design of the Focke-Wulf 190 began in 1937 as a backup to the
Messerschmitt 109 that had been selected as the standard German fighter.
The design concept was entirely different and featured an air-cooled BMW
radial engine and a wide-track, inward-retracting landing gear. The
first flight of the Fw 190V-1 prototype was on June 1, 1939, but
production models weren't in combat until September 1941.
As a fighter, the Fw 190A outperformed the older British Spitfire V's
that had surpassed the contemporary 109s. The Spitfire didn't catch up
to the Fw 190A until the July 1942 appearance of the Spitfire IX.
Although it was designed as a fighter, the Fw 190 was readily adaptable
to many other missions. It reached the -10 variant, with many
subvariants that carried special equipment for specialized missions.
These included aerial cameras for reconnaissance, batteries of up to six
30mm cannon for use against tanks and naval torpedoes for attacks
against ships. There were even two-seat trainer versions.
The Focke Wulf FW190 is a legendary German aircraft of the second world
war which proved to be a deadly foe to Soviet, British and American
airforces. When it was first introduced into operation in the autumn of
1941, this aircraft could out-run, out-climb, and out-dive the best
fighter the Royal Airforce had - the Spitfire V.
There were many versions of this aircraft, but its most successful role
was that of a fighter. It was also used for ground attack however and in
fact, was the only reliable light attack bomber that the Germans had in
The basic layout of the Focke Wulf 190 was entirely conventional, being
a monoplane with a nosemounted engine driving a tractor airscrew. The
mainplane was fully cantilever and was fitted with split flaps of metal
construction. These were operated by means of three electric push
buttons situated in the cockpit. A low wing gave adequate housing for
the retractable undercarriage which meant that the legs could be kept
short, optimising pilot vision. This was further enhanced with a large
frameless bubble canopy, which when first introduced, was quite an
The A-8 version was powered by the BMW 801D-2 engine, which was a very
rugged air cooled radial. There were fittings under the fuselage to
enable it to carry bombs or a jettisonable fuel tank of 300 litres
In the cockpit 80 levers, slide controls, dials and buttons were divided
into two instrument panels and three consoles. Amongst the apparatus on
board, was the RM 16B sighting mechanism which permitted precise weapons
aiming to a range of 900 meters. It could also be used with a night
filter (fig.5.). In the rear section of the fuselage was found the FuG
25a radio installation which also served to identify friend and foe.
No less than nine model designations were assigned to the Fw 190A-8,
most of these being based on varying armament configurations.
1942 and 1943, twin-engine German bombers had difficulty in reaching
targets in England, so some Fw 190A-5s were fitted with bomb racks
and auxiliary fuel tanks. Normal bomb load was one 500kg (1,100
pound) bomb under the fuselage and two 250kg (550 pound) bombs under
the wings, but some could carry a single 1,000kg (2,200 pound) bomb.
This was so close to the ground that the lower fin of the bomb had
to be clipped for the plane to take off. These long-range
fighter/bombers were very successful in penetrating British defenses
and completing effective raids.
By June 1944 the German airforce was significantly weakened. When
the Allied invasion of France began on 6th June 1944, the German
fighter forces were in no way prepared.
The allies had mastery of the skies. It has been estimated that they
could muster 4,190 fighters to meet a total 425 Luftwaffe fighters,
of which only about 250 were serviceable on any one day. Thus at
this time only few German planes could manage to get off the ground
and attempt engagement with the Allied bombers and their escorts,
which were now flying over France daily. It is during this period
that a German plane crashed into the Loiret river, a tributary of
the Loire, near a small settlement known as Port Arthur.
On the morning of 15th June 1944 at 0625 hrs, German fighters from
the II and III/JG 26 and the III/JG 54 squadrons, took off from
Guyancourt, situated a few kilometres south-west of Versailles, on a
mission of free chase. It occurred that the Commander of the JG 26
squadron was Oberstleutnant Joseph Priller, aged 26, who was
credited at that time with 99 kills (fig. 3.). Among them also was
Alfred Gunther of the II/JG 26, flying a Focke Wulf 190A-8.
Oberstleutnant "Pips" Priller, the Kommodore of the JG26...
...being helped from his aircraft during the battle for France
in the summer of 1944.
His aircraft being serviced by ground crew.
At 0650 hrs they were 100 kilometres south of Chartres. The German
pilots noticed a formation of 70 to 80 allied bombers flying at an
altitude of between 6,000 and 7,000 metres. They were identified as
being B17 Flying Fortresses and B24 Liberators, heavily escorted by
American fighters. These formed part of the 1,361 bombers that the
8th airforce had in the air that day. A little before 0710 hrs, a
B24 Liberator became the 100th victim of the ace 'Pips' Priller.
Some minutes later the B24 was observed falling south-west of
Chartres. Shortly after, the Luftwaffe fighters began their return,
passing over Chartres at 0735 hrs, from where they set course for
home, arriving at Guyancourt at 0840 hrs.
Oberfeldwebel Alfred Gunther, flying his Focke Wulf FW190-A8, failed
to return and although German planes returned to the area the
following day, his fate remained a mystery until recently. Locals of
the region always had stories of a German plane which crashed into
the river around that time, at a site known as 'Port Arthur'. It was
not until a team of divers from the 'Club Subaquatic Orleanaise'
discovered and salvaged a BMW 801D-2 engine and other associated
artefacts, that a positive identification could be made. The plane
was certainly that flown by Alfred Gunter. Most of these recovered
items were eventually entrusted to Groupe Valectra for stabilization
THE BMW 801 RADIAL ENGINE
The BMW 801 twin row radial engine formed the basis of the Focke
Wulf fw190 design. This engine has the reputation as being among
the better engine designs of WW2 regardless of limitations in
German supercharger technology which lead to some failings at
high altitude. It also powered many other Luftwaffe aircraft,
from the Arado Ar 232A to the Junkers Ju 390.
The Bayerische Motroen Werke (BMW) based in Munich, were
manufacturing Pratt and Whitney radials under license in the
1930's and used this experience to develop its own twin row
engine. Despite this, it can be considered an original design
incorporating fuel injection and other German features.
A remarkably compact installation, adequate cylinder cooling was
obtained using pressure baffling augmented by a magnesium alloy
fan geared to turn at 1.72 times engine RPM (3 times propeller
speed). An oil tank and cooler are positioned in the nose bowl
and are armour plated. The engine mount ring is a sealed unit of
square cross-section and also acts as a hydraulic fluid
reservoir. Additional streamlining was achieved by the
introduction of drag-inducing cowl flaps.
The BMW 801D-2 (fig.6.) was fed by methanol-water injection.
Most revolutionary however, was the Kommandogerat. This
hydraulicelectric 'brain' unit was operated by a single control
which was the pilot's throttle lever. It automatically adjusted
fuel flow, mixture strength, propeller pitch setting and
ignition timing. It also cut in a second stage of the
supercharger at the correct altitude. The pilot could, if
required, manually set the propeller pitch without altering any
of the other settings.
The BMW 801D-2 radial aero engine.
The entire unit had a dry weight of 1,228 kg and an overall
diameter of 1,270 mm. With a displacement of 41.8 litres and
both a bore and stroke of 156 mm, this 'square' engine could
develop 1,730 hp at take off.
There were a
couple of minor differences between the A-0 and the A-1 models:
the A-1 had heavier toggle latches to lock the cowl in place,
and it also had a cartridge system to help jettison the canopy
when flying at more than 250mph.
armament differed greatly in fighter versions, from the initial
four 7.9mm machine guns (two in the nose and two in the wings),
to a standard of two nose guns and a variety of up to four wing
guns or four 20mm wing cannon. For attacks on Allied bomber
formations, some Fw 190A-5/R6s were fitted with underwing pods
for 210mm rockets.
Improved versions of the Fw 190 were tested with such features
as cabin pressurization and a water/methanol injection that
increased the normal 1,600hp of the engine to 2,100hp for brief
periods. Other engines were tried: the 109's 1,750hp
Daimler-Benz DB 603, used in the experimental Fw 190C, and the
1,776hp Junkers Jumo 213A, used in the production Fw 190D. Later
Fw 190D variants were so extensively altered from the
short-nose, radial-engine Fw 190A series that they were
redesignated Ta-152 (for designer Kurt Tank). Altogether, some
20,000 Fw 190s were built in six Focke-Wulf plants, two Arado
plants, one Ago and one Fieseler plant.
(courtesy of FlightJournal)