|Fw 190A fighter creation by Flug Werk in the Warbirds area represents a stark threat that faced American airmen over Europe in World War II.
There’s a menacing ghost of the Second World War haunting Warbird Alley, a deadly machine nicknamed the Butcher Bird. But this Fw 190 fighter parked is a kit-built replica. Really. Dreams, old blueprints, computer technology, and modern materials coalesced to produce a dozen full-size Fw 190 clones for the warbird market. In the 400-mile-per-hour class, Germany’s Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was arguably that nation’s best piston-engine fighter in World War II. And Germany’s kit maker Flug Werk says its re-creation is even better.
A blend of materials modern and original
Flug Werk sells a kit with new wings, fuselage, empennage, and all major parts—including an original World War II Focke-Wulf tail-wheel unit—for assembly by the purchaser.
Those tail-wheel components are said to come from a long-forgotten shelter, and each has its own combat history but has been overhauled and modernized for serviceability.
Main wheels on the Flug Werk 190s use the same tires as Boeing 737-400 nose wheels, which a Flug Werk spokesperson described as “affordable, readily available, and the only tire which will safely withstand the stress and strains of operating this aircraft from hard-covered runways.”
Power for these Fw 190s comes from an Asch 82 14-cylinder, double-row radial powerplant capable of throwing 1,900 hp to the big three-blade German MT wood composite propeller.
The pugnacious Fw 190A stands high, to give that big prop ground clearance.
Its wide track landing gear folds inward, and pilots have always liked its stable ground handling—particularly when compared to the narrow fuselage-mounted gear of Germany’s other main single-engine fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 109.
When a Luftwaffe defector delivered an Fw 190A to the British in 1942, its best design traits were not lost—they were copied. The British Tempest-Typhoon-Sea Fury series show evidence in their deliberately widespread main gear.
Making a modern antique
Flug Werk tamed cooling problems that bedeviled wartime FW 190As by placing the oil cooler under the upper gun hood instead of its original location in the engine cowl. This placement provides enough cooling without disturbing the external profile of the airframe.
The welded fuel tanks in the wings provide greater capacity than their wartime equivalents, providing more range for the 190 owner of today.
Flug Werk pronounces its Fw 190A airframe to be 98 percent true to original, with minor deviations in bracketry to accommodate the use of some modern—and most importantly, available—systems, to enable the new-build 190s to operate safely.
The Flug Werk 190 weighs in at about 450 kilograms—992 pounds—lighter than a full-up armed and armored wartime original.
Transitioning from the ’40s to today
Flug Werk, of Gammelsdorf, Germany, began its ambitious project to raise Fw 190s from the dead in June 1996.
The first flight came on July 22, 2004. Rudy Frasca of Urbana, Illinois, bought two of the Flug Werk 190 kits, including the finished example on display at AirVenture 2011. He bought his Fw 190 kits because Flug Werk “had me convinced they knew what they were doing.”
When the kits arrived, that trust was validated.
Rudy is a pillar of the warbird movement; his stable of 38 aircraft includes a P-40, two Spitfires, and an FM-2 Wildcat that are perennial Oshkosh favorites.
After AirVenture 2011, Rudy’s Fw 190 is earmarked for display in the EAA AirVenture Museum.
Rudy says sharing aircraft with EAA comes naturally for him: “Paul Poberezny (EAA founder) is a very dear friend of mine.”
Figuring euro-to-dollar conversion, the basic Flug Werk 190 kits are said to cost less than $760,000; proper assembly will no doubt add significantly to that, whether it is in dollars or sweat equity. It’s an uncommon and tantalizing intersection between kit builders and warbirds that expands the opportunities in both arenas.