The Focke-Wulf Ta 152A was the original design for the standard version of the Ta 152, but the project was cancelled just as it was about to go into production.
At the start of 1943 Kurt Tank produced a design for a replacement for the Fw 190 that would have looked similar but used new engines and had a redesigned airframe. In April 1943 the RLM (German Air Ministry) rejected this design on the grounds that it would cause too much disruption on the Fw 190 production line and create a gap in production that couldn’t be risked.
Tank responded with a less ambitious design, using more components from the Fw 190. In May 1943 the Air Ministry gave this design the designation Ta 152. Tank was to work on two versions. The Ta 152A was to use a Junkers Jumo 213A engine, which was optimised for low and medium altitudes, while the Ta 152B was to use a Jumo 213E engine with three speed two stage turbosupercharger, optimised for higher altitudes. The Daimler-Benz DB 603G engine was to be considered as a backup if either version of the Jumo failed.
The new aircraft was to capable of operating as either a fighter or a fighter-bomber. It was to be armed with a 30mm cannon firing through the nose and four 20m MG 151s in the wings – two in the wing roots and two in the outer wing positions, giving it an impressive punch. The requirement for an engine mounted cannon meant that the Jumo 213A had to be replaced with the Jumo 213C, which was designed to carry such a weapon. They were also to carry a ETC 503 bomb rack below the fuselage.
The fuselage was lengthened to cope with the heavier engines. The forward fuselage (ahead of the cockpit) was extended by 77.2cm, the rear fuselage by 50cm and the wings moved 42cn forward. It used the same undercarriage as the Fw 190A, but with larger 740mm wheels. The undercarriage was also moved 25cm further out, so that the larger wheels didn’t clash with any payload under the fuselage. As a result the wings were extended from 34ft 5in/ 10.5m to 11m.
Three prototypes were produced for the Ta 152A, each using a modified Fw 190.
The first prototype (Fw 190 V19) was given the Jumo 213A engine, a new tail (later used on the Fw 190D-9) and the 50cm fuselage extension. It was unarmed. It made its maiden flight on 7 July 1943 and then went to Hanover-Langenhagen for flight tests.
On 8 October 1943 Focke-Wulf asked the RLM to give the Ta 152 development priority, but the request was refused.
The second prototype (Fw 190 V20) made its maiden flight on 23 November 1943. It was also unarmed, but used the Jumo 213 CV engine, which had the capability to carry a cannon firing through the propeller, and would have been the model used in the production version of the Ta 152A.
On 20 December 1943 Tank made another attempt to get the Ta 152 development priority, but once again the RLM refused. His efforts did pay off to a certain extent, as in mid-January they approved the Fw 190D-9, a similar but less advanced design, also using the Jumo 213A.
The first prototype crashed on 16 February 1944 when the right undercarriage leg failed. The aircraft was repaired and rejoined the test programme.
The third prototype, V21 (TI-IH), made its maiden flight on 13 March 1944. It had the Jumo 213 CV engine, the fuselage extension, the type of tail that became standard on the Ta 152 and a glare reducing flame damper mounted over the engine exhaust. This was designed to allow the basic Ta 152A to act as a night fighter, but reduced the aircraft’s speed by an unacceptable amount. The damper was removed on 18 April 1944, and soon afterwards V21 reached 335mph at sea level.
The Ta 152A was now a proven design, and was ready to enter production, but the RLM lacked confidence in the Jumo 213A engine, and in July 1944 the Ta 152A was cancelled (presumably they didn’t want to be relying on two new designs both using this engine, which proved itself in the Fw 190D-9). This left two versions of the aircraft still under development – the high altitude Ta 152H and the Ta 152C, which had replaced the Ta 152B. Neither was close to entering production, so the decision to cancel the Ta 152A meant that the entire project was futile, only producing a handful of Ta 152Hs that entered combat in the last few months of the war.
Two of the prototypes saw further use. V20 was being converted into a Ta 152H prototype when it was destroyed in a bombing raid on 5 August 1944 and V21 became the first Ta 152C prototype.
Different sources give different specifications for the A-1 and A-2. The most likely is that is was to be armed with four 20mm MG 151 cannon, two in the wing roots and two in the fuselage, and an engine mounted 30mm MK 108 cannon.
The A-2 was probably similar to the A-1, but with a 30mm MK 103 cannon in the engine.