“I first flew the Fw 190 on 8 November 1942 at Vyaz’ma in the Soviet Union. I was absolutely thrilled. I flew every fighter version of it employed on the Eastern Front. Because of its smaller fuselage, visibility was somewhat better out of the Bf 109. I believe the Fw 190 was more manoeuvrable than the Messerschmitt — although the latter could make a tighter horizontal turn, if you master the Fw 190 you could pull a lot of Gs [g force] and do just about as well. In terms of control and feel, the 109 was heavier on the stick. Structurally, it was distinctly superior to the Messerschmitt, especially in dives. The radial engine of the Fw 190 was more resistant to enemy fire. Firepower, which varied with the particular series, was fairly even in all German fighters. The central cannon of the Messerschmitt was naturally more accurate, but that was really a meaningful advantage only in fighter-to-fighter combat. The 109’s 30 mm cannon frequently jammed, especially in hard turns — I lost at least six kills this way.”
— Heinz Lange, Major, JG 51, Awarded Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.
Firepower – The 30mm Mk 108s give the /R2 firepower greater than all but the Me-262.
Turn Rate – With its high wing-loading the Würger can’t turn with planes like Spitfire or La-7.
The 190 was the dominant plane in the skies of Europe in 1942, but further refinements were in order. With each increase in weight, the center of gravity of the plane had shifted and now it became apparent that it was too far aft. To alleviate this problem, the engine mount was extended forward about six inches in the A-5 model. Several A-5s were shipped to Japan in 1943 for evaluations and although the Japanese didnít adopt it into service, the Allies spotted it and gave it the code-name ìFredî.
By now the 190 was weighing in at over 9,000 lbs. and in an effort to reduce weight somewhat, Kurt Tank redesigned the wing. This new wing was mounted to an A-5 test bed, then was introduced into service with the A-6 in late 1943. While the new wing’s appearance was virtually identical to the previous one, it was able to mount MG-151/20 cannon in the outboard positions previously occupied by the MG-FF. Fed by 125 round belts, these new guns greatly increased the firepower available to the pilot.
The A-7 was originally intended to be a high-speed photo reconnaissance version, but the needs of combat units changed those plans. Nothing more than an interim version, only 80 A-7s were produced, but it was the first version to replace the 7.92mm machine guns in the cowl with 13mm MG-131s with 400 rpg.
The A-8 was soon introduced with a host of minor refinements and changes, including the addition of removable fuel cells behind the pilotís seat as an alternative to the MW50 methanol injection system. By this time, the system of Umrüst Bausätze factory conversion kits had been completely replaced by the Rüstätz field conversion kits.
The /R2 kit replaced the outboard MG-151s with 30mm Mk 108 cannons with 55 rpg in the wings. While it retained the hitting power of the /R6, the Mk 108’s low muzzle velocity limited the effective range and the “mine” type HE rounds it used were unsuited for anti-armor work.