Osprey's FW-200 Condor Units of World War 2

Author:

Chris Goss

Publisher/Distributor

Osprey Publishing

Price

$23.00 MSRP

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1267-4

One of the more interesting aircraft operated by the Luftwaffe during WWII was the FW-200 Condor. Unlike other Luftwaffe bombers, the FW-200 really was developed to be an airliner and operated for a short time with Lufthansa and the airlines of a couple of other countries. When war broke out, there was a major disagreement over who should operate maritime patrol aircraft with the Navy feeling they should be in control. However, Goering decided that all aviation assets should be concentrated with the Luftwaffe. It was also realized that they did not have a proper long range maritime patrol bomber.

This oversight occurred due to the death of General Wever in the late 1930s before the war began. He was a proponent of long range bombers and two were under development at the time of his death. Typical of the short sightedness of political leaders, these programs were cancelled in favor of developing tactical vice strategic aircraft. Desperate for something to fill the bill, the FW-200 was chosen and so Focke-Wulf started developing a proper armed version.

Unfortunately the FW-200 was not strong enough to carry all that was expected of it and the addition of bomb racks and defensive armament was too much for the airframe and it had to be handled gently. Despite strengthening, the aircraft was still fairly fragile. It was also a difficult airplane to maintain with readiness rates often in the 30 per cent or less area, not what you want in a combat aircraft.

However, it did have a lot of range and early in its operational life, it was quite successful in sinking shipping. This was before merchants were properly armed and frequently these ships operated outside the convoy system, making them easy targets. Though 'Scourge of the Atlantic' was attached to the plane post war, for about a year, they really were.

As the war progressed, the Allies tried all sorts of methods of providing air cover including catapulting Hurricanes from merchant ships. Despite these early efforts, only one Condor was ever shot down. The Condor also accounted for the USAAF's first WWII victory in Europe when one was shot down by P-39s based in Iceland.

Once defenses increased, the FW-200s successes diminished. It was used in all theaters of operation and used quite a bit as a transport as it had the sort of range to fly non-stop to places like northern Norway, Rhodes and even the North African combat zone.

The tale of these aircraft as well as the men who flew them and the missions they performed makes for some very interesting reading. A host of period photos is provided as well as several pages of excellent full color profiles. The Condor and its missions makes for some very interesting reading and a book that I now you will like. 

September 2016

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