4 Fock­eWulf Fw 190 – 20,050

Flight Journal - - THE MOST PRODUCED -

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)

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