The Focke-Wulf Fw 190, one of Germany’s best fighter airplanes of World War II, made its first flight on Jun. 1, 1939. It appeared in action over northwestern France in September 1941 and rapidly proved its superiority over the Mark V Spitfire, Britain’s best fighter of that time.
Most Fw 190s were the “A” series, powered by a BMW radial engine. Late in 1943, however, the more capable “D” series appeared in action against US bombers, powered by the more powerful Jumo 213 inline, liquid-cooled engine. Because the larger engine lengthened its nose, a 20-inch section had to be added to the Fw 190D-9’s fuselage just forward of the tail.
As explained by Robert Forsyth in his book Fw 190D-9 Defence of the Reich 1944–45, the Fw 190D-9 was one of the few fighter designs to see service in World War 2 that had been designed after the outbreak of hostilities.
One highly experienced Luftwaffe pilot to end his war flying the D-9 was Oberleutnant Oskar Romm, the Gruppenkommandeur of IV./JG 3. By late April 1945 his personal victory tally stood at 92, the last claimed on Mar. 21 when he had shot down one of several Il-2s that had attacked his Gruppe’s base at Prenzlau. A small number of Focke-Wulfs had managed to get airborne during the attack, and two more Shturmoviks were claimed by D-9 pilots Feldwebel Oskar Bösch and Leutnant Karl-Alfred Schulte for their 16th and 3rd claims, respectively. Romm continued to fly missions after this episode, but five weeks later he would meet his match over an area of the front where Soviet forces had just broken through, as he recounted (Price, At War, pg 132–133):
‘My last combat mission was on 24 April 1945, to the south of Stettin, when, with my wingman, I attacked a formation of Russian Shturmovik ground-attack aircraft. I selected full emergency power, and with our superior speed we went right through the Russian fighter escort without difficulty. I was just about to open fire on one of the Ilyushins when my cooling gills suddenly opened automatically and the oil and coolant temperature gauges showed that the engine was overheating. Either my engine had been hit by enemy fire or it had suffered a failure. I broke off the action by rolling over onto my back and pulling away in a steep dive. The Russian fighters endeavouring to follow were soon left behind and abandoned the chase.’
Romm nursed his ‘Dora’ to the southwest, back towards the German frontline, with sparks and exhaust smoke trailing behind the damaged, overheating engine. ‘As the last of the lubricating oil burned away between the aluminium pistons and the steel cylinder block,’ he recalled, ‘the engine burst into flames.’ Romm had made it back to German-held territory, but he was too low to bail out. A short while later the Jumo cut out and the Fw 190D-9 pancaked into the ground near Brüssow, 20km northwest of Prenzlau. He recalled how the aircraft:
‘. . . proceeded to smear its pieces all over the landscape. However, the same rugged construction that had saved my life in earlier emergency landings proved itself once again.’
Despite the D-9’s rugged build, Romm suffered a fractured skull, facial lacerations, concussion and other minor injuries. Fortunately, his landing was observed by soldiers at a nearby divisional headquarters, and they radioed his position to the local Luftwaffe command. The soldiers then removed him from his aircraft and took the fighter pilot to their headquarters, where an army doctor did his best to tend to him. Some hours later Romm was collected from the area of the crash by personnel of IV./JG 3, led by an officer of the Stabskompanie, and taken firstly to a Luftwaffe hospital at Wismar and then, four days later, to another hospital at Timmendorfer-Strand on the Baltic coast near Travemünde. His war was over.
Fw 190D-9 Defence of the Reich 1944–45 is published by Osprey Publishing and is available to order here.
Photo credit: Gareth Hector via Osprey Publishing and EN Archive
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