Se­crets re­vealed part II

Se­crets re­vealed – Part II

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS -

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.

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