Focke-Wulf Fw 190

From Academic Kids

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Focke-Wulf Fw 190A in flight.

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was a single-seater, single-engine fighter aircraft of the Luftwaffe. Used extensively during WW II from 1941 over 20,000 were manufactured including around 6,000 fighter-bomber models.

Designed around the radial air-cooled 18-cylinder BMW 139 engine, the Fw 190 was quite a different aircraft from the Me 109. It was ordered by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium in 1937 as an addition to the Me 109. Design work began around two different engines, the BMW 801 and the liquid-cooled DB 601, although common thinking supported the 'stream-lined' vee-engine design, Ernst Udet supported the radial engine. This was despite reliability problems with the early engines including a tendency to overheat, high cockpit temperatures (exceeding 55 C) and the leakage of exhaust gas into the cockpit. The BMW 139 finally was canceled, and the Fw 190 employed the 14 cylinder BMW 801 instead.

The armament of the A-1 series consisted of two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns mounted in the upper engine cowling, one MG 17 at each wing root and a MG FF/M 20 mm cannon in each wing. The A-2 series had the wingroot MG 17's changed to 20 mm MG151/20E cannon, retaining the other weapons. The A-6 Series replaced the outer MG FF/M guns as well for the more powerful MG151/20E, and the A-7 had the cowling mounted MG 17s replaced by the more powerful 13 mm MG 131 machine gun. The A-7, A-8, and A-9 had the option of fitting the very powerful 30 mm MK 108 cannon instead of the wingmounted MG 151/20E. These heavier weapons were more suited to combat bombers. One version of the A-8, the A-8/R8 was specially developed for this task and was given extra armor to protect against the defensive guns carried by bombers.

The first prototype was flown on June 1, 1939 and soon proved to have good qualities for such a comparatively small craft including excellent handling, good visibility and promising speed (initially around 610 km/h). Its wide landing gear made it a more versatile aircraft than the Bf 109 and a safer one. Examples were delivered to front-line squadrons in late 1940 but the aircraft did not reach combat units in any numbers until August and September 1941. Oddly the Allies were entirely unaware of the new fighter and initial reports were dismissed as "Curtiss P-36 Mohawks captured from the French"; they were soon disabused of this idea and when the British acquired an intact Fw 190A-3 in 1942 (when Luftwaffe pilot Armin Faber landed on a British airfield by mistake) they were quick to raid the aircraft for its technical secrets.

With the introduction of the North American P-51 in late 1943 and early 1944, the USAAF fighter units were gaining a distinct advantage over the Fw 190 in terms of speed. After high-altitude experiments in 1942 with new engines the long-nosed Fw 190D-9 (Dora-Neun or Langnase) variant was fitted with the new liquid-cooled 1,750 hp (1,287 kW) Jumo 213A in 1944, with MW50 injection the engine could produce 2,100 hp (1,544 kW) of emergency power. As it was used in the anti-fighter role, armament in the 'D' was generally lightened compared to that of the earlier aircraft - usually, the wing cannon were dropped so that the armamement consisted of 2 x 13 mm MG 131 and 2 x 20 mm MG151/20E wingroot cannon. However, the Dora still featured the same wing as the A-8 and, as demonstrated by the D-11 and D-13 variants, was capable of carrying wing cannons as well.

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Focke-Wulf Fw 190F variant. Note bomb rack under belly.

While virtually all variants could carry bombs, the dedicated fighter-bomber variants were the Fw 190F and Fw 190G. Wing armament was sacrificed for two hardpoints and a third was added under the belly. Extra armor was added to F-models. The initial bomb load was around 500 kg (A-4), but this was soon increased to 1000 kg (A-5) and a 1800 kg bomb could be carried at short distances. These aircraft had a loaded weight almost four times higher than the 1941 aircraft.

After the 'D' later variants of the 190 were named 'Ta' in honour of Focke-Wulf designer Kurt Tank. The most promising design was the Ta 152H; it used the liquid-cooled Jumo 213E engine and a greater wing area for better high altitude performance. It was capable of speeds in excess of 700 km/h and had a service ceiling of around 15,000 m. Armed with a single 30 mm cannon and two MG 151/20E guns it was highly successful. But manufacturing problems, materials shortages and the disruption towards the end of the war resulted in very few Ta 152s being built, no more than 150 in total. Effort was also diverted into further prototype work, the lower altitude Ta 152C with a DB 603L engine and five cannon.

Most Fw 190D and Ta 152H served as fighter cover for Me 262 airfields as the jet fighters had been very vulnerable on Take-Off and landing operations.

Fw 190A's were also to control the unmanned Ju88 Mistel bomb carriers during the last days of the European WWII.

During the war, Germany sent one Fw 190A-8 to Japan for technical evaluation.

General characteristics (Fw 190A-8)

(view detailed specifications)

  • Wingspan: 10.51 m (34 ft 5 in)
  • Length: 9.00 m (29 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in)
  • Weight: 3,200 kg (7,060 lb) empty, 4,900 kg (10,800 lb) gross
  • Engine: BMW 801D-2, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp), 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) with boost
  • Maximum speed: 656 km/h (408 mph) @ 4,800 m (15,750 ft), 685 km/h with boost
  • Service ceiling: 11,410 m (37,430 ft)
  • Armament: 2 x 13 mm MG 131 machine guns, 4 x 20 mm MG151/20E cannons

External links


Related content

Related Development: Focke-Wulf Ta 152

Comparable aircraft: Hawker Tempest - Hawker Sea Fury - F8F Bearcat

Designation sequence: Ju 187 - Ju 188 - Fw 189 - Fw 190 - Fw 191 - Ao 192 - FS 193

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