The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was a fearsome fighter. It proved to be a formidable opponent for Allied pilots, enjoying near mastery of the skies in the early years of the Second World War. The Fw 190 may well have continued its dominance over the RAF were it not for a stroke of luck on 23 June, 1942.

Two Spitfire wings were approaching the Devon coast returing from a sweep over Brittany when they were hit by elements of the Gruppenstab who had been tailing them back from France. After a short, sharp engagement the two sides broke off, both critically low on fuel. The Spitfires headed home whilst all the German pilots headed back to France.

Well, all except one.

Fw_190A-3_JG_2_in_Britain_1942Arnim Faber's Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3, photographed at RAF Pembrey in 1942

Oberleutnant Arnim Faber had become a little disoriented during the melée and headed north-eastwards towards Exeter. He firmly believed that the stretch of water below him was the English Channel, when in fact it was the Bristol Channel. The land ahead of him wasn’t German-controlled France; it was Wales.

With his fuel gauge perilously low he searched for the nearest airfield, eventually spotting one nearby. As he went in to land he was no doubt eager to boast of his aerial exploits; whether or not the airmen at RAF Pembrey would be interested is another story.

The moment he landed he was apprehended, his intact Fw 190A-3 remaining one of the major intelligence prizes of the entire war. It was repainted, refuelled and flown 29 times as they tested what the German fighter was capable of. After its final flight it was torn apart and tested to destruction.

A_captured_Focke_Wulf_Fw_190A-3_at_the_Royal_Aircraft_Establishment,_Farnborough,_with_the_RAE's_chief_test_pilot,_Wing_Commander_H_J_'Willie'_Wilson_at_the_controls,_August_1942._CH6411Armin Faber's Fw 190 after being repainted. The fuselage cross has been crudely overpainted.

To read the full story and find out more about the Fw 190 check out Aircraft of the Aces 9 – Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front.