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Focke-Wulf Fw 200

Fw 200 Condor Type Airliner, reconnaissance, bomberand transport aircraftManufacturerFocke-WulfMaiden flight27 July1937Primary users Luftwaffe
Lufthansa
Sindicato Condor Number built c. 275

The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor was a German all-metal four-engined monoplane that entered service as an airliner. Later versions for the Luftwaffe were used as long-range reconnaissance and anti-shipping bomber aircraft as well as transport planes for troops and VIPs.

Contents

Design and development

The Fw 200 was built to a Lufthansa specification with Dipl.-Ing. Bansemir as project director. It first flew in July 1937 after just under one year of development with Dipl.-Ing. Kurt Tank at the controls. The aircraft was a simple development of a pre-war commercial craft. It was an all-metal construction, four-engined monoplane capable of carrying 25 passengers up to 3000 km.

To adapt it for wartime service, hardpoints were added to the wings for bombs, the fuselage was extended and strengthened to create more space, and front, aft and dorsal gun positions were added. The extra weight of the improvements meant that a number of early Condors would break-up on landing, a problem that was never entirely fixed. Later models were equipped with radar.

Operational history

Fw 200 was the first airplane to fly nonstop between Berlin and New York City, making the journey on August 10, 1938 in 24 hours and 56 minutes. The return trip on August 13 1938 took 19 hours and 47 minutes. These flights are commemorated with a plaque in the Böttcherstraße street of Bremen.

A Danish Fw 200 aircraft named Dania was seized by the British on English soil after Denmark was invaded by German forces in 1940. It was operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation and was later pressed into service with the British Royal Air Force. It was damaged beyond repair in 1941.

The Japanese Navy requested a military version of the Fw 200 for search and patrol duties, so Kurt Tank designed the Fw 200 V10 with military equipment. This plane was held in Germany because war had broken out in Europe by that time. This airplane became the basis for all later military models used by the Luftwaffe.

The Luftwaffe initially used the aircraft to support the Kriegsmarine, making great loops out across the North Sea and, following the fall of France, the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft undertook maritime patrols and reconnaissance, searching for Allied convoys and warships that could be reported for targeting by U-boats. The Condor could also carry bombs or mines to use against shipping and it was claimed that from June 1940 to February 1941 they sank 365,000 tons of shipping despite a rather crude bombsight arrangement. From mid-1941 the aircraft were instructed to avoid attacking shipping and avoid all combat in order to preserve numbers. In August the first Condor was shot down by a CAM ship launched Hawker Hurricane, and the arrival of the US-built F4F Wildcat fighter, operating from the Royal Navy's new escort aircraft carriers was a serious threat.

The Condor was also used as a transport aircraft, notably flying supplies into Stalingrad in 1942. After late 1943 the Condor came to be used solely as a transport aircraft. For reconnaissance it was replaced by the Junkers Ju 290 and as France was invaded maritime reconnaissance became impossible. Production ended in 1944 with a total of 276 aircraft produced.

Several damaged Condors landed in Spain during the war. In the beginning they were repaired and returned to their bases in France, but after Operation Torch (Allied invasion of Africa), the Spanish government interned the four aircraft that arrived (but crews were still allowed to return to Germany). As the planes could not be used they were sold by Germany to Spain and only one of the three flyable planes operated in the Spanish Air Force, spares were obtained from the other airplanes. Due to lack of spares, damages and political reasons they were grounded and scrapped around 1950.

Some Condors crashed in Portugal. Crews were allowed to return to Germany while the British authorities were allowed to inspect the planes and documentation. Some crews (at least one full crew) died in these crashes and all crew members are buried in the civilian cemetery of Moura (Alentejo Province) in Portugal.The airplanes that crashed both in Spain and in Portugal had the operational base in France, in Bordeaux-Merignac (after 1940). Before 1940, the operational base of the Focke-Wulf 200 squadrons was in Danemark.

Winston Churchill called the Fw 200 the "Scourge of the Atlantic" during the Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945) due to its contribution to the heavy Allied shipping losses by German U-boats.

Führermaschinen and other variants

There were three versions - the Fw 200A, B, and C. The Model A was a purely civilian plane used by Lufthansa, DDL in Denmark, and Syndicato Condor in Brazil. The Fw 200B and Fw 200C models were used as long-range bombers, reconnaissance, troop and transport planes.

Versions modified to be used by VIPs were called Führermaschinen. Adolf Hitler used a modified prototype, the Fw 200 V1 as his personal transport. His "seat" in the cabin was equipped with back-armor plating and an automatic parachute with downward throws. One plane was named "Immelmann III" and first carried the markings "D-2600", which eventually changed to "WL+2600" and finally "26+00". The Fw 200 C-4/U1, W. Nr. 0137, CE+IB, was equipped with a parachute seat and an escape hatch.

Fw 200 V1
First prototype.
Fw 200 V10
Military prototype.
Fw 200 A-0
Pre-production batch of fourth to ninth prototypes.
Fw 200 B-1
Transportation aircraft fitted with four BMW 132Dc engines.
Fw 200 B-2
Transportation aircraft fitted with four BMW 132H engines.
Fw 200 C-0
Pre-production batch of 10 aircraft, structural strengthening, the first four were manufactured as unarmed transports, the remaining six were fitted with armament.
Fw 200 C-1
First military production version, BMW 132H engines, lengthened ventral gondola, increased defensive armament, provisions for four 250 kg bombs.
Fw 200 C-2
Similar to C-1, but featured a ‘cutaway’ outboard engine nacelles which reduced drag and could carry a 250 kg bomb or a 300 liter drop tank.
Fw 200 C-3
Structurally strengthened, fitted with Bramo 323 R-2 radial engines
Fw 200 C-3/U1
Featured an increased defensive armament, a 15 mm MG 151 in a powered dorsal turret, the 20 mm MG FF replaced by a 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon.
Fw 200 C-3/U2
Fitted with original dorsal turret, and had MG 151/20 cannon replaced with a 13 mm MG 131, which allowed space for instillation of a Lotfe 7D bombsight.
Fw 200 C-3/U3
Fitted with two additional 13 mm MG 131s.
Fw 200 C-3/U4
Had 7.92 mm MG 15s replaced by 13 mm MG 131s and carried an extra gunner.
Fw 200 C-4
Similar to C-3, but carried FuG Rostock search radar, late production aircraft used FuG 200 Hohentwiel radar.
Fw 200 C-4/U1
High-speed transport aircraft, only one example built. Used to transport Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler.
Fw 200 C-4/U2
High-speed transport aircraft, only one example built.
Fw 200 C-6
Several aircraft were modified to carry Hs 293 missiles and re-designated C-6.
Fw 200 C-8
Fitted with FuG 203b Kehl III missile control equipment and fitted with Hs 293 missiles.
Fw 200 S-1
Special designation for Fw 200 V1 that was flown from Berlin to Tokyo.

Survivors

Only one relatively complete Fw 200 exists today. This aircraft was raised from the Trondheimsfjorden in Norway in the late 1990s. Despite disintegrating on recovery, the remains were transported to the Technical Museum in Berlin to be rebuilt there. A request from the museum for a set of separate wings to be recovered from the mountain Kvitanosi near Voss in Norway to complete the rebuild, was denied as a result of the local population wanting the wings to be left in situ as a war memorial.

Operators

Civil operators

 Brazil
  • Sindicato Condor SA
 Denmark
 Germany
 United Kingdom

Military operators

 Germany
 Soviet Union
 Spain
 United Kingdom

Specifications (Fw 200C-3/U4)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5
  • Capacity: 30 fully-armed troops in transport configuration
  • Length: 23.5 m (77 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 32.8 m (107 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 6.3 m (20 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 118 m² (1,270 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 12,950 kg (28,550 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 22,700 kg (50,050 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4× BMW/Bramo 323R radial engines, 882 kW (1,200 hp) each

Performance

Armament

  • 2× 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons
  • 6× 7.92 mm MG15 machine guns
  • 1× 13 mm MG 131 machine gun
  • Up to 3,000 kg of bombs

External links

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Focke-Wulf Fw 200

Related development

Related lists List of military aircraft of Germany

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Categories: German patrol aircraft 1930-1939 | World War II German patrol aircraft | German airlinersHidden categories: Propeller aircraft | Low wing aircraft | Multiple engine aircraft

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