The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger (English: Shrike) is a German single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank at Focke-Wulf in the late 1930s and widely used during World War II. Along with its well-known counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Fw 190 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe‘s Jagdwaffe (Fighter Force). The twin-row BMW 801 radial engine that powered most operational versions enabled the Fw 190 to lift larger loads than the Bf 109, allowing its use as a day fighter, fighter-bomber, ground-attack aircraft and, to a lesser degree, night fighter.
The Fw 190A started flying operationally over France in August 1941, and quickly proved superior in all but turn radius to the Royal Air Force‘s main front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V, particularly at low and medium altitudes. The 190 maintained superiority over Allied fighters until the introduction of the improved Spitfire Mk. IX. In November/December 1942, the Fw 190 made its air combat debut on the Eastern Front, finding much success in fighter wings and specialised ground attack units called Schlachtgeschwader (Battle Wings or Strike Wings) from October 1943 onwards.
The Fw 190A series’ performance decreased at high altitudes (usually 6,000 m (20,000 ft) and above), which reduced its effectiveness as a high-altitude interceptor. From the Fw 190’s inception, there had been ongoing efforts to address this with a turbosupercharged BMW 801 in the B model, the much longer-nosed C model with efforts to also turbocharge its chosen Daimler-Benz DB 603 inverted V12 powerplant, and the similarly long-nosed D model with the Junkers Jumo 213. Problems with the turbocharger installations on the -B and -C subtypes meant only the D model entered service in September 1944. These high-altitude developments eventually led to the Focke-Wulf Ta 152, which was capable of extreme speeds at medium to high altitudes (755 km/h (408 kn; 469 mph) at 13,500 m (44,300 ft)). While these “long nose” 190 variants and the Ta 152 derivative especially gave the Germans parity with Allied opponents, they arrived too late to affect the outcome of the war.
The Fw 190 was well-liked by its pilots. Some of the Luftwaffe’s most successful fighter aces claimed many of their kills while flying it, including Otto Kittel, Walter Nowotny and Erich Rudorffer. The Fw 190 provided greater firepower than the Bf 109 and, at low to medium altitude, superior manoeuvrability, in the opinion of German pilots who flew both fighters. It was regarded as one of the best fighter planes of World War II
Between 1934 and 1935 the German Ministry of Aviation (RLM) ran a contest to produce a modern fighter for the rearming Luftwaffe. Kurt Tank entered the parasol-winged Fw 159 into the contest, against the Arado Ar 80, Heinkel He 112 and Messerschmitt Bf 109. The Fw 159 was hopelessly outclassed, and was soon eliminated from the competition along with the Ar 80. The He 112 and Bf 109 were generally similar in design but the 109’s lightweight construction gave it a performance edge the 112 was never able to match. On 12 March 1936 the 109 was declared the winner.
Even before the 109 had entered squadron service, in autumn 1937 the RLM sent out a new tender asking various designers for a new fighter to fight alongside the Bf 109, as Walter Günther had done with his firm’s follow-on to the unsuccessful He 100 and He 112. Although the Bf 109 was an extremely competitive fighter, the Ministry was worried that future foreign designs might outclass it, and wanted to have new aircraft under development to meet these possible challenges. Kurt Tank responded with a number of designs, most based around a liquid-cooled inline engine.
However, it was not until a design was presented using the air-cooled, 14-cylinder BMW 139 radial engine that the Ministry of Aviation’s interest was aroused. As this design used a radial engine, it would not compete with the inline-powered Bf 109 for engines, when there were already too few Daimler-Benz DB 601s to go around. This was not the case for competing designs like the Heinkel He 100 or twin-engined Focke-Wulf Fw 187, where production would compete with the 109 and Messerschmitt Bf 110 for engine supplies. After the war, Tank denied a rumour that he had to “fight a battle” with the Ministry to convince them of the radial engine’s merits.
In contrast to the complex, failure-prone fuselage-mounted main gear legs of the earlier Fw 159, one of the main features of the Fw 190 was its wide-tracked, inwards-retracting landing gear. They were designed to withstand a sink rate of 4.5 metres per second (15 feet per second, 900 feet per minute), double the strength factor usually required. Hydraulic wheel brakes were used. The wide-track undercarriage produced better ground handling characteristics, and the Fw 190 suffered fewer ground accidents than the Bf 109. (The Bf 109’s narrow-track, outwards-retracting landing gear hinged on its wing root structure to help lower weight, but this led to inherent weakness and many failures and ground loops.) The Fw 190’s retractable tail gear used a cable, anchored to the “elbow” at the midpoint of the starboard maingear’s transverse retraction arms, which ran aftwards within the fuselage to the vertical fin to operate the tailwheel retraction function. The tailwheel’s retraction mechanical design possessed a set of pulleys to guide the aforementioned cable to the top of the tailwheel’s oleo strut, pulling it upwards along a diagonal track within the fin, into the lower fuselage — this mechanism was accessible through a prominently visible triangular-shaped hinged panel, on the left side in the fin’s side sheetmetal covering. On some versions of the Fw 190 an extended tailwheel oleo strut could be fitted for larger-sized loads (such as bombs or even a torpedo) beneath the fuselage.
Most aircraft of the era used cables and pulleys to operate their controls. The cables tended to stretch, resulting in the sensations of “give” and “play” that made the controls less crisp and responsive, and required constant maintenance to correct. For the new design, the team replaced the cables with rigid pushrods and bearings to eliminate this problem.[b] Another innovation was making the controls as light as possible. The maximum resistance of the ailerons was limited to 3.5 kg (8 lb), as the average man’s wrist could not exert a greater force. The empennage (tail assembly) featured relatively small and well-balanced horizontal and vertical surfaces.
The design team also attempted to minimize changes in the aircraft’s trim at varying speeds, thus reducing the pilot’s workload. They were so successful in this regard that they found in-flight-adjustable aileron and rudder trim tabs were not necessary. Small, fixed tabs were fitted to control surfaces and adjusted for proper balance during initial test flights. Only the elevator trim needed to be adjusted in flight (a feature common to all aircraft). This was accomplished by tilting the entire horizontal tailplane with an electric motor, with an angle of incidence ranging from −3° to +5°.
Another aspect of the new design was the extensive use of electrically powered equipment instead of the hydraulic systems used by most aircraft manufacturers of the time. On the first two prototypes, the main landing gear was hydraulic. Starting with the third prototype, the undercarriage was operated by push buttons controlling electric motors in the wings, and was kept in position by electric up and down-locks. The armament was also loaded and fired electrically. Tank believed that service use would prove that electrically powered systems were more reliable and more rugged than hydraulics, electric lines being much less prone to damage from enemy fire.
Like the Bf 109, the Fw 190 featured a fairly small wing planform with relatively high wing loading. This presents a trade-off in performance. An aircraft with a smaller wing suffers less drag under most flight conditions and therefore flies faster and may have better range. However, it also means the aircraft has a higher stalling speed making it less maneuverable, and also reduces performance in the thinner air at higher altitudes. The wings spanned 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in) and had an area of 15 m2 (161 ft2). The wing was designed using the NACA 23015.3 airfoil at the root and the NACA 23009 airfoil at the tip.
Earlier aircraft designs generally featured canopies consisting of small plates of perspex (called Plexiglas in the United States) in a metal “greenhouse” framework, with the top of the canopy even with the rear fuselage – this was true of the IJNAS Mitsubishi A6M Zero, whose otherwise “all-around view” canopy was still heavily framed. This design considerably limited visibility, especially to the rear. The introduction of vacuum forming led to the creation of the “bubble canopy” which was largely self-supporting, and could be mounted over the cockpit, offering greatly improved all-round visibility. Tank’s design for the Fw 190 used a canopy with a frame that ran around the perimeter, with only a short, centerline seam along the top, running rearward from the radio antenna fitting where the three-panel windscreen and forward edge of the canopy met, just in front of the pilot.
The eventual choice of the BMW 801 14-cylinder radial over the more troublesome BMW 139 also brought with it a BMW-designed cowling “system” which integrated the radiator used to cool the motor oil. An annular, ring-shaped oil cooler core was built into the BMW-provided forward cowl, just behind the fan. The outer portion of the oil cooler’s core was in contact with the main cowling’s sheet metal. Comprising the BMW-designed forward cowl, in front of the oil cooler was a ring of metal with a C-shaped cross-section, with the outer lip lying just outside the rim of the cowl, and the inner side on the inside of the oil cooler core. Together, the metal ring and cowling formed an S-shaped duct with the oil cooler’s core contained between them. Airflow past the gap between the cowl and outer lip of the metal ring produced a vacuum effect that pulled air from the front of the engine forward across the oil cooler core to provide cooling for the 801’s motor oil. The rate of cooling airflow over the core could be controlled by moving the metal ring in order to open or close the gap. The reasons for this complex system were threefold. One was to reduce any extra aerodynamic drag of the oil radiator, in this case largely eliminating it by placing it within the same cowling as the engine. The second was to warm the air before it flowed to the radiator to aid warming the oil during starting. Finally, by placing the radiator behind the fan, cooling was provided even while the aircraft was parked. The disadvantage to this design was that the radiator was in an extremely vulnerable location, and the metal ring was increasingly armoured as the war progressed.[
First prototypes (BMW 139)
Fw 190 V1 in its original form with the streamlined engine cowling and ducted spinner. The pointed tip of the internal spinner can also be seen. Pilot is probably Hans Sander.Fw 190 V1(civil registration D-OPZE), powered by a 1,550 PS (1,529 hp, 1,140 kW) BMW 139 14-cylinder two-row radial engine.D-OPZE first flew on 1 June 1939.Fw 190 V2Designated with the Stammkennzeichen alphabetic ID code of FL+OZ (later RM+CB) the V2 first flew on 31 October 1939 and was equipped from the outset with the new spinner and cooling fan. It was armed with one Rheinmetall-Borsig 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine gun and one 13 mm (.51 in) synchronized MG 131 machine gun in each wing root.Fw 190 V3AbandonedFw 190 V4Abandoned
Later prototypes (BMW 801)
Fw 190 V5k. This is the V5 with the original small wing. The 12-blade cooling fan and redesigned undercarriage and canopy fairings are visible.Fw 190 V5Fitted with the larger, more powerful 14-cylinder two-row BMW 801 radial engine. This engine introduced a pioneering example of an engine management system called the Kommandogerät (command-device) designed by BMW, who also designed the 801’s forward cowling with its integral oil cooling system: the Kommandogerät functioned in effect as an electro-mechanical computer which set mixture, propeller pitch (for the constant-speed propeller), boost, and magneto timing.Fw 190 V5k(kleine Fläche — small surface) The smaller span initial variant re-designated after the longer span wing was fitted. The V5 first flew in the early spring of 1940. The weight increase with all of the modifications was substantial, about 635 kg (1,400 lb), leading to higher wing loading and a deterioration in handling. Plans were made to create a new wing with more area to address these issues.Fw 190 V5g(große Fläche — large surface) In August 1940 a collision with a ground vehicle damaged the V5 and it was sent back to the factory for major repairs. This was an opportune time to rebuild it with a new wing which was less tapered in plan than the original design, extending the leading and trailing edges outward to increase the area. The new wing had an area of 18.30 m2 (197 ft2), and now spanned 10.506 m (34 ft 5 in). After conversion, the aircraft was called the V5g for große Fläche (large surface). Although it was 10 km/h (6 mph) slower than when fitted with the small wing, V5g was much more manoeuvrable and had a faster climb rate. This new wing platform was to be used for all major production versions of the Fw 190.
Fw 190 A
Side-view of Fw 190 A-0Fw 190 A-0The pre-production Fw 190 A-0 series was ordered in November 1940, a total of 28 being completed. Because they were built before the new wing design was fully tested and approved, the first nine A-0s retained the original small wings. All were armed with six 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns — four synchronised weapons, two in the forward fuselage and one in each wing root, supplemented by a free-firing MG 17 in each wing, outboard of the propeller disc.Fw 190 A-0s or A-1s of an unknown unit in France.Fw 190 A-1The Fw 190 A-1 was in production from June 1941. It was powered by the BMW 801 C-1 engine, rated at 1,560 PS (1,539 hp, 1,147 kW) for take-off. Armament included two fuselage-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s and two wing root-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s (with all four MG 17s synchronized to fire through the propeller arc) and two outboard wing-mounted 20 mm MG FF/Ms.Side-view of Fw 190 A-2; the most notable change over the A-0 was the addition of three vertical cooling slits on the engine cowling, just forward of the wing.Fw 190 A-2The introduction of the BMW 801 C-2 resulted in the Fw 190 A-2 model, first introduced in October 1941. The A-2 wing weaponry was updated, with the two wing root-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s being replaced by 20 mm MG 151/20E cannon.Fw 190A-3 of JG 1 in the Netherlands, summer 1942.Fw 190 A-3The Fw 190 A-3 was equipped with the BMW 801 D-2 engine, which increased power to 1,700 PS (1,677 hp, 1,250 kW) at takeoff. The A-3 retained the same weaponry as the A-2.Fw 190 A-3/Umrüst-Bausatz 1 (/U1) — (W.Nr 130 270) was the first 190 to have the engine mount extended by 15 cm (6 in), which would be standardized on the later production A-5 model.Fw 190 A-3/U2 — The A-3/U2 (W.Nr 130386) had RZ 65 73 mm (2.87 in) rocket launcher racks under the wings with three rockets per wing. There were also a small number of U7 aircraft tested as high-altitude fighters armed with only two 20 mm MG 151 cannon, but with reduced overall weight.Fw 190 A-3/U3 — The A-3/U3 was the first of the Jabo (Jagdbomber), using an ETC-501 centre-line bomb rack able to carry up to 500 kg (1,100 lb) of bombs or, with horizontal stabilising bars, one 300 L (80 US gal) standard Luftwaffe drop tank. The U3 retained the fuselage-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s and the wing-mounted 20 mm MG 151 cannon, with the outer MG FF being removed.Fw 190 A-3/U4 — The A-3/U4 was a reconnaissance version with two RB 12.5 cameras in the rear fuselage and a EK 16 gun camera or a Robot II miniature camera in the leading edge of the port wing root. Armament was similar to the U3, however, and the ETC 501 was usually fitted with the standardized Luftwaffe 300 litre-capacity (80 US gal) drop tank.Fw 190 A-3a(a=ausländisch — foreign) In autumn 1942, 72 new aircraft were delivered to Turkey in an effort to keep that country friendly to the Axis powers. These were designated Fw 190 A-3a, designation for export models and delivered between October 1942 and March 1943.A captured Fw 190A-4. The USAAF-painted Balkenkreuz and swastika markings are of nonstandard size and proportions.Fw 190 A-4Introduced in July 1942, the A-4 was equipped with the same engine and basic armament as the A-3.Fw 190 A-4/Rüstsatz 6 (/R6) — Some A-4s were fitted with a pair of under-wing Werfer-Granate 21 (BR 21) rocket mortars, and were designated Fw 190 A-4/R6.Fw 190 A-4/U1 — The A-4/U1 was outfitted with an ETC 501 rack under the fuselage. All armament except the MG 151 cannon was removed.Fw 190 A-4/U3 — The A-4/U3 was very similar to the U1, and later served as the prototype for the Fw 190 F-1 assault fighter.Fw 190 A-4/U4 — The A-4/U4 was a reconnaissance fighter, with two Rb 12.4 cameras in the rear fuselage and an EK 16 or Robot II gun camera. The U4 was equipped with fuselage-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s and 20 mm MG 151 cannon.Fw 190 A-4/U7 — The A-4/U7 was a high-altitude fighter, easily identified by the compressor air intakes on either side of the cowling. Adolf Galland flew a U7 in the spring of 1943.Fw 190 A-4/U8 — The A-4/U8 was the Jabo-Rei (Jagdbomber Reichweite, long-range fighter-bomber), adding twin standard Luftwaffe 300 L (80 US gal) drop tanks, one under each wing, on VTr-Ju 87 racks with duralumin fairings produced by Weserflug, and a centreline bomb rack. The outer wing-mounted 20 mm MG FF/M cannon and the cowling-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 were removed to save weight. The A-4/U8 was the precursor of the Fw 190 G-1.Fw 190 A-4/R1 — The A-4/R1, was fitted with a FuG 16ZY radio set with a Morane “whip” aerial fitted under the port wing. These aircraft, called Leitjäger or Fighter Formation Leaders, could be tracked and directed from the ground via special R/T equipment called Y-Verfahren (Y-Control). More frequent use of this equipment was made from the A-5 onwards.Captured Fw 190A-5 Werknummer 150 051, in U.S. Navy colorsFw 190 A-5The A-5 was developed after it was determined that the Fw 190 could easily carry more ordnance. The D-2 engine was moved forward another 15 cm (6 in) as had been tried out earlier on the service test A-3/U1 aircraft, moving the centre of gravity forward to allow more weight to be carried aft.Fw 190 A-5/U2 — The A-5/U2 was designed as a night Jabo-Rei and featured anti-reflective fittings and exhaust flame dampers. A centre-line ETC 501 rack typically held a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, and wing-mounted racks mounted 300 L drop tanks. A EK16 gun camera, as well as landing lights, were fitted to the wing leading edge. The U2 was armed with only two 20 mm MG 151 cannon.Fw 190 A-5/U3 — The A-5/U3 was a Jabo fighter fitted with ETC 501s for drop tanks and bombs; it too featured only two MG 151s for armament.Fw 190 A-5/U4 — The A-5/U4 was a “recon” fighter with two RB 12.5 cameras and all armament of the basic A-5 with the exception of the MG FF cannon.Fw 190 A-5/U8 — The A-5/U8 was another Jabo-Rei outfitted with SC-250 centreline-mounted bombs, under-wing 300-litre drop tanks and only two MG 151s; it later became the Fw 190 G-2.Fw 190 A-5/U9 — Test installation of the A-7 modifications.Fw 190 A-5/U12 — A special U12 was created for bomber attack, outfitted with the standard 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 and 20 mm MG 151 but replacing the outer wing 20 mm MG-FF cannon with two underwing gun pods containing two 20 mm MG 151/20 each, for a total of two machine guns and six cannon.Fw 190 A-5/R11 — The A-5/R11 was a night fighter conversion fitted with FuG 217 Neptun (Neptune) radar equipment with arrays of three dipole antenna elements vertically mounted fore and aft of the cockpit and above and below the wings. Flame-dampening boxes were fitted over the exhaust exits. 1,752 A-5s were built from November 1942 to June 1943.Fw 190 A-6The A-6 was developed to address shortcomings found in previous “A” models when attacking U.S. heavy bombers. A structurally redesigned and lighter wing was introduced and the normal armament was increased to two MG 17 fuselage machine guns and four 20 mm MG 151/20E wing root and outer wing cannon with larger ammunition boxes.Fw 190 A-7The A-7 entered production in November 1943, equipped with the BMW 801 D-2 engine, again producing 1,700 PS (1,677 hp, 1,250 kW) and two fuselage-mounted 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131s, replacing the MG 17s.An Fw 190 A-8/R2 in American hands. “White 11” of 5./JG 4 was captured during Operation Bodenplatte after its engine had been damaged by American light flak.Fw 190 A-8The A-8 entered production in February 1944, powered either by the standard BMW 801 D-2 or the 801Q (also known as 801TU). The 801Q/TU, with the “T” signifying a Triebwerksanlageunitized powerplant installation, was a standard 801D with improved, thicker armour on the BMW-designed front annular cowling, which still incorporated the BMW-designed oil cooler, upgraded from 6 mm (.24 in) on earlier models to 10 mm (.39 in). Changes introduced in the Fw 190 A-8 also included the C3-injection Erhöhte Notleistung emergency boost system to the fighter variant of the Fw 190 A (a similar system with less power had been fitted to some earlier Jabo variants of the 190 A), raising power to 1,980 PS (1,953 hp, 1,456 kW) for 10 minutes. The 10 minute emergency power may be used up to three times per mission with a 10 minute cooldown in “combat power” between each 10 minute use of emergency power.Fw 190A-8 with the under-wing WGr 21 rocket-propelled mortar. The weapon was developed from the 21 cm Nebelwerfer 42 infantry weapon.Fw 190 A-8/R2 — The A-8/R2 replaced the outer wing 20 mm cannon with a 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon.Fw 190 A-8/R4 — The A-8/R4 featured GM1 nitrous boost to the standard BMW 801 D/Q engine. GM1 (nitrous oxide) injection increased power for short amounts of time, up to 10 minutes at a time. A 20 minute supply was usually carried.Fw 190 A-8/R8 — The A-8/R8 was similar to the A-8/R2, but fitted with heavy armour including 30 mm (1.18 in) canopy and windscreen armour and 5 mm (.2 in) cockpit armour.Fw 190 A-9First built in September 1944, the Fw 190 A-9 was fitted with the new BMW 801S rated at 2,000 PS (1,973 hp, 1,471 kW); the more powerful 2,400 PS (2,367 hp, 1,765 kW) 801F-1 was still under development, and not yet available.Fw 190 A-10Late in the war, the A-10 was fitted with larger wings for better maneuverability at higher altitudes, which could have allowed additional 30 mm (1.18 in) calibre, long-barreled MK 103 cannon to be fitted.
A total of 13,291 Fw 190 A-model aircraft were produced.
A-6, A-7, and A-8 were modified for Sturmböcke bomber-destroyer operations.
Tank started looking at ways to address the altitude performance problem early in the program. In 1941, he proposed a number of versions featuring new powerplants, and he suggested using turbochargers in place of superchargers. Three such installations were outlinedFw 190 V12(an A-0) would be outfitted with many of the elements which eventually led to the B series.Fw 190 V13(W.Nr. 0036) first C-series prototypeFw 190 V15(W.Nr. 0036) second C-series prototypeFw 190 V16(W.Nr. 0036) third C-series prototypeFw 190 V18(W.Nr. 0036) fourth C-series prototypeFw 190 B-0With a turbocharged BMW 801Fw 190 B-1This aircraft was similar to the B-0, but had slightly different armament. In its initial layout, the B-1 was to be fitted with four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s and two 20 mm MG-FFs. One was fitted with two MG 17s, two 20 mm MG 151s and two 20 mm MG-FFs. After the completion of W.Nr. 811, no further Fw 190 B models were ordered.An early production Fw 190 D-9 at the Cottbus plant. Note the early canopy and redesigned, simplified centreline rack carrying a 300 L drop tank.Fw 190 CWith a turbocharged Daimler-Benz DB 603, the tail of the aircraft had to be lengthened in order to maintain the desired centre of gravity. Four additional prototypes based on the V18/U1 followed: V29, V30, V32 and V33.Fw 190 DThe Fw 190 D (nicknamed Dora; or Long-Nose Dora (“Langnasen-Dora”) was intended as the high-altitude performance version of the A-series.Fw 190 D-0The first D-0 prototype was completed in October 1942 with a supercharged Junkers Jumo 213 including a pressurized cockpit and other features making them more suitable for high-altitude work.This captured Fw 190 D-9 appears to be a late production aircraft built by Fieseler at Kassel. It has a late style canopy; the horizontal black stripe with white outline shows that this was a II. Gruppe aircraft.Fw 190 D-1Initial productionFw 190 D-2Initial productionFw 190 D-9The D-9 series was rarely used against heavy-bomber raids, as the circumstances of the war in late 1944 meant that fighter-versus-fighter combat and ground attack missions took priority. This model was the basis for the follow-on Focke-Wulf Ta 152 aircraft.Fw 190 D-11Fitted with the up-rated Jumo 213F series engine similar to the Jumo 213E used in the Ta-152 H series but minus the intercooler. Two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons were installed in the outer wings to complement the 20 mm MG 151s in the inboard positions.Fw 190 D-13/R11, Champlin Fighter Museum, Phoenix, Arizona (c.1995)Fw 190 D-12Similar to the D-11, but featured the 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon in a Motorkanone installation firing through the propeller hub.Fw 190 D-13The D-13 would be fitted with a 20 mm MG 151/20 motor cannon.
The Fw 190 participated on every major combat front where the Luftwaffe operated after 1941, and did so with success in a variety of roles.
A 0.40 km2 (100 acre) Focke-Wulf plant east of Marienburg was bombed by the Eighth Air Force on 9 October 1944. In addition, one of the most important sub-contractors for the radial-engined Fw 190s was AGO Flugzeugwerke, which from 1941 through to the end of the war produced enough Fw 190s to earn it major attention from the USAAF, with the AGO plant in Oschersleben being attacked at least five times during the war from 1943 onwards.
Tiger I is the common name for a German heavy tank that was developed in 1942 and used during World War II. The final official designation was the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf.E, often abbreviated to “Tiger”. Tiger I gave the Wehrmacht its first tank equipped with an 88mm cannon: 8.8 cm KwK 36 L / 56. During the war, Tiger I was used in battle on all German fronts. It was usually part of independent tank battalions, which proved to be very effective.
Although Tiger I was a very advanced design, it was at the same time very complicated. The tank used expensive materials and labor-intensive production methods. 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944 (approximately 56 wagons per month). Tiger I had a tendency to suffer from certain types of faults on the caterpillar feet and had a limited radius of action due to high fuel consumption. It was expensive to maintain but generally mechanically reliable. The tank was also difficult to transport, and could be immobilized when mud, ice and snow froze between its overlapping and interwoven Schachtellaufwerk patterns in the wheels, in both before and after the Russian winter, which could often cause the wheels to get completely stuck. Production was phased out in 1944 in favor of Tiger II (Königstiger).
The tank was given its nickname “Tiger” by Ferdinand Porsche, and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II began production. The first official designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘Panzer VI version H’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H), with military equipment designation SdKfz 182, but the tank was renamed PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943, with military equipment designation SdKfz 181.
Today, only a handful of tanks remain in museums and exhibitions around the world. The Tank Museum’s “Tiger 131” is today the only Tiger restored to working condition. This particular tank has, among other things, appeared in the film Fury.
The development of Tiger I started in 1937 and the first carriage was delivered in July 1942. Between 1937 and 1941, Henschel and Ferdinand Porsche had designed concepts and prototypes of various medium-heavy and heavy tanks. On May 26, 1941, Hitler ordered both Porsche and Henschel to present their proposals for a heavy tank that would be ready in the summer of 1942. Krupp was given the responsibility of producing the main weapon and tower for both Porsche and Henschel’s proposals. The weapons program was named Tiger Program. Both Henschel and Porsche based their design on previous prototypes. The new 45-ton tank would be armed with an 88 mm KwK L / 56 (KampfwagenKanone, L / 56 means that the barrel is 56 calibers long = 4.928 m), a cannon based on the famous anti-aircraft gun 8.8 cm FlaK 36.
The development of Porsche’s proposal was much faster than Henschel’s carriage, as Porsche had already started a stand-alone project for a heavy tank in 1940. Henschel’s proposal was less advanced and reused components from previous projects. Henschel also decided that he wanted to test with both the 88 mm cannon and the smaller 7.5 cm KwK 42 L / 70 which was later used on the Panthern, but in the end it was decided to invest in the 88. On April 19, 1942, the two prototypes of their own machine traveled from a railway station to the test field at Rastenburg, with a number of stops for repairs. The prototypes were presented to Hitler the next day. In July, the prototypes underwent extensive tests at the tank school in Berka, Germany. The tests showed that the Porsche car’s petrol electric driveline did not measure up, while Henschel’s car worked excellently. In July, Henschel’s Tiger was approved and production started at Henschel und Sohn’s factory in Kassel.
Tiger I was armed with the powerful 88 mm cannon which was originally an air defense cannon, 88 mm FlaK 36 L / 56 which was developed by Krupp and Bofors in Sweden during the interwar period (development of air defense was not allowed in Germany after the First World War, so German development team for abroad). The cannon was suspended slightly to the right of the center line of the tower and was fired electrically. Direction of the tower was done hydraulically with handwheels for fine adjustment laterally and elevation. The tower could swing at 320 degrees in both directions.
The tiger had an MG34 mounted at the front of the chassis and an MG34 mounted coaxially with the cannon.
The tiger had room for 96 grenades (cartridges), normally divided into half armor-piercing projectiles and half explosive grenades against soft targets. Pzgr. 39 could penetrate 100 mm armor at a 30 degree angle at a distance of 1,000 meters while Pzgr. 40 with tungsten core easily penetrated 170 mm armor at short range and 110 mm at 2,000 meters.
The thick armor meant that the Tiger could in principle not be destroyed by most Allied tanks from the front. The American M4 Sherman with its 76 mm cannon and Russian T-34/76 must enter very close to be able to penetrate the Tiger’s armor and this was no easy task as the Tiger was reported to be able to knock out T-34 tanks at 3,900 meters. . The British rule of thumb for Tiger combat was that 3 Sherman tanks were needed to knock out a Tiger and then only one Sherman would survive. [Source needed] The strategy of the American tank units was that with 2 Sherman tanks one approached a Tiger tank obliquely from the front from each side where a third Sherman tank that often hid sneaked up behind the Tiger tank to knock this Tiger out of the engine or the side where the armor was thinner (80 mm respectively) than the front (100 mm). The weakness of the tiger was the engine that required constant maintenance.
Most Tigers were destroyed by their own crew after the belts were shot down or the engine broke down. The tigers, like all other tanks, were also vulnerable to air strikes as the armor on the upper side was relatively thin to save weight.
After September 1943, the Tigers were covered with Zimmerite as protection against magnetic mines (magnetic mines were never used by the Allies, however).
The tiger had a crew of five men: wagon commander, shooter, charger, radioman (who also manned the machine gun in the chassis) and driver. The wagon commander and the shooter sat to the left of the cannon while the charger sat to the right. The driver sat to the left with the radioman to his right.
The first 250 Tigers had a 12-cylinder 21-liter Maybach HL210 P45 petrol engine with 590 horsepower and this was hardly enough to propel the heavy Tiger into the terrain. A modified engine of 700 hp of 23.88 liters was developed and began to be used from May 1943. The sound of the Tiger’s engine starting was very distinct and well known to Allied soldiers.
The steering was handled with a steering wheel that controlled the hydraulic servo. Brake levers were used for steering in an emergency or to achieve a smaller turning radius than that provided by the hydraulic system.
The tiger had eight forward gears and the gearbox was hydraulically operated. The gearbox had a preset (you first chose which gear you wanted to shift to and then you stepped on a pedal and the gearbox shifted) and was semi-automatic.
The belt assemblies consisted of a front drive wheel with 20 teeth, a free-spinning wheel at the rear whose attachment point could be moved forwards or backwards to tension the belt, and 16-24 support wheels whose 8 axles were mounted on torsionally sprung pendulum arms. With a belt unit on each side, the trolley had a total of 16 support wheel axles with 24-32 support wheels. An interesting detail is that the pendulum arms of the support wheels pointed forwards on the left side and backwards on the right side. This unusual arrangement was used when a lack of space in the hull due to the large number of torsion springs (1 spring for each of the 16 wheel axles) made it impossible to mount the pendulum arms in the traditional “trailing” design on both sides of the carriage.
The number of support wheels per axle varied between 2 and 3 as the Tiger had two different belt sizes, conveyor belts that were 520 mm wide (2 wheels / axle) and combat belts that were 720 mm wide (3 wheels / axle). The construction with overlapping support wheels made clay, ice and stones easily stuck between the wheels, which could lead to the straps locking. [Source needed] On the other hand, the suspension gave a relatively quiet ride compared to other constructions. There were also problems with the straps ending up at an angle on the wheels and locking. [Source needed] the sprints, but instead had to blow them apart or more often cut the strips apart with cutting torches. Two Tigers were needed to tow a stationary comrade, while 3 were needed by the standard German lifeguard, the FAMO semi-trailer, to tow a Tiger.
Early tiger tanks could run under up to 4 meters of water for 2.5 hours with the help of a snorkel. This possibility was abolished after the first 500 wagons and later versions could only get through 1.3 meters of water, but this probably required significantly less preparation time.
The main variant
The tiger was originally designed as the PanzerKampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 – SdKfz 182 (SonderKraftFahrZeug, roughly special motor vehicle). The name was changed in 1943 to Ausf E – SdKfz 181 but was generally called Tiger, Tiger I and PzKpfw VI. Officially, only one version of the Tiger was produced, but modifications were constantly made while it was being produced. Based on the modifications, the Tiger can be divided into three models, early, middle and late. Late Tigers differed slightly from early ones and had common parts with the Panther and Tiger II. Many older Tigers were upgraded with new components.
The first Tiger tanks were ready in August 1942 and from July 1942 to August 1944 only 1355 Tigers were built. The reason why there were no more was sky-high production costs and complicated construction.
Prototypes from Henschel
VK.4501 (H) The prototype that eventually led on to the production model.
Prototypes from Porsche
VK.4501 (P) Has two petrol engines from Porsche which drive two electric motors via generator.
Further developments on the chassis
See also the main article Ferdinand
Armored anti-tank vehicle built on Porsche’s prototypes for the Tiger. Named after Ferdinand Porsche.
See also the main article Elephant
Modernized variant of Ferdinand, including with close protection and dome for the wagon manager.
With a 38cm SturmMörser RW61 L / 5.4 in a large box-shaped superstructure, its primary task was to provide support fire for infantry in battles in urban areas. A total of 18 injured Tigers were rebuilt into Storm Tigers.
Tigers were found in heavy tank companies and battalions in both the Wehrmacht (army) and the Waffen-SS. The first Tiger companies had 9 carriages per company, but this was increased to 14 in mid-1943. In the same year, Tiger battalions of 45 carriages were organized. The army units (sPzAbt, schwere Panzer Abteilung) were numbered from 501 to 510 and the Waffen-SS battalions were numbered 101 to 103. These joined the armored regiments of the LSSAH, Das Reich and Totenkopf divisions and eventually also Grossdeutschland. During the war, surviving Tigers were formed into other smaller units as needed
The first time Tigers were deployed was on August 29, 1942 and September 21-22 outside Leningrad. The battle did not go well for the Tigers due to ill-suited terrain for heavy tanks and mechanical problems. In fact, it went so badly that the Russians managed to conquer a Tiger. After this, a doctrine was developed for the use of the new weapon and in the future things went better. In December 1942, Tigers were deployed near Tunis in North Africa.
I have inspected the battlefield at Fais Pass in Tunisia together with the force that recaptured the field. Inspection of our tanks that were destroyed shows that the 88 mm cannon struck through the tower at the front and continued out again at the rear. Few craters have been found, which should indicate that all hits have penetrated – Report from American Colonel in Tunisia 1943.
The tiger was able to destroy Sherman, T-34 and Churchill IV wagons at distances over 1,600 meters. By comparison, the T-34’s 76.2 mm cannon could not penetrate the Tiger’s armor frontally at any distance and must within 500 meters to be able to make an impact from the side. The T34 with 85 mm cannon could destroy a Tiger from the side at about 1,000 meters. The Soviet response to the Tiger, IS-2 with its 122 mm cannon could destroy the Tiger at over 1,000 meters from all directions. M4 Sherman’s 75 mm cannon could not penetrate the Tiger frontally and must within 500 meters to knock it out from the side. The British 17-pound cannon used in the Sherman Firefly could strike the Tiger at 1,500 meters, while the American 76 mm could not penetrate the front armor and must be within 1,000 meters to strike the side armor.
The shorter the distance between the cannon and the target, the higher the projectile’s impact ability. The Tiger’s 88 mm cannon had an extremely high penetration ability, which gave the Tiger the opportunity to strike out enemies at longer distances than they could fight the Tiger, which forced the Allies to try to flank Tiger units in order to have a chance at all.
The tiger had a top speed on the road of 38 km / h compared to IS-2’s 37 km / h. Both were significantly slower than the medium-heavy wagons (Panther, T-34). The earliest Tigers could get up to 45 km / h but they hung on speed limiters to spare the engines. The intricate design made the Tiger a problem child throughout the war. It was standard that the Tiger units had three quarters of strength while the remaining quarter stood in the workshop. It was rare for a Tiger unit to complete a road march without at least one car crashing. The high weight meant that many bridges did not hold and this led to a time-consuming procedure to prepare the trolley for wading. The thirst for fuel also meant that the Tiger had poor range. An interesting thing, however, is that the huge belts meant that it had lower ground pressure than most other tanks, such as the T-34.
These problems, however, were offset by the cannon and armor feared by all of Tiger’s opponents. When it came to tactical defense, the problems of movement were not so important and it usually required skilled allied officers and also that they sacrificed some chariots to be able to flank and knock out a Tiger. The British Army reckoned that 5 Shermans were needed to knock out a Tiger and then you would only have one Sherman left afterwards. [Source needed]
Some Tiger units came over the ratio 10: 1 in knocked out tanks, but due to the extremely limited supply of Tigers, this did not help the war for the Germans.
The tiger was deployed on all fronts before the end of the war and was feared by the Allies to such a mild degree that they began to call it tiger phobia. Morale on both sides was strongly influenced when the Tigers appeared, the Germans felt more secure while the Allied soldiers began to believe that all they saw were Tigers, especially later models of the Panzerkampfwagen IV.
The Tiger phobia was justified given the Tiger’s achievements in the hands of competent crews. For example, a lone Tiger under the command of SS-Oberscharführer Staudegger engaged a group of about 50 T-34s at Psyolknee near Kursk and knocked out 22 T-34s while the rest fled. On August 8, 1944, Willi Fey with his only Tiger knocked out all 15 British Shermans in an armored column. Michael Wittmann, a company commander from the Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101, defeated two dozen British Shermans and Cromwells in one day at the Battle of Villers-Bocage. Myth says he did it alone, but that was only at the beginning of the battle. English sources report that they knocked out 4 Tigers and 3 PzKpfW IV. The counterattack stopped the entire 7th Armored Division for two weeks.
There were more than 10 Tiger officers with over 100 defeated enemies, among these are Otto Carius with about 170 destroyed tanks, Johannes Bölter with 139+ destroyed tanks, Kurt Knispel with 168+ destroyed and Michael Wittmann with 138+ destroyed tanks and in addition to countless anti-tank guns and other vehicles.