In 1937 the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (German Air Ministry) issued a contract to the Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau (Focke-Wulf Airplane Company) for a single-engined fighter to supplement the Messerschmitt Bf 109 then entering service as the standard Luftwaffe day fighter. A team led by Professor Kurt Tank tendered two proposals for the new fighter: one powered by the same Daimler-Benz DB 601 liquid-cooled engine used in the Bf 109 and the other by a BMW 139 fourteen-cylinder, air-cooled, radial engine. With all available DB 601 production allocated to the Bf 109 and the twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110, the Air Ministry selected the radial engine proposal for development, despite a distinct preference for liquid-cooled powerplants. Designated Fw 190 officially but called Würger (Butcher Bird) in the field, the new design was the only German fighter of World War II that flew behind a radial engine. It claimed another notable first as the only fighter aircraft of the war equipped with electrically-operated landing gear and flaps.
Image Number: 2001-130
Credit: Photo by Eric Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
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