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Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (Condor)

Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Bomber

Nazi Germany | 1938

"The Fw 200 was the lesser-known of the German World War 2 bombers, relegated to maritime anti-shipping duty and VIP transport."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/08/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The German Fw 200 Condor was initially a trans-Atlantic passenger and cargo (mail) aircraft developed by Focke-Wulf and legendary designer Kurt Tank in 1936. Early prototypes were fitted with the Pratt & Whitney Hornet radial piston engines generating 750hp each. Subsequent wartime powerplants reverted to native BMW-series radials including the BMW 132G-1 and the BMW 132H. The trans-Atlantic passenger models were equipped to carry 26 flyers in two separate cabins. Fw 200A passenger models were delivered to the airliner Lufthansa along with air carriers in Brazil and Denmark for evaluation for commercial purposes.

With the advent of war, the Fw 200 Condor series was utilized as a successful maritime reconnaissance bomber and VIP transport (Hitler and Himmler were both reported users of the Fw 200 for this purpose). Excelling in disruption of Allied shipping lanes throughout the Atlantic and the Arctic, the Fw 200 Condor was fitted with anti-shipping armaments including anti-ship mines. Later variants, the Fw 200C-6 and 200C-8 would be fitted with the Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship guided missile controlled by an integrated missile control radio onboard.

Early models featured accommodations for five crewmen whilst later ones saw that increased to seven. Armament was standard for the most part (with exceptions made on later models) and featured a variety of 7.92mm machine guns and 13mm guns along with a 20mm cannon. Internal bomb load capacity was roughly 4,600lbs. An engineering defect in the aft fuselage tail section (the structural shortcomings contributed to many accidents) kept the Condor from reaching the legendary status like that of the Battle of Britain veterans - the Dornier Do 17 and the Heinkel He 111 (both detailed elsewhere on this site). Thusly the system was relegated it to the supplementary roles mentioned above.

In the end, production totals are reported to have been between 250 and 275 total aircraft. The addition of the Hs 293 missile system was a step towards the more advanced guided variants we see in today's bombers. Nevertheless, and despite its shortcomings, the Fw 200 Condor found its niche in the Second World War as a successful maritime reconnaissance aircraft for the Third Reich. Incidentaly, a C-series protoype was ordered by Japan but never delivered.

A recent email alerted us to a little known fact that Britain acquired a sole Fw 200 Condor and nearly used it in action. The email - which we'll keep anonymous - reads as follows:


In passing, the UK immediately prior to WW2, had acquired a single FW 200 by 'back door' methods (dont ask!). One operation was planned using it, to land Commandos at Merignac airfield in occupied France, and destroy those identical German [aircraft] on the ground. The planning group did their planning work 'down the tunnel' at Maidstone in Kent. The plan involved a German Condor outbound from Norway being shot down by a flight of Spitfires specially based in the extreme north of the Shetland Islands, at an airstrip called Baltasound.

The plan was aborted when near to 'go ahead', as the recovery of the Commandos at the end of the [operation] was seen as far too problematical.

Authority: My Father, an R.A.F. S/Ldr., who was on the planning team.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-3 (Condor) Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Bomber.
4 x BMW Bramo 323 R-2 Fafnir air-cooled radial engines developing 1,200 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units.
224 mph
360 kph | 194 kts
Max Speed
19,685 ft
6,000 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
2,212 miles
3,560 km | 1,922 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-3 (Condor) Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Bomber.
78.2 ft
23.85 m
O/A Length
107.7 ft
(32.84 m)
O/A Width
20.7 ft
(6.30 m)
O/A Height
37,479 lb
(17,000 kg)
Empty Weight
50,045 lb
(22,700 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (Condor) Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Bomber .
1 x 7.92mm machine gun in forward dorsal turret.
1 x 7.92mm machine gun in aft ventral position.
1 x 13mm gun in rear dorsal position.
2 x 13mm guns in beam position.
1 x 20mm cannon in forward position of ventral gondola.

C-6 / C-8 Models:
2 x Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship guided missiles.

Maximum bombload of 4,630 lb (2,100 kg).
Notable series variants as part of the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (Condor) family line.
Fw 200 V1 - Initial Prototype Model Designation
Fw 200 V10 - Militarized Prototype designation of Fw 200.
Fw 200 A-0 - Pre-Production Models consisting of fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eigth and ninth prototype examples.
Fw 200 B-1 - Transportation Model; fitted with 4 x BMW 132Dc series engines.
Fw 200 B-2 - Transportation Model; fitted with 4 x BMW 132H series engines.
Fw 200 C-0 - Pre-Production Maritime Reconnaissance Models of which 10 were produced (6 maritime reconnaissance and 4 transport versions).
Fw 200 C-1 - Production Reconnaissance Bomber Model featuring accommodation for five-person crew; Powered by 4 x BMW 132H 830hp (ea) engines; 1 x 20mm cannon in nose assembly with 3 x 7.92mm machine guns elsewhere.
Fw 200 C-2 - Aerodynamically Refined Variant.
Fw 200 C-3 - Featuring Bramo 323R-2 radial piston engines generating 1,000hp each; Improved airframe structure; Improved offensive and defensive armaments; Four sub-variants.
Fw 200 C-3/U1 - Fitted with 1 x 15mm MG 151 machine gun in dorsal turret; 1 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannon in place of 1 x 13mm MG 131 machine gun.
Fw 200 C-3/U2 - Fitted with 1 x 13mm MG 131 machine gun; Lotfe 7D bombsight.
Fw 200 C-4 - Radar implemented sub-variant of C-3 model; 11 and 14-seat passenger derivatives of this model were produced.
Fw 200C-6 - Provisions for Henschel HS 293 anti-ship missiles; Fitted with FuG 203b missile control radar system; Based on C-3 model.
Fw 200C-8 - Provisions for Henschel HS 293 missiles; Fitted with FuG 203b missile control radar system; Improved radar system.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (Condor). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 275 Units

Contractor(s): Focke-Wulf - Germany
National flag of Brazil National flag of Denmark National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Spain National flag of the United Kingdom

[ Brazil; Denmark; Nazi Germany; United Kingdom; Soviet Union; Spain ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (224mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (Condor)
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 (Condor) Long-Range Maritime Reconnaissance Bomber appears in the following collections:
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