Get­ting to knowthe Fw 190

Aviation Classics - - AVIATION -

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.

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