Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9 Würger, translated into English means Shrike, designed by Kurt Tank, the aircraft first took flight on 1 June 1939 a few months before the opening salvos of the Second World War were fired. Its design saw the date light of day in response to a contest run by the RLM or German Ministry of Aviation from 1934 to 1935 challenging engineers to produce an updated modern-day fighter to rearm the German Luftwaffe. Kurt Tank submitted his competition entry as his parasol winged FW 159, to go up against a Heinkel He 112, a Arado Ar 80, as well as the legendary Messerschmitt Bf 109, only to totally outclassed and quickly eliminated alongside the Ar 80. The Bf 109 proved to be the superior craft, was declared as winner on 12 March 1936, the 109 had not entered squadron service yet, when another tender went out from the RLM requiring resubmission for a another fighter to join the Bf 109 in the air and serve the German Luftwaffe.
During this period few land-based fighter aircraft made use of radial engines, due to a popular belief at the time that slated radial engines radial engines for causing too much drag due to the relatively large frontal area presented by this engine configuration. As an experienced and accomplished engineer he was aware of the experimental aerodynamic work done during the 1920s by NACA, resultantly he fitted the relatively unknown NACA cowling, an air-foil shaped ring that accelerated air, around the front perimeter of the engine to cool down the hottest parts of the engine, its cylinder heads, as a further refinement and improvement to the aerodynamic and cooling capabilities a spinner cone was installed over the propeller hub.
The combination of NACA cowling and prop spinner cone reduced the frontal area to improve aerodynamics. Additionally the combination compressed and accelerated dense call air over the hot cylinder heads thereby resolving the radial engine bugbear. The improvements even generated a small amount of forward thrust, by first compressing then heating the air in the enclosed engine cowling before being pushed out the rear engine vents, in effect similar to the thrust generated by turbofan (Jet) engines.
This incredibly capable fighting aircraft package started operational flights in the FW 190 A model designation, engaging in aerial combat over France during August 1941. It served to be employed in a multi-role capacity as a fighter bomber, day fighter, ground attack platform, and in limited use as a night fighter. Its pilots soon proved the craft’s air superiority over all Allied fighters, including the Spitfire Mk V that only had tighter turn radius, the remarkable craft maintained its aerial advantage, despite the massive rate which technology advanced at during the starting years of WW II, until the British started flying a much improved version of the Spitfire, the Mk IX during July 1942.
The Focke-Wulf Fw190 proved to be equal in capabilities to the vaunted Messerschmitt Bf109 and was still considered by Allied pilots to be a formidable foe over the European Western front, until the American P-51 Mustang arrived in considerable quantities during 1944. The Fw190As German pilots were forced to climb to these extremely high altitudes to attack the increasing fleets of US heavy-bombers that flew at that altitude, where the P-51 Mustangs simply outperformed the Fw190A, as the A series experienced a performance decrease above 20,000 feet where the normally aspirated engine performed poorly.
The Fw190 B & C model designates received a performance increase via an engine replacement in the form of the turbo-supercharged BMW 801 for the B model, and the C model from a Daimler-Benz DB 603 and the D model from a Junkers Jumo 213 engine, unfortunately due to turbo problems just the D model designate entered into service during September 1944. This long nose variant once again reached parity with the opposing Allied combatants, unfortunately arriving too late into the conflict to have a meaningful effect on Germany’s final defeat.