Focke-Wulf Fw 189

The Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu ("Eagle Owl") was a German twin-engine, twin-boom, three-seat tactical reconnaissance and army cooperation aircraft. It first flew in 1938 (Fw 189 V1), entered service in 1940 and was produced until mid-1944. It should not be confused with the Heinkel He 219 night fighter also named Uhu.

In addition, Focke-Wulf used this airframe in response to a tender request by the RLM for a dedicated ground attack airplane, and later submitted an armored version for trials. However, the Henschel Hs 129 was selected instead.

Focke-Wulf Fw 189
Class Aircraft
Type Reconnaissance
Manufacturer Focke-Wulf
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1938
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Bulgaria View
Germany 1941 1945 View
Hungary View
Romania View
Slovakia View
Norway View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Focke-Wulf 846 View

In 1937, the German Ministry of Aviation issued a specification for a short-range, three-seat reconnaissance aircraft with a good all-round view to support the German army in the field, replacing the Henschel Hs 126, which had just entered service. A power of about 850–900 hp (630–670 kW) was specified. The specification was issued to Arado and Focke-Wulf. Arado's design, the Ar 198, which was initially the preferred option, was a relatively conventional single-engined high-wing monoplane with a glazed gondola under the fuselage. Focke-Wulf's chief designer Kurt Tank's design, the Fw 189, was a twin-boom design, powered by two Argus As 410 engines rather than the expected single engine and a central crew gondola designed with a heavily glazed and framed "stepless" cockpit forward section, which used no separate windscreen panels for the pilot (as with many German medium bombers), while Blohm & Voss proposed as a private venture something even more radical: chief designer Dr. Richard Vogt's unique asymmetric BV 141. Orders were placed for three prototypes each of the Arado and Focke-Wulf designs in April 1937.

The Fw 189 was produced in large numbers, at the Focke-Wulf factory in Bremen, at the Bordeaux-Merignac aircraft factory (now the Dassault Mirage plant) in occupied France, then in the Aero Vodochody aircraft factory in Prague, occupied Czechoslovakia. Total production was 864 aircraft of all variants.

Variants

The main production model was the Fw 189A reconnaissance plane, built mostly in two variants, the A-1 and A-2. Unless otherwise stated all aircraft were powered by two Argus As 410 engines of 465 PS (459 hp, 342 kW).

  •     Fw 189 A-0: 10 pre-production aircraft for operational tests and trials.
  •     Fw 189 A-1: Initial production version, armed with two flexible 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns in the dorsal and rear positions, one 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 17 machine gun in each wing root, plus four 50 kg (110 lb) bombs. It could carry an Rb 20/30 or an Rb 50/30.
  •     Fw 189 A-1 trop: Tropicalised version of the Fw 189 A-1, fitted with air intake filters and survival equipment. Conversion from A-1s.
  •     Fw 189 A-1/U2: VIP transport version of the Fw 189 A-1.
  •     Fw 189 A-1/U3: VIP transport version of the Fw 189 A-1.
  •     Fw 189 A-2: The flexible MG 15s were replaced by twin-barrel 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 81Z.
  •     Fw 189 A-3: Tropicalised production version of the Fw 189 A-2, fitted with air intake filters and survival equipment.
  •     Fw 189 A-4: Light ground-attack version, armed with two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons in each wing root, fitted with armour protection for the underside of the fuselage, engines and fuel tanks. No production known.

The Fw 189B was a five-seat training aircraft; only 13 were built.

  •     Fw 189 B-0: Three pre-production aircraft.
  •     Fw 189 B-1: Five-seat training version. 10 built.

The Fw 189C was conceived as a heavily armoured ground-attack, close-support variant, in competition with the Henschel Hs 129. But its two prototypes (V1b and V6) were not satisfactory, and it was not produced.

  •     Fw 189D: Proposed twin-float trainer floatplane. Not built.
  •     Fw 189E: Prototype only, powered by two 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW) Gnome-Rhone 14M radial engines.
  •     Fw 189 F-1: Re-engined Fw 189 A-1 aircraft, powered by two 600 PS (592 hp, 441 kW) Argus As 411 engines.
  •     Fw 189 F-2: Fitted with electrically-operated landing gear, increased fuel capacity and additional armour plating, powered by two 600 PS (592 hp, 441 kW) Argus As 411 engines.


Called the "Flying Eye" of the German army, the Fw 189 was used extensively on the Eastern Front with great success. Its Soviet nickname (in both Ukrainian and Russian) was "Rama" (Frame), referring to its distinctive tail boom and stabilizer shapes giving it the characteristic quadrangular appearance. Despite its low speed and fragile looks, the Fw 189's manoeuvrability made it a difficult target for attacking Soviet fighters. When attacked, the Fw 189 was often able to out-turn attacking fighters by simply flying in a tight circle into which enemy fighters could not follow.


Role Tactical Reconnaissance and Army Cooperation Aircraft, Light Bomber
Manufacturer Focke-Wulf
Designer Kurt Tank
First flight July 1938
Introduction August 1941
Retired 1945
Primary users Luftwaffe
Hungarian Air Force
Slovak Air Force
Produced 1940–44
Number built 864


General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 18.4 m (60 ft 4 in)
  • Height: 3.7 m (12 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 38 m (409 ft)
  • Empty weight: 2,680 kg (5,920 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 3,950 kg (8,708 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Argus As 410, 350 kW (465 hp) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 357 km/h at 2,600 m (222 mph at 8,530 ft)
  • Range: 670 km (416 miles)
  • Service ceiling 8,400 m (27,550 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 8.3 m/s (1,640 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 103.9 kg/m (21.3 lb/ft)
  • Power/mass: 177 W/kg (0.107 hp/lb)

Armament

  • 2 x 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns mounted in the wing roots, firing forward
  • 1 x 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun in dorsal position, flexible mount, firing rearwards
  • 1 x 7.92 mm MG 15 in rear cone, flexible mount, firing rearwards (optional)
    • In later versions MG 15 were replaced with 7.92 mm MG 81Z twin-barrel machine gun
  • 4 x 50 kg (110 lb) bombs

End notes