Sunday, 13 September 2015

Focke-Wulf Fw187 Falke - The story of some unwanted warbird by Alex Halley






Type: Fighter (heavy)
Origin: Focke Wulf Glugzeugbau GmbH
First Flight: Early May 1937, A-0 in February 1939



Crew: 2 men
Length: 11.01 m
Wingspan: 15.3 m
Wing area: 30.4 m²
Height: 3.85 m
Empty: 3,600 kg
Loaded: 5,000 kg

Wing loading: 164.14 kg/m² (33.62 lb/ft²)

Engine: 2 × Junkers Jumo 210G 12 cylinder supercharged liquid cooled inverted V piston engine producing up to 730 hp each, DB 600A 1000 hp
Maximum speed: 529 km/h - Jumo 210G, 627 km/h - DB 600A
Range: 1.450km with 1100 litres german B4 aviation gasoline (all internal)
Service ceiling: 10,000 m
Armament:
4 × 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns in fuselage sides
2 × 20 mm MG FF cannon in lower fuselage
Bomb load up to

Operators: Luftwaffe
Variants: Fw 187 V-1, Fw 187 V-2, Fw 187 V-3, Fw 187 V-4, Fw 187 V-5, Fw 187 V-6, Fw 187A, Fw 187 A-0
Kurt Tank designed this plane as a single, twin-engine fighter aircraft. However, the time in which he did it was not good, for this underrated project. Messerschmitt’s Bf109 and Bf110 were already in use. Falke is located between the two planes. One engine Messerschmit Bf109 was  much cheaper to porduce, but the performance after the first attempt in May 1937 with pilot Hans Sander, showed that Falke can be faster by 80 kmh than two times lighter Bf109. Falke reached 523 kmh.The representative of the RLM undermine  the readings instruments, but repeated attempts to confirm the results using the same engine as competition. the data also showed that Kurt Tank has managed Falke to double range and prove that Fw187 can dive  and climb tot two times faster than any contemporary a single engine fighter.

Mass production of the Fw-187 was considered very reasonable. Under a government pressure Kurt Tank, need to redesign Falke granting to him the nature of the destroyer. Efforts have also been attempts to modify it for the needs of the night fighter. Unfortunately, the fuselage was too narrow to fit in, all the necessary radio equipment a useful way. Three pre-production A-0 aircraft were built, with work starting in 1939. The third prototype was modified, but not exactly like it was wanted, actually the competitive aircraft by Messerschmitt and Henschel were also not designed like it was wanted.  They were powered by two 700hp Jumo 210G engines and were armed with two 20mm MG FF in the lower fuselage and four MG 17 machine guns carried on the sides of the nose. Versions Fw-187 V6, was one of the fastest plane in the Luftwaffe. Focke-Wulf were eventually given two 1,000hp DB 600A engines to use on the sixth prototype (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. 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.

Most pilots recognized Falke had outstanding performance and manoeuvrability, only three Fw 187 A-0 were ordered, because the competing Messerschmitt Bf 110 was chosen. Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG produced only 9 copies, but they were sent to active duty. Falke was used in Norway and promoted as evidence  that the aircraft was entering  service to replace the Bf110, but by this time any such plan was long dead. RLM quickly withdrew them from service. They returned  to Focke-Wulf plants in Bremen to the air defense unit  Industrie-Schutzstaffel. There are reports about the participation of 2 Falke (reconnaissance aircraft) in the battle of Darnica in 1944 (today Ukraine). After recognizing the Soviet and Polish forces, with the help of the Fw-187, Luftwaffe made ​​a massive raid on a train junction. No major success. One Falke was sent to the aerial gunnery school in Værløse, Denmark in 1942.


Some interesting fact

Falke became a part of the project: Junkers Ju187  :D . The RLM after rejecting the design, “recycled” their 8-Fw187 airframe number to Junkers for their Junkers Ju187 project (dive bomber prototype to replace Junkers Ju87 Stuka)



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.
fw_187_a_0_by_nicksikh-d4981d0.jpg




Story by Alex Halley