The Focke Wulf Fw 190F was an armoured ground attack version of the aircraft, produced to replace the obsolete Ju 87 Stuka.
In the autumn of 1942 it was decided to produce a dedicated ground support version of the Fw 190, to replace the obsolete Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, which was becoming increasingly vulnerable on the Eastern Front, having already been knocked out on the Western Front in 1940. The ground attack versions of the Fw 190A had already proved that the type was an effective fighter bomber.
A series of factory conversion kits had been produced for the Fw 190A to allow it to operate as a ground attack aircraft. This started with the Fw 190A-3/U3 of May 1942. This had armour around the engine, on the side of the fuselage and on the undercarriage doors, and carried an ETC 501 rack under the fuselage, capable of carrying one 500kg or one 250kg bomb. Only twelve were produced.
Next came the A-4/U3, which had the same layout but with the improved radio of the A-4. The A-4/U3 could also use an ER-4 adaptor, which allowed the ETC 501 rack to carry four SC 50 (50kg) bombs. Again about a dozen were produced.
This was followed by the A-5/U3, based around the slightly longer A-5 fuselage. Once again it carried armour and an ETC 501 bomb with the option to carry the ER-4 adaptor. The A-5/U3 also carried two ETC 50 racks under each wing, allowing it to carry one 500kg and four 50kg bombs or eight 50kg bombs.
The three versions of the Fw 190F all carried extra armour, with 6mm below the engine, 5mm below the fuselage and 8mm around the aft fuselage cell. The pilot’s seat was already armoured with 8mm on the seat back and 12-14mm on the headrest. They also all removed the outboard cannon, so carried the fuselage machine guns and wing root MG 151 cannons. Apart from the armour the various versions of the Fw 190F were virtually identical to the version of the Fw 190A they were based on.
The Fw 190F-1 was based on the Fw 190A-4 in its fighter-bomber form (A-4/U3). It thus had the outboard cannon removed and an ETC 501 bomb rack added below the fuselage. This could carry a 500kg bomb or 300 litre drop tank. The F-1 could also carry an Enhangerost 4 (ER 4) multiple bomb carrier with four SC 50 bombs (110lb/ 50kg). It isn’t entirely clear how many F-1s were produced, or how. Some were produced by reclassifying A-4/U3s, while another thirty might have been built from new during the second half of 1942.
The Fw 190F-2 was similar to the F-1, but was based on the Fw 190A-5/U3, which was 6in longer than the A-4. It carried the standard extra armour, the ETC 501 bomb rack with optional ER 5 bomb carrier, and two ETC 50 bomb racks below the wings, so could carry one 500kg and four 50kg bombs or eight 50kg bombs. The original plan had been to put the A-5/U3 into production in December 1942 and then use it as the basis of the mass production Fw 190F from June 1943. However in April 1943 this plan was abandoned. The A-5/U3 became the Fw 190F-2, and around 270 were built between the end of 1942 and the spring of 1943. The first planned mass production version became the F-3, based on the A-5/U17.
The Fw 190F-3 was based on the A-5/U17. This was similar the A-5/U3, so could carry the ETC 501 bomb rack, two ETC 50 racks under each wing (as the R1) and had the extra armour. In addition the outer gun position was completely removed, leaving the 7.92mm MG 17 in the nose and the 20mm MG 151 cannon in the wing roots. It also carried the FuG 16 ZS radio, which allowed direct communication with the ground troops. However the wing was based on the stronger version produced for the A-6.
As is often the case, there is no agreement on the total number of F-3s built. All of them were constructed by Arado, with figures including 247, 270, 432 or 530! Most were built between April-December 1943, and production ended in March 1944.
The most common version of the F-3 was the F-3/R1, which had the two ETC 50s under each wing and the ER 4 adaptor for the ETC 501, allowing it to carry eight SC50 50kg bombs. These could be dropped in pairs using a special bomb release mechanism. With all eight bombs in place, top speed was reduced to only 326mph, so the nose machine guns were often removed to save weight and try and improve performance.
Fw 190F-3/R2 and F-3/R3
The F-3/R2 and F-3/R3 both carried two 30mm MK 103 cannon in different designs of pods under the wings, but only a handful were built as the 30mm cannon wasn’t a great success against Soviet armour.
The F-3/R6 was armed with W.Gr.21 rockets under the wings. This was a standard kit also used on several versions of the Fw 190A.
The F-4 was to have been a development of the F-3, but with a new bomb release system that would have allowed bombs to be dropped individually instead of in pairs. It was cancelled before reaching the prototype stage as the basic A-5 airframe it was based on had now been replaced by the A-8. Work moved onto the Fw 190F-8 instead.
F-4 , F-5 and F-6
Cancelled in favour of Fw 190G series.
The Fw 190F-8 was based on the Fw 190A-8. This meant that it carried a pair of 13mm MG 131 machine guns above the nose, and two 20mm MG 151 cannon in the wing roots. The outer cannon were removed. It was also give a different injector on the engine compressor, to provide short periods of boosted power at low levels.
Once again there is no agreement on the total number of F-8s produced. At the low end a figure of 385 is given, but other sources disagree by an order of magnitude, with 2,264 built by Arado (starting in March 1944) and 1,350 by Dornier (starting in April 1944), for a total of 3,614. Many of these would have been other models modified to the F-8 specification.
The extra armour and heavy payload had a big impact on performance. When operating with a loaded weight of 11,905lb the F-8 had a top speed of 322.4mph and range of 480 miles, well down on the 400mph plus of the fighter versions.
The F-8/R1 was the most common version of the aircraft, with a pair of ETC 50 racks under each wing, allowing it to carry four SC50 bombs under the wings, as well as whatever was on the fuselage rack. Later in the war the modified ETC 71 rack was used, carrying the same payload.
Dornier produced two F-8/R2s, which carried a 30mm MK 108 cannon in each outer wing panel.
The F-8/R3 was more common, with up to six built. It carried the 30mm MK 103 cannon in pods under each outer wing position.
The R-13 was a night attack version, with shields to hide the exhaust flares. A small number might have been built.
The R-14 was probably a test bed for a torpedo carrying aircraft for the LT F5b torpedo, and may have been used by 11./KG 200. It had the tail used on the Ta 152 and a longer tailwheel to improve ground clearance.
The F-8/R15 was similar to the F-8/U3, and could carry a BT 1400 torpedo-bomb on an ETC 502 rack carried on the fuselage. A handful were built, and may have been used by III./KG 200. It also had the extended tail leg seen on the R-14, again to make space for the large torpedo.
The F-8/R16 was similar to the F-8/U2, and could carry two BT 400 torpedo bombs on an ETC 503 rack, one under each wing.
The F-8/U1 carried an ETC 503 bomb rack under each wing, allowing it to carry two SC250 250kg bombs. It could also carry a drop tank under the fuselage, or in theory a SC500 500kg bomb, for a total payload of 1,000kg. However this came at the cost of performance. The F-8/U1 replaced the Fw 190A-8 in service.
Fw 190Fw 190F-8/U2
The F-8/U2 also carried the ETC 503 racks under the wings, but was intended for use as a torpedo bomber, with either the 700kg BT 700 or lighter BT 400 torpedo bombs (sources differ). It was also given a TAS 2A bomb sight. All of the wing guns were removing, leaving only the engine mounted MG 131s. A handful of prototypes were produced, but the U2 never entered large scale production.
The F-8/U3 was also a torpedo bomber, with the TAS bomb sight and the ability to carry a heavier torpedo, probably the 1,400kg BT 1400. It never reached service.
Fw 190Fw 190F-8/U4
The F-8/U4 was probably a night version, with modified electrical systems and an autopilot. However some sources say it was a torpedo fighter.
Fw 190Fw 190F-8/U5
The F-8/U5 either had improved electrical systems or was a torpedo fighter.
Fw 190Fw 190F-9
The F-9 was similar to the F-8, but with a BMW 801 TS/TH turbo-supercharged engine that could reach 2,000hp for take-off and emergencies (as seen on the Fw 190A-9. It carried the same 13mm machine guns above the engine and 20mm MG 151 cannon as the F-8. Most were given the bulged cockpit canopy introduced late in the production run of the A-8. Around 400 were probably built, mostly during 1945. Poor records from that period make it impossible to be sure how many were actually built.
It was equipped with five Rustsatz kits – R1 saw the ETC 50 wing racks replaced with the lighter ETC 71 type. R13, R14, R15 and R16 were the same as on the F-8.
The Fw 190F-10 was to have been a ground attack version of the A-10, but it was never built.
The Fw 190F-15 was similar to the F-9, with the A-8 wing and BMW 801TS/TH engine, and with larger wheels. It only reached the prototype stage.
The F-16 was similar to the F-15. It used the BMW 801TH engine, with an improved radio and the larger wheels of the F-15. It used the more advanced ETC 504 bomb rack under the fuselage and either four ETC 71s or two ETC 503s under the wings. Two prototypes were built.
A proposal for an aircraft with the BMW 801TJ 1,1810hp engine and the ETC 802 or ETC 804 fuselage racks, to cary larger torpedos. It was cancelled due to the war situation.
The F-17 was expected to enter production in August 1945. It was to have had the BMW 801TS/TH engine and the larger tail used on the Ta 152.