Aside from some very rare examples, the FW190D-9 is the last of the FW190 breed to see significant service and it rounds out the FW190 series in IL-2: Great Battles. With its introduction into IL-2: Great Battles in just the last week, does this late war fighter live up to initial expectations? Let’s have a quick look with my first impressions of the FW190D-9 or the “Dora-9.”
Designed to fly up high, used down low
Early in the FW190s introduction, it became clear that its high altitude performance above 6,000 meters was not enough and as the USAAF’s 8th Air Force continued to pound Germany from high altitudes by day (and the RAF by night) it was important for all of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force to be able to operate with as much power and performance as possible at those extreme altitudes.
Prototypes of the FW190B and C models tried different installations of engines but it was ultimately the FW190D-9 with its Junkers Jumo 213A in-line engine that eventually won out. Performance at all altitudes was impressive and climb rate was near that of some Bf109 versions – excellent indeed!
Ironically, the FW190D-9 saw most of its combat potential used in low altitude operations fighting with the USAAF’s 9th Air Force, the RAF’s 2nd TAF and in small numbers in the east. FW190D-9s from JG26 regularly tangled with the massed air power of the western allies in operations taking place before and after the Bodenplatte raid.
The FW190D-9 is definitely a favourite of mine and was likely the version of the FW190 that I flew the most in IL-2: 1946. Flying the D-9 again was like riding an old bicycle as I found this iteration of the D-9 to fly in a way that was immediately familiar – both as a pilot of the FW190A series in this generation of IL-2 as well as a long time flyer of the D-9 in the original series.
The first take-off was a bit harried as the D-9 has plenty of torque that needs to be controlled but once flying along the aircraft is a pure joy with lots of power to spare to climb, dive, and gather speed all at once.
The D-9’s climb rate is extremely similar to the Bf109 series (including the Bf109F-4 which you may be surprised to know is one of the best climbing of the series outside of the K-4) and acceleration in both level flight and in a dive is rapid. The roll rate is not as quick as earlier versions of the FW190 series and although the data on the information card suggests that a maximum performance turn can be completed in 20 seconds, I find the D-9 to be a poorer turner than other FW190s except in very short and sharp turns. Employed as a boom and zoom energy fighter, however, and the D-9 will shine.
Great capability too
Unlike the version of the FW190D-9 that we had in the original IL-2 series, this one has options. A bunch of them! Four SD70 or a single SC500 bomb can be carried on the centreline rack. The WGr.21 and R4M rockets can be carried for anti-bomber operations and the aircraft can also optionally be fitted with the EZ42 gyro gunsight and the blown canopy hood (which offers slightly improved head movement and visibility at the expense of a few kilometers an hour off the top speed).
The R4M rockets are particularly useful against bombers because 26 of them can be carried on a rack underneath the aircraft and are fired in salvos (4 at a time and then 3 at a time). Of limited use in a dogfight, against the forthcoming B-25D they should make short work of a couple of bombers at a time if well aimed.
Also of surprisingly limited use in a dogfight is the EZ42 gyro gunsight. This sight takes longer to settle than the K-14 or Mark II GGS (found on the P-47D-28 and Spitfire IXe respectively) and seems best suited to engaging bombers at maximum effective gun range. The sight picture is also limited so in tight turns the sight disappears no matter your head position. I’ll be using the regular sight 90% of the time I suspect.
The default armament is a pair of MG131 heavy machine guns and a pair of MG151/20 cannons firing through the propeller arc. There are no outboard gun positions on the D-9 of any kind so this fighter has slightly less available firepower compared to the FW190A-8 (with its optional MK108s or MG151/20 guns) making this aircraft slightly less effective as a bomber killer but better in most other respects and definitely well suited for fighter-versus-fighter operations.
The usual high quality, maybe even better
The aircraft is of the usual 1CGS high quality modelling and I have no complaints inside or out. I actually think that this may be the best detailed FW190 in the series actually – though the others are not bad. This one just looks impressive from every angle and the 3D model is superb.
Inside is more typical of the IL-2 series but it certainly has a great look about it and the leather around the canopy is certainly some of the best I’ve seen from the artists at 1CGS. So too is the references on the EZ42 gunsight for correct aircraft wingspans.
I also want to take a moment to mention how good the sound is on this fighter. It sounds menacing and powerful during flybys and it sounds amazing inside the cockpit. Turn on the MW50 boost and things get even more impressive – some great work here!
Summing things up
I have to use another superlative here because this fighter is just awesome. The FW190D-9 is everything I had hoped to see from the aircraft in the IL-2 series and I personally have no issues with it. Inevitably there are comparisons between this one, the one in the original series, and the one present in DCS World and I don’t feel like I’m sufficiently versed in the academics of flight and flight modeling to say which is right.
From purely a perspective of flying within the IL-2 series, this is a fighter that performs superbly in the vertical fight with excellent climb, dive, all around visibility, and concentrated firepower to make a single bounce all that you potentially need to finish off an opponent. It’s no dogfighter and the FW190s legendary roll rate is somewhat less sharp (as it should be) as is the turn rate which feels more sluggish especially as the turn progresses beyond 180 degrees.
Another aircraft has entered the IL-2: Battle of Bodneplatte stable and the developers at 1CGS have done a great job here.