Focke-Wulf Fw 190

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Wuerger (Shrike) was a single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft of Germany's Luftwaffe. Used extensively during the Second World War, over 20,000 were manufactured, including around 6,000 fighter-bomber models. Production ran from 1941 to the end of hostilities, during which time the aircraft was continually updated. Its later versions retained qualitative parity with Allied fighter aircraft, but Germany was not able to produce the aircraft in enough numbers to affect the outcome of the war. 

The Fw 190 was well-liked by its pilots, and was quickly proven to be superior to the RAF's main front line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V, on its combat debut in 1941. The Fw 190 was employed in and proved suitable for a wide variety of roles, including air superiority fighter, ground attack, fighter-bomber, long-range bomber escort, and night fighter.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Focke-Wulf
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1939
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Focke-Wulf 20000 View

Between 1934 and 1935 the German Ministry of Aviation (RLM) ran a contest to produce a modern fighter for the rearming Luftwaffe. Kurt Tank entered the parasol-winged Fw 159 into the contest, against the Arado Ar 80, Heinkel He 112 and Messerschmitt Bf 109. The Fw 159 was hopelessly outclassed, and was soon eliminated from the competition along with the Ar 80. The He 112 and Bf 109 were generally similar in design but the 109's lightweight construction gave it performance edge the 112 was never able to match. On 12 March 1936 the 109 was declared the winner.

Even before the 109 had entered squadron service, in autumn 1937 the RLM sent out a new tender asking various designers for a new fighter to fight alongside the Bf 109. Although the Bf 109 was an extremely competitive fighter, the Ministry was worried that future foreign designs might outclass it, and wanted to have new aircraft under development to meet these possible challenges. Kurt Tank responded with a number of designs, most based around a liquid-cooled inline engine.

However, it was not until a design was presented using the air-cooled, 14-cylinder BMW 139 radial engine that the Ministry of Aviation's interest was aroused. As this design used a radial engine, it would not compete with the inline-powered Bf 109 for engines, when there were already too few Daimler-Benz DB 601s to go around. This was not the case for competing designs like the Heinkel He 100 or twin-engined Focke-Wulf Fw 187, where production would compete with the 109 and Messerschmitt Bf 110 for engine supplies. After the war, Tank denied a rumour that he had to "fight a battle" with the Ministry to convince them of the radial engine's merits.

The Fw 190 participated on every major combat front where the Luftwaffe operated after 1941, and did so with success in a variety of roles.

Luftwaffe pilots who flew both the Fw 190 and the Bf 109 generally felt that, with the exception of high altitude capability, the Fw 190 was superior.

Role Fighter
Manufacturer Primarily Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG, but also AGO, Arado, Fieseler, Mimetall, Norddeutsche Dornier and others
Designer Kurt Tank
First flight 1 June 1939
Introduction August 1941
Retired 1945 (Luftwaffe); 1949 (Turkey)
Primary users Luftwaffe
Hungarian Air Force
Turkish Air Force
Produced 1941–45; 1996: 16 reproductions
Number built Over 20,000
Variants Ta 152


General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 9.00 m (29 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.51 m (34 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in)
  • Wing area: 18,30 m (196.99 ft)
  • Empty weight: 3,200 kg (7,060 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 4,417 kg (9,735 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,900 kg (10,800 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 x BMW 801 D-2 radial engine, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp); 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) with boost

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 656 km/h at 4,800 m, 685 km/h with boost (383 mph at 19,420ft (5,920m), 408mph (657km/h) with boost)
  • Range: 800 km (500 miles)
  • Service ceiling 11,410 m (37,430 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 13 m/s (2560 feet/min)
  • Wing loading: 241 kg/m (49.4 lb/ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.29 - 0.33 kW/kg (0.18 - 0.21 hp/lb)

Armament

  • 2 x 13 mm MG 131 machine guns with 475 rounds/gun
  • 4 x 20 mm MG 151/20 E cannons with 250 rounds/gun in the wing root and 140 rounds/gun outboard.

End notes