Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger – Shrike
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger (Shrike) was a German WW2 single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft. A total of 20,450 Fw-190 was built.
Proposed in 1937, as the Bf 109 was joining the Luftwaffe, Kurt Tank’s Focke-Wulf Fw 190 surprisingly featured a large air-cooled BMW radial engine. First flown on 1 June 1939, the prototype was followed by short and long-span pre-production Fw 190A-0 aircraft with BMW 801 14-cylinder radials. The long-span version was selected for production. Fw 190A-1 fighters joined the Luftwaffe in mid 1941 and proved superior to the Spitfire Mk V. A-senes variations included the Fw 190A-3 with BMW 801D-2 and two 7.92-mm (0.31-in) and four 20-mm guns, the Fw 190A-4 with water-methanol power-boosting (with fighter-bomber, bomber-destroyer and sub-variants). The Fw 190A-5 featured a slightly lengthened nose and sub-variants included versions with six 30-mm guns (A-5/U12) and torpedo-fighters (A-5/U14 and U15). The Fw 190A-7 and Fw 190A-8 entered production in December 1943 and featured increased armament and armour. The Fw 190A-8/U1 was a two-seat conversion trainer. The next main production version, the Fw 190D, featured a lengthened nose and Junkers Jumo 213 liquid-cooled engine in an annular cowling.
The Fw 190D-9 was the main service version, which joined the Luftwaffe in the autumn of 1944, and was generally regarded as Germany’s best wartime piston-engine fighter; with a top speed of 685 km/h (426 mph), it was armed with two cannon and two machine-guns, and was powered by a water-methanol boosted 1670-kW (2,240-hp) Jumo 213A engine. Other late versions included the Fw 190F and Fw 190G specialized ground-attack fighter-bombers capable of carrying up to 1800 kg (3,968 lb) of bombs.
The Fw 190 D was intended to improve on the high-altitude performance of the A-series enough to make it useful against the American heavy bombers of the era. In the event, the D series was rarely used against the heavy-bomber raids, as the circumstances of the war in late 1944 meant that fighter-versus-fighter combat and ground attack missions took priority. A total of 1,805 D-9s were produced. Production started in August 1944.
Some Fw 190 Ds served as fighter cover for Me 262 airfields, as the jet fighters were very vulnerable on take-off and landing. These special units were known as Platzsicherungstaffel (airfield defence squadrons). One unit, known as the Würger-Staffel (also nicknamed “Papageien Staffel”), was created in April 1944 by Leutnant Heinz Sachsenberg at the behest of Adolf Galland, and was part of JV 44. The role of the Staffel was to guard the airfield and JV 44’s Messerschmitt Me 262s as they landed; as such the Fw 190s were supposed to take off before the jets and circle the airfield in pairs (a Rotte). However, to allow the 262s a clear run back to the airfield the 190s had to land before the jets, negating their protection.
A development of the Fw 190D was the long-span Focke-Wulf Ta 152 with increase d armament and boosted Jumo 213E/B (top speed 760 km/h; 472 mph at 12500 m/41,010 ft); a small number of Ta 152H-1 fighters reached the Luftwaffe shortly before the end of the war.