Reviewing the IL-2: Battle of Normandy Fw190A-6

Last week, a new Fw190 was released for the IL-2 Great Battles series. It’s another check on the list for aircraft in development for IL-2: Battle of Normandy. I am talking of course of the Fw190A-6. This variant of the famous Focke-Wulf fighter design fills in a gap between two other significant versions. What does the new aircraft bring to the table and is there a good reason to fly it over other Fw190 variants?

Distinguishing features and modifications

A mixed formation of Fw190A-6 and A-8. The A-6 is distinguishable from earlier versions by the long barreled MG151/20 in the outer wing position.

Fw190A-6’s began showing up in squadrons in the middle part of 1943 and by early 1944 were briefly the most numerous variant before their numbers declined as the Fw190A-7 and A-8 came on stream. This makes it a transitional version between the A-5 which saw significant service on all fronts and the A-8 and throughout this review I’m going to do a lot of comparisons between them.

The Fw190A-6’s biggest distinguishing feature between it and the A-5 is the slightly redesigned wing that incorporates the MG151/20 cannon in the outer gun bay. The wing was also modified to be stronger, stiffer, and lighter. And the provisions were made for the storage of ammunition for both MG151/20’s and for MK108’s that would later be fitted in the position in the A-8.

Battle of Normandy incorporates a number of modifications for the Fw190A-6. The ‘Sturmjäger’ modification adds armored glass on the front and sides of the cockpit. This increases protection offered to the pilot from nearly all angles and was an essential modification when facing the swarms of B-17’s that the fighter was often used for on the western front. As we currently have no B-17 in the series, it also means that the Fw190A-6 is well protected from attacking the B-25 and future B-26 AI aircraft.

The G-3 and G-3/R-5 modifications are ground attack variants making the A-6 another two-in-one aircraft in the series. The G-3’s biggest advantage over other versions is not yet present – the ability to go on longer endurance strike missions with external drop tanks on the wing pylons. Even without that, the G-3 modification does increase the ground striking firepower available over the earlier versions by allowing the fitting of three SC250 bombs. Both variants also have the 1.65 ATA engine modification which help bring back some of the lost performance caused by the draggy bomb racks.

As the G-3 modifications remove the MG17 nose mounted guns and the outer MG151/20 cannons, there are two additional modifications that add both the nose guns and outer wing cannons back in. This is the heaviest configuration of the Fw190 and in most cases you may not have a need for these.

The G-3 modifications offer far more flexibility than the U17 modification for the A-5 with a greater bomb-load and carrying capacity. The SD70’s are also slightly more powerful than the SC50’s that the A-5 can carry.

Flying the Fw190A-6 in combat

In combat, the Fw190A-6’s closest comparison is the Fw190A-5. It’s not a surprise as the two are very similar and in the default fighter configuration there isn’t much difference between them. With the same available engine power and base configuration, there’s little difference between them. The other comparison to make, however, is the Fw190A-8 and here things are a little different.

While you will find scenarios with all three aircraft present, if we look at things from a strictly Battle of Normandy or Battle of Bodenplatte experience, it’s somewhat more likely you’ll be choosing between A-6 and A-8.

With four MG151/20 cannons and impressive agility, the Fw190A-6 is a fearsome fighter when flown right.

Flying each of them back to back reveals a very simple truth. The Fw190A-8 undoubtedly hits harder with its default MG131 13mm heavy machine guns in the nose. They add substantially to the available firepower and the optional MK108 30mm cannons are not available in the A-6. Firepower is therefore in the Fw190A-8’s court. The Fw190A-6, on the other hand, retains the agility and sharper handling of the earlier versions. The difference is noticeable when engaging fighters and attempting to pull the stick back to make a snap shot in a tense engagement. While the A-8 shudders more and resists the higher angles of attack, the A-6 pulls into the turn with more confidence.

Don’t mistake the added angle and turn abilities as a comparison point to make the A-6 into a turn fighter. It is not. The Fw190, regardless of variant, is undoubtedly a boom and zoom fighter with impressive roll agility and the ability to stay in the fight not by turning tightly but by using a series of high speed attacks with the impressive roll rate allowing for quick high or low yo-yo maneuvers to reposition. The A-6 is superb at this while the A-8 always ends up feeling a little heavy.

The Fw190A-6 therefore combines that little extra agility with the enhanced firepower of the MG151/20. With all four 20mm cannons having the same hitting power and muzzle velocity, it ensures that you have more aimed accuracy and greater firepower potential than with the A-5.

A P-38J goes down in flames, another victim of aircraft designer Kurt Tank’s ‘Butcher Bird’.

Ready for single player

Multiplayer pilots will be able to jump right in with the Fw190A-6 as it’s already been added to the aircraft list on popular servers. For single player pilots, I’m happy to report that it is already available too if you own IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte. The type has already been worked into the campaign missions and will show up both as adversary and as a player flyable aircraft.

Available in the first and second chapters of the Bodenplatte campaign, you’ll be able to fly the aircraft in mixed formations together with the A-8 in III./JG 11, I./JG 26 and II./JG 26 squadrons. That’s great news for single player only pilots as it means that the aircraft will be immediately enjoyable.

On final approach after a hectic mission in the Bodenplatte single player campaign. Near the end of Normandy development, the Fw190A-6 will be flyable by several squadrons there too.

Visuals

The art design is extremely consistent from aircraft to aircraft in the IL-2: Great Battles Series and here the team at 1CGS have continued their usual high standards. The Fw190A-6 is one of the first aircraft to release with standard 4K textures inside and out. It’s release also coincides with improved texture detailing in many of the Fw190A series cockpits so this update really is benefit for all.

On the exterior, the usual details are all there and the aircraft comes with a selection of 12 skins that cover the types mostly western front focus while also having some good variety of scheme. One of my favorite unique schemes is the red checker nose cowling of Lt. Rudi Pfiffer of 2./JG1. There’s also Hptm. Walter Nowotny’s A-6 from I./JG54 circa 1943 eastern front and Hans Dortenmann of 2./JG54 offering some nice green and winter schemes respectively to mix up the usual collection of Luftwaffe combat grey.

Performance comparisons

Maximum true air speed

Fw190A-5

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 558 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3000 m, engine mode – Emergency: 578 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 6400 m, engine mode – Emergency: 658 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 533 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3000 m, engine mode – Combat: 558 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 6000 m, engine mode – Combat: 622 km/h

Fw190A-6

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 563 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3000 m, engine mode – Emergency: 585 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 6400 m, engine mode – Emergency: 661 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 535 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3000 m, engine mode – Combat: 560 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 6000 m, engine mode – Combat: 622 km/h

Fw190A-8

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 558 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3000 m, engine mode – Emergency: 580 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 6200 m, engine mode – Emergency: 641 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 532 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3000 m, engine mode – Combat: 558 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 5800 m, engine mode – Combat: 612 km/h

Climb rate

Fw190A-5

  • Climb rate at sea level: 15.4 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 11.9 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 9.7 m/s

Fw190A-6

  • Climb rate at sea level: 15.0 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 11.3 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 8.9 m/s

Fw190A-8

  • Climb rate at sea level: 13.8 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 10.1 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 7.8 m/s

Maximum Performance Turn

Fw190A-5

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 23.5 s, at 280 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 35.5 s, at 280 km/h IAS.

Fw190A-6

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 23.5 s, at 280 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 35.5 s, at 280 km/h IAS.

Fw190A-8

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 24.2 s, at 280 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 33.0 s, at 280 km/h IAS.

For the above comparisons, I pulled the information from the specifications tab from within IL-2. These values are provided by 1CGS and are representative of the aircraft as it performs within the sim. I decided to compare the three aircraft on three specific performance categories – speed, climb and turn.

The base comparisons provide for some interesting information. In the category of speed, the Fw190A-6 outperforms the A-5 and A-8 by small amounts across all altitude comparisons making it the speediest of the three. In climb, the A-6 narrowly loses the first place spot to the A-5 with both handily beating the A-8 in all altitude ranges. Finally, in maximum performance turns, the A-5 and A-6 tie for first place among the three with the A-8 turning a full second faster at sea level. At 3000 meters, however, the A-8 takes the lead by 2 seconds.

Another sweet spot?

Like the other primary German fighter of IL-2: Battle of Normandy, the Fw190A-6 exists in a bit of an awkward middle spot between major Fw190 versions. To be fair, the Fw190A-6 is a significant version on its own but it is one that is clearly sandwiched between characteristics of the A-5 and of the later A-8.

Although there has been much conversation about the Fw190A-6 in the community and if we need yet another variant, I do think this aircraft will be a popular choice online possessing most of the firepower of the A-8 with most of the agility of the A-5 and far fewer of the compromises. That makes this aircraft yet another sweet spot for German fighter fans. Although historical scenarios are likely to be the determining factor in choosing each of these variants, when faced with a menu of options as some multiplayer servers do, the A-6 should be a shoe-in.

Final thoughts

The Fw190A-6 is yet another version of the Fw190 that 1CGS has put together with their usual attention to detail and consistent art style. This is an aircraft that fits right in with the rest of the Fw190 line while helping to usher in some enhancements across the board.

Although the A-6 brings little new to the mix of already available Fw190 versions, I do think it’s going to become a popular choice among fans of the aircraft. I suspect it will be a common type in multiplayer thanks to its combination of sharper handling and enhanced firepower from the A-5 and A-8 versions respectively. The ground attack capabilities of the G-3 and G-3/R3 modifications only add to the excellent mix of options.

So, even if there’s little buzz or excitement about the Fw190A-6 for Battle of Normandy among veteran fans, there’s almost no reason not to like this middle version of the Fw190. And, if you’re a fan of flying single player there’s already plenty to do with the aircraft. We can argue over if another Fw190 variant was strictly necessary but this review isn’t about the bigger picture but rather a focused look at this aircraft in particular.

When the Fw190A-6 came to the original IL-2 Sturmovik series, I didn’t really see a need for it. But over time it became my most flown ‘Anton’ series variant and it looks like the same thing might happen with IL-2: Battle of Normandy’s A-6 as well. There’s too much to like here to not pick this aircraft when the opportunity arises. This aircraft slots into a natural spot in the Fw190 line-up offering an interesting insight into the steady progression of the aircraft from the earlier A-3 version on through to the D-9. And that makes it all worth it.

Screenshots

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Raptorattacker says:

    Thanks for writing the comparison down Mr OneFive. I was fairly ‘underwhelmed’ with the appearance of yet another 190 but seeing a comparison to it’s relatives actually makes a little more sense. It also makes me think that okay, I WILL give it a more serious examination!… so I will.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. bigalrico says:

    In general, I think that the latent resentment against these in-between variants is a bit unjustified. I think the A6/G3 is a welcome mix and quite honestly I find the cockpit of the A6 the most beautiful of the Anton series 🙂 I still need a little more flight time in it, but I would agree with your general verdict 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Urgent Siesta says:

    Learned a lot from this article – thanks!

    Sounds like this bird is a great pick for whenever it’s available.

    Liked by 2 people

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