Fw 190A-8

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Overview

The Fw 190A-8 "Wurger" (Butcher) is the German air superiority fighter, featuring improved endurance and firepower over the Bf 109.

History

While the Bf 109 was equal to any fighter in service at the time, in 1937 the Reich Air Ministry requested designs for a new fighter to counter future foreign designs. Focke-Wulf designer Kurt Tank eventually produced the Fw 190, which broke from land-based fighter convention by utilizing an air-cooled radial engine, the open front cowling of which was considered to place too much drag on a fighter design. Tank, however, had observed the US and Japanese use of such engines on carrier-based fighters and after some teething problems with engine overheating produced one of the best fighters of World War Two. Moreover, since the 190 used a radial engine, its production did not divert engines from the extant Bf 109 output.

When the Fw 190 was first encountered by RAF pilots in the fall of 1941, Allied intelligence initially thought the reports of radial-engine fighters were just captured American-built Curtiss Hawks sold to France early in the war. The RAF soon realized that the new fighter was superior to their then-standard Spitfire Mark V in every aspect but turning radius, leading to the rush development of the improved Mark IX. During 1942 the Fw 190A inflicted heavy losses on Allied fighter units, notably during the "Channel Dash" of February 1942 and the Dieppe Raid in August. Afterwards, the introduction of the later Spitfire marks, Hawker Tempest, and improved P-51 models restored parity in performance. Although well-respected on the Western Front, Soviet pilots disdained the 190, finding it less maneuverable and a larger target than the Bf 109. Part of this may have been that German forces were on the defensive in the east by the time the 190 was fielded; in the hands of ace pilots it proved dangerous.

The Fw 190 design proved highly adaptable; in addition to the A series (which could be fitted with a wide array of mission-specific modifications) Focke-Wulf produced the D series of high-altitude fighters equipped with more powerful liquid-cooled engines as well as the F and G series of ground attack variants.

Combat Performance

Although the Fw 190A-8 suffers slightly in maneuverability compared to other air superiority fighters, it can compensate by using its high speed and heavy armament in hit-and-run tactics - with four wing-mounted 20mm cannons and two cowling-mounted 13mm MGs, it outguns any other fighter in the game, and is also a deadly strafing aircraft.