Focke Wulf Fw 190

Like the American P-38, Germany's Focke Wulf Fw 190 lent itself to multiple uses, and existed in a myriad of variants. It was, for example, a capable tank-buster that could carry air-to-ground missiles or rockets. See more classic airplane pictures.

Flying fewer than five months after the P-38, on June 1, 1939, the beautiful Focke Wulf Fw 190 was one of the best fighters of World War II. Designer Professor Kurt W. Tank and his team were aided by Flugkapitan Hans Sanders, a brilliant test pilot who would make the first flight of every variant of the "Würger" (Butcherbird).

Tank had worked with Willy Messerschmitt earlier in his career, and his fighter would come to be the greatest rival to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 within the Luftwaffe. Tank placed tremendous emphasis on clean lines, low structural weight, ease of manufacture and maintenance, and structural integrity.

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As with the Sopwith Camel of World War I, an effort was made to concentrate the maximum amount of weight as close to the center of gravity as possible, to improve maneuverability. Two design elements of the Würger stood out immediately in comparison to the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The first was its use

of a cleanly cowled radial engine. The second was its wide-track landing gear that conferred excellent takeoff and landing characteristics, an area in which the Bf 109 was notoriously deficient.

The Focke Wulf Fw 190 was fast and maneuverable from the start, and packed a heavy armament package, consisting usually of four machine guns and two cannons. Provision was made for carrying a bomb or a drop-tank under the fuselage centerline.

Small yet ferociously powered, the Focke Wulfe Fw 190 was one of the finest aircraft to see service during World War II. It was structurally sound, with a cockpit positioned for an ideal center of gravity. The landing gear's wide track contributed to ease of takeoff and landing.

Read more about the Focke Wulf Fw 190, and find specifications for this classic airplane, in the next section.

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