The Fw 190A-5 in Aces High II
Not the latest or fastest model of 190 we have in AH, the 190A5 may actually be the most dangerous. Light for a Fw190, fairly nimble at medium at high speeds, the A5 is a very effective aircraft though not terribly popular, ranking as a 3'rd tier fighter in most peoples minds. For all the masses who think 190's can't turn, the A5 can be a very rude shock and anyone who remembers when it was first introduced knows that it quickly became a popular aircraft in AH. Unfortunately, 190's seem to have lost some differentiation with the addition of the many models we have and the 190A5 has faded quite a bit in popularity.
While not quite up to the standards of most MA aircraft, the 190A5 is still very respectable in terms of engine performance. At sea-level the cruise speed is 326mph and WEP can push that up to 339mph, neither of which are stellar numbers. A slight increase in altitude pays some dividends though, at only 6K you have a 355mph cruise with 374mph top speed, both quite respectable. Top speed is at only 21K and only 400mph. Climb rates are quite impressive, 4,000ft/min from low level up to about 5K, slowly decreasing above that but never falling below 3,000ft/min until 18K. Acceleration is good, in the top 1/3 of aircraft at both low and high levels and even then only a second or two off some of the top performers. The 190A5 is fairly well suited to building energy quickly. Fuel duration is a little low, only 26 minutes with full internal fuel, though there is an option for a drop tank that adds another 14 minutes at full throttle for a total of 40minutes. I generally recommend a drop tank if possible even if you decide to take less internal fuel. WEP time is also excellent, which is very important, at over 9 minutes of constant use possible. This tends to allow you to abuse your WEP a bit but still have it when you need it.
Aces High II Performance Charts
Standard to the 190A5 are a pair of cowl mounted 7.9mm MG17's with 900 rounds/gun. That's a lot of ammunition and considering they were cowl mounted the concentration of fire is generally good at any range (set the convergence out to maximum) providing a bit of longer ranged touch just to keep people honest. Also standard are a pair of Mg151/20 cannons with a generous 250 rounds/gun, double the average ammunition of similar mountings. The Mg151/20 are good weapons though they can take some getting used to ballistically if you aren't familiar with them (or have been using US .50's or hispanos a lot). Considering the amount of ammunition involved though, the 190A5 has excellent staying power and is one of the few aircraft that tends to run low on fuel before running low on ammunition. The basic firepower is more than enough to deal with most fighter-sized targets quickly and effectively and there is no need to be shy with your shots as you have lots of ammunition. There is only option available to add another pair of 20mm cannons although it may not be as good an idea as it seems. The extra cannons are MG-FF, an older 20mm design, and the ballistic properties are clearly inferior for the MG-FF vs. the Mg 151/20 not to mention the ammunition load-out for the extra cannons is only 60 rounds/gun. Adding the weight of the extra guns doesn't usually help all that much unless you expect to meet large aircraft or will get lots of brief snapshots where maximum firepower is key. Even under these scenarios, the MG-FF ammunition will be gone long before the Mg151/20 ammunition and you will carry around the extra cannons for the remainder of the sortie even though they add nothing. A single center-line station allows for the loading of either a drop tank or for a bomb up to 500kg's in size. Usually a drop tank is taken but the center-line bomb can be quite useful. A rocket option exists for a single rocket on each wing (air-to-air unguided) though it is unusual to load these. They do have impact fuzes though and offer an effective ground attack option against structures.
Maneuverability on the 190A5 is good. It is not a great low speed turner but in every other facet it feels quite light and nimble. It weighs around 8,600 pounds so it's on the side of being a lightweight, though the wingspan is only 34 1/2 ft. This give it a pretty high wing-loading, meaning that the wings are working a little harder for lift in the turns than some other aircraft. At mid to high speeds the 190 is an excellent turner though, keeping up to almost anything, though as speeds deteriorate it becomes more sluggish. The 190A5 is the best turner of all the 190's at mid-low speeds and can surprise enemies who think you are less manoeuvrable plane in the same fashion as in what happens in the 109 series of aircraft. The 190 has outstanding roll rate and the A5 is no different. High roll rate manoeuvres, like scissors, tend to be very popular and effective. The roll rate also allows for very fast repositioning of the nose for firing opportunities or in the vertical. I think a lot of people don't realize how much of an asset a great roll rate can be both offensively and defensively. One key to manoeuvrability is to stay as light as possible though. In the A5 this is not quite as important as in other 190 models, but it is good practice. One option is, don't take the extra cannons if you know you're a good shot. Load up a drop tank and take somewhat less than full fuel (75% or less if transit not long). You may also consider burning the fuel tanks in an order other than the default, as emptying the AFT tank before the forward seems to better position the center of gravity during manoeuvres. Be careful of the 190's snap-stall too, it can snap-roll on you if you push it to far, although recovery is typically very easy and immediate as soon as you release pressure on the controls.
Fighting in the Fw 190A-5
The A5 has lost a lot of popularity in the arena because of a couple of additions to the plane set that made it less successful. Speeds in general increased as did planes who could display good roll and acceleration, traits that the 190 used to have mostly to it's own. The Fw190D9 was also introduced, giving a late war model that could better compete with the increasing speed and firepower of most of the later warplanes. Still, the Fw190A5 provides a nice plane with good performance against an average opponent and people forget how good it can be when used properly. The A5 is best used in the BnZ'r role which is suits almost to perfection. It accelerates well, can claw back energy and altitude quickly, and has a quick roll response to position the nose for firing. The twin cannons are sufficient for knocking down planes in a single pass and allow longer firing times because of the increase in ammunition over most cannon armed planes. Slashing attacks are also fine, although you need to be a little more careful since your top speed is not as high as some of your competition. Most people are used to seeing the 190D9 and not the A5, which usually helps your cause since they both have the same icon in the game. If they feel you are a D9 they are likely to not consider running away as their first manoeuvre and might try and out-turn you. This can be a big mistake that you can exploit since at slow speeds the A5 turns much better than the D9 and that can come as a big asset. Try and use your roll as much as possible though and think about manoeuvres that maximise roll rate use since that is typically your largest advantage. Dive in, line up with roll, snap-shot, and then climb back up on the other side. The 190A5 can strike so quickly in this type of attack that it is difficult to defend against.
Defensively, the A5 can often get the better of opponents through aggressive manoeuvring. Typically you don't have the power to escape from enemies in a drag race, but you can usually build speed quickly and then turn that into manoeuvring to knock off an enemy. The A5 is a slippery target and seems to flip around or roll at very high rates than most planes can't follow. Once you have an enemy out of synch in roll you can manoeuvre out of plane from them and make their job very difficult. That is part of the reason scissors work so well, you can already be into the reversal turn before the enemy has even rolled to get their wings level with yours. Completing several of these manoeuvres in a row can get the enemy further and further out of phase with you and make it all but impossible for them to follow. You can also try for overshoots, though these tend to put the 190 at more risk since it means the enemy will need to pass close by you. I wouldn't describe any of the 190's as tough, though they are about average and a little stronger than planes like the Spitfires. Use your roll rate to make barrel rolls, or other manoeuvres that extend your flight path while maintain your speed, and hope someone blows right by, unable to match you, and ends up in-front.
Fighting against the Fw 190A-5
The 190A5 can be a tough nut to crack. It's small and darty, making for a tough target if you can even get it near your sights. It tends to throw itself around the sky while putting on speed or using the vertical while low. For all that though, it isn't a very tough plane for most to handle as it doesn't have any outstanding quality other than roll-rate. Most people don't know how to use this roll-rate advantage and end up flying it more conventionally, which is easier to deal with. Offensively, if you have a good turner you can beat him with an extended turn fight. Try and sucker him in and then drive him low. At sea-level the A5 has slightly below average speed and most planes can catch up. If you can, play the BnZ game on him from above, keeping him from running away while giving him little chance to zoom up to take his own shot at you. In most cases the 190, if with altitude, with dive away, and possibly split-S to avoid you. You probably can't follow him if he is rolling a lot at all speeds since your plane is unlikely to be able to match. If you feel the enemy is slipping away from your grasps then you should break off, reposition, and return later. 190's are slippery, the A5 the most of the bunch, and it's better to leave to fight under better circumstances than to push something too far and find yourself the prey. Be very careful if you see a 190 start to scissor in defence, always watch for the overshoot or potential collision possibility. I know a lot of people who end up closing so quickly and manoeuvring so violently to follow a 190 that they find a collision unavoidable. Finally, try and just land hits, at almost any range, but don't give up opportunities for the A5 to Head-On you. It has enough firepower to ruin your day.
Defensively, you need to decide, are you a runner or a turner? As a runner, you should try and build up some separation on the 190 so you can make a break for it. While the 190 isn't really fast, it does accelerate well so you need to be aware that you need a little more head start. Scissors, the typical method to get someone out of phase so you can build up some separation, won't likely be effective as the 190 can out-roll almost anything. I tend to try and build up a lot of excess speed and try to use blackout to reduce the 190's ability to track you. Get fast, then manoeuvre a couple of times on the edges of blackout loss of view, so he doesn't see a reversal, then extend. If you have a good turner, try and get into a tight turning fight and bleed his energy away. Be careful of his quick acceleration though and ability to go vertical to build up energy. 190's, even the A5, are not great turners at lower speeds and tend to have real problems with wing stall. If a 190 stalls, it tends to be very abrupt and quite dramatic, with the wing pulling him quickly out of his manoeuvre. This builds some time to gain angles, or to change tactics. Effective range for his guns are lower than for 50's or hispanos, but still can be effective out to D600 or so. Also, you know he won't be afraid to use them a lot since he has 250 cannon rounds per gun and 900 rounds/cowl gun. A lot of 190's and especially the A5, can afford to spray a couple of rounds about looking for a lucky hit. The 190A5 is a good plane, not a great plane, but in the hands of an excellent pilot is going to really give anyone a hard time.
Soda's Aircraft Evaluations