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When the fa st and highly-mano:uvrable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 entered co mbat in the autumn
of 1941 it came as anasty shock to its opponents.The new German fighter appeared to
outperform with some ease the Spitfire Mk V,the best machine the RAF possessed at the
time. Dr ALFRED PRICE describes the history of this versatile, pugnaciousfighter-bomber
began life in the spring of
1938, when the Luftwaffe
Technical Dffice (LTD)
invited the Focke-Wulf company at
Bremen to submit design proposals
for a new fighter to supplement the
Messersch mitt Bf 109B, which was
in service in several Jagdgruppen
(fighter groups) and had seen
combat in Spain,
The fighter that took shape on
the drawing boards was entirely
conventional in layout; an all-metal


low-wing monoplane, In contrast to

most other high-speed fighters of
the period, it was to be powered by
an air-cooled radial engine, the
new 18-cylinder BMW139, which
developed 1,550 hp . during
bench tests, Designer Kurt Tank
selected this engine because it
was one of the most powerful then
available in Germany, and because
air-cooled engines were more
rugged and less vulnerable to
battle damage than their liquidcooled counterparts,

The LTD accepted Tank's

concept, and in the summer of
1938 placed an order for the
construction of prototypes, the
fighter receiving its official Reich
Air Ministry designation: the
Focke-Wulf Fw 190,
By the spring of 1939 the
airframe of the Fw 190 V1 (first
prototype) was almost complete,
and that of theV2 was well
advanced, However, BMWwas
having difficulties with its 139
engine, The big radial was prone

ABOVE Adetail from a set of

magnificent drawings of the
Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 by
renowned technical artist
Arthur Bentley (who may be
contacted at www.albentleydrawings.com).
OPPOSITE TOP The Fw 190 was
one of the most formidable and feared - of German World
War Two fighters.
early pre-production Fw 190As
with BMW engines roaring.


to overheating, and it fai led to live up

to its early promise.The company
now wanted to abandon the project
in favour of the new BMW 801, a
14-cylinder radial of the same
diameter but weighing more and
developing an extra 50 h.p. Installing
the BMW 801 in the fighter wou ld
require a redesign of the forward
fuselage, but the LTOfelt that the
improvement in performance would
justify the changes, and agreed to
pay for them. TheV5 prototype would
be the first with the revised airframe
and the BMW801.
During May 1939 the Fw 190 Vl
was com pleted, and on June 1 test
pilot Hans Sander took it into the air
for the first time, finding that the
aircraft handled beautifu lly, with light
and positive controls.The only
problem concerned the overheating
of the BMW 139 engine. Wearing
only a thin flying suit, Sander found
the cockpit uncomfortably hot, being
unable to open the bubble canopy in
flight owing to the possibility of
creating turbulence over the tai l.
Sander told the author: "The rear of
the engine was hard up against the
front wall of the cockpit, and my feet
on the rudder pedals were on either
side of the engine accessories. The
temperature in the cockpit rose to
55C. I felt as though I was sitting
with my feet in a fi re! The heat was
bearable, but very uncomfortable."
The problemof overheating wou ld
plague the BMW 139 throughout its
life. However, pilots at the Luftwaffe
test establishment at Rechlin clocked
the new fighter at 369 m.p. h. in level
flight, and praised its handling
characteristics. In October 1939 the
V2 began flying. This was the first
prototype to be fitted with weapons,
having one 79mm MG17 machinegun in each wing root.
In a bid to improve the BMW139 's
cooling the ducted spinner on the Vl
was replaced by a normal spinner.
Although this failed to cure the
overheati ng, removal of the ducted
spinner caused only a minimal
red uction in performance, and was
omitted from subsequent aircraft.
The Fw 190 V5, the first prototype
powered by the BMW 801, joined the
test programme in April 1940. With
the additional weight of the new
engine and a strengthened structure,
the V5 weighed about 1,4001b more
thanVl . Work also began on a batch
of 40 pre-production Fw 190A-Os.
The extra weight increased the
fighter's wing loading and its fine
handling deteriorated. The on ly way
to restore this was to reduce the
wing loading by increasing the
wing area by some 20 per cent to
196'5ft', with less taper. To maintain

ABOVE The Fw 190 V1 ,

D-OPZE, comes in to land
after a test flight. The
ducted spinner and small
undercarriage doors were
removed after trials.
LEFT Focke-Wulf chief test
pilot and qualified
engineer Hans Sander
flew the Fw 190 V1 prototype on its maiden flight.

, =_


ABOVE Aside view of D-OPZE

around the time of its first flight
in the early summer of 1939. The
aircraft proved to be agile and
fast, the only problem being the
engine's tendency to overheat.
RIGHT Kurt Tank, the resourceful
aeronautical engineer and pilot
who led the Focke-Wulf design
department during 1931-1945.
BElOW The Fw 190 V1 after the
fitting of a normal spinner and
in Luftwaffe markings as FO+LY.


the correct relationship between the

wing and tailplane, the span of the
latter was also increased.
When the V5 was fitted with new
wing and tail surfaces, Sander found
that the fighter's rate of climb and its
general handling were greatly
improved. The larger wing reduced
the maximum speed by about 6
m.p.h., but that was a fair price to
pay. On learn ing of the improvements
the LTOordered that all aircraft not in
an advanced stage of construction
should be fitted with the larger wing
and tailplane.
During the autumn of 1940 the
first Fw 190A-Os started to emerge
from the factory at Bremen.The first
seven pre-production ai rcraft had the
smaller wing and tailplane, but the
eighth and subsequent aircraft were
fitted with larger surfaces. By now
the Luftwaffe had ordered 100
production aircraft and the FockeWulf factory at Marienburg , theArado
factory at Warnemunde and theAGO
factory at Oschersleben were toolingup to mass-produce the new fighter.

Into Service

In March 1941 Erprobungsstaffel

190 (Test Squadron 190) was formed
at Rechlin -Roggenthin under the
command of Obit Otto Behrens to
test the Fw 190A-0 under Service
conditions.These early Service trials
did not augur well for the type's
future military career, however.
Initially the BMW 801 Calso had a
tendency to overheat in flight,
resulting in engines seizing up or
catching fire. One by one the
problems were solved, and various
modifications incorporated.
In June 1941 the first production
Fw 190A-l s emerged from
Marienburg , and during August
monthly production reached 30
ai rcraft. Within a few months the
Arado andAGO plants were also
producing the new fighter. The

initial production version carried an

armament of four 79mm machineguns, two on top of the forward
fuselageand two in the wi ng roots,
all synchronised to fire through the
propeller disk.
By the end of September 1941
82 Fw 190A-l s had been delivered
to theLuftwaffe. The lind Gruppe of
Jagdgeschwader 26, based at
Moorseele in Belgium, had reequipped with the new fighter, and
deliveries had started to III.1JG26 at
Liegescourt in France.
Soon afterwards, RAF pilots
reported encounters with the new
German fighter. On September 18 an
RAF report noted the destruction of
"a Curtiss Hawk (or Fw 190)". The
pilot, Hauptmann Walter Adolph
commanding II.1JG26, was killed.
Three days later Spitfires of 315 Sqn
reported shooting down an unknown
enemy aircraft "with a radial engine".
Again its pilot, Lt Ulrich Dzialas of
II.1JG26, was killed. In the ensuing
months the RAFlearned, to its discomfort, that the new German fighter
had a considerable edge in perform ance over the Spitfire V, then Fighter
Command's best available fighter.
In the autumn of 1941 the
Fw 190A-2, powered by the BMW
801 C-2, entered production.This
version carried a Mauser MG 151
20mm cannon in place of the
machine-gun in each wing root. For
attacking enemy bombers, several
A-2s were retrofitted with an
add-itional Oerlikon MG/FF 20mm
cannon in each Wing, outboard of the
undercarriage leg.
Early in 1942 the A-3 replaced the
A-2 in production, and was fitted with
the more powerful BMW 8010-2,
which developed 1,700 h.p. at takeoff. Armament was standardised at
four cannon and two machine-guns,
as on the modified A-2s.
During its first year in operational
service the Fw 190 enjoyed a clear
edge in performance over every
enemy type it met in combat. This
position was reinforced when theA-4
entered production early in 1942
with water-methanol injection for
short periods of increased combat
power at low and medium altitudes.

ABOVE Fw 190A0 WNr 0025 was the 11th of the pre-production aircraft
to be built with the larger wing. These were designated as V5g (grosser
fliigel) , a smaller-winged example being known as a V5k (kleiner fliigel).

l EFT The armour

fitted to a standard
Fw 190 fighter to
protect the pilot and
the annular oil tank
set in the engine
cowling. The pilot
received additional
protection from the
self-sealing fuel
tanks directly
beneath his seat.



"During its first year in service the Fw 190

enjoyed aclear edge in performance over
every enemy type it met in combat; aposition
reinforced when the A-4 entered production in
1942 with water-methanol injection"

ABOVE Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-2s of 7./JG2 - note the "Chamberlain's Hat"

motif on the cowlings - at Morlaix in Brittany in the summer of 1942.
BELOW Aline-up of Fw 190 prototypes awaiting test flights at Rechlin.

By the summer of 1942, however,

the Fw 190's easy-going superiority
over all comers had begun to slip
away. The Spitfire IX, powered by the
new Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 with twostage supercharging, entered service,
its speed and climbing performance
matching, and in some areas
overtaking, those of the Fw 190.
Also at this time the US Eighth Air
Force began sending increasingly
large formations of Boeing B-17s
and Consolidated B-24 Liberators to
attack targets in occupied Europe.
German fighter pilots sent up to
engage these heavy bombers found
the crossfire from such formations
highly disconcerting.
The American heavy bombers also
posed another problem, as the
German single-engined fighters
lacked the firepower to engage them
effectively from the rear. On average,
it took 20 hits with 20mm rounds
from the rear quarter to knock down
a heavy bomber. Analysing combat
films, Luftwaffe armament experts
found that pilots of average ability hit
the bombers with only about 2 per
cent of the aimed rounds fired at
them.Thus, to obtain the necessary
20 hits on a heavy bomber, 1,000
20mm rou nds had to be fired at it.
But the Fw 190A-3 and A-4
magazines held only 500 rounds of
20mm ammunition.To destroy a
heavy bomber, two or more fighters
had to engage it (note that these are
average figures). Ace pilots scored a
much higher proportion of hits, while
those of below-average ability might
as well have stayed on the ground.
To overcome this problem Maj
Egon Mayer, the commander of
III.1JG2, experimented with head-on
attacks on the American formations.
Against attackers coming from
ahead, the bomber formation could
bring far fewer guns to bear.
Moreover, the bombers' armour gave
little protection against attacks from
that direction, so only four or five hits
with 20mm rounds were sufficient to
inflict fatal damage.
On November 23, 1942, a force of
36 B-17s and B-24s, without fighter
escort, attacked the U-boat base at
St-Nazaire on the west coast of




'\5J Database
France. Mayer led his Gruppe in a
head-on attack, resulting in three
B-17s shot down and another
seriously damaged. It was the most
successful defensive effort so far by
a single fighter Gruppe, and soon
other units were copying the tactic.
However, even if the fighter pilot
throttled back during the approach,
the closing speed was some 400
m.p.h., or 200yd/sec. That left time
for only a brief half-second burst
from 500yd before the German pilot
had to break away to avoid colliding
with his target. It took considerable
skill to press home such an attack,
and inexperienced pilots often failed
to get their gunsight on the target in
the short time available. In head-on
attacks a few ace pilots amassed
impressive victory scores, but pilots
of average ability achieved little.
During the spring of 1943 the
Fw 190A-5 entered production, with
the engine mounting lengthened by
15cm Oust under 6i n) to improve
handling. A few months later this
version was superseded by the A-6,
with heavier armour and fast-firing
MG 151 guns in place of the MG/FF
20mmcannon in the outer wing
positions.Towards the end of the
year the Fw 190A-7 entered
production, with 13mm MG 131
heavy machine-guns replacing the
rifle-calibre weapons above the
engine.The Fw 190A-B, produced
in greater numbers than any other
variant, had several improvements
over the A-7 and could accept a
larger range of field modifications
than its predecessors.

Increasing the firepower

In September 1943 the four factories
building the Fw 190 - Focke-Wulf
at Marienburg, AGO at Oschersleben,
Arado at WarnemOnde and Fieseler
at Kassel - delivered 317 A-4s and
A-5s. These aircraft were modified to
carry two underwing launchers for
theWGr 21, a 21cm-calibre tubelaunched, spin-stabilised weapon
adapted fromthe GermanArmy
rocket mortar. The air-to-air round
weighed 2481b and was fitted with a
time fuze to detonate the 881b
warhead at a preset distance about
1,000yd from the launch point. In
the heat of combat, however, it was
extremely difficult to judge the firing
range to within the necessary fine
limits, and as a result most rockets
were launched too early or too late,
exploding harmlessly either short of
their target or beyond it. Fitting the
rocket with a proximity fuze would
have overcome that problem, but the
Luftwaffe never brought this device
into service.The rockets achieved
occasional victories, but their main

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-ABOVE Fw 190A-3s of I.IJGS1 at a forward airfield near Velikye Luki, west


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... ... H I'

.. ......

of Moscow, early in 1943. The type was specifically designed to be

rugged enough to operate from ill-equipped forward landing grounds.

ABOVE In 1943, a single Fw 190A-S fitted with standard armament was

sent to Japan for evaluation. Although the type was not put into
production, this sole example received the Allied codename "Fred':

value was in damaging bombers and

forcing them to leave formation to be
picked off individually.
Meanwhile, the Eighth Air Force
had not been idle, and by the spring
of 1944 its escort fighters could
provide full-route cover for bombers
attacking targets deep into Germany.
The appearance of these highperformance escorts in large
numbers brought a crisis for the
Luftwaffe home-defence units. If
their fighters carried sufficient
armament to destroy the heavy
bombers, they were too heavy and
unwieldy to dogfight with the escorts;
if the fighters were nimble enough to
dogfight with the escorts, they were
too lightly armed to engage the
bombers successfully.

TheBatterinq Ram"

ABOVE An Fw 190A4/R6
carrying WGr 21 rockets in
underwing mounts. An
accurate aim was hard to
achieve, however, and few
victories were claimed.
lEFT The muzzle of the
30mm cannon mounted in
the outer wing position of
a Sturmbock FockeWulf
Fw 190A-8/R8.

In an attempt to solve this problem,

the Luftwaffe introduced its so-called
5turmgruppe units equipped with the
Fw 190A-8 R8 5turmbock (battering
ram), which carried a pair of
Rheinmetall MK 108 30mm cannon
in the outer wing positions. Manned
by volunteer pilots, these aircraft
were to make attacks on bomber
formations from the rear, closing to
about 100yd from the target bomber
before opening fire. To help them to
brave the bombers' defensive fire,
the aircraft carried extensive
additional armour protection.
The extra armour and heavier
armament added some 400lb to the
weight of a normal Fw 190A-8,
imposing reductions in performance
and manreuvrability and making it
vulnerable to the American escorts.
To overcome this, each 3D-aircraft
Sturmgruppe was to be escorted into

action by two Gruppen of lightlyarmed Messerschmitt Bf 109s with

uprated engines, to hold back the
American escorts.
Because American heavy bombers
flew in columns up to 30 miles long,
the escorts could not be present in
strength everywhere. The German
plan was to assemble a Gefechts verband (battle formation) comprising
the Sturmgruppe and its two
escorting fighter Gruppen, and vector
the force into the bomber stream
midway along its length.
The first successful Sturmgruppe
action took place on July 7, 1944.
That day, 1,1 29 B-17s and B-24
Liberators of the EighthAir Force,
with more than 700 escorts, attacked
targets in the Leipzig area. Major
Walther Dahl led a Gefechtsverband
comprising 1v' (Sturm)/JG3 and two
escorting Bf 109 Gruppen from
JG300 - a total of about 90 aircraft
- into action against Liberators of
the 492nd Bomb Group.As it curved
in behind the bombers the Sturmgruppe split into its three component
Staffeln, and each engaged a
different part of the enemy formation.
Leutnant Walther Hagenah described

five seconds' firing, we could not

afford to waste ammunition in wild
shooting from long range. It was
essential that we held our fire until
we were right up close against the
bombers. We were to advance like
Frederick the Great's infantrymen,
holding our fire until we could see
'the wh ites of the enemies' eyes '. "
During the advance each man
closed on his chosen bomber, while
the American bomber crews let fly
with everything they had. The
German pilots had strict orders to
withhold their fire until the leader
gave the order. Hagenah continued:
"We could only grit our teeth and
press on ahead. In fact, with the
extra armour, surprisingly few of our
aircraft were knocked down by the
return fire. A Staffel might lose one
or two aircraft during the advance,
but the rest continued relentlessly on.
We positioned ourselves about 100yd
behind the bombers before opening
fire . From such a range we could
hardly miss, and as the 30mm
explosive rounds struck home we
could see the enemy bombers
literally falling apart in front of us."
Within about a minute, all 11

ABOVE AB-24 takes heavy punishment from the 30mm high-explosive/

incendiary rounds of a Sturmbock Fw 190. The tactics employed by
Sturmgruppe units dictated attacks from the rear at very close range.

ABOVE In an attempt to improve performance at high altitude, V18, the

first (series prototype, was fitted with a DB 603G engine, a Hirth turboblower fed by a large ventral intake and a four-bladed VDM propeller.

"We positioned ourselves 100yd behind the bombers before opening fire.We could hardly miss,
and as the explosive rounds struck home we could see the enemy bombers literally falling apart"
the tactics employed to the author:
"Once a Sturmstaffel was in
position about 1,000yd behind its
squadron of bombers, the Staffel
leader would order his aircraft into
line abreast and, still in close
formation, they would advance on the
bombers. At this stage our tactics
were governed by the performance of
our wing-mounted 30mm cannon.
Although the high -explosive
ammunition fired by this weapon was
devastatingly effective, the gun's
relatively low muzzle velocity meant
that its accuracy fell off rapidly with
range. And since we carried only 55
rounds per gun, sufficient for about

B-24s in the low squadron had been

shot down. The 2nd Air Division lost
28 Liberators that day, most to the
Sturmgruppe attack and Hagenah
was credited with the destruction of
one of them. During the action
IV.lJG3 lost nine fighters shot down
and three damaged. By the standards
of the time it was a highly successful
operation for the Luftwaffe. As a
result, two other Jagdgeschwader,
JG4 and JG300, also formed
The American reply to the new
tactics was to send powerful fighter
sweeps ahead of the bombers,
aiming to catch the unwieldy

ABOVE Fw 190 V53, DU+U(, was the second Fw 190A to be fitted with the
in-line Junkers Jumo 213A engine, effectively becoming prototype
number two for the Fw 1900-9. Note also the wide-chord propeller.

In early 1943, Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4s of 12 Staffel, IV.lJG1, operated

from Deelen in Holland as part of the Defence of the Reich. The unit was
tasked with the interception of Allied bombers before they reached the
German border.





Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 190 frontline units - May 31, 1944
AT THE END OF MAY 1944 there were 88 1 Fw 190s serving with
Luftwaffe combat units. Of these, 265 were assigned to 13 fighter
Gruppen, 387 were assigned to 14 ground-attack Gruppen, and 11
belonged to the single reconnaissance Staffel operating the type.

Luftflotte Reich (Home Defence)
Dayfighter units
I. Gruppe
II. Gruppe
IV.(Sturm) Gruppe
I. Gruppe
III. Gruppe
10. Staffel
III. Gruppe


One unit, IV.(Sturm)/JG3, was forming with the Fw 190 Sturmbock,

and five ground-attack Gruppen were converting from Ju 87 Stukas to
Fw 190Fs and Gs. In May 1944, factories delivered 841 new Fw 190s,
sufficient to replace combat attrition and increase the size of the force


JG1 1


(forming) 1






(forming) 25






Day/nightfighter units
II. Gruppe

Ground-attack unit
III. Gruppe

Luftflotte 3 (Western Front)

Dayfighter units
I. Gruppe
III. Gruppe
I. Gruppe
II. Gruppe

ABOVE An Fw 190A-8 ofthe newly-formed JG6 at Konigsburg in the

summer of 1944. Note the full-sized head-on view of a 8-17 painted on
the hangar doors to assist pilots to judge their range from the bomber.



Ground-attack units
III. Gruppe
I. Gruppe






Strategic reconnaissance unit

5. Staffel, Fernaufklarunqsqr,

Luftflotte 2 (Mediterranean Front)

Ground-attack units
I. Gruppe
II. Gruppe



ABOVE Groundcrew work on the fuselage guns of an Fw 190A-4 of Stab

JG51 on an airfield in Russia. The unit was operated as a part of both
Luftflotte 4 and Luftflotte 6during its time on the Eastern Front.

Luftflotte 1 (northern sector of Eastern Front)

Dayfighter units
I. Gruppe
II. Gruppe




Luftflotte 4 (southern sector of Eastern Front)

Ground-attack units
II. Gruppe
I. Gruppe
II. Gruppe
III. Gruppe
I. Gruppe
II. Gruppe

SG 10
SG 10
SG 10
SG 10

42 (forming) 22

28 (forming) 26

Luftflotte 5 (north Norway, Finland)

Ground-attack unit
I. Gruppe


(forming) 6

Luftflotte 6 (central sector of Eastern Front)

Ground-attack units
II. Gruppe
III. Gruppe


SG 1
SG 1


(form ing) 2




ABOVE Grou nd collisio=n::'-s'::w:::e~re:-:a:--~;;;~;;;;;

frequent occurrence at the
congested forward airfields ofthe
Eastern Front, as this picture of a
pair of JG51 Fw 190s illustrates.
RIGHT The Fw 19DA4/U4 was a
photo-reconnaissance variant of
the fighter, carrying two cameras
mounted in the rear fuselage in a
split-pair arrangement.


JG (Jagdgeschwader) - fighter geschwader

SG (Schlachtgeschwader) - ground-attack geschwader
SKG (Schnellkampfgeschwader) - fast bomber geschwader
Fernaufkl aru ngsgruppe - long-range reconnaissance gruppe


Focke-Wulf Fw 190 vs Supermarine Spitfire

ABOVE AFocke-Wulf Fw 1900-9 of IV.lJG3 at Prenzlau, north of Berlin, in

March 1945. The "00ra-9'; as it was known in service, had impressive
performance equivalent to that of the Spitfire XIV and P-S1 0 Mustang.
Gefechtsverband formation and break
it up before it got near the bombers.
Once the formation was broken up it
was almost impossible to re-form it
in time to engage the bombers, and
the operation had to be abandoned.
In general the countermeasure was
successful, and from the autumn of
1944 the Sturmgruppe tactics
achieved little.

Enter long-nosed "Dora"

The next major fighter version, the
Fw 1900-9, entered service in the
autumn of 1944. It was powered by
the Junkers Jumo 213, which
developed 2,240 h.p. for take-off.
At first glance the Fw 1900 looked
as if it was powered by an air-cooled
radial engine, like its predecessors,
but the Jumo 213 was a liquidcooled in-line, its misleading
appearance being due to the annular
radiator mounted in front of the

engine. The "Dora" had a

performance comparable to that of
the Spitfire XIV and the P-51D
Mustang, the best fighter types then
in service with the RAF and the
USAAF. It was optimised for fi ghterversus-fighter combat, and its
armament comprised two MG 131
13mm machine-guns mounted on
top of the engine and two MG 151
20mm cannon in the wing roots, all
synchronised to fire through the
propeller disk.
During the closing months of the
war the crippling shortage of fuel
placed severe limits on Luftwaffe
operational flying. Many Fw 190
units were confined to the ground,
and, when they got airborne, Allied
air superiority was such that they
achieved little. Some 19,500 Fw
190s of all versions were buill, the
type remaining in production
until the end of the conflict.

"=' '.,...~
SIXTEEN EXAMPLES OF THE Fw 190 are known to have been
evaluated in the UK (including Fw 190A-4/UB WNr 7155, seen above
as PE882, with Royal Navy Spitfire R7193 as escort). The first was
captured on June 23, 1942, when It Arnim Faber of II1./JG2 became
disorientated and landed his Fw 190A-3 at RAF Pembrey in south
Wa les. His ai rcraft went to the Ai r Fighting Development Unit (AFOU)
at Duxford for comparative trials against Al lied figh ter types, including
the Spitfire VB, which then equipped most Fighter Com mand
squadrons. The follOWing excerpts are from AFOU documents, which
must have made grim reading for the RAF:
The Fw 190 was compared with a Spitfire VB from an operational
squadron for speed and all-round manceuvrability at heights up to
25,000ft. The Fw 190 is superior in speed at all heights, and the
approximate differences are listed below:
At 1,000ft the Fw 190 is 25-30 m.p.h. faster than the Spitfire VB
At 3,000ft the Fw 190 is 30-35 m.p.h. faster
At 5,000ft the Fw 190 is 25 m.p.h. faster
At 9,000ft the Fw 190 is 25-30 m.p.h. faster
At 15,000ft-18,OOOft the Fw 190 is 20 m.p.h. faster
At 21,000ft the Fw 190 is 25 m.p.h. faster
At 25,000ft the Fw 190 is 20-35 m.p.h. faster

The climb of the Fw 190 is superior to that of the Spitfire VB at all
heights. Under maximum continuous climbing conditions the climb of
the Fw 190 is about 450ftlmin better up to 25,000ft. With both aircraft
flying at high cruising speed and then pulling up into a climb, the
superior climb of the Fw 190 is even more marked. When both aircraft
are pulled up into a climb from a dive, the Fw 190 draws away very
rapidly and the pilot of the Spitfire has no hope of catching it

Comparative dives between the two aircraft have shown that the
Fw 190 can leave the Spitfi re with ease, particularly during the
initial stages

ABOVE After the war, 64 Fw 190A-8s were built by French manufacturer
SNCAC using the former German production lines at Cavant, under the
designation NC 900. They were in Armee de l'Air service for a short time.

The manceuvrability of the Fw 190 is better than that of the Spitfire VB

except in turning circles, when the Spitfire can quite easily out-turn it.
The Fw 190 has better acceleration under all conditions of flight and
this must obviously be useful during combat

Focke-Wulf Fw 1900-9 "White 12" is seen in the colours of III .1JG301, while defending the western
perimeter of the Reich in April 1945. This "00ra-9" was one of many captured by American
troops as they advanced through the occupied territories and Germany.



'\\J Database


Kurt Tank led the team that designed and built

the Fw 190,and also took avery active part in
the testing of the aircraft. Dr ALFRED PRICE
interviewed him in 1975, during which the
designer recalled the type'sdevel opment

and the British Spitfire, the two
fastest fighters in the 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. These
designs, both of which admittedly
proved successful, could be likened
to racehorses. Given the right amount
of pampering and an easy course,
they could outrun almost anything,
But the moment the going became
tough they were liable to falter.
"During World War One I served in
the cavalry and in the infantry. I had
seen the harsh conditions under
which military equipment has to work
in wartime. I felt sure that a quite
different breed of fighter would have
a place in any future conflict: one
that could operate from ill -prepared
frontline airfields; one that could be
flown and maintained by men who
had received only a short training;
and one that could absorb a
reasonable amount of battle damage
and still get back. It was to be not
a 'racehorse' but a Dienslpferd
(cavalry horse) .
"Obviously, if it was fitted with an
engine developing the same power, a
racehorse fighter with a lighter
structure would always be able to
out-run and out-climb the sort of
fighter we had in mind. Yet we could
not allow this difference to become
too great. The design problem
centred around building a stronger
airframe able to carry heavier
weapons, without sacrificing too
much in the way of performance.
"From my own flying experience I
knew how important it was for a
fighter pilot to have the best possible
all-round view, and we decided to fit
a large frameless bubble canopy to
the new fighter. Later these became
very fashionable, but in 1938 the
idea was something of an innovation.
We chose an air-cooled radial
engine for the new fighter for two
reasons. First, because such engines
were far more rugged and could

TOP Focke-Wulf chief designer Kurt Tank in the cockpit of his most famous
creation, the Fw 190. After the war, Tank lived in Argentina, where he
continued to design aircraft. ABOVE Tank's original concept for his
Dienstpferd in the experimental shop at Bremen in the spring of 1939.

ABOVE The Fw 190 V7 ready for test firing atthe stop butts. The fighter
carried two 79mm MG 17 machine-guns mounted above the engine and
two more in the wing roots, providing an accurate, narrow field of fire.
survive more punishment than the
liquid-cooled types.And secondly
because the BMWcompany was
bench-running prototypes of a new
engine, the 1,550 h.p. BMW 139,
which developed more power than
any liquid-cooled engine we had
been offered. If our Dienslpferdwere
to come close in performance to
other 'racehorses' we would need all
the engine power we could get.

"I dare say a really good designer

could have produced such a fighter
all by himself. But it would have
taken about eight years and at the
end of that time nobody would have
been interested in it! A design for a
fighting aircraft was of value only if it
could be brought out quickly, so the
closest collaboration between the
members of the design team was
essential. My assistant, Willi Kather,

co-ordinated the work. Rudi Blaser,

with the help of the people in the
drawing office, designed the
structure, He was a very clever
practical engineer, and usually
seemed able to meet the strength
req uirement for a particular
component for the lowest possible
structural weight. Ludwig MittelhOber
headed the team at the project office
responsible for the Fw 190. Hans
Sander and Kurt Melhorn , the men
who were to carry out the initial flying
test programme, were brought in
early.They had a great deal of say,
especially about the layout of the
cockpit, the positioning of the
instruments and the design of the
controls, Altogether, the team which
prepared the design of the Fw 190
comprised about 12 men.
"For the design weight and
estimated landing speed of the
prototype aircraft, we calculated that
an undercarriage to withstand a
sinking speed of 25m/sec would be
sufficient. But if the aircraft was
developed its maximum speed,
weight and landing speed would all
increase. That would result in
considerably higher forces on the
undercarriage during landing, So in
the origi nal stress calculations we
allowed for a sinking speed of
45m/sec. Then we designed the
undercarriage to be strong enough to
take that. The move paid off. During
its life the maximum loaded weight of
the Fw 190 rose from 2%tons to
more than twice that figure, but with
few changes the undercarriage
remained adequate, I have used the
undercarriage as an example, but in
fact several parts of the original
structure were a great deal stronger
than the minimum necessary,
"Hans Sander did the initial
testing, then I flew the aircraft and
found that she handled beautifully in
the air. The work we had put into the
flying controls had produced the
results we wanted. I have always
believed that a pilot should not have
to use a great deal of muscle power


to get an aeroplane to do what he

wants. If the controls have been
properly designed, he should be able
to conduct most rnanewres with
only a finger and thumb on the stick.
In combat a high rate of roll is
essential for a fighter, so that the
pilot can make rapid changes in his
direction of flight. The aileron stick
forces had, however, to be kept
below a maximum of about 81b
because a man's wrist cannot exert a
force much greater than that. We
succeeded in getting the stick forces
down, and finally I had the aileron
controls as I wanted them. The
aircraft followed the movement of the
stick immediately and precisely, with
no initial tendency to yaw. Compared
with the ailerons, the other flying
controls were easy to design. The
stick forces were not so critical for
the elevators, and the highest forces
of all could be taken on the rudder
pedals, because a man's legs are
stronger than his arms."
Once the controls were correctly
balanced, it was important to ensure
that they stayed that way over a wide
range of speeds. A fighter pilot did

ABOVE Kurt Tank, on the right,

shares a joke with Focke-Wulf test
pilot Karl Mehlhorn. Tank joined
the company in 1931 when
Albatros Flugzeugwerke, for whom
he was working, was absorbed into
the Focke-Wulf company.
LEFT The author, right, after his
interview with Kurt Tank, centre,
in 1975. On the left is former
luftwaffe anti-shipping bomber
ace Bernhard Jope.

mixture, propeller pitch setting, ignition timing, engine revolutions and

the selection of the correct supercharger gear. The pilot had simply to
move one control, his throttle, and in
theory the Kommandcqerat did the
rest. I say in theory, because at first
the device did not work at all well. All
sorts of things went wrong with it.
One of the more disconcerting was
the rather violent automatic
switching -in of the high gear of the
supercharger as the aircraft made its
climb through 2,650m [8,700ft].
"Once I was carrying out a test
with an early version of the Fw 190
which involved a loop at medium
altitude. Just as I was nearing the top
of the loop, on my back with little
airspeed, I passed through 2,650m
and the high gear of the
supercharger cut in with ajerk. The
change in torque hurled the ai rcraft
into a spin with such suddenness
that I became completely
disorientated.And, since there was a
ground haze and an overcast and my
artificial horizon had toppled, I had no
way of knowing which way was 'up' .
Indeed, I never did find out whether it

"Just as I was nearing the top of the loop, on my back with little airspeed,l passed through 2,650m
and the high gear of the supercharger cut in with ajerk, hurling the Fw 190 into aspin"
not want to have to re-trim the
ai rcraft each time he moved the
throttle.The team was so successful
in this that it found that movable trim
tabs were unnecessary. Small fixed
trimming tabs were fitted to the
ailerons, the elevators and the
rudder. These were adjusted on the
ground after the initial test flight, to
compensate for the wide tolerances
that occur with a mass-produced
aircraft. The only system of trimming
the aircraft in flight was in the
elevator sense, achieved usi ng an
all-moving tailplane.
Even before the prototype Fw 190
began its flight trials, BMWwas
offering the new BMW801 then
undergoing bench testing. Quite
apart from an extra 50 h.p., rising to
200 h.p. later, the new engine was
more reliable and less prone to
overheating. Shortly after the first
flight of the Fw 190, Focke-Wulf
received a contract to modify the
fighter to take the BMW 801.
Kurt Tank again: "Although the
extra 50 h.p. was useful, we found
that the extra 160kg [350Ib] of
engine weight, plus the additional
structure necessary to carry it, plus
the weight of armour and the
additional equipment the Luftwaffe
now wanted, had increased all-Up
weight by about a quarter. The wing
loading rose from the 185'5kg/m'


[38Ib/ft'] of the first prototype to

2246kg/m' [46Ib/ft'], and turning
performance deteriorated
accordingly. To restore the aircraft's
previously pleasant handling
characteristics we enlarged the wing
by extending each tip by just over
50cm [20in] and reducing the
amount of taper so that the outer
sections were somewhat wider. In
this way we increased the wing area
by just over 325m' [35ft1 and
lowered the wing loading to a more
reasonable 1748kg/m' [358Ib/ft'].
Later, to maintain the correct
relationship between the wing and
the tailplane, we made a proportional
increase in the area of the latter. The

wing and the tailplane of the lowand medium-altitude versions of the

Fw 190 then remained unchanged
throughout the remainder of the
development life of the aircraft."
"There were some cooling problems
with the BMW 801 , although they
were not as serious as those with
BMW 139, and soon those difficulties
were reduced to within acceptable
limits. More serious were the troubles
experienced with the engine control
system- the Kommandogeral fitted to the new engine.
"This was a rather clever device
intended to save the pilot having to
worry about the optimum relationship
between altitude and fuel flow, fuel

was an upright or an inverted spin.

After considerable loss of altitude I
managed to recover fromthe spin,
but the incident had given me a lot to
think about. As soon as I landed I
was on the telephone to the BMW
company. I told them that if they did
not sort out their engine and its
terrible Komrnandoqerat I would do
all in my power to see that somebody
else's engine was fitted into the Fw
190! The Kommandoqerat was made
to work and it worked very well, but it
took quite a battle on our part."
Thefull interviewmaybefound in
Focke Wulf Fw 790 In Combot byOr Alfred
Price (SuttonPublishing,RRP12.99)

ABOVE An explosive ejection seat was designed by Hans Sanderfor the Fw 190. Adummy pilot was fired from
the aircraft, but the tests revealed several problems with the ejection seat and it was not put into production.

The Fw 190was design ed to

be adeadly fighter that wa s
easy to maintain in the field.
th estructure of th evariant
produced in greatest
numbers,the Fw 190A-8


Fw 190 was built round the
continuous front spar which
passed th rough the fuselage
and was attached to the fuselage at
three points, two on the upper flange
and one on the lower. The rear spar
was made in two sections, with the
root attached to the sides of the
fuselage by pin joints. The two-spar
wing structure had widely-spaced
flanged plates, with spanwise
Z-section stringers and a stressedmetal skin. The front spar formed the
points of attach ment of the main
undercarriage, which retracted to a
position ahead of the front spar. The
ailerons had metal frames and were
fabric-covered. The all-metal split
flaps, between the ailerons and the
fuselage, were electrically operated.


mechanism of
the port undercarriage leg.
FAR RIGHT Adiagram by
Flighttechnical artist Max Millar
from the August 27, 1942, issue of
the magazine, showing the simple
wing attachment to the fuselage,
and unusual cranked front main spar.

The fuselage was an all-metal

monocoque structure built up of
bulkheads, flanged formers, and
Z-section stringers with a stressedskin covering. The front inverted-Ifshaped bulkhead was attached to the
upper flange of the front spar. On the
front face of the bulkhead and spar
were the five attachment points for
the engine mounting .The rear
section of the fuselage was integral
with the fin, and detachable from the
main structure. A large detachable
panel on the underside of the
fuselage, extending fromthe engine
bay to the rear of the cockpit,
allowed for the installation and
removal of the fuel tanks.
The tailplane was a cantilever
structure, and the fin was built
integral with the rear fuselage. The

TOP The Fw 190 was known unofficially in Luftwaffe service as der

Wiirger, or Shrike, the bird often referred to as "the butcher bird':
ABOVE This photograph illustrates the grouping of the exhaust pipes on a
BMW 801 D-2 engine, with two groups of four on each side, the remaining
six cylinders exhausting beneath the fuselage.

fO ~

/ ;C A NNQr<1






'10 FU5ElJ\G E.

r~ ~


In early 1943 the

Fw 190 became
increasi ngly
important inth e
grou nd-atta ck rol e.
expla ins how the
ai rcraft was ada pted
for, and operated in,
th at mission
the Luftwaffe fighter force was
severely overstretched, and
could no longer impose air
superiority over all the fighting fronts.
This meant that the Junkers Ju 87
Stukas, which equipped the bulk of
the ground-attack force, were
vulnerable to enemy fighter attack.
As an improvisation, some units
operating the Fw 190A-4 or A-5
fitted an underfuselage bomb rack to
carry a weapon load of up to
1,1OOlb. This worked well at first, but
on the Eastern Front in particular the
increasingly ferocious groundfire

TOP AFocke-Wulf Fw 190F of Schlachtgeschwader 1 during operations

from an icy airfield at Sopoc Puszta, Hungary, in January 1945.
ABOVE Anumber of Fw 190As were used to test various equipment stores.
The Fw 190A-3/U3 was fitted with a standard ETC 501 underfuselage
rack, which here has an ER 4 rack with four 5C 50 bombs attached.

ABOVE Carrying one 5C 500 and two 5C 250 bombs, t his Fw 190A-5 was
one of t he prototypes for the Fw 190F8. Note also the tropical filter.

gave rise to serious cumulative

losses. Accordingly, the Luftwaffe
issued a requirement for a
specialised ground-attack variant of
the Fw 190, with appropriate armour
protection for the pilot and other
vulnerable parts of the aircraft.
The result was the Fw 190F
"Friedrich", fitted with steel armour
plates 5-6mmthick along the
underside of the fuselage, from the
front of the engine cowling to behind
the pilot's seat. Other curved steel
plates, 5mm thick, protected the pilot
from the sides, and the rugged BMW
801 radial engine provided protection
from rounds coming from ahead.
To compensate for the weight of
the additional armour, the two outerwing 20mm cannon were removed,
leaving two 20mm cannon and two
79mm machine-guns. With these
changes the Fw 190 became one of
the best ground-attack aircraft of the
time, with a maximum speed of 326
m.p.h. at low altitude carrying a
550lb bomb. It carried a useful war
load, afforded its pilot excellent
protection against ground fire, and
could engage enemy fighters on
more or less equal terms.
The first few Fw 190Fs entered
service with II.Gruppe of 5ch/ach!geschwader 1towards the end of

1942, but re-equipping the unit was
a long drawn-out process. During
December, January and February
1943 total production of Fw 190s for
all roles averaged just under 160
aircraft per month, which did little
more than keep up with combat
attrition in the fighter units, leaving
few aircraft to spare for the groundattack units.
The Fw 190G"Gustav", developed
in parallel with the "Friedrich", was
an extended-range fighter-bomber
variant with fittings to carry either
drop tanks or bomb racks under the
wings.To compensate for the
additional weight, the machine-guns
were removed, leaving just the two
20mm cannon in the wing roots.
By mid-May 1943, Schlachtgeschwader I on the Eastern Front
reported a total of 72 Fw 190s on
strength. Schlachtgeschwader II had
11 more, plus a further 22 with its
II. Gruppe based in Italy.
In September 1943 the Luftwaffe
reorganised its fighter-bomber, closesupport, anti-tank and dive-bomber
units into a unified force designated
as Schlacht (ground-attack) units.At
the same time there was a massive
boost in Fw 190 production, an
average of 295 per month being
delivered during December 1943 and
January and February 1944. That
provided sufficient aircraft to re-equip
many of the dive-bomber units. In
May 1944, of 881 Fw 190s serving
with combat units, 387, almost half,
were Fand Gvariants assigned to
ground-attack units.
Leutnant Werner Gail served with
III. Gruppe of Schlachtgeschwader 3,
an Fw 190Fground-attack unit
fighting on the Eastern Front in the
summer of 1944. He recalls:
"The steamroller of the Russian
summer offensive had just begun its
move westwards. The enemy broke
through in several places, and their
armoured units were thrusting into
our undefended rear areas.As rapidly
as possible we moved to Duenaburg
in Lithuania, then to Idriza in Russia.

Fw 190 main production ground-attack variants

Fw 190F-1 Initial ground-attack variant, conversion of the A-4 fighter

version but with additional armour to protect engine and
pilot. Armament: two MG 151 /20 20mm cannon and two
79mm machine-guns, plus a rack for a 1,100lb bomb
under the fuselage (or 5501b of bombs on each wing rack)
Fw 190F-2 As above, but conversion from A-5 fighter
Fw 190F-3 As above, but with features of A-6 fighter
Fw 190F-8 As above, but with the MG 17 machine-guns on the motor
cowling replaced by two MG 131 13mm weapons
Fw 190G-1 Extended-range version of the F-l , with mountings for two
66gal drop tanks under the wings. Fuselage-mounted
machine-guns removed
Fw 190G-2 As above, but similar to the F-2
Fw 190G-8 With the above features, but incorporating many of the
changes introduced in the A-8 fighter

ABOVE An Fw 190F-8 prepares to fly a sortie with an AB 250 cluster bomb.

Frontline unitsoften removed the wheel doors for ease of maintenance.



ABOVE Adiagram of the additional armour

fitted to the Fw 190F and -G ground-attack

variants, designed to provide all-round
protection for the otherwise vulnerable pilot.
RIGHT Leutnant Werner Gail of 1II./5G3, who
played an active part in the Luftwaffe groundattack operations on the Eastern Front in 1944.

"During this period the ground

situation was so fluid that we had to
start each day with an armed
reconnaissance. Two or three
Schwarme [four-aircraft flights] were
sent to patrol different parts of the
area assigned to our Gruppe, to see
if the enemy had moved, and if so
where. Since we soon came to know
our area well and we knew where the
enemy had been the night before, we
had a good idea where to start
looking for him the following
morning. Also, whenever enemy
armoured units had broken through ,
they would advance through open
country, which made the task of
finding them much easier. "
Once the morning reconnaissance
had returned and the pilots had
delivered their reports on the latest
enemy troop positions, the Gruppe
was al located the day's targets.
"Our task was to do all we could
to delay the thrusts, to give German
ground forces time to improvise
defensive positions to stop the rush.
Wherever there was a hole in the
front, it was our job to try to plug it.
Our Focke-Wulfs were armed with
two 13mm machine-guns and two
20mm cannon, which we used for
strafing attacks. The bombs we used
during these operations were mainly
250 and 500kg [550 and 1,1 OOlb]
and also SD-2, SD-4 and SD-l 0
bomblets carried in containers.
"When we found enemy units
moving forwards unopposed, as a
matter of policy we concentrated our
attacks on the soft-skinned supply
vehicles. These were relatively easy
to knock out with machine-gun and
cannon fire, and we knew that
without frequent replenishment of
fuel the tanks spearheading the
advance would not get far. If the
enemy armoured units were actually
in contact with our ground forces,
however, then the tanks themselves
were our main target. "
Usually the Fw 190Fs flew in fou raircraft Schwarrne, although against
larger enemy concentrations as many

Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-2 "Yellow W'; was operated on the Eastern Front

during 1943 by 1I1./5G10, carrying the Luftwaffe's white-outlined black
t riangle on the fuselage to indicate the unit's ground-attack role.



as 12 aircraft might be sent. The

fighter-bombers approached the
target area at altitudes around
6,000ft, which put them above the
effective reach of enemy light flak.
However, if there was a layer of cloud
aircraft usually flew beneath it to
maintain contact with the ground.
"Against the enemy tanks and
armoured vehicles we usually made
skip-bombing attacks, running in at
speeds of around 485km/h [300
m.p.h.) at between 4 and 10m
[15-30ft] above the ground and
releasing the bomb just as the tank
disappeared beneath our engine
cowling. The 250kg bombs used
during these attacks would either
skip off the ground and into the tank,
or else smash straight into the tank;
the bombs were fuzed with a onesecond delay, to give us time to get
clear before they went off. It was a
very accurate form of attack, and we
used it often against the tanks we
caught in open country. Once we had
released our bombs we would use
up our cannon and machine-gun
ammunition against suitable targets
of opportunity.
"Sometimes we caught Russian
units that had outrun their flak cover,
and then we could do a lot of
damage and suffer hardly any losses
ourselves. But if the enemy units had
proper flak cover our losses were
sometimes heavy."
During the Soviet offensive pilots
sometimes flew as many as eight
sorties per day, but since the
distances were not great the sorties
averaged about half an hour. The
V-VS (Soviet Air Force) concentrated
its attention against the German rear
areas, and usually the German
fighter-bombers operated with little
The Soviet offensive was still at full
spate when the unit's activities
sudden ly came to a near halt. At the
end of August 1944 the Luftwaffe
suffered a general fuel shortage
owing to theAl lied strategic bombing
attacks on the German oil industry.
The rate of flying combat missions
fell drastically, and from then on the
unit used every means to save fuel.
Before a mission the aircraft were
towed by oxen from their dispersals
to the take-off point. On leaving the
runway after landing, pilots had to
shut down their engines and await
the towing oxen.
By mid-October 1944 the Soviet
offensive had spent itseif, having
advanced up to 300 miles in some
areas. One of the Luftwaffe units
isolated in the Coerland peninsula in
Latvia was III.1SG3, which, short of
fuel, flew few sorties during the i'i1
remainder of the war.

Focke Wulf Fw 190F8 data

One BMW 801 D-2 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine rated at 1,700
h.p. for take-off, driving a VDM three-bladed constant-speed metal
propeller. Fuel capacity: 115gal in two self-sealing tanks under the
cockpit. Provision for one 66gal drop tank on the fuselage rack

Wing area

34ft 5Xin
28ft 10Xin

Empty, equipped
Operational, take-off


Max speed (clean)
Initial rate of climb

342 m.p.h. at sea level

394 m.p.h. at 18,000ft
466 miles

Two Mauser MG 151 20mm cannon, each with 250 r.p.g., mounted in
the wing roots. Two Rheinmetall MG 131 13mm machine-guns with 475
r.p.g. mounted on top of the engine cowling. War load of up to 1,100lb
of bombs, cluster bombs or rockets carried on racks fitted under the
wings or fuselage

TOP Apair of ground-attack Fw 190s with

empty ETC 501 bomb racks.
RIGHTThe 5G 113 Fiirstersonde anti-tank
weapon fitted in the wing of an Fw 190F-8.
Two 77mm guns were mounted in the lower
half. When fired, anti-recoil counterweights
were ejected from the top half ofthe unit.
BElOW An Fw 190G-8 was modified to carry
the Blohm und Voss Bv 246 Hage/korn gliding
bomb. It was never used operationally.

recountssom eof the
reminiscences he
record ed during
form er Luftwaffe
pil otswho fl ewthe
fea rsome "Butcher
Bird" incombat
had a maximum speed of
408 m.p.h. at about 20,000ft
and took just over 10min to
climb to this altitude. Describing this
variant, fighter ace Hauptmann Anton
Hackl told the author:
"It was a nice stable aircraft and
an excellent firing platform. The big
air-cooled radial engine was
tremendously rugged and would keep
going even with one or two cylinders
shot away. With the engine and the
toughened glass windscreen in front
of him, the piiot was well protected
fromenemy fire from ahead."
Hackl went on to describe the
range of options available for
engagi ng B-17 and B-24 bombers.
"If one came in from the rear there
was a long period, closing from
1,000m to our firing range of 400m,
when the bombers were firing at us,
but we could not fire at them. This
was a very dangerous time, and we
lost a lot of aircraft trying to attack
that way. An alternative was to attack
the bombers from above in a dive.
For that we needed to start from a
position at least 1,000m higher and
500m in front of the bombers. Then
we could dive with plenty of speed
and the bomber made a nice fat
target. But the problem with this type
of attack was that it took time to set
up, and if we were caught in the
climb by enemy escorts things could
get difficult.
"I always led my Gruppe into the
attack from head-on. It was the only
way to knock down the bombers.

'0 Database

One accurate half-second burst from

head-on and a kill was guaranteed.
Guaranteed! "
After being wounded in action,
Feldwebel Adolf Dilg was graded unfit
for combat and sent to theArado
plant at Warnemunde to serve as a
production test and delivery pilot.
There he and his colleagues encountered several instances where new
aircraft had been sabotaged.
"Sometimes we would find bits of
metal swart in electrical junction
boxes, or sand in oil systems. On two
or three occasions brand- new FockeWulfs took off for on their maiden
flights and as they lifted off the
ground one of the wheels fell off.The
pin holding the wheel-retaining ring
had 'accidentally' come adrift.
"Once, when I was delivering an
aircraft, the engine suddenly burst
into flames . I baled out and the aircraft crashed into a marshy area,
where the water rapidly extinguished
the flames. When the wreckage was
examined it was found that somebody had jammed a couple of
pyrotechnic flares between cylinders
7 and 9, the two at the bottom of the
rear row, which became hottest when
the engine was running. During the
delivery fl ight the cylinders had duly
heated up, 'cooked-off ' the flares,
and up went the engine."
During the final few days of the
war Dilg and his comrades received
orders to evacuate Fw 190s fromthe
aircraft park at Kolberg (now
Kolobrzeg in Poland), which was in
the path of advancing Soviet forces.

TOP The Fw 190 was an extremely popular aircraft with pilots, owing to
its extremely light and positive controls.
ABOVE Luftwaffe pilots could be trained on the Fw 190A-8/U1, a two-seat
conversion trainer variant of the fighter built only in small numbers.




ABOVE In 1945 Oberleutnant Oskar-Walter Romm flew the Fw 1900 on the

Eastern Front with IV./JG3. ABOVE RIGHTThe cockpit of the Fw 1900-9.The
front panel is intwo parts, the upper part containing the primary flying
instruments, with the engine instruments mounted below.

There the delivery pilots became

caught up in another evacuation, that
to get German women and children
away from threatened areas.
"I flew out a Focke Wulf 190 with
the armour plate behind my seat
removed. In its place there crouched
a 12-year-old girl. The radio had
been removed from the rear fuselage
and there huddled her mother, who
had fi rst to remove all metal objects
from her clothing so as not to interfere with the master compass beside
her. Another of the ferry pilots,
Gefreiter Herzmann, flew an Fw 190
out of Kolberg with a young child on
each knee and their mother in the
rear fuselage."
Oberleutnant Oskar-Walter Romm
flew with Jagdgeschwader 3 when it
was re-equipped with the Fw 190
"Dora-9" early in 1945.The unit was
then operating on the Eastern Front,
and he found the new fighter significantly superior to anything opposing
it. He recalls:
"As an air-superiority fighter and
interceptor the Fw 1900-9 handled
better than the '190A; it was faster
and had a superior rate of climb.
During dogfights at altitudes of
between about 10,000ft- 24,000ft,
the usual height when engaging the
Russians, I found that I could pull
the Fw 1900 into a tight turn and
still retain my speed advantage. In
the descent the Dora-9 picked up
speed much more rapidly than the
A type; in the dive it could leave
the Russian Yak-3 and Yak-9
fighters standing."

'\5J Database
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 survivors
Fw 190A-2 WNr 5467 (in the colours of J65) - Crashed at Saqne Fjord,
Norway, in March 1943. Currently owned by Wade Haynes of Anson ,
Texas, and registered N6152P
Fw 190A5 WNr 1227 (4./J654) - This 4.1JG54 machine, DG+HO, "White
4", crashed near Leningrad in July 1943. Removed from crash site by
helicopter in 1990 and shipped to UK. Restored and registered as
G-FOKW. Sold to Flying Heritage Collection, Seattle, USA, in 1999 and
registered N19027. Currently in the UK for rebuilding
Fw 190A6/R6 WNr 550214 (PN+LU) - Nightfighter of III.lNJGll
captured and evaluated by the RAF in 1945 as AM10. Currently displayed
at the South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg
Fw 190A-6 WNr 550470 (I.1J626) - Crashed Wevelgem , Belgium,
November 1944. Currently owned by Malcolm Laing and based at
Lubbock, Texas, USA. Registered as N126JG
Fw 190A8 WNr"170393" (6./J61) - Composite made up from several
original parts. Currently on display at the Luftfahrtmuseum LaatzenHannover, Germany
Fw 190A8 WNr 173056 - Owned by Don Hansen and based at Baton
Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Under restoration. Registered as N91169
Fw 190A-8 WNr 173889 (7./J61 "Yellow 4") - Crashed in Russia,
November 1944. Currently under restoration for Dr Mark Timken at
Kissimmee, Florida, USA
Fw 190A8 WNr 350177 (12./J65) - Owned by John Houston and based
at the Texas Air Museum , Rio Hondo, USA. Registered as N4247L
Fw 190A8 WNr 732070 (12./J65) - Crashed in Norway in 1945.
Currently stored at the Texas Air Museum, Rio Hondo, USA
Fw 190A8 WNr 732183 (12./J65) - The former mount of Leutnant Rudi
Linz, 79-victory ace shot down and killed in this machine in Norway in
February 1945. Registered as N90FW to the Texas Air Museum, August
1988. Currently at Norwegian Air Force Museum, Garderrneen, Norway
Fw 190A-8 WNr 733682 - Imperial War Museum, London, UK. Formerly
top half (as AM75) of II .1KG200 Miste/ S3B composite with Ju 88
Fw 190D-9 WNr 210968 (2.lJ626) - Recovered from Lake Schwerin in
northern Germany. Currently displayed while under static restoration for
the Luftwaffe Museum, Berlin, Germany
Fw 190D-9 WNr 601088 - This I.lJG26 machine was captured at
Flensburg in July 1945. It was shipped back to the USA and evaluated as
FE-1 20. It was moved from National Air & Space Museum storage at
Silver Hill, Maryland, to the USAF Museum, Dayton, Ohio, in 1968
Fw 190D13 WNr 836017 - Formerly "Yellow 10" of I./JG26, this
machine was evaluated after the war in the USA as FE-118 against a

Hawker Tempest. Following a spell at Georgia Technical University, the

aircraft was restored in Germany under contract from the Champlin
Fighter Museum. It currently resides at the Museum of Flight in Seattle,
Washington , USA, registered as N1900. Potentially airworthy
Fw 190F-3 WNr670071 (1./Sch61)- Captured by Russian forces in
1945. Currently displayed unrestored at the Flugplatzmuseum, Cottbus,
eastern Germany
Fw 190F8 WNr 5415 - Wreck recovered by a farmer in Czechoslovakia
circa 1965. To Old Flying Machine Company at Duxford in 1993. To Alpine
Fighter Collection, Wanaka, New Zealand , in 1995 for airworthy
restoration. Project not completed . Current whereabouts uncertain
Fw 190F8 WNr 930838 - Captured at Zagreb-Plaso, Yugoslavia, in 1944.
Served with the Yugoslav Air Force as "43". Currently stored at the
Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum, Belgrade, Serbia
Fw 190F8 WNr 931862 - Formerly the mount of 9.1JG5 pilot
Unteroffizier Heinz Orlowski, who baled out of the machine at 300ft
following a dogfight in February 1945. The remains of the aircraft were
found on a nearby hillside in 1983 and passed to the Norwegian Air Force
Museum in Bergen. Texas Air Museum restored the aircraft to static
condition in 1992 as N91 FW, and it is currently with Dr Mark Timken at
Kissimmee for restoration to flying status with BMW 8010 engine
Fw 190F8/R1 WNr 931884 - Originally an A-7 , this machine served as
a fighter-bomber with I./SG2 on the Eastern Front until capture by
American forces in 1945. Shipped to the USA for evaluation as FE-117.
Following a period of storage it was restored in the 1980s at the National
Air & Space Museum's Garber Facility, Maryland, where it still resides
Fw 190F-8/U1 WNr 584219 - Bomber Command Hall, RAF Museum,
Hendon, UK. Sole two-seat survivor captured at Grove in Norway in 1945
and flown to RAE Farnborough for evaluation as AM29. Subsequently
displayed at various UK locations, arriving at Hendon in February 1990
NC 900A-8 eln 62 - One of the examples used by the Arrnee de l'Air after
the war. Currently displayed at the Musee de I'Air, Paris, France
In 1996, engineer Hans-GOnther Wildmoser and airline pilot Claus Colling
announced their intention to scratchbuild a series of replica Fw 190s.
Designated FW 190A-8/N (FW for Flug Werk; the name of their company,
and N for Nachbau - remake), the aircraft are being built from original
drawings, of which the company has amassed more than 5,000, and
with original parts used for patterns. The first aircraft have been fitted
with Russian-built 14-cylinder ASh 82 1,900 h.p. radial engines with
direct fuel injection. The first airworthy example is expected to fly soon

ABOVE The port side of the Musee de l'Air's NC 900A-8 (eln 62) is painted
as Luftwaffe s+ 1, and the starboard side as Luftwaffe 7298/13+.

ABOVE Fw 190A8 WNr 733682 at Biggin Hill in 1962 before it became a

permanent exhibit at London's Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.

ABOVE Originally a I./J626 machine, Fw 190D9 WNr 601088 is on display

at the U5AF Museum, Dayton, in the colours of IV.(5turm)/J63 Udet.

ABOVE Immaculate Fw 190D13 WNr 836017, in its I./J626 colours as

"Yellow 10'; while at the Champlin Fighter Museum in Arizona, USA.




Fw 190: The Rarest of The Rare Flies Again

In 1989, the forests east of Leningrad gave up a ghostly relic of the fierce fighting
that scarred the Russian landscape in the latter years of World War II: a Focke-Wulf 190 A5/U3 was
found that had been force landed in 1943, amongst once-tiny saplings that grew to hide the airframe
from view. Aside from its bent propeller, Fw 190 Werk Nummer 1227 remained remarkably intact. The
Balkenkreuz on the fuselage and black Swastika on its tail stood out defiantly against the march of
time and surrounding greenery. The pilots leather flying helmet still rested on the seat, where he had
carefully placed it before setting off on foot. Even the fighters tires still contained their wartime air.

Although the approximately

20,000 Fw 190s produced were one
of the Luftwaffes mainstays during
the war, they disappeared quickly
after the war leaving the Flying
Heritage Collections White A as
the sole flying example.

Only the decayed fabric surfaces and saplings growing through the wing confirmed that this aircraft
had lain undisturbed on the marshy forest floor for decades. The year following its discovery saw the
Iron Curtain crumble and Leningrad become St. Petersburg once more. In 1991, the Fw 190 was removed
from the ex-Soviet Bloc and taken to England for restoration. Purchased by collector Paul G. Allen in
1999, this incredibly rare aircraft has now been returned to airworthy condition and is a star exhibit at the
Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle. It is now the sole, totally original
example of the type still flying.
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Improbable SurvIvor

The pioneering design presents


The Allies first observed the unfamiliar silhouette of the Fw 190 over France in August 1941.
It soon proved itself superior in all but turn radius to the RAFs frontline fighter, the Spitfire Mk
V. Kurt Tank, Technical Director at Focke-Wulf,
abandoned the accepted norms of fighter design
to develop a radial engine fighter that would become his most famous creation. Tank wanted to
build a rugged dependable aircraft that decreased
the pilots workload. He considered the Spitfire
and Bf 109 fighters as delicate racehorses: highperformance machines that needed much attention and correct conditions to ensure good performance. The Fw 190 would be a Dienstpferd a
cavalry horse: a tough all rounder, well suited to
the hard environs of the battlefield. His fighter
would be christened Wrger, or Shrike in English.
Thanks to its murderous feeding habits, the Shrike

Muszala, Aircraft Maintenance Manager at FHC,

explains the Collections impressive ethos: We
really try to stick with exactly how it was. Thats
the allure, and thats what Mr. Allen wants: an
actual artifact, a piece of history, rather than
something that can just go fly. Whilst Jason
finds working on the Focke-Wulf rewarding, the
Collections unique approach inevitably presents difficulties on such a rare type: The biggest
challenge is that theres no other place to gather
information, and nothing else to base it against.
Were forging new territory and, as we put hours
on the airplane, we document everything.

BMW 801 restoration

To create his Dientspferd, Tanks design featured

many radical developments, the most prominent
being the BMW radial engine. Inline engines,
perceived to create the least drag, had become
the standard for fighter aircraft. Tank was in-

No room was wasted. Everything is compact and fits

perfectly. Every bit of space, whether its a component or
the air system or just the way things flow is utilized."
One of White As stablemates
in JG54 landing at Siverskaya
near Leningrad on the Russian
Front during the winter of 1942.
Wearing temporary winter
camo, the Luftwaffe were
taught to land on snow-packed
runways by the "friendly" White
Russian forces during the winter

14 flightjournal.com

is known as the Butcher Bird, and this nickname

stuck with the Fw 190. Only a very small number
of the 20,000 Fw 190s manufactured survive in
Museums today.
In keeping with other aircraft at the Flying History Collection, Fw 190 Wk Nr 1227 has been
restored to authentic wartime condition. Jason

spired by the U.S. Navys use of radials and believed any such issues could be surmounted with
proper streamlining and installation. Not having
to compete for already stretched supplies of the
inline DB 601 (used on the Bf 109) was an additional benefit. Early on in development, BMWs
new 801 powerplant was incorporated into the

Feldwebel Paul Rtz to FHC Owner Paul Allen:

The Saga of White A

Found in unbelievably intact condition, the small saplings that the
aircraft had crashed in grew to be a forest, shielding it from view until
recovered in 1989.

design. At FHC, Jason explains how their large

engine is tightly cowled: No room was wasted.
Everything is compact and fits perfectly. Every bit
of space, whether its a component or the air system or just the way things flow is utilized.
Mike Nixon of Vintage V-12s in Tehachapi,
California, refurbished FHCs 801. The units were
not expected to last more than a few hundred
hours in combat conditions, and Jason explains
the Focke-Wulf manuals they have do not specify
information like Time Before Overhaul. Mike has
advised they treat it like any other large radial,
watching for internal wear and tear on cylinders
and bearings. Jason says, We take oil analysis every three or four hours and look for the different
minerals or aspects that come up in the oil, to try
and learn whats going on inside. But its all kind
of experimental right now.
The 801 incorporated a revolutionary engine
management system called the Kommandgert, or
command unit. This inbuilt electro-mechanical
computer automatically controls the mixture,

Manufactured in April 1943, this Fw 190 was the 415th A5 variant constructed from
batch 0150812 at the Bremen factory of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH. Given
the Werk Nummer 0151227, the airframe was modified in the factory to carry an
ETC501 bomb rack in place of the usual wing-mounted 20mm cannons, making
its final designation A5/U3 (the U signifying a conversion kit, or Umrst-Bausatz).
The aircraft was delivered to the Eastern front airbase of Siwerskaya (Siversky) to
join the ranks of I. and II Gruppen of Jagdeschwader 54 Grnherz (Greenhearts).
On July 19, 1943, 24-year-old Feldwebel Paul Rtz of 4./JG54 took off from
the airfield with a 550-pound bomb strapped underneath his aircraft. Wk Nr 1227
now carried the unusual marking White A. Colored numbers usually identified
Luftwaffe Squadrons. Research suggests that 4./JG54 used letters during the
summer months of 1943 whilst acting as a semi-autonomous specialist ground
attack unit, later reverting back to the normal number system.
Rtz and his wingman headed north across enemy lines to the Voibakalo
(Voybokalo) region east of Leningrad on a free-fire mission. The aircraft attacked
an armored train, and 1227 reportedly suffered flak damage. No such damage was
discovered on the airframe, and it seems the Fw 190 suffered a catastrophic engine
failure that forced Paul Rtz to land the aircraft wheels up on marshy ground.
After coming to a stop, Rtz removed the clock from the aircraft, placed his
flying helmet on the seat and took the first aid kit from the rear compartment
before setting off on foot towards German territory. The Russians captured him
and he would remain their prisoner until his repatriation to West Germany in
1949. He passed away in 1989, the same year the aircraft was located. During the
restoration, an abnormal blockage was found in the engines oil lines, which would
have caused it to seize. German factories frequently used slave labor, and it seems
that rather than falling to enemy fire, Rtzs Fw 190 was brought down by an act of
sabotage on the production line.

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Improbable SurvIvor
Steve Hinton, White As test pilot, reports the aircraft is well
balanced with light controls and excellent systems.

"At that time, pilots had four levers

to get everything running right,
but they put it all into one so the
command unit did all the thinking
for the pilot.
16 flightjournal.com

Far too often warbird restorers have to start with a

severely corroded hulk that has been picked over
by locals so many important parts are missing. The
FHCs Fw 190A5/U3 was missing only its clock
and the canopy, which was presumably jettisoned
before crash landing.

propeller pitch, boost and magneto timing leaving the pilot to operate only the throttle. Troubleshooting the unit, and ensuring its correctly
timed and indexed with the propeller is critical
for the FHC team. The unit has its own separate
oil system and pump, and the oil reservoir is in
the engine mount: It runs its own brain so to
speak, and then outputs to the fuel, propeller,
boost, everything from there. According to Jason, this is the Fw 190s most interesting feature:
At that time, pilots had four levers to get everything running right, but they put it all into one
so the command unit did all the thinking for the
Early prototypes of the Fw 190 suffered major
overheating issues, which nearly ended Tanks
project. Installation of a 12-bladed fan at the
front of the engine to cool the twin rows of cylinder heads finally solved this problem. Another
example of Tanks clever use of space is the annular oil cooler, which sits behind armor plating in
the forward ring. An ingenious system was developed to return the air from the fan to the cooler:
The fan pressurizes the engine compartment
to force the air counter-intuitively through the
oil cooler. The fan is geared with the engine and
prop together but turns at a greater speed than
the prop. It pushes the air in the same direction,
forward to aft, but the cowl flaps limit the air
that can escape, which in turn pressurizes the air
and forces it forward through the oil cooler. So

the actual airflow pattern for the oil cooler is not

forward to aft as you look at the aircraft, its aft to
forward. It then slips out of a tiny ring right on
the nose. The FHC engineers came across one
possible oversight in the engines design: In the
nose case where the pressure fan is, they dont
have an oil seal there. So every time you shut the
engine down, you get oil that runs out the front.
If youre not familiar with the airplane, its pretty
alarming you think youve got a full-on oil

Many of the 190s systems were

state of the art for the time,
both simple to operate and build.
However, had components like
the landing gear been missing,
restoration would have been
much more difficult.

APRIL 2014 17

Improbable SurvIvor

Above: The cockpit of the Fw 190,

as opposed to other WW II cockpits,
featured a rearward sloped seat
allowing the pilot to better tolerate
G-forces while getting him further
down in the fuselage for better headon protection. Left: The relatively
complete paint on 1227, as found,
allowed exact duplication. Right: The
original data plate escaped souvenir
hunters. Below: With most of the
paint intact, all placards were easy
to replace.

18 flightjournal.com

leak or somethings busted. That was surprising

to me the first time it happened!
To simplify battlefield maintenance, the engine
follows the Kraftei installation concept used on
several Luftwaffe types. Everything that makes
the engine run is in a pod forward of the firewall
known as the Power Egg. It was designed to run
until it wouldnt work anymore. Then they just
pulled the entire engine off and stuck a new one
on. Whilst saving time in combat conditions,
the Power Egg was not designed for modern engineers who lack replacement units. Jason and his
team must work on the engines internal parts so
usually simple procedures can become difficult
tasks: You can get all the panels off and in 15
minutes, the entire engine is accessible. But to
work on the different components is challenging.
For example, the magneto is a two-day project.
Its a process of removing the spinner, then the
propeller, then the forward ring, and then the oil
cooler, and oil tank and then youre finally able
to get to the magneto.

The new technology

Jason says the narrow cockpit is also challenging

to work in, as a third or more of the aircrafts components terminate there. The rest of the airframe
poses no such difficulties: You can have the entire airplane opened up for an annual or condition inspection in an hour. In another departure
from regular aircraft design, Tank installed electrically powered systems to operate the undercarriage and armaments. He believed electrics would
be more reliable and less vulnerable to combat
damage than traditional hydraulic systems. He
also eliminated the wear and eventual lag associated with cables and pulleys by using pushrods
and bearings to operate the flight controls. As
Jason explains, Everything is unique about the
Focke-Wulf. It was pretty advanced for its time
and they did a lot of forward thinking.
Jason considers working on the Collections
Fw 190 an engineering dream come true: Where
else am I going to get to know the intricacies of
an authentic Focke-Wulf 190 with a BMW 801?
Im insanely privileged to work on some of these
airplanes. Another person in a unique position
is Flying Heritage Collection pilot Steve Hinton
who flew the aircraft for the photo sortie and
later talked through its flying characteristics.
Like Jason, Steve holds the aircrafts design in
high regard, Technology has a lot to do with my
impression of airplanes and this is a very wellengineered design. It was a big jump as far as Im
concerned and you can see why it sparked a lot
of change. Steve says he appreciates why the Allied pilots who flew captured Fw 190s were so impressed; It was an airplane that made us aware
of the developments the Germans were making.
The Bearcat has been said to come from it. When
they looked at the 190, it opened their eyes to a
few things on how to build an ultimate airplane.

To avoid the ground accidents that dogged the

Bf 109, Tank gave the Fw 190 a wide-set, inwardretracting undercarriage to provide better stability on rough battlefield airstrips. This configuration makes the aircraft seem large on the ground,
but Steve points out its actually quite small: Its
got a large wingspan and a lot of wing area, but
its a narrow fuselage narrower than a Spitfire.
When youre inside the cockpit, the layout is
tighter than a Pitts Special and everything is right
in front of you. Tank used the latest technology
to create a one-piece Perspex bubble canopy to
improve all around visibility. Steve says the front
windscreen is only six or seven inches tall when
looking straight ahead, much like an air race
plane, but The view to the side is excellent and
youre protected by the airframe because youre

The Flying Heritage Collection

The Flying Heritage Collection houses the aircraft and wartime artifacts of Paul G.
Allen. Best known as co-founder of Microsoft, Allen began preserving important
and iconic types in 1998, fueled by his passion for aviation and history. The
Collections aircraft are restored to the highest degree of authenticity and returned
to their rightful place in the sky. This mission for historical accuracy has created a
unique airworthy stable, which includes historic types from the U.S., UK, Germany,
Russia, and Japan. Alongside the aircraft are homefront exhibitions to illustrate
the wartime stories of the five nations. The collection resides in a 51,000 squarefoot hangar, on the southeastern corner of Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
Open to the public since 2004, FHC recommends 1-2 hours to enjoy a self-guided
tour through the hangar, with their staff and volunteers on hand to answer any
questions. Please note that exhibits are sometimes absent from the Collection for
flying commitments or maintenance.
The Collection is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., from Memorial Day to
Labor Day, and Tuesday to Sunday the rest of the year (closed on Thanksgiving and
Christmas). For more information, please visit flyingheritage.com.
The author and photographer would like to thank Paul Allen, Adrian Hunt, Liz
Davidson, Jason Muszala and Steve Hinton. Tim Ellison flew the camera ship.

sitting down low. Whilst obscuring the pilots

view on the ground, the big radial up front also
gave an extra layer of protection in combat. Tales
were told of aircraft limping home having had
one or even two cylinders shot away by enemy

Bringing it to life again

Thanks to the Kommandgert, start-up is a simple

process: You prime the engine, hit the starter,
and it starts. You taxi out and warm it up. The
only checks you give are the ignition system and
the propeller pitch. Like all German airplanes, it
has a little clock that tells you what the propeller
is doing. As you advance the throttle, it governs
one way, retard the throttle and it unwinds the
other way, so you know the automatic function
is working. He mentions that the rudder is not
very responsive on takeoff until the aircraft gains
speed: Of course its heavy, its got all the guns
in it too. But once the rudder becomes effective
then it feels like a normal airplane. It doesnt accelerate very well. You could put the throttle up
APRIL 2014 19

Improbable SurvIvor

The low seating position of

the pilot is evident in Norbert
Hannings aircraft as is the bomb
rack that is similar to what
was mounted on White A in its
bomber role.

The single letter on the fuselage

rather than the more standard
numeric system employed by
the Luftwaffe indicates that
this machine was part of a
specialized ground attach unit
within JG54, as was White A.

20 flightjournal.com

real quick and it just crawls along. Most of these

fighters, when you power them up, accelerate
really hard and push you back in the seat in a
nice tail low takeoff. This airplane uses a lot of
runway. But you take off, put the gear and flaps
up, and once youve got the speed to 300kph
(186mph) it climbs really good. The landing
gear is operated electrically by pushing a button,
taking about eight seconds to go up. Small indicator rods protruding from the top of the wing
(which disappear as the wheels retract) and cockpit lights provide visual confirmation of the undercarriage position to the pilot.
To improve the pilots experience further,
Tanks design team simplified the cockpit layout,
made the controls light to operate and installed
a reclining seat to lessen the likelihood of blacking out in high-G maneuvers. They also reduced
the necessity for trim change. The ailerons and

rudder had fixed tabs that were only adjusted on

initial test flights, leaving the pilot in control of
elevator trim only. Steve confirms the FHC aircraft requires some trim change after takeoff, but
barely any in flight. On the in-cockpit experience
he says, The engine vibrates a lot and the exhaust stacks are uneven, so its not got a smooth
sound to it, unless the power is way back. But
its real easy moving the flight controls and the
airplane is very responsive. If youre used to a
hot rod, with the vibrations and that oily smell
in the cockpit like some of the fighters give you,
then its an easy airplane to fly. In contrast to
the notoriously tricky Bf 109, landing the Fw 190
is straightforward: The undercarriage struts are
real hard, so you get tire bounce on landing, but
it rolls out good.
When photographed, the FHC Fw 190 had
completed 7.5 hours of flight. Steve explains

Most of these fighters, when you

power them up, accelerate really
hard and push you back in the seat in
a nice tail low takeoff. This airplane
uses a lot of runway.

When Grumman test pilots

flew a captured Fw 190A in
England they were impressed
by its performance and overall
handling. This greatly affected
their design of the F8F Bearcat,
as this planform view attests.

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Improbable SurvIvor

Survivors: The Remaining Fw 190s

Peacetime is hard on warplanes. Surviving combat aircraft usually
are melted down for components, especially those on the losing
side. Certainly its true of some 20,000 Focke Wulf 190s as
perhaps 25 remain intact today.
all warbirds, no list of 190s is entirely current or complete. Plus, some on
the list are airplanes in name only, having been dredged from underwater or
severely crashed so may never be restored.
surviving 190s are A models, trailed by fighter-bomber F variants. Certainly
the best-known surviving Dora with the liquid-cooled Jumo engine is the
late Doug Champlins Yellow 10, now owned by the Flying Heritage Collection
in Everett, Washington. FHC also has an A model that often is airborne on fly
days at Paine Field.
about 15 examples exist in the U.S. That figure includes the only
remaining example of 50 Ta 152 long wing versions, which is held by the
National Air and Space Museum. Four more are known in Germany, three in
Britain, and at least five elsewhere in Europe, including current restorations. One
is reported in Russia.
Wrger population increased somewhat with reproductions from Flugwerk,
which built 21 kits. Depending on model type, they were adapted to radial or
liquid-cooled engines.
the best compilation is the Preserved Axis Aircraft site
preservedaxisaircraft.com. Barrett Tillman

The Fw 190s BMW 801 has a

single power lever that controls
manifold pressure, mixture,
propeller pitch and magneto
timing through an early form
of electronic control system.
This greatly simplifies flying the
aircraft and lightens the pilots

22 flightjournal.com

their primary mission was to build a safe aircraft,

So we havent explored its performance and I
havent had a chance to really push the airplane
around. The history books describe the 190 as a
breakthrough airplane. Theres no doubt about
it: its a fighter, with beautiful ailerons and light
as a feather rudder. It floats round the sky, instead of boring a hole through it like some airplanes. Dogged by performance problems at
high altitude, the Fw 190 would never remove
the requirement for the Me 109. Regardless, Tank
had developed a truly versatile aircraft that became an excellent day fighter, fighter-bomber
and ground attack plane. Used on every German
front, many of the Luftwaffes highest-scoring Experten had great success on the type. Steve can see
the advantage afforded to them by Tanks capable
Butcher Bird, and to him that means hats off to
the Thunderbolt guys who could do a good job
against the Focke Wulf.