Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor
|Fw 200 Condor|
|Fw 200 C-3/U2 "SG+KS", became F8+AB of I.Gruppe/KG 40|
|Role||Airliner, reconnaissance, bomber, transport aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft|
|First flight||27 July 1937|
|Produced||1937 - 1944|
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, also known as Kurier to the Allies, was a German all-metal four-engined monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner. A Japanese request for a long-range maritime patrol aircraft led to military versions that saw service with the Luftwaffe as long-range reconnaissance and anti-shipping/maritime patrol bomber aircraft. The Luftwaffe also made extensive use of the Fw 200 as a transport.
Design and development
The Fw 200 resulted from a proposal by Kurt Tank of Focke-Wulf to Dr. Rudolf Stuessel of Deutsche Lufthansa to develop a landplane to carry passengers across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA. At that time this was unusual, as airlines used seaplanes on long over-water routes. To fly long distances economically, the Fw 200 was designed to cruise at an altitude of over 3,000 m (9,800 ft) - as high as possible without a pressurized cabin. Existing airliners were designed to cruise at altitudes below 1,500 m (5,000 ft). The Fw 200 was briefly the world's most modern airliner, until other high-altitude airliners started operating: the Boeing 307 in 1940 and the Douglas DC-4 in 1942. The designation "Condor" was chosen because, like the condor bird, the Fw 200 had a very long wingspan, to facilitate high-altitude flight.
Deutsche Lufthansa issued a specification in June 1936 after discussions between Tank, Dr. Stüssel and Carl August von Gablenz. The plane was designed by Ludwig Mittelhuber with Wilhelm Bansemir as project director. The first prototype, the Fw 200 V1, made its first flight after just over one year of development on 27 July 1937 with Kurt Tank at the controls. It was an all-metal, four-engined monoplane powered by four American 875 hp Pratt & Whitney Hornet radial engines, and intended to carry 26 passengers in two cabins for up to 3,000 km (1,860 mi). Two further prototypes were powered by German 720 hp BMW 132G-1 radials.
The Japanese Navy requested a military version of the Fw 200 for search and patrol duties, so Tank designed the Fw 200 V10 with military equipment. This Fw 200 was held in Germany because war had broken out in Europe by that time. This aircraft became the basis for all later military models used by the Luftwaffe.
To adapt it for wartime service, hardpoints were added to the wings for bombs, the fuselage was strengthened and extended to create more space, and front, aft and dorsal gun positions were added, in addition to an extended-length version of the Bola ventral gondola typical of World War II German bomber aircraft; for the Fw 200's militarization this incorporated a bomb bay as well as heavily glazed forward and aft flexible defensive machine gun emplacements at either end. The extra weight introduced by its military fitments meant that some early Fw 200 aircraft broke up on landing, a problem that was never entirely solved. Later models were equipped with Lorenz FuG 200 Hohentwiel low UHF-band ASV radar in the nose. In 1943 a version entered service that could carry the Henschel Hs 293 guided missile, mandating fitment of the associated Funkgerät FuG 203 Kehl radio guidance gear on a Condor to steer them.
The Fw 200 was operated by Deutsche Lufthansa, DDL Danish Airlines and Lufthansa's Brazilian subsidiary Syndicato Condor. Dai Nippon KK of Japan also ordered Fw 200 airliners. These could not be delivered to Japan once the war began, so they were delivered to Deutsche Lufthansa instead. On 14 April 1945 an Fw 200 flew Lufthansa's last scheduled service before the end of World War II, from Barcelona to Berlin. Other airlines continued to operate the Fw 200 after the end of World War II.
The first prototype, the Fw 200 V1, upgraded with extra fuel tanks and redesignated Fw 200 S-1, made several record flights. It was the first heavier-than-air craft to fly nonstop between Berlin and New York City (c.4000 miles), making the flight from Berlin-Staaken to Floyd Bennett Field on 10/11 August 1938 in 24 hours and 56 minutes. The return trip on 13 August 1938 took 19 hours and 47 minutes. These flights are commemorated with a plaque in Böttcherstraße, a street in Bremen. Beginning on 28 November 1938 it flew from Berlin to Tokyo via Basra, Karachi and Hanoi.
The German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, used a specially outfitted Condor "Grenzmark", on his two flights to Moscow in 1939, during which he negotiated and signed the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union. Original film footage of his arrival shows his aircraft bearing the German civil registration of D-ACVH.
A Danish-owned Fw 200 aircraft named Dania was seized by the British on English soil after Denmark was invaded by German forces in 1940. It was subsequently operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and was then pressed into service with the Royal Air Force. It was damaged beyond repair in 1941.
The Luftwaffe initially used the aircraft to support the Kriegsmarine, making great loops out across the North Sea and, following the fall of France, the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft was used for maritime patrols and reconnaissance, searching for Allied convoys and warships that could be reported for targeting by U-boats. The Fw 200 could also carry a 900-kilogram (2,000 lb) bomb load or naval mines to use against shipping, and it was claimed that from June 1940 to February 1941, they sank 331,122 tonnes (365,000 tons) of shipping despite a rather crude bombsight. The attacks were carried out at extremely low altitude in order to "bracket" the target ship with three bombs; this almost guaranteed a hit. Winston Churchill called the Fw 200 the "Scourge of the Atlantic" during the Battle of the Atlantic due to its contribution to the heavy Allied shipping losses.
Following the debut of what would become the Luftwaffe's primary seaborne maritime patrol aircraft, the rival trimotored Bv 138C flying boat in March 1941; from mid-1941, Condor crews were instructed to stop attacking shipping and avoid all combat in order to preserve numbers. In August, the first Fw 200 was shot down by a CAM ship-launched Hawker Hurricane, and the arrival of the U.S.-built Grumman Martlet, operating from the Royal Navy's new escort carriers, posed a serious threat. On 14 August 1942, an Fw 200C-3 was the first German aircraft to be destroyed by USAAF pilots, after it was attacked by a P-40C and a P-38F over Iceland.
The Fw 200 was also used as a transport aircraft, notably flying supplies into Stalingrad in 1942. After late-1943, the Fw 200 came to be used solely for transport. For reconnaissance, it was replaced by the Junkers Ju 290, and even some examples of the Heinkel He 177A serving with KG 40. As France was liberated, maritime reconnaissance by the Luftwaffe became impossible as the Atlantic coast bases were captured. Production ended in 1944 with a total of 276 aircraft produced.
Several damaged Fw 200s landed in Spain during the war. In the beginning, they were repaired and returned to their bases in France. After Operation Torch (the Allied invasion of Africa), the Spanish government interned four aircraft that arrived (although their crews were still allowed to return to Germany). Since the aircraft could not be used, they were sold by Germany to Spain. One of the three flyable aircraft was then operated by the Spanish Air Force and the others used for spares. Because of damage and lack of spares, and for political reasons, they were grounded and scrapped in around 1950.
Some Condors also crashed in Portugal. Their crews were allowed to return to Germany while the British authorities were allowed to inspect the aircraft and accompanying documentation. Some crew members died in these crashes and are buried in the civilian cemetery of Moura in Alentejo Province, Portugal. The aircraft that crashed in Spain and Portugal had been based in Bordeaux-Merignac, France since 1940. Before then, the operational base of the Fw 200 squadrons had been in Denmark.
Hitler's personal transport
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At the suggestion of his personal pilot Hans Baur, Adolf Hitler specified a modified and unarmed prototype Condor, the Fw 200 V3, as his personal transport, as a replacement for his Junkers Ju 52. Originally configured as a 26-passenger Lufthansa transport (Works No. 3099), it was reconfigured as a plush two-cabin airliner. Hitler's seat in the cabin was equipped with a wooden table, seat-back armour plating, and an automatic parachute with downward throws. According to Baur, it was never armed. In line with Hitler's aircraft preferences, it carried the markings "D-2600" and was named "Immelmann III" in honour of World War I flying ace Max Immelmann. As the war progressed it changed designation to "WL+2600" and finally "26+00"; it was destroyed at Berlin Tempelhof Airport in an Allied bombing raid on 18 July 1944.
There were three variants of the aircraft: the Fw 200A, B, and C. The Model A was a purely civilian variant used by Deutsche Lufthansa, DDL in Denmark, and Syndicato Condor in Brazil. The Fw 200B and Fw 200C models were used as long-range bombers, reconnaissance, troop and transport aircraft.
- Fw 200 V1
- First prototype.
- Fw 200 V10
- Military prototype.
- Fw 200 A-0
- Pre-production batch of fourth to ninth prototypes.
- Fw 200 B-1
- Transportation aircraft fitted with four BMW 132Dc engines.
- Fw 200 B-2
- Transportation aircraft fitted with four BMW 132H engines.
- Fw 200 C-0
- Pre-production batch of 10 aircraft, structural strengthening, the first four were manufactured as unarmed transports, the remaining six were fitted with armament.
- Fw 200 C-1
- First military production version, BMW 132H engines, fitted with full-length Bola ventral gondola which added a narrow bomb bay to the airframe, increased defensive armament, provisions for four 250 kg (550 lb) bombs.
- Fw 200 C-2
- Similar to C-1, but featured a recessed underside to the rear sheet metal of each of the two outboard engine nacelles which reduced drag, where a hardpoint for a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb or a 300 L (80 US gal) capacity, standard Luftwaffe drop tank was placed.
- Fw 200 C-3
- Structurally strengthened, fitted with Bramo 323 R-2 radial engines.
- Fw 200 C-3/Umrüst-Bausatz 1(/U1)
- Featured an increased defensive armament, a 15 mm MG 151 cannon in an enlarged powered forward dorsal turret similar to those used for the Bv 138's bow turret position, the 20 mm MG FF replaced by a MG 151/20 cannon.
- Fw 200 C-3/U2
- Fitted with original, "hemispherical" dorsal turret, and had the 20 mm MG 151/20 at the front end of the ventral Bola gondola replaced with a 13 mm (0.5 in) MG 131 machine gun, which allowed space for the installation of a Lotfe 7D bombsight.
- Fw 200 C-3/U3
- Fitted with two additional 13 mm MG 131s.
- Fw 200 C-3/U4
- Had 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 15 machine gun replaced by 13 mm MG 131s and carried an extra gunner.
- Fw 200 C-4
- Similar to C-3, but carried FuG Rostock search radar, late production aircraft used FuG 200 Hohentwiel low-UHF band ASV sea search radar.
- Fw 200 C-4/U1 (Werk-Nr 137)
- High-speed transport aircraft, only one example built with shortened Bola gondola without bomb bay. Used to transport Adolf Hitler. Heinrich Himmler and Karl Dönitz. Bore the Stammkennzeichen alphabetic code of GC + AE. Captured by British and used as transport by them while based at Airfield B.164 Schleswig, flown frequently by Eric Brown - later to RAE Farnborough with Air Min number 94
- Fw 200 C-4/U2 (Werk-Nr 138)
- High-speed transport aircraft with similarly shortened Bola gondola (with no bomb bay) to earlier C-4/Umrüst-Bausatz 1 version, with accommodation for 14 passengers, only one example built.
- Fw 200 C-6
- Several aircraft were outfitted with an early version of the FuG 203 Kehl series missile control transmitter, to carry Henschel Hs 293 missiles and re-designated C-6.
- Fw 200 C-8
- Fitted with Lorenz FuG 200 Hohentwiel low-UHF band ASV sea-search radar as with some C-4 examples; some examples equipped with FuG 203b Kehl III missile control transmitter and fitted with capability to deploy Henschel Hs 293 MCLOS guidance, rocket-boosted anti-ship missiles from the pair of outer-engine nacelle hardpoints.
- Fw 200 S-1
- Special designation for Fw 200 V1 that was flown from Berlin to Tokyo.
- Two Fw 200C-4 re-engined with ASh-62IR engines, operated 1947 to 1950.
- Soviet Air Force (post-war captured)
- Spanish Air Force (Interned)
- Royal Air Force (one aircraft interned)
Accidents and incidents
- On 6 December 1938, a Deutsche Lufthansa Fw 200S-1 (D-ACON, Brandenburg) ditched in Cavite Bay, Philippines following a loss of engine power due to a broken fuel line; all six on board survived, but the aircraft was written off. The aircraft was on a Berlin–Basra–Karachi–Hanoi–Tokyo publicity flight.
- On 22 April 1940, Luftwaffe Fw 200S-10 "CB+FB" of I/KG 40 (former Deutsche Lufthansa D-ABOD Kurmark) crashed during the invasion of Norway.
- On 20 July 1940, two Deutsche Luftwaffe Fw 200C KG 40 were lost-one (F8-EH) shot down over Sunderland (Crew 3 lost/2 POW); the other lost off Northern Ireland (cause unknown} (Crew 2 Killed/3 POW)
- On 20 August 1940, Luftwaffe Fw 200C-1 "F8+KH" of I/KG 40 crashed at Faha Ridge, Cloghane, Ireland; all six on board survived and were interned in Ireland.
- On 22 October 1940, Luftwaffe Fw 200C-1 "F8+OK" of I/KG 40 went missing over the Irish Sea. Possibly unknown bomber which sank the Irish Vessel "Kerry Head" in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Clear Island, County Cork, Ireland;: reportedly the bomber was brought down in explosion; no survivors from either ship or plane. 
- On 15 June 1941, Luftwaffe Fw 200A-0 "F8+CU" (former Lufthansa D-ADHR) burned out at Aalborg Airport following an engine fire.
- On 23 July 1941, a Deutsche Luftwaffe Fw 200C of KG 40 was lost in the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland, after being shot down by a Lockheed Hudson Mark V of No. 233 Squadron RAF.
- On 22 October 1942, Luftwaffe Fw 200C-4/U3 "F8+EK" of 1.(F)/120 and I./KG 40 was shot down by two USAAF P-39 fighters and crashed at Kleppatagl, Iceland, killing all seven on board.
- On 9 July 1943, a Luftwaffe Fw 200 of III/KG 40 was shot down by a British fighter and struck a cliff near Aljezur, Portugal, killing all seven on board.
- On 18 July 1944, Adolf Hitler's personal Fw 200 V3 [26+00] was destroyed in bombing [See above]
- On 27 September 1944, a Deutsche Lufthansa Fw 200D-2 (D-AMHL) was shot down by an RAF Bristol Beaufighter of RAF 415 and crashed at Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux, France, killing all nine on board.
- On 29 November 1944, a Deutsche Lufthansa Fw 200A-0/S-5 (D-ARHW, Friesland) was accidentally shot down by a German patrol boat and crashed off Målkläppen, Sweden, killing all ten on board.
- On 11 October 1944, Luftwaffe Fw 200C-4 (radio code F8+ES, Work Number 0163) of 8./KG 40 crashed at Kvanntoneset, Norway due to tail separation while flying over Lavanger fjord, killing all 51 on board.
- On 21 April 1945, a Deutsche Lufthansa Fw 200KB-1 (D-ASHH, Hessen) crashed near Piesenkofen, Germany, killing all 21 on board. This crash is the deadliest accident involving the Fw 200.
- On 4 September 1946, a Danish Air Lines (DDL) Fw 200A-5 (OY-DEM, Jutlandia) crashed at Northolt Airport after landing in crosswinds; there were no casualties, but the aircraft was written off.
- On 13 December 1946, a Polyarnaya Aviatsiya Fw 200C-3 (CCCP-N400) force-landed off Ostrov Litne due to engine problems; all 21 on board survived, but the aircraft was written off.
- On 8 March 1947, a Cruzeiro do Sul Fw 200A-0 (PP-CBI, Abaitara) was struck by a Panair do Brazil Douglas DC-3 (PP-PCK) that was landing at Santos-Dumont Airport, there were no casualties, but the Fw 200 was written off.
- On 23 April 1950, a Polyarnaya Aviatsiya MK-200 (CCCP-N500) overran the runway and crashed at Yakutsk Airport due to crosswinds; all nine on board survived, the aircraft was written off.
Only one relatively complete Fw 200 exists today, an aircraft that ditched in February 1942 and sank to a depth of 60 metres (197 feet). This aircraft was raised from Trondheim Fjord in Norway on 26 May 1999. Although the airframe disintegrated whilst being lowered onto a recovery platform, the remains were transported to the German Museum of Technology in Berlin to be rebuilt. A request from the museum for a set of separate wings to be recovered from the Kvitanosi mountain near Voss in Norway to complete the rebuild was at first denied, because the local population wanted the wings to be left in situ as a war memorial. A compromise was reached in 2008 where parts not needed for the restoration would be left on the mountain. During the autumn of 2009 parts were moved down by helicopter and made ready for transport to the Museum of Technology.
Specifications (Fw 200 C-3/U4)
Data from Warplanes of the Luftwaffe 
- Crew: five
- Capacity: 30 fully armed troops in transport configuration
- Length: 23.45 m (76 ft 11 in)
- Wingspan: 32.85 m (107 ft 9 in)
- Height: 6.30 m (20 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 119.85 m² (1,290 ft²)
- Empty weight: 17,005 kg (37,490 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 22,714 kg (50,057 lb)
- Powerplant: 4 × BMW/Bramo 323R-2 nine-cylinder single-row air-cooled radial engine, 895 kW (1,200hp) each
- Maximum speed: 360 km/h (195 knots, 224 mph) at 4,800 m (15,750 ft)
- Cruise speed: 335 km/h (181 knots, 208 mph) at 4,000 m (13,100 ft) (Max cruise)
- Range: 3,560 km (1,923 nmi, 2,212 mi)
- Endurance: 14 hrs
- Service ceiling: 6,000 m (19,700 ft)
- 1 × 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun in Drehkranz D-30 forward dorsal turret with 1,125 rounds
- 1 × 13 mm MG 131 machine gun in aft dorsal turret with 1,000 rounds
- 1 × 20 mm MG 151 cannon in forward ventral gondola position with 800 rounds
- 1 × 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun in rear ventral gondola position with 750 rounds
- 2 × 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun in flexible mountings firing laterally, one on each side of the fuselage with 1,500 rounds
- Bombs: Up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs internally or up to 5,400 kg (11,900 lb) externally on four PVC 1006 underwing racks
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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