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Focke-Wulf Fw 190 light fighter


Written by Sakhal

The 1st June 1939 it was happily effectuated the first test flight of the new single-seater fighter ordered by the Luftwaffe and designed by the company Focke-Wulf. Despite the German Air Force already had excellent aircraft in its ranks, such as the Messerschmitt Me Bf 109, it was decided to order a new type of fighter whose performance were at least equal to the one of the aforementioned aircraft. The project had been carried by engineer Kurt Tank, of proved competence and experience, and in that last summer of peace the prototype gave an excellent impression of itself in the German skies. The prototype was actually rather different, because of its aerodynamic profile on the nose and its engine, to what would be the mass-production model, but after few months the new Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was ready. A basic characteristic of this aircraft was the modern conception of the production process, in which the aircraft was built modularly, which allowed to replace large parts of the aircraft without requiring complex repairs that would be unrealizable in peripheral airfields. Besides, this procedure allowed the German war industry to order single parts simultaneously to several subsidiary factories, to be later rapidly mounted and, very important factor, with the safety of a production flow that coming from many sources instead of only one, hardly could be radically interrupted.

The qualities of the new fighter were an exceptional smoothness and speed of response in the controls, a notable acceleration, a cockpit with a wise protection scheme and an excellent visibility all around, which only decreased slightly during landing. The propulsion plant was initially a radial engine BMW 801 D2 of 1700 horsepower, but in the early 1942 it was started the construction of the new model D, equipped with an in-line engine of better performance that gave to the original Fw 190 an elonged, leaner silhouette that would earn to this new model of the Fw 190 the nickname "long nose". Structurally, the Fw 190 was a single-seater, low-winged monoplane and single-engined aircraft of fully metallic construction, with a fully retractable landing gear following the conventional scheme of rear tricycle. The protection of the pilot relied in the armored windscreen and the armored plates located in the cockpit sides, behind the seat and on the fore part of the engine cover. The position of the pilot was specially comfortable, with the feet very raised, which allowed to effectively withstand the negative effects caused on the human body by the centrifugal forces during maneuvers at high speed. There was a dotation of oxygen bottles for high-altitude flight and, in case of need, the cockpit canopy could be blown up by two explosive charges.

The Fw 190 was employed during the entire war in diverse mission roles (fighting, reconnaissance, bombing) and for launching the series of weapons Mistel. Appreciated by its pilots and feared by the enemy, the Fw 190 was an aircraft whose characteristics would reveal over time as clearly superior to the ones of the Me Bf 109, to the point of allowing it to compete in equality against the famous P-51 Mustang, the best American fighter employed during the Second World War. The Fw 190 entered combat in the Channel Front in the autumn of 1941, shooting down three British fighters Spitfire on its first confrontation. From the first moment it imposed its superiority over the fighters of the Royal Air Force, situation that would remain unchanged until the arrival of the Spitfire IX, about one year later. It took active part in the operation "Cerberus/Donnerkeil", the passage of the German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen through the English Channel, the 12th February 1942; during this mission the Fw 190 shot down the six British torpedo bombers Swordfish sent to intercept the ships.

During 1942-43 the Fw 190 appeared in increasing numbers in every war front, including the Eastern Front, the Mediterranean, the Arctic and the Defense of the Reich. They had a prominent activity in the Western Front during Operation Jubilee, the failed attempt from the Allies of landing at Dieppe in August 1942, and in offensive missions as fighter-bombers on the southern part of England. Later they were particularly active in any type of mission during the fights in Normandy, from June to August 1944. During the last years of the war the Fw 190 was the main fighter in the Defense of the Reich, fighting against the hordes of diurnal bombers of the United States Air Force. As a night fighter, the Fw 190 saw a limited use because in that time electronic equipment required larger fuselages to be installed. The Fw 190 was exported only to Turkey, in 1943; France used a certain number of them after the war, with the designation NC 900.

On the other hand, the ground-strike model Fw 190F, developed directly from the fighter-bomber variants of the Fw 190A (which differed from the parallel development Fw 109G in having a bulging canopy in the cockpit), entered service in the winter of 1942-43, during the Battle of Stalingrad. It replaced the dive bombers Junkers Ju 87 (the famous "Stuka") in the ground-strike Gruppen, firstly diurnal and later nocturnal, operating mainly in the Eastern Front and taking part in all the actions of the German retreat, from the Don to the Oder, from 1943 to 1945; it was supplied to Hungary in 1944-45. It was also used, albeit in smaller scale, in the campaigns in the Mediterranean and Italy. Another continuation of the series A was the Fw 190G, specifically developed as a long-range fighter-bomber, fitted with a ventral bomb carrier and standard equipment and without machine guns in the fuselage. It entered action for the first time during the final stages of the campaing in Tunisia, being subsequently transferred to the Eastern Front, taking part in the Battle of Kursk, in July 1943. In the last months of the war a night ground-strike Gruppe used the Fw 190G-1, each with one 1800-kilogram bomb, against the bridges held by the Allies in the Western Front, including the Ludendorff which crossed the Rhin in Remagen, captured by the American forces the 7th March 1945.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 light fighter


Focke-Wulf Fw 190 light fighter


And finally, the Fw 190D-9, popularly known in Germany as the "Langnase" or "Dora-9", entered service in the autumn of 1944, being initially used in the defense of the airfields in which operated the experimental unit of turbojet fighters Me 262, covering these during the maneuvers of takeoff and landing, from possible attacks from Allied fighter-bombers. Later it took part in the operation "Bodenplatte" (attack against the Allied airfields in the Netherlands the 1st January 1945). Despite the increase in the production, the majority of the Fw 190D-9 had to remain landed due to the shortage of fuel during the last weeks of the war. Generally considered a development from this model, with larger wingspan and engine Jumo 213E, the Ta 152 was actually a development from the Fw 190C. The first Ta 152 were delivered to a special trials unit in the first weeks of 1945, taking part in combat very few exemplars (mainly in the defense of the bases of the Me 262), being the largest part of the approximately 200 built, destroyed in land before being accepted by the Luftwaffe. The versions Ta 152B and Ta 152C of lesser wingspan, of escort at mid altitude and heavy fighter, respectively, did not progress further the stage of prototype and development, also respectively, before the surrender of Germany. The previous illustration and blueprints correspond to the Ta 152C.

Development record

The development record of the Focke-Wulf 190 is so extensive that, even with the briefest descriptions, the mention of every variant would be tedious; the total number of versions, including both development and production models, account for around 70 (75 if including the Ta 152). As a very successful aircraft, the Fw 190 was built in large numbers, reaching a total production of about 20000 exemplars from 1939 to 1945. In the following lines I will summarize the basic characteristics of the corresponding series:

Series A, B and C

The Fw 190A was built in a large number of variants and subvariants, with diverse roles (interceptor, heavy fighter, ground support, fighter-bomber and reconnaissance). A common trait of these early versions was a radial engine BMW, whose different versions provided a power output from 1600 horsepower (Fw 190A-1) to 2000 horsepower (Fw 190A-9). Overpower systems were introduced in the series models Fw 190A-4 and Fw 190A-8, in the prototype Fw 190 V13 and in the preseries model Fw 190B-0. After the development of the series A it was started the research for fitting the successive series with a Daimler-Benz in-line engine, but in-line engines were not introduced in series models until the series D. The Fw 190C was the first attempt for a high-altitude fighter but this version was left in project phase; the prototypes for the Fw 190C had an in-line engine DB 603 with supercharger, a four-bladed propeller and pressurized cockpit. The Fw 190A was produced by Focke-Wulf, Ago, Arado and Fieseler in several thousands of exemplars, being the version A-8 the most numerous one with 1334 exemplars, while the Fw 190B had only five exemplars built. After the war 64 exemplars of the Fw 190A-8 were built in France by SNCA, with the designation NC 900.

Specifications for Fw 190A-3

Type: Fighter

Wingspan: 10.50 meters

Length: 8.80 meters

Height: 3.95 meters

Wing area: 18.30 square meters

Weight (empty): 2900 kilograms

Weight (full load): 3980 kilograms

Engine: BMW 801D-2 of 1700 horsepower

Initial rate of climb: 863 meters/minute

Service ceiling: 10600 meters

Maximum speed at an altitude of 6000 meters: 615 kilometers/hour

Cruising speed: 445 kilometers/hour

Maximum operational range: 800 kilometers

Armament: Two MG 17 7.92-millimeter machine guns above the engine; two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons and two MG FF 20-millimeter cannons in the wings



Series D

The most obvious change in the series D was the adoption of in-line engines Junkers Jumo - and later Daimler-Benz for the prototypes of late versions -, which altered notably the silhouette of the Fw 190, improving significantly its dynamic prestations even if the new engines were not really more powerful than the radial models. Not only the fore part of the fuselage was elongated, but also the rear part, and the wings and tail were redesigned. The Fw 190D-10 had the particular characteristic of having installed a MK 108 30-millimeter cannon that fired through the propeller cone, a possibility granted by the in-line engine in V shape; however only two exemplars were built of this model. This configuration was adopted also for the ground-strike fighter Fw 190D-12, but this version remained only as project. There were all-weather versions of the Fw 190D-9 fighter, fitted with automatic pilot PKS 12 and equipment for blind flight FuG 125 Hermine D/F. Total production for the Fw 190D reached 674 exemplars.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 light fighter

Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 from the Stabskette IV./JG 3 Udet, Prenzlau (near Berlin), February 1945. The Sturmgruppe IV./JG 3 that previously had been dedicated to the defense of the Reich, equipped with Fw 190A-8, was assigned to the Lfl. Kdo 6 in February 1945, being dedicated since then to the fight against the Soviet forces advancing towards Berlin. Note the canopy of older type, rect on the upper part, unlike most part of the Fw 190D-9, which had bulging canopy.

Specifications for Fw 190D-9

Type: High-altitude fighter

Wingspan: 10.50 meters

Length: 10.20 meters

Height: 3.36 meters

Wing area: 18.30 square meters

Weight (empty): 3490 kilograms

Weight (maximum): 4840 kilograms

Engine: Junkers Jumo 213A-1 of 1770 horsepower

Time to reach an altitude of 2000 meters: 2 minutes 6 seconds (952 meters/minute)

Service ceiling: 12000 meters

Maximum speed at sea level: 575 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed at an altitude of 6600 meters: 685 kilometers/hour

Maximum operational range: 835 kilometers

Armament: Two MG 131 13-millimeter machine guns above the engine and two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons in the wings

Bombs load: Up to 500 kilograms



Series F

The series F was oriented to use the Fw 190 as ground-strike fighter, fighter-bomber, torpedo bomber and even anti-tank aircraft. The series F was based in the series A and hence the characteristics of both were similar, including the BMW radial engines. The Fw 190F-9 was propelled by a particularly powerful engine, the BMW 801TS of 2270 horsepower with supercharger and overpower system MW 50. Another particularly interesting exemplar was the prototype Fw 190 V75 (a conversion of one Fw 190F-8) for an anti-tank version that was never produced, armed with four 77 millimeters recoilless cannons in the wings, firing downwards. Another conversions of the Fw 190F-8 (/U2, /U3 and /U14) were prepared to carry a 700-kilogram torpedo-bomb, a 1400-kilogram torpedo- bomb or an LT F5 torpedo, respectively. The models F-4, F-5 and F-6 did not exist as such, being later renamed as F-8, F-9 and F-10, respectively. The conversions Fw 190F-3/R1 and /R3 had four additional ETC 50 bomb racks or two MK 103 30-millimeter cannons, respectively. Arado and Dornier took part in the production of the series F and at least 1073 exemplars were produced.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 light fighter

Focke-Wulf Fw 190F (G5+02) from the 101 Csatarepulo Osztaly (Assault Group) of the Hungarian Royal Air Force, Borgond, Hungary, November 1944, component of Lfl. Kdo 4 Fliegerfuhrer 102, based in the area of Lake Balaton. The code that appears in the fuselage indicates that this aircraft is the second Fw 190 delivered to the Hungarian Royal Air Force for purposes of advanced training.

Specifications for Fw 190F-3

Type: Ground-strike fighter

Wingspan: 10.50 meters

Length: 8.95 meters

Height: 3.93 meters

Wing area: 18.30 square meters

Weight (empty): 3225 kilograms

Weight (maximum): 4920 kilograms

Engine: BMW 801D-2 of 1700 horsepower

Initial rate of climb: 645 meters/minute

Service ceiling: 10600 meters

Maximum speed at sea level: 525 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed at an altitude of 5500 meters: 590 kilometers/hour

Normal operational range: 530 kilometers

Armament: Two MG 17 7.92-millimeter machine guns above the engine and two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons in the wings

Bombs load: Up to 250 kilograms



Series G

The series G was intended to use the Fw 190 as a long-range fighter-bomber, with auxiliary droppable fuel tanks under the wings; like the series F, it was based in the series A. The model Fw 190G-3 was equipped with automatic pilot PKS 11 and elements in the wings to cut the cables of barrier captive balloons; later models were fitted with overpower system; other several modifications included equipment for blind flight, revised armament, suppression of bomb racks and tropicalization. Built by Focke-Wulf, Arado and Fieseler.

Specifications for Fw 190G-3

Type: Long-range fighter-bomber

Wingspan: 10.50 meters

Length: 8.95 meters

Height: 3.93 meters

Wing area: 18.25 square meters

Weight (empty): N/A

Weight (full load): 4754 kilograms

Engine: BMW 801D-2 of 1700 horsepower

Service ceiling: 10600 meters

Maximum speed at sea level: 575 kilometers/hour

Cruising speed: 420 kilometers/hour

Normal operational range: 635 kilometers

Armament: Two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons in the wings

Bombs load: Up to 1250 kilograms



Series Ta 152

The Ta 152 took its name as a tribute to Focke-Wulf's engineer Kurtz Tank. Of the three models proposed - Ta 152B of mid-altitude fighter, Ta 152C of heavy fighter and Ta 152H of high-altitude fighter -, only the latter one reached production. Intended for operating in an unusually high altitude and be very fast, the Ta 152H was equipped with pressurized cockpit, enlarged wingspan and overpower systems MW 50 and GM 1 that allowed the in-line engine Jumo 213E to develop up to 2050 horsepower. The Ta 152H was based in the Fw 190C, but since this one was never produced, it is usually stated that it was based in the Fw 190D. The preseries version Ta 152H-0 and the series version Ta 152H-1 were similar, but the latter had increased fuel capacity, overpower systems and equipment for blind flight in the largest part of the exemplars (Ta 152H-1/R11), while only one Ta 152H-0/R11 existed. Total production of the series H reached at least 215 exemplars.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 light fighter

Early and late members of the Fw 190 family: the Fw 190A-3 (above) in comparison with the Ta 152H-1.

Specifications for Ta 152H-1

Type: High-altitude fighter

Wingspan: 14.44 meters

Length: 10.71 meters

Height: 3.30 meters

Wing area: 23.30 square meters

Weight (empty): 3920 kilograms

Weight (maximum): 5220 kilograms

Engine: Junkers Jumo 213 E of 1750 horsepower

Initial rate of climb: 1050 meters/minute

Service ceiling: 14800 meters

Maximum speed at sea level: 535 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed at an altitude of 12500 meters: 760 kilometers/hour

Cruising speed: 500 kilometers/hour

Maximum operational range: 2000 kilometers

Armament: One MK 108 30-millimeter cannon firing through the propeller axis and two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons in the wings





Article updated: 2015-07-06

Categories: Aircraft - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]

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Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2014-09-18


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