Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Video
Length: 10.20 m (33 ft 5 1/2 in)
Wingspan: 10.50 m (34 ft 5 in)
Height: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
Maximum speed: 685 km/h with boost (383 mph)
Range: 800 km (500 miles)
(Image: Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio)
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger, was a single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft of Germany's Luftwaffe. Used extensively during the Second World War, over 20,000 were manufactured, including around 6,000 fighter-bomber models. Production ran from 1941 to the end of hostilities, during which time the aircraft was continually updated. Its later versions retained qualitative parity with Allied fighter aircraft, but Germany was not able to produce the aircraft in enough numbers to affect the outcome of the war.
The Fw 190 was well-liked by its pilots, and was quickly proven to be superior to the RAF's main front line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V, on its combat debut in 1941. Compared to the Bf 109, the Fw 190 was a "workhorse", employed in and proved suitable for a wide variety of roles, including air superiority fighter, ground attack, fighter-bomber, long-range bomber escort, and night fighter.
In autumn 1937, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) or Reich Air Ministry asked various designers for a new fighter to fight alongside the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Germany's front line fighter. Although the Bf 109 was at that point an extremely competitive fighter, the RLM was worried that future foreign designs might outclass it and wanted to have new aircraft under development to meet these possible challenges.
Kurt Tank responded with a number of designs, most incorporating liquid-cooled inline engines. However, it was not until a design was presented using the air-cooled, 14-cylinder BMW 139 radial engine that the RLM's interest was aroused. At the time, the use of radial engines was unusual in Europe because of their large frontal area and the belief that they caused too much drag to allow for a competitive design. Tank was not convinced of this, having witnessed the success of radial engines as used by the US Navy, and designed a highly streamlined mounting for the engine. Instead of leaving the front of the engine "open" to allow cooling air to flow over the cylinders, Tank used a very small opening between the engine cowling and an oversized propeller spinner to admit air. In theory, the use of the tight-fitting cowling also provided some thrust due to the compression of air at speed through the cowling. It was also believed that because the Fw 190 used a radial engine it would not affect production of the Bf 109, furthering the RLM's interest in the Fw 190.
Another revolutionary aspect of the new design was the extensive use of electrically powered equipment replacing the hydraulic systems used by most aircraft manufacturers of the time. On the first two prototypes (described below) the main undercarriage was hydraulic. Starting with the third prototype the undercarriage was operated by push-buttons in the cockpit controlling electric motors in the wings, and was kept in position by electric up- and down-locks. Similarly the electrically operated landing flaps were controlled by buttons in the cockpit as was the variable incidence tailplane, which could be used to flight-trim the aircraft. The fixed armament was also charged and fired electrically. Kurt Tank believed that service use would prove the electrically powered systems would be more reliable and more rugged than hydraulics, as well as being much easier to service when needed and the absence of flammable hydraulic fluids and vulnerable piping, which was usually prone to leakage, would reduce the fire-risk.
Tank also designed an extremely clean cockpit layout, aided by the use of the electrical equipment. The cockpit had most of the main controls laid out in a logical pattern and incorporated into consoles on either side of the pilot, rather than being placed on the fuselage skinning.
(Image: Bf 109Cs of 1/JG 137, August/September 1939)
The first prototype, the Fw 190 V1, had its first flight on 1 June 1939 bearing the civil registration D-OPZE while powered by a 1,550 PS (1,529 hp, 1,140 kW) BMW 139 14-cylinder two-row radial engine. It soon showed exceptional qualities for such a comparatively small aircraft, with excellent handling, good visibility and speed (initially around 610 km/h (380 mph)). The roll rate was 162 degrees at 410 km/h (255 mph) but the aircraft had a high stall speed of 205 km/h (127 mph). According to the pilots who flew the first prototypes, its wide landing gear made takeoff and landing easier, resulting in a more versatile and safer aircraft on the ground than the Bf 109. The wings spanned 9.5 meters (31 ft 2 in) and had an area of 15 m² (161.46 ft²).
Problems with the cockpit location, directly behind the engine, resulted in a cockpit that became uncomfortably hot. During the first flight, the temperature reached 55 °C (131 °F), after which Focke Wulf's chief test pilot, Hans Sander commented: "It was like sitting with both feet in the fireplace." At first the V1 used a huge spinner, covering the whole area of the forward engine cowling, through which cooling air was ducted; an additional small, pointed spinner fitted inside the duct was intended to compress and speed-up the airflow, in the hope that this would be enough to cool the engine. Flight tests soon showed that the expected benefits of this design did not eventuate, and, after the first few flights, this arrangement was replaced by a smaller, more conventional spinner which only covered the hub of the three bladed VDM propeller. In an attempt to increase airflow over the tightly-cowled engine a ten-bladed fan, geared to be driven at 3.12 times the engine speed, was introduced at the front opening of the redesigned cowling. In this form the V1 first flew on 1 December 1939, having been repainted with the Luftwaffe's Balkenkreuz and with the Stammkennzeichen (factory code) RM+CA.
The Fw 190 V2 FL+OZ, (later RM+CB) first flew on 31 October 1939 and was equipped from the outset with the new spinner and cooling fan. It was also was armed with one Rheinmetall-Borsig 7.92 mm MG 17 and one 13 mm MG 131 in each wingroot.
Even before the first flight of the Fw 190 V1 BMW were bench testing a larger, more powerful 14-cylinder two-row radial engine designated the BMW 801. This engine introduced an engine management system called Kommandogerät: in effect a mechanical computer which metered fuel flow, throttle settings and the constant speed propeller.
(Image: Bf 109E-4)
The RLM convinced Focke-Wulf and BMW to abandon the 139 engine in favour of the new engine. The 801 engine was similar in diameter to the 139, although it was heavier and longer by a considerable margin. This required Tank to redesign the Fw 190, as a result of which the V3 and V4 were abandoned and the V5 became the first prototype with the new engine. Much of the airframe was strengthened and the cockpit was moved back in the fuselage, which reduced the troubles with high temperatures and for the first time provided space for nose armament. A 12 bladed cooling fan running at three times the engine speed was adopted. The sliding canopy was redesigned with the replacement of the rear Plexiglas glazing with duralumin panels. The vertical tail shape was also changed and the rudder tab was replaced by a metal trim strip adjustable only on the ground. New, stiffer undercarriage struts were introduced, the retraction mechanism was changed from hydraulic to electrically powered, wheels of a bigger diameter were used and new fairings of a simplified design were used on the legs. At first the V5 used the same wings as the first two prototypes although, to make room for the bigger undercarriage, the wheel arches were enlarged by moving forward part of the leading edge of the wing root (in this form this prototype was called the V5k for kleine Fläche (small wing)). The V5 first flew in the early spring of 1940.
However, the weight increase was substantial, 635 kg (1,400 pounds), leading to higher wing loading and a deterioration in handling. As a result, following a collision with a ground vehicle in August 1940 that sent the V5 back to the factory for major repairs, it was rebuilt with a new wing which was less tapered in plan than the original design; it had a larger area, 18.30 m² (197 ft²) and now spanned 10.506 m (34 ft 5 in) (the aircraft was now called the V5g for große Fläche (large wing). This new wing platform was to be used for all major production versions of the Fw 190.
Even with the new engine and the cooling fan, the 801 suffered from very high rear row cylinder head temperatures which, in at least one case, resulted in the detonation of the fuselage mounted MG 17 ammunition. One other shortcoming of the cockpit location was a poor over-the-nose view which lead to handling problems on the ground. More than one ground crash resulted from the lack of familiarity with the new aircraft.
Fw 190 A-0 were the pre-production series ordered in November 1940. A total of 28 of these were built; because they were built before the new wing design was fully tested and approved, the first nine of the Fw 190 A-0 had small wings. All were armed with two fuselage-mounted 7.92 mm MG 17s, two wing-root mounted MG 17s and two outboard wing-mounted MG 17s. In detail they were different from later A-series Fw 190s: they had shorter spinners, the armoured cowling ring was a different shape, with a scalloped hinge on the upper, forward edge of the upper engine cowling and the bulges covering the interior air-intakes on the engine cowlings were symmetrical "teardrops'. Also, the panels aft of the exhaust pipes had no cooling slots. Several of these aircraft were later modified for testing engines and special equipment.
Engine problems plagued the 190 for much of its early development, and the entire project was threatened several times with a complete shutdown. If not for the input of Oberleutnants Karl Borris and Otto Behrens, both of whom had enlisted in the Luftwaffe as mechanics, the Fw 190 program might very well have died before reaching the front lines. Borris and Behrens could see past the limitations of the Fw 190 and the 801 and see a formidable fighter. During several RLM commissions that wished to terminate the program, both men indicated that the Fw 190's outstanding qualities outweighed its deficiencies.
The first unit to be equipped with the A-0 was Eprobungsstaffel 190, formed in March 1941 to help iron-out any technical problems and approve the new fighter before it would be accepted for full operational service in mainstream Luftwaffe Jagdgeschwader. At first this unit, commanded by Oblt. Behrens, was based at Rechlin, although it was soon moved to Le Bourget. Some 50 modifications were required before the RLM approved the Fw 190 for deployment to Luftwaffe units.
(Image: Bf 109G-10)
Engine reliability problems, particularly overheating, continued to plague the Fw 190 until spring 1942 and the availability of the BMW 801 C-2 engine in the Fw 190 A-2. In fact, the problem was relatively easy to solve by rerouting part of the exhaust system, a method discovered by III./JG 26's Technical Officer ("T.O.") Rolf Schrödeter. To quickly implement the fix, it was found the rerouting could be done easily in Gruppe workshops.
Fw 190 A
There were nine distinct production variants of the original Fw 190 A.
Fw 190 A-1
This version first rolled off the assembly lines in June 1941. The first few models were shipped to the Erprobungsstaffel (formerly from II./JG 26 Schlageter) for further testing. Following this testing the Fw 190 A-1s entered service with II./JG 26 stationed outside of Paris, France. The A-1 was equipped with the BMW 801 C-1 engine, rated at 1,560 PS (1,539 hp, 1,147 kW). Armament consisted of two fuselage-mounted 7.92 mm MG 17s, two wing-root mounted MG 17s and two outboard wing-mounted 20 mm MG FF/Ms. The new longer propeller spinner and the cowling bulges, which became asymmetrical "teardrops" in shape, remained the same for the rest of the A-series. The panel immediately behind the exhaust outlets was unslotted, although some A-1s were retro-fitted with cooling slots. A new hood jettisoning system, operated by an MG FF cartridge, was introduced. The pilot's head armour changed in shape and was supported by two thin metal struts in a "V" shape attached to the canopy sides. There were 102 Fw 190 A-1s built between June and late October of 1941. The A-1 models still suffered from the overheating that prototype Fw 190s had suffered from during testing. After only 30 to 40 hours of use (sometimes less), many of these early engines had to be replaced.
Fw 190 A-2
The first of these appeared in October 1941 and were equipped with the improved BMW 801 C-2 which was still rated at 1,560 PS (1,539 hp, 1,147 kW). The new re-routed exhaust system devised by Oblt. Schrödeter of II./JG 26 finally resolved most of the overheating problems. The addition of new ventilation slots on the side of the fuselage further aided cooling. The A-2 wing weaponry was updated, with the two wing-root mounted MG 17s being replaced by 20 mm MG 151/20E cannons. With the introduction of the new cannons, the Revi C12/C gun sight was upgraded to the new C12/D model. The introduction of the A-2 marked a shift in air supremacy from the British, with their Spitfire Mk. V, to the Germans. German production records make no real distinction between A-2s and A-3s, which were very similar aircraft: the total combined A-2 and A-3 production was 910 airframes built between October 1941 and August 1942 .
Fw 190 A-3
Production began in the spring of 1942. The A-3 model was equipped with the BMW 801 D-2 engine, which increased power to up to 1,700 PS (1,677 hp, 1,250 kW) at take-off by improving the supercharger and raising the compression ratio. Because of these changes the A-3 model required a higher-octane fuel—100 (C3) versus 87 (B4). The A-3 retained the same weaponry as the A-2. The A-3 also introduced the Umrüst-Bausätze factory conversion sets. The U3 was the first of the Jabo (Jagdbomber), adding an ETC-501 centre-line bomb rack able to carry up to 500 kg of bombs or, with horizontal stabilising bars, one 300 litre drop tank. All Fw 190s which carried the centre-line racks had their inner wheel-bay doors removed and replaced by fixed fairings which were, in effect, a cut away door. These fixed fairings incorporated a raised deflector to prevent hot exhaust gases from the lower exhausts spilling over onto the tyres. When these fairings were used an additional small plate was fixed to the undercarriage leg doors. The U3 retained the fuselage mounted MG 17s and the MG 151 wing cannons. The U4 was a reconnaissance version with two RB 12.5 cameras in the rear fuselage and a EK 16 camera-gun or a Robot II miniature camera in the leading edge of the port wingroot. Armament was similar to the U3, however the ETC 501 was usually fitted with a 300-litre drop tank. The U1 and U2 designations were given to single experimental Fw 190s: U1 W.Nr130270 was the first 190 to have the engine mount extended by 15 cm. The U2 W.Nr 130386 was an aircraft which had RZ 65 73 mm rocket launcher racks under the wings with three rockets per wing. There were also a small number of U7 aircraft tested as high altitude fighters armed with only two MG 151 cannons, but with reduced overall weight.
Fw 190 A-3a
In Autumn 1942, a political decision diverted 72 new aircraft off the production lines for delivery to Turkey in an effort to keep this country friendly with the Axis powers. These were designated Fw 190 A-3a (a=ausländisch (foreign), designation for export models) and these were delivered between October 1942 and March 1943. The Turkish aircraft had the same armament as the A-1, four MG 17 machine guns and two MG FF cannon, There was no FuG 25 IFF device in the radio equipment.90s. In some instances pilot-controllable engine cooling vents were fitted to the fuselage sides in place of the plain slots. Some A-4s were outfitted with underwing WGr 21 rocket mortars and were designated Fw 190 A-4/R6. However the A-4's main improvement was the number of Umrüst-Bausätze versions. The U1 was outfitted with an ETC 501 rack under the fuselage all armament with the exception of the MG 151 cannons was removed. The U3 was very similar to the U1 and later served as the Fw 190 F-1 assault fighter. Some U3s used for night operations had a landing light, mounted in the leading edge of the left wing root The U4 was a reconnaissance fighter, with two RB 12.4 cameras in the rear fuselage and a EK 16 or Robot II gun camera. The U4 was equipped with fuselage-mounted MG 17s and MG 151 cannons. The U7 was a high-altitude fighter, easily identified by the compressor air-intakes on either side of the cowling. Adolf Galland himself flew a U7 in the spring of 1943. The A-4/U8 was the Jabo-Rei (Jagdbomber Reichweite, long-rang fighter-bomber), adding a 300-litre drop tank under each wing, on VTr-Ju 87 racks with duralumin fairings produced by Weserflug, and a centre-line bomb rack. The outer-wing MG FF/M cannons and the cowling-MG 17 were removed to save weight. The A-4/U8 served as the model for the Fw 190 G-1. A new series of easier to install Rüstsatz field kits began to be produced in 1943. The first of these, the A-4/R1 was fitted with a FuG 16ZY radio set with a Morane whip-aerial fitted under the port wing. These aircraft were called Leitjäger or Fighter Formation Leaders that could be tracked and directed from the ground via special R/T equipment called Y-Verfahren. More frequent use of this equipment was made from the A-5 onwards. A total of 976 A-4s were built between June 1942 and March 1943.
Fw 190 A-5
The A-5 was developed after it was determined that the Fw 190 could easily carry more ordnance. The engine was moved forward by 15 cm, and the aircraft was equipped with the BMW 801 D-2 engine, rated at 1,700 PS (1,677 hp, 1,250 kW). Some A-5s were tested with the MW 50 installation: this was a mix of 50% methyl alcohol and 50% water which could be injected into the engine to produce a short-term power boost to 2,000 PS (1,973 hp, 1,471 kW) but this system was not adopted for serial production. New radio gear, including FuG 25a Erstling IFF and an electric artificial horizon found their way into the A-5. The A-5 retained the same basic armament as the A-4. The A-5 too, saw several Umrüst-Bausätze kits. The U2 was designed as a night Jabo-Rei and featured anti-reflective fittings and exhaust flame dampeners. A centre-line ETC 501 rack typically held a 250 kg bomb, and wing-mounted racks mounted 300-litre drop tanks. A EK16 gun camera, as well as landing lights, were fitted to the wing leading edge. The U2 was armed with only two MG 151 cannons. The U3 was a Jabo fighter fitted with ETC 501s for drop-tanks and bombs; it too featured only two MG 151s for armament. The U4 was a "recon" fighter with two RB 12.5 cameras and all armament of the base A-5 with the exception of the MG FF cannons. The A-5/U8 was another Jabo-Rei outfitted with SC-250 centre-line mounted bombs, underwing 300-litre drop tanks and only two MG 151s; it later became the Fw 190 G-2. A special U12 was created to fight American and British bombers, outfitted with the standard MG 17 and MG 151 but replacing the outer-wing MG-FF cannons by two underwing gun pods containing two MG 151/20 each for a total of two machine guns and six cannons. The A-5/U12 was the prototype installation of what was known as the R1 package from the A-6 onwards. The A-5/R11 was a night-fighter conversion fitted with FuG 217 Neptun (Neptune) radar equipment with arrays of three antennae vertically mounted fore and aft of the cockpit and above and below the wings. Flame dampening boxes were fitted over the exhaust exits. There were 1,752 A-5s built from November 1942 to June 1943.
Fw 190 A-6
The Fw 190 A-6 was developed to fix the shortcomings found in previous "A" models when fighting U.S. heavy bombers. Modifications of the type to date had caused the weight of the aircraft to creep up. To combat this and to allow better weapons to be installed in the wings, a structurally redesigned and lighter wing was introduced with the A-6. The normal armament was increased to two MG 17 fuselage machine guns and four MG 151/20E wing-root and outer wing cannon with larger ammunition boxes. New electrical sockets and reinforced weapon-mounts were fitted internally in the wings to allow the installation of either 20 mm or 30 mm ammunition boxes and for under-wing armament. Because the outer wing MG 151s were mounted lower than the MG/FFs new larger hatches, incorporating bulges and cartridge discharge chutes, were incorporated into the wing lower surfaces. It is believed the MG 17s were kept because their tracer rounds served as a targeting aid for the pilots. A new FuG 16 ZE radio navigation system was fitted in conjunction with a FuG 10 ZY. A loop aerial for radio-navigation, mounted on a small "teardrop" base was fitted under the rear fuselage, offset slightly to port, with an additional short "whip" aerial aft of this. These aerials were fitted on all later Fw 190 variants. In late 1943 the Erla Antwerp factory designed a new, much more simple rack/drop tank fitting, which was much more streamlined than the bulky ETC 501 and could be quickly fitted or removed prior to take-off. Several A-6s, A-7s and A-8s of JG 26 were fitted with these racks (one aircraft so fitted was A-8 W.Nr.170346 Black 13 flown by Obstlt. Josef Priller during the Normandy invasion on 6 June 1944.) The A-6 was outfitted in numerous ways with various sets, Rüstsätze (field modification kits): more flexible than the factory upgrade kits for previous versions, these field upgrade kits allowed the A-6 to be refitted in the field as missions demanded. At least 963 A-6s were built between July 1943 ending in April 1944 according to RLM acceptance reports and Focke-Wulf production books .
Fw 190 A-7
The Fw 190 A-7 was based on the Fw 190 A-5/U9 prototype, and entered production in November 1943. The A-7 was equipped with the BMW 801 D-2 engine, again producing 1,700 PS (1,677 hp, 1,250 kW). Designed to combat the USAAF's heavy bombers the basic armament was upgraded to include two fuselage-mounted MG 131s, replacing the MG 17s. Because the bulkier MG 131s had to be mounted further apart the upper gun cowling, just in front of the cockpit, was modified with faired bulges and a new upper engine cowling, with the gun blast troughs further apart, was manufactured. This left insufficient room for the three cowling toggle-latches which were moved to the cowling side panels. The rest of the armament fit stayed at two wing-root mounted MG 151s and two outer-wing mounted MG 151s. The Revi gun sight was updated to the new 16B model. The additional weight of the new weapon systems required the updating of the wheels, adding a reinforced rim to better deal with typical combat airfield conditions. The A-7 was usually outfitted with the centre-line mounted ETC 501 rack. There were several major Rüstsätze for the A-7 many including Werfer-Granate WGr 21 rockets. A total of 701 A-7s were produced from November 1943 to April 1944 according to RLM acceptance reports and Focke-Wulf production books.
Fw 190 A-8
The Fw 190 A-8 entered production in February 1944, it was either powered by the standard BMW 801 D-2 or the 801Q (also known as 801TU). The 801Q/TU 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 with the Fw 190 A-8 also included the C3-injection Erhöhte Notleistung emergency boost system to the fighter variant of the Fw 190 A (a similar system with less power had been fitted to some earlier Jabo variants of the 190 A) raising power to 1,980 PS (1,953 hp, 1,456 kW) for a short time. The Erhöhte Notleistung system operated by spraying additional fuel into the fuel/air mix, cooling it and allowing higher boost pressures to be run, but at the cost of much higher fuel consumption. From the A-8 on Fw 190s could be fitted with a new paddle-bladed wooden propeller, easily identified by its wide blades with curved tips. A new bubble canopy design, with greatly improved vision sideways and forward had been developed for the F-2 ground attack model, but was often seen fitted at random on A-8s, F-8s and G-8s. The new canopy included a larger piece of head armour which was supported by reinforced bracing and a large fairing. A new internal fuel tank with a capacity of 115l was fitted behind the cockpit, which meant that the radio equipment had to be moved forward to just behind the pilot. Externally, a large round hatch was incorporated into the lower fuselage to enable the new tank to be installed and the pilot's oxygen bottles were moved aft and positioned around this hatch. A fuel filler was added to the port side, below the rear canopy and a rectangular radio access hatch was added to starboard. Other changes included an ETC 501 under-fuselage rack which was mounted on a lengthened carrier and moved 200 mm further forward to help restore the centre of gravity of the aircraft. This fuselage would form the basis for all later variants of the Fw 190 and the Ta 152 series. The Morane "whip" aerial for Y-Verfahren was fitted as standard under the port wing, just aft of the wheel-well. Nearly a dozen Rüstsätze kits were made available for the A-8, including the famous A-8/R2 and A-8/R8 Sturmbockmodels. The A-8/R2 replaced the outer wing 20 mm cannon with a 30 mm MK 108 cannon, the A-8/R8 was similar but fitted with heavy armour including 30 mm canopy and windscreen armour and 5 mm cockpit armour. The A-8 was the most numerous of the Fw 190 A's, with over 6,550 A-8 airframes produced from March 1944 to May 1945. A-8's were produced by at least eight factories during its lifetime.
Fw 190 A-9
The Fw 190 A-9 was the last A-model produced, and was first built in September 1944. The A-9 was fitted with the new BMW 801S, called the 801 TS or 801 TH when shipped as a “power-egg”, or Kraftei, engine (an aircraft engine installation format embraced by the Luftwaffe for a number of engine types on operational aircraft, in part for easy field replacement) rated at 2,000 PS (1,973 hp, 1,471 kW); the more powerful 2,400 PS (2,367 hp, 1,765 kW) BMW 801F-1 was not available. The armour on the front annular cowling, which also incorporated the oil tank, was upgraded from the 6 mm on earlier models to 10 mm. The 12 blade cooling fan was initially changed to a 14 blade fan but it consumed more power to operate and did not really improve cooling thus BMW reverted back to the 12 blade fan. The cowling of the A-9 was also slightly longer than that of the previous Anton's due to the use of a larger, more efficient annular radiator for the oil system. The bubble canopy design with the larger head armour was fitted as standard. Three types of propeller were authorised for use on the A-9: the VDM 9-112176A wooden propeller, 11' 6" in diameter, was the preferred option however many A-9s were fitted with the standard VDM 9-12067A metal propeller and some had a VDM 9-12153A metal propeller with external, bolt on balance weights. The A-9 was also designed originally as an assault aircraft, so the wing leading edges were to have been armoured; however this did not make it past the design stage in order to save weight. The A-9 was very similar to the A-8 in regards to the armament and Rüstsätze kits. A total of 910 A-9s were built between April 1944 and May 1945, mostly in Focke Wulf's Cottbus factory.
In total about 13,291 Fw 190 As were produced in all variants.
Against the RAF
For the first few months of the Fw 190's combat career, the Allies, being entirely unaware of the new fighter, attributed pilots' reports of a new "radial-engined fighter" to Curtiss P-36 Mohawks captured from the French. The new fighter outperformed the Spitfire Mk. V then in service with the RAF in all aspects except turning radius. As Allied fighter losses rose and local air superiority over the Channel front passed to the Luftwaffe, Allied plans were tentatively made to launch a Commando raid on a Luftwaffe airfield to steal an Fw 190 for evaluation. However, the British acquired an intact Fw 190 A-3 in late June 1942, when a Jagdgeschwader 2 pilot Oblt. Armin Faber landed on a British airfield by mistake. Taking advantage of this, the RAF was quick to study the aircraft for any novel design elements. In particular, the cooling system and installation of Fw 190's radial engine was a direct influence on Hawker Siddeley's Tempest II. The British confirmed that the Fw 190 could outperform, in most aspects, the then top-of-the-line Spitfire Mk. V. In terms of firepower, rate of roll and straight line speed at low altitude, the Fw 190 was considerably better, a discovery which prompted the rush development of the Spitfire Mark IX with the new two-stage supercharged Merlin 61 engine. In combat at low altitudes RAF pilots reported instances of Fw 190s diving straight into the ground after failing to pull up when following a diving Spitfire. It was thought that this was because the Fw 190 pilots had left the powerful, variable incidence tailplane trim mechanism in the "nose heavy" position, meaning that their aircraft could not recover from the dive in time. Testing Faber's Fw 190 against the then new Mustang IA (known as the P-51A Mustang in the USAAF), the P-51, like the Spitfire came up short when compared to the Fw 190, with the exception of performance at an altitude of 5000-15,000 ft.
In early 1944 the United States Navy tested a captured Fw 190 A-4/U8 against an F6F-3 Hellcat and an F4U-1 Corsair. Up to 25,000 ft (7,600 m) The Fw 190 was found to be similar in performance to the F4U-1 and superior in most aspects to the F6F-3. In comparative manoeuvering tests there was no manoeuvre the pilot of the Fw 190 could fly that the two Navy fighters could not follow. It was thought that this was due to the sudden aileron reversal and the stall characteristics of the Fw 190.
On the whole, Allied pilots who flew the Fw 190 found it pleasant to fly, very responsive, and while the cockpit was small in comparison to most allied fighters, the cockpit was well laid out. Most pilots found the Fw 190's Kommandogerät system (which automatically controlled the RPM, fuel mixture, ignition timing, supercharger switchover, and boost pressure) to be more of a hindrance than a help.
The first significant operation in which Fw 190s played an important role was Operation Cerberus, the "channel dash" break-out through the English Channel and Dover Strait by the Kriegsmarine's battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which took place on 12 February 1942. Adolf Galland, who was now General der Jagdflieger (General of the Fighter Arm), insisted that the operation take place during daylight hours and accepted responsibility for devising a plan to provide continuous daylight fighter cover against the heavy attacks expected by the RAF. One Fw 190 unit, Major Gerhard Schöpfel's III./JG 26, intercepted and broke-up the gallant attack by six Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfishes led by Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde. By the end of the day JG 26 had been credited with seven aerial victories and six probables for the loss of four Fw 190s and their pilots. Galland was to later call the success of this operation the "greatest hour" of his career.
The Fw 190's first significant mass engagement took place on 19 August 1942, during Operation Jubilee, the Allied raid on Dieppe. Jagdgeschwaders JG 2 and JG 26 had recently converted from the Bf 109, fielding 115 fighter aircraft during the day's fighting, including a small number of Bf 109 G models. The RAF committed over 300 fighter aircraft, consisting mostly of Spitfire VB models, with just six squadrons of Spitfire Mk. IXBs, and also some of the new Hawker Typhoons. In addition several squadrons of Hawker Hurricanes and RAF Allison engined Mustangs performed fighter-bomber and reconnaissance duties. During the action, the two Jagdgeschwader lost 25 Fw 190s to all causes, including crashes, but, in return, they claimed only 61 of the 106 Allied aircraft lost that day (JG 26 and JG 2 claiming 40 and 21 respectively. Fighting over occupied territory, the RAF lost 81 pilots and aircrew killed or taken prisoner, against Luftwaffe fighter losses of 20 pilots killed (14 from JG 26 and six from JG 2). During the engagement, the Fw 190 was also successfully used against Allied naval vessels as an attack aircraft.
From the end of June 1942, the Fw 190 A-3/U3 Jabo (Jagdbomber, Fighter-bomber) equipped 10.(Jabo)/JG 2 and 10.(Jabo)/JG 26, which operated with considerable success attacking shipping and port towns around the south-eastern coasts of England. These high speed, low altitude attacks were almost impossible to defend against as the Fw 190s came in below effective radar coverage and were often gone before RAF fighters could intercept them. The most successful of these fighter-bomber operations was carried out on 31 October 1942 on Canterbury in retaliation for RAF bombing raids over Germany. In the largest daylight raid mounted by the Luftwaffe since the Battle of Britain, about 60 Fw 190s unloaded 30 bombs on the city, killing 32 people and injuring 116, as well as causing a lot of damage to residential properties and shops. Only one Fw 190 was lost over England. The most successful RAF fighters used to intercept these attacks were the Hawker Typhoons and the Griffon-engined Spitfire Mk XIIs, which were both fast enough to catch the Fw 190, especially at low altitudes.
In April 1943, the two Jabo units were amalgamated into Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 (SKG 10) which switched to night operations over southern England, a role in which the Fw 190 proved unsuccessful, taking heavy casualties from the de Havilland Mosquito night fighters. On the night of 16/17 April, on this unit's first operation, four Fw 190s which were attempting to attack London, got lost over Kent. Three of them attempted to land at RAF West Malling: Yellow H of 7./SKG 10, flown by Feldwebel Otto Bechtold landed and was captured, his Fw 190 later being evaluated by the RAE at Farnborough; another Fw 190 of 5./SKG 10, flown by Leutnant Fritz Sezter landed several minutes later. When Setzer realised he had landed on an enemy airfield and attempted to take-off this aircraft was destroyed by an armoured car. Setzer surrendered to Wing Commander Peter Townsend. A third Fw 190 undershot the runway and was also destroyed, the pilot escaping with a concussion. The fourth Fw 190 crashed at Staplehurst, killing the pilot.
On the Eastern Front, the Fw 190 first entered service with Jagdgeschwader 51 in 1942. The Fw 190 never dominated the way it did in the West, mainly because it was in "the wrong time and place." From 1943, tactical and numerical superiority was often in Soviet hands, while the Luftwaffe had lost many of its best pilots in 1941-1942 and was on the strategic defensive. Fw 190 units had an increasingly tough time against the numerous Soviet Lavochkin La-5, Yakovlev Yak-9 and late-war Lavochkin La-7 and Yakovlev Yak-3 family of fighters. The Fw 190 gruppen adhered to well-proven hit-and-run tactics, avoiding whenever possible any turning engagements or being caught in a position of inferior numerical advantage. These tactics were used by Bf 109 pilots as well, albeit "the lean" (the Soviet nickname for the Bf 109 series) was widely considered by Soviet airmen as a more agile and potent adversary than the Fw 190, which was viewed as "heavy and slow..." especially when climbing.
The general rule for Soviet airmen in the latter war years was to take advantage of their superior turning ability, acceleration and rate of climb to force the adversary into entering a horizontal or vertical manoeuvre. Likewise, La-5FNs freely took up the challenge as an "energy or angles" fighter against all Fw 190As, and as "angles" fighters against the Fw 190 D, which was considered by the Soviet pilots as a fighter that "burned as well as other aircraft, and was easier to hit."
Erich Rudorffer, a 222 victory ace, and Otto Kittel, a 267 victory ace, and Walter Nowotny, a 258 victory ace were the highest scoring '190 aces in the Luftwaffe. Rudorffer destroyed 138 aircraft flying the Focke-Wulf, 13 in 17 minutes on 11 October 1943. Walter Nowotny scored 197 of his 258 victories in the Fw 190, while Kittel scored all but 21 of his kills in the type.
The fighter-bomber and ground attack versions were introduced in increasing numbers on the Eastern Front throughout 1943, replacing the obsolete Junkers Ju 87.
Defense of the Reich
As the USAAF's daylight bombing offensive grew in size through 1943, the Fw 190 became a "bomber-destroyer" with ever heavier armament and armour fitted. The type's performance above 20,000 ft (6,100 m) dropped off considerably as a result, making the Fw 190 an increasingly vulnerable target for Allied escort fighters.
From mid-1943, Fw 190s were also used as nightfighters against the growing British bomber offensive. The first unit to use Fw 190s in this role was Stab/Versuchskommando Herrmann, a unit specifically set up in April 1943 by Major Hajo Herrmann. Herrmann's unit used standard A-4s and A-5s borrowed from day fighter units to intercept bombers over or near the targeted city, using searchlights and other visual aids to help them find their quarry. The first use of "Window" by the RAF during the Battle of Hamburg in July 1943, rendered the standard nightfighter Himmelbett procedures useless and brought urgency to the development of Herrmann's Wilde Sau (Wild Boar) technique, pending the development of new nightfighting strategies. St/V Herrmann was expanded to become JG 300 and JG 301 and JG 302 were also set up, and all three units initially continued borrowing their aircraft from day fighter units. The day fighter units began to protest at the numbers of their aircraft which were being written-off because of the hazards of night operations; the numbers soared with the onset of winter, with pilots often being forced to bail-out through being unable to find an airfield at which to land safely. "Crash-landings" were also frequent. Eventually all three Wilde Sau units received their own aircraft, which were often modified with exhaust dampers and blind-flying radio equipment. Another unit was Nachtjagd Gruppe 10 (N/JGr 10), which used Fw 190 A-4/R11s through to A-8/R11s; Fw 190s modified to carry FuG 217 or FuG 218 radar equipment.
The Fw 190 also saw heavy action in the 1944 Normandy Campaign. In the space of three weeks 200 Fw 190s and 100 pilots had been lost to enemy action. Total losses by the end of June 1944 totaled 230 pilots killed and 88 wounded. 551 German fighters were shot down, with another 65 destroyed on the ground. A further 290 were damaged. In return German pilots claimed 526 Allied aircraft destroyed. The Fw 190 also formed, along with the Bf 109, the core of the German fighter force that participated in Operation Bodenplatte. A total of 35 Fw 190 A-8s, 27 A-8/R2s, 5 F-8s and 50 D-9s were destroyed or lost over Allied lines on 1 January 1945.
Even before the Fw 190 A was introduced into service it was obvious that the high-altitude performance of the aircraft left much to be desired. The BMW 139 (and the 801 that followed) had originally been designed as a high-power replacement for engines like the BMW 132 that were used primarily on low-altitude cargo aircraft and bombers, so the designers had not invested much effort in producing high performance superchargers for it. In contrast, the Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines used on the Bf 109 featured an advanced fluid coupled, single stage, single speed supercharger that provided excellent boost across a wide range of altitudes. As a result, the 190 could not compete with the 109 at altitudes above 20,000 ft (6,100 m), which is one of the reasons the 109 remained in production until the end of the war.
An attempt was made with the Fw 190 A-10, which was to have begun arriving in pilots' hands by March 1945 and was to be fitted with larger wings for better maneuverability at higher altitudes which, due to internal space, could have allowed additional Mk 103 cannons to be fitted. The A-10 was to be powered by the 801 F engine. However, due to the priority given to the Doras and the new Ta 152, the A-10 never made it past the prototype stage.
Tank started looking at ways to address this problem early in the program. In 1941 he proposed a number of versions featuring new powerplants, and to best the performance of even the 109, he suggested using turbochargers in place of superchargers. Three such installations were outlined; the Fw 190 B with a turbocharged BMW 801, the Fw 190 C with a turbocharged Daimler-Benz DB 603, and the Fw 190 D with a supercharged Junkers Jumo 213. The aircraft would also include pressurized cockpit and other features making them more suitable for high-altitude work. Prototypes for all three models were ordered.
Fw 190 V12 (an A-0, W.Nr. 00035) would be outfitted with many of the elements which eventually lead to the B series. As it was based on the same BMW 801 engine as the A models, airframe modifications were relatively minor. These included a pressurized cockpit, which doubled the panes of glass in the canopy so that hot air could be forced between them to prevent icing, the addition of the GM1 nitrous oxide injection system. Several problems were encountered during the machine's flight and ground trials, mostly caused by the pressurization system for the cockpit and was dropped in late 1942. However trials continued in early 1943 when the first few Fw 190 A-1s (W.Nr. 0046 through 0049, and later 0055) were modified into testbeds. The same aircraft used for testing the pressurized cockpits were also used to test larger wings (218.5 sq/ft versus the standard 196.98 sq/ft wing), which seriously affected the studies on pressurized cockpits. Following these studies, one additional Fw 190 B was built, named the B-1, with W.Nr. 811. This aircraft was similar to the B-0s but had slightly different armament. In the B-1's initial layout, it was to be fitted with four MG 17s and two MG-FFs. However, W.Nr. 811 was fitted with two MG 17s, two MG 151s and two MG-FFs. After the completion of W.Nr. 811, no further Fw 190 B models were ordered, leading to the assumption that the testing was unsatisfactory.
The C model's use of the longer DB 603 required more extensive changes to the airframe. As the weight was distributed further forward, the tail of the aircraft had to be lengthened in order to move the centre of gravity back into a proper location relative to the wing. To experiment with these changes, several examples of otherwise standard 190 As were re-engined with a supercharged DB 603 to experiment with this engine fit, V13 (W.Nr. 0036) with the 1,750 PS 603A, the similar V15 and V16, a 1,800 PS 603 E being fitted to the latter after a time. With this engine the V16 was able to reach 725 km/h at 6,800 m (450 mph at 22,309 ft), a considerable improvement over the 650 km/h at 5,200 m (404 mph at 17,060 ft) of the basic A models. V18 followed, the first to feature the full high-altitude suite of features including the pressurized cockpit, longer wings, a 603G engine driving a new four-bladed propeller, and a Hirth 9-2281 turbocharger. Unlike the experimental B models, V18 had a cleaner turbocharger installation, running the required piping along the wing root, partially buried in the fillet, and installing both the turbocharger air intake and intercooler in a substantially-sized teardrop-shaped fairing under the cockpit. The "pouch" led to the "Känguruh" (Kangaroo) nickname for these models. V18 was later modified to the V18/U1, with a "downgraded" 603A engine but a new DVL turbocharger that improved power to 1,600 PS at an altitude of 10,700 m (35,105ft). Four additional prototypes based on the V18/U1 followed: V29, V30, V32 and V33.
Like the C models, the early examples of the D models were built primarily to test fit the Jumo 213 engine to the existing airframe, as the D-0, with plans to move on to definitive high-altitude models later, the D-1 and D-2. The first D-0 prototype was completed in October 1942, consisting of an A-5 airframe with the Jumo 213A engine. Further examples followed, but like the C models the development was stretched out.
By late 1943 the US 8th Air Force was obviously gearing up for major operations to follow. At the altitudes the B-17 Flying Fortress operated at, generally around 25,000 ft (7,600 m), the 190 As were struggling while the 109 was simply too lightly armed to be very useful against these aircraft. The B had been abandoned by this point, leaving the C and D as potential solutions, but problems with getting the turbocharger to work reliably continued. Improvements using the mechanically supercharged versions of the engines was more than enough to field a competitive design at altitudes around 25,000 ft (7,600 m). The RLM became interested these simpler designs into production as a stop-gap measure. As the DB 603 was in high demand for various twin-engine designs like the Messerschmitt Me 410, they selected the Jumo 213 for future production, and the D model became the next Fw 190.
Although this interim design was enough to produce a design capable of dealing with the B-17, by 1943 the Luftwaffe had become aware of the B-29 Superfortress, whose altitude performance was far beyond the capabilities of any existing design. A meeting was called at the Messerschmitt Augsburg factories, where it was decided to continue development of the high-altitude Fw 190s as the Ra-2 and Ra-3, as well as develop a new version of the 109 as the Messerschmitt Me 155, later known as the Blohm & Voss BV 155. After renaming, The Ra-3 would become the Focke-Wulf Ta 152.
Fw 190 D "Dora"
Fw 190 D-9
The Fw 190 D (nicknamed the Dora; or Long-Nose Dora, "Langnasen-Dora") was intended to improve on the high-altitude performance of the A-series enough to make it useful against the American heavy bombers of the era. In the event the D series was rarely used against the heavy bomber raids as the circumstances of the war in late-1944 meant that fighter versus fighter combat and ground attack missions took priority. A total of 1,805 D-9s were produced. Production started in August 1944 and it entered service with Luftwaffe in September 1944, with III./JG 54.
The liquid-cooled 1,750 PS (1,726 hp, 1,287 kW) Jumo 213A could produce 2,100 PS (2,071 hp, 1,545 kW) of emergency power with MW 50 injection, improving performance to 426 mph (686 km/h) at 21,650 feet (6,600 m). Early D-9s reached service without the MW 50 installation, but in the meantime Junkers produced a kit to increase manifold pressure (Ladedrucksteigerungs-Rüstsätz) that increased engine output by 150 PS to 1900 PS, and was effective up to 5000 m altitude. It was fitted immediately to D-9s delivered to the units from September, or retrofitted in the field by TAM. By the end of December, all operational Doras, 183 in total, were converted. From November 1944, a simplified MW-50 system (Oldenburg) was fitted, that boosted output to 2100 PS. By the end of 1944, 60 were delivered with the simplified MW 50 system or were at the point of entering service. The 115 liter tank of the Oldenburg system would hold the MW 50 booster liquid was single purpose, while later systems were to be dual purpose, either holding MW 50 or additional fuel.
"The new airplane lacked the high turn rate and incredible rate of roll of its close-coupled radial-engined predecessor. It was a bit faster, however, with a maximum speed of 680 km/h (422 mph) at 6,600 meters (21,650 ft). Its 2240 horespower with methanol-water injection (MW 50) gave it an excellent acceleration in combat situations. It also climbed and dived more rapidly than the Fw 190A, and so proved well suited to the dive-and-zoom ambush tactics favored by the Schlageter pilots. Many of the early models were not equipped with tanks for methanol, which was in very short supply in any event. At low altitude, the top speed and acceleration of these examples were inferior to those of Allied fighters. Hans Hartigs recalled that only one of the first batch of Dora-9s received by the First Gruppe had methanol-water injection, and the rest had a top speed of only 590 km/h (360 mph)."
Due to the multiple attempts to create an effective next generation 190, as well as the comments of some Luftwaffe pilots, expectations of the Dora project were low. These impressions were not helped by the fact that Tank made it very clear that he intended the D-9 to be a stop-gap until the Ta 152 arrived. These negative opinions existed for some time until positive pilot feedback began arriving at Focke-Wulf and the Luftwaffe command structure. Sporting excellent handling and performance characteristics, it became very clear that the D-9 was nearly the perfect response to the Luftwaffe's need for an effective medium altitude, high-speed interceptor, although its performance still fell away at altitudes above about 20,000 feet (6,100 m). When flown by capable pilots, the Fw 190D proved to be a match for P-51s and Mk. XIV Spitfires. Lt. Karl-Heinz Ossenkopf, a fighter pilot of JG 26 with five months of frontline service, commented on the aircraft:
"The FW 190D-9 was quickly adopted by the pilots, after some initial reservations. They felt that it was equal to or better than the equipment of the opposition. Its servicability was not so good, owing to the circumstances. I felt that the aircraft built at Sorau had the best fit and finish. They could be recognised by their dark green camouflage. I hit 600 km/h with my 'own' green aircraft, "Black 8", with full power and MW 50 methanol injection, clean, 20-30 meters above the ground."
Compared with the FW 190A-8, the Dora-9: 1. With 40 hp (30 kW) to 50 hp (37 kW) more power, had a greater level speed, climb rate, and ceiling; 2. Had much better visibility to the rear, owing to its bubble canopy; 3. Was much quieter - the Jumo 213A vibrated much less than the BMW 801; 4. Handled better in steep climbs and turning, owing probably to its greater shaft horsepower at full throttle; 5. Had less torque effect on takeoff and landing; and 6. Had slightly greater endurance.
Compared with the Spitfire, the Dora-9: 1. Had greater level, climbing and diving speeds; 2. Was inferior in turns, especially in steep climbing turns typical of combat.
Compared with the Tempest, the Dora-9: 1. Was better in the climb and in turns; 2. Had the same or lower level speed, depending on its fit and finish; and 3. Had a lower diving speed.
Compared with the Thunderbolt, the Dora-9: 1. Had a greater level and climbing speed; 2. Had a better turning ability; and 3. Was inferior past all hope in diving speed.
In order to fit the new engine in the Fw 190 fuselage while maintaining proper balance and weight distribution, both the nose and the tail of the aircraft were lengthened, adding nearly 1.52 meters to the fuselage, bringing the overall length to 10.192 meters versus the 9.10 meters of the late war A-9 series. The lengthened tail required that an extra, straight sided bay, 30 cm in length, was spliced in forward of the rear angled joint and tail assembly of the fuselage. To further aid balance the pilot's oxygen bottles were moved aft and located in the new bay. This gave the rear fuselage a much "skinnier" appearance.
An Fw 190 D-9, W.Nr. 210, one of the first production aircraft at the Cottbus plant. Note the early canopy and redesigned, simplified centreline rack carrying a 300 l drop-tank.
Furthermore, the move to an inline engine required more components to be factored into the design, most significantly the need for coolant radiators (radial engines are air-cooled). To keep the design as simple and as aerodynamic as possible, Tank used an annular radiator (the AJA 180 L) installed at the front of the engine, similar to the configuration used in the Jumo powered versions of the Junkers Ju 88. The annular radiator with its adjustable cooling gills resembled a radial engine installation, although the row of six short exhausts stacks on either side of the elongated engine cowling showed that Jumo 213 was an inverted vee-12 engine. While the first few Doras were fitted with the flat-top canopy, these were later replaced with the newer rounded top "blown" canopy first used on the A-8 model. With the canopy changes, the shoulder and head armour plating design was also changed. Some late model Doras were also fitted with the Ta 152 vertical stabilizer and rudder, often called "Big Tails" by the Luftwaffe ground crews and pilots as seen on W.Nr. 500647 Brown 4 from 7./JG 26 and W.Nr. 500645 Black 6 from JG 2). The centre-line weapons rack was changed to an ETC 504 with a simplified and much smaller mounting and fairing.
As it was used in the anti-fighter role, armament in the "D" was generally lighter compared to that of the earlier aircraft – usually the outer wing cannon were dropped so that the armament consisted of two 13 mm MG 131 machine guns and two 20 mm MG 151/20 E wing root cannon. What little it lost in roll rate, it gained in turn rate, climb, dive and horizontal speed. The Dora still featured the same wing as the A-8, however, and was capable of carrying outer wing cannons as well, as demonstrated by the D-11 variant, with a three-stage supercharger and four wing cannon (two MG 151s and two MK 108s).
The first Fw 190 D-9s started entering service in September 1944 with III./JG 54. It was quickly followed by many, including I./JG 26, starting 16 November to convert to the new fighter from the A-8.
Some Fw 190 Ds served as fighter cover for Me 262 airfields as the jet fighters were very vulnerable on takeoff and landing. These special units were known as Platzsicherungstaffel (airfield defence squadron). One unit in particular was created by Leutnant Heinz Sachsenberg at the behest of Adolf Galland, had the entire aircraft underside painted in narrow red and broad white stripes. The unique colour scheme helped anti-aircraft artillery protecting the airfields quickly identify friendly aircraft, and may have been based on the D-Day invasion stripes used by the Allied air forces. The unit, known as Würger-Staffel, guarded the airfield of JV 44, operational late in the war, from about March 1945 to May 1945, and was used only to defend landing Me 262s and as such prohibited from chasing Allied aircraft.
Fw 190 D-11
17 Fw 190 D-11s were known to have been manufactured. This version was fitted with the uprated Jumo 213E series engine which was also used in the Ta-152 H series. Changes over the D-9 were the enlarged supercharger air-intake on the starboard side cowling and the use of a wooden, broad-bladed VS 9 or 10 propeller unit utilizing three 9-27012 C-1 blades with a diameter of 3.6 meters. The 13 mm fuselage guns were removed, and the cowling redesigned and by omitting the gun troughs was changed to a flat profile. Two 30 mm MK 108 cannons were installed in the outer wings to complement the 20 mm MG 151s in the inboard positions. Of the 17 Dora-11s delivered, three can be accounted for. One, the best-known, was Rote 4 (red 4) of JV 44's Platzschutz unit. Another, white chevron, was found at München-Riem, and may have served with JV 44 after serving at the Verbandsführerschule General der Jagdflieger (Training School for Unit Leaders) at Bad Wörishofen; it is not known if it was actually used operationally. A third, "white 61," was also found after the war at the Verbandsfuehrerschule General der Jagdflieger.
While the D-11 was under manufacture, work started on the Fw 190 D-12 and D-13 models. The D-12 and D-13s were based on the D-11 design, however the D-12 and D-13 were fitted with Motorkanone nose cannons firing through the propeller hub (the D-12 would be fitted with a MK 108 30 mm cannon and the D-13 would be fitted with a MG 151/20 20 mm cannon). There were three test aircraft built for the D-12 line, V63, V64 and V65 but no production aircraft were built.
Fw 190 D-13
The Fw 190 D-13 started with the construction of two prototypes (W.Nr 732053 and W.Nr 7322054), and the MG 151/20 20 mm cannon was found to be quite suited for the aircraft and was already well known to be effective against allied bombers, as well as an effective ground support weapon. Thus the Fw 190 D-13/R11 was selected to enter production. The D-13/R11 was fitted with all weather flying equipment including the PKS12 and K-23 systems for steering and autopilot. The FuG 125 radio system, known as Hermine was fitted to the aircraft, as well as a heated windscreen. Pilots reported that due to the large amounts of torque produced by the engine, they usually used the steering system during the take-off run as it helped with the rudder movements. The D-13 also introduced a hydraulic boost system for the ailerons, which was later used on the Ta 152.
In all the RLM called for 820 D-11 airframes to be built by Focke-Wulf Sorau, stating in early 1945, Fieseler Kassel was tasked to build 1420 D-12's starting in the same time frame and the manufacture of the D-13 was passed to Arbeitsgruppe Roland tasked with the construction of 1,060 airframes starting again in early 1945. For some yet unknown reason, production of the D-12 was cancelled in favour of the D-13 model. From evidence from the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe General Quartiermeister document Nr. 2766/45 of April 1945, it was known that 17 D-13s were more than likely built, but only two were known to be in service. A D-13 (Wk. Nr 836017) flown by the Geschwaderkommodore of JG 26, Franz Götz, an ace with 63 kills, was captured intact by U.S. army personnel in May 1945. This aircraft is still in existence, painted in its original colour scheme as Yellow 10, is thought to be airworthy and is currently located in the Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field, Washington. This aircraft is one of the few existing Fw 190s with a history that can be traced back from its manufacture to the current date.
In mock combat
Shortly after World War II the British became interested in the performance and evaluation of the advanced German Fw 190 D-13. While at Flensburg the British Disarmament Wing wanted to see how this fighter would perform against one of their best, a Hawker Tempest. Squadron Leader Evans approached Major Heinz Lange and asked him to fly a mock combat against one of their pilots. Lange accepted, even though he had only ten flights in a D-9.
The mock dogfight was conducted at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m), with only enough fuel for the flight and no ammunition. In the end the machines were evenly matched. Major Lange assessed that the outcome of such a contest greatly depended on the skills of the individual pilot. At the time Lange was not aware that he was flying a D-13 but rather a D-9. Interestingly the same "Yellow 10" (Wk. Nr. 836017) that was previously assigned to Geschwaderkommodore Franz Götz was used in this evaluation. "Yellow 10" was further subjected to mock combat when on 25 June 1945 Oberleutnant Günther Josten was asked to fly a comparison flight against another Tempest.
While nearly all variants of the Fw 190 could carry bombs and other air-to-ground ordnance, there were two dedicated attack versions of the Fw 190. The Luftwaffe was looking for aircraft to replace the Henschel Hs 123 biplane, which were seriously outmatched in 1942, as well as the slow and heavy Junkers Ju 87. The excellent low-level performance and reasonably high power of the Fw 190 suggested it would be a "natural" in this role. Two versions of the Fw 190 were eventually built, customized for this mission.
Fw 190 F
The Fw 190 F was started as a Fw 190 A-0/U4. Early testing started in May 1942. This A-0 was outfitted with centre-line and wing mounted ETC 50 bomb racks. The early testing was quite good, and Focke-Wulf began engineering the attack version of the Fw 190. New armor was added to the bottom of the fuselage protecting the fuel tanks and pilot, the engine cowling, and the landing gear mechanisms and outer wing mounted armament. Finally the Umrüst-Bausätze kit 3 was fitted to the aircraft by means of a ETC 501 or ER4 centre-line mounted bomb rack and up to a SC250 bomb under each wing. This aircraft was designated the Fw 190 F-1. The first 30 Fw 190 F-1s were renamed Fw 190 A-4/U3s; however, Focke-Wulf quickly began assembling the aircraft on the line as Fw 190 F-1s as their own model with 18 more F-1s built before switching to the F-2. The Fw 190 F-2s were renamed Fw 190 A-5/U3s, which again were soon assembled as Fw 190 F-2s on the production line. There were 270 Fw 190 F-2s built according to Focke-Wulf production logs and RLM acceptance reports.
The Fw 190 F-3 was based on the Fw 190 A-5/U17, which was outfitted with a centre-line mounted ETC 501 bomb rack, and two double ETC 50 bomb racks under each wing. 432 Fw 190 F-3s were built.
Due to difficulties creating an effective strafing Fw 190 F able to take out the Russian T-34 tank, the F-4 through F-7 models were abandoned, and all attempts focused on conversion of the Fw 190 A-8.
The Fw 190 F-8 differed from the A-8 model with a slightly modified injector on the compressor which allowed for increased performance at lower altitudes for several minutes. The F-8 was also outfitted with the improved FuG 16 ZS radio unit which provided much better communication with ground combat units. Armament on the Fw 190 F-8 was two MG 151/20 20 mm cannon in the wing roots and two MG 131 machine guns above the engine. According to RLM acceptance reports at least 3,400 F-8s were built, probably several hundreds more in December 1944 and from February to May 1945 (data for these months is missing and probably lost).
Dozens of F-8s served as various testbeds for anti-tank armament, including the WGr.28 280 mm ground-to-ground missile, 88 mm Panzerschreck 2 rockets, Panzerblitz 1 and R4M rockets.
There were also several Umrüst-Bausätze kits developed for the F-8, which included: The Fw 190 F-8/U1 long range JaBo, outfitted with underwing V.Mtt-Schloß shackles to hold two 300-liter fuel tanks. ETC 503 bomb racks were also fitted, allowing the Fw 190 F-8/U1 to carry one SC 250 bomb under each wing and one SC 250 bomb on the centre-line.
The Fw 190 F-8/U2 torpedo bomber, outfitted with an ETC 503 bomb rack under each wing and a centre-line mounted ETC 504. The U2 was also equipped with the TSA 2 A weapons sighting system that improved the U2's ability to attack seaborne targets.
The Fw 190 F-8/U3 heavy torpedo bomber was outfitted with an ETC 502, which allowed it to carry one BT-1400 heavy torpedo. Due to the size of the torpedo, the U3's tail gear needed to be lengthened. The U3 also was fitted with the 2,000 PS BMW 801S engine, and the tail from the Ta 152.
The Fw 190 F-8/U4 created as a night fighter, was equipped with flame dampers on the exhaust and various electrical systems such as the FuG 101 radio altimeter, the PKS 12 automatic pilot, and the TSA 2 A sighting system. Weapons fitted ranged from torpedoes to bombs; however, the U4 was outfitted only with two MG 151/20 cannon as fixed armament.
The Fw 190 F-9 was based on the Fw 190 A-9 but with the new Ta 152 tail unit, a new bulged canopy as fitted to late-build A-9s, and four ETC 50 or ETC 70 bomb racks under the wings. According to RLM acceptance reports 147 F-9 were built in January 1945, probably several hundreds more from February to May 1945 (data for these months is missing and probably lost).
Fw 190 G
The Fw 190 G was built as a long range attack aircraft (JaBo Rei, or Jagdbomber mit vergrösserter Reichweite). Following the success of the Fw 190 F as a Schlachtflugzeug (close support aircraft), both the Luftwaffe and Focke-Wulf began investigating ways of extending the range of the Fw 190 F. From these needs and tests, the Fw 190 G was born.
There were four distinct versions of the Fw 190 G: The Fw 190 G-1: The first Fw 190 Gs were based on the Fw 190 A-4/U8 JaBo Rei's. Initial testing found that if all but two wing root mounted MG 151 cannons (with reduced ammo load) were removed, the Fw 190 G-1 as it was now called, could carry a 250 kg or 500 kg bomb on the centre-line and, via an ETC 250 rack, up to a 250 kg bomb under each wing. Typically the G-1s flew with underwing fuel tanks, fitted via the VTr-Ju 87 rack. The FuG 25a IFF (identification friend/foe) was fitted on occasion as well as one of the various radio direction finders available at the time. With the removal of the fuselage mounted MG 17s, an additional oil tank was added to support the BMW 801 D-2 engine's longer run times.
The Fw 190 G-2: The G-2 was based on the Fw 190 A-5/U8 aircraft. The G-2s were similarly equipped to the G-1s, however due to wartime conditions, the underwing drop tank racks were replaced with the much simpler V.Mtt-Schloß fittings, to allow for a number of underwing configurations. Some G-2s were also fitted with the additional oil tank in place of the MG 17s, however not all were outfitted with the oil tank. Some G-2s were fitted with exhaust dampers and landing lights in the left wing leading edge for night operations.
The Fw 190 G-3: The G-3 was based on Fw 190 A-6. Like the earlier G models, all but the two wing root mounted MG 151 cannons were removed. The new V.Fw. Trg bombracks however, allowed the G-3 to simultaneously carry fuel tanks and bomb loads. Because of the range added by two additional fuel tanks, the G-3's duration increased to two hours, 30 minutes. Due to this extra flight duration, a PKS 11 autopilot was fitted. Some G-3s built in late 1943 were also fitted with the a modified 801 D-2 engine which allowed for increased low-altitude performance for short periods of time. The G-3 had two primary Rüstsätze kits. The R1 replaced the V.Fw. Trg racks with WB 151/20 cannon pods. This gave the G-3/R1 a total of 6 20 mm cannons. When fitted with the R1 kit, the G model's addition armor was typically not used, and the PKS11 removed. The G-3/R1 was used in both ground strafing and anti-bomber roles. The R5 was similar to the R1, but the V.Fw. Trg racks were removed, and two ETC 50 racks per wing were added. As with the R1, the additional armor from the base G model were removed, as was the additional oil tank. In some instances, the fuselage mounted MG 17s were refitted.
The Fw 190 G-8: The G-8 was based on the Fw 190 A-8. The G-8 used the same "bubble" canopy of the F-8, and was fitted with underwing ETC 503 racks that could carry either bombs or drop tanks. Two primary Rüstsätze kits were also seen on the F-8. The R4, which was a planned refit for the GM 1 engine boost system, but never made it into production, and the R5 which replaced the ETC 503's with two ETC 50 or 71 racks. Due to the similarities with the F-8, the G-8 was only in production for a short amount of time.
Some Gs were field modified to carry 1,000 kg, 1,600 kg and 1,800 kg bombs. When this was done the landing gear was slightly improved by enhancing the oleo struts and using reinforced tires.
Approximately 1300 Fw 190 Gs of all variants were new built. Due to war conditions, the manufacturing environment and the use of special workshops during the later years of the war, the accurate number of G models built is next to impossible to determine. During the later years of the war, use of "composite" aircraft, for example, wings from a fuselage-damaged aircraft, and the fuselage from a wing-damaged aircraft were often reassembled and listed as a Fw 190G with a new serial number. The Fw 190 G-1 currently at the National Air and Space Museum is one of these "composite" planes, built from the fuselage of a Fw 190 A-7.
As the Luftwaffe phased out older aircraft such as the Ju 87, and replaced them with the Fw 190, many pilots required flight training to make the transition as quickly and smoothly as possible. Thus was born the Schulflugzeug (literally "school airplane") training version of the Fw 190. Several old Fw 190 A-5s, and later in 1944, A-8s, were converted by replacing the MW 50 tank with a second cockpit. The canopy was modified, replaced with a new three section unit, which opened to the side, similar to the Bf 109. The rear portion of the fuselage was closed off with sheet metal. Originally designated Fw 190 A8-U1, they were later given tw 190 S-5 and S-8 designation. There were an estimated 58 Fw 190 S-5 and S-8 models converted or built.
Late war and the Focke-Wulf Ta 152
After the "D," later variants of the 190 were named "Ta", after Kurt Tank, when the RLM changed their naming to reflect the chief designer instead of the company he represented. This was a singularly rare honorific, Tank was the first engineer to be so honoured. The aircraft developed into something much different than earlier Fw 190 models. The most promising design was the Ta 152H; the "H" model used the liquid-cooled Jumo 213E engine and possessed a much greater wing area for better high-altitude performance - to attack the expected B-29s. It was capable of speeds in excess of 700 km/h (435 mph) and had a service ceiling of around 15,000 m (49,200 ft). Armed with a single engine-mounted, or Motorkanone, 30 mm MK 108 cannon and two MG 151/20E guns, it was highly promising, but manufacturing problems, materials shortages and the disruption towards the end of the war resulted in very few Ta 152s of all types being built (no more than 150 in total). Effort was also diverted into further prototype work, the lower-altitude Ta 152 C with a DB 603 engine and five cannon [this possessed the noticeably shorter wing]. However as the last days of the war dawned, the rushed construction of the Ta 152 H and its engines became its undoing as failures and lack of spare parts affected the aircraft seriously enough to ground all H models, leaving only the two constructed C models flying at the end of the war.
Fw 190 As were also used to launch and control the unmanned Mistel guided bombs during the last days of the Western Front in the Second World War. Most of the Mistels used in combat were launched from Fw 190 motherships.
Fw 190 and Ki-61
During the war, Germany sent one Fw 190 A-8 to Japan for technical evaluation. The analysis of the Fw 190 assisted in the development of the radial-engined Kawasaki Ki-100 from the inline-engined Ki-61 Hien "Tony," specifically, the successful mating of a wide engine to a narrow airframe. The Ki-61 itself was influenced by German engineering in that it was powered by a Japanese version of the early Bf 109's Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine.
Airframe salvage and recovery
On 1 November 2006, a Fw 190 A-3 was salvaged from the depths 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, but his aircraft had sunk to the bottom of the sea. After its retrieval from its 60 m deep watery grave, the Fw 190, "Yellow 16," from IV/JG 5, appears to be in remarkably good condition, only missing its canopy and the fabric-covered wing and tail surfaces.
Modern Fw 190
Starting in 1997, a small German company, Flug Werk GmbH, began work on a new Fw 190 A-8. These Fw 190 A-8s are new builds from the ground up, using many original dies, plans and other information from the war. Werk numbers continued from where the German war machine left off with the new Fw 190 A-8 labeled FW 190 A-8/N (N for Nachbau (English: "new build"). 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 Russian engine, the ASh-82FN 14-cylinder twin-row radial engine, which powered some of the Fw 190s opposition: the La-5 and La-7, powers the new FW 190 A-8/N. Flugwerk was also instrumental in the restoration of perhaps the only Fw 190 A-9 in existence. The aircraft is currently being restored in Duxford, England for a US owner.
Work has also been recently started on a Fw 190 D-9, and, again in a bit of irony, will be powered by a modified Allison V-1710 V-12, the powerplant of the P-39 Airacobra, another foe of the Fw 190 often flown by Russian forces in the Second World War. Recently this aircraft, known as Black 12, arrived in Kissimmee, FL, and on 12 December 2007, had its first engine run.
The FW 190 A-8/N participated in the Finnish war movie Tali-Ihantala 1944, painted in the same markings as Oberst Erich Rudorffer's aircraft in 1944. The movie was released in December 2007.
The White 1 Foundation, primarily involved in the restoration to airworthiness of an original Fw 190 F (the White 1, last flown by Unteroffizier Heinz Orlowski in World War II) that served with the "Arctic Ocean Fighter Wing" of the Luftwaffe, JG 5 "Eismeer", also has a pair of vintage Junkers Jumo 213 engines in its collection, complete with original annular radiators, possibly as vintage Kraftei power-egg unitized engine installations, and apparently plans an Fw 190 D-9 reproduction aircraft project of its own based on one of the engines.
In Dijon France, another Flug Werk-built Fw 190 (A-8 F-AZZJ) is being constructed. It was assigned the production number 990013, and is expected to begin powerplant tests soon.
Specifications (Fw 190 A-8)
Length: 9.00 m (29 ft 0 in)
Wingspan: 10.51 m (34 ft 5 in)
Height: 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in)
Wing area: 18,30 m² (196.99 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,200 kg (7,060 lb)
Loaded weight: 4,417 kg (9,735 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 4,900 kg (10,800 lb)
Powerplant: 1× BMW 801 D-2 radial engine, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp); 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) with boost
Maximum speed: 656 km/h at 4,800 m, 685 km/h with boost (383 mph at 19,420 ft (5,920 m), 408 mph (657 km/h) with boost)
Range: 800 km (500 miles)
Service ceiling 11,410 m (37,430 ft)
Rate of climb: 13 m/s (2560 feet/min)
Wing loading: 241 kg/m² (49.4 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.29 - 0.33 kW/kg (0.18 - 0.21 hp/lb)
2× 13 mm MG 131 machine guns with 475 rounds/gun
4× 20 mm MG 151/20 E cannons with 250 rounds/gun in the wing root and 140 rounds/gun outboard.
Specifications (Fw 190 D-9)
Length: 10.20 m (33 ft 5 1/2 in)
Wingspan: 10.50 m (34 ft 5 in)
Height: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
Wing area: 18.30 m² (196.99 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,490 kg (7,694 lb)
Loaded weight: 4,350 kg (9,590 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 4,840 kg (10,670 lb)
Powerplant: 1× Junkers Jumo 213 A-1 12-cylinder inverted-Vee piston engine, 1,287 kW, 1,544 kW with boost (1,750 PS / 2,100 PS)
Maximum speed: 685 km/h at 6,600 m, 710 km/h at 11,300 m (426 mph at 21,655 ft / 440 mph at 37,000 ft (11,000 m))
Range: 835 km (519 mi)
Service ceiling 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
Rate of climb: 17 m/s (3,300 feet/min)
Wing loading: 238 kg/m² (48.7 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.30 - 0.35 kW/kg (0.18 - 0.21 hp/lb)
2× 13 mm MG 131 machine guns with 475 rounds/gun
2× 20 mm MG 151 cannons with 250 rounds/gun in the wing root
1× 500 kg (1,102 lb) SC 500 bomb (optional)
Also known as: 190 fw, fw-190 focke wulf, parkzone fw 190.