Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8 in Detail
This was the finest warplane to which Germany gave birth.
Evolved basically as an alternative to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, it may never have been allowed by the Reich officialdom had it not been for the choice of a non-strategic (yet controversial) radial engine.
It's prototype first flew on June 1,1939 and production deliveries began in late 1940. As is widely known, it suffered an extended period of teething troubles: engines catched fire, hydraulic systems leaked, propellers failed, exhaust gases poisoned the pilots, cowlings flew off at high speeds, canopies jammed in emergency... in fact it was so troublesome that the entire development programme almost got cancelled with the pre-production series.
But after a multitude of changes, production was approved just in time for it to enter aerial combat over the Channel in the summer of 1941. There, it immediately made the Spitfire Mk. V obsolete, causing the Fighter Command's so hardly gained self-confidence to plummet down to new lows.
The rest, as they say, is history.
For four consecutive years it kept even or ahead of Allied fighters through successive versions, always retaining its sparkling flying qualities combined with superior armament and legendary ruggedness.
It also excelled in the ground attack role, replacing several other aircraft types in the process, including the Ju 87 Stuka.
It stood for about 40% of German single seat fighter production, but unlike the Bf 109, remained highly competitive until the very end of the conflict.
This remarkable product of the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau profoundly influenced fighter thinking in other countries. In Britain, it is directly responsible for the specification F.2/43 to which was designed the Hawker Fury, and F.19/43 which produced the Folland Fo.118 fighter project, also owing much to the German design. In Soviet Union, the highly successful Lavochkin La-5/La-7 line of fighters bear the same resemblance.
Today, I guess it ranks among the top three aircraft modelling subjects of all time. It deserved it.
I've been to this subject before (see Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8 in Detail from October 1997 - Ed.), now it is time for a more thorough inspection of this fabulous machine. The photos presented here are all-new.
If you want to see a real Fw 190A in Europe, London is the best place to visit. London offers the opportunity to view two complete (and original) Fw 190 airframes. Imperial War Museum has a Fw 190A-8/R6, Werknummer 733 682. This aircraft was which "pure" fighter. It's initial operational career is not documented, but what we know is that it was later assigned to IV./KG200 where it flew as a top component of a Mistel S-3B (with Junkers Ju 88H-1). Captured in Germany towards the very end of the war, it was brought to England in November 1945.
The RAF Museum in Hendon has a Fw 190 S-8 Werknummer 584 219. Built by Arado in Warnemünde, it started its operational career as a single-seat Fw 190 F-8/U1. After being withdrawn from combat service, it was rebuilt to two-seater trainer and served with Jagdfliegerschule 103. It was captured in Schleswig-Holstein by the British in May 1945, and brought to Britain in September 1945.
Additionally, London's Science Museum has a nicely exposed BMW 801 engine and cowling in its huge collection of aero engines.
These two aircraft are examined in the photo sections below.