Speaker Topic

Focke-Wulf 190D versus the F4U Corsair

By 1943, the variants of the FW-190 were in many Luftwaffe units. When the type was first introduced in the spring of 1941, it outclassed the Spitfire Vs flown by the RAF. In June 1941, FW-190s shot down 15 Spitfire Vs without a loss and then again in August, 25 more Spitfire Vs went down for a loss of only four FW-190s. This led RAF pilots to call the airplane “The Butcher Bird.”

The FW-190As true performance was not understood until June 1942 when a Luftwaffe pilot landed his brand-new FW-190A in Wales. The RAF allowed U.S. Army Air Force pilots fly the FW-190A. The knowledge gained from this testing led to the development of the Spitfire IX and a change in tactics by both the U.S. Army Air Force and the RAF.

Fast forward to 1943. Already plans were being developed for the invasion of Southern France in June 1944 that would put additional pressure on the Wehrmacht in France. Since the suitable landing beaches were beyond the practical range of land-based fighters flying from either Italy or Corsica, during the initial days of the assault, air support would come from Royal Navy and U.S. carriers.

Both navies wanted to know how the F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair stacked up against the FW-190. 

As luck would have it, the Allies captured an intact FW-190D on an airfield outside of Salerno. The fighter was ferried back to Patuxent River, inspected and tested against the F4U and the F6F. This video covers the results of the January 1944 comparison.

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