Getting to knowthe Fw 190
With dozens of Fw 190A-2s and A-3s now entering front line service, more of the aircraft’s quirks became apparent and pilots began learning how to take advantage of its characteristics in combat. It quickly became clear that the BMW 801 engine, in whichever version, could soak up a lot of damage and still allow the pilot to get home safely – up to and including having several cylinder heads shot away. It also offered the pilot some physical protection by virtue of its sheer bulk, not to mention the armoured ring fitted over the front of it.the down side of this was the engine’s weight. In the event of engine failure, pilots were told to bail out as quickly as possible since a dead-engined Fw 190 was very difficult to land. If a gear-up landing had to be attempted, the mass of the BMW 801 came in handy once again, enabling the stricken aircraft to plough through almost any obstacle on the ground. Taking off was regarded as being more straightforward in a Fw 190 than in a Bf 109, thanks to its wide-track undercarriage, but the tall front legs put the aircraft’s nose in the air and severely limited forward visibility until the aircraft had left the ground. Pilots enjoyed the Fw 190’s generally heavier armament and speed but had to quickly get used to its vicious stall, which came without warning. If speed fell below 127mph, the port wing would suddenly plunge, potentially turning the aircraft almost on to its back. Once a pilot was familiar with this potentially lethal characteristic, it could be turned to his advantage since no other contemporary aircraft was capable of matching the sudden snap roll. Used with sufficient altitude, a deliberate stall could be used to quickly shake off an attacker. Try it with only a few thousand feet to spare, however, and such a move could prove fatal.