Aircraft - German Luftwaffe


The following text was excerpted from the Hamlyn Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II

History and Development

Acknowledged generally by pilots to be a superior aircraft to the Luftwaffe's other main World War II fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was developed under a contract placed by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium in the autumn of 1937. Kurt Tank submitted two proposals, one powered by a liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB 601 and the other by the then-new air-cooled BMW 139 radial. The radial was selected and detail design work began in the summer of 1938 under the leadership of Oberlng R. Blaser. A cantilever low-wing monoplane of stressed-skin construction, the prototype Fw 190 VI was rolled out in May 1939 and the first flight took place on 1 June 1939 at Bremen in the hands of Flugkapitan Hans Sander. A second aircraft, the Fw 190 V2, flew in October 1939, armed with two 13-mm (0.51-in) MG 131 and two 7.92-mm (0.31-in) MG 17 machine-guns. Both machines were fitted with large ducted spinners to reduce drag, but overheating problems were experienced and an NACA cowling was substituted. Before the first prototype had flown, however, a decision had been taken to replace the BMW 139 by the more powerful but longer and heavier BMW 801. This necessitated a number of major changes, including structural strengthening and relocation of the cockpit farther aft: the latter change solved a centre of gravity problem and, as a bonus, that of pilot discomfort from fumes and overheating of the cockpit, caused by proximity of the engine with the BMW 139 installation.

The third and fourth prototypes were abandoned, and the Fw 190 V5 with the new engine was completed in early 1940. Later in the year the aircraft was fitted with a wing of increased span, 3 ft 3 1/2 in (1.00 m) greater than the original 31 ft 2 in (9.50 m), and although some 6 mph (10 km) slower, this Fw 190 V5g was more maneuverable and superior in climb performance to the short-span version now designated Fw 190 V5k. Of a pre-production batch of 30 Fw 190A-0 aircraft, the first nine had the original wing, the remainder being of greater span. During February 1941 the first of these aircraft were delivered to Erprobungskommando 190 at Rechlin-Rogenthin for service evaluation, and in March Jagdgeschwader 26 began to prepare for the new fighter's introduction into Luftwaffe service.

A Fw-190A-8 seen here warming up prior to a mission. The Fw 190, designed as a rugged interceptor capable of withstanding considerable combat damage and delivering a potent 'punch' from its stable gun platform, was used primarily for anti-bomber operations.

Initial production version was the Fw 190A-1 with long-span wings, powered by the 1,660-hp (1238-kW) BMW 801C-1 radial, equipped with FuG 7a radio, and armed with four 7.92-mm (0.31-in) MG 17 machine-guns. It was this version which, flown by 6./JG 26,first clashed with RAF Supermarine Spitfires on 27 September 1941, leaving little doubt that the armament of four MG 17s was quite inadequate. This deficiency was dealt with first in the Fw 190A-2 which, powered by an improved BMW 801C-2 engine, had two MG 17s mounted above the engine and two 20-mm FF cannon in the wing roots, armament which was often augmented by two MG 17s in the outer wing panels. The ensuing Fw 190A-3, which introduced the 1,800-hp (1342-kW) BMW 801Dg engine, had the MG FF cannon moved to the outer wing panels, being replaced in the wing root positions by faster-firing MG 151s. Sub-variants included the Fw 190A-3/U1 and Fw 190A-3/U3 close-support and Fw 190A-3/U4 reconnaissance aircraft, these conversions usually involving removal of the outboard MG FF cannon and the addition of ETC 500 bomb racks or Rb 12 cameras.

In the summer of 1942 deliveries of the Fw 190A4 began, introducing MW-50 water methanol injection to boost the output of its BMW 801D-2 engine to 2,100 hp (1566 kW) for short periods and raising its maximum speed to 416 mph (670 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6400m).

The generally similar Fw 190A-4/Trop introduced tropical filters to protect the engine when deployed in the Mediterranean theatre and was equipped to carry a 551-lb 250-kg bomb beneath the fuselage, but the MW-50 water-methanol system was deleted from the Fw 190A-4/R6 which could carry two underwing 210-mm (8.27-in) WGr.21 rocket tubes. The Fw 190A4/U8, which had its fixed armament reduced to the two MG 151 cannon but could mount a 1,102-lb (500-kg) bomb beneath the fuselage, was able to gain increased range from the carriage of a 66-Imp gal (300-litre) drop tank beneath each wing. All of the versions mentioned so far had a tendency for the engine to overheat, this being-overcome in the Fw 190A-5 which had a new mounting for the engine, positioning it some 6 in (15 cm) farther forward. Introduced in early 1943, this version was built in many sub-variants, including the Fw 190A-5/U2 which, armed by two MG 151/20 cannon and an under fuselage ETC 501 bomb rack, and able to carry 66-Imp gal (300-litre) underwing drop tanks, was equipped with flame-damping equipment so that it could be deployed for night operations. The similar Fw 190A-5/U3 could carry a 1,102-Ib (500-kg) bomb beneath the fuselage and a 254-lb (115-kg) bomb under each wing; but the Fw 190A-5/U4 was equipped with two Rb 12 cameras for deployment in a reconnaissance role. Fighter-bomber versions included the Fw 190A-5/U6 and the long-range Fw 190A-5/U8, and the Fw 190A-5/UH close-support aircraft carried a 30-mm MK 103 cannon beneath each wing. The heavily armed Fw 190A-5/U12 carried fixed armament of two MG 151/20 cannon and two MG 17 machine-guns, supplemented by two WB 151A pods which each contained a pair of MG 151/20s. The Fw 190A-5/U14 and Fw 190A-5/U15 were both torpedo-bomber variants, able to carry an LT F5b and LT 950 torpedo respectively, and a 30-mm MK 108 cannon mounted in the outboard wing position was standard for the Fw 190A-5/U16.

In June 1943 a new major version was introduced, the Fw 190A-6 derived from the experimental Fw 190A-5/U10 incorporated a redesigned lighter-weight wing that could accommodate four 20-mm MG 151/20 cannon and was the forerunner of the Fw 190A-6/R1 with six 20-mm MG 151/20 cannon, the Fw 190A-6/R2 with two 30-mm MK 108 cannon mounted one in each outboard wing position, the Fw 190A-6/R3 which added an MK 103 cannon beneath each wing, and the Fw 190A-6/R6 which was the final A-6 variant, carrying a 210-mm (8.27-in) WGr.21 rocket tube under each wing. This led to a version similar to the Fw 190A-6 in which the engine-mounted 7.92-mm (0.31-in) MG 17 machine-guns were replaced by two 13-mm (0.51-in) MG 131s and this, designated Fw 190A-7, was introduced in December 1943 but only built in small numbers. However, it was followed by the extensively-built Fw 190A-8 which had internal fuel capacity increased by 25.3 Imp gal (115 litres) and manufactured initially in variants similar to those of the Fw 190A-6. Also produced was the Fw 190A-8/R7 with armour protection for the cockpit, but versions for new roles included the Fw 190A-8/R11 all-weather fighter with a heated canopy and PKS 12 radio navigation equipment; the Fw 190A-8/U1 two-seat conversion trainer, first flown on 23 January 1944; and the Fw 190A-8/U3 which was the director component of the Fw 190/Ta 154 Mistel composite aircraft.


Experience with the Fw 190As had shown them to be very effective when combat took place at altitudes below 22,965 ft (7000 m), but above that height the output of the BMW 801 powerplant began to drop off. Development was initiated to overcome this deficiency, beginning with the modification of three Fw 190A-1s, the first of them designated Fw 190B-0; this was given a wing of increased area and a pressurized cockpit, and its BMW 801D-2 engine was provided with a GM-1 power boost system. The other two, designated Fw 190B-2 and Fw 190B-3, were similar but had a standard wing and carried armament comprising two MG 17 machine-guns and two MG 151/20 cannon. Further development was then concentrated on the Fw 190C, a small number being built with 1,750-hp (1305-kW) Daimler-Benz DB 603 engines with Hirth 9-2281 turbochargers in large ventral fairings, which gave rise to the nickname Kanguruh. Extensive testing proved the turbochargers to be unreliable, leading to this programme being abandoned in favor of the Fw 190D, and in late 1943 several Fw 190A-7s were modified by the installation of Junkers Jumo 213A inline engines to serve as Fw 190D-0 prototypes. The use of this engine necessitated the inclusion of a 1 ft 7% in (0.50 m) rear fuselage plug to compensate for a 2 ft 0 in (0.60 m) lengthening of the nose, and the fin was increased in area for the same reason. Thus was derived the Fw 190D-9 production version, known popularly as the 'long-nose 190' or 'Dora 9', which was armed with two wing-mounted MG 151/20 cannon and two MG 131 guns above its engine, and had an MW 50 water-methanol injection system to boost the emergency power output to 2,240 hp (1670 kW). A 66-Imp gal (300-litre) drop tank or a 551-lb (250-kg) bomb could be carried on each underwing rack, and later aircraft were equipped with bubble canopies as introduced earlier on the Fw 190F.

The Fw 190 D nicknamed the Dora was intended to improve on the high-altitude performance of the A-series enough to make it useful against the American heavy bombers.

Two Fw 190D-9 airframes were converted to Fw 190D-10 standard for evaluation purposes by installing the Jumo 213C engine; this allowed a 30-mm cannon to fire through the propeller shaft and spinner, replacing the two MG 131 machine-guns , but no production resulted. This was the fate also of the ensuing Fw 190D-11, of which seven prototypes were built with Jumo 213F engines, two MG 151/20 cannon in the wing roots, and two MK 108s in the outer wing panels. Final variants included the Fw 190D-12, which was essentially a ground-attack aircraft with additional armour protection for the engine, and armed with two MG 151/20s in the wings and a single MK 108 cannon firing through the spinner; and the generally similar Fw 190D-13 which had the MK 108 replaced by an MG 151/20. The development and production of a proposed fighter/reconnaissance aircraft designated Fw 190E was abandoned. Introduction into service of the Fw 190D-9 provided a fighter aircraft that was regarded by many pilots as being superior to any other in Luftwaffe service, but by the time that it was in large-scale use, in early 1945, the optimum deployment of these superb aircraft was already being limited by the serious shortage of aviation fuel. However, the Fw 190D had been preceded into service by the Fw 190F-1, a specialized ground-attack version which was introduced in early 1943; generally similar to the Fw 190A4, it differed by having additional armour protection for the cockpit and powerplant, the outboard 20-mm cannon deleted, and an ETC 501 bomb rack installed beneath the fuselage. Similarly, the Fw 190F-2 was related to the Fw 190A-5 but introduced a bubble canopy, and the Fw 190F-3 corresponding to the Fw 190A-6 could carry a 66-Imp gal (300-litre) drop tank or a 551-lb (250-kg) bomb beneath the fuselage and, in the Fw 190F-3/R1 and Fw 190F-3/R3 versions, four ETC 50 underwing bomb racks or two similarly-located 30-mm MK 103 cannon. The Fw 190F-8 was based on the Fw 190A-8, with two engine-mounted 13-mm (0.51-in) MG 131 machine-guns and four ETC 50 bomb racks, and the Fw 190F-8/U2 and Fw 190F-8/U3 were fitted with the TSA bomb sight for anti-shipping strikes with, respectively, a 1,543-lb (700-kg) BT 700or a3,086-lb (1400-kg) BT 1400 weapon.

The Fw 190F-9, introduced in mid-1944 and representing the last of the F-series, was an alternative version of the Fw 190F-8 powered by the BMW 801 TS/TH engine. Alphabetically the last of the Fw 190s, and a specialized ground attack version like the F-series which it preceded into service, the Fw 190G-1 fighter-bomber was derived from the Fw 190A-5, but carried a 3,968-lb (1800-kg) bomb which necessitated the introduction of strengthened landing gear; wing-mounted armament was reduced to two MG 151/20 cannon, and the Junkers-designed wing racks accommodated two 66-Imp gal (300-litre) drop tanks.

The Fw 190G-2 and Fw 190G-3 were basically the same, but were equipped with Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf wing racks respectively. Final production variant of all was the Fw 190G-8 which incorporated the modifications introduced on the Fw 190A-8 and was powered by the 1,800-hp (1342-kW) BMW 801D-2 engine.

Specifications Focke-Wulf 190D-9

Type: Single-seat fighter/fighter-bomber

Powerplant: One 1,776 hp (1324-kW) Junkers Jumo 213A-1 12-cylinder piston engine

Wing Span: 34 ft 5.5 in (10.50 m)

Length: 33 ft 5.5 in (10.20 m)

Height: 11 ft. 0 in. (3.35 m)

Wing Area: 196.99 sq ft (18.30 m2)

Empty Weight: 7,694 lbs (3,490 kg)

Maximum T/O Weight: 10,670 lbs (4840 kg)

Maximum Level Speed: 426 mph (685 km/h) (clean) at 21,655 ft (6600 m)

Initial Climb: 19,685 ft (6000 m) in 7 minutes 6 seconds

Service Ceiling: 39,370 ft (12,000 m)

Range: 519 mi (835 km)

Armament: Two 0.51 in (13-mm) MG 131 machine guns and two 20-mm MG 151 cannon, plus one 1,102 lb (500 kg) SC500 bomb