The Fw 190A-8 in Aces High II
The 190A8 is a surprising good plane for many roles, including strafing and attacking ground targets, with good low level acceleration and climb. It is exceptionaly good at strafing as it can mount 4 20mm and 2 13mm (equivelant to a U.S. 0.50 cal), with the 4x 20mm version being equivelant to 14 .50's. The 190A8 is also arguable the toughest of the 190's, packing additional armour over the A5, and it seems to be able to take a bit more damage and still remain flyable. During WWII A8 models properly modified for that role were also succesfully used as bomber destroyers, though I almost never see if used in that fashion in AH. It struggles to get into position for such an attack at most altitudes that bombers in AH operate.
Unfortunately, the 190A8 is a rare aircraft for the most part, but quite honestly a fairly good one if used to it's strengths. The 190A8 was the original 190 variant in the game and for quite some time the only variant. It was, even in those days, played the role of multi-purpose attacker with a secondary anti-air capability, even while it was a great fighter on it's own. I know I've flown it often, even recently, and it is still a fine airplane, if not a little out-classed by some of the super-performance planes that are most popular in the main arena these days. The A8, in real life, was a very succesful fighter treated with respect by allied fighter and bomber pilots alike. The uparmoured submodels for dealing heavy firepower to bombers were extremely effective if allowed to do their attack passes; still they suffered from the extra weight which made it a easier target for enemy fighters.
The 190A8 does share the same icon as other 190 versions ,so until up close it can be difficult to spot which 190 you are dealing with. The 190's all look similar too in paint-job, so it can be difficult to know which you are facing until after a couple of merges.
The 190A8 has decent low level performance, turning in a 349mph (WEP)/ 327mph (no-WEP) speed at sea-level, faster than a A5 by 10mph. Climb rate is about 3,500ft/minute at sea-level though this decreases to 3,000ft/minute at 5K. Not using WEP to climb is going to cost you up to 1,000ft/minute so it is pretty essential considering that the numbers aren't all that spectacular. Adding altitude doesn't give the performance gains as in the A5 until you get quite high, 350mph cruise (357mph with WEP) at 5K is about as good as it gets until you push through 11K. Top speed is at 20K and 375mph (no WEP), 400mph with WEP at 19K. That leaves you with slightly better performance when either very low, or quite high. WEP is very important and you have the advantage of over 9 minutes of WEP use between cooling cycles, double that of a lot of planes in AH. Fuel range is a bit better than in the A5, 31 minutes on internal and the option for a centerline drop tank that adds 14 minutes. Because of your high predicted WEP use you can burn fuel quickly and should likely take a little more than you might in other aircraft. The only problem is, you want to try and keep your fuel load as low as possible since the A8 is so heavy that a full fuel load makes it quite sluggish. Again, as in other 190's, the automatic fuel burning order is incorrect by what most people feel. The aux tank should be burned the first, to be followed by the aft tank and the fwd tank the latest to better position the center of gravity. I tend to leave an 1/8 of a tank of fuel in the aft, then go back to automatic fuel switching. This leaves me with a small reserve incase I run a little short.
Aces High II Performance Charts
Firepower is impressive and quite a step up from the A5. Standard weapons include four 20mm Mg151/20s in the wings plus a pair of Mg131 13mm machineguns in the cowling. The upgraded cowl guns make decent weapons, especially compared to the 7.9mm in the A5, but are still best reserved for a good secondline weapon. 250 rounds of ammunition are provided for each inner cannon, 140 rounds for each outter cannon, and 475 rounds for each 13mm gun, both very heavy loads when compared to other aircraft. Upgrades abound to give flexibility to the plane. The two outter Mg151/20mm can be deleted to lighten the plane, or optionally a pair of even larger MK108 30mm cannons with 55 rounds/gun can be mounted instead of the standard 20mm at a cost of a slight increase of weight. The last option is a pretty dramatic increase on something that could not really be considered lacking in the first place. This is what makes the A8 such a good strafer though, lots of heavy firepower with tonnes of ammunition. External options include a center-mounted bomb up to 500kg and/or 2 wing mounted air-to-air rockets. The bomb is not typically carried because a fuel drop tank is more useful, and the air-to-air rockets are not terribly against aircraft but seem effective against ground structures becasue they seem to have impact fuzes. In the 190A8 you always have a decision to make when you leave the hanger, do you go light with only 2 cannons, medium with 4 20mm, or heavy with the pair of 20mm and pair of 30mm. It will really depend on what you are intending to do but I usually find myself with the medium loadout to give me flexibility.
Other players go for the 30mm loadout while a few decide to load 2x20mm only. Find out what suits you. Still, the Fw190A8 lives out of pure firepower and snapshots, and there you want to have the highest firepower you can bear. If you fly it to it's strenghts the extra weight of the 4x20mm configuration doesn't really hurt you. The 30mm configuration guarantees 1-shot-kills, but the ballistics of the cannon aren't the best around and you might find yourself struggling to hit with them until you adjust to their poor ballistics.
Maneuverability is a mixture of pleasure and pain. As a turner, the 190A8 feels heavy at low speeds, being on the verge of bad stalls if you handle it without care, and is one of the few planes that really can bottom out in a turn at high speeds. The stall behaviour is rather abrupt if pushed too hard though typically stalls are easily recoverable. Consider that the 190A8 weighs in a 9,700 points on a relatively small 34 1/2ft wingspan. This creates a pretty high wing-loading even in a light configuration, while adding the likes of drop tanks, rockets, full internal fuel, and the big gun package can make the 190 even more overweight. You will be able to feel it too, the 190A8 shows it's weight between heavy and light configurations. Always try to take only the fuel you need, and don't automatically put heavy extras onto the aircraft unless you know what you are doing. Trying to stop your decent on low level BnZ runs can leave the 190A8 to pancake on the ground with your nose actually pointed slightly skyward but your wings unable to slow your decent quickly enough. The roll rate is outstanding, even with the outer wing cannons in place, like all 190s. Experienced pilots can really make use of the roll rate, both offensively and defensively, to more than compensate for some slow speed turn-rate problems. Even with one aileron missing though the 190 can easily out-roll almost anything at any speed.
One of the most forgotten advantages of the Fw190A8, and by extension of the whole Fw190 line, is their sharp and fast turn at high speeds. A fast Fw190 is in it's natural element, is very nimble, handles superbly and can even raise eyebrows of incredulity between it's enemies with some maneouvers and fast reversals. The plane loses a lot of energy in high-G turns, however, so a careless maneouvering Fw190 will burn all its speed very fast if he stays in close fighting; something very bad for him because at slow speeds the Fw190 is very hard to control and keep in a close fight.
Flap speeds are 180, 160, and 140 IAS, with the last notch of flap being a whole half of the flaps' range.
Fighting in the Fw 190A-8
Offensively, you want to make sure you are properly selecting targets and capitalizing your your firepower and roll rate. Plan to arrive to the fight from a good position and attempt to balance out the aircraft by burning the AUX and AFT fuel tank first (not before a drop tank though). The A8 is really almost the ultimate BnZ'r though, bringing wonderful high speed handling and heavy firepower, while being able to generally accept a scratch or two from a lucky return shot. The roll rate will help you reverse quickly, especially in the vertical, while the acceleration and climb at lower altitudes is still pretty good. I tend not to think of the A8 is the best 190 variant for air-to-air work, at least not where you expect to meet enemies with equal or superior energy. That said, if you have a little advantage, or the situation is fluid enough that you can control your fight, you can quickly administer good firepower and easily knock down fighters. Often, the A8 gets used as a jabo fighter with some better air-to-air properties, coming in at low-mid altitudes, strafing structures or vehicles. For these types of attacks, the 30mm cannons can offer a little more hitting power though a shorter duration. Against unarmoured vehicles the A8 is devestating with a single 30mm hit likely to provide a fatal blow. Against heavy armour, like the Panzer or Ostwind, the 20mm and 30mm are mostly ineffective and it is not typically wise to press these situations since you may expend your whole ammunition load and see few results. Head-On attacks are not a terrible idea if presented, though you should always remember what firepower you are packing and what the enemy potentially has. The A8 tends to be a little tougher than average and usually packs more than enough firepower to ensure at least mutual destruction. Remember that you also have a very large ammo load onboard, take snapshots, deflection, and even some of longer range than normal with a German fighter, simply because you can afford to spray your cannons and bit hoping for a couple of lucky hits. Don't be too worried about vertical climbs either, the 190 will flip back around nicely at the top of a zoom, making it perfect for launching a quick second attack.
Defensively, the A8 doesn't want to get stuck in a bad situation because it has a limited bag of tricks to employ if it gets too slow. Too many aircraft will accelerate almost as well, or faster, others will own the turn-fight, while still more are going to hold a sometimes very large top speed advantage. Adding to that a situation where most people in A8's meet the enemy early in the sortie, while they are still very heavy with fuel and ammunition, and you have a recipe for issue of a parachute. Try to avoid poor situations, or always keep open some sort of escape route. The 190A8 is by no means helpless, but sometimes even if you avoid one good attack, the 190A8 doesn't have the ability to break away before a second one arrives. Cruising at low-mid altitudes or higher, saving WEP for combat, and trying to stay in places where there are at least as many friendly aircraft as enemy within icon range is a good place to start. Also, always try and recover your altitude after an attack since it will give you far more options than accepting you've lost your altitude and trying to always run away low. The roll-rate, especially at high speds, can be a life-saver, allowing you to quickly roll to get the enemy out of phase, followed by a course change and high speed sprint. This can sometimes lead to overshoots by enemies, which you can exploit and sometimes knock the enemy down, lure him into a rolling scissor fight where your rollrate prevails, or at least it should allow you to break contact, at least briefly, to plan your next course of action. Remember that roll speed and roll inertia are whole different things: when you roll, it's not just your roll speed, but also the time you take to start the roll or reversing it's direction that is useful. The whole idea of out-rolling is to get your lift vector as far away from the enemy as possible, and then execute a turn so he can't follow you, causing an overshoot, or allowing you to maneuver away. This is not a purely offensive maneuver (even while the Fw is excellent when executing vector rolls), it can be also an attempt to turn something that is purely defensive, into a lucky case of brief offense or, if the bandit commits a mistake, turning a defensive situation into a completely offensive one.
Used properly the 190A8 though can be a very good plane, but it requires technique, patience, self-control and understanding. It's exceptional when flown to it's strenghts, but rarely forgives if the pilot commits a mistake. It's not a plane that gives you second chances if you blow it.
Fighting against the Fw 190A-8
The 190A8 should be the easiest 190 version to beat, but is not always that way. It is tied as a brick in AH's fighter planeset and doesn't have a reputation as uberplane, so few people fly this plane and those who do quite some times are dedicated Fw190 pilots who know well how to fly this version. If you meet one of those be ready for a good fight.
However there are also the occasional pilots who don't really know the plane and tend to grossly overload it with every option available in the hanger. Packing huge guns, full fuel, drop tanks, etc. make the A8 almost wallow. An overloaded 190A8 can be difficult to control, offensively and defensively. One of the keys will be to try and identify the 190A8 as soon as possible, though this can be quite difficult. The A8 tends to lack almost all markings except yellow rear band. if you can identify the A8 then you can use tactics more suited to that plane. If you can't identify it as an A8 you need to defend against maneuverability as if it were an A5 and against firepower as if it were an A8.
Offensively, you want the A8 to slow down and try and turn-fight, an area where it is one of the worst aircraft in AH. If the A8 will give you a slow speed turn-fight you should be able to easily beat him if he doesn't realize how quickly he is losing and try to run. Be ware of a slowing down Fw190, however, he might be trying to suck you into a rolling scissors where the plane excels.
Try to land hits on him from any angle you can. The A8 is fairly tough so your likelihood of getting a instant snapshot kill are few. The 190A8 is likely to try and go for the overshoot almost immediately or try and dive away in a split-S, rolling to get you out of phase so you can't chase. By out of phase I mean that his wing orientation is different than yours, possibly by as much as 180 degrees, so that you cannot follow a maneuver because you plane is still attempting to roll wings level with him. Sometimes this manifests itself in the 190 as a warp-roll, where the 190 rolls so quickly that the internet cannot keep up and the plane seems to flip and flop on the users screen. Be careful and don't get too close, watch for a possible overshoot and defend against that since the last thing you want to do is slip in close in front of a 190A8. Catching a BnZ'ng A8 while near the top of his climb is good since he will slow and the least maneuverable. The 190 is likely to spray 20mm rounds at almost anything he can get his nose near so you want to ensure he can't hit you with a lucky shot. Never Head-On a 190A8, it's at best going to result in a tie since you've signed your own death warrant.
Defensively, the 190A8 is neither a great turner or great speed demon, so decide what you are best at and defend using that approach. Try and get into a slow speed turn-fight or a nose high vertical spiral if you have a superior climb and/or turn-rate, but be wary as the plane turns really fast over 270mph IAS. The 190A8 has a tendency to stall abruptly on one wing if pulled too hard, which will cause a recovery and give you time to gain angles. You don't want to remain infront of one at any range inside D850 as the 190A8 is likely to fire at anything and can try and spray your down at long ranges with lethal cannon fire. Always pull enough turn to ensure that he can't pull lead on easily. Rolling reversals are likely not to be very successful since the 190 has enough excess roll-rate to compensate for the delay in initiating a roll with you. If slow and low, try to loop near the ground, the A8 is very heavy and bottoms out badly in loops, you may cause him to auger or lose control trying to avoid the ground. A8's in general have real troubles dealing with high sink rates so it makes looping more difficult. Don't try and dive away from one as the A8 can dive like a comet and roll around easily at all but the most ludicrous of speeds to keep you in the gunsight. Only dive if you know you can keep enough distance on him to avoid the guns, and if you know that when you level out you can slip away with higher speed.
On average though, the 190A8 is not usually piloted in a very skilled manner and tends to present itself to far too dangerous a situation. While you need to respect the firepower and roll rate, these tend to be predictable and you can avoid the problems they can create fairly easily. However dedicated Fw pilots make this machine really shine. Never take anything granted when you see this plane with a red tag. It doesn't have a great reputation as a fighter, but it can do amazing things if well flown.
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