The Fw 190D-9 was probably the best German piston engined fighter of the Second World War, and was produced by fitting a Jumo 213 engine onto the fuselage of the Fw 190A-8. Unusually this inline engine was installed inside a circular fuselage with an annular radiator at the front, so the aircraft still appeared to be powered by a radial engine. The new engine improved the rate of climb and general performance of the Fw 190,
We start with an unusual account of a clash between the Fw 190s and a formation of Tempests where we have eye witness accounts from both sides of the same fight (although the Allied pilots all thought they were facing Bf 109s!). An account of the development of the Fw 190D-9 is followed by a look at German pilot training. We then move on to a look at the development, production and technical features of the aircraft, including pilot’s comments on how it compared to other German fighters. Interestingly these views don’t agree, with some pilots praising it but others finding it less agile than the BMW powered models. We then get an interesting account of daily life on a Fw 190D-9 base, by this point often an existing field but with improvised dispersal areas in nearby woods.
The generally reduced circumstances of the Luftwaffe in early 1945 is well illustrated by one photograph that shows a Fw 190D-9 being towed across an airfield by a wood-burning tractor, forced into use because of a general lack of fuel in Germany. New pilots also suffered, entering combat in late 1943 after 148 hours of powered flight, a drop from 210 hours in 1942, and with much of that time spent on basic training. This was reflected in the general combat performance of the Luftwaffe later in the war, where a small core of experienced experten achieved most of the victories.
The final, and largest, chapter looks at the Fw 190D-9s combat record. The main problem with the D-9 was that it appeared too late. III./JG 54 was the first unit to receive it, in the autumn of 1944 and only four groups had it by the end of the year. These suggest that the D-9 was on a par with the best Allied fighters of 1945, but not superior to them – it didn’t have the same impact as the original Fw 190, which had outclassed the Spitfires then in use. What we find here are a series of accounts of combats in which the D-9 achieved victories but also suffered losses, accompanied by accounts by its pilots in which they described their aircraft has having some advantages over each opponent, but also some failings. However the Germans were also almost always outnumbered by this stage, so the main feeling one gets is of a desperate struggle against overwhelming odds, with most of the later accounts ending with the author being shot down or captured.
1 – In Battle
2 – Setting the Scene
3 – Path to Combat
4 – Weapon of War
5 – Art of War
6 – Combat
Author: Robert Forsyth