Focke-Wulf FW-190A-4/U3 Würger
FIREPOWER
5
MANEUVERABILITY
6
CLIMB RATE
5
DURABILITY
5
SPEED
8
GROUND ATTACK
3

Crew
1
Primary Guns
2 x 7.9mm MG17 machine guns with 1000 rpg in cowl.
Secondary Guns
2 x 20mm MG151/20 cannon with 250 rpg in wing roots.
Defensive Guns
Ordnance
4 x 121 lb (55 kg) or 2 x 551 lb (250 kg) bombs or 2 x 475 lb (215 kg) drop tank under wings.
Engine(s)
1 x BMW-801D-2 air-cooled radial rated for 1,700 hp at sea level (1,850 hp with WEP).
Int Fuel Capacity
828 lbs (375 kg).
Ext Fuel Capacity
950 lbs (430 kg), in 2 drop tanks under wings.
Maximum Speeds
345 mph (555 kph) at sea level, 418 mph (673 kph) at 21,000 ft (6400 m).
Climb Rate
2,874 feet (876 m) per minute at 5,000 ft (1500 m); 5.83 min to 16,500 ft (5000 m).
Service Ceiling
34,775 ft (10600 m).
Range
380 – 850 miles (610 – 1370 km).
Wingspan
34 ft. 5.6 in (10.5 m).
Length
29 ft. 0.4 in. (8.85 m).
Height
12 ft. 11.5 in. (3.95 m).
Loaded Weight
8,770 lbs (3978 kg).
Wing Area
197 sq ft (18.3 sq m).
Wing Loading
44.5 lbs/sq ft (217.4 kg/sq m).

History

The Luftwaffe had barely begun receiving their new Bf-109Bs when discussions about a possible successor started appearing. Many in the Luftwaffe hierarchy felt such a project would be a waste of time because of the vast superiority of the 109 over the fighters of other nations. But updated intelligence about the various British and French fighter projects, including the Hurricane, combined with the teething problems of the new 109s to convince everyone that it would be wise to design a backup.

As with other designers, Kurt Tank preferred the streamlined shape afforded by using a high-performance in-line engine, but both the Daimler-Benz 601 and the Junkers Jumo 211 were already in short supply. So he turned to the unpopular radial engine design. The 18-cylinder BMW-139 then under development was already putting out more power than either the DB-601 or Jumo-211 were projected to create in two years time and the engine showed great development potential. Further there were no immediate needs for the engine, so production wouldn’t impact any other projects.

Tank’s design was a small, compact plane built to minimal dimensions around the engine. It utilized a special, ducted spinner that was designed to provide increased airflow to the engine and reduce drag. In order to reduce overall length, the engine was mounted as close to the main spar as possible, with the cockpit immediately behind the forward bulkhead.

Because of this proximity to the engine and because the canopy had to be kept closed during ground tests and during flight, the temperature in the cockpit rose as high as 131 degrees and exhaust leakage forced the use of oxygen during all testing. Meanwhile, BMW was having problems with getting the promised power out of the 139 and had turned their attention to their new 801 design.

After a series of discussions between the military and the two manufacturers it was decided to convert the 190 design to accept the new engine. Despite the similar dimensions of the two engines the 801 was 350 lbs. heavier and thus an extensive redesign of the plane was required. The most visible change was that the cockpit was moved aft to compensate for the cg changes brought about by the heavier engine. This had the ancillary effect of eliminating the cockpit overheating problem and providing sufficient room between the engine and cockpit to allow for the installation of guns in the cowl.

Meanwhile, the V-1 and V-2 prototypes using the 139 engine had rolled off the assembly line, the latter being armed with a pair of 7.92mm machine guns in the wing roots. The plane proved to be capable of 369 mph in level flight and earned praise from the test pilots for its excellent handling characteristics. The V-2 prototype also had the special ducted fan installed, but the engine still overheated and tests proved that it had only a marginal effect on drag, so it was abandoned. The V-3 and V-4 prototypes were likewise abandoned due to the engine change.

The V-5 prototype with the new BMW-801C engine arrived at RLM for testing in April 1940 and without armament it was 25% heavier than the V-2 had been. Although the engine put out an impressive 1,600 hp, the wing loading had risen from 38 to 47 lbs./sq.ft., with a commensurate rise in weight per horsepower. The climb rate and maneuverability were thus severely impaired over what had once been a promising design.

But Tank had foreseen this and a new wing of increased area was already in the works. When a taxiing accident damaged the V-5’s wing, the opportunity was taken to replace it with the new wing. FW-190A-0s were already in production and the new wing was applied starting with the 8th aircraft produced.

Taken into combat trials testing by members of II/JG 26, the A-0 and A-1 models were armed with a pair of 7.92mm machine guns in the cowl and another pair in the wing roots. This was augmented in the field by installing a 20mm MG-FF cannon in each wing outboard of the landing gear.

The A-2 was equipped with the much more reliable BMW-801C-2 engine and was the first to be equipped with the MG-151/20 cannons with 200 rpg in the wing roots. The two machine guns with 1000 rpg were retained in the fuselage. The ammo canisters for the cannons were also located in the fuselage. Most A-2s were retrofitted with outboard MG-FF to increase firepower. The A-2 proved to be immediately superior to the Spitfire Vs it was facing and JG 26 was completely converted to the 190 by early 1942.

The BMW-801D-2 was almost identical to the C-2, but its compression ratio had been raised from 6.5 to 7.1:1 and the two supercharger ratios were also modified. The result was an increase to 1,700 hp at sea level and an increase in top speed to 418 mph at 21,000 feet. The A-3, equipped with the 801D-2 took over the production line and was the first to be fitted with Umrüst-Bausatz factory conversion kits. These allowed various configurations to be easily fitted at the factory, producing the first bomb carrying 190s.

With the addition of the MW50 methanol-water injection system as standard equipment, the A-4 began to roll off the assembly line. The MW50 system provided greater power below the rated altitude by acting as an anti-detonant, which allowed greater boost pressure to be used without destroying the engine.

As with the A-3, the A-4 had several Umrüst-Bausatz kits, including the U3 Jabo kit, which included the bomb/drop tank racks under the wings and additional pilot and engine armor. Although shipped with the outboard MG-FF from the factory, these were almost always removed in the field to improve performance. This version eventually led to the development of the FW-190F-1, the first of the dedicated ground attack variants.

The 190 was the dominant plane in the skies of Europe in 1942, and A-4 was a sort of a shock when appearing in the Eastern Front, although not for a long time.

Strengths

  1. Speed — With a top speed over 400 mph at altitude, the FW-190A-4 was the fastest thing in the skies over France in 1942.
  2. Boost — The liberal amount of MW50 power boost available (five 10-minute sessions) allows its speed to be maintained throughout most of the flight.
  3. Roll Rate — Although the Spitfire could out-turn the 190 on the level, the 190s greater roll rate gave it the edge in maneuvering.

Weakness

  1. Turn Rate — With its high wing-loading the Würger can’t turn with planes like Spitfire or Warhawk
  2. High Altitude Performance — Above 20,000 feet the Würger is outclassed by the Spitfire.
  3. Ordnance Versatility — With only wing racks, the A-4 pilot has to choose between drop tanks and bombs and cannot opt for a lighter loadout like the later A-8 and F-8 models could.

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