Focke-Wulf Ta 152

The Focke-Wulf Ta 152 with a "tropical type" filter on the inlet of the carburettor

Further improvements to the Fw 190D series airframe to provide even better performance at high altitude led to the introduction of the Focke-Wulf Ta 152 and Ta 153. The latter was built only as a development prototype, powered by a Daimler Benz DB603 engine, and introduced an entirely new high aspect ratio wing of increased span, together with revision of the fuselage structure, tail surfaces and internal systems. It was abandoned to avoid disruption of existing production facilities for the Fw 190. Kurt Tank presented two proposals, both derived from the Fw 190 D model (the variant characterized by the adoption of the large Junkers Jumo 213 A "V-12" engine instead of the usual BMW 801 radial), designated respectively Fw 190 Ra-2 and Fw 190 Ra-3. The two projects were accepted, and in honour of the designer, their code was characterized by the first two letters of Tank's surname: Ta 152 B and Ta 152 H. Moreover, the suffixes indicated the roles which Tank himself intended for the aircraft: Begleitjdger (escort fighter) and Hohenjager (high altitude fighter). In both aircraft, the power was entrusted to a Junkers Jumo 213 E "V-12" engine capable of generating in the region of 1,750 hp and provided with a three-speed two-stage compressor. The cockpit was pressurized and the basic armament consisted of a 30 mm Mk 108 cannon in the propeller axis and two 20 mm calibre weapons (MG 151/20) in the wings.

The final expression of the Focke Wulf Fw 190, considered by many as the best German fighter of World War II, was the Ta 152, an aircraft that was rather different from that designed by Kurt Tank back in 1937; however it was representative nevertheless of the lengthy evolution that the basic model had undergone during the various periods of the conflict. The Ta 152 was created to act as an interceptor at high altitude, and as such, it proved to be capable of an outstanding performance, especially as far as speed was concerned, being superior to that of any other enemy fighter. The H version could reach no less than 464 mph (748 km/h) at 30,098 ft (9,150 m) and 471 mph (759 km/h) at 41,118 ft (12,500 m). However, relatively few of these remarkable combat planes came off the assembly lines during the last months of the war and their career was rather limited, and almost non-existent in the role for which they had been conceived.

The Ta 152 as conceived originally was structurally closer to the Fw 190D, except that the flap and landing gear systems were hydraulically and not electrically actuated. In the autumn of 1944 a prototype appeared with a Junkers Jumo 213E engine and high aspect ratio long-span wings, and although it crashed on 8 October its replacement in the Ta 152H test programme had the Jumo engine but standard Fw 190 wings. The first of 20 pre-production Ta 152H-0 aircraft flew in October 1944 and these, built at Focke-Wulf's Cottbus factory, were mostly rebuilt from Fw 190A-1 airframes and powered by the Jumo 213E engine with an MW-50 water-methanol injection system. The Ta 152H-1 was armed with one engine-mounted 30 mm MK 108 cannon with 90 rounds and two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in the wings with 175 rpg. 330 pounds of armour were carried for the protection of the engine and the pilot. Most production machines were delivered to Ta 152H-1/R11 bad-weather fighter standards. A MW-50 boost tank was fitted in the inboard port wing tank for use in enhancing low-altitude performance, with the GM 1 high-altitude boost tank aft of the cockpit being standard.

Service trials were undertaken by Erprobungskommando 152 at Rechlin before the type's operational debut with JG 301. This unit was tasked with the protection of bases used by the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, which was particularly vulnerable to attack during take-off and landing. It was said that no British or American fighters risked attacking an Me 262 during landing while Ta 152s were known to be circling the airfield.

The only production version was the Ta 152H-1 which, armed with one engine-mounted 30 mm MK 108 cannon and two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in the wing roots, began to leave the Cottbus lines in November 1944. The second planned production version was the Ta 152C, the first 2,100 hp (1566 kW) Daimler-Benz DB 603LA engined development prototype being flown for the first time on 19 November 1944. The extra length of this engine required a compensating rear fuselage plug and enlarged tail surfaces, and wing span was increased to 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m). Production sub-variants would have differed mainly in armament, the Ta 152C-1 and Ta 152C-2 (the latter with improved radio) with an engine-mounted 30 mm MK 108 and four 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, but the Ta 152C-3 would have had the MK 108 replaced by a MK 103. Final planned production version was the photo-reconnaissance Ta 152E with Jumo 213E engine, to be built with a standard wing as the Ta 152E-1 or in a high-altitude variant with the H-series wing under the designation Ta 152E, but only a single prototype was completed. Only about 190 Ta 152H-ls were produced, and total production including pre-production aircraft and prototypes is estimated at about 220.

The Ta 152 H's outstanding performance was tested personally by the designer himself. In December, 1944, while flying between Lagenhagen and Cottbus at the controls of one of the first aircraft, Kurt Tank was intercepted by a pair of American P-51 Mustangs. His tactics for escape were extremely simple. Tank pressed the button which activated his MW 50 boost, opened the throttle wide, and quickly left the Mustangs far behind in a cloud of blue smoke.


Ta 152B

The Ta 152B has originally been envisaged as having interchangeable Jumo 213 or DB 603 engines, but with the acceptance of the Ta 152C the Jumo 213 was standardized. The original plan to install cabin pressurization was abandoned. However, it was decided to give higher priority to the Ta 152C, and only three prototypes of the Ta 152B series were completed before the war came to an end.

Ta 152C/C-1/C-2/C-3

Series production orders for the Ta 152C were finally placed in October 1944, the delays being a result of the Luftwaffe still continuing to support the Jumo 213E, even over Kurt Tanks pressing for permission to use the DB 603 engine in the Ta 152, owing to its superiority over the Jumo 213E at high altitudes. Although the Luftwaffe still insisted that the Jumo 213E remain the primary Ta 152 powerplant, it permitted Tank to begin work on a DB 603-powered version under the designation Ta 152C.

The Ta 152C with the lighter DB 603 engine was otherwise identical to the Ta 152B. It was considered primarily as a Zerstorer. The MW 50 boost installation for the enhancement of low-altitude performance was standard. An Fw 190D prototype had been rebuilt and flown with a DB 603 engine in support of the Ta 152C program, and this plane took to the air for the first time in October 1944. During December 1944 and January 1945, the first Ta 152C-O service test aircraft joined the test program. The definitive production version was to be the Ta 152C-1, and it was hoped that the first examples could be rolling off the production lines in April of 1945. However, series production of the Ta 152C was only just beginning when Allied forces overran the assembly plants, so this fighter never entered service with the Luftwaffe.

The Ta 152C-1 was powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 603LA twelve-cylinder liquid cooled engine rated at 2,100 hp (1567 kW) or (2,300 hp (1716 kW) with MW 50 boost) for takeoff and 1,750 hp (1305 kW) at 29,530 feet (1,900 hp (1417 kW) at 27,560 feet with MW 50 boost). Armed with one engine-mounted 30 mm MK 108 cannon with 90 rounds, two fuselage-mounted 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon with 250 rpg, and two wing-mounted 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon with 175 rpg. Maximum speed was 227 mph (365 km/h) at sea level (356 mph (572 km/h) with MW 50 boost), 436 mph (701 km/h) at 37,730 feet (460 mph (740 km/h) at 32,810 feet with MW 50 boost). Initial climb rate was 3050 feet per minute and service ceiling was 40,350 ft (12300 m). Weights were 8,849 lbs empty, 10,658 lbs normal loaded, and 11,733 pounds maximum. Wingspan was 36 feet 1 inch, length was 35 feet 6 1/2 inches, height was 11 feet 1 inch, and wing area was 290.89 square feet. The Ta 152C-2 was similar to the Ta 152C-1 but it had an improved radio and four MG 151/20 cannon instead of the C-1s two. The Ta 152C-3 was identical to the Ta 152C-2 with the exception that the MK 108 cannon was replaced with a MK 103 cannon.

Ta 152E/E-1/E-2

A photo-reconnaissance version version of the Ta 152C with the standard wing in Ta 152E-1 form, the Ta 152E-2 being a high altitude aircraft with the H-series wing. The engine was the Junkers Jumo 213E.

Ta 152H/H-1/H-1

A high altitude fighter with a pressurised cabin and a long span wing, increased to 47 ft 6 3/4 in (14.50 m) span. The Ta 152H-0 pre-production aircraft were mostly rebuilt from Fw 190A-1 airframes and had a Junkers Jumo 213E engine with MW-50 water/methanol injection. The production Ta 152H-1 began to leave the Cottbus lines in November 1944, armed with one engine mounted 30 mm MK 108 cannon and two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon in the wing roots. 

Specifications (Focke-Wulf Ta 152H-1)

Type: Single Seat High Altitude Fighter

Design: Dipl Ing Kurt Tank

Manufacturer: Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH at Cottbus

Powerplant: One Junkers Jumo 213E-1 12-cylinder liquid cooled engine rated at 1,750 hp (1305 kW) at takeoff and 2,050 hp (1529 kW) with MW 50 (water/methanol) boost and 1,320 hp (985 kW) at 32,800 feet.

Performance: Maximum speed 332 mph (534 km/h) at sea level and 350 mph (563 km/h) with MW-50 (water/methanol) boost. 472 mph (759 km/h) at 41,010 ft (12500 m) with both MW-50 (water/methanol) and GM-1 (nitrous oxide) boost. Service ceiling was 48,550 ft (14800 m) with GM 1 boost. Initial climb rate was 3445 ft per minute with MW-50 boost.

Range: 746 miles (1200 km) on internal fuel stores of 364 Imperial Gallons (1618 litres).

Weight: Empty equipped 8,643 lbs (3920 kg) with a normal take-off weight of 10,472 lbs (4750 kg). Maximum take-off weight was 11,502 lbs (5219 kg).

Dimensions: Span 47 ft 6 3/4 in (14.50 m); length 35 ft 5 1/2 in (10.80 m); height 13 ft 1 1/2 in (4.00 m); wing area 252.96 sq ft (23.50 sq m).

Armament: One 30mm MK 108 (with 90 rounds) mounted between the cylinder heads and firing through the propeller hub and two inboard wing mounted 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon with 175 rounds each. On occasion, two fuselage mounted MG 151/20 cannon, each with 250 rounds, were mounted as well. Some reconnaissance models were unarmed.

Variants: Ta 152, Ta 152B, Ta 152C/C-1/C-2/C-3, Ta 152E/E-1/E-2, Ta 152H/H-0/H-1, Ta 153 (prototype with a DB 603 engine).

Avionics: Revi 16B Gunsight, FuG 125 Navigation equipment (H-1/R-11 Only), LGW-Siemens K 23 Autopilot, FuG 16ZY Radio Transmitter/receiver and a BSK 16 Gun Camera.

History: First flight (Ta 152) Autumn 1944, prototype crashed 8 October 1944, (Ta 152H-0) 20 pre-production aircraft October 1944, (Ta 152H-1) the only production model, started to enter service in November 1944.

Operators: Germany (Luftwaffe).