Flight of the Butcher Bird
key.aero reports on the highlight of Flying Legends 2009, held over July 11/12.
Flying Legends 2009 will be remembered for one thing in particular – the appearance of an FW 190 ‘Butcher Bird’ in the sky, something not seen since the Luftwaffe strafed the East Anglian countryside during the Second World War.
The story of the 21st century FW 190 goes back to June 13, 1996 when fellow German aviation enthusiasts Claus Colling and Hans-Günther Wildmoser founded Flug Werk GmbH with the intention to build new ‘Butcher Birds’ from scratch, as no airworthy examples survived from the 20,000 produced during the Second World War. Wildmoser was a graduate of mechanical engineering, Colling an airline pilot. The pair managed to obtain original drawings and dies, and intended the ‘replicas’ to be as authentic as possible, even continuing the wartime ‘Werk’ numbers from where German industry finished. It was decided to produce the A-8 variant, the most numerous of the A model. The suffix N was added, meaning ‘Nachbau’, which translated into English means ‘reproduction, replica or clone’.
Although a batch of original tail wheels was found, virtually all of the aircraft is new-build, yet as close as 98% to the original. The aircraft is about 450kg lighter than a wartime example, due to the omission of guns, ammunition, radio equipment and the substitution of aluminium for steel armour plates. Boeing 737-400 nose-gear tyres are used for affordability, availability and safety - the bald original tyre is not safe to operate off hard runways.
FW 190 pilot Marc Mathis seems happy with his new toy! Key - Gary ParsonsThe engine posed a particular problem, as the original BMW 801 is no longer available, so a Chinese-licensed Russian engine, the ASh-82FN 14-cylinder twin-row radial was used, being similar in size and power. 20 aircraft were proposed as a production run - 16 for private customers and four for testing and static use. Cost is €555,000 each, if you’re interested…apparently there’s one left for sale.
Sadly Wildmoser, who passed away aged 48 in September 2003 after a battle with cancer never got a chance to see one of his creations take to the air; it was ten months later, on July 22, 2004 that the first FW 190A-8/N Werk Nr. 990001/D-FWWC took to the air at Manching. On March 26, 2009 the second, D-FWJS, made its first flight.
The FW 190 seen over Duxford is the third to fly – bought by Christophe Jacquard, FW 190A-8/N 990013/F-AZZJ made its maiden flight on May 7 at Dijon-Darois airfield in eastern France and its first public appearance at La Ferte Alais on May 30, although it was confined to the static park. Such was the uncertainty on its appearance at Flying Legends that it wasn’t mentioned in the airshow souvenir programme, but Duxford had other stars to fall back on – the Horsemen, for example.
Fantastic fighter flightline. Key - Gary ParsonsF-AZZJ isn’t the first Flug Werk machine to visit the UK – one has been resident at the airfield since December 2006. FW 190A-8/N 980554/G-FWAB has remained grounded while certification issues are discussed with the Civil Aviation Authority – but to date no Permit to Fly has been issued. 980554 is a conundrum – some genuine A-9 parts (including the dataplate) have been incorporated into a Flug Werk A8/N, creating dilemma for purists – genuine or replica? Regardless of its provenance, it was still good to see it parked alongside F-AZZJ on the Duxford apron.
In the flying displays pilot Marc ‘Leon’ Mathis gave some sparkling performances, flying alongside Spitfire Ltd’s Hispano Buchon, aka the Bf 109G. Replicas at Legends? Whatever next! Me 262 please…
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