4 FockeWulf Fw 190 – 20,050
The FW 190 was everything the Bf 109 wasn’t. It was a second-generation fighter that benefited from much newer technology, though barely four years separated their first flights (1935–39). The same kind of technical progress sired the Mustang and the Hellcat; they were totally different than their predecessors. Aviation technology exploded during the 1930s in all countries, but the stark difference between the Bf 109 and the FW 190 showed not only in their performance but also in their “pilot philosophy”: The 190 was much, much easier to fly and allowed a new pilot to progress quickly because of the cockpit and control designs. The FW was not as blind—no takeoff/ landing drama—and it was more comfortable.
The production aspects of the FW 190 also demonstrated the benefits of technological progress. The parts count in the much more sophisticated fighter was much lower than in the older design, and some of it bordered on genius—a signature of designer Kurt Tank. The ailerons, for instance, rather than being built up of spars, ribs, trailing edges, and myriad small fittings, were, in effect, stamped out of two or three pieces of aluminum in a way that the folded edges joined everything together. Many of the components could be built in a garage with just a few pieces of specialized equipment, so dispersing the production was a no-brainer.
Of all the airplanes built during WW II, the FW 190 may have been the most easily produced design. (Photo courtesy of EN-Archive)