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Possibly the definitive history of the Fw 190
on 5 January 2012
The rugged Fw 190 was one of the most successful fighters of the Second World War. This book covers the type from its creation up to the Fw-190A-6 in 1943 and is the first of three, possibly four, looking at the aircraft up to the Fw 190D at the end of the war.
It starts with a history of the Fw company and its founders as well as Kurt Tank, the aircraft's designer. It then describes how the Fw 190 prototype created. Tank wanted to create a strong, tough fighter rather than a 'racehorse' like the Bf 109. Initially provided with a large propeller boss and tapered wings it bore a passing resemblance to the Japanese Nakajima Ki 44. The BMW 801 engine and its history are also covered.
The middle chapters look at the Fw 190's introduction into service and initial operations in 1941. The Fw 190A-1, A-2 and A-3 models quickly followed each other, and their differences and numbers produced are all covered. Smith and Creek quote the famous British evaluation of a captured Fw 190 to show how the aircraft out-performed its main opponent, the Spitfire V, in almost every way. But it also suffered from severe engine problems and Fw and BMW seem to have had a very difficult relationship with each blaming the other for faults.
Operations up to the middle of 1943 in Russia, North Africa and against the increasing American bomber offensive are described in varying depth (with few aircraft in North Africa Smith and Creek give an almost day by day account of their very successful fighter-bomber operations there). This is followed by descriptions of the A-4 and A-5 models and their variants. By now even Fw was having trouble keeping track of all the versions proposed or in production.
The last chapters describe attempts to create models with better altitude performance, the Fw 190B with a turbo supercharger and pressurised cockpit and the more successful re-engined Fw 190C. The creation (but not service) of the A-6, F and G models is also covered.
Smith and Creek have produced a thorough history of the early years of the Fw 190 in this book. There is much detail about the different prototype aircraft, variants derived from them, performance data and numbers produced. Their coverage of Fw 190 operations is naturally less detailed given the numbers which saw service but provides a good summary.
Physically the book is a heavy, well produced hardback. It is profusely illustrated, many pages being devoted to photographs which are clearly reproduced and informatively captioned, as are copies of original Fw documents. Many are half or full page. A few colour profiles are provided, usually illustrating aircraft shown in photographs. Unusually for a Classic book there are a few poorly proof-read paragraphs towards its start and unfortunately no index - hopefully there will be one covering all volumes in the final book.
This is a very good book and I will certainly pick up the subsequent volumes if they are up to this standard. Recommended.
(Potential reviewers should also note that amazon's filters will not allow the first name of the Fw company!)