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Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 in Detail (Revisited)

Part 1 - Fuselage and Cockpit

n Text and photos by Martin Waligorski



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So here she is again. Suspended from the ceiling of the Imperial War Museum's main hall, this Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 is one of the very few preserved complete aircraft of the type in the world. She hangs there in the worthy company of her great adversaries, the Spitfire and the Mustang.

This machine is officially recorded as Fw 190A-8/R6, but as we will see, there are one or two interesting discrepancies from what is regarded as A-8 "standard" in the literature.

The aircraft, Werknummer 733682 was captured in Germany towards the very end of the war and brought to England in November 1945 for test and evaluation. It was housed at various RAF stations before arriving at the museum in 1967. While in Germany, it allegedly flew with II KG/200 and was the top component in a Mistel S-3B (Ju 88H-1).
 

 




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All gun armament has been removed from this machine, of which the A-8 carried a respectable array: four 20 mm guns in the wings, two13mm calibre guns in the fuselage plus two underwing rocket tubes. Only the extra fuel tank/bomb rack remains.
 

 


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Cockpit hood with a hinged "seam" on top serving as a hinge while opening the canopy.

The canopy sliding mechanism  of  this aircraft was quite unique in that the rails were not parallel so that the canopy had to "fall together" when moving back. Focke-Wulf did that by  making the forward portion of the canopy flexible (from the frame to the armour headrest) so that it could bend itself to a narrower  shape when moved back. To release the inevitable tension in the plastic transparency, a hinge was provided at its top.

Consequently, the hood in slid-back position would be markedly higher in profile but narrower in plan view than the same hood when closed - bad news for those modellers who would like to model an open canopy on a Fw 190 by simply repositioning a kit part...
  

 


The seat in this aircraft is original, and so appear to be the seat belts. The cockpit lacks a gun sight, its aperture being visible just behind the angled windscreen frame.

Behind the pilot there is a hatch providing access to the luggage compartment.
 

 




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Armoured headrest. The braced-style armour plate like this one was retained from A-4 to A-8 production models.
 

 

View alongside the spine towards the tail. A designed-in feature of  the earliest variants of the Fw 190 was the dead straight top contour of the moveable part of the canopy, from top of the frame to its rear end.  As a result of pilots' requests for more headroom during the early service of the aircraft, the transparent part was subtly enlarged, albeit it is today still referred to as "straight" canopy. It can be seen in this view that the top outline of the canopy has become more sophisticated, deviating from the original straight line.
 

 




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The thickness of the glass of the armoured windscreen (50 mm) can be actually clearly seen from some angles.

The hinge at its bottom edge belongs to the gun compartment cover, which opened upwards and rearwards.
 

 




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The tight fit of the rolling canopy contrasts with a rather loose fit of the cowling panels.
 

 

Extra access panel and fuel tank in line with the cockpit . The access panel in this position was peculiar to A-8 model.
 

 




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The MW50 installation itself required a sizeable methanol tank, for which the Focke-Wulf engineers found a place in the fuselage behind the cockpit, in line with the radio hatch. The installation could be accessed from below through a semi-circular cover shown here. This panel is a distinctive feature of MW50-equipped A-8 and later variants as compared to non-boosted A-1 through A-7.

A curiosity is that the MW 50-compatible engine was available already with the A-4 model but the installation itself hadn't been available until the A-8.

Other details worth noting in this view are: the footstep below the port wing root fairing and the flare dispenser on the fuselage centreline.
 

 




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Sometimes a close inspection of an aircraft can tell a lot about its development history, and so even in this case. The nose of the Fw 190 has been stretched some 5 inches with the A-5 model, to remedy a growing CG problem caused by heavier wing armament and equipment in the fuselage making the aircraft tail-heavy.

It is evident in this view just how much length has been added. The curved cutout in the cowling's rear edge was originally designed to accommodate the wing root fairing. Although the fuselage was stretched, the cowling parts remained unchanged, resulting in a gap shown.
 
 

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