Even before the excellent Focke-Wulf Fw 190 single-seat, single-engine fighter entered the war for Germany in World War 2 (1939-1945), company engineers were already hard at work at squeezing every ounce of power out of the design - with a focus on improving high-altitude performance. This led to a series of fighter design studies that ran throughout the war years, resulting in the Fw 190 airframe being considered with various powerplant installations including the BMW 802 radial. One of the more offbeat approaches by the concern became a twin-boom monoplane which was to sit its single pilot at the extreme front end of the fuselage and have a BMW 803 series radial engine at rear driving a pair of propeller units in "pusher" arrangement.
The aircraft owed some of its layout to the earlier Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu ("Owl") of 1940 in its selection of twin-boom configuration with a similarly-shaped monoplane wing in which the leading edges were noticeably swept back against a relatively straight trailing edge. Instead of the Uhu's engines being fitted at the front end of each boom, the single BMW 803 was to be buried within the confines of the fuselage directly aft of the cockpit. The propulsion scheme would draw air through a slim circular intake design wrapping over and under the fuselage. A tricycle landing gear arrangement would provide the needed ground-running capability and was wholly-retractable - the main legs under the boom sections and the nose leg under the cockpit floor.
The pilot sat under a largely unobstructed canopy with excellent vision out over the short nosecone (views to his rear would restricted due to the raised dorsal spine and engine placement). As the nose was clear of any engine/propeller mounting, this gave relatively unfettered firing access to the proposed armament of 4 x 20mm MG 151 automatic cannons with two guns seated to either side of the cockpit walls. The firepower from a single burst would have been enough to bring down an Allied bomber of the day.
In addition to this, engineers also added future support for larger caliber cannons (presumably the German 30mm type) in place of the 20mm weapons and up to four machine guns at the wing roots (two guns per wing root).
For ground attack sorties, provision was given for the carrying of 2 x Conventional drop bombs, ranging from 550lb to 1,100lb) mounted under each boom. In lieu of this, the aircraft could also be equipped with jettisonable fuel drop tanks for extended operational ranges.
The fighter was to have an empty weight of 14,000lb with its Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reaching 16,535lb when fully-laden. Dimensions included a running length of 45.2 feet, a wingspan of 43.3 feet, and height of 10.5 feet.
The engine of choice was the BMW 803 28-cylinder, four-row series radial outputting 4,000 horsepower and this would be used to drive 2 x Three-bladed propeller units in contra-rotating fashion behind the fuselage (giving the appearance of a six-bladed unit). The BMW 803 was actually a mating of two BMW 801 engines seated back-to-back. As the heat generated from such a pairing proved substantial, liquid-cooling was employed to keep temperatures in check.
Despite the awesome power on paper, the engine did not evolve into a production-quality form. Just twelve prototypes were built during the war.
Estimated performance figures with the BMW 803 installed in the proposed Focke-Wulf fighter design included a maximum speed of 455 miles-per-hour at nearly 30,000 feet with a service ceiling of 36,750 feet possible. Range was out to a useful 1,000 kilometers.
As impressive at it may have appeared on paper, the Fw BMW803 design did not extend beyond the paper stage. Some modifications of the aircraft were made in 1943, primarily to the cooling system, but the project fell to naught. It does, however, appear to have influenced the jet-and-rocket-powered Fw P.VII "Flitzer" fighter proposal of 1944 (detailed elsewhere on this site) - which also came to nothing.
A second iteration of the same Focke-Wulf BMW803-based design installed an oversized "drum" style radiator at the nose. This version also had a planned ejection seat. A third design choice saw radiators fitted to the heads of the boom assemblies.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
45.3 ft (13.80 m)
43.3 ft (13.20 m)
10.5 ft (3.20 m)
13,944 lb (6,325 kg)
16,535 lb (7,500 kg)
+2,590 lb (+1,175 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Focke-Wulf Fw BMW803 V1 production variant)
1 x BMW 803 liquid-cooled radial piston engine developing 4,000 horsepower driving 2 x Three-bladed propellers in contra-rotating fashion in "pusher" arrangement at rear of the fuselage.
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