|Years of service||1940–1945|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Oberleutnant Armin Faber was a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II who mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and landed his Focke-Wulf 190 (Fw-190) intact at RAF Pembrey in south Wales. His plane was the first Fw-190 to be captured by the Allies and was tested to reveal any weaknesses that could be exploited.
23 June 1942
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2014)|
In June 1942, Oberstleutnant Armin Faber was Gruppen-Adjutant to the commander of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) based in Morlaix in Brittany. On 23 June, he was given special permission to fly a combat mission with 7th Staffel. The unit operated Focke-Wulf 190 fighters.
The FW-190 had only recently arrived with front line units at this time and its superior performance had caused the Allies so many problems that they were considering mounting a commando raid on a French airfield to capture one for evaluation.
7th Staffel was scrambled to intercept a force of twelve Bostons on their way back from a bombing mission; the Bostons were escorted by three Czech-manned RAF squadrons, 310 Squadron, 312 Squadron and 313 Squadron. A fight developed over the English Channel with the escorting Spitfires, during which Faber was attacked by Sergeant František Trejtnar (Czech) of 310 Squadron. In his efforts to shake off the Spitfire, Faber flew north over Exeter in Devon. After much high-speed manoeuvring, Faber, with only one cannon working, pulled an Immelmann turn into the sun and shot down his pursuer in a head-on attack.
Trejnar bailed out safely, although he had a shrapnel wound in his arm and sustained a broken leg on landing; his Spitfire crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon. Meanwhile, the disorientated Faber now mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and flew north instead of south. Thinking South Wales was France, he turned towards the nearest airfield - RAF Pembrey. Observers on the ground could not believe their eyes as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf's undercarriage and landed.
The Pembrey Duty Pilot, one Sergeant Jeffreys, grabbed a Very pistol and ran from the control tower and jumped onto the wing of Faber's aircraft as it taxied in. Faber was apprehended and later taken to RAF Fairwood Common by Group Captain David Atcherley (twin brother of Richard Atcherley) for interrogation.
Faber's plane was a Fw 190A-3 with the Werknummer 313. It was the only fighter configuration to be captured intact by the Allies during the war. All other captured aircraft were either of the long range bomber or fighter bomber configuration.
Group Captain Hugh Wilson, the pilot mainly responsible for test flying captured enemy aircraft, was asked to fly 313 from RAF Pembrey to RAF Farnborough under the guarantee not to crash. This was an impossible guarantee to give, so the aircraft was dismantled and transported via lorry instead.
At Farnborough, the Fw-190 was repainted in RAF colours and given the RAF serial number MP499 and a 'P' for prototype. Testing and evaluation commenced on 3 July 1942 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at RAF Farnborough. Roughly nine flying hours were recorded, providing the Allies with extremely valuable intelligence.
After 10 days it was transferred to the Air Fighting Development Unit at RAF Duxford for tactical assessment, where it was flown in mock combat trials against the new Spitfire Mk.IX, providing the RAF with methods to best fight the Fw 190A with their new fighter.
The Fw-190 was flown 29 times between 3 July 1942 and 29 January 1943. It was then partially dismantled and tests done on engine performance at Farnborough. It was struck off charge and scrapped in September 1943.
Whilst a prisoner of war in Canada, Faber managed to successfully convince British authorities that he suffered from epilepsy. Remarkably, it appears the authorities were taken in by his ruse and in 1944 they allowed his repatriation. Shortly after his return, he was again flying in front-line fighter operations.
The Shoreham Aircraft Museum displays the armoured-glass windscreen of Faber's Fw-190, together with part of its control panel. The museum also holds some wreckage fragments of František Trejtnar's Spitfire. In 1991, Armin Faber visited the museum and presented it with his officer's dagger and pilot's badge. The quick release buckle of the parachute František Trejtnar used that day is owned by an aviation-themed cafe at The Moravian Museum in Brno, in the Czech Republic.
- Pembrey Airfield History
- "Unintentional Gift". Free Czechoslovak Air Force. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- Trejtnar vs Faber Jun 23 1942
- Unintentional Gift
- THE FOCKE WULF FW 190
- Weal, John (2012). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front. Great Britain: Osprey Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 9781855325951.
- "Exhibits". Air cafe, Brno. Retrieved 26 August 2013.