Based off the World War Two thriller Catalyst by Paul Byers
This is a brief history of the Focke Wulf Fw190, also known as the Butcher-bird. The Fw190s depicted in the WWII thriller, CATALYST were typical German units flown by the Luftwaffe. Though a work of fiction, CATALYST was inspired by true events and is historically accurate.

Below, along with information about the Fw190 are excerpts from CATALYST

The four Focke Wulf 190-Ds were flying in an echelon left formation, one plane was behind the other, each to the left of the last, looking like a half V. They were dark green with noses painted a bright yellow, looking very professional-and deadly.

The American fighters were in a standard four-ship formation. Adams was the flight leader with Stevens as his wing, flying on his left. Major Henry "Doc" Reins was the element lead with 2nd Lieutenant Andy Wiser as his wingman, both flying off the Colonel’s right side. The Focke Wulfs they were hunting were 4000 feet beneath them and were flying in the opposite direction. Adams’ heart began beating a little faster as he moved the stick to the left and applied left rudder, then gently pushed the stick forward and dropped the nose of his P-51D Mustang down toward its prey. His trusty steed galloped into battle with a Packard V-12 that beat with the heart of 1697 horses.

In 1937 RLM or Reich Air Ministry, although pleased with the performance of the Messerschmitt 109, asked for a new fighter design to fight along side the Bf109, in hopes of keeping up with the new designs and technologies being produced by other foreign governments.

 The famous aircraft designer, Kurt Tank, heeded the challenge and came up with the FW 190, or Butcher Bird as he called it. The 190 was revolutionary in its design for several reasons. First, it incorporated a radial engine, which was not widely used at the time in Europe. The RLM liked this design since it would not compete for parts with the 109. Other innovations were it used electrically powered equipment instead of hydraulics (such as flaps, landing gear and other systems.) The first prototype flew on June 1st 1939.

 The FW 190 first saw combat in September of 1941 over the skies of northern France. The 190 was more than a match for the Spitfire V and British intelligence was surprised by this new German fighter. Because of the radial engine, early speculation was that the aircraft were captured French Curtiss Hawk 75 or the Bloch 151. So concerned and desperate for information, the British were making plans for a commando raid on a Luftwaffe airfield to steal a plane and learn it’s secret, however, plans were canceled when fate smiled on the British and a confused 190 pilot landed his plane at a British airfield.

The 190 soon proved to be a versatile workhorse for the Luftwaffe with nine distinct variations. It is best known for its role as a bomber killer, mounting 20mm and 30mm cannons that could bring the big bombers down with just a few well placed rounds. But with improved armor and armament came a cost.

The fast and nimble fighter now became sluggish under the additional weigh and needed their our escort of 109s in order to reach the bombers. Flying the Fw190A/8, Walther Dahl of JG300 was one the most successful bomber killers with 36 confirmed 4-engine bomber kills.

But the flexibility of the ButcherBird soon became apparent to the the Luftwaffe. It slowly replaced the vulnerable Ju87 Stuka as the favored attack aircraft. For battlefield attacks, the 190 could be fitted with a number of munitions. It could carry up to eight 110 pound bombs and a 550 pound bomb canister. In the canister, it could carry 4 pound anti-personal bombs or 8 pound anti-armor hollow charge bomblets, not to mention its lethal cannons and machine guns


Other experiments in the versatility of the 190 were carried out by fitting it with two, 77mm recoilless anti-tank guns. Each gun fired a single shot, armor piercing round. Another version was adapted to carry with a torpedo.

But perhaps one of the strangest adaptations was the Mistel (Mistletoe) project (very similar to the American Aphrodite project) See Boeing B-17 page on this site. A Fw190A-8 would be placed on struts atop an unmanned Ju88 bomber that had been loaded with explosives. The mated planes would take off, controlled by the fighter pilot who would fly the plane to its intended target, release the Ju88 and then return home. The bomber would continue on to the target guided by gyroscopic controls. The Mistel missions flew sporadically from May of 1944 through April of 1945, but never had the results the Luftwaffe was hoping for.

But despite all the variation, the Focke-Wulf 190 was first and foremost a fighter, with over 20,000 being produced during the war. The highest scoring 190 ace was, Otto Kittel, flying for JG 54. He achieved 239 aerial victories but didn’t survive the war, dying on Valentines day,1945 on his 583rd mission. Another top ace in the Fw190 was Erich Rudorffer with 222 victories, 138 while piloting the 190 and an incredible score of 13 kills in just 17 minutes on October 11th 1943, on the eastern front.

As the allied bomber streams moved deeper and deeper into Germany, the Luftwaffe became more and more desperate in their attempts to stops the bombers. One such solution was the formation of and elite unit known as the Strumstaffel. Their sole mission was to bring down the big bombers and they took and oath to that effect, to shoot down at least one bomber per mission…and as a last resort, ram it if they had too. Fw190 A-5 and 6s were fitted with up to five inches of additional armor around critical areas of the plane as well 30mm thick bullet proof glass to the front windscreen of the canopy to help protect the pilot when he made his ramming run. Ramming was an option to the Strum units, though they didn’t not consider themselves on a suicide mission.


Adams and Stevens turned slowly, keeping up as much speed as possible, not letting the gauge fall below 300 mph. The Doras were now about 1500 to 2000 feet below them and climbing. Just as he had predicted, when they were directly over the German fighters, they turned to keep their guns trained on the Americans. As they turned, Reins and Wiser flipped over and dove down onto the two 190s. A split second later, Adams dipped his right wing and dove down as well.

The Germans fighters immediately broke hard to the left. They were flying in a tight circle, covering each other six position and buying time until the other two planes in their flight could return. Reins and Wiser pulled up without firing a shot because their angle of attack had disappeared as soon as the Germans turned. Adams dove down and tried to get on the inside of his opponent. His Mustang was straining at the high-speed tight angle but obeyed. He needed just a little more angle to bring his nose up.

He dropped a notch on his flaps and pulled back on the stick until heard the stall alarm go off. Adams pushed it for all it was worth. With agonizing slowness his sights crept up onto the fighter. He fired a burst from his six 50 caliber machine guns. Each gun was capable of firing 800 rounds per minute and seeking their targets at 2800 feet per second. They responded by tearing up the 190s tail, shredding the rudder and vertical stabilizer and completely destroying its elevator. In the split second before the man bailed out, Adams could clearly see the face of the 190s pilot. It wasn’t a look of fear but more of an expression of self-defeat at allowing himself to be shot down.

As a side note to the legacy of the 190, the RLM customarily named the aircraft according to the manufacturer, i.e. Me for the Messerschmitt and Fw for the Focke Wulf company, etc…. After the "D" or Dora model, the RLM gave its designer, Kurt Tank, a rare honor for his contribution by designating the new aircraft, Ta, after its designer rather than the manufacturer. The first such aircraft was the Ta152. It was a very promising design but supply shortages and allied bombing resulted in very few ever being produced.

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 9.00 m (29 ft 0 in)
  • 9.00 m (29 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.51 m (34 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in)
  • 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in)
  • Wing area: 18,30 m² (196.99 ft²)
  • 18,30 m² (196.99 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 3,200 kg (7,060 lb)
  • 3,200 kg (7,060 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 4,417 kg (9,735 lb)
  • 4,417 kg (9,735 lb)
  • Max take off weight: 4,900 kg (10,800 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1×BMW 801 D-2 radial engine, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp); 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) with boost
  • 1×BMW 801 D-2 radial engine, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp); 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) with boost
One 9.00 m (29 ft 0 in) 3.95 m (12 ft 12 in) 18,30 m² (196.99 ft²) 3,200 kg (7,060 lb) 4,417 kg (9,735 lb) 1×BMW 801 D-2 radial engine, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp); 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) with boost


  • Maximum speed: 656 km/h at 4,800 m, 685 km/h with boost (383 mph at 19,420 ft, 408 mph with boost)
  • Range: 800 km (500 miles)
  • Service ceiling 11,410 m (37,430 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 13 m/s (2560 feet/min)


  • 2× 13 mm machine guns with 475 rounds/gun
  • 4× 20 mm cannons with 250 rounds/gun in the wing root and 140 rounds/gun outboard.

CATALYST is an exciting WWII thriller inspired by true events: the fact that Germany had a plot to bomb New York City.  To go to and read more about the book and reviews, click on the picture, for more information about the author click on the website below

In the waning months of World War II, the allied armies advance upon the crumbling German war machine like a juggernaut. In a final desperate bid to save the Fatherland, a plan is conceived that could turn the tide of the war-the completion of an advanced jet-propelled bomber capable of delivering a deadly payload to shores of America.

Captain Griff Avery of the OSS has just botched the defection of a prominent German physicist, a man crucial to the Nazi end game, letting him fall into the hands of the rogue SS General masterminding the plot. But Avery's troubles have only just begun: overwhelming evidence points to the woman he loves as the German spy who foiled the defection.

Now under suspicion himself, Avery sifts through the lies and deceit, uncovering the treacherous German operation. Against orders and on the run, Avery is forced to wage a secret war of his own, recruiting the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress and a reckless group of flyboys and their P-51 Mustangs to help him hunt down the secret SS cell and prevent the slaughter-no matter what the cost.

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