TYPE: Medium bomber
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of seven
POWER PLANT: Two BMW 801A radial engines, rated at 1,539 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 385 mph at 20,800 ft
COMMENT: The Focke-Wulf Fw 191 was a prototype German bomber of WW II, as the Focke-Wulf firm’s entry for the Bomber B advanced medium bomber design competition. Two versions were intended to be produced, a twin-engine version using the Junkers Jumo 222 engine and a four-engine variant which was to have used the smaller Daimler-Benz DB 605 engine. The project was eventually abandoned due to technical difficulties with the engines
In July 1939, the RLM issued a specification for a high-performance medium bomber (the “Bomber B” program). It was to have a maximum speed of 370 mph and be able to carry a bomb load of 4,000 kg to any part of Britain from bases in France or Norway. Furthermore, the new bomber was to have a pressurized crew compartment, of the then-generalized “stepless cockpit” design (with no separate windscreen for the pilot) pioneered by the Heinkel He 111P shortly before the war and used on most German bombers during the war, remotely controlled armament, and was to utilize two of the new 2,466 hp class of engines then being developed (Jumo 222 or DB 604), with the Jumo 222 being specified for the great majority of such twin-engined designs, that Arado, Dornier, Focke-Wulf and Junkers had created airframe designs to use. The Arado Ar E340 was eliminated. The Dornier Do 317 was put on a low-priority development contract; and the Junkers Ju 288 and Focke-Wulf Fw 191 were chosen for full development.
Overall, the Fw 191 was a clean, all-metal aircraft that featured a shoulder-mounted wing. Two 24-cylinder Junkers Jumo 222 engines (which showed more promise than the DB 604 engines) were mounted in nacelles on the wings. An interesting feature was the inclusion of the Multhopp-Klappe, an ingenious form of combined landing flap and dive brake fitted in four sections to the wing trailing edges, which was developed by engineer H. Multhopp. The entire fuel supply was carried in five tanks located above the internal bomb bay, and in two tanks in the wing between the engine nacelles and fuselage.
The tail section was of a twin fins and rudders design, with the tailplane having a small amount of dihedral. The main landing gear legs retracted to the rear and rotated 90° to lie flat in each engine nacelle with the mainwheels resting atop the lower ends of the gear struts when fully retracted, much like the main gear on the production versions of the Junkers Ju 88 already did. Also, the tailwheel retracted forwards into the fuselage. A crew of four sat in the pressurized cockpit, and a large Plexiglas dome was provided for the navigator; the radio operator could also use this dome to aim the remotely controlled rear guns.
The Fw 191 followed established Luftwaffe practice in concentrating the crew in the nose compartment, also including the nearly ubiquitous “Bola”, inverted-casemate undernose gondola for defensive weapons mounts first used on the Junkers Ju 88A before the war, and in the use of a “stepless cockpit”, having no separate windscreen for the pilot, as the later -P and -H versions of the Heinkel He 111 already did. This was pressurised for high-altitude operations. The proposed operational armament consisted of one 20 mm MG 151 cannon in a chin turret, twin 20 mm MG 151 in a remotely controlled dorsal turret, twin 20 mm MG 151 in a remotely controlled ventral turret, a tail turret with one or two machine guns and remotely controlled weapons in the rear of the engine nacelles. However, different combinations were mounted in the prototype aircraft. Sighting stations were provided above the crew compartment, as well as at the ends of the aforementioned “Bola” beneath the nose.
The aircraft had an internal bomb bay. In addition, bombs or torpedoes could be carried on external racks between the fuselage and the engine nacelles. The design was to have had a maximum speed of 370 mph, a bomb load of 4,000 kg, and a range allowing it to bomb any target in Britain from bases in France and Norway.
It is said that the intention to use electric power for almost all of the aircraft’s auxiliary systems (also a fact for the successful Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter), requiring the installation of a large number of electric motors and wiring led to the nickname for the Fw 191 of “Das fliegende Kraftwerk” (the flying power station). This also had the detrimental effect of adding even more weight to the overburdened airframe, plus there was also the danger of a single enemy bullet putting every system out of action if the generator was hit. On its maiden flight early in 1942, the Focke-Wulf Fw 191 V1 showed immediate problems arising from the lower rated engines not providing enough power, as was anticipated. Additional problems occurred with the Multhopp-Klappe, which presented severe flutter problems when extended, and pointed to the need for a redesign. At this point, only dummy gun installations were fitted and no bomb load was carried. After completing ten test flights, the Fw 191 V1 was joined by the similar V2, but only a total of ten hours of test flight time was logged. The 2,466 hp Junkers Jumo 222 engines which would have powered the Fw 191 proved troublesome. In total only three prototype aircraft, V1, V2 and V6, were built. The project was crippled by engine problems and an extensive use of electrical motor-driven systems. Problems arose almost immediately when the Junkers Jumo 222 engines were not ready in time for the first flight tests, so a pair of 1,539 hp BMW 801A radial engines was fitted. This made the Fw 191 V1 seriously underpowered. Another problem arose with the RLM’s insistence that all systems that would normally be hydraulic or mechanically activated should be operated by electric motors.
At this point, the RLM allowed the redesign and removal of the electric motors (to be replaced by the standard hydraulics), so the Fw 191 V3, V4 and V5 were abandoned. The Fw 191 V6 was then modified to the new design, and also a pair of specially prepared Junkers Jumo 222 engines were fitted that developed 2,170 hp for takeoff. The first flight of the new Fw 191 took place in December 1942. Although the V6 flew better, the Junkers Jumo 222 was still not producing their design power, and the whole Jumo 222 development prospect was looking bad due to the shortage of special metals for it. The Fw 191 V6 was to have been the production prototype for the Fw 191A series.
Due to the German aviation engine industry having ongoing problems in producing power plant designs capable of output levels matching or exceeding the 2,100 hp figure throughout the entirety of the war years, that had any demonstrable level of combat-ready reliability, the Jumo 222 engines were having a lot of teething problems, and the Daimler Benz DB 604 had already been abandoned, a new proposal was put forth for the Fw 191B series.
The Fw 191 V7 through V12 machines were abandoned in favor of using the Fw 191 V13 to install a pair of Daimler Benz DB 606 or 610 “power system” engines, which were basically coupled pairs of either DB 601 or 605 12-cylinder engines. Their lower power-to-weight ratio, however, from their 1.500 kg weight apiece for each “power system”, meant that the armament and payload would have to be reduced. It had already been decided to delete the engine nacelle gun turrets, and to make the rest manually operated. Five more prototypes were planned with the new engine arrangement, V14 through V18, but none were ever built, possibly from the August 1942 condemnation by Reichsmarschall H. Göring of the coupled “power system” DB 606 and 610 power plants as “welded-together engines, in regards to their being the primary cause of the unending series of power plant problems in their primary use, as the engines on Heinkel’s He 177A “Greif”, Germany’s only production heavy bomber of World War II.
One final attempt was made to save the Focke-Wulf Fw 191 program, this time the Fw 191C was proposed as a four engined aircraft, using either the 1,322 hp Junkers Jumo 211F, the 1,332 hp Daimler-Benz DB 601E, the 1,455 hp Daimler-Benz DB 605A or similar rated DB 628 engines. Also, the cabin would be unpressurized and the guns manually operated, with a rear step in the bottom of the deepened fuselage — in the manner of the near-ubiquitous “Bola” gondola used by the majority of German bombers for ventral defense under the nose — being provided for the gunner.
However, at this time, the whole “Bomber B” program had been canceled, due mainly to no engines of the 2,500 hp class being available, which was one of the primary requirements in the “Bomber B” program. Although the Fw 191 will be remembered as a failure, the air frame and overall design eventually proved themselves to be sound; only the underpowered engines and insistence on electric motors to operate all the systems eventually doomed the aircraft. All in all, there were only three Focke-Wulf Fw 191s ever built (V1, V2 and V6), and no examples of the Fw 191B or C ever advanced past the design stage. The RLM kept in reserve for Focke-Wulf the future number: Fw 391 for follow-up designs, but nothing ever developed. The project was eventually scrapped (Ref.: 24).