Air War Archive, Focke-Wulf Fw 200, The Luftwaffe’s Long Range Maritime Bomber, Rare Luftwaffe Photographs From Wartime Archives

Another addition to the deservedly popular Images of War series with brief introductory text and excellent captions and extended captions. This is another AWA book with a fantastic selection of rare images, covering the Luftwaffe’s long range maritime bomber – Highly Recommended

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NAME: Air War Archive, Focke-Wulf Fw 200, The Luftwaffe's Long Range 
Maritime Bomber, Rare Luftwaffe Photographs From Wartime Archives
FILE: R2934
AUTHOR: Chris Goss
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword, frontline
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 156
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War,  Luftwaffe,  
air superiority, maritime patrol, maritime attack, maritime reconnaissance, U-Boats, 
wolf packs, convoys, MAC ships, escort carriers, CAM ships, convoy escorts, 
Mosquito, Beaufighter

ISBN: 1-84832-487-1

IMAGE: B2934.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y669ouew
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: Another addition to the deservedly popular Images of War series 
with brief introductory text and excellent captions and extended captions. This is 
another AWA book with a fantastic selection of rare images, covering the 
Luftwaffe's long range maritime bomber –  Highly Recommended

The RAF had used its monopoly of British military aircraft very poorly between the 
two World Wars and although the Royal Navy regained full control of naval aviation, 
it did not extend to land-based and flying boat maritime patrol. This created a 
considerable challenge from the start of WWII where the Royal Navy had to rely on 
surface ships to escort convoys across the Atlantic and through the U-Boat blockade. 
In fairness to the RAF, their priority was strategic bombing and point defence 
fighters with nothing left over for maritime patrol, resulting in Coastal Command 
being equipped largely with hand-me-down obsolete bombers and biplane flying 
boats in very inadequate numbers. Had the Royal Navy been given control of 
maritime patrol aircraft in 1938, when it won back control of shipboard aviation, it 
might not have done much better because it needed every penny to re-equip with 
modern monoplane aircraft for its carriers. Where it would have gained would have 
been in command and control with a single tactical command of all convoy escort 
and supporting assets. The senior Coastal Command officers did not communicate 
effectively with the RN in the early stages of WWII and it cost many ships.

The core RN problem was the 'Gap', a large area of the North Atlantic that had no 
air coverage, allowing the U-Boats to lurk there in relative safety, waiting to pick 
off the convoys. To make matters worse, the Luftwaffe had a very effective long 
range maritime bomber in the Fw 200 Kondor. This aircraft was not without its 
flaws, but it was a reasonable conversion of an airframe and engines designed 
originally as an advanced fast long range passenger and mail plane.

The conversion did place extra stress on wing spars and a number of Kondors just 
collapsed on the runway with broken spars. However, it had speed and range, with 
a 20mm cannon armament and a useful bomb load. In the absence of fighter aircraft 
in the mid Atlantic, it could not only cruise around spotting convoys and radioing 
their position, speed and heading to the U-Boat command, but it could directly 
attack with bombs and cannon fire. It became a major problem for the RN convoy 
escorts. The only good news was that it was available in relatively small numbers.

The RN quickly acquired a number of over-houred Hawker Hurricanes from the 
RAF and mounted them on catapults added to the bows of merchant ships. They 
were virtually a suicide mission for the pilots because the Hurricanes, once launched, 
could not reach land and the convoys could not stop to pick up the pilots if they 
ditched in the convoy. They were used infrequently with few 'kills' but they did 
deter the Kondors, keeping them further from the convoys and disrupting their 
missions. The next and better solution was to add flight decks to merchant bulk 
carriers with a small number of fighters and Swordfish bombers. At least the 
merchant ship could carry its normal cargo and the pilots stood some chance of 
finding the MAC ships to land on after sorties. The next stage was to prove a 
winner, kill off the threat of the Kondors and seriously reduce U-Boat effectiveness. 
This was the escort carrier which had a flight deck above enclosed hangers, capable 
of similar operation to a fleet carrier but with a smaller deck and far fewer planes.

Ironically the first escort carrier was built on a German merchant ship hull seized 
by the British. It had a short life before being torpedoed, but it was immediately 
effective in fighting off the Kondors. From this concept, large numbers of escort 
carriers were built, mainly in US yards, and helped to tame the U-Boats and drive 
the Kondors from the Atlantic skies.

The Kondor continued on past the introduction of carrier-escorted convoys, but 
largely on other duties closer to the coast of Europe. In addition to being used to 
attack shipping, it was also equipped with remote piloted bombs that proved 
effective against invasion fleets assaulting Sicily and Italy. Had the Germans 
produced large numbers of Kondors they might have continued to pose a very real 
threat to Allied shipping. What made life increasingly difficult and dangerous for 
the Kondor crews were the growing numbers of long range Allied fighters in the 
form of British Mosquito and Beaufighter machines that were fast, heavily armed 
and able to establish air superiority over maritime areas.