Focke-Wulf Fw 187 Falke (Falcon)

The Focke-Wulf Fw 187 Falke (Falcon) was a high performance twin-engined fighter that was developed in single and two seat versions, but that never attracted the support of the German air ministry, and didn't enter production.

Focke Wulf Fw 187 from the front
Focke Wulf Fw 187 from the front

The Fw 187 was developed as a private venture by Focke-Wulf, from an original design by Kurt Tank. It was an all-metal, stressed skin, low-wing monoplane with a very slim fuselage - so slim in fact that some of the instruments had to be placed on the sides of the engine nacelles instead of in the cockpit! It was designed to use the 960hp Daimler Benz DB600 engine that was then under production, but when Focke-Wulf were given a contract to produce the first three prototypes the German Air Ministry insisted that they use the less powerful Junkers Jumo 210. Only the sixth prototype ever received the Daimler Benz engines. 

Even with the less powerful engines the Fw 187 V1 still reached a top speed of 326mph. It also had a good turning circle, an impressive climb rate and good dive performance, but despite all of its advantages the RLM were unimpressed. As originally designed the Fw 187 was very lightly armed, with only two MG 17 machine guns, well below an acceptable standard by the late 1930s.

A contract for three pre-production aircraft was issued, along with funding for three more prototypes, all of which were to be two-seaters. The third prototype was also completed as a two-seater, but once again despite its impressive performance failed to win over the RLM. Production ended with the three A-0 aircraft.

The three pre-production A-0s were used to defend the Focke-Wulf factory at Bremen during the summer 1940, and several unsubstantiated victories were claimed. During the winter of 1940-41 they were sent to 13 (Zerstörer) Staffel of JG 77 in Norway, where they received a very positive welcome. When the RLM discovered that the aircraft were in use they were ordered back to Bremen, where they were used as development aircraft on the Ta 154 project.

Fw 187 V1

The first prototype was a single-seater, powered by two Junkers Jumo 210Da engines (680hp) and armed with two 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns. It made its maiden flight in the summer of 1937 and was lost on 14 May 1938 when it failed to recover from a dive.

Fw 187 V2

The V2 was a similar aircraft, but with the Jumo 210G engine and a modified rudder.

Fw 187 V3

The V3 was the first two-seater. The engine nacelles were reduced in length to allow for full span flaps, the fuselage was redesigned and it carried heavier weapons - either two 20mm cannon or four MG 17 machine guns (sources differ).

Fw 187 V4

The V4 was similar to the V3. It made its maiden flight in the summer of 1938

Fw 187 V5

The V5 was similar to the V3 and V4. It made its maiden flight in the autumn of 1938.

Fw 187 V6

Focke-Wulf were eventually given two 1,000hp DB 600A engines to use on the sixth prototype. When equipped with a surface evaporation cooling system the V6 reached a top speed of 390mph, well above the 354mph of the contemporary Bf 109E. This was a rather misleading statistic, for the surface evaporation system was not very successful. Any production version of the aircraft would have had to use standard radiators, giving it an estimated top speed of 348mph. With engines always in short supply this would not have been an efficient use of the limited supplies of DB600s. 

Fw 187A-0

Three pre-production A-0 aircraft were built, with work starting in 1939. They were similar to the V4 and V5 prototypes, but with flat bullet-proof windscreens. They were powered by two 700hp Jumo 210G engines and were armed with two 20mm MG Ff cannon in the lower fuselage and four MG 17 machine guns carried on the sides of the nose.

Statistics (A-0)
Engine: Two Junkers Jumo 210Ga 12-cylinder liquid cooled engines
Power: 730hp each
Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
Wing span: 50ft 2in
Length: 36ft 6in
Height: 12ft 8in
Empty Weight: 8,157lb
Loaded Weight: 11,023lb
Max Speed: 322mph at sea level
Cruising Speed: 287mph
Service Ceiling: 32,810ft
Climb rate: 3,445ft per minute
Armament: Two 20mm MG FF cannons and four 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns
Bomb-load: none

Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Combines a good background history of the Luftwaffe with a comprehensive examination of its aircraft, from the biplanes of the mid 1930s to the main wartime aircraft and on to the seemingly unending range of experimental designs that wasted so much effort towards the end of the war. A useful general guide that provides an impressively wide range of information on almost every element of the Luftwaffe (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 September 2010), Focke-Wulf Fw 187 Falke (Falcon) ,

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