Focke-Wulf Ta-152H-1

Ta_152H101

The Ta 152 H’s outstanding performance was tested personally by the designer himself. In December, 1944, while flying between Lagenhagen and Cottbus at the controls of one of the first aircraft, Kurt Tank was intercepted by a pair of American P-51 Mustangs. His tactics for escape were extremely simple. Tank pressed the button which activated his MW 50 boost, opened the throttle wide, and quickly left the Mustangs far behind in a cloud of blue smoke.”

— http://www.pilotfriend.com/photo_albums/timeline/ww2/Focke-Wulf%20Ta%20152.htm

 

Strengths:


Firepower – Armed with one 30mm and two 20mm cannons close to the centerline, the Ta-152 has enough punch and ammo to down several heavy bombers in a single flight.

High Altitude Performance – With a top speed of 472 mph at 41,010 feet only the jet and rocket fighters are capable of going higher and faster.

 

Weaknesses:


Low Altitude Performance – Utilizing an engine optimized for high-altitudes, the Ta-152 can only manage 332 mph at sea level and thus can be caught by even early-war planes.
Roll Rate – The extended wings help handling at high-altitude, but at the cost of low-to-medium altitude roll rates.
Ground Attack – Without the ability to carry ordnance of any kind, the Ta-152 has only its guns to help with the ground war.

With it becoming increasingly obvious that high-altitudes were the domain of air combat in Europe, the Focke-Wulf and Messerschmitt companies were asked in late 1942 to submit proposals for a Hochleistungsjäger, of High-Performance Fighter. The plan was for a two-stage development with the first fighter being based on an existing model, using many common parts, and the second being built from the ground up.

Kurt Tank submitted two proposals (Ra-2 and Ra-3) for the first stage based on the Jumo-213 powered FW-190D and a third (Ra-4D), which although it was based broadly on the 190, was to incorporate numerous structural and aerodynamic improvements. Although Messerschmitt submitted a design, the Me-155B, officials thought that Messerschmitt had too many projects in work already to devote sufficient time to the task.

The Ra-2 and Ra-3 prototypes were essentially the same as the FW-190D-9s, except that they used the Jumo-213E with a three-speed, two-stage turbo-supercharger and induction cooler for improved high-altitude performance. MW50 methanol injection was installed and hydraulics replaced electric components for the flaps and landing gear. The fuselage was lengthened to improve internal capacity and, to compensate for the change in cg, the fuselage was moved aft 16 inches. Each plane was armed with a single 30mm Mk 108 engine-mounted cannon and a pair of 20mm MG 151 cannon in the wing roots. In addition, the Ra-2 prototype was fitted with another pair of MG 151s in the cowl.

By this time in the war Kurt Tank’s reputation in the Luftwaffe was riding high and in his honor, and at his request, the plane was designated the Ta-152 instead of being included in the FW-190 lineage. Ra-2 was dubbed Ta-152B and Ra-3 became Ta-152H. Meanwhile, the Ra-4D model, or Ta-153 as it was now known, had begun development out of the FW-190C project. Of particular note was it’s wing, which although it offered only marginal aerodynamic improvements, was much simpler and easier to build and had a much greater internal capacity for fuel tanks. Because of these advantages it was decided that this wing would be transferred over to the Ta-152 project, with the H version having extended wing panels.

A Ta-152H production line was setup at Cottbus and the first two production prototypes were produced in June and July 1944. Joining them on the production line were the five remaining FW-190C prototypes, which were slated for conversion to the Ta-152H. Conversion and testing of these prototypes continued through November while twenty pre-production Ta-152H-0s were also built and delivered, these differing from the production H-1s only in having their wing tanks deleted.

The Ta-152H was armed with a single engine-mounted Mk 108 with 90 rounds and a pair of 20mm MG 151s with 175 rpg in the wing roots. Internal fuel capacity could be increased by mounting an ETC-503 rack on the fuselage, which could hold a 300 liter tank. The H-0 weighed in at 10,420 lbs. loaded while the H-1 with its internal tanks weighed 11,502 lbs.

More than 150 Ta-152H-1 fighters were produced at Cottbus between January 1945 and the facility being overrun by the Soviet army. While no Jagdgruppen had converted fully to the machine, several Jagdstaffeln operated the plane alongside their D-9s and the Stabsschwarm of JG 301 was known to use the plane to provide top cover for Me-262 bases. However, the majority were likely destroyed on the ground by strafing Allied fighters while waiting to be accepted by the Luftwaffe.

 

Sources:
Green, William; Warplanes of the Third Reich; Doubleday and Company, Garden City, NY; 1970.

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