Does anyone here have experience of running a WAR FW190 or a Midget Mustang?
I'm coming to terms with the fact that getting the missus to fly with me gives me more of a buzz than her, and I would really like a more capable machine. A Midget Mustang or a WAR FW190 would seem to fit the bill of over 150knot top speed, very basic aeros capability, and reasonably cheap to run.
I also know they both require solid tailwheel skills and a reasonably sized runway. What I really want to know about is what they are like to live with? What are the maintenance requirements? Has a WAR FW190 ever come apart in the air (I'll be wanting to race it). Cheers, FF.
I owned the UK's only WAR P47 replica in the early noughties. Had to sell it when I lost my medical (temporarily), it was subsequently written off in a landing accident. It's roughly similar to the FW190, just the external shape that is different.
I think 150kt is a tad optimistic. From the top of my head Vne for the P47 was 142 MPH and that was only achievable in a descent. The ASI was in MPH but converting to kt gave 100kt at 2300rpm, 115 at 2500, 125 at 2700. Externally, due to the small size, it looked as if it was snorting along when in reality it was just 100kt.
Due to the small (scale) rudder and fin there was hardly any aerodynamic directional control at less than 40mph, it only takes one attempt to raise the tail on takeoff below 40 to put you off the practice for life.
Visibility is not very good, the canopy rails were over shoulder height and the nose blocked any forward visibility when the tail was down. Once on landing rollout I had a deer run across the runway in front of the aircraft - just had to hang on and hope. Standing on the brakes would probably have tipped the aircraft on its nose. Taxiing was slow speed weave the nose and lookout standard tail wheel stuff.
For takeoff I preferred to offset slightly from the centerline, thus giving me the centerline markings out to one side as an aid to keep straight on the initial run before the tail was up. Once the tail was up the acceleration increased and the aircraft would lift off. It would get airborne quite happily in ground effect at a speed below the free air stall speed. it was essential to let the aircraft accelerate in ground effect before attempting to climb. I bought the aircraft after it had been rebuilt following an accident on takeoff at Carlisle when that happened and one wing stalled. Procedure was roughly...40, raise the tail, 60 unstick, climb at 80, and bear in mind the limiting speed for retracting the gear of 100. Once the gear was up the aircraft was great.
I operated from Perth. Preference was for the 853m main runway, the aircraft operated fine from the 620m grass once I had got used to it, and later we operated once or twice from the 609m short runway when then wind was favorable. Due to the nose blocking the view I tended to go for the curved approach to keep the runway in sight. In all the time I only ever managed one almost perfect touchdown, curving round over the threshold and plonking onto the runway in the threepoint attitude. Every other landing I was filled with the urge to go straight back up and try again.
I was 95kg at the time and could only put in a maximum of half fuel before MTOW, at dry tanks the CofG would have been out of aft limits. The battery had already been relocated to forward of the firewall to help, there was not a lot more that could be done, so for me it was definitely a 30-45 minute bimble round the local area type machine. I took the seat cushions out to give myself a little extra headroom (I'm 6ft2in) so the lack of comfort probably contributed here!
Due to the small size and light weight when empty getting the aircraft into and out of the hangar was OK for one person.
Maintenance was straightforward standard permit aircraft stuff. Over the course of ownership I had one stuck valve which required a cylinder change, a perished o-ring deep in the oleo which took a couple of months to rectify, a second perished o-ring deep in the oleo which took less than 24hrs to sort out (the learning curve in action!), a broken tail wheel spring, a tiny seep from the corner of the fuel tank which was patched up and various little touch up jobs on the paint. The cowlings came off quickly and easily to get to the engine.
I haven't heard of one coming apart in the air, I think the US g limits were +6 / -2 , not totally sure. I used to think of it as a wooden aircraft with a fiberglass shell and a fiberglass aircraft with a wooden core, so quite strong enough for my needs. It wasn't aerobatic in the UK under the then PFA rules. The original WAR FW190 plans used foam ribs in the wing, the PFA insisted on wooden ribs at certain points. The P47 was imported from the US and I never saw inside the wing.
The cockpit is quite small so a parachute would be problematic if you were considering that. I had to twist my shoulders to get in and out so emergency egress in the heat of the moment might be "interesting."
When the aircraft met its end it flew through a hedge at approach speed and came to a halt in the width of a minor road. The wings took the impact and the cockpit area was such that the pilot had only a few scratches while the wings exploded in a cloud of fiberglass and foam.
To summarise, I had a blast, it wasn't too onerous on maintenance, I would have another one if I was going to get another aircraft. Not sure about racing it though...
PM me for further info if you require...
Last edited by Floppy Link; 6th Jul 2012 at 22:16.
Reason: To sort out the autocorrects...
I remember the Thunderbolt crashing, must have been that one if it was the UK's only. I knew the guy who bought it, very sad for him and the person who crashed it (who had a somewhat chequered career). Can you remind me of the reg. and/or when it happened please, had a quick search but no joy. PM if you prefer.
Thats absolutely right. I would love a twister, it really looks like my kind of aeroplane, capable but because of great design rather than a big engine. Well beyond my means though, and likely to remain so for the forseable future.
A Cassutt would also be great, but its lack of aerobatic clearance would mean it would get old for me a lot quicker than a Midget Mustang. I must say, the relatively large runway requirement of the FW190 is making the Midget Mustang look more attractive with its flaps.