The Focke Wulf Fw 189 Uhu was a reconnaissance aircraft that served under Germany during World War II.

Description

The Fw 189 had two Argus As 410 engines that were capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 355 kilometers per hour. While the operational range was fairly limited for a recon aircraft at 670 kilometers, the Fw 189 was still effective in its chosen role.[2] For personal defense, the Fw 189 was fitted with two 7.92mm machine guns in its wing roots, two 7.92mm machine guns in its dorsal position, and two 7.92mm machine guns in its tail turret. For ground attack, the Fw 189 could also be equipped with four 50 kilogram bombs.[3]

The total weight of the Fw 189 was about 2,600 kilograms while its total length was twelve meters. The aircraft's wing span meanwhile measured 18.3 meters. The service ceiling of the Fw 189 was 8,400 meters and its rate of climb was 8.3 m/s. Perhaps the most notable feature of the Fw 189 was its twin boom design, with a largely glass center cockpit and turret section. Piloting the aircraft were three crew members, a single pilot and two gunners. However, one of the gunners could also serve as an engineer or observer.[4] While the glass made the crew vulnerable to bullet fire, the visibility provided was excellent. 

The Fw 189 was very reliable in the field, with its tough undercarriage allowing it to withstand the pressures of using makeshift airfields.[5] The wings and underside of the aircraft were also well armored and of sturdy construction. While the Fw 189 was not particularly fast, it did have exceedingly good maneuverability and thusly could evade many of the fighters that it encountered.

Variants

The first variant of the Fw 189 was the A-1/trop model which was a special conversion of A-1 designed for use in North Africa. Like various other German aircraft modified for tropical use, it had filters over its air intakes to prevent dirt clogging its engines. The A-2 model which upgraded all of the defensive machine guns to much faster firing MG 81s came just after. The A-3, B-0, and B-1 were all trainer aircraft, with the latter two aircraft being five-seat trainers. The A-4 was a ground-attack conversion, fitted with two 20mm autocannons placed in its wing roots. Furthermore, the A-4 was given added armor protection to its engines, underside, and fuel tanks. The final two variants, the F series, were built in very small numbers, seventeen total. Both examples had Argus As 411 engines while the F-2 used electronically activated landing gear and had expanded fuel tanks. 

History

The Fw 189 was first developed in 1937 by Focke Wulf designer Kurt Tank as a result of the German Air Ministry's request for a short-range reconnaissance aircraft with good visisbility. The first prototype flew in 1938 and was nicknamed the "Uhu" or "Eagle Owl". Entering service with the Luftwaffe in late 1940, the Fw 189 saw a long service life, particularly on the Eastern Front. Among the other users of the Fw 189 on the Eastern Front were Slovakia and Hungary. In total, some 860 examples of Fw 189 were created during the war. 

Notes

  1. Some examples with NJG 100 had the dorsal machine guns replaced with a single 15 mm MG 151, in a schrage Musik instalation, for night fighter work.[1]

References

  1. Brown, Eric Melrose. Wings of the Luftwaffe. The Crowood Press Ltd - New edition (14 Feb 1998). ISBN 1853104132. Page 113
  2. http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=472
  3. http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/fw189-specifications.html
  4. Lüdeke, Alexander. Weapons of World War II. Parragon Books (2007), Page 208
  5. http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/aircraft/reconnaissance/focke-wulf-fw-189-uhu-reconnaissance.asp


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.