize its potential, the the RLM, Reichsluftfahrt Ministerium, prudently issued a request for a next generation fighter plane. The Focke Wulf company's initial responses (based on the DB 601 engine) drew little interest, but their designer Kurt Tank proposed to use the eighteen-cylinder, air-cooled, radial BMW 139 in a fighter. This idea resulted in an order for four prototypes, and soon, forty production aircraft. By June 1939, the first prototype, the Fw 190V-1, had flown over Bremen airport. During the early test flights, Tank gave it the nickname "Wuerger" or "Shrike." These flights revealed carbon monoxide leaking into the cockpit, landing gear problems, and overheating of the engine and cockpit. The overheating, which raised cockpit temperatures to 55 degrees Celsius (130 F.), proved difficult to resolve. Despite these problems, Luftwaffe pilots enthused over the type.

Even though the V-1 aircraft was fast and agile, it needed a better engine. The BMW 801, more powerful and heavier than the BMW 139, powered the Fw 190V-5 prototype. With the much heavier BMW 801, Tank moved the cockpit back to maintain the correct center of gravity. This change also reduced the heat in the cockpit and allowed more room up front for weapons.

Focke-Wulf delivered seven copies of the pre-production version, the Fw 190A-0, to the Luftwaffe in March 1940. The A-0 frequently failed and caught on fire it was so troublesome that the RLM almost canceled the Fw 190 program. But after more than 50 changes, production was approved.

Fw 190A-1

With a 1600 horsepower BMW 801C engine powering a three-bladed variable pitch propeller, the Fw 190A-1 made a top speed of 388 MPH. The wide-track landing gear folded in toward the fuselage, was extra strong to accommodate future weight growth, and offered good stability on the ground. The bubble-style plexiglass canopy offered excellent visibility in all directions when it proved difficult to jettison, an ejection mechanism was devised. The Fw 190 was built in a modular fashion, for easy repair and replacement in rough field conditions.

For weaponry, the Fw 190A-1 carried four rifle-caliber machine guns, two in the cowling and two in the wing roots all fired through the propeller arc.

In September 1941, the Fw 190A-1 first appeared in battle against the RAF. At first, the British weren't sure what they were facing. They soon found out, as the FW 190 bested the Spitfire Mark V. However, the four 7.9mm machine guns were not adequate firepower an upgrade to heavier armament had been planned as soon as the guns were available.

Fw 190A-2

The next version, the Fw 190A-2, replaced the machine guns in the wing root with belt-fed 20mm cannon. Some A-2's added two more 20mm cannon further outboard in the wings. Oddly, these were drum-fed guns, whose ammunition was incompatible with the cannon in the wing roots.

An uprated BMW 801C-2 engine powered the A-2, which began to be delivered in the fall of 1941.

The Channel Dash

In February 1942 the Germans determined to bring the battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen from Brest, where the RAF regularly bombed them, to better protected anchorages in Norway.

On the night of February 11, the big ships slipped out of Brest. While the British had the harbor under close watch, a series of accidents and mistakes allowed the German ships to get out undetected.

By dawn, they were off Cherbourg where German fighters began to escort them. Further British mis-judgments hindered accurate identification of the warships until mid-day. By that time, they were nearly at the Straits of Dover, under heavy escort by Fw 190's and Bf 109s of JG.2 and JG.26.

Few British strike aircraft were ready and they launched a pitifully small group of Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers, led by Lt. Cdr. Eugene Esmonde. Despite Spitfire fighter cover, the Focke-Wulfs and Messerschmitts destroyed all seven Swordfish Esmonde earned a posthumous Victoria Cross. As Adolf Galland put it in The First and the Last,

"For two hours in full daylight German warships had been passing along the English coast, following a route which in the history of British sea supremacy no enemy has dared to take since the seventeenth century."

Later that afternoon, many more British bombers went after the battle cruisers, but the German fighters and bad weather prevented them from hitting their targets. The three ships made it to German ports that evening, in no small way thanks to the Fw 190.

Fw 190A-3

In the spring of 1942, the A-3 began rolling off the Focke-Wulf production lines at Cottbus, Marienburg, Neubrandenberg, Schwerin, Sorau, and Tutow. Driven by the latest BMW 801D, with 1700 HP and carrying four 20mm cannon and two machine guns, this version of the Fw 190 threatened to outclass all Allied fighters.

The British were working on a commando operation to snatch one when an errant Luftwaffe pilot saved them the trouble. On June 23, 1942, Oblt. Armin Faber landed his A-3 at an RAF airfield. British flight tests revealed few weaknesses with the airplane. To cope with this threat, the British rushed into production the Spitfire Mark IX, basically a Mark V with a new Merlin 61 engine. At Dieppe, the RAF looked to take the measure of Luftwaffe fighter defenses, especially the Fw 190. The Focke-Wulf's mauled the Spitfires one German pilot downed seven Spitfire Mark V's that day.

Fw 190A-4

By injecting a water-methanol mixture into the cylinders, WW2 engines (and some auto racing engines today) could briefly sustain a compression over the redline and get a little more horsepower. The Fw 190A-4 incorporated such a scheme, its only real difference from the A-3. The A-4 also added a short radio antenna atop the tail. It was the first Fw 190 to see significant service on the Russian Front.

Fw 190A-5

Introduced in April 1943, the A-5 was virtually identical to the A-4, except that longer engine mounts added six inches to the length of the fuselage.

Modifications and Upgrades

As with the Bf 109, subvariants and modifications to the Fw 190 were numerous and identifying all of them would require a level of detail beyond the scope of this web site. Some were adapted for desert warfare, indicated with the suffix "/Trop." Umruest-Bausatze (factory) and Ruestsaetze (field) modification kits were designated by "U" and "R" codes, respectively. Fw 190's were modified as Jabos (fighter-bombers), Zerstorers (bomber destroyers), and reconnaissance fighters.

Fw 190A-6

The A-6 standardized the cannon, using the MG-151/20 in both the outer and wing root positions. This model also was designed for ground attack, Shlacht, missions in this role it slowly replaced the obsolete Ju 87 Stuka. The A-6 allowed for a maximum of flexibility in its adaptability to many different Ruestsaetze, or field modifications.

Fw 190A-8

While only eighty Fw 190A-7 were built, this subvariant introduced 13mm machine guns in the cowling, replacing rifle-caliber weapons.

The heavier machine guns likewise armed the Fw 190A-8 (generally similar to the A-7), which was the most numerous 190 subvariant, more than 1,300 produced. It could reach a top speed of 408MPH.

Fw 190D

While the radial BMW 801 engine was great below 20,000 feet, it had always performed poorly at higher altitudes. Kurt tank and his team tried the inline Daimler Benz, DB 603 in prototypes 190B and 190C.

For the Fw 190D, they settled on the Jumo 213A-1, another inline engine, for the proposed high-altitude fighter. The "D" model or "Dora" needed a longer nose to accommodate the Juno 213, and was visibly different from the "A" model.

The first production version, the Fw 190D-9, caem out in the summer of 1944. (The disposition of codes D-1 through D-8 is unclear.) Armed with two 13mm machine guns in the cowling, and two 20mm cannon in the wing roots, capable of 425MPH, with great climbing ability, the Dora was the best prop-driven, production Luftwaffe fighter of the war.

By late 1944, it was too late for the Dora to have an impact. Shortages of fuel and trained pilots constrained everything. While many Fw 190D-9's were built, relatively few saw combat, frequently covering the Me 262 airfields.

The last notable Focke-Wulf 190 variant was identified as the Ta 152, the "Ta," denoting Kurt Tank's design influence. The definitive version was the Ta 152H, a long-winged, high-altitude fighter.

Over 20,000 Fw 190's were built. While no flying models are extant, many survive in aviation museums.


Great Aircraft of the World, Len Cacutt (editor), 1986

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 by Greg Goebel, an excellent web article, more detailed than this.

The First and the Last by Adolph Galland. This book is a history of the air war over Europe from the German perspective, with a fair amount devoted to aircraft development, internal Luftwaffe problems, and such events as the Channel Dash. Even the Russian campaign and the American bombing strategy are surveyed. Relatively little on Galland's personal activities, dogfights, etc.

The Spitfire V

The principal RAF fighter at this time was the Spitfire V. Conceived as a stop-gap measure when the Bf109F’s high altitude performance outstripped the Spitfire MkII and MkIII, the latter mark still being under development, the variant went on to become the most produced mark of Spitfire, with production eventually totalling 6,787 air-frames.

The main improvement came in the form of the Rolls Royce Merlin 45 engine. This was essentially the Spitfire MkIII’s Merlin XX with the low level blower deleted. This provided the aircraft a much better performance at high altitude, where it could take on the Bf109F on more equal terms.

However, the Fw190A was a step-change in performance. When a fully serviceable Fw190A-3 was landed at RAF Pembrey in Wales after a navigational error by the pilot, no time was wasted in sending the aircraft for tactical trials.

A German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-3 of 11./JG 2 at RAF Pembrey in Wales, after the pilot landed in the UK by mistake in June 1942.


France Edit

Germany Edit

  • 210968 – Fw 190 D-9 under restoration to static display at the Militärhistorisches Museum Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow in Berlin, Berlin. [2] This airframe was flown by Karl Fröb of 2./JG 26 when it crashed in Lake Schwerin on 17 April 1945. [3]
  • 670071 – Fw 190 F-3 on static display in unrestored condition at the Flugplatzmuseum Cottbus in Cottbus, Brandenburg. [4] This airframe is from 1./SchG 1. [citation needed]

Norway Edit

  • 2219 – Fw-190 A-3/U3 on static display at the Norwegian Aviation Museum in Bodø, Nordland. [5]
  • 125425 – Fw 190 A-2 on static display in unrestored condition at the Herdla Museum in Herdla, Hordaland. [6] This airframe is from IV./JG 5, recovered from underwater location, it was rebuilt for the Norwegian Air Force Museum. The aircraft was salvaged from the ocean off the island of Sotra, near Bergen, Norway. Its pilot had made an emergency landing in December 1943 and had scrambled to safety and was rescued soon after his aircraft had sunk to the bottom of the sea. After its retrieval from 60 m deep water, the Fw 190, "Yellow 16," from IV/JG 5 was only missing its canopy and the fabric-covered wing and tail surfaces. [7] [failed verification]

Serbia Edit

South Africa Edit

  • 550214 – Fw 190 A-6 on static display at the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg, Gauteng. This airframe was possibly flown by 8/JG 11 as it was fitted with a FuG 217 Neptun radar system. [11][12]

United Kingdom Edit

  • 584219 – Fw 190 F-8/U1 on static display at the Royal Air Force Museum London in London. [13] Captured by the RAF in Norway, it had been converted into a two-seat configuration for use as a trainer, possibly for Jagdfliegerschule 103. [14]
  • 733682 – Fw 190 A-8/R6 on static display at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford in Cosford, Shropshire. This airframe had originally been part of a Mistel S-3B composite aircraft along with a Junkers Ju 88 bomber-converted flying bomb. Previously on display at the Imperial War Museum since 1986, it was moved to its current location in October 2013, where it went on display after a short period of restoration. [15][16][17]

United States Edit

  • 5476 – Fw 190 A-2 under restoration to airworthy by Wade S. Haynes in Anson, Texas. [18] This airframe is from JG 5 and is thought to be one of the oldest Fw 190s still in existence. [citation needed]
  • 151227 – Fw 190 A-5 airworthy at the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in Everett, Washington. This airframe was being flown by Paul Rätz of JG 54 when it crash landed in a forest in Voibakala near Saint Petersburg on 9 July 1943 due to sabotage of the oil lines. It was discovered in the same location in 1988 or 1989 and was recovered in 1990 or 1991. Its first post restoration flight was on 1 or 2 December 2010. [19][20] It is currently the only airworthy Fw 190 with an original BMW 801 engine. [21][22][23][24][25]
  • 173889 – Fw 190 A-8 under restoration with Mark Timken. This airframe was from 7./JG 1. [citation needed]
  • 210096 – Fw 190 D-9 owned by the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts. [26][27][28]
  • 550470 – Fw 190 A-6 under restoration to airworthy by Brian O'Farrell in Pembroke Pines, Florida. [29] This airframe, originally built by AGO Flugzeugwerke, was previously owned by Malcolm Laing in Lubbock, Texas. It is a composite using parts from Wk. Nr. 140668. This airframe is from 1./JG 26. [30]
  • 601088 – Fw 190 D-9 on static display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. This airframe is from IV (Sturm)./JG 3 "Udet" Geschwader, captured by the US intact and labeled FE-120 and used in testing following the war. It is on long term loan from the National Air and Space Museum. [31][32]
  • 732183 – Fw 190 A-8 non-airworthy at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia. [33][34] This airframe is from 12./JG 5, and was previously located at the Texas Air Museum in Rio Hondo, Texas. [citation needed] Displayed as the a/c flown by Ltn Rudi Linz in 12./JG 5, a German ace with 70 victories. He was shot down over Norway by a British Mustang Mk III during the 'Black Friday' raid on 9 February 1945. [citation needed]
  • 836017 – Fw 190 D-13 on static display at the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington. This airframe is from 1./JG 26 [citation needed] as flown by Major Franz Götz. After capture it was donated to the Georgia Technical University, and then fell into disrepair. Later restored in Germany by William Flugzeuge [citation needed] and returned to the Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona. It was later loaned to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington when the Champlin museum closed its doors, and is now on display in Everett, Washington as a part of Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection. The aircraft has been restored close to flyable condition, but it will not be flown because it is the only surviving D-13. [35][36][37]
  • 931862 [38] – Fw 190 F-8 under restoration to airworthy for the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts. [27][39][40] It was being restored by American Aero Services [41] but is now being worked on by GossHawk Unlimited. [42] This airframe is from 9./JG 5, the "White 1" as flown by Unteroffizier Heinz Orlowski, who examined his former aircraft personally in 2005, during its restoration. Also shot down by P-51s over Norway in the "Black Friday" engagement. Originally under restoration in Kissimmee, Florida, USA by The White 1 Foundation, it was transferred to the Collings Foundation in 2012. [43]
  • 931884 – Fw 190 F-8 on static display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. This airframe is from I./SG 2. It was first built as an A-4 with Wk. Nr. 640069, but later rebuilt as an F-8. Captured intact by the US and marked as FE-117. [44][45]

Unknown Edit

  • 5415 – Fw 190 F-8 thought to be under restoration in New Zealand and owned by the Old Flying Machine Company in the mid-1990s. [9][10]
  • 400616 – Fw 190 D-9 at an unknown location. This airframe was on display at the Hangar 10 facility in Zirchow, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. [46] It was sold by Platinum Fighter Sales in 2015. [47][48]

Flug + Werk reproductions Edit

Starting in 1997 a small German company, Flug + Werk GmbH, [49] began work on new Fw 190 A-8s a run of 20 kits were produced. These planes are new reproduction builds from the ground up, using many original dies, plans, and other information from the war. The construction was sub-contracted to Aerostar SA of Bacău, Romania both companies have been involved in a number of warbird replica projects.

Werk numbers continued from where the German war machine left off, with the new Fw 190 A-8s being labeled "Fw 190 A-8/N" (N for Nachbau: "replica"). Some of these new Fw 190s are known to be fitted with the original tail wheel units from the Second World War a small cache of tail gear having been discovered. In November 2005, the first flights were completed.

Ironically, since the BMW 801 engines are no longer available, a Chinese licensed Soviet-designed engine, the Shvetsov ASh-82FN 14-cylinder twin-row radial engine of similar configuration and slightly smaller displacement (41.2 litres versus 41.8) to the original BMW powerplants, which powered some of the Fw 190s opposition: the La-5 and La-7, powers the new Fw 190 A-8/N. Furthering the irony, some customers have specified American Pratt & Whitney R-2800 motors, though these are larger than the ASh-82 with different mounting points requiring some modification.

As part of the run of 20 examples, FlugWerk also produced a limited number of "long nose" Fw 190D examples powered by Allison V-1710s.



This could be realized by the reduction of plane armor or armament. The designers applied the second solution and removed the fuselage mounted MG 17 7.9 mm machine guns and resisted applying a second pair of cannons in the wings. This new Fw 190G-1 had armament reduced to only two MG 151/20 E 20 mm cannons mounted in the wing roots with a reduced 150 rounds per cannon ammunition.

For offensive armament the under-fuselage ETC 501 bomb rack could carry 250 and 500 kg bombs or four small 50 kg bombs after the ER 4 adapter applied. The radio equipment suite deleted the FuG 25a IFF device and often the radio altimeter was not mounted. Because of the extended engine operational time it was suggested that an additional oil tank be mounted under the cowling, near the windshield, in the place of the previously used MG 17 machine guns. About 50 Fw 190A-4/U8 planes were produced that were included in the G series and got the official designation Fw 190G-1. During production, the shields of the underwing munitions locks were slightly enlarged and stiffened.



The Fw 190G-3 had also a desert version, G-3 tp, with anti-dust filters and other equipment useful during operations over desert regions or over regions with similar conditions. Some planes were modified by mounting equipment provided for R kits used for G version:

Fw 190G-3/R1 - heavily armed attack fighter with two WB 151/20 pylons in place of underwing V.Fw Trg. racks. This variant had armament of 2x1 MG 151/20 E with 250 rounds per cannon and 2x2 MG 151/20 E with 125 rounds per cannon. This modernization was ordered in September 1943 to be made by LZA workshops at Sagan-Kupper Air Base. These planes did not have the autopilot device or additional armor. Planes would have been used for bomber formation attack and ground attack.

Fw 190G-3/R5 - close support attack aircraft modified similar to the F-3/R1 standard. In place of V.Fw Trg. racks, ETC 50 bomb racks (2x2 50 kg bombs) were mounted. In this modification, no additional armor and oil tank were applied. Some planes were again equipped with fuselage mounted MG 17 machine guns. Most of the planes had the autopilot device.


Fw 190G-8/R4 - an unrealized project of a plane equipped with a GM 1 installation for nitrogen monoxide (N2O) injection for increased power rising (larger amount of oxygen available for combustion) at high altitudes.

Fw 190G-8/R5 - had four underwing ETC 50 (or ETC 70) bomb racks in place of two ETC 503.

Production of G-8 version continued from September 1943 to February 1944, when production of the Fw 190G-8 was abandoned in favor of modified F-8 series planes. This was connected with the tendency to simplify the production process. In the late series G-8 planes (from February 1944), the autopilot device was not used . In the late Fw 190G-8 (after mounting MG 131 machine guns) there were no longer differences between this version and the Fw 190F-8 attack aircraft type (G-8 = F-8/U1 in the version with ETC 503 bomb racks, and G-8/R5 = F-8/R1 also).

In an emergency, single Fw 190G planes were adapted for the transportation of high weight bombs under the fuselage (1000, 1600 and 1800 kg). In this modification, the shock absorber leg was strengthened and wheels with strengthened tires were used. Also used were special bomb racks (Schlos 1000 or 2000) in place of the ETC 501 bomb rack. The Fw 190G planes with these higher bomb loads needed as long as 1200-1300 m of runway for takeoff.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger is a one-seat, one-engine fighter aircraft widely used throughout World War II and designed by Kurt Tank in the late 30s. Early development Genesis In autumn 1937, the German Ministry of Aviation asked various designers for a new fighter to fight alongside the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Germany’s front line fighter.

Though flown well before World War II this trim little fighter was unknown to the Allies and caused a nasty surprise when first met over France in early 1941. Indeed, it was so far superior to the bigger and more sluggish Spitfire V that for the first time the RAF felt not only outnumbered but beaten technically. Fortunately, a Fw 190 landed by mistake in England in June 1942, and the RAF was given a heaven-sent opportunity for testing the aircraft in direct comparison to their beloved Spitfire. However, the Fw 190 turned out to be even better than expected.

It was faster than any other Allied fighter in service at that time, had far heavier armament (at that time the standard on Fw 190’s was two 7.92mm MG 17’s on the engine, two of the previously unknown Mauser cannon inboard and two 20mm MG FF outboard), was immensely strong, had excellent power of manoeuvre and good pilot view. It was also a subtle target, much lighter than any Allied fighter and had a stable wide-track landing gear (unlike the Bf109). Altogether it gave Allied pilots and designers an instant inferiority complex. Though considered in most circles to have been a better aircraft than the Messerschmitt Bf109, it never supplanted the 109 but was subsequently made in a profusion of different versions by many factories.

The A series included many fighter and fighter-bomber versions, some having not only the increasingly massive internal armament but also two or four 20 mm cannon or two 30 mm cannon in underwing fairings. Most had an emergency power boost system, using MW 50 (methanol/water) or GM-1 (nitrous oxide) injection, or both. Some were two-seaters, and a few had autopilots for inclement weather and night interceptions.

The F series were close-support attack aircraft, some having the Panzerblitz array of R4M rockets for tank-busting (also lethal against heavy bombers). The G was another famous series of multi-role fighter/dive bombers, but by 1943 the main effort was devoted to what the RAF called the “long-nosed 190”, the 190D. This was once more the fastest fighter in the sky, and late in 1943, it was redesignated Ta 152 in honor of the director of Focke-Wulf’s design team, Professor Kurt Tank.

The early 152C series were outstandingly formidable, but the long span H sacrificed guns for speed and height. Tank himself easily outpaced a flight of P-51D Mustangs which surprised him on a test flight, but only ten of the H sub-type had flown when the war ended. Altogether 20,051 Fw 190’s were delivered, plus a small number of Ta 152’s (67, excluding development aircraft). It is curious that the Messerschmitt Bf109, a much older and less attractive design with many shortcomings, should have been made in greater quantities and also been the aircraft of choice of nearly all the Luftwaffe’s aces.

A structurally redesigned and lighter wing was introduced and the normal armament was increased to two mg 17 fuselage machine guns and four 20 mm mg 151/20e wing root and outer wing cannon with larger ammunition boxes.

Fw 190 Production History

Fw 190 a-7 The a-7 entered production in November 1943, equipped with the bmw 801 d-2 engine, again producing 1,700 ps and two fuselage-mounted 13 mm mg 131s, replacing the mg 17s.

Fw 190 a-8 The a-8 entered production in February 1944, powered either by the standard bmw 801 d-2 or the 801q.

The 801q/tu, with the &quotT&quot signifying a Triebwerksanlage unitized powerplant installation, was a standard 801d with improved, thicker armour on the front annular cowling, which also incorporated the oil tank, upgraded from 6 mm on earlier models to 10 mm.

Changes introduced in the Fw 190 a-8 also included the C3-injection Erhöhte Notleistung emergency boost system to the fighter variant of the Fw 190 a, raising power to 1,980 ps for a short time.

Fw 190 a-8/r2 – The a-8/r2 replaced the outer wing 20 mm cannon with a 30 mm mk 108 cannon.

Fw 190 a-8/r8 – The a-8/r8 was similar to the a-8/r2, but fitted with heavy armor including 30 mm canopy and windscreen armor and 5 mm cockpit armor.

Fw 190 a-9 First built in September 1944, the Fw 190 a-9 was fitted with the new bmw 801s rated at 2,000 ps the more powerful 2,400 ps bmw 801f-1 was still under development, and not yet available.

Fw 190 a-10 Late in the war, the a-10 was fitted with larger wings for better maneuverability at higher altitudes, which could have allowed additional 30 mm calibre, long-barreled mk 103 cannon to be fitted.

A total of 13,291 Fw 190 A-model aircraft were produced.

Video Documentary Footage of the Fw 190

Fw 190 Specifications

Full Name: Focke-Wulf Fw 190

Variants: Fw 190A series, D series, F series, Ta 152H

Type: Single-seat fighter bomber

Country of Origin: Germany

Manufacturer: Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH

First Flight: (Fw 190V-1) June 1, 1939 (production Fw 190A-1) September 1940 (Fw 190D) late 1942

Engine(s): (A-8, F-8) one 1,700 hp (2,100 hp with emergency boost) BMW 801Dg 18-cylinder two-row radial (D-9) one 1,776 hp (2,240 hp with emergency boost) Junkers Jumo 213A-1 12-cylinder inverted-vee liquid-cooled (Ta152H-1) one 1,880 hp (2,250 hp with emergency boost) Junkers Jumo 213E-1

Wingspan: (A-8, F-8 and D-9) 34 ft 5.5 in (10.49 m) (Ta152H-1) 47 ft 6.75 in (14.5 m)

Length: (A-8, F-8) 29ft (8.84 m) (D-9) 33 ft 5.25 in (10.2 m) (Ta 152H-1) 35 ft 5.5 in (10.8 m)

Height: (A-8, F-8) 13 ft (3.96 m) (D-9) 11 ft 0.25 in (3.35 m) (Ta 152H-1) 11 ft 8 in (3.55 m)

Weights: Empty: (A-8, F-8) 7,055 lb (3,200 kg) (D-9) 7,720 lb (3,500 kg) (Ta 152H-1) 7,940 lb (3,600 kg)
Loaded: (A-8, F-8) 10,800 lb (4,900 kg) (D-9) 10,670 lb (4,840 kg) (Ta 152H-1) 12,125 lb (5,500 kg)

Maximum Speed: With boost: (A-8, F-8) 408 mph (653 km/h) (D-9) 440 mph (704 km/h) (Ta 152H-1) 472 mph (755 km/h)

Initial Climb: (A-8, F-8) 2,350 ft (720 m)/min (D-9, Ta 152H-1) about 3,300 ft (1,000 m)/min

Service Ceiling: (A-8, F-8) 37,400 ft (11,410 m) (D-9) 32,810 ft (10,000 m) (Ta 152H-1) 49,215 ft (15,000 m)

Range: On internal fuel: (A-8, F-8 and D-9) abot 560 miles (900 km) (Ta 152H-1) 745 miles (1,200 km)

Armament: (A-8, F-8) two 13 mm MG 131 above engine, two 20 mm MG 151/20 in wing roots and two MG 151/20 or 30 mm MK 108 in outer wings (D-9) as above, or without outer MG 151/20s, with provision for 30 mm MK 108 firing through propellor hub (Ta 152H-1) one 30 mm MK 108 and two inboard MG 151/20 (sometimes outboard MG 151/20s as well) Bomb load: (A-8, D-9) one 1,100 lb (500 kg) on centerline (F-8) one 3,968 lb (1,800 kg) on centerline (Ta 152H-1) none normally carried

Focke Wulf Fw 190A

Conceived in 1937 as a complement to the Bf 109, Focke-Wulf's Fw 190s became a potent threat to Allied air power in every region where the Luftwaffe fought. Fw 190s inflicted cruel punishment on Flying Fortress and Liberator crews, and were almost impossible to defeat until the long range P-51 Mustang finally became available in 1944 to escort bombers to their targets. As a fighter bomber and anti tank aircraft, the Fw 190 was Germany's best air to ground fighter.

The Fw 190a-8 was used extensively in Defence of the Riech operations during 1944. Heavily armed with four cannon and two machine guns it wreaked havoc upon US daylight bombers. The long nosed Tank Ta 152 versions of the Fw 190 reached air speeds as high as 760 km/h (472 mph) and might have altered the outcome of the war if more than 93 had been built before hostilities ended.

No one who fought in the hotly contested skies of Europe will forget the feats of Fw 190 pilots such as Oberleutnant Otto Kittel, the Luftwaffe's fourth ranking ace, who scored most of his 267 victories in the type. It is truly one of the great fighters of all time.

Kurt Tank's superb Focke-Wulf Fw 190 first saw combat over the English Channel in September 1941. The new fighter was a shock to the RAF, being faster and more agile than the Spitfire. Known as the 'Butcher Bird', the Fw 190 went to become a dominant force in aerial combat in Europe, performing with equal distinction as a fighter and as the Luftwaffe's most important ground attack machine.

The Focke-Wulf FW-190: Best Fighter Aircraft of World War II?

The single-seat Focke-Wulf FW-190 fighter aircraft helped to even the odds against enemy fighters.

On July 28, 1943, Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Erwin Clausen shot down another two B-17 Flying Fortresses to add to the two he had shot down the previous day. There were 15 other Focke-Wulf FW-190 pilots that claimed downing a bomber in defense of the aircraft works at Kassel and Oschersleben. It is believed that this was the first time that the Luftwaffe’s single-engined fighters had been able to employ under-wing rockets against the American bombers.

The following day, as 15 groups of B-17s attacked targets on the Baltic coast, it was the weather that provided the best cover for the bombers. The Luftwaffe response was relatively weak with only four Jagdgruppen FW-190s sent up to oppose the bomber force. The Focke-Wulf group was credited with four of the 12 claimed to have been shot down, which agreed with what the Americans stated they had lost.

The next day the B-17s were headed for a second strike against the aircraft factories in Kassel. On this occasion, the Luftwaffe reacted stronger than before. Among the planes sent up, there were at least five Focke-Wulf FW-190 units. The Focke-Wulfs of Jagdgeschwader 1 did not engage the bombers until after they had left the target area and were about to recross into Dutch territory. At that point, they would be under the protection of Allied fighters that would escort them back to the United Kingdom. Despite this development, the pilots of JG1 were able to claim six B-17s and two enemy fighters destroyed. The successes came at a high price: the loss of seven aircraft. Among the pilots killed were two Staffelkapitane and the campaign’s then-leading FW-190 four-engine bomber ace, Oberfeldwebel Hans Laun of 1.JG 1, who was shot down near Arnhem, Netherlands.

The Focke-Wulf FW-190 was widely believed to be the best fighter aircraft of World War II. As the war went on the FW-190 was manufactured in no fewer than 40 different models. The appearance of the new aircraft over France in 1941 was a rude surprise to the Allied air forces. The FW-190 was in service for the entire war, replacing a number of other aircraft including the Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber. Possibly the plane’s biggest influence on the Allies was that it served to spur on greater advances in technology and aircraft design to counter the threat of the FW-190.

The Focke-Wulf FW-190 not only was a superb daytime fighter but was also used extensively as a night fighter, interceptor, and ground attack aircraft on the Eastern, Western, and Italian Fronts. The introduction of the FW-190 changed the capability of the Luftwaffe’s combat operations. This was especially the case with the introduction of the FW-190D in 1944. This new model offered superior handling with a top speed of more than 400 miles per hour.

During the first two years of World War II, the Messerschmitt Me-109 was the preeminent German fighter plane, there was simply nothing else. But in 1941, during cross-Channel aerial warfare between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe, a new challenger entered the fight on the German side. The Me-109 from that point forward would have a new partner in the air war.

Design History of the Fw-190

The development of the FW-190 began with a contract in 1937 from the Reichsluftfahrtministerium for a new single-seat fighter. The new plane was designed by Focke-Wulf engineer Kurt Tank, a German aeronautical engineer and test pilot. He was chief engineer in Focke-Wulf’s design department from 1931 to 1945. He was not only responsible for the development of the FW-190, but also the Focke-Wulf Ta-152 fighter-interceptor and the FW-200 Condor. The FW-190 was first developed as two different models, one using the water-cooled inline Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine and the other using the BMW 139 aircooled radial. The BMW 139 was selected for development in summer of 1938. The first prototype flew on June 1, 1939. The BMW 139 produced 1,550 horsepower, attaining a speed of 370 miles per hour. As the prototype was refined, the BMW 139 was replaced by the BMW 801, which was heavier but had greater potential for future development. Although the engine did have some problems to overcome, the FW-190 showed excellent handling characteristics and its wide undercarriage made takeoffs and landings less hazardous. Powered by the new BMW engine, which produced 1,600 horsepower, the FW-190A-1 was armed with four wing-mounted 7.92mm MG17 machine guns.

First impressions of the new BMW 801 engine were not good. “The new twin row, 14 cylinder, air-cooled radial engine gave us nothing but misery. Whatever could possibly go wrong with it, did. We hardly dared to leave the immediate vicinity of the airfield with our six prototype machines,” reported one pilot. This criticism of the new plane is sometimes credited with saving the FW-190 project from cancellation. Eventually, the problems were sufficiently corrected for the plane to be cleared for service in July 1941. One of the major changes made by Tank and his designers was in the FW-190’s armament. They replaced the inboard MG17s with two 20mm FF cannons. The modified fighter now had the designation of FW-190 A-2 and took the Royal Air Force completely unawares with descriptions of the plane being discounted by British intelligence.

In June 1942, a fortuitous event occurred for the Allies. A Luftwaffe pilot accidentally presented an intact FW-190A fighter to his enemies. Oberleutnant Armin Faber landed on what he thought was a Luftwaffe airfield on the Cotentin Peninsula that turned out to be the RAF airfield at Pembrey, Wales. As he slowly taxied to a stop, Faber was intensely surprised when someone jumped on the wing and pointed a pistol at his head. The pilot was so despondent that he attempted suicide.

The RAF quickly took advantage of its windfall by transporting the aircraft to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. The airframe and engine were dismantled and thoroughly analyzed before being reassembled. After being test flown the plane was delivered to the Air Fighting Development Unit at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, where it was put through intensive performance trials and flown competitively against several Allied fighter types. The AFDU trials had proven what the RAF already knew, that the FW-190 was an outstanding development in fighter aircraft but was far from unbeatable.

The detailed examination of the FW-190 had a huge influence on fighter development in Britain. It resulted directly in the specification F.2/43 to which was designed the Hawker Fury, which incorporated numerous features directly copied from the FW-190A and F.19/43, which produced the Folland Fd.118 fighter project. There could be no higher praise than to have one’s enemies copy one of your designs. The FW-190A was one of the best models that could have come into the possession of the Allies. The FW-190A1 used the BMW 801C, 1600 horsepower engine, which powered a three-bladed variable pitch propeller that could attain a top speed of 388 miles per hour. The wide-track landing gear folded in toward the fuselage, which was extra strong to accommodate future weight growth and offered good stability on the ground. The FW-190A1 carried four rifle-caliber machine guns, two in the cowling and two in the wing roots, all of which were fired through the propeller arc. The event that resulted in the capture of the Focke-Wulf most likely contributed to saving the lives of countless RAF pilots.

In 1943, the Luftwaffe was in need of a fighter with better high-altitude performance. The answer to this need was the long-nosed “D” model or “Dora.” The first production model was the FW-190 D-9 which attained production status in the early summer of 1944. The new plane’s purpose would be to face the Allied bombers, particularly the American Boeing B-29 Superfortress, which was known to be coming into service. The FW-190 D was the first production FW-190 to use a liquid-cooled engine and was a very good high-altitude interceptor equal to the North American P-51 Mustang or Supermarine Spitfire MK XIV without the altitude limitations of the FW-190 A. Deliveries of the FW-190D-9 began in August 1944. The first mission of the new fighter was to provide top cover for Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighters during takeoff when they were most vulnerable. The prevailing opinion among the FW-190D-9 pilots was that it was the best Luftwaffe propeller-driven fighter of the entire war and was more than a match for the P-51 Mustang. The D Model was the stepping stone that led to the high-altitude Focke-Wulf Ta 152.

In honor of Tank, the FW-190’s designation was changed to Tank, or Ta-152. The inline engine fighter was going to be the top version of the now famous fighter, but delays prevented them being manufactured in adequate numbers. In the final chaotic year of the Third Reich only a few Ta-152Hs and possibly a few Ta-152Cs got into combat.

The Bomber Killer

The FW-190 first saw action over the English Channel in 1941. In February 1942, it was providing cover for the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisinau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen as they tried to reach northern German ports. In one engagement, the 190s destroyed all six attacking Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers. The new fighter was a shock to the RAF, faster and more agile than the Spitfire. The FW-190 was a stout opponent in a dogfight with its extremely heavy armament. The FW-190 pilots tended to work in pairs, giving each other good tactical support in battle. The excellent visibility provided by the plane’s cockpit assisted the pilots in supporting one another. As time went on, the FW-190 became a terror to Allied aircraft in every region where the Luftwaffe was active. It inflicted huge losses on B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber crews, and was almost impossible to stop until the long-range P-51 Mustang came into service in 1944 and began escorting bombers to their targets.

One of the more important roles played by the FW-190s was in the defense of the Reich, a strategic defensive aerial campaign. The Luftwaffe had set up a chain of fighter bases in northwestern Europe. These stretched from the Bay of Biscay to the Kattegat. By late summer 1942, the American Eighth Air Force was beginning to make its first forays into northern France. The first attack by the Eighth took place on January 27, 1943. Despite all the time, effort, and resources put in by both sides, the first fighting in the defense of the Reich was inconclusive. The FW-190s’ first attack was on several Liberators of the 44th Bomb Group. Two of the Liberators went down into the shallows between the Dutch coast and the offshore island of Terschelling. One source suggests that one of the bombers was lost as a result of a mid-air collision with a battle damaged FW-190, which tore off the B-24’s port wing and tail assembly. This action, like many of the claims made by pilots during the 27-month campaign, was never confirmed. If anything, this problem worsened as the number of aircraft involved in the never-ending air battles in the skies over Germany grew from dozens to the hundreds and eventually thousands.

The first month of the air campaign ended with the raid on Wilhelmshaven on February 26, 1943. In this phase of the campaign, the fighting ended in favor of the Luftwaffe, which downed 15 heavy bombers from the U.S. Eighth Air Force while it suffered seven pilots killed and one wounded. On March 4, the FW-190s played a major role in attacking a group of B-17s whose target was the marshaling yards at Hamm in North Rhine-Westphalia. Four of the five bombers were shot down in the Eighth Air Force’s first appearance over the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland. On April 17, the Eighth Air Force returned to Bremen, but this time its target was the city’s Focke-Wulf aircraft factories. These were producing the very FW-190 fighters that the Americans were fighting in the air. During this raid the Americans lost 16 B-17s with 10 falling to the FW-190s. These losses were at least part of the reason that the Eighth Air Force did not reappear over the Reich for nearly a month. The attacks of June 25 brought to an end the first half of the fighting in the air campaign of 1943.

The opening rounds of the campaign had produced only mixed results. The overriding factor for this period was the absence of a fighter escort for the bomber formations. The final outcome was still far from certain. In the second half of 1943, the Eighth Air Force suffered catastrophic casualties, but the defenders’ losses would begin to escalate as the year wore on. In this period, the U.S. Army Air Forces lost 87 bombers and had more than 500 damaged mostly due to Luftwaffe attacks, many of which involved FW-190s.

The air campaign would soon become a different arena of battle entirely. The arrival of U.S. escort fighters in ever increasing numbers would dramatically change the situation. The Luftwaffe pilots would no longer have the luxury of remaining unmolested beyond the range of the bombers’ defensive fire and then deciding how to deliver the attack. Protected by their fighters, the bombers would be much more difficult to approach, and kills would become more difficult to achieve with losses inevitably becoming much higher.

The number of fighters escorting Eighth Air Force bombers was truly alarming to the Germans. The number would eventually exceed 500. One method which the Luftwaffe began to develop to counter the increased number of enemy fighters was to have the Me-109s keep the enemy fighters occupied while the FW-190s attacked the bombers. The Luftwaffe also transferred many of its most successful pilots closer to Germany to defend the Reich in the most critical campaign of the European air war.

By the end of 1942, the FW-190 was fighting in North Africa, on the Eastern Front, and in Western Europe. In the Soviet Union, the FW-190 was effective in low-flying ground attacks on vehicle convoys and tanks. In this theater, the FW-190 carried 250- and 500-pound bombs, either of which could knock out a tank. One major issue on the Eastern Front was keeping the FW-190s and other aircraft supplied. This was at a time when many of the planes were flying up to eight sorties a day. On the Eastern Front, the FW-190’s reliable air-cooled engine and wide-track landing gear were well suited for service in the extremely harsh conditions. Operations on the Eastern Front led to a number of changes that resulted in the FW-190F fighter-bomber designed with a special emphasis on ground attack. This particular version carried 794 pounds of armor, which included sections of steel plate located behind the pilot’s head, on the lower engine cowling, and in the wheel well doors. The F-8 version turned out to be the most important model of the “F” series. Frontline units, using kits supplied by the factory, could adapt these aircraft to carry various combinations of heavy cannons, bombs, rockets, and even torpedoes.

As the war went on, the different models of the FW-190 were in almost constant contact with enemy bombers. This led to improvements in the form of more cannons and underwing rockets. Later, bomb racks were fitted to the FW-190 airframe under the fuselage and under the wings to broaden the capability of the fighter for attacking ground targets. By the end of the war, German fighter airfields were forced back closer to Berlin for fear of being bombed, which resulted in the FW-190 becoming more of a ground attack and support aircraft as German air power dwindled in the final days of the war. In spite of this situation, the beleaguered German air crews fought on with their FW-190s despite mounting losses. The Allied bombing campaign reduced the number of FW-190s, and the added issue of pilot attrition only made the situation for the Luftwaffe much worse. In the end, the FW-190 had played its role well in defeat as the war came to a close.

20,000 FW-190s Built

By the end of the war, more than 20,000 FW-190s had been built for the Luftwaffe. At peak production, 22 FW-190s were being produced daily. When hostilities ended in Europe, the Luftwaffe had more than 1,600 FW-190s, of which more than 800 were ground-attack variants. After the war, Tank, the primary developer of the FW-190, negotiated with the United Kingdom, the Nationalist government of China, and the Soviet Union for his services. However, negotiations with all three countries proved to be unsuccessful. He later accepted an offer from Argentina to work at its Aeronautical Institute under the pseudonym Dr. Pedro Matthies. Tank spent two decades designing aircraft abroad, including work in India, before returning to Germany in the late 1960s to work as a consultant for Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm. The heavy demand for his services was a testament to his genius as an aircraft designer.

Watch the video: Focke Wulf Fw190