The Focke Wulf Fw 190 or "Wurger" was built as an interceptor fighter to complement the already successful Messerschmitt Bf 109.
The first production model of the series was the Focke Wulf Fw 190A-1. It had an air-cooled BMW 801C-1 Engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 655 km/h. The armament of the Focke Wulf A-1 consisted of four 7.92mm MG 17s and two 20mm MG FF (20mm) autocannons.
The Focke Wulf also had a service ceiling of about 10,600 meters and a maximum range of about 804 kilometers. It also featured a wingspan of 10.4 meters and a total length of 8.8 meters. The total combat weight of the Fw 190 was about 3,978 kg and the landing gear were retractable.
The cockpit was very similar to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and it even sported a primitive computer that could automatically set propeller pitch and the air-to-fuel mix in the engine. The Fw 190 however was easier to fly due to simpler controls and it had a larger cockpit for the pilot.
|“||In 1942, I flew my first Fw 190; I was thrilled with this machine. During the war I flew the Fw 190A, F and G models, and also the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The difference between the Fw 190 and the Bf 109 was that there was more room in the Focke-Wulf's cockpit and the controls were simpler; for example, landing flaps and trim were electric.||”|
- Fritz Seyffardt, a Luftwaffe lieutenant, talking about the Focke Wulf 190
The first variant of the Fw 190 series was Fw 190A-2 which was fitted with a brand new BMW 801C-2 Engine and two additional 20mm autocannons that were mounted in the wings. The new armament consisted of two 7.7mm MGs and four 20mm autocannons. The A-2 was soon followed by the A-3 which also featured a new engine, this time it was the BMW 801D-2 Engine and in addition to this, it also featured a bomb rack. The next variant, the A-4, had better radio equipment installed, but was fundamentally the same as the A-3.
One of the few special modifications made to some A-4s was the ability to carry several Werfer-Granate 21 rockets under its wings. The A-4 had five sub-variants that were not modified from the original model significantly. The A-4/U1 had a bomb rack, the U-3 was a night fighter, the U-4 was a reconnaissance plane, U7 was a high altitude variant, and the U-8 had the capability to have a drop tank along with bombs. The A-5 had several new improvements such as a longer nose that helped to restore its center of gravity and had some new radios. Like the A-4 it had the ability to carry rockets under its wings.
The A-5 model was successful enough that it even had its own line of mission-specific sub-variants that could perform an assortment of tasks. The first was the Fw 190A-5/U2 which only had two 20mm auto cannons and was a nightfighter. The A-5/U3 and A-5/U8 were also nightfighters. They both featured the ability to carry drop tanks and bombs along with having an armament of only two 20mm auto cannons. The U4 was simply fitted with cameras for reconnaissance duty while the U12 was a bomber interceptor fitted with two MGs and six 20mm autocannons.
The next major variants in the A series were the A-6, A-7, A-8, and A-9 variants. The A-6 featured an additional two 20mm cannons for a total armament of four cannons and two MGs and had a modified wing design for better aerodynamics. The A-7 model had a new BMW 801D-2 Engine and two 13mm cannons that replaced the original 7.92mm MG 17s. The A-8 had better armor protection and a larger fuel supply. The final A series variant was the A-9 model which did not see any service. It had armored wings to ram Allied bombers and a BMW 801TS Turbo Charged Engine.
Following the full development of the A series, problems were encountered and so the B and C series began development to counter these problems. The B and C series were only experimental, but they had pressurized cabins so that they could operate at high altitudes. The D series got much closer to fixing these problems until the next operational variant went into service, the D-9. The D-9 had a Junkers Jumo 213 Engine and a lengthened nose. D-11, D-12, and D-13 were all very similar in that they all featured ramped up weaponry. The D-11 was a prototype model that featured two 30mm auto cannons mounted in the wings to the already existing 20mm armament. The D-12 had an additional 30mm auto cannon mounted in its nose plate and the D-13 had an additional 20mm auto cannon mounted in its nose plate.
The next variant series of the Focke Wulf Fw 190 was the F series and the first model in this series was the Fw 190F-1. This variant was a ground-attack version and it had the capability to carry bombs. It also had increased under-armor, most likely to prevent too much damage from ground units while attacking. The F-2 was based on the Fw 190A-5/U3 model while the F-3 had two 30mm auto cannons mounted under its wings. The final major variant in the F series was the F-8 which had newer radio equipment, a modified compressor for additional speed, and an armament of two 20mm cannons and two 7.92mm MGs.
The F-8 had several sub-variants that were modified to carry torpedoes. They were designated the F-8/U2 and F-8/U3. The final variant series was the G series and the first model of the G series was the G-1. The G series was meant to serve as a long-range fighter and was produced in large numbers. The G-1 model was based on the A-4/U8 and the G-2 was based on the A-5/U8. The G-3 was based on the A-6 model and the G-4 was based on the A-8 model. The only other variants in the Fw 190 series were several fighters that were modified to be trainer aircraft.
The Focke Wulf Fw 190's development began in 1937, with the first prototype flying in 1939. It was an all-metal airplane with a stressed all-duraluminum metal skin. Instead of using the Daimler-Benz DB601 in-line engine used in the Bf 109, Focke-Wulf's technical director, Kurt Tank, chose the BMW type 13918-cylinder radial engine, at that time in the development stage. It was also given a wider undercarriage giving the plane better stability during take-off. Three prototypes were built, the first flying on June 1, 1939.
The Focke Wulf Fw 190 first entered service in 1941 with some German Luftwaffe units on the Western Front. At first it wasn't as effective as first thought, but after the increase in firepower was implemented, the Fw 190 was more than a match for the British Spitfires. It was later adopted by more and more units until it began its service on the Eastern Front. In terms of combat effectiveness, the nickname "butcher bird" alone proves its impact. The Focke Wulf immediately scored many aerial kills and over time its reputation grew. It was at prime effectiveness when operating at low and medium altitudes. The Fw 190 was used throughout the war and on every front that German troops were involved in. The Focke Wulf Fw 190 is often considered equal or better in performance to the P-51 Mustang in most respects. The Fw 190 took on many roles such as ground attack missions, fighter missions, and bomber interception. In 1944, American and British bombing raids had become increasingly frequent and to combat this, Fw 190 pilots had developed a special tactic that would overwhelm the rear gunners. A line of Fw 190s would form up behind the formation and open fire all at once, making it hard for the gunners to pick an individual plane.
Focke Wulf Fw 190 - Other Users
In the middle of 1942 the RLM issued an export order for FW 190s to be sent to Turkey. Turkey received 72 FW 190 Aa-3 (a for auslandisch - foreign) aircraft between October 1942 and March 1943. The first FW 190 Aa-3 was built in August 1942. The FW 190 Aa-3 received its own Werk Nummer block, 0134 101 - 0134 172 (although it is not known if W.Nr 110, 123, 146 and 148 were handed over). These aircraft were basically FW 190 A-3s, with BMW 801 D-2 engines, and FuG VIIa radios. However, they did not have FuG 25 radios, and had an armament fit of four MG 17s, with the option of installing two MG FF/M cannon in the outer wing position.
The Turkish FW 190s served as fighters during their time in service, and left the Turkish Air Force in 1948 and 1949. Basic camouflage scheme for these aircraft was RLM 70/71, with RLM 65 undersides. There is speculation that RLM 76 or RLM 02 light mottling was used on the tail and fuselage sides of FW 190 Aa-3s. Other sources state that RLM 74/75/76 was the standard camouflage scheme for the FW 190Aa-3. Around 1945, some of these aircraft were painted in overall dark green. Four Turkish squadrons flew the FW 190 Aa-3, including the 5th Regiment's 3rd and 5th Squadrons. The four Squadrons were nicknamed Akbas (Whitehead), Sarýbas (Blondehead), Albas (Redhead) and Karabas (Blackhead), with their propeller spinners matching colours with their nicknames.
In the immediate post-war period, the French Armee de l'Air operated FW 190 fighters (French designation NC.900). 65 FW 190s were built in 1945 and 1946 by the Société Nationale de Construction Aéronautiques du Centre (S.N.C.A.C) at Cravant. Between 600 and 900 people worked at Cravant, and the facility was also known as camp 918. Cravant had been a Luftwaffe repair facility, and 127 FW 190 fuselages and 162 wings of FW 190 A-4s, A-5s, and A-8s were captured there by the Allies in October 1944. About 100 BMW 801s were found at Dordogne, and the French planned to assemble 125, under the designation AACr-6, or NC.900. The first NC.900 was flown on 1 March 1945, but there were many problems with the new aircraft. Sabotaged airframe parts and the use of hastily recycled metals meant many aircraft were of poor quality. Armee de l'Air FW 190s only saw service for a few years, before more modern fighters were acquired. The principal operator of the NC.900 was GC 111/5 Normandie Niemen, which received just fourteen NC.900s. They flew with the unit for 18 months. A majority of the remaining 51 NC.900s were used by the CEV (centre d'essais en vol) at Brétigny. The final flight by a French NC.900 was on 22 June 1949.
Hungary operated around 70 FW 190 F-8s during the late-war period. These aircraft served with the 102. Vadászbombázó. The first 16 FW 190 F-8s were delivered on 8 November 1944, and the unit entered combat on 16 November, under the command of Captain Gyözö Lévay. The unit would successfully operate the type until the final days of the war.
The Aeronautica Regal Romana captured 22 FW 190s in August 1944 during the anti-Axis rebellion. Some of the aircraft were probably from III./S.G.10, based at Focsani-Süd (note a painted over III.Gruppe bar in a photo of one of these Rumanian FW 190 F-8s). These aircraft received the yellow, blue and red Rumanian markings. Nine of the FW 190s were made serviceable, but were then confiscated by the Russians.
The Rumanians had declared war on Germany on 25 August 1944, and had captured some German FW 190s. Early on the next morning, one of the new Rumanian FW 190s was actually claimed destroyed by Uffz. Schatermann of the 3./Transportgeschwader 5, about 40 km north-west of Bucharest. This was possibly the only case of the Luftwaffe claiming an enemy FW 190 destroyed during World War II.
A single FW 190 A-5 was supplied to Japan for evaluation in 1943. Although the type was not put into production by the Japanese, it received the Allied code-name 'Fred'.
An FW 190 was probably used in the immediate aftermath of World War II to train ground-crew of the Polish People's Air Force at Miroslawiec airfield. Polish red-white checkerboards were applied in place of German markings.
A number of Focke-Wulf 190s were captured by the Soviets
- Lüdeke, Alexander. Weapons of World War II. Parragon Books Ltd. (2007), Page 193
- Rodeike, Focke-Wulf Jagdflugzeug - Fw 190A, Fw 190 "Dora", Ta 152H, p.58; Ozgur, Emails 2001
- NA AIR 40/1887; Lowe, Email 3 July 2002; Filley, FW 190A, F, and G in Action, p.32; CJE, 'NC.900', posted on Luftwaffe Discussion Group; J. Gasset, Email 9 August 2004
- Punka, Hungarian Air Force, p.17
- Lalak, Sojusznicy Luftwaffe via F. Grabowski; Filley, FW 190A, F, and G in Action, p.49; Film C.2025/I
- Filley, FW 190A, F, and G in Action, Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, 1999. p.16