Excellent German fighter The Fw 190 began life as a back-up to the Germans' leading fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. By the end of the war it had established itself as the most dependable fighter in the Luftwaffe. It was Germany's first radial-engined monoplane fighter, and flew for the first time in June 1939. The plane was introduced into service gradually; too late for the Battle of Britain, it was first sighted over the United Kingdom in August 1941. In 1943 the Fw 190D entered service. This was powered by the Junkers Jumo 213 inline engine, a change which necessitated several modifications to the airframe. The fuselage was lengthened, and this produced the characteristic 'long nose', and the fin was widened. Extra speed was obtained with the addition of a power boost to the engine, driving the D 12 at a maximum speed of 453 mph. Increased firepower was allowed for in the 190D 12 and 13, with a 30-mm cannon firing through the airscrew boss. Previous versions of the Fw 190 were armed with two rapid-firing 20-mm cannon mounted near the base of the wings; two slower-firing cannon were positioned midway along the wings. The D model, which enjoyed considerable success on the Eastern Front, was further developed under the designation Ta 152, the prefix being a tribute to the plane's designer, Kurt Tank. Most notable of the Ta 152s were the C model interceptor fighter and the H high-altitude interceptor. These were notably sleeker than their Fw190 predecessors, but were introduced too late in the war to have a great impact. With nitrous-oxide fuel injection the Ta 152H had a maximum speed of 472 mph and a ceiling of 48,000 ft. The Fw 190F, a ground-attack machine, was armed with 24 50-mm air-to-air missiles or 14 anti-tank missiles; it could alternatively carry bombs. The G version was a fighter-bomber and had a strengthened undercarriage for carrying a bomb-load of up to 3,967 Ibs. Specifications: Length: 29ft Span:34 ft 6 in Power plant: BMW 801 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine Combat weight 18,700 Ibs Max speed: 391 mph Ceiling: 34,775ft Armament: four 20-mm cannon; two 7.92-mm MGs Crew: one.