Evo­lu­tion un­der fire

De­vel­op­ing the Fw 190A

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS - Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

Hav­ing be­gun at a leisurely pace, devel­op­ment of the Fw 190A speeded up dramatically as Ger­many’s for­tunes took a turn for the worse. The ver­sa­tile ‘A’ was called upon to ful­fil an ever widen­ing range of roles as the war pro­gressed and its per­for­mance was con­tin­u­ally im­proved. Here’s what changed from A-0 to A-9 and how to tell them apart.

FW 190A-0

The first se­rial pro­duc­tion runs of the Fw 190, the A-0s were fit­ted with ei­ther the BMW 801 C-0 or C-1. The first 11 had smaller, shorter wings of 31ft 2½in com­pared to the 34ft 5½in wings of the re­main­ing 18. Although th­ese pre-pro­duc­tion air­craft were fre­quently fit­ted with dif­fer­ent ar­ma­ment loads for ex­per­i­men­tal pur­poses, they were gen­er­ally armed with six MG 17 7.92mm ma­chine guns – two on the nose, two in the wing roots and two more in the outer wing po­si­tions. The A-0 ma­chines also had shorter spin­ners than later mod­els, dif­fer­ently shaped ar­moured cowl­ing rings and sym­met­ri­cal teardrop-shaped bulges on the en­gine cowl­ing to cover the in­te­rior air in­takes for the en­gine. There were no cool­ing slots aft of the ex­haust pipes on the sides of the air­craft ei­ther. The first A-0 was ready in June 1940 and the last was com­pleted in Oc­to­ber 1941. A to­tal of 29 were made – not count­ing the V1, V2, V5 and V6 pro­to­types.

FW 190A-1

While only the later A-0s were fit­ted with the BMW 801 C-1, it was the stan­dard pow­er­plant of all A-1s. Ar­ma­ment was up­graded with the outer wing MG 17s be­ing re­placed with 20mm MG FF can­non. A new longer spin­ner was in­tro­duced and the cowl­ing bulges over the en­gine air in­takes be­came asym­met­ri­cal – a fea­ture that would re­main for the rest of the Aseries. The ex­haust pan­els on ei­ther side of the air­craft re­mained un­slot­ted, although some air­craft later had them retro­fit­ted.

The A-1 saw the in­tro­duc­tion of the car­tridge-fired cock­pit canopy emer­gency open­ing sys­tem and the pi­lot’s head ar­mour was a dif­fer­ent shape from that of the A-0. The first batch of four A-1s were com­pleted in June 1941 and pro­duc­tion con­tin­ued un­til Novem­ber 1941. A to­tal of 102 were made.

Fw 190a-2

The in­tro­duc­tion of the new BMW 801 C-2 en­gine re­sulted in a new model num­ber, the A-2. The en­gine fea­tured a re-routed ex­haust sys­tem de­vised by III./JG 26 tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Rolf Schröder which largely cured the over­heat­ing prob­lems ex­pe­ri­enced by ear­lier ver­sions. Ven­ti­la­tion slots were fit­ted to the ex­haust pan­els on the sides of the fuse­lage as stan­dard to fur­ther aid cool­ing. Ar­ma­ment was fur­ther up­graded from the A-1, with the wing root MG 17s be­ing re­placed with 20mm MG 151/20E can­non. The A-1’s gun­sight, the Revi C12/C, was also up­graded to the C12/D. The first A-2s were built by Arado at Warnemünde, rather than Focke-wulf, in Au­gust 1941. Focke-wulf’s first ex­am­ples fol­lowed in Septem­ber and pro­duc­tion by Focke-wulf, Arado and Ago at Osch­er­sleben (from Oc­to­ber) con­tin­ued un­til Au­gust 1942 with a to­tal of 426 be­ing pro­duced.

Fw 190a-3

An­other change of en­gine, this time to the more re­li­able BMW 801 D-2, re­sulted in an­other new model of Fw 190. The A-3 kept the A-2’s ar­ma­ment and was sim­i­lar to it in most other re­spects. The first A-3 was pro­duced by Focke-wulf in Novem­ber 1941 and pro­duc­tion con­tin­ued in par­al­lel to that of the A-2 for 10 months be­fore the A-2 was fi­nally dropped. A-3s con­tin­ued to be made un­til June 1943, with Focke-wulf, Arado and Ago be­ing joined by a third sub­con­trac­tor, Fieseler at Kas­sel, from May to Au­gust 1942. A to­tal of 509 A-3s were con­structed. A-2s and A-3s are per­haps the most dif­fi­cult Fw 190s to tell apart.

Fw 190A-4

In June 1942, with pro­duc­tion of both A-2s and A-3s still on­go­ing, yet an­other model joined the pro­duc­tion lines of Focke-wulf and Ago – the A-4. Fieseler and Arado also be­gan pro­duc­ing the new type in July. Ar­ma­ment re­mained the same – two nose mounted MG 17 ma­chine guns, two MG 151 can­non in the wing roots and two MG FF can­non in the outer wing po­si­tions – but the big change was a new ra­dio set, the FUG 16 Z, re­plac­ing pre­vi­ous mod­els’ FUG VIIA. This re­quired a small ra­dio mast to be fit­ted atop the tail fin and made it easy to dis­tin­guish an A-4 from its pre­de­ces­sors since none of them had it. Some A-4s were also fit­ted with con­trol­lable cool­ing vents on the fuse­lage sides in place of the or­di­nary slots. Pro­duc­tion of the A-4 ceased at Focke-wulf in Novem­ber 1942 and at Fieseler in Fe­bru­ary 1943. It was dropped from the Arado pro­duc­tion line in June 1943 and Ago con­tin­ued to pro­duce it un­til Au­gust 1943. A to­tal of 896 A-4s were con­structed.

Fw 190A-5

With A-4 pro­duc­tion halted, the A-5 en­tered pro­duc­tion at Focke-wulf’s fac­to­ries in Novem­ber 1942, with Arado, Ago and Fieseler in­tro­duc­ing it later. It was sim­i­lar to the A-4 in most re­spects but had a 6¼in sec­tion in­serted be­tween the rear­ward edge of the en­gine cowl­ing and the fuse­lage – mov­ing the en­gine fur­ther away from the cock­pit and im­prov­ing the BMW 801’s cool­ing. With this new longer nose, the A-5’s length was 29ft 4½in com­pared to the A-4’s 28ft 9½in. The A-5 also got up­dated in­stru­men­ta­tion in the cock­pit and an Eka 16 gun cam­era. Shift­ing the en­gine fur­ther for­ward also al­tered the air­craft’s cen­tre of grav­ity and en­abled it to carry ad­di­tional weight fur­ther aft. The A-5 kept the stan­dard A-2 to A-4 ar­ma­ment but there was a wide range of Um­bau fac­tory-fit mod­i­fi­ca­tions and Rüst­satz field con­ver­sion kits pro­duced which took full ad­van­tage of the air­craft’s abil­ity to carry a greater ord­nance load. The A-5 was built along­side the F-2 and G-2 ver­sions of the Fw 190 (de­tailed on p62-67) which has re­sulted in con­fu­sion over pre­cisely how many were built. The com­bined to­tal of all three was 1863 up to Au­gust 1943 when Ago fi­nally stopped build­ing them.

‘GL+MY’ was a stan­dard Fw 190A-5 – a type pro­duced in larger num­bers than any other apart from the A-8. Its nose was more than 6in longer than those of its pre­de­ces­sors in or­der to fur­ther im­prove en­gine cool­ing. Among the many Um­bau mod­i­fi­ca­tions made to var­i­ous A-5s, the U14 must be re­garded as one of the odd­est.the Fw 190 was ill-suited to work as a tor­pedo bomber but nev­er­the­less, three pro­to­types were cre­ated. Note the jacked-up tail­wheel to pro­vide suf­fi­cient ground clear­ance for the tor­pedo. A Fw 190A-4 fit­ted with a pair of WGR 21 mor­tar tubes, one un­der each wing.this up­grade could be fit­ted in the field and was avail­able for ev­ery sub­se­quent type of Fw 190, ex­cept the A-9. Ini­tially in­tended for use against heavy bomber for­ma­tions, the WGR 21 launch­ers were also some­times used against ground tar­gets.the tubes had a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive ef­fect on the air­craft’s per­for­mance but could be jet­ti­soned once ex­pended.

Fw 190A-6

The first A-6 was pro­duced by Ago in April 1943 and the type was built ex­clu­sively by Focke-wulf’s sub­con­trac­tors, with the com­pany it­self pro­duc­ing none. The main dif­fer­ence from the A-5 was the re­place­ment of the MG FF can­non in the outer wing po­si­tions with two more MG 151s. This meant ar­ma­ment was now two MG 17s on the air­craft’s nose, two MG 151s in the wing roots and two more in the outer wings. The bulker MG 151 re­quired a bulge on the up­per sur­face of the A-6’s wing as well as the bulge which had al­ready been re­quired on the lower sur­face to ac­com­mo­date the MG FF. In ad­di­tion, the MG 151’s longer bar­rel pro­truded fur­ther from the wing’s lead­ing edge – an­other vis­ual iden­ti­fier. The up­dated FUG 16 ZE ra­dio nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem was in­stalled too – re­quir­ing a small ‘teardrop’ base and loop aerial to be fit­ted un­der the rear fuse­lage, with an ex­tra ‘whip’ shaped aerial be­hind it. In ad­di­tion to Ago, Arado and Fieseler, a fourth sub­con­trac­tor built a small num­ber of Fw 190A-6s – 20 be­ing com­pleted by Nord­deutsche Dornier at Wis­mar. When pro­duc­tion ceased in Fe­bru­ary 1944, a to­tal of 1137 had been built.

Fw 190A-7

There was a fur­ther ar­ma­ment up­grade with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Fw 190A-7 in Novem­ber 1943 – with the two nose­mounted MG 17 7.9mm ma­chine guns fi­nally be­ing re­placed with higher cal­i­bre 13mm MG 131s. Th­ese were about the same length but weighed more and had a lower rate of fire at 900rpm com­pared to 1200 for the MG 17. The A-7 also re­ceived an up­graded gun­sight, with the Revi C/12d be­ing re­placed by the Revi 16b, and the tail­wheel was en­larged from 13.8in x 5.3in to 15in x 6in. The A-7 had the briefest pro­duc­tion run of any Fw 190A type – the last ex­am­ples be­ing built in March 1944, just five months af­ter the first. It was man­u­fac­tured by Focke-wulf (150), Ago (270) and Fieseler (200), with Arado out of the pic­ture, be­ing still heav­ily en­gaged in build­ing the A-6 up to Fe­bru­ary 1944. A to­tal of 620 were made.

Fw 190A-8

The ver­sion of the Fw 190 built in the great­est num­bers, the A-8, is seen as the ‘de­fin­i­tive’ 190 by many. It differed from the A-7 in hav­ing an ad­di­tional 115 litre fuel tank fit­ted in the rear fuse­lage to im­prove range with­out the need to al­ways carry a drop tank. This meant that the ra­dio had to be re­lo­cated to just be­hind the pi­lot’s seat. It was also up­graded from the FUG 16 Z to the FUG 16 ZY, which re­quired an aerial mounted be­neath the port wing cen­tre sec­tion. Mount­ings for the ETC 501 un­der-fuse­lage rack, which was an op­tion on many pre­vi­ous mod­els, had to be shifted 7.9in fur­ther for­ward due to the new rear fuse­lage fuel tank. In ad­di­tion, mount­ings for WGR 21 rocket tubes were fit­ted as stan­dard. Later ex­am­ples of the A-8 were fit­ted with a bulged cock­pit canopy which sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved visibility. As one of Ger­many’s two most im­por­tant front line fighters, along­side the Bf 109, at a time when Al­bert Speer was rad­i­cally re­or­gan­is­ing air­craft pro­duc­tion on a na­tional

scale, the Fw 190A-8 was built in huge quan­ti­ties at nu­mer­ous dis­persed sites. Focke-wulf it­self made at least 1579 from the first ex­am­ples in March 1944 to the end of the war. Other com­pa­nies in­volved in man­u­fac­tur­ing the A-8 were WFG, Heinkel, We­ser­flug, Fieseler, Arado, Con­cor­dia, LBB, Ago and Nord­deutsche Dornier. A to­tal of some 5100 are be­lieved to have been pro­duced but pro­duc­tion fig­ures are sketchy or en­tirely lack­ing for the pe­riod from De­cem­ber 1944 to April 1945.

FW 190A-9

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of the 801 D-2, BMW had been at­tempt­ing to pro­duce a ver­sion with im­proved power out­put with­out a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in en­gine size. It fi­nally achieved this in mid-1944 with the 801 S (TS). It had the same ca­pac­ity as the D-2 at 41.8 litres but pro­duced 2000hp at 2700rpm at sea level, com­pared to just 1700hp in the same con­di­tions for the D-2. To go with the BMW 801 S (TS) a more ef­fi­cient ra­di­a­tor was fit­ted, along with a more heav­ily ar­moured oil tank. As a re­sult the cowl­ing was length­ened by 30mm. The first pro­duc­tion A-9 was built by Focke-wulf at Cot­tbus in Au­gust 1944. Nord­deutsche Dornier joined in dur­ing Oc­to­ber and Heinkel started to pro­duce it dur­ing Novem­ber. Ago and Arado also be­gan to build the A-9 from Jan­uary 1945. De­tails of ex­actly how many A-9s were built are scant but es­ti­mates range in the re­gion of 500 to 1000.

FW 190A-10

The fi­nal devel­op­ment of the Fw 190A se­ries was in­tended to be the A-10. This was to have been pow­ered by the same en­gine as the A-9 but would have had hy­draulics in place of electrics for some sys­tems. There were to be two ver­sions built, the A-10 Ra-5 and the A-10 Ra-7. The Ra-7 would have had the stan­dard Fw 190 wing but the Ra-5 would have had a new, larger, wing with space to fit heavy weapons such as the MK 103 in­ter­nally. Nei­ther ver­sion was ever built.

A colourised pro­pa­ganda pho­to­graph of an early Fw 190 line-up.they are, from left, Fw 190 V5, Fw 190 V2 ‘RM+CA’, Fw 190A-0/U11 ‘KB+PQ’, Fw 190A-0 ‘KB+PQ’ and Fw 190A-0/U4 ‘SB+IB’.THE shorter nose hous­ing the BMW 139 on Fw 190 V2 is im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

There were no cool­ing slots on the sides of the Fw 190A-1’s fuse­lage, aft of the en­gine ex­hausts, as seen on later mod­els.‘ti+dq’ is an Fw 190A-1/U1. It was shot down on April 10, 1942, over Abbeville and the pi­lot, Lt Werner Michal­ski of 4./JG 26, was killed. Cool­ing ven­ti­la­tion slots were first in­tro­duced on the Fw 190A-2, an Ago-built ex­am­ple,‘ke+xv’ be­ing pic­tured here. The Fw 190A-3, though ex­ter­nally very sim­i­lar to the Fw 190A-2, was pow­ered by the sig­nif­i­cantly up­graded BMW 801 D-2. De­liv­ered to III./JG 1 dur­ing the sum­mer of 1942, this Fw 190A3 con­tin­ued in front line use un­til it was fi­nally de­stroyed on April 3, 1944, while serv­ing with I./SG 101.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

Eas­ily dis­tin­guished from its pre­de­ces­sors by the small ra­dio mast on its tail, the Fw 190A-4 was also pro­duced in greater num­bers.this ex­am­ple has the fac­tory-fit U8 mod­i­fi­ca­tion, mak­ing it a long range fighter-bomber.the mod­i­fi­ca­tion was later stan­dard­ised as the Fw 190G-1. The ER-4 bomb rack hung low be­neath the Fw 190’s fuse­lage. Here it is mounted on a Fw 190A-4.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

Con­stant ef­forts were made to up­grade the Fw 190’s al­ready con­sid­er­able fire­power through­out its ser­vice ca­reer and one of the heav­ier op­tions for the A-6 was the R1 field-fit pack – two un­der­wing pods, each con­tain­ing two MG 151/20 can­non.this the pro­to­type for the de­sign, an A-5/U12. Rel­a­tively few Fw 190A-7s were made, this one be­ing from 2./JG 1.The type had an en­larged tail wheel and heav­ier MG 131 ma­chine guns on its nose. The pri­mary rea­son for the ex­is­tence of the A-6 was to ac­com­mo­date a heav­ier can­non in the outer wing po­si­tions. It can there­fore eas­ily be told apart from pre­vi­ous mod­els due to the sheer length of the MG 151’s bar­rels.this is ac­tu­ally the A-6 pro­to­type, an A-5/U10.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

The ubiq­ui­tous Fw 190A-8 – eas­ily the most heav­ily pro­duced Fw 190. The one pic­tured here flew with II./JG 26 from a tem­po­rary air­field at Boissy-le-bois in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of D-day. It is be­ing pushed un­der cover to pro­tect it from rov­ing fighter-bombers. The dou­ble cock­pit of the Fw 190S-8 is ev­i­dent in this photo, which also shows the dire short­ages of fuel suf­fered by the Luft­waffe to­wards the end of the war. An­other en­gine change, this time to the 2000hp BMW 801 S (TS), re­sulted in the Fw 190A-9 – the last of the A-se­ries to see ac­tion. Note the bub­ble canopy and the broad pad­dle blades of the VDM-9 pro­pel­ler.

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