The Fearsome Fw 190 in 25 Images

Jesse Beckett
British Fw 190 in flight

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 is often regarded as the best fighter aircraft produced by the Germans during the war.

The Fw 190’s origins began in the 1930s. The German Ministry of Aviation (RLM) had sent a list of their requirements to manufacturers for a fighter plane to compliment the Bf 109, Germany’s new primary fighter.

The Bf 109 hadn’t even reached squadrons yet, but German brass were concerned that it could be outclassed by newer aircraft in the future, so they wanted a new design in the works ready for that time.

Kurt Tank, Focke-Wulf’s chief of design from 1931-1945, presented his design which used a 14 cylinder radial engine. The RLM’ was interested, as it used a different engine to the Bf 109, meaning it wouldn’t compete with the Bf 109 for DB 601 V12 engine supplies.

The aircraft would enter production in June 1941 as the Fw 190 A-1. The A model used the 41.8 L 1,530 hp BMW 801 engine, and was equipped with 2 7.92 mm machine guns in the fuselage, and a 7.92 mm and 20 mm machine gun in each wing.

Two Fw 190 A-1s. Image by Bundesarchiv CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Two Fw 190 A-1s. Image by Bundesarchiv CC BY-SA 3.0 de

The Fw 190 A had a top speed of about 400 mph at 17,000 ft, and could reach a maximum altitude of 34,000 ft.

At the time of its introduction, the latest Spitfire Mk V was comfortably beating every German fighter aircraft in the sky. The arrival of the Fw 190 was a huge shock to the Allies, who had nothing to match it. Even the Spitfire Mk V struggled with the Fw 190, which could out-climb, out-dive, and out-manoeuvre the Spitfire. This was incredibly worrying for the Allies, as the new Fw 190 was only just beginning its service life, while the Spitfire had already seen multiple upgrades.

At medium-low altitude the Fw 190 had exceptional handling, and was very well received by pilots, even Allied ones who were able to test the Fw 190 out. The Fw 190 did however have poor handling at higher altitudes, often attributed to its relatively small wings and a supercharger setup for lower altitudes.

The Fw 190 was continuously upgraded throughout the war, with many variants. The A series was the primary fighter version, the D (Dora) series improved the A series high altitude performance, and the F and G series were ground attack oriented.

The ultimate development of the Fw 190 airframe was the Ta 152, which was built to tackle heavy bombers at high altitude. It used a V12 engine, and was one of the fastest aircraft of the war, maxing out at 472 mph.

 

A captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough with the RAEs chief test pilot Wing Commander H J -Willie- Wilson at the controls August 1942.
A captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough with the RAEs chief test pilot Wing Commander H J -Willie- Wilson at the controls August 1942.

 

Schlachtflieger Fw 190 +E being fueled
Schlachtflieger Fw 190 +E being fueled

 

US Troops with Luftwaffe Fw 190 and Bomber Wrecks
US Troops with Luftwaffe Fw 190 and Bomber Wrecks

 

Fw 190 V5k. This is the V5 with the original small wing. The 12-blade cooling fan and redesigned undercarriage and canopy fairings are visible.
Fw 190 V5k. This is the V5 with the original small wing. The 12-blade cooling fan and redesigned undercarriage and canopy fairings are visible.

 

Fw 190 G-1 showing the ETC 250 bomb rack, carrying a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, and the underwing drop tanks on VTr-Ju 87 mounts.
Fw 190 G-1 showing the ETC 250 bomb rack, carrying a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, and the underwing drop tanks on VTr-Ju 87 mounts.

 

Fw 190 A-0s or A-1s of an unknown unit.
Fw 190 A-0s or A-1s of an unknown unit.

 

Fw 190 A white 10 of 10 JG 51 pilot Otto Gaiser, Smolensk February 1943
Fw 190 A white 10 of 10 JG 51 pilot Otto Gaiser, Smolensk February 1943

 

Fw 190 A of 2 JG 51 Lt. Joachim Brendel Winter 1942 1943. Engine BMW801
Fw 190 A of 2 JG 51 Lt. Joachim Brendel Winter 1942 1943. Engine BMW801

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Wreckage 2
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Wreckage 2

 

Fw 190 A of 11 JG 11 Pilot Uffz. Karl Heinz 1944
Fw 190 A of 11 JG 11 Pilot Uffz. Karl Heinz 1944

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Jagdbomber +B
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Jagdbomber +B

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Jagdbomber +A
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Jagdbomber +A

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 winter +PH
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 winter +PH

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 GN+25 in flight
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 GN+25 in flight

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Fuselage Assemblies at Kolleda Germany 1945
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Fuselage Assemblies at Kolleda Germany 1945

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 attack aircraft +P crash landed
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 attack aircraft +P crash landed

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 black 10
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 black 10

 

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 DN+FA crash landing
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 DN+FA crash landing

 

Captured Fw 190A-5 Werknummer 150 051, in U.S. Navy colors
Captured Fw 190A-5 Werknummer 150 051, in U.S. Navy colors

 

Destroyed Fw 190
Destroyed Fw 190

 

British RAF Fw 190
British RAF Fw 190

 

British Fw 190 in flight
British Fw 190 in flight

 

An Fw 190 A-8 R2 in American hands. “White 11” of 5 JG 4 was captured during Operation Bodenplatte after its engine had been damaged by American light flak.
An Fw 190 A-8 R2 in American hands. “White 11” of 5 JG 4 was captured during Operation Bodenplatte after its engine had been damaged by American light flak.

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A captured Fw 190A-4. The USAAF-painted Balkenkreuz and swastika markings are of nonstandard size and proportions
A captured Fw 190A-4. The USAAF-painted Balkenkreuz and swastika markings are of nonstandard size and proportions