Secrets revealed part II
Secrets revealed – Part II
The Americans, like the British, were keen to understand the Fw 190’s capabilities. When the first of several examples fell into the hands of the US Navy, a Fw 190A-4, it wasted no time in testing it against the F4U-1A Corsair and F6F-3 Hellcat. Comparative flights took place from mid January to the end of February 1944.
US Navy report:
Prior to the comparative tests the Fw 190 was stripped and painted with standard smooth camouflage finish, and the pilots were familiarised with the airplane. Airspeed indicators of all three airplanes were calibrated and loads were checked. Rate of climb: The Fw 190 and Corsair showed superiority in climb over the Hellcat at all speeds and altitudes except at 140 knots below 15,000ft, where the Fw 190 and the Hellcat were about equal. Horizontal speeds: The speed runs were made at each altitude for periods of two minutes at full available power, the Corsair and Hellcat using War Emergency Power. At all altitudes the Hellcat was slower than the Corsair. At 200ft the Hellcat was equal to the Fw 190. Above that altitude the Fw 190 showed an advantage over the Hellcat. At 200ft the Corsair was 25 knots faster than the Fw 190, at 15,000ft the speeds were equal, and at 25,000ft the Fw 190 was six knots faster than the Corsair. It should be noted that the runs were for only two minutes, during which time full speed was probably not developed, but which serve for the purpose of comparison. Horizontal accelerations: Accelerations were determined by flying in line at the predetermined initial speed and applying full power simultaneously in all three airplanes. It should be noted that application of full power in the Fw 190 was much easier than in the other airplanes due to the fact that it was necessary to use only the throttle control. Relative accelerations, for all speeds over 160 knots, showed both the Corsair and the Fw 190 to be slightly superior to the Hellcat, and showed the Corsair to be slightly superior to the Fw 190 up to 15,000ft, above which altitude the Fw 190 had a slight advantage. At speeds less than 160 knots the Hellcat and Fw 190 were equal. Rates of roll: Results of comparative tests of rates of roll showed the Fw 190 and Corsair to be superior to the Hellcat. The Fw 190 and Corsair were found to be about equal in rate of roll. It should be noted that the Corsair was equipped with mechanically linked boost tab ailerons. The Fw 190 rolls with extreme ease, showing no excessive stick forces or tendencies to drop its nose. Turning circles: Results of comparative tests of turning characteristics showed the Corsair and Hellcat to be far superior to the Fw 190. Both the Hellcat and Corsair could follow the Fw 190 in turns with ease at any speed, but the Fw 190 could not follow either of the other two airplanes. The Fw 190, when in a tight turn to the left and near the stalling speed, exhibits a tendency to reverse aileron control and stall without warning. Similarly, when turning to the right it tends to drop the right wing and nose, diving as a result. From a head-on meeting with the Fw 190 both the Corsair and Hellcat could be directly behind the Fw 190 in one turn. From a position directly behind it was possible to turn inside the Fw 190 and be directly behind again in about three turns. Manoeuvrability: The Corsair and Hellcat were found to be much more manoeuvrable than the Fw 190. No manoeuvres could be done in the Fw 190 which could not be followed by both the Corsair and Hellcat. It was found that the Fw 190 requires a much greater radius in which to loop than do either the Corsair or Hellcat, and tends to stall sharply when trying to follow the Corsair or Hellcat in a loop. In zooms after dives the Fw 190, Corsair and Hellcat were found to be about equal. The Fw 190 stalls with very little warning, but recovers easily. Formation flying was extremely difficult with the Fw 190 because of the lack of fine power plant control. Stability and controllability in dives: In general, stability and controllability of the Fw 190 in dives were satisfactory. However, at diving speeds above 350 knots, indicated, vibrations were felt and control forces became noticeable. In no case did control forces become objectionable. Control forces and reversal points: The control forces in the Fw 190 were generally extremely light. Slight stabilizer trim adjustments were required with changes in speed. The only trim controllable in flight is a moveable horizontal stabilizer. No controllable trim tabs are provided. However, the Fw 190 does not have objectionable characteristics without them. The only reversal was found to be an aileron reversal in a tight turn to the left. Angles of vision: Forward vision from the Fw 190 is blanked off to some extent, due to the fact that the cockpit greenhouse rises only about 6in above the cowling contour. Forward vision from the Corsair and Hellcat is considered to be better than from the Fw 190. In the Fw 190 the pilot sits rather low with respect to the wing, but the downward vision
blanked out by the small wing is not excessive. Downward vision from the Fw 190, Corsair and Hellcat is considered to be about the same. The moulded canopy of the Fw 190 allows good rear vision. There was no rear-view mirror in the Fw 190 tested, but it was felt that one would be desirable. Rear vision from the Fw 190 was considered, however, to be better than from the Corsair or Hellcat. There was no gun-sight mounted in the Fw 190 tested and its effect on vision is unknown. General characteristics in mock combat: The Fw 190 is a very simple airplane to fly in combat, and seems to be designed for pilot convenience. It has a no-warning stall which tends to reduce its efficiency in combat against airplanes which can force it to fly near the stalling speed. In general it is considered to be an excellent interceptor type airplane which is at a disadvantage against airplanes designed for the purpose of ‘in-fighting’. General opinion of pilots as to relative merits of Fw 190, F4U-1 Corsair and F6F-3 Hellcat: The general opinion of the pilots who made the comparative tests is that the Fw 190 is an extremely simple airplane to fly and is designed for pilot convenience, but is not equal to the Corsair or Hellcat in combat. The simplicity of the cockpit in the Fw 190 was in contrast to the cockpits of the Corsair and Hellcat. However, it is felt that although more automatic features are provided in the Fw 190, less direct control over variable settings is provided and the pilot has, as a result, less actual control over the engine performance. All the pilots agreed that the Corsair and Hellcat would be preferred in actual combat operations. Suggested tactics to be used against the Fw 190 by the Corsair and Hellcat: In view of the fact that the Fw 190 can outrun the Corsair and Hellcat in a 160 knot or faster climb, the best solution in offence is for the Corsair and Hellcat to get the Fw 190 to close with them so that advantage can be taken of their superior manoeuvrability, provided, of course, that any initial advantage in altitude is not sacrificed merely for the sake of closing. When being attacked from astern, the Fw 190 can be expected to roll and dive away. If attacked by the Fw 190, the Corsair and Hellcat can evade by the use of tight turns. When followed by the Fw 190 the Corsair and Hellcat can evade by the use of tight loops. If the Fw 190 attempts to follow the other airplanes in tight loops it stalls out. In general, whenever the hit and run technique cannot be employed, the Corsair and Hellcat should make every effort to close with the Fw 190, in both offence and defence. In order to evaluate properly the results of the comparative tests herein reported the following items should be noted: The Fw 190A-4 tested had been employed by the Germans as a converted fighterbomber, and was not the standard fighter version of the Fw 190. In order to have the airplane at the standard fighter weight for the type it was necessary to ballast with lead weights. The standard useful load and fighter gross weight information used was obtained from a captured handbook for the type. On three attempts to reach service ceiling with the Fw 190 all power was lost abruptly at about 33,000ft. The cause was unknown. The Corsair was overheating at high power output throughout the tests. This was attributed to a too lean mixture. Some rough running was experienced with the Fw 190 which was apparently caused by fouling of the spark plugs at low RPM.