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    Senior Member Grue_'s Avatar
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    I searched and couldn't see this posted before - no arguments please

    Flying the FW 190: Kurt Tank’s ‘Butcher Bird’

    Flight Journal October 2000 by Eric Brown

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...10/ai_n8925541


    In the fall of 1937, the Technical Department of the German Air Ministry decided to develop a replacement for the Messerschmitt 109. At the end of the year, after discussions with Focke-Wulf's chief designer Kurt Tank, the Air Ministry awarded a contract to the company. The Ministry specified the need for a fight& whose performance would be significantly better than that of both the 109 ad the British.

    Tank realized that he would require the most powerful engine available to him, and this reqirement clearly pointed him toward the 18-cylinder, two-row radial BMW 139, which offered 325 more horsepower than its nearest rival, the 12cylinder, in-line, liquid-cooled DB 601. This decision surprised Luftwaffe officials but was accepted because of the uncertainty of the future supply of the Daimler-Benz engine (which had previously been projected as the powerplant for the 109 fighter, the twin-engine Me 110, Arado 240 fighter and several other combat aircraft).

    The Focke-Wulf design team began with certain definite ideas: they would need a strong, wide-track landing gear both to withstand the vertical velocity required of the new fighter/bomber and also to avoid the severe directional control problems that plagued the 109 during takeoffs and landings. Tank also declared that when he was a soldier in WW I, he had learned that military equipment must be simple, robust, reliable and easy to maintain. He was determined to apply those standards to the new aircraft designation "Fw 190."

    It is interesting that Tank, who was also a director of Focke-Wulf, was a famous test pilot of his aircraft during WW II. Throughout this article, you'll notice where his understanding of the real-life requirements of hard-pressed combat pilots produced superior designs of cockpits, visibility from the cockpit, landing gear, control harmonies and automatic systems-to name just a few areas in which he excelled. With all of his designs, his test-pilot experience allowed him to work toward the reduction of the combat pilot's load as far as was possible.

    Powered by a fan-cooled 1,550hp BMW 139, the prototype's first flight took place at Bremen airfield on June 1, 1939. It had a special ducted spinner to reduce drag, but its engine was soon found to be prone to overheating, so the ducted spinner was replaced by a new-and unique-snugly fitting NACA cowl with a cooling fan geared to the propeller in the front of the cowl. BMW was already test-running a new engine-the 14-cylinder BMW 801-that was some 20 inches (50cm) longer and 180 pounds heavier and produced 100hp more than the BMW 139. At this point, Focke-Wulf decided to concentrate on this newer engine.

    The installation of the BMW 801 required some considerable modifications to the Fw 190's basic airframe. The cockpit had to be moved farther aft to compensate for the forward shift in the center of gravity. Although this shrank the cockpit, it provided more space up front for fuselage armament. The increase in weight also had to be compensated for by an increase in wingspan and wing area. This change cost only a 6mph (10km/h) loss in speed, but it improved the rate of climb and reduced the turning circle. After successful flights at Rechlin Test Center, the German Air Ministry ordered 100 production Fw 190A-ls.

    The Fw 190A-1 was a small, low-wing monoplane powered by a 1,660hp BMW 801C-1 radial neatly faired into its slim fuselage, and its extensively glazed cockpit canopy afforded an excellent all-around view. The aircraft was built of metal, had a stressedDuraluminum skin and was armed with four, .30-caliber (7.9mm) machine guns. It was introduced to full squadron service in March 1941, and on September 27, it clashed with Spitfire Vs for the first time and showed its superiority in all respects except turning combat.

    In January 1942, the Fw 190A-2 became operational with the improved BMW 801C-2 engine, two .30-caliber (7.9mm) machine guns cowled above the engine and two 20mm cannon in the wing roots. Two more .30-caliber (7.9mm) machine guns were often carried in the outboard wing panels.

    The first major production variant was the A-3; it was powered by the 1,700hp BMW 801D-2, and the 20mm MG FF cannon that had been in the wing root was replaced by the much faster firing MG 151/20mm cannon, which was moved outboard of the propeller arc. The pilot had more armor protection, and the cockpit canopy could be jettisoned while in flight with the aid of explosive bolts. The A-3 was a multipurpose aircraft and was produced in fighter, fighter/bomber, reconnaissance, torpedo/bomber and groundattack variants. It entered service in March 1942, by which time more than 250 Fw 190s were being produced monthly. From October 1942 to March 1943, 72 A-3s were handed over to Turkey.

    As the Fw 190 consolidated its superiority over its RAF contemporaries, the morale of Spitfire V squadron pilots was inevitably affected. The British Air Ministry's concern about the situation soon bordered on desperation, and it planned a commando raid on a Luftwaffe fighter base in France to hijack a Fw 190. Then fortune favored the Allies when, at 2035 hours on June 23, 1942, a Luftwaffe pilot-after a brief encounter with Spitfires over the English Channel-became disoriented and landed his Fw 190A-3 at RAF Pembrey in South Wales and not on what he assumed was a German airfield on the Cherbourg peninsula. Owing to the RAF Air Traffic Control's smart thinking, the pilot was left undisturbed to taxi in and stop his engine before a controller leapt onto the Fw's wing and held a flare pistol to his head. Unbelievably, an intact example of the enemy's latest fighter was in RAF hands.

    The A-3 was transported to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, where both the airframe and the engine were dismantled and thoroughly analyzed before being reassembled for 10 days of flight-testing, starting on July 3. The flight tests confirmed that the Fw 190 was a truly outstanding combat aircraft with a very high rate of roll and impressive acceleration in the dive. Its Achilles' heel was in its violent accelerated stall that could lead to a spin if it tried to out-turn the Spitfire. The tests also revealed that, above 25,000 feet, the newer Spitfire IX could outperform the Fw 190. This information was, of course, rapidly transmitted to all Allied operational fighter units; it was evident that the Fw 190 pilots preferred to fight by climbing and diving while the Allied fighters were well advised to stick to level turning combat.

    In late summer 1942, the Fw 190A-4 appeared equipped with the MW-50 water/methanol injection system that could boost the BMW 801D-2 engine to 2,100hp for short periods. This was two years before production U.S. fighters had water-injection systems. This variant also had better radio equipment that necessitated the installation of a short radio mast on top of the fin.

    My flight testing of the Fw 1 BOA-4 begins

    In the months of April, May and June 1943, during night operations, three more Fw 190A-4s landed at airfields in Southeast England, and it was in one of these that I did most of the flight-testing of this type at RAE Farnborough. I clearly recall the excitement with which I first examined Kurt Tank's masterpiece, which he himself called the Wurger ("butcher bird"); its functional yet pleasing lines exuded an elegant lethality. It sat high on the ground, and although the landing gear appeared to be extraordinarily long, the forward view was still rather better than that from contemporary fighters. The somewhat narrow cockpit had a semireclining seat-ideal for high-G maneuvers-and the controls fell easily to hand. In general, the cockpit layout was good. The engine was controlled by an ingenious, advanced Kommandogerat-a sort of electronic brain box that greatly relieved the pilot's responsibility to control airscrew pitch (rpm), fuel mixture and engine boost (throttle) in combat. In addition, the engine's two-speed supercharger shifted automatically at about 21,000 feet, and control of the important oil-cooler flaps was automatic, thus relieving the pilot of two more major cockpit duties. The pilot needed only to keep his hand on the throttle and his eye on his assailant. In the heat of combat, it was very easy for an Allied fighter pilot to forget to move one or both of the other two required controls if he needed immediate full power to beat his opponent.

    The Fw 190 also had electrically controlled oil-cooler flaps, which had to be operated manually on most fighters. In the heat of combat, this feature-like the Kommandogerat-relieved the pilot of operating two more small, difficult-to-access switches. This avoided the risk of engine burnout at the high power settings combat required. It was a fighter pilot's dream airplane.

    The pilot was well-protected from frontal attack by the engine and by the sharply sloped 2-inch (SOmm) armoredglass windscreen; from the rear, protection came from his shaped, 3/8-inch (8mm) armored seatback, and 1/12-inch (13mm) head-and-shoulder armor and 3/8-inch (8mm) plates above and below the seatback and on each side.

    All the ancillary controls were electrically actuated by an array of pushbuttons, and a particularly fine feature of the cockpit was the outstanding view that it offered.

    The BMW 801 was started by an inertia starter energized by a 24-volt external supply or by the aircraft's own battery. The big radial was primed internally and almost invariably fired during the propeller's first revolution; it purred smoothly as it ran.
    With the wide-track landing gear and very good brakes, taxiing was easy-unusually so for a German aircraft-and this allowed the airplane to be swung from side to side so that the pilot could see what was ahead. Lining up for takeoff, I moved the stick aft to lock the tailwheel, applied 10 degrees of flap, set the elevator trimmer to neutral and the propeller pitch to auto. When I opened the throttle to 2,700rpm and 47 inches manifold pressure (23.5 pounds of boost), the torque swing to the left was easy to hold with the rudder. The length of the takeoff run was much the same as the Spitfire IX's. Rotation speed was 112mph (180km/h), and after retracting the landing gear, the manifold pressure was reduced to 43 inches (21.3 pounds of boost). At 143mph (230km/h), the flaps were raised, and climb settings of 2,500rpm and 161mph (260km/h) gave a climb rate of 3,150 feet per minute (16 meters per second).

    Remarkably, this fighter didn't require re-trimming for the various stages of flight; there wasn't an aileron trimmer in the cockpit, but there was an external adjustable trim tab on each aileron that had to be preset on the ground. Decidedly, its most impressive features were its light ailerons and its extremely high rate of roll. It could do incredible aileron turns that would have torn the wings off a 109, and the ailerons maintained their lightness from the stall up to 400mph (645km/h) before becoming heavy.

    The elevators proved to be moderately heavy at all speeds, particularly at above 350mph (565km/h), when they became heavy enough to impose a tactical restriction with regard to pullout from low-level dives. This heaviness was accentuated because of the nose-down pitch that was evident at high speeds when trimmed for low speeds. The critical speed at which this change of trim happened was around 220mph (355km/h), and it could easily be gauged in turns. Below that speed, the Fw 190 had a tendency to tighten up in a turn, but above 220mph, some backward stick pressure was required to hold the turn. Thus, in combat, the pilot had to be aware that if he dived on the enemy to get enough speed to follow him into a steep turn, he had to ensure that he didn't lighten his initial pull force by using the trimmer. As speed fell off in the turn, he would have a sudden reversal of stick force that could tighten the turn so much that the plane would depart dramatically into a spin. Most of the early Fw 190 pilots were, however, too well-trained to lose their cool to that extent in battle.

    Rudder control proved positive and effective at low speeds, and I found it satisfactory at high speeds; I seldom had to use it for any normal manoeuvre. It was when I assessed the three controls together rather than in isolation that I appreciated that the Fw 190's magic as a fighter lay in its superb control harmony. A good dogfighter and a good gun platform called for just the characteristics that the German fighter had in all important aspects of stability and control. At the normal cruise speed of 330mph (530km/h) at 8,000 feet (2,440m), stability was very good directionally, but it was unstable laterally and neutral longitudinally-all very fine for a fighter, but it was not easy to fly on instruments; indeed, the all-weather variants needed and were fitted with the Patin PKS 12 course-steering autopilot.

    For landing, I reduced the speed to below 155mph (250km/h) and then applied 10 degrees of flap before lowering the landing gear. After turning on to final approach, I applied full flap at 150mph (240km/h) and gradually eased the speed as I crossed the airfield boundary at 125mph (200km/h). The view on the approach was decidedly poor because the attitude with power on was rather flat, and unlike most of its contemporaries, its cockpit canopy could not be opened because of the risk of contamination from engine exhaust fumes. Unless you made a perfect three-point touchdown, you'd have a somewhat bouncy arrival on the non-resilient landing gear.

    Variants of the Fw 190A series

    Early in 1943, the Fw 190A-5 appeared. It was essentially similar to the A-4 but its revised engine mounting moved the engine six inches (15cm) farther forward. This opened up the area behind the engine and allowed the cooling air to exit the engine faster and leave through the cooling gills on the side of the fuselage. The A-6 followed with a redesigned wing that was lighter and could take four 20mm cannon. In December 1943 came the A-7 with a slightly uprated engine, and this was followed by A-8 to A-10. Although many models and versions were designed, most of the Fw 190s produced were A-3, A-4 and A-5 models.

    There were many variants of the last six A-series 190s: their differences were mainly in engine, armament and radio equipment, but there were three unusual variants. In late 1943, a unit was equipped with specially armored Fw 190A-6s that could ram enemy bombers; the A-8[Ul was a two-seat conversion trainer; the A-8/U3 was adapted as the upper component fighter of the Mistel piggyback fighter/bomber combination. The Mistel's lower component-a Ju 88 bomber-was flown by the pilot in the Fw 190 as a large attached bomb until it was launched as a pilotless missile over the target. This combination was designed for the invasion of France, and it was later used in Russia, but not very successfully. I flew the conversion trainer from the rear seat, where the instructor had only rudimentary controls, but the view was certainly an improvement on that of its 109 twoseat trainer counterpart's.

    A drawback of the A series was that the power of the BMW 801 engine tended to drop off at altitudes above 23,000 feet (7,000m). In an attempt to redress that situation, a few B- and C-series aircraft were experimented with: the 1908 had a BMW 801D-2 engine and a pressurized cabin, and the 190C was powered by a 1,750hp Daimler-Benz DB 603 engine with an annular radiator, a Hirth turbo-supercharger and a four-blade airscrew. This C version had a pressurized cabin and larger vertical tail surfaces, but it was eventually abandoned when the turbo-supercharger was found to be too unreliable for service use.

    The fabulous D arises

    During the spring of 1944, the D-Dora-series was introduced; each had a 1,776hp Junkers Jumo 213A-1 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine. To compensate for the fuselage's long nose, the vertical tail surfaces were larger, and the aircraft was an immediate success. The first production model was designated "Fw 190D-9," as it was intended to be a replacement for the A-8 on assembly lines. It was fitted with two 20mm cannon in the wings and two .50-caliber (13mm) machine guns mounted above the engine-a first for the .50-caliber guns and a big step forward in armament output. Provision was made for an MW-50 water/methanol injection system that would boost the power of the Jumo 213A to 2,240hp for short periods. For D-series pilots, another important device was its automatic shifting at two scheduled altitudes to ensure that the two-stage supercharger would maintain the correct engine power as altitude increased.

    The Dora 9 was one of the finest piston-engine fighters I have ever flown; it ranks among my top five with the Spitfire XIV, the Grumman Bearcat, the Hawker Sea Fury and the North American P-51D Mustang IV. It had all the handling qualities of the A-series, and its performance was outstanding. Top speed was 426mph (685km/h) at 21,500 feet (6,500m) and 357mph (574km/h) at sea level. Initial rate of climb was 3,500 feet per minute, and its service ceiling was 40,000 feet. With an MW-50 water/methanol injection, it reached a speed of 453mph (730km/h). Seven hundred Doras were produced, but a shortage of pilots and aviation fuel during this period (the fall of 1944) meant that the Dora's full military potential was never utilized.

    The E, F and G versions

    The E-series reconnaissance version of the 190 was not built, but the F and G series-both specialized ground-attack versions-appeared in service some time before the Fw 190D-9. The Fw 190F was more heavily armored, while the Fw 190G had stronger landing gear that allowed it to carry a 3,970-pound (1,800kg) bomb under the fuselage.

    In the field, the Fw 190 was easier to maintain than the 109, both in the Russian and Mediterranean theaters, and this was especially true of the BMW 801 engine, which was outstandingly accessible. It was generally more rugged than the 109, so it withstood the rigors of the Russian campaign better and didn't ground loop as the 109 tended to do.

    The Ta 152H version

    The high regard in which the Fw 190 and its designer Kurt Tank were held by the German Air Ministry was demonstrated when the authorities allowed him to use the first two letters of his surname to prefix all subsequent Focke-Wulf designs. The first such design was the Ta 152H, which was powered by a 1,880hp Junkers Jumo 213E/B engine that could be boosted to 2,250hp by MW-50 water/methanol or GM-1 nitrous-oxide injection. It had a longer span and a higher aspect ratio wing for greater altitude capabilities than the previous Fw 190 series; it also had a pressurized cabin and two 20mm wing cannon and an engine-mounted 30mm cannon-a further increase in armament-dispensation rate. This was probably the greatest armament on any production fighter in the War until the Me 262 jet aircraft came into being with four 30mm cannon. The Ta 152H's landing gear had an even wider track than the 190.

    When I flew the Ta 152H-1, my impression was that it had lost the aesthetic appeal of the earlier Fw 190s. On the ground, the cockpit view was terrible because the nose was two feet longer than the Dora's owing to the armament installation. Takeoff was, however, commendably short, and initial climb was steep. The Ta 152H really came into its own at above 35,000 feet. Using GM-1 nitrous-oxide injection, it was claimed by the Germans to have a service ceiling of 48,500 feet and a top speed of 472mph (760km/h) at 41,000 feet. Rate of roll was noticeably less, and maneuvering stick force per G was greater than that of earlier 190s; although longitudinal stability had improved, an autopilot was fitted, as the Ta 152H had a range of 755 miles at 33,000 feet and 1,250 miles at 23,000 feet when equipped with a 54-gallon (218-liter) drop tank. But the Ta 152H arrived on the scene much too late and in too small a number to play any serious role in the air war.

    Focke-Wolf revisited

    My association with Focke-Wulf did not end with the demise of the Third Reich; in 1958, I was appointed head of the British Naval Air Mission to Germany, where I trained and advised the new Marineflieger (Naval Air Arm). During my two and a half years in that post, I was seconded to Focke-Wulf in Bremen to test-fly the British Hawker Sea Hawk jet fighter and the twin turboprop Fairey Gannet antisubmarine hunter/killer, which Fw was building under license for the Marineflieger. It was a strange feeling to arrive at Bremen's war-damaged airfield, whose buildings looked almost as I had last seen them in 1945; but in my frequent visits over the next two years, a great transformation took place, and the Focke-Wulf headquarters were completely rebuilt. Most of the old archives were restored to their former home, and I spent many fascinating hours reading through these historic files to glean information on the development of the various versions of the magnificent Fw 190 butcher bird. '

    Copyright Air Age Publishing Oct 2000
    Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved
     

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    Senior Member Grue_'s Avatar
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    I searched and couldn't see this posted before - no arguments please

    Flying the FW 190: Kurt Tank’s ‘Butcher Bird’

    Flight Journal October 2000 by Eric Brown

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...10/ai_n8925541


    In the fall of 1937, the Technical Department of the German Air Ministry decided to develop a replacement for the Messerschmitt 109. At the end of the year, after discussions with Focke-Wulf's chief designer Kurt Tank, the Air Ministry awarded a contract to the company. The Ministry specified the need for a fight& whose performance would be significantly better than that of both the 109 ad the British.

    Tank realized that he would require the most powerful engine available to him, and this reqirement clearly pointed him toward the 18-cylinder, two-row radial BMW 139, which offered 325 more horsepower than its nearest rival, the 12cylinder, in-line, liquid-cooled DB 601. This decision surprised Luftwaffe officials but was accepted because of the uncertainty of the future supply of the Daimler-Benz engine (which had previously been projected as the powerplant for the 109 fighter, the twin-engine Me 110, Arado 240 fighter and several other combat aircraft).

    The Focke-Wulf design team began with certain definite ideas: they would need a strong, wide-track landing gear both to withstand the vertical velocity required of the new fighter/bomber and also to avoid the severe directional control problems that plagued the 109 during takeoffs and landings. Tank also declared that when he was a soldier in WW I, he had learned that military equipment must be simple, robust, reliable and easy to maintain. He was determined to apply those standards to the new aircraft designation "Fw 190."

    It is interesting that Tank, who was also a director of Focke-Wulf, was a famous test pilot of his aircraft during WW II. Throughout this article, you'll notice where his understanding of the real-life requirements of hard-pressed combat pilots produced superior designs of cockpits, visibility from the cockpit, landing gear, control harmonies and automatic systems-to name just a few areas in which he excelled. With all of his designs, his test-pilot experience allowed him to work toward the reduction of the combat pilot's load as far as was possible.

    Powered by a fan-cooled 1,550hp BMW 139, the prototype's first flight took place at Bremen airfield on June 1, 1939. It had a special ducted spinner to reduce drag, but its engine was soon found to be prone to overheating, so the ducted spinner was replaced by a new-and unique-snugly fitting NACA cowl with a cooling fan geared to the propeller in the front of the cowl. BMW was already test-running a new engine-the 14-cylinder BMW 801-that was some 20 inches (50cm) longer and 180 pounds heavier and produced 100hp more than the BMW 139. At this point, Focke-Wulf decided to concentrate on this newer engine.

    The installation of the BMW 801 required some considerable modifications to the Fw 190's basic airframe. The cockpit had to be moved farther aft to compensate for the forward shift in the center of gravity. Although this shrank the cockpit, it provided more space up front for fuselage armament. The increase in weight also had to be compensated for by an increase in wingspan and wing area. This change cost only a 6mph (10km/h) loss in speed, but it improved the rate of climb and reduced the turning circle. After successful flights at Rechlin Test Center, the German Air Ministry ordered 100 production Fw 190A-ls.

    The Fw 190A-1 was a small, low-wing monoplane powered by a 1,660hp BMW 801C-1 radial neatly faired into its slim fuselage, and its extensively glazed cockpit canopy afforded an excellent all-around view. The aircraft was built of metal, had a stressedDuraluminum skin and was armed with four, .30-caliber (7.9mm) machine guns. It was introduced to full squadron service in March 1941, and on September 27, it clashed with Spitfire Vs for the first time and showed its superiority in all respects except turning combat.

    In January 1942, the Fw 190A-2 became operational with the improved BMW 801C-2 engine, two .30-caliber (7.9mm) machine guns cowled above the engine and two 20mm cannon in the wing roots. Two more .30-caliber (7.9mm) machine guns were often carried in the outboard wing panels.

    The first major production variant was the A-3; it was powered by the 1,700hp BMW 801D-2, and the 20mm MG FF cannon that had been in the wing root was replaced by the much faster firing MG 151/20mm cannon, which was moved outboard of the propeller arc. The pilot had more armor protection, and the cockpit canopy could be jettisoned while in flight with the aid of explosive bolts. The A-3 was a multipurpose aircraft and was produced in fighter, fighter/bomber, reconnaissance, torpedo/bomber and groundattack variants. It entered service in March 1942, by which time more than 250 Fw 190s were being produced monthly. From October 1942 to March 1943, 72 A-3s were handed over to Turkey.

    As the Fw 190 consolidated its superiority over its RAF contemporaries, the morale of Spitfire V squadron pilots was inevitably affected. The British Air Ministry's concern about the situation soon bordered on desperation, and it planned a commando raid on a Luftwaffe fighter base in France to hijack a Fw 190. Then fortune favored the Allies when, at 2035 hours on June 23, 1942, a Luftwaffe pilot-after a brief encounter with Spitfires over the English Channel-became disoriented and landed his Fw 190A-3 at RAF Pembrey in South Wales and not on what he assumed was a German airfield on the Cherbourg peninsula. Owing to the RAF Air Traffic Control's smart thinking, the pilot was left undisturbed to taxi in and stop his engine before a controller leapt onto the Fw's wing and held a flare pistol to his head. Unbelievably, an intact example of the enemy's latest fighter was in RAF hands.

    The A-3 was transported to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, where both the airframe and the engine were dismantled and thoroughly analyzed before being reassembled for 10 days of flight-testing, starting on July 3. The flight tests confirmed that the Fw 190 was a truly outstanding combat aircraft with a very high rate of roll and impressive acceleration in the dive. Its Achilles' heel was in its violent accelerated stall that could lead to a spin if it tried to out-turn the Spitfire. The tests also revealed that, above 25,000 feet, the newer Spitfire IX could outperform the Fw 190. This information was, of course, rapidly transmitted to all Allied operational fighter units; it was evident that the Fw 190 pilots preferred to fight by climbing and diving while the Allied fighters were well advised to stick to level turning combat.

    In late summer 1942, the Fw 190A-4 appeared equipped with the MW-50 water/methanol injection system that could boost the BMW 801D-2 engine to 2,100hp for short periods. This was two years before production U.S. fighters had water-injection systems. This variant also had better radio equipment that necessitated the installation of a short radio mast on top of the fin.

    My flight testing of the Fw 1 BOA-4 begins

    In the months of April, May and June 1943, during night operations, three more Fw 190A-4s landed at airfields in Southeast England, and it was in one of these that I did most of the flight-testing of this type at RAE Farnborough. I clearly recall the excitement with which I first examined Kurt Tank's masterpiece, which he himself called the Wurger ("butcher bird"); its functional yet pleasing lines exuded an elegant lethality. It sat high on the ground, and although the landing gear appeared to be extraordinarily long, the forward view was still rather better than that from contemporary fighters. The somewhat narrow cockpit had a semireclining seat-ideal for high-G maneuvers-and the controls fell easily to hand. In general, the cockpit layout was good. The engine was controlled by an ingenious, advanced Kommandogerat-a sort of electronic brain box that greatly relieved the pilot's responsibility to control airscrew pitch (rpm), fuel mixture and engine boost (throttle) in combat. In addition, the engine's two-speed supercharger shifted automatically at about 21,000 feet, and control of the important oil-cooler flaps was automatic, thus relieving the pilot of two more major cockpit duties. The pilot needed only to keep his hand on the throttle and his eye on his assailant. In the heat of combat, it was very easy for an Allied fighter pilot to forget to move one or both of the other two required controls if he needed immediate full power to beat his opponent.

    The Fw 190 also had electrically controlled oil-cooler flaps, which had to be operated manually on most fighters. In the heat of combat, this feature-like the Kommandogerat-relieved the pilot of operating two more small, difficult-to-access switches. This avoided the risk of engine burnout at the high power settings combat required. It was a fighter pilot's dream airplane.

    The pilot was well-protected from frontal attack by the engine and by the sharply sloped 2-inch (SOmm) armoredglass windscreen; from the rear, protection came from his shaped, 3/8-inch (8mm) armored seatback, and 1/12-inch (13mm) head-and-shoulder armor and 3/8-inch (8mm) plates above and below the seatback and on each side.

    All the ancillary controls were electrically actuated by an array of pushbuttons, and a particularly fine feature of the cockpit was the outstanding view that it offered.

    The BMW 801 was started by an inertia starter energized by a 24-volt external supply or by the aircraft's own battery. The big radial was primed internally and almost invariably fired during the propeller's first revolution; it purred smoothly as it ran.
    With the wide-track landing gear and very good brakes, taxiing was easy-unusually so for a German aircraft-and this allowed the airplane to be swung from side to side so that the pilot could see what was ahead. Lining up for takeoff, I moved the stick aft to lock the tailwheel, applied 10 degrees of flap, set the elevator trimmer to neutral and the propeller pitch to auto. When I opened the throttle to 2,700rpm and 47 inches manifold pressure (23.5 pounds of boost), the torque swing to the left was easy to hold with the rudder. The length of the takeoff run was much the same as the Spitfire IX's. Rotation speed was 112mph (180km/h), and after retracting the landing gear, the manifold pressure was reduced to 43 inches (21.3 pounds of boost). At 143mph (230km/h), the flaps were raised, and climb settings of 2,500rpm and 161mph (260km/h) gave a climb rate of 3,150 feet per minute (16 meters per second).

    Remarkably, this fighter didn't require re-trimming for the various stages of flight; there wasn't an aileron trimmer in the cockpit, but there was an external adjustable trim tab on each aileron that had to be preset on the ground. Decidedly, its most impressive features were its light ailerons and its extremely high rate of roll. It could do incredible aileron turns that would have torn the wings off a 109, and the ailerons maintained their lightness from the stall up to 400mph (645km/h) before becoming heavy.

    The elevators proved to be moderately heavy at all speeds, particularly at above 350mph (565km/h), when they became heavy enough to impose a tactical restriction with regard to pullout from low-level dives. This heaviness was accentuated because of the nose-down pitch that was evident at high speeds when trimmed for low speeds. The critical speed at which this change of trim happened was around 220mph (355km/h), and it could easily be gauged in turns. Below that speed, the Fw 190 had a tendency to tighten up in a turn, but above 220mph, some backward stick pressure was required to hold the turn. Thus, in combat, the pilot had to be aware that if he dived on the enemy to get enough speed to follow him into a steep turn, he had to ensure that he didn't lighten his initial pull force by using the trimmer. As speed fell off in the turn, he would have a sudden reversal of stick force that could tighten the turn so much that the plane would depart dramatically into a spin. Most of the early Fw 190 pilots were, however, too well-trained to lose their cool to that extent in battle.

    Rudder control proved positive and effective at low speeds, and I found it satisfactory at high speeds; I seldom had to use it for any normal manoeuvre. It was when I assessed the three controls together rather than in isolation that I appreciated that the Fw 190's magic as a fighter lay in its superb control harmony. A good dogfighter and a good gun platform called for just the characteristics that the German fighter had in all important aspects of stability and control. At the normal cruise speed of 330mph (530km/h) at 8,000 feet (2,440m), stability was very good directionally, but it was unstable laterally and neutral longitudinally-all very fine for a fighter, but it was not easy to fly on instruments; indeed, the all-weather variants needed and were fitted with the Patin PKS 12 course-steering autopilot.

    For landing, I reduced the speed to below 155mph (250km/h) and then applied 10 degrees of flap before lowering the landing gear. After turning on to final approach, I applied full flap at 150mph (240km/h) and gradually eased the speed as I crossed the airfield boundary at 125mph (200km/h). The view on the approach was decidedly poor because the attitude with power on was rather flat, and unlike most of its contemporaries, its cockpit canopy could not be opened because of the risk of contamination from engine exhaust fumes. Unless you made a perfect three-point touchdown, you'd have a somewhat bouncy arrival on the non-resilient landing gear.

    Variants of the Fw 190A series

    Early in 1943, the Fw 190A-5 appeared. It was essentially similar to the A-4 but its revised engine mounting moved the engine six inches (15cm) farther forward. This opened up the area behind the engine and allowed the cooling air to exit the engine faster and leave through the cooling gills on the side of the fuselage. The A-6 followed with a redesigned wing that was lighter and could take four 20mm cannon. In December 1943 came the A-7 with a slightly uprated engine, and this was followed by A-8 to A-10. Although many models and versions were designed, most of the Fw 190s produced were A-3, A-4 and A-5 models.

    There were many variants of the last six A-series 190s: their differences were mainly in engine, armament and radio equipment, but there were three unusual variants. In late 1943, a unit was equipped with specially armored Fw 190A-6s that could ram enemy bombers; the A-8[Ul was a two-seat conversion trainer; the A-8/U3 was adapted as the upper component fighter of the Mistel piggyback fighter/bomber combination. The Mistel's lower component-a Ju 88 bomber-was flown by the pilot in the Fw 190 as a large attached bomb until it was launched as a pilotless missile over the target. This combination was designed for the invasion of France, and it was later used in Russia, but not very successfully. I flew the conversion trainer from the rear seat, where the instructor had only rudimentary controls, but the view was certainly an improvement on that of its 109 twoseat trainer counterpart's.

    A drawback of the A series was that the power of the BMW 801 engine tended to drop off at altitudes above 23,000 feet (7,000m). In an attempt to redress that situation, a few B- and C-series aircraft were experimented with: the 1908 had a BMW 801D-2 engine and a pressurized cabin, and the 190C was powered by a 1,750hp Daimler-Benz DB 603 engine with an annular radiator, a Hirth turbo-supercharger and a four-blade airscrew. This C version had a pressurized cabin and larger vertical tail surfaces, but it was eventually abandoned when the turbo-supercharger was found to be too unreliable for service use.

    The fabulous D arises

    During the spring of 1944, the D-Dora-series was introduced; each had a 1,776hp Junkers Jumo 213A-1 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine. To compensate for the fuselage's long nose, the vertical tail surfaces were larger, and the aircraft was an immediate success. The first production model was designated "Fw 190D-9," as it was intended to be a replacement for the A-8 on assembly lines. It was fitted with two 20mm cannon in the wings and two .50-caliber (13mm) machine guns mounted above the engine-a first for the .50-caliber guns and a big step forward in armament output. Provision was made for an MW-50 water/methanol injection system that would boost the power of the Jumo 213A to 2,240hp for short periods. For D-series pilots, another important device was its automatic shifting at two scheduled altitudes to ensure that the two-stage supercharger would maintain the correct engine power as altitude increased.

    The Dora 9 was one of the finest piston-engine fighters I have ever flown; it ranks among my top five with the Spitfire XIV, the Grumman Bearcat, the Hawker Sea Fury and the North American P-51D Mustang IV. It had all the handling qualities of the A-series, and its performance was outstanding. Top speed was 426mph (685km/h) at 21,500 feet (6,500m) and 357mph (574km/h) at sea level. Initial rate of climb was 3,500 feet per minute, and its service ceiling was 40,000 feet. With an MW-50 water/methanol injection, it reached a speed of 453mph (730km/h). Seven hundred Doras were produced, but a shortage of pilots and aviation fuel during this period (the fall of 1944) meant that the Dora's full military potential was never utilized.

    The E, F and G versions

    The E-series reconnaissance version of the 190 was not built, but the F and G series-both specialized ground-attack versions-appeared in service some time before the Fw 190D-9. The Fw 190F was more heavily armored, while the Fw 190G had stronger landing gear that allowed it to carry a 3,970-pound (1,800kg) bomb under the fuselage.

    In the field, the Fw 190 was easier to maintain than the 109, both in the Russian and Mediterranean theaters, and this was especially true of the BMW 801 engine, which was outstandingly accessible. It was generally more rugged than the 109, so it withstood the rigors of the Russian campaign better and didn't ground loop as the 109 tended to do.

    The Ta 152H version

    The high regard in which the Fw 190 and its designer Kurt Tank were held by the German Air Ministry was demonstrated when the authorities allowed him to use the first two letters of his surname to prefix all subsequent Focke-Wulf designs. The first such design was the Ta 152H, which was powered by a 1,880hp Junkers Jumo 213E/B engine that could be boosted to 2,250hp by MW-50 water/methanol or GM-1 nitrous-oxide injection. It had a longer span and a higher aspect ratio wing for greater altitude capabilities than the previous Fw 190 series; it also had a pressurized cabin and two 20mm wing cannon and an engine-mounted 30mm cannon-a further increase in armament-dispensation rate. This was probably the greatest armament on any production fighter in the War until the Me 262 jet aircraft came into being with four 30mm cannon. The Ta 152H's landing gear had an even wider track than the 190.

    When I flew the Ta 152H-1, my impression was that it had lost the aesthetic appeal of the earlier Fw 190s. On the ground, the cockpit view was terrible because the nose was two feet longer than the Dora's owing to the armament installation. Takeoff was, however, commendably short, and initial climb was steep. The Ta 152H really came into its own at above 35,000 feet. Using GM-1 nitrous-oxide injection, it was claimed by the Germans to have a service ceiling of 48,500 feet and a top speed of 472mph (760km/h) at 41,000 feet. Rate of roll was noticeably less, and maneuvering stick force per G was greater than that of earlier 190s; although longitudinal stability had improved, an autopilot was fitted, as the Ta 152H had a range of 755 miles at 33,000 feet and 1,250 miles at 23,000 feet when equipped with a 54-gallon (218-liter) drop tank. But the Ta 152H arrived on the scene much too late and in too small a number to play any serious role in the air war.

    Focke-Wolf revisited

    My association with Focke-Wulf did not end with the demise of the Third Reich; in 1958, I was appointed head of the British Naval Air Mission to Germany, where I trained and advised the new Marineflieger (Naval Air Arm). During my two and a half years in that post, I was seconded to Focke-Wulf in Bremen to test-fly the British Hawker Sea Hawk jet fighter and the twin turboprop Fairey Gannet antisubmarine hunter/killer, which Fw was building under license for the Marineflieger. It was a strange feeling to arrive at Bremen's war-damaged airfield, whose buildings looked almost as I had last seen them in 1945; but in my frequent visits over the next two years, a great transformation took place, and the Focke-Wulf headquarters were completely rebuilt. Most of the old archives were restored to their former home, and I spent many fascinating hours reading through these historic files to glean information on the development of the various versions of the magnificent Fw 190 butcher bird. '

    Copyright Air Age Publishing Oct 2000
    Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved
     

  3. #3
    Senior Member cawimmer430's Avatar
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    Magnificent post! Very interesting read. I still prefer the BF-109 to the FW-190 in the game, but I've always respected the FW-190. What a sexy plane. And tha Ta-152H is incredible...once you turn on the MW-50...boy oh boy!
     

  4. #4
    Senior Member Low_Flyer_MkII's Avatar
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    Good post!

    I'll take this opportunity to mention "Butcher Bird" by Edward Shacklady - a fine book on a fine aeroplane.
     

  5. #5
    Senior Member msalama's Avatar
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    Thank you very much! One of the more interesting reads of late
     

  6. #6
    Senior Member Achilles_NZ's Avatar
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    Interesting read, cheers for posting.
     

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bremspropeller's Avatar
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    Well, he isn't right about the plane's armory:

    A-1: 4* MG17 + 2* MG/FF
    A-2 - A-5: 2*MG17 + 2*MG151/20 (+ 2*MG/FF)
    A-6: 2*MG17 + 2*MG151/20 (+ 2*MG151/20)
    A-7 - A-9: 2*MG131 + 2*MG151/20 (+ 2*MG151/20 OR 2*MK108)

    Did I confuse you ?
     

  8. #8
    Look for Duels in the Sky: World War II Naval Aircraft in Combat by Cpt. Brown at the used book sites. It's a fun read for any PF fan. The book rates many of the best fighters against each other by the man with the most experience flying Axis and Allied fighters.
     

  9. #9
    Senior Member Viper2005_'s Avatar
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    Beware the unit conversions which appear to have been added by the publisher for the amusement value of "the great unwashed".

    All the "boost pressure" values are actually psi(absolute), rather than psi(gauge) as they should be, so if you want to compare engine performance with RAF aircraft you need to remember to subtract 14.7 psi from the quoted figure...

    Never trust a publisher to carry out a simple unit conversion successfully...
     

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lucius_Esox's Avatar
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    Very interesting read,, thank you for posting that
     

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