1996-10-01

“Electric Aircraft” Pioneer The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 965631

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was one of the truly outstanding fighter aircraft of the Second World War. It distinguished itself over all fronts on which the Luftwaffe fought in conditions ranging from arctic wastes to the deserts of North Africa. The Fw 190 represented the epitome of conventional piston-engine fighter design on the threshold of the jet age. Conceived nearly sixty years ago, flying for the first time on the eve of the war in 1939 and acknowledged as “the best all-around fighter in the world” in the mid-war years, derivatives of the Fw 190 were still pushing the ultimate capability boundary for this class of aircraft at war's end in 1945 (reaching maximum level true airspeeds of 470 mph [about Mach 0.7] at altitudes of well over 40,000 feet).
This paper assesses the design attributes and technology approaches, including innovative use of advanced electrical systems, that were used to make the Fw 190 one of the great all-around fighters in aviation history. The combination of these attributes was no accident but was part of a conscious decision, taken early during the preliminary design process, to balance basic performance against other necessary operational needs. In this, the design team achieved a remarkable success; the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was one of, and perhaps was, the most flexible multi-role fighter aircraft to see wide-spread service during World War II.
Today, as the United States and its close allies consider the combination of design attributes and enabling technologies necessary for an affordable family of future multi-service/multi-role combat aircraft featuring a high degree of commonality (under the aegis of the Joint Strike Fighter or JSF program), the example of the Fw 190 provides a insightful lesson from history.

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