The Fw 190 on the Eastern Front
From a Luftwaffe pilot’s point of view, the Fw 190 was ideally suited to the Eastern Front for a number of reasons, not least its big radial engine. Its bulk offered a degree of protection for the pilot and it could absorb an enormous amount of damage which, in an arena where low-level operations were dominant and enemy ground fire was a constant hazard, provided considerably improved survivability over the Bf 109. However, if the Fw 190 engine did fail, the aircraft possessed the gliding characteristics of a brick! Bailing out was recommended rather than attempting a dead-stick landing, although some pilots, including Otto Kittel, managed to crash-land successfully.
Another significant advantage of the Fw 190 on the Eastern front was its strong wide-track undercarriage, which made for excellent ground handling on rough airfields and during the seasonal snow or boggy conditions.
The Fw 190’s performance fell away at altitude, but as most actions on the Eastern Front took place at lower altitudes, this was not a particular disadvantage. Combining ruggedness with maneuverability and stability, the Fw 190 made an excellent dogfighter and a superb gun platform with formidable armament of four 20mm cannons and two 7.9mm machine guns (on the Fw 190 A-4).
As a dogfighter, the Fw 190 did have one potentially lethal flaw: The stall was sudden and vicious. If the pilot let the speed reduce below 127mph in a hard turn, such that the aircraft stalled, the port wing would drop so violently that the Fw 190 would flick onto its back and enter an incipient spin.