Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8

One of the more important German types in service to the last day of the War.

Let’s take a look at a close support version of the famous fighter.

From the very start of the Second World War Germany was known for outstanding close support air units. At this point, most people would automatically think of the Stuka. But the Stuka was mostly organized in separate heavy dive bomber units; dedicated Stukagruppen. There were broader Schlachtgruppen, or close support groups as well. At the start of the War these were mostly equipped with the Henschel Hs 123, classed as a light dive bomber. Over the course of the War these groups operated a wide range of types including Hs 129 and Me 262.

My source (the decal sheet!) assumes this Fw 190F-8 was converted from a Fw 190A-8 because it has a fighter style blown canopy and bulges for the outboard wing cannon, but no actual guns in place (they were deleted on the “F” so more payload could be carried). It could have been converted at a depot when sent back for maintenance or repairs, or even converted on the assembly line as needs changed.

Fighter bombers were considered a part of this formula from early on. Starting with Bf 109s, they provided the close support units with a high speed hit and run ability and some capability of providing their own fighter cover.

But close support units operate close to the front, often in very harsh conditions. So when Kurt Tank’s new Fw 190 entered service it was quickly appreciated for its rugged simplicity and ease of maintenance in crude conditions. And Focke-Wulf was quickly forthcoming with modifications to the basic fighter to optimize its performance in that role. Known as the “F” series, they included more armor around the engine and cockpit, and retuned the supercharging for maximum on-the-deck performance.
Early “A” model Fw 190s became “F-1” through “F-3” models; but the most produced variant of family, the Fw 190A-8, became the most produced close support aircraft, the Fw 190F-8. Both types were built to the tune of over 6000 examples. With almost 1900 hp it could carry significant ordnance.

As War conditions turned increasingly against the Germans the Fw 190 became the dominant close support type. No doubt it the hardest widely available German type for any sort of air defense to bring down. Towards the end even the famous Stuka was being replaced by the Fw 190F-8.

This particular aircraft was found abandoned at War’s end in Czechoslovakia. It had been assigned to Schlachtgruppe 10 in the last months. I chose it purely for visual interest. It looks to have been originally painted in the standard RLM 74/75/76 camouflage (very grey!), but then had something darker sprayed over the sides, except for the markings were carefully masked around. I chose a light misting of RLM 02 which adds a slightly green cast to it. Then it had squiggles of RLM 83 (light green) applied to the upper fuselage. So a little more colorful (in a camouflage sort of way!) than factory standard.
This is the Tamiya kit with Eagle Strike decals. An easy and fun project.

A Fw 190 A-8 with the F-8. Either type could carry fuel or bombs at the center station, but the F-8 also carries bombs on the wings outboard of the landing gear.
I don’t currently have a lot of Luftwaffe close support types! The Hs 129 would be better against armor, but is less survivable in contested airspace.
Obviously the Fw 190F could target any ground target, but given the highly fluid War the Germans found themselves in during the last two years that would have overwhelmingly meant vehicle traffic of all sorts.
Obviously the Germans weren’t unique in tasking fighters as close support aircraft. Allied types are bigger and more powerful, but not by a lot!

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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8 Responses to Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Always informative.

  2. ericritter65 says:

    I’m assuming the ground armor is in a different scale than the FW. Love the model and the write-up!

  3. Ernie Davis says:

    Interesting. I find it difficult to put the FW in the same general class as the Thunderbolt and the Typhoon, but then the Thunderbolt wasn’t really conceived as a ground support fighter, which did become it’s most famous role. I’ll still think of the FW as primarily a fighter, but this does put a new perspective on it’s role and German strategy. I guess that the Allies used close air support so effectively towards the end of the war you never really consider the fact that it was, at the outset of the war, a German tactic too.

    • atcDave says:

      I think the Germans pioneered the concept, the Allies brought it to maturity with better command and control (especially the forward air controller).
      It is interesting that none of those three types were meant specifically for close support work from the outset, but all three adapted to it pretty easily.

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