Aviation of World War II

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FW-200 "Condor"

Long range Bomber-Reconnaissance aircraft


FW 200C Condor Sktz GC+AE Helsinki 1944 03

The «Condor» was used as the long-range reconnaissance aircraft for search of allied escorts in Northern Atlantic during the Second World war. After detection of an escort the airplane itself attacked transports, or induced on them German submarines. Initially the «Condor» was projected as a transatlantic airliner and the first flight in July, 1937. The Fw-200 was first of 259 military airplanes with production deliveries to Luftwaffe in September, 1939. The «Condors» were used as transport machines for the top management of Germany, but the main part of airplanes (seven versions) were built as long-range reconnaissance aircraft and the bomber. Different versions of this airplane has differed armaments, presence of the radar, different combinations of bombs crutchs and rocket containers.

Armament. For attack and defence the Fw 200C-4 had a 20-mm cannon or 13-mm machine gun in the forward gondola, depending on whether the Lofte bomb sight was installed. Although externally all the military Condors were similar, the C-4 standardised on the electrically-operated dorsal turret with a single MG151 machine gun.

Using a pair of dividers to determine how long it will take to reach their designated patrol area, part of a KG 40 crew let the engines warm up before climbing on board. Flights were often very long and tedious with or without some excitement on the way (Bundesarchiv)

A total of 16 sub-variants took the production total of the C-4 to 111 aircraft. These were: three C-4/U1 11-seat transports with the Fw 19 turret plus an Fw 20 gun mount in the rear dorsal position and abbreviated ventral gondola with the aft glazing faired over; three C-4/U2 transports with 14 passenger seats and shorter ventral gondola; eight C-4/U4 reconnaissance bombers and two C-4/U4s. With its normal range of 2,211 miles and lengthy endurance on standard fuel, although extra tanks could be carried, the Fw 200 was usefully able to fly sorties over distances that medium and short range aircraft could not handle. Condors were in late 1942 issued in small numbers to l.(F)/120, II./KG 100 and l.(F)/122 to supplement rather than replace the standard German medium bombers.

The Condor was rarely used in a conventional bombing role but on 1 January 1943, 7. and 8./KG 40 surprised the citizens of Casablanca by attacking their town. It was coincidental that one of the most far-reaching Allied conferences of the war was due to take place there some two weeks later and although little damage was done by the four 550 lb bombs dropped by each Condor, the big bombers caused some consternation. The attack had been on the orders of the III. Gruppe Kommandeur, who was reprimanded for his unofficial action, particulalry as he lost four aircraft. Anti-aircraft fire forced four of the Fw 200s to land in Spain where one, Wr.Nr 0166/F8+JR, was later repaired and put into airline service with Iberia.

Condors over Russia. When the German Sixth Army found itself fighting for its life at Stalingrad, Hermann Goring's boast that the Luftwaffe transport force could fly in the necessary relief supplies was quickly found to be hollow. That was one reason why part of KG 40 came to be in the hostile surroundings of Pitomnik -the other was that the Luftwaffe had a chronic shortage of small transport aircraft, let alone large ones. Bombers were pressed into a temporary transport role, four-engined types being able to help even if they could not lift substantial loads. In reality, the daily tonnage required to sustain General von Paulus and his men was far beyond even the extra capacity that the Luftwaffe found.

Eighteen Fw 200s of 1. and 3./KG 40 used the base at Stalino, the unit flying its first operation on 9 January 1943. Given the temporary designation Kampf Gruppe zur besonderen Verwendung 200, this force under Maj Hans-Jurgen Williers, initially flew 36 tons of supplies into the Stalingrad pocket and brought out 156 wounded troops.

Russian pressure was such that the unit soon reverted to air drops by parachute, each Condor carrying four containers under the wings.

With Stalingrad all but lost to the Germans, KGr.zb.V 200 was transferred to Zaparozhe to continue doing what it could and in total the Condors flew 41 operations to supply Sixth Army before the collapse. In addition they flew 35 transport missions over the Crimea before being withdrawn back to Berlin-Staaken in February. Those aircraft that returned to Germany - nine Fw 200s having been lost in Russia - were amalgamated into a new 8./KG 40 based at Bordeaux-Merignac under Luftflotte 3.

Air Forces Scientific Research Institute personnel impatiently awaited the arrival of the four-engine «Condor». Engineer-Major Gribakin (lead pilot Colonel Kabanov) also carried out the trials on Fw 200 «Condor» No. 0034 captured near Stalingrad. Soviet reports of the first period of the war often mentioned «Condor» flights over different areas of the Soviet-German front. In reality, these machines were of limited use in setting up air bridges at Demyansk and Stalingrad. Many institute specialists remembered the civil «Condor» that brought German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop to Moscow in August 1939.

Prior to the onset of testing, the Russian engineers noted that the Condor bore significant resemblance to the American Douglas DC-3 in cabin layout and arrangement of inner compartments. This was an improvised conversion of a passenger plane into a long-range bomber and the Luftwaffe did not get a full-fledged military aircraft. Indeed, despite its large size, the crew compartment was very cramped, which made it especially difficult for crewmembers (the navigator-bombardier, in particular) on long endurance flights. The crew commander could not reach the controls of some systems such as the backup electrical pumps, emergency brakes, and so forth. The pilots had absolutely no view to the rear.

In general, the Heinkel outperformed the «Condor» where handling, visibility, and power plant quality were concerned. Our test pilots compared Fw 200C flight characteristics with those of the Pe-8 4 AM-35A and concluded that the V. M. Petlyakov bomber significantly surpassed the German aircraft in maximum speed, operating ceiling, number and placement of weapons, and in their calibers. The operating ceiling of 6850 meters was considered for night sorties in areas where flak was intense. In all aspects, the «Condor» did not compare favorably to American Liberators and Flying Fortresses, which the Soviet Union repeatedly had tried to buy.

The most interesting things on this four-engine German aircraft were the carefully conceived and manufactured electrical components, bombsights for low-altitude bombing, and a simple and reliable thermal deicer. In late April 1943, all these units, along with an EZ-2 radio compass, Lorenz blind-landing equipment, Askania automatic course device, Bauer-Sperry artificial horizon indicator, and Patin electrical remote magnetic compass, were handed over to the appropriate research institutes in 1943 for detailed examination and use.

FW 200C-3/U4 Specification
Crew 7
Wing span, m 32.854
Length, m 23.45
Height, m 3.3
4 × 8 PE 323R-2 BMW, hp 4 × 1200
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 12,950
Maximum takeoff weight 24,520
Maximum speed at altitude 4700 m, km/h 360
Climb, m/sek 360
Service ceilling, m 6,000
Service range, km 3,560
20-mm MG 151/20 cannon, 4×13-mm MG 131 machine guns and bombs, kg 2100
Photo Description
Drawing FW 200 C4

Drawing FW 200 C4

Fw 200C-3/U4 F8+GH of KG 40

A pleasing view of Fw 200C-3 F8+GH of KG 40 showing the faired wing bomb racks introduced to 'spread the load' and prevent too much stress being placed on the relatively delicate airframe by concentrating the weapons load. (Bundesarchiv).

FW 200C-3 No. 0034 landed at Chkalovskaya at April 1943.

An exhibition of captured equipment opened in June 1943 in the Central Park of Culture and Rest. Muscovites are examining German aircraft. The Focke-Wulf Condor captured near Stalingrad is prominent in the picture.


  • "Aviation of Luftwaffe" /Viktor Shunkov/
  • "The German Imprint on the History of Russian Aviation " /D.A. Sobolev, D.B. Khazanov/
  • "Focke Wulf Fw 200 Condor" /by Jerry Scutts/

2017 03 22

Fw 200C-3/U2; ex F8+GW of I./KG 40 of the German Air Force; lost 31 January 1943 on a supply flight to Stalingrad (the day when the Germans surrendered) when was damaged by ground fire, force-landed at Gumrak and was abandoned; repaired by the Soviets and tested by the NII VVS 23mar/21apr43; retained its German colours (RLM 72 and 73 with undersides in RLM 65), but Red Stars painted on fuselage and wings; some equipment passed on to the Soviet aviation industry for study after the end of the trials; the aircraft ended up in the war booty exhibition in Gorki Park in Moscow which existed in 1943/48, painted again in German markings, l/n 1945; scrapped