Focke Wulf FW190-A4

Books on the FW 190 !
Books on the Luftwaffe !
This beauty was my favourite by far, (until recently when the FW190A-8 and the FW190D-9 "Dora" was introduced in WB ... more on these below).
The FW has FIREPOWER, speed, manouvreability and FIREPOWER. These are the FW's strengths. A FW driver only need watch out for P51s and P38s (and other FWs) as far a speed is concerned, and nothing has more FIREPOWER. Did I mention FIREPOWER ? 8-) .... yup, this comes from the FW's two 20mm Mauser MG 151/20E cannons, two 20mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG FF cannons (that makes four 20mm cannons) and two Rheinmetall-Borsig 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns. Those 2 cm ( 3/4" ) diameter cannon shells make BIG holes in anything. I've been fortunate to have seen a real 20mm cannon shell, propellant removed, lovingly reassembled with its cartridge casing and polished to a gleam ... you wouldn't want to be anywhere near the business end of one of those things, let alone four !

Focke Wulf FW190-A8

A new addition to the WarBirds plane set, this is now my current favourite FW190 model. Why ? Quite simple, 4 x Mauser MG 151/20E cannons and 2 x MG 131 12.7 mm MGs .... yes, even more FIREPOWER. Basically slow muzzle velocity MG FF cannons were replaced with the newer high muzzle velocity MG151s and the 7.9mm peashooters were replaced with the higher caliber MG131s (the German equivalent to the US 50 caliber MG). The increased armament has a significant effect. Now all four cannons have the same muzzle velocity which makes it easier to land shells on target. In addition the heavier caliber MGs now contribute significantly to the overall damage. However, the heavier armament comes at a price, with the same engine as the A4, the A8 climbs and accelerates slower. This means A8 pilots have to take more care when taking off from forward airfields. The A8, however, retains the A4's high roll rate and diving ability.

Focke Wulf FW190-D9 "Dora 9"

A much maligned aircraft, the Dora-9 was introduced to WarBirds at the same time as the A8. It immediately made its mark with its high speed and acceleration. At last, the P51 had an opponent which could catch it ! In fact many inexperienced pilots soon found they could outrun anything in the arena. The original introduction was missing about 700 lbs of weight, which gave the Dora a pretty phenomenal speed, acceleration and climb rate (this has since been fixed). Before the weight bug was fixed, in the hands of an experienced pilot the Dora was lethal. P38L pilots now had a match ! Due to its superior performance the Dora became attractive to many inexperienced pilots although it is less suitable than the P38L for newbies. Dora pilots started to pick up a reputation for running away at the slightest sign of trouble.

I disagree strongly with opponents of the Dora, it is far from the superplane that the P38L is and it needs care in flying to make it a lethal weapon, especially now that the missing weight has been put back. As for running away, that was what pilots did in real life when things went sour. However, the Dora loses two important things which puts it in third place as my mount of choice (after the FW190A8 and F4U-1D), it lost the A series Focke Wulf's phenomenal roll rate and it lost two wing mounted MG151/20Es. With only two 20mm cannons, the Dora's firepower is significantly reduced. In addition, it was designed as a high altitude fighter and not all that suited to the low altitude brawls common in WarBirds. However, when caught lower by a good Dora pilot, start praying.

Focke-Wulf FW190 Variants

-- US Army Air Force Captain James Finnegan

I like Finnegan's quote because for two reasons, one is that I have the same dislike for turn fights (probably because I'm no damned good at it :) and two is that if you get into those turnfights, I'm the bastard that's going to come down and take a shot at you :)

Anyway these are the rules I fly the FW by. Other people will obviously have differing opinions ... so what ? :)

Rule no 1: Try to meet the enemy with a superior altitude. That way you can make use of the FW's speed to make slashing passes at a lower enemy and climb away to safety to prepare for the next pass. Against good climbers like Spitfires (especially the Mark IX), BF109s and P38s, a 5K or more altitude advantage is probably the minimum you need to safely engage. If possible, get high enough to reach speeds of 450 to 500 MPH and watch your range ! Flying into "the enemy's ass" is a very likely hazard :). I used to start firing at range 500-600 yards and break off the attack at 200 yards but I now set my convergence to 300 yards and start shooting at range 400 yards. At these speeds you get at most 2 seconds firing time. Getting closer would almost certainly mean a collision as I have learnt from experience :). I used to think the 4 x 20mm cannons more than make up for the loss of lethality by firing outside the optimum range. Since then I have noticed the effectiveness of the cannon when firing at close to the convergence range.
If the enemy doesn't see me, I normally allow my dive to go slightly below the enemy and come up firing from below.
If the enemy does see me and breaks, the FW's superior roll rate will allow me to roll very quickly in the direction of the break and pulling hard usually gives me a snap shot. This may often mean firing with the enemy out of sight under the nose. With the FW's 4 cannons, you only need a few hits to make a kill or a crippling blow. It also means your gunnery score will suck BIG TIME (mine is less than 5%), but who cares :). Whatever the outcome, do NOT try to continue the turn ! Break off the attack and extend, your high speed and acceleration will most likely give you another chance to finish the job.

Rule No 2: You've got the most lethal armament in the arena ... use it ! The FW has a very generous ammunition load, the two MG 151/20E cannons in the wing roots have enough for 16 seconds of continuous firing. Think about it ! FOUR 20mm cannons, two having 16 seconds worth of ammo ! So why save ammo :)? Use it ! Even with my "carefree" attitude towards ammo conservation I've managed a personal best of 5 kills and 2 assists in a single sortie. Unless the enemy doesn't see you, in the FW you usually only get snap shots at high deflection angles and less than optimal ranges at which to fire, but don't hesitate ! A single good hit is usually enough to do some crippling damage to most aircraft. With my F22 Pro I have set up the two stage trigger to fire the MGs on first click and kick in the cannons on the second stage. The MGs are meant for aiming and the cannons are for killing :). A side note: I used to have the second stage take a screenshot too but the fraction of a second pause it caused really threw the aim off and sadly I've had to disable it. I can't wait for the flight film recorder to be included.

Rule No. 3: When faced with higher opponents I usually have two options, dive and disengage or turn towards the enemy and try to bring those cannons to bear. Which option I choose depends on the enemy aircraft, altitude, position and the alignment of the planets :). Trying to disengage will only work if you have enough altitude to reach speeds at which other aircraft compress. Turning to face the enemy has its problems. If the enemy chooses to meet you in a head-on pass, your gunnery had better be good, fire a burst, use the FW's manoevrebility to avoid the collision and dive in the direction the enemy came from. If you hit him you may well have gotten a kill or if not at least damage his engine. The smart enemy will NOT meet your frontal attack and will instead climb to avoid your guns and try to get on your 6. In this case you have no option but to try to dive and disengage. If you are too low to dive, your acceleration may still allow you to extend from slower aircraft like Zeros, depending on the altitude they started at and whether they have to turn to get on your 6. P38s, P51s and F4Us have the top speed to catch you and you will have to start evasive action and hopefully stay airborne long enough for help to arrive or as a last resort, fly into the defensive fire of a friendly airfield or carrier task force :). This last tactic, known as "ack dragging" isn't exactly well accepted. If you do it, it is smart, if it is done to you it is cowardice :). I've also tried throttling down to idle, deploying full flaps and making wild moves to lose speed as quickly as possible in the hope of getting the enemy to overshoot. It should work best if you are in a high speed dive and the enemy is still gaining. Well, it worked once, a pursuing purple P38 crashed into the sea trying to avoid a collision. You know who you are :). The second time I tried it, against the same purple P38 pilot, he was ready and he got me :(.

Books on the FW 190 !
Books on the Luftwaffe !

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Return to WarBird's Aircraft Page This page was created on Wednesday, April 10, 1996 and last updated on Wednesday, May 5, 2000