Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9

The FW 190 was the only completely successful piston-engined fighter introduced by the German air force, the Luftwaffe, after World War II started. The Museum's Fw 190 F and D represent the "second-generation" Fw 190s which followed the Fw 190A into combat. The Fw 190D interceptor was considered by many German pilots to be the finest piston-engined fighter in Luftwaffe service.

The Fw 190 D was a reengined and reengineered development of the widely-used Fw 190 A, the first Fw 190 production model. It was viewed by its designer, Kurt Tank, as an interim design pending availability of the Ta 152. Prototype testing began in March 1942, with the unreliable air-cooled BMW 801-series engine replaced by the liquid-cooled Junkers Jumo 213A 12-cylinder engine (1776hp, boosted to 2240hp with water-methanol injection). This engine had previously been used exclusively on bombers.

The longer-nosed Fw 190 D, with a redesigned tail, was a success with pilots because of increased engine reliability and performance much superior to the Fw 190 A-8 in climb, dive and level speed. The aircraft attained 692kph (430mph) at 11,300m (20,200ft) and could fly 850kmh (480mi/h) -- performance that made it a much better interceptor against the burgeoning and fighter-escorted Allied bomber formations. Pilots considered it more than a match for the P-51D "Mustang". Armament was two 20mm Mauser MG-151/20 cannon in the wing (with a robust 250 rounds per gun) and two 13mm Rheinmetall MG-131 cannon (with 475 rounds per gun) over the engine. Small batches of Fw 190 D-0 and D-1 preproduction fighters were delivered for service evaluation in Spring and Summer 1943, just as the American 8th Air Force was starting large daylight bombing raids.

The first production variant was designated D-9 (because the previous production type was the A-8). Construction started at Marz, Cottbus, and Kassel-Waldau in Summer 1944. This was part of a major expansion in German single-engined fighter production initiated 2 years earlier by Erhard Milch, chief of aircraft procurement and supply. Over 1,000 fighters a month were now entering air defense service.

The multirole D-9 carried bombs in some versions and radar in others (the D-9/R11 and D-12/R11 night fighters) and was even faster than the D-1, reaching 709kmh (440mph) at 20,780m (37,000ft). Nicknamed "Dora-9" ("Dora" being the phonetic "D" of Luftwaffe radio traffic), service began in October 1944 with III/JG-54 (the 3d Squadron of Fighter Group 54), then I and II/JG-26 (by January 1945), and JG-2 and JG-301 (in early 1945). Allied and Luftwaffe pilots immediately dubbed it the "long-nose" ("langnasen") Fw 190. On their first operational mission with the new Fw 190 D-9, II/JG-26 shot down four British "Lancaster" bombers and one "Mosquito" fighter for the loss of one "Dora-9".

Several Fw 190 D-9 equipped groups, including JG-2 and JG-26, participated in airfield attacks by nearly 1,000 aircraft during the ill-advised "Operation Base Plate (Bodenplatte)" opening the Battle of the Bulge on January 1, 1945. JG-2 suffered 40 percent losses, and a total of 250 fighters were lost. Additionally, since the U.S. Army Air Force had begun hitting aircraft assembly plants and later oil refineries, the fighter force steadily lost effectiveness against daylight bombing raids. By the time JG-6 received 150 D-9s in April 1945, the bombing campaign had so restricted fuel supplies that only four aircraft could fly at a time.

Development continued with the D-10 through-15 versions, all of which were to be multi-role interceptor/ground-attack fighters with a wide variety of engines-the Daimler-Benz DB-603A and EB, the Junker Jumo 213EB and F with and without water methanol injection. Further development followed as the Ta 152, which is reported separately. Between 650 and 700 Fw 190 D's were completed when production ceased in 1945. Focke-Wulf's Marienburg plant, although apparently devastated by bombing, itself produced eight Fw 190 D's a day in December 1944. Figures vary, but approximately 13,250 fighters and 6,250 fighter-bomber versions were produced. This included 11,411 accepted by the Luftwaffe in 1944 alone-an increase of 375% over the previous year-and some 2,700 added in the final months of the war, even though about 30% of Fw 190 factories had been overrun by Soviet forces by February 1945.

Oddly enough, the Luftwaffe had also considered the D-9 to be an excellent torpedo bomber, and after the war, the Soviets actually put a batch of captured Fw 190 D-9s into service with the Naval Air attachment of their Baltic Fleet, where they apparently served until 1947 or 1948.

At least 11 Fw 190s exist in museums worldwide. Four of these are Fw 190 Ds, and all are in the United States -- including one at the U.S. Air Force museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH., and one here at NASM.

The NASM Fw 190 D-9, factory number (Werksnummer) 601088, was probably built at Focke Wulf's Bernburg plant. According to its markings, it was flown by a staff officer of the 4th Squadron of Fighter Group 3 (IV (Sturm)/JG-3 "Udet"), flying bomber intercepts from late 1944 through 1945. This Fw 190 D-9 was among a group of 21 various German aircraft gathered together in June 1945 by a team of Air Materiel Command intelligence officers from the USAAF 2d Tactical Air Force and flown out of Flensburg, Germany, to Cherbourg, France, for shipment to the United States. The Fw 190 D-9, with test registration FE+120 (for "Foreign Evaluation"), was flight tested by the USAAF Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, and a performance report was issued in September, 1946, by 1st Lt. Charles A. Ross. The aircraft was donated to NASM by the U.S. Air Force on June 15, 1960. It has been on loan to the U.S. Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH., since 1975.